Monday, July 30, 2012

Fun Filled

We had a busy and fun filled weekend! Kick it off on Friday night with the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. We had special Cokes to commemorate the event, and let the kids stay up until after Canada had gone by in the parade of nations.
I love the beginning, where the children choirs from the 4 isles of the UK sang hymns (and Danny Boy, not exactly a hymn) what a great way to kick it off! I loved the opening line, quoting Shakespeare, "Do not be afeard, the isle is full of noises", and I enjoyed the Mr Bean routine, the forging of the rings, and the Queen as a Bond girl too:-) Some of the other parts were too weird and strange for me, but overall it was enjoyable. I really loved the torch at the end, how all the leaves carried in by each nation lit up and were raised to become one giant torch. Unique and cool.
Let the games begin! We love to cheer for both Canada and the US, and only have conflict when they are against each other:-)

Then on Saturday morning I had a baby shower to attend (the nautical cake), and Sat afternoon we traveled 2 hrs to Midlothian/Richmond area to visit our friends that have just moved away (military). Kenna made them a card. To: Sam, Hathr, Grase and Libbe. She actually didn't do too badly, considering she didn't ask for help:-) (Heather, Gracie & Libby, in case you couldn't tell)
Feeding his bunny. He has an active imagination

BLT's for lunch. Pinterest idea...perfect!! It works!

Heather did my nails for Lauren's wedding. The thumbs have a pretty design she drew on there!
The primary purpose for the trip was for Brian to build a deck for their hot tub, at their new house. The secondary purpose was hang out and see their new place! We adults had a great time, and the kids had a blast! They were so busy playing in fact, I didn't get any pics of them! For shame! But we'll be back often, I'm sure!
Getting it all squared up and level in the HEAT of summer. Fun.
Taking a break, watching the clouds roll by with Daddy

Brian and Sam, more breaks. It was excessively hot on Sunday, but even will all their breaks, they were done building it by about 2:30 in the afternoon

Ahoy, It's A Boy - Recipe

Good friends of ours are having a baby, and it's a boy! While I was not in charge of planning this shower, I was asked/tasked with making the cake. The theme for the shower was nautical/Popeye, since Baby's Daddy is in the military. I did my best to oblige with keeping in line with the theme!!
Making cut outs from gum paste. Using cookie cutters and edible food spray for the gold anchors.
A close up. It's done!! The TOP LAYER was 8 inch french vanilla cake, vanilla butter cream, and one layer of black raspberry filling (4 cakes, 2 buttercream layers and 1 fruit filling layer). The BOTTOM LAYER was 12 inch red velvet cake with cream cheese icing (2 cakes, filled). It was really good!

CREAM CHEESE ICING - Recipe from Buddy Valastro (the Cake Boss)
2 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese, at room temperature
8 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 C icing sugar, sifted
1 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds; beat on medium high speed until fluffy.

All done!

Cute! It turned out so well, I thought!

Flower Girl

Next week, Kenna is about to be a flower girl for the 3rd time:-) Really though it is the first time that she remembers...she was technically a flower girl in my sister Lauryn's wedding, and then my brother Brent's wedding, both in 2008. She was 23 and 27 months for those, and doesn't remember them at all.

Lauren's wedding (Brian's sister) is on August 4th, and with much anticipation, Kenna and Brooks are the flower girl and "ring master".

I was a flower girl one time. And looking at the dates on the back of the was also on August 4th!!!...1984. So I was 5 years old, and Kenna is 6.

Here she is, modeling my flower girl dress, from 28 years ago!
Darla - flower girl dress was made by my mom. I loved it because it was so poofy. And she made me a special pretty apron for at the reception so I wouldn't spill on it:-) It's in pristine condition all these years later!

Darla, with the bride, Susan
Kenna - vintage style

Such a cutie. We really look nothing alike, in my opinion!

Practicing her hair for Lauren's wedding. It will be professionally done, but we want to have an idea/direction to give the stylist

I felt like Ann of Green Gables, with puffed sleeves! I don't know that Kenna was all that impressed with it:-)

Unless my shoes had a bit of a heel (I don't remember. ?. Kenna is wearing flat flip flops), it would appear as though I was taller at 5 than she is at 6:-)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Issues of the Heart

"Just wait until they hit 14!"

The "voice of encouragement" offered by far too many parents, in my opinion.

What happens to your decision making and attitudes as you age {no matter what the age} has oh so much to do with the attitudes and decisions you've been making...or have been allowed to make since birth. By your parents.

Parenting is not easy, but it's not that hard either. It's life. It's relationships. It's involved. Involvement tends to equal hard work. in time and labour intensive...but still enjoyable.

I can really only speak to the amount of parenting that I have actually done. Which is 6.5 years worth. Having yet to see "my product" turn out well, my advice is perhaps not the most credible. But I have been parented for 33.5 years, and over that time and have had the opportunity to observe many parents, not just my own. People who have turned out a "good product". People who have credibility. So my advice is not necessarily original to me. I pattern myself after others who have sought to follow the Lord in this area and do right by the people they are bringing up in the world.

So back to parenting. Isn't it a little petrifying that I am held responsible for the decisions of my child, in the eyes of the Lord? That I will someday answer for not only myself, but the part of me that is in them too. The part that I instructed. Or failed to.

Each child has their own issues of life...things that need to be trained out of them, and things lacking that need to be trained into them, from day 1. Yes, day 1. Babies are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

As a somewhat superficial (yet valid) example, Brooks is a cry-baby. He's been a nervous wreck from birth, worried about everything. Scared of everything under the sun. Petrified, really. He'll cry at the drop of a hat because he saw a fly, you looked at him weird, he fell down, he doesn't like his dinner, you asked him a question he doesn't know the answer to...and on and on it goes.

As a 2 year old, these are fairly "acceptable" behaviours. As a 5 year old, he's by and large over it all, for the most part. He's still scared about everything, but he's learning how to deal with his emotions in an appropriate way and doesn't have such ridiculous outbursts anymore.

As a 20 year old, if he can't live life as a capable, strong, leader, and will not be his fault. It will be mine. As his parents, it's our job to see his issues and areas of weakness and instruct him. These won't be issues that popped up out of nowhere, these are things that go to the core of his being. On the flip side, if he is completely emotionally cold, that will be on me too. There is a balance, in all areas of life. As parents, and students of our children - we need to know what we're up against with each individual child. And know yourself too. The saying the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...well guess what? Your kids are mini versions of you. They have the same issues as you, too.

Sometimes I think parents give themselves the "pass card" too often. Of course I am not excusing the fact that teens and adults do have their own minds and make their own decisions. So it can be possible to "do everything right" and still have an undesirable {to you} result in the end. And it also does not apply to the majority of people, but I would suspect, applies only to a small minority. Ultimately, we belong to the Lord, and He is in control. But that does not excuse parents from doing their jobs, and attempting to do them well, with the leading of the Holy Spirit.

There seems to be a million people with families completely out of control and they (parents) doing nothing proactively about it. They camp on the verse "when he is old he will not depart from it". Depart from what? How actively were you working out the issues of his heart?

It's a call to be pro-active, and take parenting seriously. It's a call build strong relationships with our children. And not just because they'll be picking out your nursing home someday:-) It's a call to man up and take responsibility for the way our kids are turning out.

Of course my kids are young and it's not yet embarrassing to accept that responsibility. I sure do hope that one day I will not have to be embarrassed for the way they live. By God's grace. I refuse to believe that a switch is magically flipped when some teen turns "14".

Lord, give me the wisdom and courage that I need to raise men and women who love, honour and serve You above all else.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Date Night

Brian took me out on an impromptu date last night. Impromptu meaning, when he came home from work, dinner was 5 minutes from ready, and I was in the middle of making him apple turnovers:-) We fed the kids and hit Qdoba before window shopping for a relaxing night.

Brian has been in charge of the Woodard Group for 2 weeks now...the owner of the company took a European 3 week cruise...leaving Brian to steer the ship back home, as it were. So he's been just a little busy handling all that entails. He bid out some major jobs, and got them, which is great news. Unless he bid them wrong. Then it could be terrible news, haha. Anyway, he's enjoying the challenge, but it's definitely lots of work! So some time off to stroll around and talk was great! (And great to have my mother in law in town for easy babysitting!)

I posted and tweeted a few pics while we were out - window shopping was mostly just that - except for a few really great deals we couldn't pass up. We spent $40 total, but got 3 pairs of shoes and a hat! Not too shabby!!
Brian has a thing for green! (and UnderArmor?) A great deal on a hat. Taking a call to catch up with a friend that just moved away. He looks pretty tired, eh?

Hello. $10.99 shoes? I LOVE YOU!
Cool comfy shoes for Brian too, and awesome navy blues for me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Potty & Random - Video

There is nothing cuter than a chubby little bum running around in un'erwears. Grey has been starting to tell us he has to pee, and although I'm not going crazy with it (right before a wedding and out of town guests), I surely won't say no either, if he's asking or telling me! Who knows if this will be a successful potty training, or just a start, but either way, he's excited! He's a little young still (not quite 2 1/2), but who am I to stand in the way of genius;-)
Dino bum

A candy! Potty success!

Our homemade chart :-)
In other news, as of yesterday I've lost 20lbs since starting my diet in May. Not too bad! I rewarded myself with something that's been on my no-no list. Coffee, with creamer, and a little topping too!
ABC's cutie. He will do this (sing the song incorrectly) for 30 minutes at a time. He loves it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Canada, Remembered

A few little questions about our trip. Click here to see the last interview I did with them, after the last time they were there, in 2009. (I gave Grey some of the same questions, but had to probe him a little more than simply asking the question by itself and give him a few options. His final answer is listed)

When you think about Canada what do you remember most?

Brooks: I like thinking about playing with Maryn & Lehman because that is my favourite thing to do with them. Because I missed this yellow house but then we went to Canada and when we left Canada I was very upset, and now I don’t like this home anymore.
Kenna: The thing I would imagine is being with all the little kids and having fun with Vienna, and Marshall, and Keaton, and Grey. The next thing I would imagine is being upset to leave, I was not upset to leave this house, because I like Canada.
Grey: Two Wunner (Road Runner)

What was your favourite thing to do there?
Kenna: Jumping on the trampoline
Brooks: I liked playing xbox
Kenna: oh and I forgot, my next favourite thing was the wedding
Brooks: My favourite thing was the wedding too
Grey: Piper (the dog)

What was the best part of the wedding?
Brooks: I like when I saw the ice cream
Kenna: I would say all of it. I just loved all of it.

Who is your favourite person?
Brooks: Lehman
Kenna: My favourite is Maryn & Janessa
What about everyone else?
Brooks: I would say I like everybody
Kenna: yah cause we like Canada
Grey: Piper, or wha'bout Gampa?
What part of Canada did we go to?
Kenna: We went to the movie fee-de-or (theatre)
Brooks: and on an airplane
Kenna: and to Grandma & Grandpa's house
Ok, ok, but where did we go we live in Norfolk, Virginia, and they live in...
Kenna: Rye-riss, A-skatch-awan
Brooks: Kuh-skatch-awan

What was the best food you ate while there?
Brooks: dinner!
Kenna: Brooks that isn't a food. Mine would be hot dogs

Of all the houses there, who's house was the best?
Kenna: I would say both Grandma & Grandpa's and Jared & Liana's I can't pick the best. They both have dogs that I like and they both have people like I to play with, so I'd say they are both the same. Kaden's is all crapped up.

How many airplanes did we take to get there?
Both: TWO!
Grey: Um, no we don't fly in the 'ky

What was your favourite chore?
Kenna: cleaning up the dishes, because Piper licks them
Brooks: cleaning with Grandma, I did all the garbage bins, they have allll these garbage's, and a big bin that is very disgusting smelling

What do we do at the Bulk Barn?
Brooks: we pick candy!
Kenna: I picked gummy worms
Brooks: I picked sharks
Kenna: Just so you know, Grey had picked sour dinosaurs and so did Marshall
Brooks: No, they were just regular
Kenna: well, they could have been sour

What was your favourite instrument?
Brooks: Bemember what we did Kenna? We played the cello in Canada!
Kenna: Yah!
Brooks: But we didn't use that stringy knife
Kenna: I would pick the harp
Brooks: I pick cello
Grey: I play da drums!

When do you think we'll go back to visit?
Brooks: when I get my pass-a-port
Kenna: after this summer, then on the next summer maybe one of those days we will go there
*Brooks is right, his passport expires soon, and I told him we'd need a new one before we go back again:-)

Top Ten - Nail Polish

Well, those of you who knew me 10 years ago might remember my nails. Which could have at any moment rivaled Dolly Parton's or Flo Jo's ('88 Olympics? Anyone? :-) They are real, and very strong. And were so long I was unable to do up buttons etc on my clothing. Thank you to my sister Lauryn for the extra hand:-)

Well, after the kids were born I took a break from the nails bit - too long - kept poking or scratching the babies...I'm not very graceful. Lol. Well, the nails are back. I keep them at a manageable length now...and these are my current go-to faves. I always seem to get asked about the colour on my nails, so here you go...The ones I am always finding myself reaching for!

I am definitely into the dark colours, and funky stuff. Totally my style and gives a little pep to any boring stay at home mom clothes:-)

Excuse my quick manicure to get these pics taken:-)
It was harder than you'd think to narrow down my top ten from my extensive collection!
1. Revlon Top Speed - Emerald (330) - Jade is the new black, in my opinion. Love it
2. Revlon Top Speed - Lily (610) - A light but fun and eye catching shade
3. Revlon Colorstay - Midnight (290) - The perfect shade of not quite navy blue. It lasts well with top coat
4. Sally Hansen Magnetic Nail Color - Graphite Gravity (908) - I love the effect in the nail polish from the magnetic bits
5. Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure - Pat on the Black (660) - I love how this applies and has a black cherry undertone. Perfect "black" shade. Wears very well with top coat
6. Wet n Wild Fast Dry - ??a lime green shade - Fun colour
7. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri - Petal Pusher (150) - For those serious moments when funky doesn't make the cut
8. Revlon Top Speed - Vintage (570) - The perfect shade of hot pink, without being too teeny-bopper-ish hot pink
9. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri - Ruby Rush - A nice burgundy red. When hot pink isn't allowed
10. Sally Hansen Gem Crush - Big Money (03) - The perfect sparkle for an accent nail or tips. Very shiny and champagne gold in colour

BONUS: My current fave top coat is Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Hard as Wraps Acrylic Gel + Nylon

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bridal Tea

A place setting, which every guest got to take home with them! Tea cup, saucer, and all!!...more on that later
This post is a little long, but filled with pictures and recipes! My sister in law is getting married in two weeks, and it was time for another bridal shower. We (me, Mary, Chae & Tiffany) planned something that is very Lauren. A tea party. She loves her tea! We wanted it to be beautiful, different and special...and it was all of those. We love you Lauren and are so happy for you!!! Here's a sneak peak into the planning (which is also pretty much all I've been doing all week:-).
Tea bag cookies. And a person. And a smiley face. Courtesy of extra dough and creative children:-)

I saw this idea on Pinterest, but the blog was entirely in another language, so I had to figure it out myself! I traced a tea bag from my cupboard, and rolled and cut the dough with a knife to shape each one.
SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE - that will not expand or loose shape while baking

3 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 C unsalted butter
1 C white sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract or desired flavour (perhaps almond)
1/2 t salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla, mix well. Mis dry ingredients and add a little at a time to the butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together. Chill for 1 to 2 hours. Roll to desired thickness and cut into shapes. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 for 8 to 10 min. or until just beginning to brown at the edges.
Then I dipped them in chocolate (semi-sweet choc. chips with a bit of oil added), and made little toppers and added string. Edible tea bags, and CUTE as can be!

Junior Mints, knock off

3 1/2 C icing sugar (which is powdered or confectioners sugar)
4oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 t peppermint extract (I added more than this, maybe *almost* double?, it didn't seem minty enough to me)
semi sweet chocolate chips

Using a mixer, gradually add the sugar to the cream cheese, until well incorporated. Add extract and combine well. Roll dough into little balls on wax paper, and use your finger to indent and squash each ball. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

When mints have firmed, melt chocolate chips in a ziploc bag in the microwave for about 1 min at 1/2 (50%) power. Cut tiny corner off the bag at the bottom, use as a piping bag, and fill the mints with chocolate. Refrigerate until serving in an airtight container.
These are cute, and so delicious. Many people commented that they tasted like Junior Mints, without having been told that is what they were supposed to be like. Success.

A little honey pot for each guest. "It was sweet of you to join us".
Menus, describing the teas available

We got special loose teas from a tea shoppe and they were marvelous. My favourite was Ka Tea. As my description in the menu reads "This tea was specially formulated of pomegranate and blueberry, and celebrates the lavish affair that made royal history. This caffeinated black tea was served to guests at the royal wedding of William and Kate" I should write menu's, I know;-)
Making Ombre cakes - vanilla cake, dyed 4 shades of purple

Ombre cakes, done. I cut them out with a cookie cutter that was about 2 to 2.5 inches I think. Only slightly larger than the bottom of a cupcake. They were gorgeous and delicious. I made my typical buttercream icing.

Making sugar cubes - a bit of a picture tutorial. These add a little beauty and special touch to parties
Buy "snowflakes" at the store in the baking aisle. They look like flowers to me. Mix about 1 spoonful of icing sugar with a few drops of water to make a "glue"
Stick each flower to the tops of the sugar cubes
When you're done with that, add 1 drop of green food dye to the icing sugar "glue"
Use a toothpick to drag a drop of the green "glue" on either side of the flower, forming the leaves
Let dry, and you're all done! Super cute!
CHANTILLY CREAM RECIPE - a dip for strawberries

16 oz sour cream
1/2 t (approx) vanilla extract
4 T (or a little more to taste) brown sugar. 

Mix at least 24 hours before serving, so flavours can blend.
The set up! It was absolutely STUNNING.
Chae shopped at second hand stores for nice tea cups and saucers. Each guest was given one to use, and to take home with them! Also in the tea cup was Dove chocolates, sugar cubes, tea, and a little pot of honey. A perfect little package to make every one feel special!
The table

RASPBERRY SCONES with ORANGE GLAZE - I got many comments that these were the best scones they'd ever tasted, and I think I agree. The recipe came from my friend, Lauren. Check it out - they are amazing, and now a must serve at every tea party!!

We also served veggies & dip, cucumber sandwiches (made with white bread, no crusts, and philly cream cheese - the spreadable chive and onion flavour. Yum), cream puffs, and maybe a few other little things I can't remember at the moment. I was baking up a storm all week!

Tea, ready to serve!
The bride to be!

It was a wonderful day, and we (the planners, decorators, helpers, bakers etc) had a ball throwing this party!