Monday, 30 April 2012

Super-photographer in the making

I'm so excited for a day long photography course I will be taking with a very good friend of mine next weekend. I just can't wait!!! I've been trying to teach myself for a while, from on-line sources and books, but this will be the first "real" photography instruction I'm getting. Have I mentioned that I'm super excited for it?
So this weekend (in prep for my awesome amounts of upcoming learning) I tried to take lots of pics of our outings IN MANUAL MODE!! Usually I give up on manual mode when everything turns out blurry or over/under exposed, and I just get tired of missing the cute moments. But this weekend I stuck with it (for most of the time at least).
We had a great play date Saturday and a BBQ Sunday, ample opportunity for cute moments. And, believe it or not, I managed to get a few photos I liked!!!
I'm also REALLY excited to use my super-photographer skills after the course next weekend when I meet my brand-spanking-new niece for the first time. She's named after me, yep, Anastasia (my middle name). Can't wait to meet her!

What a great weekend!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Wordless Wednesday but with words - Strider Bike

Spring!!! You've taken far too long to arrive. But now that you're here, the waiting is just a distant memory.

I'm loving getting the kids out of the house to run/bike/play that energy away. This past week we got Levi a new bike, it's called a "Strider" and basically it's a two-wheeler for toddlers. It has no pedals, and no training wheels. Apparently it's great for teaching little ones the basics of balance and steering on a two-wheeler, and from here getting onto a bike with pedals (and of course no training wheels) is a snap, so they say.

Levi is still a little hesitant with the Strider, but that adorable little grin on his face, and the way he says "bi-ke-cle" and squeals, tells me this is just the beginning of something beautiful.

This post is the first I've ever tried to link-up with another blog. I'm still pretty new to this whole blogging world, but I figure maybe it's time to participate a bit more rather than just stalk other blogs from the comfort of my own anonymity.

 then, she {snapped}

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Me Time

I love Wednesdays! The older two kiddos are at schools in the afternoon, right at the same time as Levi's nap. And, if I don't have to work, and all the stars align I get "me time"!!! Ahhhh, me time. I love me time.
Usually me time gets cut into by silly things like dishes, and laundry, and finances, and numerous other things I wouldn't rather be doing. But sometimes I play hooky from my responsibilities and just enjoy and little latte and an adorable foot-warmer!


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Accidentally Somewhat-Healthy Banana Muffins

Apparently I'm turning into my mother, it's bound to happen, they say it's inevitable. It's not such a bad thing really, my mom is pretty great. She's always looking out for us, especially by trying to make sure we eat healthy, she's always doctoring her recipes to make things better for us.

Today, apparently, genetics took over in my kitchen. I was making banana muffins, and without my knowledge I made a relatively healthy and still very delicious version of the recipe I was following. Here's how it happened (accidentally). I had some whole wheat flour and bran in my pantry that needed to get used up, so I figured I could substitute just 1 of the 3 cups of white flour for whole wheat stuff and add a smidgen of bran. Then, I didn't have as many over-ripe bananas in my freezer as the original recipe called for so I added a bit of applesauce to make sure they were not too dry. Well it's a good thing I did that because I put the 2/3 cup of butter into the microwave to melt it and proceeded to leave it there, consequently never making it into the muffins. Of course if I were really trying to be as health conscious as my mom I would have substituted something for the large amount of white sugar, but hey, this healthy(ish) recipe was an accident.

As per usual I had my three lovely assistants in the kitchen, but for some reason the boys gave up on helping early on, so Mikayla and I were able to bake without the usual fighting over the stool or the mixing spoon.

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
3 Tbsp Bran
2 tsps Baking Soda
2 tsps Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

4 over-ripe Bananas
2 1/2 under-ripe Bananas
2 Eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Cut up Chocolate Easter Eggs (or chocolate chips)

Steps to Deliciousness
Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl
Blend together over-ripe bananas, eggs, applesauce and sugar in a separate bowl
Dice up the under-ripe bananas into small cubes (I always do this for banana muffins because I love having little bits of actual banana in the muffin, and I think it helps keep the muffin moist. I could be out to lunch, but that's just the way I do it)
Cut up little chocolate Easter eggs into small bits (of course you can use chocolate chips, but at this time of year there's always too many Easter eggs around)
Mix under-ripe bananas and chocolate into the wet ingredients with a spoon
Mix together dry ingredients and wet ingredients
Put into muffin tins (we just happened to have some cute star-shaped muffin tins to use)
Bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes

Friday, 13 April 2012

Masking Tape Racetrack

My three year old has an addiction, Batman Lego on the Wii. It's gotten to the point recently that we've had to put restrictions on how much he's allowed to play Wii. He has actually taken these restrictions in stride. We only allow Wii three days a week now, each day he wakes up and asks if it's a Wii day, and if the answer is no he usually drops it there and we have a no-Wii day. I've loved these no-Wii days, we've been able to have lots of fun that doesn't involve staring at the TV screen.

Last week we had a really fun "no-Wii day" while Mikayla was at school and Levi was napping, Gavin and I made a racetrack out of masking tape in our family room. Gavin had me take out every little car and truck we could find, and line them all up, so he could choose the cars to race. And then the fun really began!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Thomas the Train Table

Levi's birthday present this year was a bit of a challenge for us because we weren't entirely sure what to get him. He's a third child, there are already so many toys in the house that have been bought for or given as gifts to his older siblings. He gets all sorts of clothes passed down from his brother, has the hand-me-down tricycle that has been both Mikayla's and Gavin's, there is nothing he really NEEDS.

We got a great idea for his gift about a week before his birthday when we were at Chapters. We mostly go there for the kids to play with the Thomas the Train table they have set up in the children's section, and of course for the Mama to get a Starbucks. Levi had a blast playing at the table as usual, and REALLY didn't want to leave when it was time. Perhaps it was the screaming, or maybe the tears, or possibly even the kicking as we took him out of Chapters, that got us thinking about getting him a Thomas the train table.

But two things were holding us back a bit, first of all they take up so much space and secondly they are rather pricey when they are brand new. So we thought why not look for a second hand train table? But we found that a lot of people were over charging for these used tables, and we still ran into the problem of space. Here's where my brilliant husband said (as he often does) "I could build something better than that", and from there on we were on a mission to build a better Thomas the Train table.

Jan lovingly built a table top that fits on top of the coffee table in our living room. He filled the cracks and sanded it so the kids would have a safe, smooth surface to play on, and gave it a few coats of primer. Then the hardest part of the whole thing was getting the layout just right, it took us much longer than I'm willing to admit to.

After getting the layout down, we traced it in pencil and began painting, and painting, and painting. I added rocks and sand around the "water features", and painted, and painted some more. This night I got only 2 hours of sleep (oh the things we do for our children!)

The finished product is pretty amazing (if I do say so myself)

And needless to say, Levi LOVES it.
After opening it up first thing in the morning on his birthday he all but refused to do anything else, including eating the pancake brunch I made for him, or go down for his nap. I think we made a winner with this present.