31 July 2008

[talk: Being A Loser Part Deux]

Will I be able to sleep tonight? Or should I get another workout in?? Another glass of water??? ANYTHING????

Tomorrow morning is the weigh in. The moment I've been working for ... hoping to win the $800 prize money ... and I'm NERVOUS.

I'll be posting tomorrow ... we'll see. *fingers crossed*

30 July 2008

[organize: Tidy Equals Calm]

As I get my body back into order, I find that my sense of calmness has overflowed into other parts of my life. When I'm happy with myself, it seems that my home is in better order, my purse organized, my car cleaned, my lists - done. And when I'm not happy with myself, things get cluttered, messy, disorganized and basically - well - chaos. Now, those who know me would maybe say that my home isn't completely chaotic - but I know where I've "stuffed" things, rather than putting them in their rightful place. Or I know how long it's been since I wiped down the cupboards. Or when the last time was that I emptied out the fridge. Or what's behind the door in our "junkroom" that nobody sees *GRIN*.
So - I'm happy. Feeling good about myself, and the state that our home is in. I've taken a few photos of little projects that I've completed. I bought 2 new glass vases from Costco and set them up beside my hutch and LOVE how it looks ... along with organizing all of my cookbooks in baskets underneath. I've FINALLY bought the frames from Jysk to put Mattias' art in and hang in his room, and the newspaper clipping from Josiah's "NEW YEARS BABY" birth, which will hang in his room. They will be hung tonight *grin*. And the rest is just moving things around, cleaning up the space with less clutter ...
And that junkroom is not so junky anymore. YAY!
Tonight when the boys are in bed, we'll light the candles, get cozy on the couch, watch SYTYCD and enjoy the calm. That is the GREATEST feeling for me.

28 July 2008

[talk: Being a Loser]

WELL - it's down to the final week.

For those of you who DON'T know, I've been participating in "The Biggest Loser" with some of my family members. We each put in $200 (to make us super motivated) and gave a deadline of 3 months. Friday, August 1, is the big Weigh-In.

It's a very close race ... I'm down "1*" lbs (can't say - my competition could be watching *wink*) and 4.5 inches around my waist. OH you have NO IDEA how much I want to win ... I've taken this seriously since I got back from NY (couldn't do it on that trip - you can understand why, I'm sure *grin*) ... But my competition has been stepping it up over the last couple of weeks. My weight continues to drop - and I'm getting so close to my final goal. WHOO HOO! Four pregnancies in 3.5 years really took a toll on my little frame ... 20lbs on me, is like 50lbs on another.

SO - fingers crossed - August 1st, here I come!!

Before: (Notice that I'm hiding behind my son and hoping that black will hide everything, except for the fact that the turtleneck makes my short neck look like a sausage stuffed in too small of a casing)

After: (well - this is the last pic taken of me 2 weeks ago - I've lost a few pounds since then...)

24 July 2008

[talk: Remembering Shalom]

It's always a strange thing ... the way your mind and body have a way of remembering things, feelings, emotions. And it can come out of nowhere - just "BLAM". There it is. And you just have to deal with it.

On December 16th, 2005, my husband and I were forced to make an extremely difficult decision and have an induction at 20 weeks gestation. To make a very long, very complicated story short- our daughter suffered from an extreme case of Trisomy 18. This is a chromosome issue, and in our little girl's case, this anomaly made itself known by anencephaly. This is when the brain never forms. Our daughter's spine never closed at her shouldblades during the first 20 days of gestation, thus never producing a brain stem, thus never producing a brain. Here's some info, if you're interested: http://www.anencephaly.net/anencephaly.html

You know - maybe I'll just cut-and-paste our story onto my blog ... sometimes it's just a bit too hard to go through the whole thing again.

But the reason that I'm putting up this post, is because I never forget her. A day does not go by where I don't think of her, and wonder what my life would be like with her here. There are days where it is so overwhelming, even 2 years later. I talk about her often. She's our middle child. One of three. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever have a daughter or if she was my only chance. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.

I came across a photo today, that I intend on scrapbooking. It's the most exquisite flower from a Christmas Cactus. My dear friend C gave the plant to me on the year anniversary of our loss - December 17th - and it was to bloom at Christmas time and remind us of our little Shalom Hope. But as God would have it, this year it flowered in May - right on Shalom's due date.

Oh how I miss you, little one.

our story:

In December 03 I got pregnant with our first child. I was ignorant to a lot of the medical mumbo jumbo and I simply did whatever the doctor suggested for me to do. So, at 18 weeks I took the "Triple Marker Test". It tests a few things; spinal cord issues (openings in the spine, such as Spinal Bifida) and Downs Syndrome. My levels were slightly abnormal and on a Friday afternoon I received a phonecall from a doctor who said, and I quote, "We think you're carrying a mongoloid." Needless-to-say, I placed a complaint against that doctor - and we opted for no extra testing. On August 11, 2004 we had our son, Mattias Antonio. He was not a Downs baby, and was premature at 36.5 weeks, weighing 6lbs4oz. Big enough for me *wink*. 

A year, exactly to the day, I got pregnant again. This time, I was far from obsessed with being pregnant. I'm sure it had a lot to do with Mattias taking up my time and life just kept trucking along. We decided to skip the Triple Marker test and I scheduled our ultrasound appointment at 20 weeks pregnant. 

It was Monday at 11:15 am that we went in to have our little one checked. And I will never, ever, ever forget that moment. After hearing the heartbeat, I thought everything was fine - but then our technician left and came back with a doctor and my husband. My heart is racing even as I type this. 

The doctor started off - and my head started spinning - I was getting the jyst that something was terribly wrong with our child and that our lives were going to be forever changed. In those 20 seconds or so, I imagined what life would be like with a severely handicapped child - and then the doctor said the words that I will never forget, "Your child's condition is not compatible with life. It will not survive outside of your womb - you need to consider termination." 


Our child was diagnosed with anencephaly. Between specific early days after conception, the spine (which is flat) rolls up into a tube starting at the bottom. Our child's spine stopped closing in between their shoulder blades - thus failing to produce a brainstem - thus failing to create a brain. Obviously, without a brain, the child could not survive. Nothing was there to tell the heart to beat, the lungs to breathe ... nothing. However, at first look, it appeared that everything else was normal (fingers, toes, organs etc...). The ironic thing, is that the Triple Marker test would've shown this problem much earlier than 20 weeks. 

We made an emergency appointment with our own doctor for that afternoon. There, we asked what our options were. We asked if we could have the baby and donate it's organs. No - because it's unethical in Canada to have a child for it's organs, even if it will not survive. We asked if there was any possibility of reversal - and we were told that the body goes through a checklist when developing ... if it skips a step it does not go back to correct itself. But how could I terminate a child we wanted to badly?? How would our families react? How would our friends? What about our church family that we loved - would they judge us or hold us during this painful time?? 

This was our baby - and I needed a miracle. 

That night we had a close group of family and friends come over. We are a couple who believes in God and have a strong faith ... but we weren't sure what we should do. After a night of worship, crying and prayer, my sister-in-law, Bonnie prayed that it would be obvious to us as to what we should do. 

The next day we begged for another ultrasound - just to be sure, and just to give God a chance for a miracle. So the appointment was made for Wednesday and we went to the Women's Hospital. 

We did some research and found out that 80% of all anencephalic babies are girls ... we were pretty sure we were having a daughter. That was confirmed at our ultrasound - and nothing had changed with her diagnosis. After the ultrasound we met with a genetic specialist that wanted to talk to us about some serious concerns. 

Obviously, the main one was the our daughter was not going to survive - but furthermore they were positive that spinal fluid was leaking into my bloodstream and asked me to terminate immediately - or my life was in serious danger. It was strange the they said that, because I had recently been complaining about being confused, and things not making sense to me. I had thought it was just hormones. Since it was the week before Christmas, I asked if I could wait until afterwards - and they said "no - we would seriously discourage that". 

So we believed that was the confirmation that we needed to terminate. My stomach sinks as I type that ... 

We needed to have an autopsy in order to know if Mattias was our exception or whether this little girl was our exception - so full labour and delivery were our only option. We were told that we should not conceive until after our test results.

On the Thursday, we were struggling as to what to name this little one. Should we name her as we would have should she have survived? Then, as plain as day, a name came to me: Shalom. It means "peace". We needed to come up with a 2nd name, we felt, as should she have taken 1 breath, she would need both a birth & death certificate. We felt it only right to have 2 names ... but we just didn't know what. 

On Friday, December 16 (my mother's birthday) - one week after the Christmas production I had sang in at our church, and 5 days after we found out - we went to the Women's Hospital and I was induced ... During the labour, Lu (my husband) was reading a book that said "may you find Peace & Hope this Christmas". There was her 2nd name "Shalom Hope" - peace for today and Hope for tomorrow. 

After 12 hours a labour, on December 17, I delivered our little girl - weighing half a pound. She was born stillborn. We inspected her and it was clear that we made the right decision. I can honestly say, had my life not been in danger, I don't know what I would've done. But I do know that I would've honestly gone insane delivering a full-term baby with the injuries Shalom had. But to us she was our baby, everything from her neck down appeared perfect to us though her face was as a mask. 

I don't know if many of you know what it's like to go to the hospital and come home without a baby ... to sit on the couch and act like nothing's happened. It is a horrible, devastating thing. Grief came in waves, where one moment I was strong and logical - the next I was unable to stand and wailed in mourning. 

We chose to bury Shalom. We thought this would be a way to have a place for Mattias and our future children to go. We had only immediate family in attendance. The funeral home provided everything - from the grave site and marker to the chairs and tent ... they treated her as if she had lived a full life. It was beautiful. 

My brother, Darren, wrote a song called "Your Love Still Remains" inspired by our experience and sang it for the first time there. It's on the recent CD that our church just put out called "Hope Is Waking". My brother-in-law, Joele, also wrote and sang a song called "Bringing You Home". They are the 2 most beautiful songs I've ever heard. 

On March 17, good ol' St. Patricks day, we met at the Women's Hospital to find out if we would be able to have more children. We were told that Shalom was a Trisomy 18 baby, where the 18th pair of chromosomes were compromised. It was a fluke - and very very very unlikely to ever happen again. But I was to go on large amounts of folic acid, which helps aid in spinal cord issues. 
On April 4, I got pregnant with Josiah William - our wonderful bundle of joy. He was born January 1 at 12:16am and was the New Years Baby for that city. It came with prizes and newspaper covers. What a great experience. He has his own story, and is far from a replacement of Shalom. He is him, and she is what she was. It amazes me that we wouldn't have him had Shalom survived - so bittersweet. 

Shalom taught me so much about compassion. She touched so many lives, and every email/letter that we got I turned into 2 full scrapbooks. Email upon email of love and support came. It taught me that I was loved and that there were an army of those who cared surrounding us. 

I also went to counseling right after we lost Shalom - and I learned that I was a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a musician - and that my identity was not in our loss. 
It is my hope that I will be able to share my story with others who have lost children; maybe not in the way that I lost mine for every situation is different. But I want to share what I've learned, to hold women who are grieving and to let them know that you can survive from such grief. To know that God is still God and that strength comes through wisdom. 

One final thing ... we had thought that Shalom simply meant peace - but it meant so much more than that. It also means "nothing broken, nothing missing" - which was so very appropriate, for we believe that she is complete in Heaven. And our doctor, who happens to be Jewish, said to me as I was leaving an appointment, "You couldn't have named her better. "Shalom" means 'hello' and 'goodbye'." My eyes well up even as I say that now ... 

So that is our story.

22 July 2008

[make: Caramelised Onions]

You should've seen the "happy dance" I did when my cookbooks arrived in perfect condition. They were delivered to my door - I had to sign for them - in about a week from my ordering. I have looked through each book (there are four) at least a dozen times - and each time I turn the page, I think "Oh - no - THAT's the one I want to try next ...". Simply brilliant.

Here are some of the recipes that the Destitute Gourmet has in her four books ... "Thai Chicken Curry", "Lemon Coconut Syrup Cake", "Baked Paprika Chicken", "Old Dark Beer-baked Ham", "Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce", "Steamed Greens with Honey Dressing", "Banana Caramel Waffles" ... and then other great recipes like "Homemade Condensed Milk", "Cajun Seasoning Mix", "Lollipops", "Bubble Mix", "Playdough", "Puffy Paint".

I could go on and on and on and on and on ...

Caramelised Onions

Shallots (small pickling size onions)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
squeeze of lemon juice
pinch of dried herbs (such as thyme or oregano)


Top and tail onions and boil for 6-8 minutes. Drain, then heat 1tbsp oil in the pan. Return onions to pan and add honey, vinegar, lemon juice and herbs. Cover and cook till golden and sweet.

** these are fantastic on pizzas or as an appy with crusty bread and baked brie**

21 July 2008

[talk: My Little Drummer Boy]

I'm not really sure EXACTLY when it started - but as long as I can remember, Mattias has been drumming. We would keep him occupied in restaurants by turning over glasses and giving him straws to hit them with.

For his first birthday, we gave him a single drum and by Christmas the same year, he had a little set with 2 toms and a cymbal. He played them so much, we had to use paper plates to repair the "skins" of the toms. Then - for Christmas, as the age of 2 - we got him a miniature kit including bass kick, high-hat and snare. It only took about 2 months for him to establish a simple 4/4 rhythm and play along with me as I played the piano & sang.

This year, at preschool, he brought his kit to class for "Show & Tell". It was a HIT ... it even brought in staff from around the building. One lady came up to me later and told me she had a jr. kit with real skins and wanted to know if I'd be interested in borrowing it. UM. YES!! So - Tias has 2 kits put together now, has a cow bell, and a Sabian Cymbal that he got for Christmas.

I'd be lying if I said he played everyday now. He doesn't. Mainly, it's my fault ... he used to play for an hour or two during the day, but with Josiah sleeping - I've had to curb that. And with the sunshine out - he's really not interested.

In the fall, he'll be in a 10wk music program with a focus on percussion. If he enjoys it, and I can handle Josiah through it, we can continue in 10wk classes.

Here's a video from that day at preschool. If you're interested in seeing more, go to www.youtube.com/taniakiwi . There are about a dozen or so there.

[Digiscrap: Oh Boy, It's Late]

I think I'm going cross-eyed ... so tired - did SO much today. We were leaving Penticton after taking the boys for a morning swim at the hotel when my folks had asked if we'd join them for a visit to our friend's place right on the lake. Um. YEAH!

So we went to their beautiful home - Josiah had his nap their while we took Mattias out on the boat. Such a wonderful, sunny afternoon. Then we headed back to Vancouver through Princeton - and had my FIRST DQ treat since I started the "Biggest Loser". I had a small-cone-in-a-cup. And it was heaven *grin*.
Here are a few of the pages I did while I was away ... Josiah would nap in the afternoon and that allowed a bit of "me" time - and I read & digiscrapped. My H was on the golf course *grin* - and he WON a new pair of golf shoes at the tournament ...
OK. I'm rambling. SO TIRED.
click on images to enlarge

19 July 2008

[talk: A Good Read]

I've always loved a good book. I remember going to the library with my family on different occasions and being so overwhelmed by the sheer number to choose from. I rarely picked one myself - even as a school child. I would ask the librarian, or a friend, or the teacher - "Which one should I read?" Then, I would find an author that I fell in love with, and would read every book they wrote. After that - I was back to square one ... "Um - can anyone recommend a good book?"

I joined a Book Club before I had Josiah ... but I didn't read as much as the fantastic women in the group - and I found myself cramming before our group meetings. Eventually, I left the group - not because of any other reason but that rather then motivating me, it felt stressful. But my love for a great read hasn't changed - and the summer seems the best time to start a new one.

Are you looking for something to inspire you? Challenge you? Man oh man, have I got the book for you. It's not a novel - and I love novels ... drifting away into some other reality. As wonderful as that is, this is not that book. No, no, no. This is a collection of interviews ... interviews with African people dying of AIDS.

It's called "28 Stories of AIDS in Africa", each story meant to represent 1 million stories ... that's right - there are an estimated 28 million people who are dying from this unfathomable disease. Each chapter is a new interview - brilliantly written by Globe and Mail journalist, Stephanie Nolan - and shows you a simple portrait of the person who's story you're about to read. Let me share a few quotes to get you thinking ...

"You see lines of people with bundles of their possessions on their heads who need food or tents or donations - you don't think, 'that is a doctor, that is a teacher, that's a commune administrator' ".

"The problem with HIV is that its transmission, in blood and sexual fluids and breast milk, preys on our most intimate moments."

"In 1986, Rwanda became the first country in the world to do a national survey of HIV prevalence, covering everyone from babies to the elderly. The results exceeded even the worst nightmares of the government: a staggering 17.8% of people in cities were already infected ... Anything above 1% is considered a 'generalized epidemic'."

"When I talk to people at home about the pandemic, I get the sense that they feel a dying African is somehow different from a dying Canadian, American or German - that Africans have lower expectations or place less value on their lives. That to be an orphaned 15 year old thrust into caring for four bewildered siblings, or a teacher thrown out of her house after she tells her husband she is infected - that somehow this would be less terrifying or strange for a person in Zambia or Mozambique than it would be for someone in the United States or Britain."

"How, he wanted to know, can your government, your country - you - just let us die?"

I am only a third the way through - and my eyes are so opened to something that has seemed so unreal, so "in another world'. It's a cocktail of factual information - using statistics and biological information - and heartfelt interviews. And it also provides information on dozens of ways that a person can help.

So, if you're so inclined, read a GOOD book this summer. It just might make you more generous, more grateful - but even if it doesn't - it will make you know the truth.

I bought mine at Costco for $12.99.

I should also add, that I did not find this book on my own. It was recommended by E. If you're reading this - thanks, girl.

17 July 2008

[talk: The Joys of Summer]

Where I live, summer doesn't last too long. You may get a run of 5 or 6 days of perfect, sunny weather - but you don't hold your breath for it. Going to bed with a clear, starry sky doesn't mean that there won't be rain in the morning.

But my family and I have been enjoying the HOT sun for the last 4 days - and are confident that it'll show up tomorrow in all of it's glory. Lathering up the SPF - and drinking so much bottled water my eyes begin to float - has been a really wonderful treat. Mattias has grown in confidence regarding swimming, Josiah now knows how to efficiently destroy a sand castle, my H has improved his golf swing, and I - well - I've actually read a few chapters of a fantastic read. But the greatest luxury - having someone else make my bed. Gotta love that.

Would love to show some pics - but my connection keeps timing out.

We're having a great time - you'll just have to take my word for it.

16 July 2008

[talk: SPF My Friends]

Dark hair, dark eyes, olive skin.

I've been blessed with these things that are supposed to help me be safe from the sun's harmful rays. I've been wearing SPF15 on my face ever since I can remember - I won't buy moisturizer without it - and I'm hoping to prolong my "youth" by doing my part against UV rays.

But today I got after a family member. SPF 4 just doesn't cut it, in my books, and I refused to apply it. I offered my 30 and they mocked me (in love *grin*) - I even offered 15 - to which they agreed. See, I wear SPF30, and SPF45 on my face, when outside in the pool and such on a sunny day. And especially since we lost our dear friend, DM, to a small mole that succumbed to the sun's evil - I just don't know why ANYONE would take a risk.

Is having a suntan more important than seeing your children grow up? More important than celebrating anniversaries with your spouse? More important than living? Obviously, no one would say that it is, and yet for a few months out of the year we overdose on vitamin D and call it "healthy".

Well, if you could see me now, you would see dark tan lines and much blonder highlights in my hair. My husband told me I look exotic *grin*. SPF doesn't stop you from tanning - it just helps you from burning.

So, dear ones, put it on - lather it up - and keep yourself safe.

**remember that sunscreen is for infants over a specific age - I believe it's 6 months - but please check. And skin cancer is caused primarily from sunburns as a child - so SPF45 is important ... and reapply often, especially when swimming**

14 July 2008

[make: Puffed Wheat Squares]

One of the reasons I'm doing this blog, is to somehow have a tangible venue to show that my day mattered. And it has done that for me - more than I thought. I'm already looking back at past posts to see what's been going on (sometimes life is such a blur) and I'm feeling productive and validated. Who'd of thunk?

I'm actually with my family in P and am sure to take a million photos over the next few days. SO - I thought I'd post a few of my latest digipages to make room for the upcoming ones. But the Internet is too slow 'round here and I keep timing out. So - no digi pages for a few days - unless I can figure out what the problem is. And who are we kidding - I'm not going to be spending time doing that when there's a glorious pool a few feet away *grin*.

Anyway - the numbers on the scale continue to go down **I can taste victory ... and a DQ chocolate cone if I think hard enough** and I'm finding that I have a lot of self control at this point. But today - just now - I was craving these. Thank goodness there isn't a kitchen around *wink*. But maybe you'll enjoy them instead.

Puffed Wheat Squares

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups puffed wheat


In a medium pot, simmer butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and cocoa. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over puffed wheat (in a large, separate bowl). Press evenly into a GREASED 9x13 (if you like them thinner) or 9x9 (if you like them thicker).

** Be sure to cut these when warm. After they set, they're a stinker to cut. Trust me.**

13 July 2008

[talk & make: Life as a Seinfeld Episode & Chicken Marinade]

Ok - so today I wanted to share a YUMMY recipe - but first ... I must tell you the most fantastic story a friend told me at church this morning. I was in the hallway in between services where I was chatting with a guy - and he was itching to tell me this story his brother shared with him.

His brother lives in the UK and has 3 flatmates - one of them a Kiwi girl (which is why I think he wanted to share this particular story with me). So - not too long ago, this girl (we'll call her "Mary") was asked to house-sit a friend's place in London. Mary willingly agreed and was informed that her friend's dog wasn't doing so well. The dog was a large Labrador, and was on his last legs - in fact, the friend was pretty sure the dog would pass while they were away. Sure enough, two weeks into Mary's one-month stay, the dog died.

Mary then realized that she was in a bind. She had no car, and knew of no one near-by who did. She knew she had to get rid of the dog as the London flat didn't have a backyard to bury the dog. She decided to put the dog in a suitcase (yes, a suitcase) and take the dog to the Tube (London Subway).

On her way off of the train, she found herself at a stairwell and was struggling with the suitcase. A kind bloke came up to help her, to which she became flustered and tried to convince him she was fine. He insisted, and once he tried to lift the very heavy bag, he asked her what on earth was in it. Mary nervously laughed and said, "Oh, you know - just lots of jewelry." And once at the top of the stairwell, the man ran off with her bag. To which she shrugged, and walked down the stairs back onto the Tube to go home.

Can you IMAGINE the man's surprise when he opened up the suitcase? CLASSIC!!

Now - for the recipe. I don't know where I found this, but I used it for my dad's 60th bday party last year. It was a HIT. So good.

Chicken Marinade
for 6-8 chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup soya sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp parsley

Directions: mix all ingredients together. pour over chicken. marinade for 2 hours.

Badabing. Badaboom.
You're done.

12 July 2008

[talk:Gotta love a SALE!]

So ... as some of you may, or may not, know - I'm doing the "Biggest Loser" with a pot of $800 as the prize. Right now, I'm winning *whoo hoo* - but the competition is getting tough around here. The deadline is August 1 and I only have *lbs to go to my goal (what - you thought I was going to post that??).

ANYWAY - the point being, I haven't been "this" weight in 3 years and my summer clothes are a bit, well, ill-fitting. So I've been shopping ... prior to winning the $$ *grin*. But hey - a girl's gotta wear cute clothes, right??

The long and the short of it - is that I bought some new tube-tops and such but what I really needed was a new bathingsuit. My last-year's suit is ok - but that leaves me with only one and we're off to Penticton on Monday.

After searching around, I ended up at the Swim Shop - tres expensive, yes. But GET THIS: I bought a tube-tank (do you see a trend with the tube thing??), swim shorts (suuuper cute - never had them before) and a swim-tie-skirt thingy. Regularly EACH PIECE was $72.00. And I got them for less than $20.00!! That's $216+tax regularly for just over $60.00.

SO PUMPED. And it's cute too *wink* ... see for yourself.

[talk: A Really Great, Busy Day]

"Guido" and "Luigi" ... new little friends for our boys ...
not the NEMO fish - the ones behind!!


It was a day full of running around and trying to get to the next place on time. But it was SO beautiful out - and the boys had so much fun ... it was so worth packing up and moving on to the next thing.

We went to the water-park in WG - it was really great. I had never been before and my GF met me there with her kids. Of course, it was far from the "let's sit and catch up" venue but it was great to see her none-the-less. We would chat for a few minutes, and then throw in an "excuse me" as we ran off to catch one of our little ones and bring them back to safety. And speaking of safety - SPF45 was in order. And my littlest one still got a tan *grin*.

Then off to swimming lessons - and YAY - it was good this time!! Tias had "no tears" and did a starfish on his back!! WHOO HOO!! It felt victorious - even though a small one. To me, every time he does something that he's scared of, it's a HUGE thing.

At night we went to K's birthday party. SO cute ... with a "Finding Nemo" theme. So a BIG THANKS to K&C for the fishies as a party-gift *wink*. We had to pull out our fish-tank this morning and set it up in Mattias' room. The boys LOVE them and named them "Guido" and "Luigi". Can you sense a "Cars" theme around here??

SO - another bunch of pics ... more to scrap, more to save. *sigh* It seems to me that I take too many pictures ... documenting the boys day-to-day life may be a bit much *GRIN*.


the boys at the water-park

me 'n Tias

Siah enjoying his grapes

Tias smiles for the camera

Tias enjoying his lessons ...

11 July 2008

[talk: Swimmin' of a Gong Show]

Last week, Mattias had his first "REAL" swimming lesson. I say that, because he had lessons at the rec centre - but they weren't really lessons. More-like an introduction to the water. Now, he's taking semi-private lessons in a class of 4 at a woman's home. The other 3 children are friends of his - and are at various stages of learning to swim. So at "lesson one", us mom's sat on the side of the pool and watched the drama unfold. One little girl was confident and willing to learn, another was quiet but listened intently and did as she was asked. The final little girl had developed a fear of the water, after being able to swim in the deep end at 18 months of age (with water wings). Then there was Mattias.

A couple of months back, we had an episode where he had taken off his water-wings and ventured off the pool steps. We were watching him, but he went under for a good 5-6 seconds and it terrifed him (naturally). We took that opportunity to tell him that he needed lessons so that he could swim like his big cousins and such.

Well, at his first lesson, the first order-of-the-day was to do "hums": putting your face in the water. That's when the drama began ... tears, wailing, "MUUUUUMMMY"s and basic hysteria. But the swim instructor was SO great - and spoke to the children like they were adults. And the children responded by getting themselves together (momentarily, anyways) and continued to participate.

An on-looking-mom had reassured me before the lessons had even started. "See that little guy over there?" she pointed. He was about the same age as Mattias, confidently swimming under the water with goggles on. "He was just like your son at his first lesson. Now look at him!" She was rightfully proud! All I could think was 'what a gift' to give your child the ability to save themselves in the water - and to have FUN. SO GREAT.

So that was week one. Today - we're off to lesson number two ... but first? To the water-park to meet with a friend ... and later? A two-year-old's birthday party.

It shall be a full, glorious, eventful day. Hope yours is full of wonderful things too.

Below is a page that I scrapbooked from last week's "First Swim".

click image to enlarge

09 July 2008

[Digiscrap: NYC]

Last night I gave the NYC book I created for my dad. He knew about it - but was so excited to get it. So, at 10:30pm I showed up at my folk's place and we sat around the kitchen table together. Dad was telling mom about all the places - and would smile when he read. I had spent so much time with the journaling details of this trip - I felt that was the most important thing. He would laugh and say, "Oh yeah - of course! I had forgotten that .." which was SO cool. I knew that I had created something special for him.

It'll take him hours to read it all - but last night he scanned through it twice - each time getting a little slower as he absorbed it all. And it made me so happy. So - I have the same book - and I'll sit with my H and show him everything about our NYC trip. It was the most treasured vacation ...

Here are some of the digi pages ... I won't post all 60pgs *GRIN*. But here are few to start you off... They are NOT in the order of the book - just a few random pages ...

click images to enlarge

08 July 2008

[talk: Withdrawal]

So, I have this addiction to the Bachelor/Bachelorette Series. Perhaps it's the romance or the drama - but for me, it's also the game. I usually watch the very first show, to see who I think will be chosen. And then I skip through a couple of weeks and start seriously watching it again when the numbers are down a bit and the choices are fewer. I know, I know ... big waste of time. But I find it fascinating how 25 men (or women) can think they're falling for one person. Is that even possible? I mean, I could see 25 women thinking that, but 25 men?? Women are emotive - and would probably REALLY believe that they're in love in their delusion... but I find it FASCINATING watching the guys fall for the same girl ... does the show drug them or something?? Could they really believe that she's the 'perfect one' for all of them??

When I was chatting about this with some friends last night, it was decided that competition plays a HUGE part for the guys. But then - how could the bachelorette believe any of their sincerity? I guess that's why the relationships don't seem to last ... but there are a few that have worked. It's probably the same ratio as real Hollywood relationships.

So, last night my man was out and I watched the Season Finale by myself. And found myself GASPING *literally* as the show progressed. I felt sick for Jason - the guy she didn't choose, elated for the Jesse - the guy she did ... and just plain exhausted by the end.

It's such a ridiculous show - I know. But I'm already having withdrawal symptoms *GRIN*.

06 July 2008

[Digiscrap: Photomerge]

I did it again ... for you Photoshop Elements 6.0 people - this is the GREATEST tool. I can never get a group of children to look at the camera at the same time, and now I don't have to. I took about 6 photos of this group and managed to find 2 good ones - but both had one person not looking. I selected the 2 photos that I thought I'd use (it works best if they are the same shot (i.e. same distance and little movement between pics). I clicked "GUIDED EDIT". I chose "faces" at the bottom ... and on the left picture, coloured in the person I wanted to add to the right picture. It sounds confusing - but fiddle with it. It's SUPER easy to try ... I know I've done this before - but I haven't done it with a group shot - SO PUMPED.

Here's the first pic I chose ...



05 July 2008

[Digiscrap: Getting them off ...]

While Lu played hockey last night, I spent the evening on the couch sorting through SO many pics on my PC. I'm trying out a new system because I now have Lightroom as well as Photoshop Elements 6.0. Lightroom is the COOLEST program - but I can't Digiscrap on it. SO - I'm now downloading my pics into Lightroom, editing them, then transferring them to Elements. Once they're edited in Lightroom, I back them up. That's been the hard part to figure out - because I'm scared my computer will crash before I get them all edited and *poof* - they'll be gone. BUT I got it all done ... and with the pics on disk, once I do the digipages, they come off my computer. Plus, I got over 500+ pics from New York off my computer. FEELS GOOD. *I'm an odd one, I know.* Now I'm on top of things, have a routine, and am organized. I'm a happy girl.

Here are a few of my recent digi pages, including one I just finished today.


*click image to enlarge*

04 July 2008

[Digiscrap: Turning 4 Already]

I cannot believe that it's been 4 years since our eldest was born. In some ways, it seems as though he's been here forever, and in other ways the time has flown. When I think, "if we do that over again, he's 8" I'm liable to panic *smile*. Mattias is such a sweet boy who loves to put both hands on my face, look into my eyes and say, "Mummy - I love you so much". Yes, little girls, beWARE. He's got the moves that melt already.

So as I start planning his birthday, I've found myself feeling a teeny bit stressed. It seems to me that the last 3 birthdays have all been practice runs for this one. Four is important. I don't know why I think that, but I do. So - I'm a month ahead and planning his cake, games, decorations and such. He's asked for a "Car" theme ... and yes, Lightening McQueen. I had wanted to take my GF's advice and do a general car-theme - but we'll see. She had a couple of great ideas for a cake, so I'm planning, planning, planning. I LOVE doing things like this, but it's the unknown that scares me. Once I do it, I'll be alright for the next 10 years or so. Fingers crossed.

Here's the invite I created last night ... I like how it turned out. I'll upload them to Costco as 5x7s. It's still cheaper than buying cards ... and you KNOW how I love to digiscrap *grin*.

And as for life, in general, today we are off to Mattias' first "real" swimming lessons in a private class of 4. So, I'm sure to add a few hundred photos to my growing collection. And I FINISHED my Dad's New York "Thank You" album. SIXTY PAGES (30 2-page layouts). Of course, I needed to make a copy for myself ... the cost? *drumroll* $170.00 per book (one for me, one for him). But it's so worth it ... I can't wait to give it to my Dad - I'm hoping he'll love it. And as soon as I do, I'll be sure to share it with you *wink*.

02 July 2008

[Talk: Arrr... Pirates of Keats]

How FANTASTIC was Canada Day Long Weekend?? The weather on the Sunshine Coast was absolutely incredible - and the perfect backdrop to our "pirate weekend". We joined our friends at their Keats Cottage for the weekend, and had an absolute blast ... their children taught our boys about "pirating" and it seemed that most answers were replied with a throaty "arrrrrrhhh". We water skied, tubed, went to different islands for "treasure" hunting, had a picnic at the beach, went for walks, boated to Barnabus for ice-cream ... it was relaxing, and crazy, all at the same time. SUCH a great family weekend ...

I now have a million photos to sort through - and I usually only share my pics through Digiscrap - but here are a few to show.

Hope your weekend was full of wonderful things too ...
And as for those new sheets? GONG SHOW. They were too big and didn't fit the bed right. So off I go to return them ... such a pain.