Friday, January 28, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

This week the rain finally paused and let the sun have a turn. We no longer had the excuse of wet weather to keep us cooped up inside so we headed out to get some fresh air and a good dose of vitamin D.

I think Silas was happy to relieve his cabin fever...

Gotta love January in BC when we can head outside in just our hoodies and write with sidewalk chalk.

Keziah is proudly learning to write her own name and is showing a sudden interest in all things related to writing, drawing and colouring. She has her own journal that she carries around and fills with pen markings. She is definitely her mother's daughter :)

Silas busied himself caring for Daisy the doll.

Micah was glad to get on his bike again. He's still got training wheels so we really need to see about taking those off one of these days. This is his racing face:

Here's hoping for more sun and less rain in the days to come!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cola-Braised Pulled Pork Carnitas

Speaking of new things, I finally started menu planning a few weeks ago rather than just "winging" my supper plan on a daily basis. On Sunday night I try to take a few minutes to make a plan for my week and then write out a shopping list. The time spent has totally been worth it! At the suggestion of a friend, I've started creating a "master list" on my laptop of all the meals that we eat, divided into categories. So, instead of paging through all my cookbooks at 9 pm, I've got a concise little list to refer to.

Our BIG grocery shop usually happens early in the week after dropping Micah off at school. Superstore is our grocery store of choice and I like it for several reasons:

1) I can shop for really cute kids clothing at the same time (and for some reason, discreetly adding an item or 2 to my grocery bill seems like it "hurts' less :)

2) After Silas was born, Superstore was the only grocery store with carts that could fit all three of my children (including infant car seat) and all my groceries. I consider pushing said cart up and down from the parkade my weekly work-out.

3) We get free chocolate chip cookies at the bakery. This keeps the kids quiet for most of the shopping trip, even though there is chocolate everywhere by the time we hit the check-out lines.

4) Superstore really is just the cheapest place for groceries. Period.

This week, at Erik's suggestion, we had one of our favourite slow-cooker meals. I found the recipe in my Canadian Family magazine last year (see it here) and it quickly became a staple meal at our house.


1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups cola (the recipe says not to use diet, but I do anyway and it still tastes great)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks (I usually just do about 1 tsp of ground cinnamon)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano leaves (I do about 1 tsp of ground oregano)
2 bay leaves
3 lbs boneless pork shoulder

STEP 1: Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker except the pork.

Of course, the recipe calls for 2 cups of cola which is just a little more than one can. Which, to my horror, leaves some extra pop that needs to be consumed :oP The kids are more than happy to help me deal with this "problem"...

STEP 2: Cut pork in half horizontally to lie flat. I try to trim off some of the really fatty parts of the meat in this stage. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to slow cooker and set it to low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours. I try to baste the pork and/or rotate it in between.

STEP 3/4: According the recipe you are supposed to remove the pork from the slow cooker and separate the grease from the cooking liquid. Totally not sure how this is even possible. It says to reduce some of the cooking liquid over high heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. This part of the process has never really worked well for me, so I just take the liquid straight out of the slow cooker for some extra "sauce". (And I take heart in the fact that I tried to trim off some of the fat so then it can't be quite as greasy, right?)

STEP 5: Using two forks, pull the meat apart into shreds and mix in some of the "sauce".

STEP 6: Serve on a soft, warm taco with avocado slices and a squirt of lime.

Lately we've included our favourite homemade salsa inside the tortilla as well. SO yummy!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Things

With the hectic-ness of December behind me, I have fully welcomed the regularity of January. It's only as busy as I make it. And I like it that way. And it's a good time to think about new things...

I was reading my friend Kelly's blog tonight and feeling a little bit inspired in the "new-ness" of January. I guess I'm talking "New Year's Resolutions" though I feel that term almost insinuates things-that-one-does-not-follow-through-with. And what I'm trying to convey is the sort of change that is lasting, one that results from maturity rather than just a phase.

I didn't set myself a resolution this year, but then I got an email from a friend in our church Life Group about a week ago. She was wondering who wanted to join her in her quest to finally read the Bible in a year. Without really thinking about it, I emailed back and said that she could count me in. It's something that I have always wanted to do too, but of course procrastinated. When it comes to Bible reading I get a bit lost as to where I should be reading. Without anyone/anything to guide me, it just tends not to happen. So, I figured the accountability would be helpful.

Since I was getting a bit of a late start, I had some catching up to do (and still have some catching up to do). When I was halfway through reading that first day I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by what I had committed to - even though I probably spend an equal amount of time or more (probably more) reading novels and blogs and... procrastinating. Now that I am fully immersed in this regular reading, I have to say that I am really, really enjoying it. Like, way more than I thought I would. And maybe that's because I'm mostly reading in Genesis and Matthew and there's a good story line happening that keeps me interested... But I think I'm also surprised at how many new things I seem to be gleaning from each story, and the questions I have that make me want to read more.

Anyway, I write this to hopefully keep myself even more accountable. As well as to recommend this to anyone who's always wanted to do it but never gotten around to it. You can click HERE if you want to see the reading plan that we're following. It's been helpful to print it out and stick it in my Bible. And the feeling I get from highlighting each reference that I've completed -- this is for all you list-crosser-offers -- is almost worth it alone :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Pre-two-year-old is a hard stage. Busy. Demanding. Exhausting. With lots of cleaning up of unnecessary messes like toilet paper that has come un-rolled and book shelves that have come un-booked.

But then you get rewarded by this little budding personality. And the explosion of language - attempting every word given, stringing them together, and being so innocently cute about the whole darn thing.

The video's abrupt ending was caused by Keziah, crashing off her chair in a flying tangle of limbs and alphabet soup... The excitement never ends around here!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


It's a nice change of pace to look out the window in January and see white instead of brownish-green...

We've endured a marathon of sickness this month. Whatever week-long virus Micah had after Christmas has cycled through the other two. On Sunday we opted to stay home from church, but we were all suffering from a serious case of cabin fever. So, even though Silas wasn't feeling 100%, we decided to bundle up and head out to the fresh snow. We went down the street to Delair park where we found a little "mini" hill that was perfect for our inexperienced sledders.

(For the record, it was Erik's idea - not mine - to send Silas on the sled against his will.)

We woke up this morning to even more snow and a cancelled day of school.

Erik piled a bunch of it up for us before leaving for work and then me and the kids worked at hollowing out a nice little snow fort.

The kids can't seem to play in the snow without the dire need for hot chocolate immediately afterwards. And since snow is rare around these parts, we can afford to keep up the hot chocolate tradition after leaving a pile of dripping wet boots and mitts and toques by the back door.

Maybe you caught the news in the video, but Micah lost not just one, but TWO teeth over the weekend. Like I predicted, he was easily swayed to let Daddy pull out the second one once he had that first tooth fairy visit. Unfortunately, the tooth fairy was a little forgetful that second night and had to get creative with how the coin-age got into Micah's possession. But I don't think we'll have to keep up the charade for too much longer. I'm pretty sure the kid is onto us.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Another Milestone

It was August, at my parents' farm, when Micah suddenly freaked out while chewing his pancakes one morning. After some questioning, we figured out that he had his first loose tooth!
I don't remember my teeth taking this long to fall out, but Micah had that loose tooth in his mouth for over 4 months. Erik finally convinced him to let him pull the thing out last night. And it pretty much fell out into his hands.

There are at least 3 more teeth in his mouth that are loose, and I'm thinking -- after his first visit from the tooth fairy -- they might not be too far behind :)

Next comes the awkward stage. Adult teeth coming in to a mouth that is a little too small for them. I feel sorry for any of my children who inherit the buck teeth I had as a child...
(kinda wishing I had a picture handy right now to prove it :)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Muffin Morning

Today dawned dark, gloomy and rainy. I decided to make a batch of our favourite banana chocolate chip muffins, but only had 2 over-ripe bananas in my freezer instead of the necessary 3... So I found a can of pumpkin in my cupboard that I bought back in the fall when I was inspired to make all things pumpkin-y (but never followed through), googled a muffin recipe that called for canned pumpkin and we were in business.

I was nervous about opening this can of pumpkin after my run-in with an evil can of tomatoes last week. My (inferior) can opener has a hard time opening these larger cans - leaving me to pry them open with a knife. Ugh. My stomach is turning just remembering how my hand slipped and blood was everywhere... blah.
I debated going to a clinic. They may not have given me stitches, but at the very least, some of that fancy glue stuff they use these days. But I decided to just brave it out at home.

I feel like such a baby, but this little cut has totally affected my quality of life.

Thankfully, I opened the pumpkin without incident.

Silas was being his usual, helpful self.

Keziah did the mixing.

Meanwhile, I stared into my spice cupboard and wondered if there was any way to make it more organized so I don't have to take every single thing out when I'm trying to find the nutmeg.

Waiting for the muffin-y goodness.

Mmmm. Pumpkin muffins for a rainy day.

But, then there's the aftermath.
From the muffin-making, and from dinner with company last night that I didn't feel like cleaning up at 9 pm...

If you're like me, you procrastinate cleaning your kitchen. Also, if you're like me, a dirty kitchen makes you irritable and impatient (a.k.a cranky mommy), unable to focus on small tasks because of the disaster looming on the countertops.

And if you're like me, a clean kitchen makes you feel like you can do... anything! You feel like you can conquer any other cleaning task in the entire house, or like you actually want to do crafts and games and puzzles with the kids on that nice big expanse of free tabletop.
A clean kitchen is... empowering.

Now, if I could only figure out a way to make it stay that way.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year's Walk

New Year's Day dawned bright and sunny, so off we headed to Mill Lake for a leisurely stroll...

Silas promptly pulled off his mittens when we got to the park. Erik decided that my giant olympic mitts would do the trick. And they did. For a little while.

Silas spent more time walking than riding. Like I said, it was a leisurely stroll.

We had fun watching the ducks slip and slide on the ice.

(Side note: Some people have been asking about Erik's knee since his injury in October. I'm happy to report that he's feeling great. He's on a wait-list for surgery, but seems to be functioning well in the meantime!)


Gotta love the January sunshine.

Who would have known that thin ice could provide such entertainment? We spent a lo-o-ong time throwing rocks and sliding chunks of ice on the surface to see how far they would travel.

Happy New Year!