Thursday, January 31, 2013

Disaster 2013?

Here's hoping that this was the worst event of 2013.
I'm really not so naive to think that the first month could bring the worst but a girl can dream.

Yesterday this happened to the Yaris.
Yaris accident

Yaris accident
There's not much more to say.
I will tell you this.
Jeff was not at fault.
Silver lining.
The kids were not in the car.
Silver lining.
Jeff was not seriously hurt {a mild concussion which pales in comparison to those from his hockey days}.
Silver lining. {The not serious part, not the concussion part.}
Yaris accident
We're not sure what the fate of the Yaris will be, though Jeff is fairly certain she's a goner.
In that case I would like to say a few words.

Little Blue Yaris, you were a great car.
Sorry Jeff's friends made fun of you so much.
Sorry I only cleaned you once a year {if that}.
We took advantage of your reliability and you never complained.
Thanks for being such a low-maintenance friend.
And in conclusion, thanks for always squeezing us into those fabulous parking spots.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Welder in Action

Just popping by today to share some shop pics with you.
As you may remember, we recently acquired some new equipment to make our shop one of the best in the city.
This is our new Pro Spot I4 welder at work.
Shield Autobody Edmonton  Pro Spot I4 welder

Shield Autobody Edmonton  Pro Spot I4 welder

Shield Autobody Edmonton  Pro Spot I4 welder

Shield Autobody Edmonton  Pro Spot I4 welder
I should also mention that we have a new bodyman, Gabe.
He's been with us since the beginning of the year and we couldn't be happier to have him on board.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Snow Much Fun

We headed to Sylvan Lake for a 4th birthday celebration this weekend.
As usual Julie put on a fabulous party with great food, decorations and an amazing cake.
The highlight of the day for us though was the activity chosen by the birthday girl.

I was not a diligent party goer and obviously did not read the invitation thoroughly.
My family was very ill-prepared for sliding our bums down snow covered hills.
Luckily, there were extra snow pants rustled up for Fiona so she could partake.
tobogganing with Daddy
Fiona has been tobogganing with my parents before so was happy to go again.
We were a little more apprehensive but at 2&3/4 the little chicken needed a companion.
I stepped up first but it wasn't long before she was requesting that "Daddy 'boggan wif me".
By the end we may have been a little wet but were having a great time.
I even took Cedric on his first trip down the hill.
{Thanks for taking this pic Jules.}
tobogganing with Mommy

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Evening With Oprah

You know, just an intimate gathering of, I don't know, 10,000?
That's a guess obviously but you get the point.
The seats were packed with Edmontonians but we weren't alone.
There were people that came from out of town, out of province and even out of country.
All to catch a bit of the magic that is Oprah Winfrey.

I didn't even consider buying tickets.
As you know, we are not in the position to be spending on such luxuries.
Then out of the blue {though Oprah says there's no such thing} my Mom calls me up, informs me that she's going and invites me along!
{Thanks Mom, extra thanks since I just now noticed the ticket price.}

I wore tights you guys, a skirt and tights, any excuse to get dressed up you know.
Wonderful Husband came home early to give us lots of time to get settled.
We took a back route and made it to Rexall Place in record time, leaving an hour to get settled.
I thought at first that this would land us in a deserted arena.
Not the case.
At all.
The place was buzzing.
Bottlenecks were forming at the doors.
Line ups were forming at the ladies restrooms, prompting some of the mens to be temporarily converted.

Either everyone was really excited to see Oprah or the punctuality was due to the abundance of X chromosomes {sorry guys, it's a little true though right?}.
Maybe a little of both.

I mean, this was an important night.
As she herself remarked, Oprah has raised many of us.
I have memories at ten years old of my Mom quickly making an instant coffee, grabbing some social teas and settling in for Oprah after work.
I can't count how many times she or I have said, "On Oprah..." or "Oprah says...".
Too many "aha" moments to count.

Now, I promised a little inspiration.
This was mine, I do not expect it to resonate with everyone.
The beauty of this event though, was that there were so many great moments that it would be near impossible to walk away without your own "aha{s}".

~Your life is defined not by how successful you are but by how significant you are.~

This is not a direct quote since I couldn't get it in my iphone fast enough and continue to listen to the wisdom.
I just love the idea that we could measure the "success" of our company not by how many dollars we make but by how we put those dollars and our time back into service in our community.
This very idea came up in a recent planning meeting.
We all had this same sentiment but you can count on Oprah to put it so eloquently.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Back in Commission {Warning: Possible TMI}

I couldn't wait to get blogging yesterday.
I was full of inspiration that I just had to share {courtesy of Oprah}.
Then the unthinkable happened.

Well, not unthinkable, really. 
I should know by now that the following will happen at least once each winter.

I started feeling "off" while soaking in Oprah's wisdom.
By the time I got home at 10pm I couldn't wait to get myself to bed.
At 11pm I just knew.
I popped up out of bed and headed straight to the bathroom.
Feeling much better after ridding my stomach of it's contents, I went back to sleep.
Like clockwork, midnight came and back up.
This unfortunate routine continued, at least hourly, until 6am.

The next morning brought exhaustion, a pounding headache and no appetite.
In other words, I felt amazing.
I was just so thankful to not be violently nauseas.
It's that whole hit-yourself-with-the-hammer-so-it-feels-better-when-you-stop idea.
Today I'm back to the land of the living.
I'm actually doing dishes, cleaning and I even put on make-up.
{It may not sound like much but this is big ok?}
A special thanks to Christy for dropping off a care package and to Jenna for offering to do the same.
I really have the best friends!
So back to it, lots of catching up to do.
Hopefully tomorrow I can find the time to inspire you.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Pursuit of Their Happiness

I really want my kids to find their thing.
You know, the activity that you can't wait to go to.
Not the one that you like but you fake sick once in a while to get out of.
The one that you go to anyways and try to cover up the illness.

I liked playing soccer as a child {for fun} but didn't enjoy the games.
I played the flute as a pre-teen and really enjoyed playing {for fun, at home, by myself} but lessons were a drag.
When I found my "thing" {at 15 years old} it changed my life.
I thought about colorguard everyday all day and couldn't wait for rehearsal nights.
{For those of you who are all "color-whaaa?" check this video out.}

That's what I want for them, whatever it may be.
Now, confession time.
Although all of the above is true, I also really hope that one of them choose ballet as their "thing".

We started a parented dance class and the moment I put those little pink slippers on Fiona I was sunk.
The world of ballet is so appealing to me, from this outsiders perspective at least.
I am well aware of some of the negatives to this art form, particularly body image issues.
It just warms my heart to think of her little body achieving such beautiful movement.

So far Fiona's a much bigger fan of hockey and gymnastics but I'm not throwing in the towel yet.
Besides, if she opts out I can always hope Cedric has a mini-Baryshnikov waiting to jete out.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Post-Christmas Detox

No, I am not going on a cleanse or starting a juice diet, promise.
{I am interested in doing green smoothies though, mental note.}
I'm not the only one in this house who needs to detox.
And, I'm certain that submitting a toddler and baby to a fad diet is a form of child-abuse.
You know how it is.
The month leading up to Christmas is chock full of goodies.
And don't even get me started on the hoard we have afterwards.
As far as I'm concerned we can't eat it up fast enough.
This is part of the problem for me.
I justify gorging on gifted chocolate by telling myself that it's better to rid our house of it quickly.
We all know this isn't true though.
It's worse, much much worse {says my stomach}.
One of my Mom{the dietitian}'s great lines is "better to waste than to waist".
As in, if it's not worth it toss it.
Every year I try, I really do, but it doesn't happen.
It's all gone to waist.
And not just mine.
This was the first year that Fiona really was old enough to be aware of the "treats".
It's not that she's completely deprived for the rest of the year but the moderation I usually try to practice goes out the window during the first and last months {despite my best efforts}.
Now the post-holiday slump has left us with a treat-addicted-sugar-withdrawing little girl.
I hear mention of "tr-eats" multiple times per day and don't know how to stop it.
I'm guessing that this will have to be one of those "time heals all" afflictions.
In the meantime, anyone have a good "green smoothie" recipe they want to share?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

DIY Stickygrams

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you, if you've read my blog before, that money's tight.
We are still in the phase where most of our money is invested in making our business work.
That's not what this is about though.

We needed a Christmas gift idea for those we love and on the cheap.
I wanted something personal but subtle enough to fall into day to day life.
Then I started seeing Stickygrams all over the web.
I loved them but couldn't afford to order them for all the family and close friends I had on my list.
So, I went to Staples and found printable magnet sheets.
I then chose my favourite Instagrams from my own account or pinched the giftee's if they were signed up.
{You can save them to your computer if you sign up for Webstagram.}
I'm sure there are much fancier ways to create your file but I just saved them to Word, adjusted the size to what I wanted and printed them side by side.
Make sure to do a tester on plain paper so you know you'll make the most of your magnet sheet.
My sheet ended up like this.
DIY Stickygrams
Lastly I just cut them all up by hand.
Of course, once they were done, I couldn't help myself from holding onto a few.
DIY Stickygrams

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pinterest: Keep It and Kill It: Beauty Edition

Pinterest is full of DIY beauty product ideas.
I {as always} have pinned a bunch of them but usually don't get around to trying them out.
Here are a couple of exceptions.

Keep it:
Hand scrub.
Or, if you're me, body scrub.
I didn't find this one, it was actually my friend Kim who pinned it and gifted me a batch.
I used it on my hands, fantastic.
So I used in on my feet, really fantastic.
I then proceeded to scrub my entire body with the stuff.
I may have gone a little overboard but us Albertans will do anything in these dry winters to soothe our skin, am I right?
It is beyond simple to make and works beautifully.

Kill it:
Hair treatment.
The picture makes it look like a miracle but it did not turn out to be one for me.
I was feeling the need for a postpartum hair rejuvenation.
{You get used to that thick healthy pregnancy hair then bam...gone.}
The one thing I can say for it was that my hair was moisturized.
Like, greasy-for-5-washes-looks-like-it's-been-5-weeks-since-I-washed-my-hair moisturized.
Part of the problem may have been that I bathe, not shower, so my whole body felt greasy.
Regardless, definitely not doing this again.

Source: via Cheryl on Pinterest

Monday, January 14, 2013

Deep Freeze Festival {We Love You}

I am ashamed to say this was our first year attending Deep Freeze.
We spent Saturday afternoon at this Arts on the Ave festival and were absolutely blown away.
This was a really well-executed winter festival.

It took me back to my years in french immersion when we celebrated the Carnaval de Quebec.
{On a very small scale.}
I have been longing for a proper Cabane a Sucre for years.
I loved how Deep Freeze seemed to effortlessly blend this year's Western theme with many Native and French Canadian elements.
Best of all Fiona was happy the entire time {minus the mandatory initial toddler shy phase}. 
Honestly, it seemed like everyone was.
This festival had a seriously good vibe. 
There were so many equally fantastic activities that the line ups for all of them were reasonable.
In fact, there were so many that we didn't get to them all.
I had to prompt most but the one post Fiona wouldn't let me whisk her past was the street hockey.
Again, making Daddy and Great-Aunt Julie proud.
 Thankfully the weather warmed a little from the -25 we've had recently.
Still, the warming area was a welcome sight and the music inside was fantastic.
We didn't take advantage of the full concession but spotted others with such amazing fare as tourtiere and poutine.
{It pays to have organized and thoughtful festival companions, thanks Diana and Carly for the refreshments!}
 This festival is now at the top of my favourite list.
We won't miss it again.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

The first time I ever cooked for Jeff I made an amazing 5 bean dish.
I thought it was so delicious and Jeff ate his serving {seemingly} happily.
Little did I know this guy hates beans, HATES them {it's a texture thing}.
Well, now that we're married, and he doesn't feel the need to spare my feelings, I am well aware of this.
I now have a bean-less chili recipe and have given up curried chickpeas.
The only time we ever have deep-browned beans, falafel or lentil soup is for lunch when Daddy's not home.

Last night, however, I took advantage of the fact that Husband was working {really} late and made this dish.
I was introduced to the combination by my friend Michelle.
I guessed quantities and added some ingredients for my own version.
Quinoa Chickpea Salad

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

1 cup uncooked Quinoa {cooked}
1 19 oz can of Chickpeas {rinsed}
1 red Bell Pepper {chopped}
2 stalks of Celery {chopped}
1/2 cup Raisins or Craisins {we added a little more than this}
1/2 cup of Walnuts {chopped}
1/4 cup Parsley {chopped}
Drizzle with Olive Oil and season with Salt to taste

**A couple of suggestions from my friend Diana to switch it up:
1. Sesame Oil instead of Olive Oil, I'm sure this would be delicious.
2. Toast the Walnuts, I would definitely do this since they were a little bitter.
{325 degrees for 10 mins should do the trick.}

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stunting Our Growth

I just needed a soothing picture.
This reminds me of a time when we had few worries, sitting on the Versailles grounds. 
I am feeling so frustrated right now so this may end in a rant and I apologize if it does.
You may be better off not reading any further.

I'm suffocating.
The business is growing and fast.
This is great but the growing pains haven't yet subsided.
The parts and materials bills are stacking up and I can't pay them yet.

Why not, right?
You get paid for the job and the parts come out of that right?

Seems so simple and that would work so well if we got paid right away.
The problem is that some of our accounts pay in 60+ days.
This means that we're paying our own vendors in 60+ days.
Apparently this is not unusual and I'm going to have to get used to it.
I just feels awful.  
When I get a bill I like to pay it.

Now for the rant.
You would think that our bank would support growth.
In the past they have been very supportive.
We were able to grow well on our small line of credit and equipment loan.
I have a hard time understanding why it seemed so easy to get so much credit at the beginning and now it's impossible.
Now that we have more than quadrupled our sales, paid down our initial loan and been loyal to this one bank we are being denied the funds we need to continue this rate of growth.
If we were paying you all this interest, wouldn't you want more?

Ok I'm going to stop there before I get too rant-y.
This is the point where I would end the conversation with the "business-specialist" on the phone so that I don't start raising my voice and being rude to this person who's hands are tied anyways.

That wasn't bad right?
Thanks for sticking it out, I feel better.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Breaking Teeth

So apparently Jeff + Cheryl = Vampire.
We thought it was just a fluke with Fiona but now Cedric has popped out some fangs.
Vampire Babies
You'll be happy to know they show no other signs.
Neither of them are biters {knock on wood since I'm still nursing}, they love the sun and don't hesitate to eat garlic.
I'm just chalking the odd chompers up to them being super on-trend in our vampire obsessed society.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Current Addiction Is...

Downton Abbey.
I meant to use nap time to blog today but instead I'm doing this.
I watched part 1 of season 3 last night so now have to catch up.
My every spare moment is being spent with the Crawleys.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Baby Led Weaning {Cedric's Story}

This is not a professional review, nor is it a sponsored post {getting paid to do this is still but a dream}.
This is my opinion based on our experience with Baby Led Weaning.
Now that that's out of the way, here's what I think.

Baby Led Weaning {aka the most natural child transition I've ever seen} is great.

I started offering Cedric purees {I use that word loosely} at just before 6 months.
It was canning season so I used some cooked fruit {before turning it to jam} and stewed tomatoes.
I also cooked and processed some peas, squash, sweet potato, carrots, broccoli, chicken, chick peas, get the idea.
All good stuff, all fresh so really tasty.
Then just like I did with Fiona, I would heat it slightly in the oven {this is a no microwave house, I know} and attempt to spoon feed it to Cedric.

He was utterly uninterested and unimpressed.
I even let Fiona give it a go.
Feeding baby
The crazy part was that he was so interested in food.
If I held him at the table he would be grabbing for my meal, my plate, my fork.
I knew he was ready to eat solids.

I had heard about Baby Led Weaning from some women in the Mom's group I joined after Fiona was born but hadn't ever looked further.
Feeding Fiona was a breeze.
She would have her mouth open before you could get more food on the spoon.
I mean, does this look like a baby that refuses food?
Feeding baby
I thought it would be the same with Cedric.
Ha ha ha, sigh.
To think my two kids would do anything the same.
I laugh at my naivety.  

Then, out of the blue my friend Irma Coumantarakis comes over with a copy of this book.
I'm not saying she endorses this method but she was intrigued and looking into it.
I opened it that same afternoon and was immediately hooked.
It was like I was reading what I already knew.
Initially I thought I would read the whole book and then give it a try.
I couldn't wait, I was fired up.
I was going to put this into action, now.
I made sure to read the section on anything they don't recommend.
{I, like most are, was concerned about choking.}
Then we did this.
Baby Led Weaning
I gave Cedric a perogie {cut in half} a large piece of turkey sausage and a wedge of cooked cabbage.
That's it, put it in front of this then 8 month old and let him at it.
I couldn't believe the difference.
He actually ingested a good portion of it.
But the best part was how happy he was.
Don't even get me started on the fact that I ate my own meal {with both hands you guys} 
And I had a conversation, a real dinner conversation {as real as it gets with a 2.5yo that is}.
The point is, we were ALL happier.

We have since had the same success with {from top left to right}.
Tofu Thai noodles
Turkey and avocado sandwich
Homemade Pizza {somewhat healthy I promise}
Tacos {just gave him a full one slightly baked so it crunched easily}
Beans and hotdogs
And many many more that I didn't photograph.
In fact, I have not changed the way we eat and have not yet come across a problem meal.
Last night we have shrimp risotto and he was able to eat the rice easily.

**It has always been my belief that following natural instincts is best.
My mantra for childbirth was "I trust my body, I trust my baby."
So why stop now?
That sentiment is repeated throughout this book.
Trusting that your baby is choosing to eat what he needs to is so important.
Of course you decide what to put in front of them so it's not like they'll be going for the cake and chips.
They wrote about a study in which they monitored multiple babies and what they chose to eat.
Some days they would eat only vegetables, some days only meat, some days almost nothing.
The outcome, however, showed that in the long run, they were choosing a balanced diet.
There is even evidence that if we let our children control what they are putting into their mouths from the beginning that they will be more willing to try new foods {aka less picky}.

As I said above I was concerned that Cedric would choke on the large pieces of food that are recommended.
In fact, the opposite is true.
He learnt very quickly how to "chew" {no teeth at the time so "gum" really} and manipulate food in his mouth.
The book also goes into other skills, such as dexterity, that they learn but I won't go into that.

The bottom line is that I was so impressed with my little guy.
I'm sure this isn't for everyone but I would do it again without thinking twice.
{No that was not a pregnancy announcement, 2 is good thanks.}

One of my favourite lines from the book was in the FAQ section about cost.
{Because a lot of food ends up on the floor at first.}
My experience is that it still costs less than preparing separate food.
They also pointed out that if you have pets you can reduce the amount of pet food you buy because they will eat what's dropped.
At first I laughed at this but it has proven to be too true.
Our dogs have set up a permanent camp under Cedric's highchair.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Making 62 Look Good

That's right, my Dad is 62.
{Sorry Dad, I assume you're not the hiding-your-age type.}

I have to say that my vision of the 60s has come so far.
As a child I remember thinking those in their 50s were ancient.
Now 50 seems young and 60 looks, well, like a blast.
At least that's how my jet-setting parents make it look.

At 62 my Dad is one of the most fit {and most dedicated to fitness} people I know.
He could run circles around me without breaking a sweat.

He's the one I turn to for advice on new technology.
We would still be running Leopard on my Mac had he not noticed we were out-of-date.
Nope, not even Snow Leopard, Leopard.

He's a great Grandpa and Cedric is a spitting image of the guy.
He's also modest so would say something like "Poor Cedric!" I'm sure.
Well Dad, I disagree.
I think he's pretty lucky to be like you in any way.
Father Daughter Dance
Happy Birthday Dad.
I love you.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year

Since 2009, New Years Eve has been pretty tame and low key for us.
You guessed it, that was my first time ringing it in pregnant.
Just to give you a taste.

2009: At some friends' cabin, ate half a wheel of baked brie.
2010: Had people over {2 couples of new parents and one pregnant couple}, no one made it to midnight.
2011: I have no pictures and can't remember due to the baby brain {I use that excuse shamelessly} so our best guess is that we stayed home alone and watched the fireworks from the 3rd floor.

2012 wasn't wild but it was great.

We closed up shop on the 31st so were at the cabin from Saturday to Tuesday.
Thanks to the mild weather we spent most of the weekend outside.

Even at night, the fire was enough to keep us comfortable.
Of course we had some other ways of staying warm.
We were so glad to spend the night with our great friends Matt and Julie
And what party would be complete without a UFO sighting, right?

When sober In the morning everyone agreed that those were indeed paper lanterns.
They certainly provided some excitement and started some interesting conversations that night.

I am not a resolution kind of person so there will be none of that from me.
I will say that I'm excited though.
2013 will be a good one with some big milestones coming up for my little guy.
Fiona continues to amaze me with her skill and intelligence.
The shop will continue to grow but we anticipate that the growing pains will be reduced.
What do I know though?
We will simply continue to take it as it comes and love every minute.
{Ok maybe not EVERY minute.}

Happy 2013.


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