Friday, April 30, 2010

My Toddler Is Smarter Than Me

I was singing the ABC song to Little One, and she started doing the hand gestures for "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". I wondered why she kept doing her "Twinkle Twinkle" finger movements and then realized that the two songs have the same melody!

Try singing it, and you'll see!


I just realized that Ba Ba Black Sheep has the same tune too! Amazing what interesting things you learn when you have a young child.

Oh, and how's this for bad parenting? Little One got up insanely early this morning, because she heard Hubby leave for work. I went down to her room, took her out of her crib, and brought her back upstairs to our room and had a cuddle with her until she fell asleep again.

I went down to the office and started to do some work (I really need to meet my deadline). All of a sudden, the dog started going nuts. He was barking up a storm, so I looked outside and saw...

A COW!!!

The cattle got loose again. I had a cow in my garden, and one pooping beside my van. Argh! Of course, this has to happen when my husband is not on the farm! I had to decide whether to leave the baby inside or take her outside with me. I didn't feel comfortable taking her with me, because the cows are pregnant and some already have calves. This means they're really protective and on edge. Who knows what they'd do if they felt threatened. Having to keep an eye on the baby and try to get that cow back where she was supposed to be would prove to be somewhat challenging.

The baby was sleeping, so I thought that if I was super fast, I'd get back before she woke up. Hubby arrived just in time, and we got the cattle back to the barnyard. When we returned, guess what we saw???
Little One was no longer in our bed! Not only had she scooted off the bed (she knows how to get down and holds onto the quilt until her feet touch the floor), but she was walking around the house, doing her own thing!!!I almost had a heart attack. She thought it was funny though!

Isn't she cheeky? :) She decided that she all of a sudden didn't like apples. I was hungry, so grabbed an apple for something quick to eat in between all the running around we were doing this afternoon. Little One saw this, and snatched the apple out of my hand! I was shocked! She stole my apple! She decided that she liked apples again. Goofy girl! :)Helping Mommy clean the house...sort of.Wearing her "I'm a Cool Farmer" shirt from Mr. and Mrs. Perfect Together :) On the back, it reads: "Welcome to the Ranch!"
Unfortunately, she has learned how to climb on top of the couch. She's a climber. She climbs on top of EVERYTHING. When I saw her doing this, I almost went into cardiac arrest. Seriously, she's a little daredevil.

Honestly, these days I don't know whether I'm coming or going sometimes. Baby, husband, house, farm, farm animals, freelance work, chores, committees, organizations, other engagements and responsibilities...there's just so much on my plate. I feel like some of those things are going to start falling off my plate if I keep piling more on it. Every day is a workday. Farmers get no vacations, no holidays, and no days off. I love our life, but every now and then I am reminded of how difficult a life it can be.

Oh! I've joined the theatre group and that's the one thing I've been able to do for myself. It's something I thoroughly enjoy and it gives me something that is my own. Not that I don't love taking care of Little One, being able to work from home (we decided that I will put teaching on hold for a bit while Little One is still very young), and being able to help my husband on the farm, but it's two hours of "me time". Then I get home, and dishes and chores await me. This also awaits me...and I am reminded how fortunate and blessed I truly am. She is so unbelievably special and amazing in so many ways. I love her.
Thursday, April 29, 2010

Man's Best Friend is a...GOAT!?!?!

I married a farmer. We live on a farm. We have cattle. We also have a dog and a bunch of barn cats. As far as farm animals go, we just have cattle. No chickens (though Hubby wants me to raise some this year). No ducks (do Canada Geese count?). No sheep. Just cattle.

My Dad wanted us to go over to his place because he and my Mom brought a "pet" back for Little One. To our surprise, this is what they brought back!Billy (aka "Aca", named by my three year old nephew because the goat has "acorns" on his head!) is the sweetest thing ever! I am in love.

How funny is that though? Here! I brought you a pet. Have a goat! What's even funnier is that my Mom won't let me Dad have a dog, but she let him have a GOAT!?

Billy (aka Aca) follows Dad everywhere and bawls when he doesn't see my Dad. He is so, so, soooo cute.Little One is still a bit apprehensive. "Mehhhh...Not quite sure if I like you or not. You don't look like my dog."
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For the Love of Books

I started reading to Little One when she was still a tiny little sprout growing inside me.

Since she was born at 28 weeks (3 months premature!), we spent the first 70 days of her life in the hospital. While she was in her isolette (incubator), I read to her. When she "graduated" to a "big girl crib" and was moved to the Level II nursery, I read to her. I have to say that those long days spent in the NICU, I did a lot of singing and reading to Little One.

She's now 17 months old and I still read to her every day. Okay, more like several times a day...only because she is constantly bringing books to me so I can read them to her.

I often wonder if those early days of being read to explain why Little One just loves books now. She loves her books more than she loves her toys. She just sits on my lap and listens, points and talks to the pictures on the pages, sings, laughs, turns the pages...and then wants more! She can sit through three or four books and still want to be read to!

The gift of reading is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. What better way to cultivate creativity and imagination than to share the wonderful world of books with our kids?

One of Little One's absolute favourite books is Rosemary Wells' Read to Your Bunny. Little One's Neonaologist gave her a copy at one of her Neonatal Follow-Ups as part of the Reading with Young Children's "Prescription to Read".

Little One never seems to get tired of that book. The pictures and rhyming story seem to appeal to her. It's one of the books I have to take with us in my "magic bag of tricks" whenever we go anywhere. Margaret Wise Brown's Good Night Moon, Sandra Boynton's Barnyard Dance, and a few other books are always in that bag too (along with lots of snacks and a few non-noisy toys).

Here's some great news for you guys! We're giving one lucky reader their very own copy of Rosemary Wells' Read to Your Bunny.

To enter the contest, all you have to do is:
1. Leave me a comment and tell me what your child's favourite children's book is.
2. Additional entries can be obtained by mentioning this contest in a post on your blog. Please link back to me and let me know that you've mentioned the contest.
3. You can also receive additional entries for Tweeting and Facebooking the contest. Again, please let me know if you've done this.
4. Yet one more entry can be earned by following this blog with Google Friend Connect. That's a total of up to FIVE entries per person. That's five chances to win!

The contest closes on Monday (May 3, 2010). The winner will be announced here on May 4th.

Little One absolutely loves her copy of Read to Your Bunny! I hope your child will too.

**Don't forget to enter our Iams ProActive Health contest too! The contest closes on May 14th!**

She's Just Like Her Mommy!

We were at playgroup last week, and Little One was drawn to the arts and crafts table. It was almost as if there was a magnetic pull or something. Of course! Lots of bright colours, PAINT, cotton balls, paintbrushes, and a whole slew of things that can help a toddler make lots and lots of mess! The messier the better, right? Right.

This is what Little One created. This blue, yellow, and green one is her very first painting! This is her second painting. I just love kid art. There's something so refreshing about kid art. It's just so natural, innocent, pure, creative, and fun!

Maybe Little One will draw and paint like her Mommy when she gets older.

Psssssssst! I'm hosting a contest/giveaway over here!!! Come by and enter for a copy of Rosemary Wells' "Read to Your Bunny"!
Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Frugal Farmer's Kitchen

I was too lazy tired uninspired busy to cook supper last night. I think I may have even been moaning about having to cook 99.9% of our meals.

Don't get me wrong. I love cooking. I really do. It's just that sometimes I don't feel like it. Ever have one of those days when you wish someone else would do the cooking? That's how I felt yesterday. If only I had a personal cook. If only I could just get take-out. If only we could go to a restaurant. If only. Ha! It's not busy season on the Island yet and the closest restaurants that are open are about 15-20 minutes away by car! Plus, we're trying to be wise with our money.

I hadn't done groceries. I was waiting for next week to do our big groceries, since we have to be in "the city" for Little One's Neonatal Follow-Up. Plus, Hubby wanted me to work on a project which we're entitling "Project Live Out of Your Fridge". Basically, we are to use up everything in our fridge and pantry before we buy more groceries. Gah!

Armed with next to nothing in the way of ingredients, I grabbed some whole wheat Farfalle.
While I cooked the bow-tie shaped pasta, I tried to think of what else I could use. Making use of my meager supplies, I took some butter, flour, cheese, garlic, coarse black pepper, and milk. I made a quick and easy roux (the same one I use to make my homemade Alfredo sauce or cheese sauce for homemade macaroni and cheese).I also sauteed some garlic and spinach and added a can of flaked tuna to the creamy cheese sauce. I drained the pasta and in a pan, I gently coated the pasta with the cheese sauce, tuna, and spinach. I garnished the dish with garlic bread crumbs, chopped parsley and green onion. I served the dish with salad.

Little One and Hubby thoroughly enjoyed their meal. Not bad for something I just threw together from the top of my head. Super cheap and super easy too.

Farfalle - $1.99 (on sale and I used less than 1/2 the package) $0.50 for this dish
Tuna - $1.29 $1.29
Cheese - $4.99 (on sale and I only used 1/6 of the block of cheese)$0.70
Milk - $4.99 (used less than 1/2 a cup) $0.10
Green onion - from my freezer and originally from a friend's garden
Garlic - $0.69 (only used 3 cloves) $0.06
Bread crumbs - made from leftover bread crusts $0.02
Flour $0.01
Butter $0.02
Parsley - from my kitchen herb garden

I'm estimating that this meal cost me around $2.70 to make. Considering we had all the ingredients and I used only a fraction of each ingredient, it would be a fairly cheap dish to make.

**Hmmph. I guess Hubby is right. It is possible to live frugally and make due with what one has in the fridge and pantry.**
Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

- Robert Frost

I never knew what people meant when they said, "Enjoy them while they're little. They grow up too quickly".

Now, I know.
Friday, April 23, 2010

Choco-Latte Fest 2010

Last night, I went out with the girls and attended a chocolate and coffee tasting session. Click here to check it out! :)

It was sooooo much fun!!!

Choco-Latte Fest 2010

My parents were kind and wonderful enough to babysit Little One for the evening while Hubby was at a training session for the fire department and I went gallivanting with the girls. Let me first say that I almost NEVER go anywhere without my baby girl. I take her everywhere with me. The only times she doesn't accompany me are for some of my meetings that are in the evenings and for rehearsals for the play.

Though I love, love, love my Little One and often can't bear to be away from her, sometimes I do need a little break.

Tonight was the first night in AGES that I was able to go out with just the girls. No kids. No husbands. Just the girls.

Guess where we went?!

We began the evening with supper and wine at The Anchor. This is not your standard pub grub fare.

On the menu they had: Chipotle Chicken and Red Pepper Rotini, Steak with a curried onion sauce,and Whitefish.Our main purpose for our outing was (apart from hanging out with the girls and getting a little downtime)...

The Choco-Latte Fest! It was an evening of chocolate and coffee tasting held at Loco Beanz. How exciting! I'm not a sweets or desserts person, but the one sweet thing I do love is chocolate.

It was an introduction in taste testing the different types of chocolate ranging from white, milk, semi-sweet, dark/bittersweet...and we even got to sample an actual cocoa/cacao bean and cocoa nibs (the centre of the cocoa bean).The cocoa bean is on the right and the cocoa nibs are on the left. Who would have thought that the bitter cocoa bean would eventually make chocolate!?
After fermentation the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted, and the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground to cocoa mass, pure chocolate in rough form. Because this cocoa mass usually is liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor.

I brought a piece of my cocoa bean home to show my husband. To my surprise, he LOVED it! I just thought it was bitter. Cocoa in its pure form (though healthy for you), is not my favourite.

We kick started the session with the pairing of sweet drinks and tasty chocolate flavours.Drink: Chocolate Banana Smoothie
Chocolate: Green and Black's 37% cocoa content (organic milk chocolate with caramelized peanuts and a hint of sea salt). The sweet and salty flavour of the chocolate was a welcomed surprise. I never imagined sea salt and chocolate to pair well together.
Drink: Chai Latte
Chocolate: Cocoa Camino 71% cocoa content (Fair trade and organic chili and spice chocolate). To be honest, I didn't really notice the chili and spice! Perhaps it's because I've sampled a lot of chocolate from Mexico (given to me by my Mexican students) that contained large amounts of chili! This one was mild. The friends I went to the Choco-Latte Fest with didn't like the chili and spice. I wouldn't say it was my favourite, but I kind of liked it.

The next thing we did was tasted and compared white chocolate for baking.Callebaut Select vs. Chipits white chocolate chips
After sampling the Callebaut Select, I don't think I can ever use Chipits ever again. Sure, the Callebaut Select is pricier, but the quality and taste is far superior. In the photo, the Chipits are on the left and the Callebaut Select is on the right.

Next was the tasting and comparing of milk chocolate.
Drinks: Mocha Latte and Iced Mocha Latte
Chocolate: Cocoa Camino 38% cocoa content (organic/fair trade milk chocolate)
Cocoa Camino 41% cocoa solids (organic/fair trade milk chocolate)

The semi-sweet chocolate tasting was next.
Drink: Mocha frappe
Chocolate: Russell Stover 60% cocoa content (Venezuela)
Russell Stover 60% cocoa content (Ghana)

Drink: Americano
Chocolate: Theobroma Dark Chocolate "Burst of Raspberry", 60% cocoa contentI have to say that the Burst of Raspberry was by far my favourite chocolate of the evening. The REAL raspberry was the perfect addition. Not to sound like uppity, but I tend to favour the real thing and not things like "raspberry flavour" or "vanilla flavour".

Last on the list was the bittersweet/dark chocolate.Please excuse the blurriness of the above photo. Those were all dark chocolates. I think by the end of the evening, I had my fill of caffeine and my hands were a bit wobbly! :)

Drinks: Fair Trade Dark Roast
Fair Trade Decaf
Chocolate: Cocoa Camino, 70%
Cote d'Or, 70%
Swiss Delice, 72%
President's Choice, 72% (extra dark)

I know dark chocolate is far healthier, but I do believe it's an acquired taste. I'd love to be able to say I can appreciate the finest dark chocolates, but I'm not quite there yet. I do have to admit though, I am beginning to enjoy the dark chocolate more and more. I'm still *gasp* a milk chocolate kinda gal though!

I learned a lot from tonight's chocolate and coffee tasting. For example, things to look for are: the appearance, snap, aroma, mouth feel, and taste.

My husband is now addicted to TOFFLES!

In addition to the wonderful tasting and comparing lesson, each attendant got to take home a grab bag of gifts! My husband was happy when I returned from my evening out with the girls and handed him a box of TOFFLES by local chocolatier, Ultimately Chocolate and a sample of SUMATRA medium roast coffee.

Interesting tidbits:
* A 3.5 oz dark chocolate bar provides the following % of our daily mineral requirements:
-Iron 20%
-Magnesium 33%
-Potassium 27%
-Copper 25%
-Calcium 13%

* Chocolate is good for your teeth! It contains fluoride and the cocoa butter forms a coating in the teeth that protects against bacteria!

* Chocolate gives you energy.

* Chocolate contains PEA (phenyl ethylamine). PEA is said to increase attention and activity, as well as relieve depression and anxiety.

Information on chocolate taken from the literature given at the tasting session.

One would think that after an evening of sampling many different types of chocolate and coffee, one would be wired and suffer from insomnia. Nope. Not I! There's something you should know about me. Coffee makes me sleepy! Close friends and family (and people who have been reading my blog since 2006) will know that I'm one of the very minute percent of people in the world that coffee has an adverse effect on. Instead of keeping me awake, it puts me to sleep. I drink a cup of espresso or cappuccino if I have insomnia and I'm out within minutes.

If you're on the Island, make sure to stop by The Anchor for lunch or supper and definitely head to Loco Beanz for some really good coffee and/or chocolate! Great service and friendly, knowledgeable staff. Love, love, love Loco Beanz!
Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

...and a special Thank You to Majesta and Mom Central!

Photo from Google Images

Earlier on this month, I posted about Majesta's green efforts. The company believes in practicing responsible tree management. For every one tree used in making Majesta paper products, three will be planted.

To celebrate Earth Day this year, Little One and I planted a tree. I'm hoping to do this with her every year on Earth Day. Here's our "ceremonial" tree planting video.

Apart from having regular Earth-friendly practices (recycling, using reusable bags and water bottles, using passive solar energy, composting, etc...), I wanted to do something special with Little One. Even our cat, Spike wanted in on the action!

We also planted the seed card that was included in our Majesta package.Oh! Remember the "shake test" we did? We tested one of the leading toilet paper brands and the Majesta brand to see which one disintegrated faster. The Majesta toilet paper won hands down. It's been over two weeks and the other toilet paper is still clumpy and semi-solid. The Majesta brand broke down within minutes.
Here's the video we took of our shake test.

It definitely earns its name as "the soft, green bathroom tissue"! Gone are the days of super thin, sandpaper-like green toilet paper!

Don't forget to enter here for your chance to win a $15,000 green home makeover!

What kind of things do you do with your family on Earth Day?

Smart solutions for everyday moms!
**I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour campaign by MomCentral. As a thank you for writing my review, I received a $25 Chapters gift card.**

Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day. What actions will you take to do your part in fostering a greener tomorrow?

On a day that was created to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment, it's fitting for us to do our part. Even if it's something like planting a tree every year or doing something we don't already do (like take our kids to the beach to pick up trash). Many of us are already environmentally conscious and recycle as much as we can, compost, use cloth/reusable bags, reusable water bottles, etc.

I want to teach Little One how important a role we play, how significant our actions are and how everything we do has an impact on our planet.

Aside from treading lightly on the Earth, practicing the 3 Rs (reduce-reuse-recycle), not living in excess (when it comes to energy, we neither keep our house too hot in the winter nor too cold in the summer), and using passive solar energy from our greenhouse, I wanted a new ritual for Little One. We will plant a tree every year on Earth Day.

We have also switched our brand of toilet paper to a more Earth-friendly one. Majesta's toilet paper breaks down quickly, is septic-friendly, is made with natural wood fibre, and the company practices responsible forest management (using new wood fibre and planting new trees).

Earth Day is just a special reminder to me of how truly wonderful our planet is and how fortunate we are to be able to see this...
and experience this... Photo of the Lyrids Meteor Shower from Google Images, but brought me to this site. Check it out for more info on the Lyrids. We caught a glimpse of them last night, but were too tired to stay up late! We only saw two "falling stars"/"shooting stars". Apparently, if the sky is really clear enough and dark enough, one can see up to ten to twenty meteors per hour! The best nights to view this are April 21 and April 22.

If you get a chance tonight, look up in the sky.

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About the Blog Author

City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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Life on Manitoulin: Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country!

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