Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

It's late but I can't sleep with thoughts swirling in my head. Writing comes to me in peculiar hours, and so here I am typing this post. By the time this is edited, and submitted for all the blogging world to see, I'll be tucked away under my blanket fast asleep.

So, it's the last day of 2009, and what do I think of the year that has come and soon to be gone? Well, it was filled with many great memories and milestones but also tinged with loss and sadness. We lost a loved one in the family last May but then welcomed a newborn a month later. We've had our share of highs and lows but it's family - my boys that kept me focused and happy.

It was also the year I started blogging. Just want to say thank you to Annissa and Lindsay for the Lemonade Stand Award. (Please watch out for my post next year as I share this award with new recipients.)

And thanks to you, my blogging friends and readers for all the kind words, and warm comments. I've found many wonderful blogs, and I enjoy reading your posts.

Wishing you all happiness, good health and prosperity in 2010!

Cheers!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hugs and Kisses

It's a beautiful, sunny morning, and oddly the house feels empty. There can only be one reason why - hubby returned to work today. The boys love having him home but I reassured them he'll be back soon. Before leaving, hubby said he'd miss us, and departs with a hug and a kiss.

Over the holiday weekend, we found out J.P has allergies. We have yet to get him tested but we do know something is irritating him. He was quite puffy and Benadryl was his constant companion. No matter what the situation, J.P is still our little ray of sunshine. He makes us smile, and fill us with so much joy. He gives us the most hugs and kisses!

The other day, A.R was playing quietly with his new toy, and then out of the blue, he gave me a hug and a kiss. It took me by surprise. He's not as open and affectionate as he used to be. He outgrew all of that a long time ago. I almost choked up and cried when he embraced and kissed me. I asked him what was that for. A.R just looked at me, and answered me with a wide smile.

As for me, I give them as often as I can. I am, afterall, a mother. We comfort, dote, and encourage our children. But to have it reciprocated is precious and special.

It's amazing what a hug and a kiss can do!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Two Christmas Parties and a Bahama Mama

We arrived home late last night from my brother's place. I still can't believe we had two parties to go to on Christmas, and we managed to survive a crazy day! The first party was with hubby's side of the family. J.P's godmother hosted the gathering; we had lunch, opened gifts, played Bingo and watched movies. In the evening, we were off to Christmas party number two. It was at my brother's house. As you know, he has his annual Christmas party - dinner, meet and greet Santa, movies and karaoke all night long! We came late but we made it just in time for dessert! I placed the fruit tray on the dessert table, and stationed myself on the couch, where I relaxed and sang Christmas carols with all the kids. I could feel my eyes getting heavy and tired but I stayed awake. My sister-in-law asked me if I wanted a Bahama Mama. I asked her what is it, and she said it's a fruity cocktail drink. I happily obliged. I'm not much of a drinker - but I sure enjoyed that lovely beverage. The celebration continued in the wee hours of the morning. Luckily, we stayed overnight. If you asked me what time the party ended, I have no recollection whatsoever.

I think I missed the karaoke marathon but I had the best sleep ever! And like the year before, it was a great Christmas.

Now that we're back home, fatigue and weariness is setting in. I'm also dismayed at the mess I see before me. Shredded gift wrap, empty boxes, new toys and clothes scattered all over the floor. How did this happen? Did we throw a party too? What could remedy this headache?

I closed my eyes.

O, Bahama Mama, where are you?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I've been quite busy these past few days to even write a post. And yesterday was no exception - but despite the madness the holidays bring, it's nice to have hubby, and the boys home. I love hearing the kids laughing, singing, and running around the house. Seeing hubby interact with the boys; playing games, and reading stories to them. The sound of Christmas music in the background, and A.R strumming on his guitar. Hope you're all creating wonderful memories, and savouring each moment of the holiday season.

Here's what we've been creating and discovering this week...


Simple but cute shortbread cookies, decorated by the boys.


Tiramisu is a lovely Italian dessert I've been making for years. This is a family favorite and a must have on Christmas day!


I found this childhood picture, and love it to pieces!

I'll leave you with this quote, "Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things not the great occasions, give off the greatest glow of happiness." ~ Bob Hope

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas and Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa Bring My Baby Back


Every Christmas, Santa always pays a special visit to the young and old at my brother's house. Excitement erupts upon his arrival, and all the little boys and girls gather around him. Grown-ups look on, amusement and joy on their faces. Each child sits on Santa's lap, takes a picture with him, and shares a few magical moments to chat with him. Santa is patient, gentle and kind. He hands out their presents, and laughs heartily.

This Christmas, J.P won't be nearly excited to see him. Our little boy knows the truth now. One morning he said to me, "Mommy, I know you and daddy buy me gifts. I found out watching that commercial." He pointed to the television while my mouth dropped to the floor. What could I possibly say to him? I was left speechless by this turn of events. "I know Uncle A. dresses up as Santa too!" J.P continued. "We saw him getting ready."

* Sigh*

So while he grows up, I'll cherish this photo forever.


Look at J.P (top left) wide-eyed, and ecstatic to see Santa.

Santa, bring my baby back!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Last Minute Shopping


As expected, the mall was busy, and jam-packed with holiday shoppers yesterday. I, being one of them was glad to get some Christmas shopping done. Normally I get the shopping done, and the gifts wrapped in the first week of December but not this year. Hubby injured his lower back last week - while shovelling heavy, wet snow. So, I couldn't quite leave him alone; he needed help getting around. The funny thing is, he took a two week vacation this month, and spent his birthday (last Tuesday) - in pain and in bed! Poor guy! R.D was bedridden for a few days but now he's up and walking. At least, he's moving around without any assistance. The doctor said it will take another two weeks to fully recover. Hubby explained to me he's doing exactly what the doctor ordered. Somehow I can't help but think he's loving all this special treatment - no errands, no chores, no heavy lifting, and just resting all day. I told him that I'm praying for a speedy recovery, and life could go back to normal. However, I'm happy and thankful R.D's condition isn't serious. Things could have been a lot worse.
So before I leave, and return to the frenzy of last minute shopping. I wanted to show you this. A.R made this cute Christmas ornament at school. I love the arts and crafts my boys bring home. Wouldn't that be a fun activity to do with the kids over the holidays?

~ Check out www.kaboose.com for more holiday crafts and homemade gift ideas. ~

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Concert

This morning, J.P woke up with a very puffy left eye! I looked at him in horror. Today his school is having a Christmas concert, and he's performing with his class. Yikes! He can't look like this! "What happened to you?", I asked. "I don't know.", he answered. The barrage of questions began. Were you playing rough with A.R? Did you fall down? Did you bump into a wall? What happened last night? He shrugged his shoulders. I debated whether he should stay home, or go to school. His eye looked terrible. I decided it was best to keep him home. J.P broke down, and started to cry, "But mommy, I want to go to the Christmas concert! I don't want to miss it." I hugged him and told him to stop crying. Then, I remembered he ate a mango flavoured cake for dessert last night, and he might have had an allergic reaction. I said, "Okay, you can go. I'll just give you some Benadryl." J.P is delighted with my decision, and quickly runs off to dress himself. Honestly, I just didn't have the heart to say no to him. So, this afternoon, we'll see our little boy perform - slightly puffy but definitely happy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Growing Appetites

There was a time when meals were carefully planned, and prepared to entice little, energetic boys. Nowadays, I receive special requests or subtle hints from my kids to make a certain dish. I just can't believe how fast they're growing up, and how much they eat! They eat like adults! Yesterday, I made a pasta dish for lunch - enough to last for Monday's dinner. It's practically gone. I just had enough to pack for their school lunches. Whatever happened to the picky eaters, vegetable haters; and dramatic outbursts? Don't get me wrong, hubby and I are thrilled they're eating well, and asking for more servings. We're just seeing more of our portions dwindle each mealtime. It's fine, they are, after all, growing boys. Did you hear that? Yes, it's my tummy grumbling - pangs of hunger strike now and then but for good reason.

It's only wishful thinking, but can I have that last morsel of pasta?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Baking



It's the holiday season, and although cookies are on the minds of bakers this time of year. I thought I'd try another muffin recipe. It didn't take long to decide what I wanted to make this evening. These chocolate muffins are not only tempting to look at but are so delicious! These treats were a big hit with the boys, and they now affectionately call me the muffin lady. I think it tastes good without the chocolate frosting - I was quite busy to make it but next time, it will be even more divine!

What do you like to bake during this time of year?

~ All muffins featured here on my blog can be found on JoyofBaking.com website ~ Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Best Day of My Life




The first winter storm has finally arrived. For some people, it can mean travel delays, a long commute to work, school or home. The snowy weather brings out homeowners to shovel and clear sidewalks, and driveways. For others, it can mean experiencing a wide variety of winter activities - skating, skiing, snow boarding and playing hockey. For J.P, it can only mean one thing - pure bliss. The morning news of the first snowfall sent J.P to the window, where he happily declared, "Mommy, this is the best day of my life!" This little boy continues to warm my heart. I stood behind him, my hands resting on his shoulders. We gazed out the window, and admired the view. I couldn't help but remember my own childhood. This picture captured exactly how I truly felt.

Oh, to be a kid again!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

DIY - Do It Yourself Haircuts

One look at A.R's long and unruly hair, and I knew I just had to give him a haircut. I decided today would be the day to end all the shaggy hairdos , and that I would trim the boys' hair, including hubby's! I've certainly come a long way from shaky and sweaty hands - and giving terrible hair cuts. I started about fifteen years ago, when hubby bought his very own clippers and asked me to give him a haircut. I looked at him in disbelief, and told him I had no experience whatsoever, and I didn't go to beauty school. He suggested I learn something new. He even said he wouldn't be angry at me if it turned out awful. Can you believe that?! R.D reassured me I could use guards on the clippers, and gave me a brief lesson on how to cut hair. I was mortified but I agreed to try. What was I thinking? I was crazy after all! I was such a nervous wreck when I cut his hair - I was so slow and cautious! I bit my lip often, and reminded myself not to say,"Oops!" My first haircut session wasn't picture perfect. I was relieved I didn't snip his hair too short, and I didn't injure him! However, I think the more I cut his hair, the more I felt comfortable using the clippers. Yes, practice makes perfect! I have to thank my hubby for trusting me, and having confidence in me. I now give them a basic crew cut, nothing fancy - no styling required. I use the scissors, and clippers with precision and ease. It also helps if you have a good set of clippers. I use the Oster Classic 76 professional. It's heavy duty, and can cut the thickest of hair. R.D is grateful; he no longer has to wait at the barber shop, and spend thirteen dollars every month. It's free, and done in the kitchen. My young boys are handsome, and clean-cut within minutes. You need a haircut? Just ask! Now, if I can only have my own personal hair stylist. Hmm.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Family Traditions


Along with the other festive decorations I've put up for the holiday season, I felt it was important to incorporate our Filipino traditions as well. A parol is a traditional Filipino Christmas decoration - a star-shaped Christmas lantern; symbolizing the star of Bethlehem. Originally made of thin bamboo sticks, and covered with colored cellophane or rice paper (Japanese paper), and then illuminated with a candle or coconut-oil lamp. In the Philippines, you can see these decorations in homes, and in the streets. Here's our modern version of a parol, and it hangs in the boys' bedroom. They'll be so excited to see it when they return home from school. My boys were born in Canada, and so it's always nice to teach them their roots, and family traditions.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Favorite Time of Day



After weeks of trying to avoid getting sick, I've finally succumbed to a mild cough, runny nose, and muscle aches. I'm feeling rundown but what am I to do when there's errands to take care of, kids to pick up from school, and meals to prepare? I'm not exactly bedridden yet! I felt miserable all day but I wasn't going to let this nasty cold spoil my evening. And how I love my evenings - whether it's spending time with J.P as he reads his book, or listening to my budding musician, A.R. practice his guitar lessons. For me, the evenings are all about reconnecting with my kids; asking about their day, helping them with their homework, or just relaxing with them. I always look forward to this time because it's so lovely and peaceful. I even think the kids seek out quiet time, and I don't blame them since their day is hectic! I asked the boys if they would like chocolate chip muffins for a treat. They didn't object to the idea - they know all too well that I have to be in the "mood" to bake. Hubby came downstairs and watched a basketball game while I was busy filling up the muffin pans. I suspect J.P informed him of my activities. I wasn't too surprised to see them all hanging around the kitchen. I mean who could possibly resist these freshly baked muffins?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Getting Ready for Christmas



It was a busy weekend yet I still had time to put up the tree. I try to set up all the decor in the last week of November. My youngest is always the first to ask, "Mommy, when are you going to put up the tree?" If there is one thing about J.P, he gets excited weeks before any event or holiday. His enthusiasm is contagious, and it's so easy to get into the Christmas spirit being around him.



I didn't spend a fortune on the decorations, and ornaments. I was resourceful, and used most of the materials (flowers, ribbons,and sachets) left over from my wedding to create the ornaments on the tree. The only things I purchased were the snowflakes and bells - which were inexpensive. The handmade ornaments were given to me from my mother-in-law. What a wonderful gift! You can find these ornaments at craft shows, or you can make them yourself. It's pretty easy to create your own Victorian Christmas tree. You may already have items in your home that you could use. Just be creative, and unique. Happy decorating!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No School on Friday

I woke up very early to make breakfast and pack lunches, only to realize that the boys have no school today. I'll let them sleep in and enjoy the silence while it lasts. Now that I have them for the day, I know the day will be hectic and noisy. There's just a different energy around boys as opposed to having girls. I find boys are easier to please, making no fuss at all. My boys are pretty easygoing - much like their father. They prefer their playtime with their friends; they enjoy sports, Nintendo and computer games. Just give them their favourite snack and meal, and they're good for the day. I'll ask them what they would like to do. I draw the curtains wide open, pick up clothes and make my way to their bedroom. I hear giggles, and morning banter. J.P is wide awake, reading a book. A.R hides under his blanket. I think I already know the answer as I say good morning. Why do I feel like it's going to be like a pizza day?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lost and Found



There are loads of laundry to do, and I'm in no mood to do it. Yet, I go through the hampers, and separate the whites from the darks. I drag myself to sort through the madness, and trek down to the laundry room. My mom calls, and inquires about her grandson. I tell her A.R. is fine and that he will return to school tomorrow. We talk briefly, she knows I'm busy and she says we'll talk later. I hang up, and I quickly go down the list of things I need to do before I prepare lunch for the recovering patient. I change the bed sheets, do some light cleaning here and there. I'm feeling tired and weary; more like grumpy. Could I be getting sick too? The last few days nursing A.R. back to health has finally taken a toll on me. I tell myself to take it easy - I'll do the other chores another day. I sit down at my desk to relax. However, I am back in cleaning mode, clearing up clutter and retrieving loose papers that fell behind my desk. I stumbled upon a postcard, and realized it was my son's artwork. It's a water colour painting! A.R gave it to me last year as a Christmas card. I have no idea how it ended up there but I'm so happy I found it. I smile and admire his masterpiece. This discovery has certainly made my day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bare Impressions



The sun shone brightly this morning as I looked out the window, and bundled up J.P in his winter coat, hat and mitts. Luckily, the walk to school would be a short one. We stepped out into the cold morning air; the street empty and quiet. Along the way, J.P loves to run up a hill, and rest on a big rock near his school. He gave me his backpack, and I watched him run carefree, squealing in delight. As I reached him, I noticed the bare trees behind him, standing so gracefully. After dropping him off to school, the walk back home seemed longer. I was lost in my own reverie. I made a mental note that the trees in my neighbourhood were quite old and magnificent. Sadly, I had never noticed them before. I quickly returned home, took out my camera, and immediately went to work.

~ I spent some time reading and admiring many blogs. It's wonderful to see so much creativity out there. I'm relatively new here; don't know what to expect but I can see the possibilities. I appreciate those who come and visit my site, and catch a glimpse of my ordinary life - in my own words, thoughts and pictures. ~

Monday, November 16, 2009

Decorations



Today I started the day differently than usual. First, I slept in a little, and woke up at seven o'clock in the morning - on a Monday! I don't always get the luxury of staying under the warm covers so I savoured the moment. I checked A.R's forehead, and was relieved he didn't have a raging fever. He's been sleeping in our bedroom for a couple of days now, sheltered away from J.P and my hubby. It's easier for me to tend to him especially when he had a high fever. The past two nights were rough ones - at least, he's getting some rest, and is on the road to recovery. He still has that nasty cough - I described him as the "frog" from the new animated movie, The Princess and the Frog. It's a nagging cough that won't go away no matter what you do. I guess soup, vaporizer, Vicks, cough medicine and a whole bunch of "TLC" is on the agenda today. Yesterday, I was able to do some Christmas decorating but the tree isn't up yet. A.R wants to help me, hopefully we can have it up after lunch. Sounds like a good plan. I'm now off to make shepherd's pie for lunch. A.R has already picked up his guitar, strumming What Child is This?.


Shepherd's pie is a family favourite.


~ I just love the photo of the Christmas wreath in black and white. Simplicity speaks volumes. Love the texture on the ribbon.~

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This is the first time I'm writing everyday, and I think it's a great way to unwind my thoughts after a tiring day. It's Day 3 and A.R has shown some improvement in his condition. He still has a bad cough but otherwise he didn't have a fever all day up until this evening. Just a mild one and he should be fine for the next four hours. I am feeling weary but I trudge along and do what it takes to keep the schedule running. On weekends, I try to keep cooking at a minimum. I just like to warm up leftovers, or order in. I thought about decorating the house for Christmas but I was too lazy. Tomorrow I will tackle that project, and hopefully get inspired for the holidays.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sick Days



I'm exhausted, I spent another sleepless night taking care of A.R. He had a high fever, and I was concerned that maybe the tylenol wasn't working. I didn't want to get him all worried too so I told him to go back to sleep. Luckily, his fever subsided, and he felt much better this morning. A.R still looked sleepy as he lounged on the couch, watching television. I let him rest while I washed the dishes. Later, he asked if he can play on the computer. I made an exception, (school days are strictly forbidden), however, since he was sick, I allowed him to play for a limited time. I could see it brightened up his day, and I took a picture of him. He was too caught up in his game, and didn't look my way. He cringed when I told him that he would take his medicine soon. At least, it's bubblegum flavour! I don't know how I managed to keep the schedule today. It was a miracle I was able to wake up early, make breakfast, take J.P to school, cook lunch, clean the whole house, and then do laundry. Where did I find all this energy on so little sleep?! Where did the time go? I've been running on adrenaline, and soon I'll be sleepy once again after I take my daily shower. Look, here I am blogging! Will it ever end?

~ By the way, a funny thing happened to me (well, at the time, not so amusing), a bucket of icy, cold water fell on top of me! Please don't ask me why! I can only blame my hubby for this accident. If I wore dark shades right now, it still wouldn't hide my embarrassment! I was soaked to the bone! My hubby had a good laugh when I told him what happened. He wasn't surprised at all of my antics! ~

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sick Day

Yesterday, A.R. came home from school with a fever. He said he didn't feel well after attending the Remembrance Day services. I wish he told his teacher he was ill so we could have picked him up from school. All this news on H1N1 has made me worried. We haven't received the H1N1 flu shot because we don't fall in the "high priority" group. I woke up every hour last night to check up on him. He still has a mild fever and a cough, however, that doesn't mean things could change in the next few hours, or even days. We're keeping an eye out for H1N1 symptoms. So far things look good. Let's hope he gets well soon!

~ I just heard on the news that school age children can now take the H1N1 flu shot. Nice. Now that my boy is sick with fever, we have to delay his vaccination until he gets better. ~

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Homemade is the Best


Chocolate chip/oatmeal cookies

Lately, I've been baking more. My hubby has been nagging me for years, and so I finally gave in! The kids love homemade goods than store bought. They always want me to bake the chocolate chip/oatmeal cookies, and my hubby loves the banana muffins. It's tradition to bake during the holiday season so watch out for more goodies!


Freshly baked banana muffins

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Growing Pains

I guess at some point or another, we all have to grow up. Lately, I've been stepping back, and letting my eldest, A.R become more independent. He's almost ten years old, and it's about time he learns how to do things for himself. I don't want my kids to be spoiled, and think that everything will be done for them. I would like them to value hard work, and give them a sense of pride for the work that they do. That is why I've been giving A.R a few responsibilities; like taking out the green bin and blue box for recycling, washing dishes, folding his own clothes, and putting them away. I think what worries me the most is the fact that young boys are easily distracted nowadays with computer and video games, and falling behind in academics more than girls. Although, A.R doesn't fall into that category - I must say he does exceptionally well in school. We give him incentives to succeed in his school and guitar recitals. Rewards and encouragement are big in our household. It's the attitude, and behaviour issues we have to keep in check. Kids think they can say, and do anything they please without showing any signs of respect and consideration. I hate to admit it but I do have high expectations for him. I try not to put too much pressure on him when it comes to his studies, and music lessons. I can see the anxiety taking its toll on him - he bites his fingernails, and that's not only a bad habit but a warning sign that there is pressure on him. At times, I feel I am nagging him to perform a certain task, chore or a simple request. I think there will always be a growing concern that he won't be focused, and he'll keep distant and quiet. It can be frustrating at times, however, I stick to the program and keep him in line whenever he acts up. Parenting isn't easy but I always try to do my best! I'll be happy if my boys will turn out to be well-educated, successful, and productive men in the future. It seems like a long road ahead of us; yet the teenage years are just around the corner! It's critical I maintain good parenting skills, encouragement and love for my boys. I know I have to surround them with positive male role models, and provide them with the tools to be independent adults.

~ This piece was inspired after I had spent an evening out with my brother. We had a great conversation on the way to the movies, and eventually touched on the topic of parenting. I never thought I'd have this discussion with him! It was great!~

Friday, September 18, 2009

Camping Adventures



We still consider ourselves rookies when it comes to camping. Many people have gone for years. We just started to cross the list of places we'd like to see and visit each year. Our first excursion in the wilderness was memorable. I must confess we were inexperienced, and ill-prepared campers. We bought a brand new tent but no sleeping bags. Only blankets and foam padding for our bedding. We brought food and water but little did we know it would run out so quickly. J.P surprised us with his growing appetite! However, we did have a great deal of enthusiasm, and the kids' excitement was contagious. Although, we only stayed for two nights, we discovered how quick the weather can change. The first night in Balsam Lake, there was a wicked thunderstorm. We endured heavy rain, winds, lightening and thunder. It was probably the first storm I experienced outdoors, and it was certainly one I'll never forget! The thunderstorm lasted a few hours early in the morning; and I couldn't believe how brave my two young boys were. They were the ones comforting me, and reassuring me that the storm would soon be over. We also endured cold nights, it's hard to believe that temperatures could drop to 4 degrees Celsius in the middle of August but it's true! We ended up getting sleeping bags to keep warm and not suffer from hypothermia. There is so much to learn when camping, and I realized it's important to teach our kids outdoor survival skills. It may prove useful in the future when they grow up. So teaching them the basic skills - how to set up camp, build a fire, have water and food; learn to be bear wise, and be careful of poison ivy are all educational and important to know. They also get to see nature up close and to appreciate its beauty. I'd rather take them camping then go to a zoo. My kids see and experience wildlife firsthand. I'm so glad we took them camping; and it has now become a tradition every summer to enjoy the great outdoors!



The summer of 2009 wasn't exactly picture perfect. It rained almost every weekend especially in the month of July. My husband's family planned a camping trip in the first week of August near Algonquin region but I was disappointed with the campground and the facilities. It was also the long weekend, and I was hoping family members would stay longer, more than one night. I guess camping is just not for everyone. There are plenty of challenges, and if you don't adapt quickly, you will definitely have a miserable time. Our boys have surprised and impressed us each time we go camping. They can handle the outdoors, and have never complained about anything. It is better to start them young so they can get use to camping. The highlight of our summer was our week long stay in Bon Echo. Once again, our young boys proved they are real troopers. It was so nice to getaway from the city, and enjoy nature at its finest. No computers, no video games, no television, and no distractions! I loved waking up in the morning, and seeing the sun stream through the trees. Hear the birds chirping, or even hear the faint cry of a loon, or see frogs and chipmunks moving in the forest. Where can you see that in the big city? I never had opportunities like that before. Our boys are so lucky to see all this beauty while they're still young. I hope they'll always remember these summer trips. I can only imagine what they'd be like when they grow up. Our hope is that they become nature lovers like so many others; just like us.

~ As you can see, I love taking black and white photographs, and I also love landscape photography. I hope to feature more of my pictures soon. These two are some of my favorites from our week long trip. ~

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lost in Technology ? Take It Outdoors!


Last week, I observed that whenever my family stays home we spend most of our time on the computer for entertainment. It seems my hubby and my two boys fill up their time playing computer games, Wii or Nintendo. I go on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. This had me very concerned. Whatever happened to playing outside? Playing sports? Being imaginative and creative without the use of technology? Are we just becoming lazy? What kind of message are we sending to our kids? That sitting behind a desk, staring at a monitor is the only form of amusement? How will my children learn social skills if they are always playing computer games? I feel guilty writing this blog because here I am on the computer doing just that! Times have changed, and it's certainly not the carefree world we once lived in. I remember spending my childhood days outside with friends, playing games and sports without parental supervision. Nowadays, you cannot leave your children unattended - even outside your own home, without worrying some stranger might snatch them away! It's also very difficult to be physically active when there are gadgets, and interactive toys to distract you. However, it is possible to change your family's lifestyle. It requires some planning, creative thinking and spontaneity. There are many things you can do with your family. When the weather is nice, we take the boys to the playground in our neighbourhood, or we go to the beach. I enjoy gardening, or going for walk. I always ask the boys to join me. I do miss playing volleyball, perhaps, I should take it up again, and teach the kids the basics. This summer I hope I can change these habits, and be physically active with my kids. We've planned a camping trip in August, and I know we'll be looking forward for some fun and adventures in the sun. So, if you're feeling a little sluggish, and restless, why not go for a walk and be active? It wouldn't hurt to stay away from the computer for a couple of hours, or even for a day. Let's start fresh, and make a change for the better!

~ I started power walking every morning. Just trying to stay fit and healthy.~

Monday, March 9, 2009

Are You Green?


In a few weeks, I will be participating in Earth Hour Toronto. An event that requires turning off the lights, computers, televisions and spending one hour not using any electricity. I participated last year in the hopes of teaching my kids that protecting mother earth was very important, and I think it was a success. So, on March 28, 2009, for one hour, people across the globe, in every city and nation will be united in this cause. The Earth Hour event brings awareness to businesses, communities, neighbourhoods, and governments to take care of the environment. I practice being environmentally friendly every day. That means switching off the lights when not in the room, recycling bottles, cans and paper, donating items to local charities, and having energy efficient appliances to save electricity, and using re-usables bags for shopping.
I also garden every year. My kids help me clean up the yard, put the leaves in brown bags,and help plant perennials. They take pride in their hard work, and watch the flowers bloom in the summer. Living green has become a way of life; the norm in our household. We live in a fragile world. Global warming is on the rise, wildlife and ecosystems are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Isn't that a warning to us all that we need to change the way we live?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Living with Crohn's

My life with Crohn's disease hasn't been easy. I've had my share of personal suffering and grief. The truth is, I wouldn't wish this sickness on anyone because it's too painful. It takes a great deal of inner strength to bear with all the physical pain that comes along with Crohn's. I'm often surprised where my inner strength comes from. When I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I endured two weeks of gut-wrenching agony in my stomach. I lost so much blood that I needed a blood transfusion. I also lost a significant amount of weight because I couldn't hold any food down. I was living a terrible nightmare beyond all my wildest dreams. I thought I was going to die. I questioned why did this happen to me? How could I possibly be so frail and ill in my twenties? It just didn't make any sense; considering that I was perfectly healthy as a child, and as a teenager. How could this occur so suddenly? I was hungry for answers. Literally.

I was examined, tested, assessed and given medical treatment. My specialist said there was no known cure for Crohn's, and that research was still ongoing. I felt my heart sink, I knew my life would never be the same again. I had regular check-ups and took medications but I wasn't satisfied. I just wanted to be healthy. Was that too much to ask?

After many flare-ups, and trips to the hospital, it became more apparent that this disease was something I'd have to cope with for the rest of my life. I realized that this was a lesson for me to learn on earth; to learn how to suffer, and to accept all the things that cannot be. I've survived sixteen years with Crohn's, and that's quite a testament - that one can overcome trials and hardships. I no longer see it as a burden on my life, or a curse. Now that I'm in my late thirties, the years of experience has made me more patient and accepting. I count my blessings every day. I strive to live a simple life; stress-free as much as possible. I avoid spicy foods, and try to maintain a healthy diet. I practice reflexology. I laugh more. I enjoy being with my family. I've adapted to this new way of life, no matter how uncertain I feel about the future. I am thankful that I'm in remission, and I'm feeling healthy. I'm glad there are no doctors and nurses. No medications to take; no lonely nights to cry myself to sleep. Life is good, I will never take it for granted again.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thoughts on Motherhood



It's almost my birthday, and already I'm thinking about how fast time flies. It seemed like yesterday when I gave birth to my eldest boy; and then the youngest. The years have gone by in a flash, and now they're growing up to be fine, young boys. When they were toddlers, I wish I took the time to appreciate them. Back then, it all seemed hectic, tiring, and overwhelming to take care of the kids. I really didn't see how lucky I was to cherish the innocence, beauty and wonderment that childhood so often brings. If only I had more help, I believe I wouldn't have felt so exhausted and resentful. Nowadays, I see how very important it is to cherish the precious time I have with my children. I slow down from my busy schedule, and take more of their questions, or help them with a problem. We're trying to do more outdoor activities with them whether it's going tobogganing, or camping. It's all about spending time as a family too. What we do, what I do makes a lasting impression on them. I respect them as individuals, and I see my kids differently - A.R. is very smart, and talented; funny too. J.P is sweet, loving, and always thinking of others. Their teachers tell us they are well-behaved and lovely boys, and that makes us so proud of them. I feel like motherhood has opened a whole new world for me; it's true about having mother's intuition and that parenting is the hardest job in the world. I feel like being a mother is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I know there is a long way to go, but it feels like I'm on the right track. For once in my life, I feel like I'm actually doing something good, and that makes my birthday all the more sweeter.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Winter Blues



The new year always brings many changes, some are planned and some are unexpected. This year, I've decided to write a blog. A collection of stories, experiences, interests and important people. I consider myself to be a private person, but there has always been a part of me that wants to be expressive and open. To see my own words splashed across the screen for all to read is something I wouldn't ordinarily share with my family, or even strangers. However, here I am, opening up my thoughts and feelings with you for the very first time. So, I hope by sharing this personal journal, it will give you a mere glimpse of who I am, and what inspires me. Which brings me to the reason why I'm beginning to write this blog. Lately, I've been feeling pretty down. I guess you can say I've been having the winter blues . It all started after the Christmas holidays, and when the kids returned to school. I was sad to see them go, and I missed their company. I even procrastinated; leaving the holiday decorations up for an extra week! The cold weather didn't seem to help alter my feelings. I like winter, and all its beauty but the frosty temperatures have made the early morning walk quite unpleasant. I know this is just a phase, and I'm sure I'll return to my normal self again. I just don't want to think about another two or three of months of winter. Brrrrrr! You will probably hear more of my trifles in the coming months - it comes and goes. Hope you stick around. :)