Monday, December 24, 2012

This weekend I was wrapping like a mad-woman and re-organizing presents so they all fit nicely under the tree (I’m not OCD – everyone does that, right?) when I came upon this gift…


To Mom, From Son.  Hmmm. 
Hubby explained that when he and R were wrapping, R asked how to spell my real name.  When Hubby said, "M-O-M-M-Y", and told him that if he used my real name, he'd be in big trouble.  When Hubby checked after, this was the result.  Out of the of babes.
From my family to yours, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe, prosperous New Year.
Take Care, D

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Solstice is the day that we have the least amount of sunlight all year.  Due to our position on the planet we are tilted the furthest from the sun around this time of year giving my community approximately six and a half hours of sunlight on this day.  Because of this, December 21st is often referred to as the “shortest day of the year”.  In reality there isn’t a time warp causing fewer hours in the day (though as I get older it seems every day has fewer hours in it), we just get less sun.  The good news…from now until the Summer Solstice – we continuously get more sun each day!  In about six months, there will only be about six hours of darkness each day!

With so much darkness around us, I like to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the coming of more sun.  Each year we do a little something to celebrate like crafts, baking, go sliding, just something.  Depending on our schedules, it could be a large celebration with friends and family, or something small with just the kids and I.  This year, we are making snow taffy and snowflake crafts!
Snow Taffy is a traditional French Canadian treat.  I remember doing this with my “Memere” (Grandmother) on warm winter days while we waited for the bread to rise.  I have so many fond memories in the kitchen with my Memere including Meat Pies – but I digress. 
We don’t have any maple trees around here so we don’t make Snow Taffy the traditional way which includes tapping a tree but it is good nonetheless.  It has been a few years since we’ve made Snow Taffy so it will be like new to R and I can’t wait to see his face when he tastes it – oh, and it’s gluten free!  If you would like to make it yourself but live in an area without snow, you can do this with crushed ice as well.

Photo Source: The Great Canadian Gift Company
Snow Taffy Syrup

1 cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup butter
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon vanilla
Popsicle sticks - optional

This part is for grown-ups and more experienced kitchen-helpers.  Place all the ingredients into a pot and boil it over medium-high heat.  Be careful, if this stuff splashes it burns fast and sticks to keep on burning.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a hard boil.  Still stirring, allow the hard boil for about 2 minutes. 

During this time, have the kids go outside and collect CLEAN snow in a cookie sheet.

After the 2 minute hard boil, drizzle a little of the syrup onto the snow.  If the syrup is absorbed into the snow, it’s not ready.  Keep boiling and stirring.  Keep testing it until the syrup turns into taffy (soft caramel-like consistency) on the snow.  Then drizzle it over various parts of the snow.  It is cooled nearly instantly so you can then pick it up and eat it, or roll it around a spoon.  We use popsicle sticks to roll the taffy around like a taffy pop.  It's very sticky so I recommend using a spoon on popsicle stick.

The taffy is best eaten fresh but if you made more than you can eat, roll up extra strips and put them onto wax paper then store in the fridge.  Remember, the colder it is kept, the harder consistency it will be so don't leave it too long.

Since this is a French Canadian tradition, perhaps I will take this opportunity to talk to the kids about “L’Hiver” (winter) and maybe we’ll learn a French winter song.  Snowflake crafts can be found all over the internet and we selected this one from Pinterest.
Photo Source: Tainted IrIs

Will you be celebrating the Winter Solstice?  Leave me some comments on your plans for celebrating and some ideas for future winter celebrations for us.

 Take Care, D

Monday, December 10, 2012

photo source:
This article from a Canadian Scouter truly reflects a lot of my feelings towards food allergies.  R is gluten intolerant and because it is not a “deadly” allergy, many people discount it as a problem.  Often, even at extended family gatherings, people don’t consider him.

An example of this was when we went out to visit members of our family who were camping.  We brought out our own food so that I could be sure that there would be something R could eat.  When I watched people serving, they often used the same spoon to scoop the regular pasta salad as the gluten free potato salad.  When I brought it to their attention that this cross contamination could cause R to have a reaction and he no longer could eat it, they didn’t seem to get it.  I got the “you’re over-reacting” look.  One person even commented that R would just get the runs for a while and that it wasn’t a serious reaction.  Anyone who suffers from gluten or lactose or other non-deadly allergies knows that it isn’t a minor reaction.  Often a lot of pain and discomfort is involved and it is even worse when you are at a function and can’t even suffer in your own home.

This is one of many examples that our own family doesn’t respect this disability.  If this is what we get from people who love us, how can we expect different from strangers?  We know there will be cross contamination at any restaurant, eating at a friend’s, school functions, etc.  It never ends.  R often says, “why can’t I just be normal?”.  We do our best to offer substitutions and R’s teacher is fantastic in letting me know when something is coming up so I can send in a substitution for R but this is when he doesn’t want to be “special”.

It is so nice to see that Scouts Canada has recognized disabilities and that this Scout Group is including food allergens as part of those disabilities so that the kids can be part of the group and be “special” by their accomplishments and character rather than by how they were born.  Way to go Scouts!

Take Care, D

Monday, November 5, 2012

re-released from Nov 2011

photo source:
I’m so excited that so many men are taking the Movember challenge and growing moustaches! 
Movember raises awareness for prostate cancer where men register or join teams to get sponsors for their moustache growth and to bring awareness to men’s health, especially prostate cancer.  Mo Bros can register at to start growing their best moustache and have the conversations that are so needed.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer to afflict the men in our lives.  One in seven men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime.  That being said, the recovery rate is extremely high if cancer is detected early.  Over 90% of prostate cancer cases are curable if detected in the earliest stages.  Many men can have cancerous cells from their prostate for years without detection so it is very important that men be tested regularly.  Typically the first symptom is difficulty urinating or blood in the urine, but there may be no symptoms present in early stages of cancer therefore testing is the best way to ensure diagnosis.

The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but there are some common risk factors such as age.  The risk of getting prostate cancer increases swiftly at the age of 50 and almost two out of three prostate cancer patients are over the age of 62.  If there is a family history of prostate cancer and you are 40 years of age or older, you should discuss this with your doctor as he/she would likely recommend testing.  Risk factors also include diets that are generally high in fat (including a lot of red meat, high-fat dairy, etc.), obesity, lack of physical activity, and possibly those who have worked with cadmium.

Every man 40 or older should talk to their health practitioner about having a simple blood test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.  This provides a number for future comparison so that if that number changes, it can be investigated closer.  If no issues are found, this test only needs to be repeated every five years until you turn 50.

Another test that may be done is a digital rectal exam (DRE) whereby your health practitioner inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to investigate the area of the prostate where most cancers are found.  Prostates are soft, rubbery, smooth and symmetrical.  Any signs of lumps, hard, or irregular areas may indicate prostate cancer.  Men over 50 should be tested annually to catch any issues in the earliest stages.

Our favorite men are at risk by this disease but there is hope with early detection.  If you or your favorite man is 40 or older, have them speak to their health practitioner about testing…it could save his life.

Take Care, D


Monday, October 29, 2012

Most families have Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions, and we have those too, but we also have Halloween traditions.  Halloween is my favorite almost-holiday and so I make it special for myself by making a big deal with my family.  The kids love it too so it’s great to share this with them.  Hubby…not so much, but he would never rain on my parade.  In fact, he was willing to suck-it-up and dress up for a Monster Reunion Murder Mystery being put on by a friend.  But I digress.
Our traditions aren’t monstrous ordeals but they are a little special thing for us.  We decorate the house sometime after Thanksgiving and always try to “Boo” the neighbors in the week preceding Halloween.  “Boo”-ing the neighbors is a lot of fun where we create a little gift or gift bag of Halloween fun and leave it on the doorstep of our neighbor’s house.  Included in the gift is a note letting them know they’ve been “Boo”-ed and how to “Boo” the next person of their choice.  Soon everyone in the neighborhood has had the experience and no one knows who’s done it.  Once we’ve left it on the doorstep, we ring the bell and run like heck so they don’t see who’s done it.  I think that’s the most fun for the kids.
Carving Pumpkins is next.  We usually carve a pumpkin the weekend before Halloween since it is usually cold here by then and possibly snowing so our pumpkin will wither a little on the step and freeze there.  The pumpkins are usually only lit on Halloween night.
On Halloween night, we usually have something gross for supper.  We’ve had snakes (manicotti), worms (spinach fettuccini), bat wings (chicken wings), and so many others.  We eat by candle light and discuss the night ahead.  We eat early so the trick-or-treating fun can begin.  Grandma then comes up to handle the door while we set out for our costumed adventure.  C has been going out with a group of friends for the last couple years and they are drilled about staying together and NEVER entering anyone’s house.  She’s probably too old to be trick-or-treating but it is so much fun.  We love to marvel at the costumes and the different houses d├ęcor themes.  Then after a block or two, R’s usually had enough and is eager to get home with his loot.  I think part of the thrill for him is also to hand out the candy to other kids because whenever the doorbell rings – he races to the door to see what costumed children have arrived.
At this point, we are usually up to our eyeballs in candy, trying to sort what is and is not acceptable to eat.  This year, not only are we looking for suspect candy, but also for gluten.  This is going to be tough, since it’s R’s first gluten free Halloween.  Candy lists can be searched for on the internet and I will have my guide next to me as we go through the candy.  Luckily I will have a special stash set out for him that I know is gluten free so that he can enjoy some candy while patiently (hopefully) waiting for the rest of his candy to be checked.  Then the rest will go with Hubby to work for all of his co-workers who work night shift to enjoy.
What are some of your Halloween traditions?
Take Care, D
Related Post:

10 Halloween Safety Tips


Monday, October 22, 2012

I know, I know.  That sounds like an oxymoron and it is WAY too early to be talking about Christmas.  Most people flush at the word “Christmas”, frowns form and tension creases their brows.  In reality, Christmas isn’t that far away and an organized one is attainable but it pays to have a plan, in fact, we’re a bit late getting started.
A few years ago, I found this amazing website that had steps to organizing yourself to have everything ready on time for Christmas.  No more last minute shopping or shipping presents knowing they won’t get to their destination on time.  I tried the program and it worked.  It was the first Christmas I had where I didn’t feel so stressed about the holidays.  Then I thought I knew what to do to maintain this level of organization and I didn’t look at it the following year, big mistake.  That Christmas was just like all the other ones where things were falling apart.  Upon reflection, it’s because I didn’t have an effective detailed plan.

Many people are organized or forward thinking enough to create their own plans either in writing or in their heads.  I am not one of those people, and from the stress I see in other faces around the holidays, I’m not alone.  Organized Christmas provides a plan and details or executing that plan that may or may not work for you but it is definitely a starting place and you can tweak it as required.
You’re well ahead of the game if you have a plan, any plan.  Especially if it’s attainable!  Organized Christmas has four different plans you can choose from.  From a really basic, get organized for Christmas holiday plan to an in-depth whole house organization plan.  Needless to say, it’s too late for the whole house thing unless you work overtime and then you’re still going to feel stressed.  The basic plan is broken down into weekly tasks starting this week (Oct 21st) with a goal of being ready for Christmas by the first weekend in December.  It is an American plan so the holidays and resources are based around American holidays and resources but again, with a few easy tweaks, it can be Canadian-ized.  Take a look at the plans and choose the one that’s best for you.
I’m going back to this plan and in hopes of getting myself back on track and having a nice relaxing December so I can enjoy my family during the holidays instead of wanting to cancel Christmas and hide in my room.

Do you have a plan for Christmas?  If so, how has it work out for you?

Take Care, D

The opinions expressed in this article are mine and are my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any way to write this article/promotion.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jane's not happy. She's been packed off to England to fight in a war when she'd much rather be snogging Anyan. Unfortunately, Jane's enemies have been busy stirring up some major trouble -- the kind that attracts a lot of attention. In other words, they're not making it easy for Jane to get any alone time with the barghest, or to indulge in her penchant for stinky cheese.
Praying she can pull of a Joan of Arc without the whole martyrdom thing, Jane must lead Alfar and halflings alike in a desperate battle to combat an ancient evil. Catapulted into the role of Most Unlikely Hero Ever, Jane also has to fight her own insecurities as well as the doubts of those who don't think she can live up to her new role as Champion.
Along the way, Jane learns that some heroes are born. Some are made. And some are bribed with promises of food and sex.

“Tempest’s Fury” is the fifth book in Nicole Peeler’s Jane True Series which was released June 2012 and published by Orbit Books.  The Jane True series is an Urban Fantasy series about a world of powerful creatures and halflings that humans don’t know exists.  Up until now, Jane has been through a series of trials and tribulations that places her as an important factor in an upcoming war between power hungry supernatural creatures and those who wish to keep the humans from becoming slaves to those creatures.  During all of this, Jane has discovered she is very attracted to Anyan, and he is attracted to her and they would like to explore the possibilities between them but the world must come first.

As most of you know, I enjoy audiobooks, and had I known that only the first three of the five books were audio, I may not have begun this series.  That said, I am so glad I did start this series.  Jane True is a fantastic heroine.  She is not a sweet and innocent little girl, as is the case in many of the books I have read lately.  She has been somewhat sheltered but has been in love before and knows what it’s like.  She is self-aware and not wishy-washy.  She knows what she wants in life and is working on getting it.  She has not had an easy life and is relatable because of it.  Although, she has been learning a lot about her mother’s world and how she fits in, she doesn’t lose herself in it but enjoys the new perks.

In “Tempest’s Fury” Jane travels to Britain where her group’s intel has discovered activity from their nemesis, Jarl and Morrigan.  The fate of the world depends on Jane and her troop being able to intercept and stop Jarl and Morrigan from awakening the Red and the White.  Not only does Jane have to endure intense training and immense stress, but also sexual frustration since she and Anyan have so little alone time.

When you pick up this series, be sure to have a lot of reading time because it is very difficult to put down.  I listened to the first three books and read the other two novels within a week – and yes, everything else was set aside because I could not concentrate on anything and found excuses to find a quiet corner to read. 

“Tempest’s Fury” flowed very well and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  There were even a few raised eyebrows from Hubby when I would squeak or gasp aloud at various parts of the book.  Then in the end, he walked away from me shaking his head as I yelled, “Nooooooooooo!  It can’t end like this!  I can’t believe it ended like that!”  Then I raced to my computer to find out when the next installment of Jane’s life will be released.  Sadly, it’s not until May 2013.

Have you read this book or any others in the series?  What did you think?

Take Care, D
  This review is based solely on my opinion and any similarities to other reviews is purely coincidental.  I was not compensated for this review in any way; however, I would love to have been. ;-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On the weekend, I couldn’t decide if I wanted chocolate cake or cheesecake.  Then I thought, why choose?  I decided to experiment a little.

I pulled out our Only Oats Decadent Chocolate Muffin Mix and my Kraft Philidelphia Cheesecake recipe book.

I mixed the muffin mix as directed on the packaging, pouring it into a 9x13 cake pan, then I mixed half the recipe for the Holiday Cheesecake Presents (sans graham crumbs), making sure to use only gluten free products.  I poured the cheesecake mixture over the chocolate mixture.  Using a spatula, I made swirling and figure-eight motions to mix them into a marble-like look.

After 30 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, voila, yumminess ensued.  Then I fought the kids off long enough to get this quick photo of the last square. Mmm, look at those chunks of cheesecake.

I think next time I may make the whole cheesecake recipe and maybe even use a small ice cream scoop to plop cheesecake in the middle of each square.  Regardless, I consider this experiment a complete success.

Take Care, D

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Terry Fox was a remarkable young man from British Colombia, Canada.  He was known as a humanitarian, an athlete, and a national hero.  Even now, thirty-one years after his death, we still honor his legacy.
Terry was a long distance runner and basketball player in high school as well as college and generally well liked.  In 1977, Terry (who was only nineteen) was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, causing his leg to be amputated in hopes of stopping the spread of Cancer.  Terry continued to run using an artificial leg and played wheelchair basketball, helping his team win three national championships.
The Marathon of Hope was born in 1980 when Terry decided to run across Canada to raise money for Cancer research.  Terry’s goal was to raise one dollar for each of Canada’s twenty-four million people.  He began his journey from St. John’s, Newfoundland in April running the equivalent of a marathon each day.
By the time Terry had reached Ontario, he had made numerous public appearances with various public figures and was a national star for his accomplishments.  Unfortunately the Cancer Terry battled during his run had spread to his lungs by the time he reached Thunder Bay, Ontario.  Terry’s hopes, along with the Country’s, of his overcoming the disease and completing his run, ended when Terry died nine months later (June 28, 1981).

September of 1981 was the first Terry Fox Run.  This run is held annually to honor our national hero.  Many communities and schools across Canada conduct a run or walk to continue Terry’s work in raising funds for Cancer research.  The Terry Fox Run has grown to involve millions of participants in over 60 countries.  It is now the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for Cancer research. 
Though this blog post will have missed the community runs on September 16th, it is not too late to join or sponsor a school run on September 27th.  There is no entry fee and no minimum donation.  Go to to find a way to help out.  Remember, Terry only hoped for one dollar from each person… is one dollar too much to ask?  Together, in Terry’s name, we will find a cure.

Take Care, D

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

We have been making our own “granola” bars for a while now.  When we discovered Hubby and R’s sensitivity to gluten, I was very worried about how I was going to make sure they still had grains in their diet.  The bars that we make are good but I find them overly sweet.  I wanted to try something else.
I found an Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Granola Bar recipe from for what seemed more like an Oatmeal-to-go type bar.  it wasn't set out as a gluten free recipe but I could see how easily it could be converted.  So I tried it out.  It was fantastic and I loved the cake-type consistency.  R had enjoyed the Oatmeal-to-go bars before we realized his intolerance so I thought this would be a nice bar for him but I wanted to incorporate more grains so I modified it.  He still loves the bar and he’s getting more out of it.
In the recipe below I will include my additions but would love to hear your variations.  Unfortunately I am not very imaginative when it comes to grains and I’m sure nuts could be added too, except R takes it to school which is nut-free.  Try it, let me know what you think.
Oatmeal Granola Bars


3 cups gluten free oats
1 cup flour mix
4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of grains, dried fruit, seeds, chocolate, etc.
I chose ¼ cup each of flaxseed meal, chocolate chips, sesame seed, corn meal, dried cranberries, whole grain rice puffs, whole grain quinoa puffs, and sunflower seeds.

½ cup honey
3 cups of skim milk (would like to try with almond milk)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In Mixer bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix until combined.  In a separate bowl whisk the wet ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry while mixing until well blended.  Pour the batter into a 9x13 greased baking pan.  Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cut into bars and allow to cool on a rack.


Take Care, D

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hubby and I are a large part of R’s Scouting Group.  We want to be part of this great organization and want to contribute what we can to help further this organization and make scouting available to more youth in our area.  All of the time we spend is volunteered. 
My problem is all the parents who drop their children off at the meetings and want their children in the organization, but don’t want to help out.  It seems like it’s always the same people volunteering for everything.  I am grateful to those people and they do an amazing job but most of them are leaders and already have a huge time commitment and cannot do everything!  It is exhausting for those leaders and their families to volunteer for every event and fundraiser because of the lack of interest from the other parents. 
The organization cannot grow without volunteers and throwing money at the problem (which is the norm in various youth sports and organizations in the area in the form of a volunteer levy) isn’t the solution.  We have already had many of the past committee members and leaders not return because of the extreme time commitment.  So how do we make the parents care?  How do we enforce mandatory volunteering?  How is volunteering handled in your area?

Take Care, D

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On behalf of Just Mom’s Blog and What To, I would like to congratulate E.Ong and Tamra H.  You are the winners of the two What To Expect prize packs!  I have sent out notices to you so please contact me via email with your mailing address. 
Congratulations to you both!

Take Care, D

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Every day lessons are the best.  Don't you agree?

When I was a trainer we were often instructed that people learn best when information is presented to them in a manner which they learn as well as when that information is relevant to them.  When we're out playing, what could be more relevant than the activity we are doing and my son and I both learn best by doing - aka playing.

This week we were out playing on a beach and R was having a blast making a castle.  It was amazing how his imagination took him away and he wanted to provide a water source for the citizens in his keep.  He dug a hole and poured water into it.  It overflowed so he built a dyke to keep it in.  He was convinced that the hole would not hold enough water for his people.  He continued to build the dyke, reinforcing the sides which would breach when he tested it.  He learned about how much dryer sand vs. wet sand he would need to construct the strongest dyke for his pond.

This seems like just a fun time but honestly, this experiment he conducted, he enjoyed and will remember through to adulthood.  Though he doesn't know the science terms behind it all and all the specifics to be a professional, providing him with the experience to do this experiment in a fun way created a lesson he won't soon forget and he can apply this experiment to his future eduction and experiences.

What everyday learning have you done lately?  I'm always looking for more everyday learning to expose my children to, any ideas?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Super-Duper, Epic-ly Awesome Summer School…wasn’t so much.  I had so many wonderful ideas and plans and, as those of you who know me may have predicted, life got in the way.

After the first week, I knew we would need to revise everything as R was not having fun with it and there was always some errand or activity going on that put our summer school on the back burner.  So after two weeks of accomplishing only a quarter of what we wanted to accomplish, I knew I had to re-think this.

I spoke to R and we agreed that reading, writing, and math everyday was important.  So each day we would read at bedtime – which is our normal bedtime routine.  R would find time to write in his journal most days – even if it was only a couple sentences.  Math was accomplished either through R’s in-school class account on Dreambox or Mathletics.  Math has been hit and miss.  We often are exploring the world around us through our day-to-day activities, which is good – but I’d love to be doing more.
I must admit; it’s me holding us back.  I always have some errand, chore, or some sort of computer work.  This exercise has reminded me why it is that I don’t homeschool… I just can’t juggle it.  How do you homeschooling moms do it?  I’d love to see what your schedules look like.  Any advice?

Take Care, D

Monday, July 30, 2012

When I met Hubby, he was already a single Dad and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to evaluate his parenting skills as we were dating.  Hubby is an amazing and involved parent.  His enthusiasm and ideals for parenting was one of the qualities that attracted me to him.  After we were married, we decided that we wanted another child.  I was excited about the prospect of having a baby, it’s what I’ve wanted my entire life, but moving forward without a plan or knowing what to expect made me quite nervous.  Hubby was fine, he’s done this before, but knowing the kind of person I am, he recommended that I buy “What To Expect When You’re Expecting”.  He’d read this book when C was expected and knew that this book was exactly what I needed.   He was right.

The book begins with pre-conception.  I thought that if you want to get pregnant, you stop birth control and voila, pregnancy…if you’re lucky enough to conceive quickly.   Did you know you should see your doctor for tests before conception?  Don’t worry, if you didn’t do this, there are many un-planned pregnancies that turned out fine, but if you’re planning, why not start from the beginning.  By seeing my doctor I found out that I have Hypothyroidism which means my Thyroid gland runs a little slow.  Left untreated, this could cause developmental delays in the baby, so I was placed on medication along with some maternity vitamins for a month before we started trying to conceive.

Being the worry-wart queen, I would read each chapter a month before it would occur so I would know how my baby was developing as well as what I could expect at each check-up.  My pregnancy was fairly straight-forward and enjoyable without the worry of what’s coming up.  The scariest part of it all was when I was in the hospital, holding a new baby boy thinking – oh crap, what do I do now?

Now there’s this separate little person to care for who can’t tell me what he needs.  After a little struggling, stress and driving Hubby crazy with questions, I finally found “What to Expect The First Year”.  I highly recommend reading this before baby is born as it can prepare you for some of the questions and decisions that need to be made right away.  This book was actually more valuable to me than the first.  Developmentally, it was nice to know what should be surfacing but these things are different for every child so although, nice, it wasn’t crucial.  It was things like coping with motherhood, breast feeding, milk storage, cracking the crying code, sleeping, baby outings, myths, and so much more that really made parenthood a little easier.  This book was a sanity saver for sure.

The fine people over at What To Expect, have generously made two copies of each of the books in the series available for a giveaway on this blog.  That’s right, two lucky readers will receive a copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting, What to Expect the First Year, and What to Expect The Second Year.  You will have until midnight September 1st, 2012 (EST) to enter.  To enter, simply fill out this Rafflecopter form:

For more information about the books along with other fantastic information about pregnancy, birth, infants and toddlers check out What To

Take Care, D

Thursday, July 12, 2012

When I think about summer reading, I think about laying out on the beach with a book or lounging on my back deck with an iced coffee and a book or even sitting by a campfire straining to read by fire light or flashlight.  Here are some of the books I’m looking forward to this month.

Release: July 10
The long awaited sequel to A Discovery of Witches in the All Souls Trilogy, Shadow of Night picks up by plunging Diana (Oxford scholar and reluctant witch) and Matthew (geneticist and vampire) into Elizabethan London.  A world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh.  Here Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

Release: July 24
Evie’s paranormal past keeps coming back to haunt her in the third installment of Kiersten White’s  Paranormalcy Series.  A new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency wants to drag her back to headquarters.  The Dark Faerie Queen is torturing humans in her poisonous realm and supernatural creatures keep insisting that Evie is the only one who can save themn from a mysterious, perilous fate.  The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world and its fate rests solely in Evie’s hands.  So much for normal.

Release: July 17
In the third House of Night novella, the secret history we've all been waiting for is finally revealed... Neferet, the Tulsa House of Night's darkly seductive High Priestess, wasn't always a powerful vampyre, but she has always been beautiful. Raised in turn-of-the-century Chicago in a motherless home, her beauty makes her the prey of unwanted attention and abuse, leaving her with scars that will never heal – and a Darkness that will eventually need to find its way out. But when she is Marked and gains strength, both physical and magickal, she turns her anger into power and looks for a way to regain what was stolen from her. From victim to High Priestess, beautiful young woman to powerful seductress, Neferet's journey begins...

Release: July 10
An all-new Mac & Barrons story by Karen Marie Moning, marvelously adapted into a full-color graphic novel by writer David Lawrence and illustrator Al Rio.
In Fever Moon, we meet the most ancient and deadly Unseelie ever created, the Fear Dorcha. For eons, he’s traveled worlds with the Unseelie king, leaving behind him a path of mutilation and destruction. Now he’s hunting Dublin, and no one Mac loves is safe.  Dublin is a war zone. The walls between humans and Fae are down. A third of the world’s population is dead and chaos reigns. Imprisoned over half a million years ago, the Unseelie are free and each one Mac meets is worse than the last. Human weapons don’t stand a chance against them.  With a blood moon hanging low over the city, something dark and sinister begins to hunt the streets of Temple Bar, choosing its victims by targeting those closest to Mac. Armed only with the Spear of Destiny and Jericho Barrons, she must face her most terrifying enemy yet.

Release: July 1
New series by Gena Showalter begins with the Leader of the most powerful army in the heavens, Zacharel has been deemed nearly too dangerous, too ruthless--and if he isn't careful, he'll lose his wings. But this warrior with a heart of ice will not be deterred from his missions at any cost...until a vulnerable human tempts him with a carnal pleasure he's never known before.  Accused of a crime she did not commit, Annabelle Miller has spent four years in an institution for the criminally insane. Demons track her every move, and their king will stop at nothing to have her. Zacharel is her only hope for survival, but is the brutal angel with a touch as hot as hell her salvation--or her ultimate damnation?

Of course this is not a complete listing of all July releases, only the ones I'm looking forward to.  What will you be reading this month?
Take Care, D

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Recently our family attended a fantastic stage production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Junior.  It was held at C’s middle school and C was the narrator.  Unfortunately I am unable to post photos of the production but it was outstanding.

When we walked in, I fully intended to see a great middle school or high school level production with goofy kids and obvious slip-ups that make the play so memorable and us parents so proud.  I was so proud of all the performers and crew before it even began and was eager to see C in her role along with some of her friends and theatre family we had heard so much about in the weeks leading up to the performance.  So now I bet you think this will be a biased account and feel that it was so special because C was in it…and it was, but even if your child wasn’t in the performance, the reviews were astonishingly positive.  Most reviews claimed a near professional caliber performance.

When we entered the theatre portion of the school, I was pleasantly surprised with the theme music playing as we were seated.  The music was familiar and immediately I was relating to the Disney movie.  Once everyone had taken their seats, the production began with the narrator (YAY C!) who was a dark and serious character explaining how the beast came to be.  Meanwhile we watched a shadow mime of the witch and spoiled young prince having the spell cast upon him turning him into the beast.  It was an exciting version of the story, one that captured everyone’s attention including R and the other children in the crowd.  The collective gasp at the spell casting was a dead giveaway that we were now a captivated audience.

The curtains closed as the narrator continued the tale with perfect musical transition allowing the townsfolk and Belle to make their entrance.  The performance carried on with a much higher caliber than I was expecting with amazing costumes and props.  A few of the performers even spoke with accents befitting their character while the enchanted castle and little village wove their own spell over the audience.  The scene transitions were nearly flawless and the performers interacted slightly with the crowd simply by using the aisles as part of their stage during battle scenes. 

The crowd laughed when they were supposed to and some cried when the beast was injured.  None of the children around me were heard to utter anything resembling “I’m bored” or “when is it over”.  In fact, during the intermission, many of the children were saying, “when is it going to start again?”  This, to me, is a tell-tale sign of a successful performance.  They deserved the standing ovations they received.

Take Care, D

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Being in a small city has its perks and disadvantages.  A perk is that when children go to the grocery store, if you stop at the bakery department, they will usually give you a cookie – if Mommy says it’s ok and you’ve been a good boy/girl.  The downfall is that the cookies are never gluten free. 

Before we discovered R’s intolerance, the bakery department was the best part of going grocery shopping with Mommy.  I could get him to help and behave without asking because he knew that when we got to the bakery department, he would get a cookie.  He would wonder through the whole shopping experience, what kind of cookie would be handed out that day and he would hope it was the oatmeal ones.  Since his diagnosis, we avoid the bakery section. 
R’s new favorite spot is the gluten free section where there are a few treats and every now and then a new item pops up that we get to try.  This trip, R brought me this bright red package of Only Oats-Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookie Mix from Avena Foods.  We were so excited to try this.  This product is not only certified gluten free, but it is also lactose, egg, soy, and nut free as well as being low in saturated fats with no sugar added and a high source of fibre.  Yay!  We did a happy dance right there in the aisle.

After supper we baked these cookies.  It was so easy, beat 1 cup of butter at room temperature with 2 tablespoons of corn syrup. Add 1 large egg or the equivalent egg substitute and mix for 30 seconds. Add 3 cups of the mix and mix until combined.

  Spoon onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.  Ta Da!  Yummy cookies you wouldn’t know were gluten free. 

The cookies turned out just like they are on the Avena Foods website.  Wish I had a picture of the finished product but they didn’t last long enough to get one.  They were a hit and I will definitely be buying this mix again.

WARNING:  This product is so delicious; it may be difficult to stop eating.  We had trouble controlling ourselves so long as these cookies were in the cookie jar and stopping at just one is nearly impossible.

Have you tried any of the Only Oats products?  What did you think?

Take Care, D

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for this review except for the yummy goodness of the cookies.  This is a product I purchased myself and wanted to share with you.  Results may vary.

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