The Wonders of Spring

If you asked me what my favourite season was, I would say, Fall, hands down. cropped-cropped-dsc_0723.jpg No doubt about it.  Until recently that is.  Spring may be using her powers of persuasion against me.  Perhaps it is where we live & the fact that the last two winters have been down right balmy (& not winter-ish at all).  Perhaps it is the fact that spring this year actually feels like summer & I love it.

But most likely, my newfound love of spring comes from the fact that I am seeing spring for the first time, through new eyes.  Not my eyes, of course, but the eyes of my daughters. My twins will be three this June & although this is clearly not their first spring, I feel it’s the first one that really matters.  It’s the first one where they really “get” what spring means.  They understand when I tell them about flowers & the birds returning & why things are getting green.  They have the vocabulary to ask me questions, as my oldest does frequently… “What’s this Mom?”  I love explaining things to them & answering their questions.  I love pointing out the blossoms on the trees, which I have always thought to be gorgeous.

I love pointing out each new bud on the trees, each little plant poking its head out of the ground.  I love how green everything is & how we can find every colour of the rainbow in our yard.  We have started talking about the vegetable garden & all the things we are going to grow this year & how the girls are going to help me.  We even started some seeds the other day.

As a student for so many years, fall was always seemed like the start of a new year for me, much more so than January.  But now… now it’s been 10 years since I was a student & while I still love fall, it doesn’t have the same wonder & promise of new beginnings… but spring, maybe spring does.

Here is a glimpse of what spring looks like at my place… because clearly I take way too many photos!  Happy Spring!

 

Winter Wonderland

One of the things that drew my husband & I to our house, apart from some great features indoors, was the beautiful outdoors.  Our tree lined driveway & yard are two of our favourite things about the house.2016 Winter Yard-0456 The driveway is perhaps my favourite though.  I love to walk down it looking up at the trees anytime of year but especially in the summer & fall when the leaves are full.  The trees are a great marker for people coming to our house & also a great way for our girls to identify that we have arrived home.  They too love to walk down the driveway although I’m not sure they appreciate the trees just yet the way that their parents do.

The rest of the yard is pretty great too, front & back.  This time of year (when we actually have snow – which hasn’t happened much this winter), I love to look out the windows & see the snow sparkling on the ground & on the trees as the sun comes up.2016 Winter Yard-0376 I also love to see the wildlife tracks running through the undisturbed snow.  There is definitely something to be said for living in the country.

This morning I got inspired & pulled out my zoom lens, something I haven’t done in a LONG time.  I was looking out the window while changing one of the girls & noticed a chipmunk, perched on a box near the garage.  He was sitting ever so still, almost like a statue.  I was sure by the time I got my camera he would be gone but he wasn’t. 2016 Winter Yard-0437.jpg Must be my lucky day.  After snapping a few photos of him, I was drawn to the frozen droplets on the tree branches from the storm a few days ago.

Our yard is really great for photos, anytime of year.

The birds have been going crazy today too.  My husband filled the feeders on the weekend, something he hasn’t done for a while, & the birds appear to be very happy with him.  I saw woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals, doves & a bunch of little birds I can’t identify!  But they were sure having a feast in our yard.  2016 Winter Yard-0518

Since I’ve mostly been writing about feeding my “little birds” the last little while I thought I’d do something different today.  Here’s a few of the shots I snapped in the yard this morning.

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Breakfast!

Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day.  Not only is it an important way to start the day, I’m also usually starving when I wake up.  While pregnant with the girls I actually used to eat two breakfasts!  One, as soon as I got up (around 7) & then another with my husband, when he was finally ready for breakfast, somewhere around 9. I was eating for three, right?

To me, there is no better way to start the day then with a good cup of coffee, an omelette filled with mushrooms, spinach & cheese, some potatoes & some toast.   Delicious!  Of course, I certainly don’t eat this every day… though coffee is a necessity no matter what else I am eating!  Image result for coffeeBreakfast while I was working usually consisted of granola & yogurt, or some kind of cereal & toast… whatever was quick & easy before heading out the door.  Weekends were a little more relaxed, with my husband & I often making bacon (he loves bacon!) & some kind of eggs for breakfast.

I think I love breakfast so much partly because now it is one of the easiest meals a day to prepare for the little munchkins.  I think they share their mother’s love of breakfast.  We always start out with fruit.  Half a banana & whatever other kind of fruit we may have, usually blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.  Then comes the “real breakfast” &   whether it is pancakes (even pink ones!), waffles or French Toast, they love it.  Scrambled eggs & toast is a favourite too although we have recently had to switch up the eggs due to the changing tastes of little Miss S.  I believe it to be a texture thing with her & that she no longer likes the texture of scrambled eggs.  It was suggested to me that I add a mashed banana to her eggs & cook the egg/banana mixture like a pancake.  Honestly, to me, this sounds disgusting!  But I don’t really like cooked bananas unless they are in muffins or bread.  Both of my girls, however, seem to like this banana pancake.  Since their breakfast usually includes banana anyways, this is a great way to still get Miss S to eat eggs!  If you are reading this, Chris, thanks for the suggestion!

Recently we ventured a little further astray & tried oatmeal.  Now, I love oatmeal & eat it regularly but until the girls were better with a spoon, I was leery of trying oatmeal with them.  One morning recently though I just thought, let’s try it.  I made oatmeal with shredded apple in it & they both gobbled it up.  I’m not sure Miss S was thrilled at first but she came around.  Little K, however, did awesome with her spoon & just shovelled it in.  This morning when I made it Little K decided to take a page out of her sister’s book & make a huge mess while eating her oatmeal & low & behold, wouldn’t her sister be kind of tidy for once! These two never cease to amaze me.

Which bring us to oatmeal, with pumpkin.  I thought it was pretty tasty & so did the girls. IMG_3292 This recipe I did take out of Deceptively Delicious & it just happened to work out that I had pumpkin in the fridge seeing as I made pumpkin waffles for breakfast yesterday.  I realize that most people do not have the time on a Tuesday morning to make their children homemade waffles (one of the many perks of being a stay at home Mom!) but trust me, you’ll have time to make Oatmeal on a Wednesday.  This recipe literally takes 5 minutes to make.  Once the milk has heated you are pretty much there… add the oatmeal, cook for a couple minutes & voila, a hearty, stick to your ribs breakfast for your kidlets!  I eat everything that I make the girls these days (they give me the evil stare down if I am not eating the same thing) & this oatmeal is delicious… with the addition of cinnamon & vanilla you can hardly even taste the pumpkin – though it is visible due the slightly orange colour.IMG_3280

Oatmeal (with Pumpkin or Sweet Potato) – Recipe from  Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

1 cup nonfat (skim) milk

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup maple syrup)

1/4 cup canned pumpkin or sweet potato puree

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

1/4 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

1 cup old fashioned oats

2 tsp natural peanut butter (optional – I didn’t add this)

Dried fruit & nuts (optional – didn’t add this time either)

Pure maple syrup for serving

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, if using, & spice.  IMG_3274Bring to a gentle boil & stir in the oatmeal.  Reduce the heat & simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the oatmeal is soft & creamy.  Stir in peanut butter, if using.

Spoon oatmeal into bowls & sprinkle with dried fruit & nuts, if you like & serve warm with maple syrup.

 

Serves 2 (or two toddlers & an adult!)

 

 

Yes, that’s it.  It’s that easy.  Since my girls still haven’t learned how to blow on things to cool them down, their bowls of oatmeal went straight into the fridge to cool down.  And since I used maple syrup in the oatmeal, I didn’t top it with anymore.  While I often cook with maple syrup for the girls, I have not yet let them have it on their pancakes or waffles & was not about to start with oatmeal.  I need to keep a few trick up my sleeve for when they get a bit older.  The first time I made oatmeal for the girls I followed proportions in this recipe, though I added apple instead of pumpkin.  I found that the brown sugar made it very sweet, which is why I tried maple syrup this time.  I think I even used a little less than a quarter cup.  But that’s just my tastes.

Breakfast is just the start… I’m thinking lunch & dinner will follow shortly.

 

One Year & Two Babies Later…

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One year & two babies later I am still here…. although you probably thought I had fallen off the edge of the earth.  I didn’t… it’s just been a busy year & a half.  Yes, two babies, twins in fact!  Fraternal twin girls born in June… the loves of my life & my reasons for being.

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Also, the reasons why my last post was in September 2013.  To get here, however, we must go back there. I am amazed that I actually posted as much as I did leading up to the fall of 2013. I was tired, I was discouraged & quite frankly, didn’t have a lot of motivation for anything. I wasn’t cooking or taking photos…

It seemed like everyone we knew had just had a baby or had one on the way, everyone but us.  Friend after friend announced they were expecting & I have to admit I had some pretty serious meltdowns after a couple of those announcements.  I was happy about these babies but my happiness for my friends & family was always tainted by my disappointment that it wasn’t our baby.  I avoided baby showers like the plague.  In fact, I avoided most situations where there might be babies or talk of babies.   We had been trying for three years & still no baby.  We continually got the question “So, when are you guys going to have kids?”  We often answered this question by saying “Soon, we hope….” or “We’re working on it…”  Without meaning to, people were often insensitive towards our situation… I can’t tell you how many times people told me to just relax & then it would happen!  I was often bitter that it was so seemingly easy for other people to get pregnant & so hard for us.  It was a heartbreaking time for me.

I read book after book about dealing with infertility (I had already been through all the ones on how to get pregnant).  A couple of these books actually helped me deal with my feelings & one, which my husband & I both read, was quite humourous.  I joined an infertility support group because I thought that talking to other women who understood what I was going through might help.  I met some amazing & courageous women.  They got me through some really tough months & situations & I will be forever grateful for that.

I bought a rabbit, thinking he might fill the void in my heart, my need to nurture something.  My husband was a little surprised by the new addition… I never told him about Clover until I had him home!!  CloverClover was a wonderful, funny little bunny… He made me feel like I had a purpose. I had a reason to rush home from work & someone to look after.  He made me laugh & smile daily with his silly antics. IMG_0729 I realized shortly after I got Clover that I probably should have gotten him a lot sooner than I did.  But he was a sick little bunny & had been from the day I brought him home although I didn’t know it at the time (I won’t tell you how much I paid in vet bills trying to help my little bun).  Clover had major dental issues & he was ultimately too sick for me to let him continue to suffer…

By the time I got Clover we had been patients at a fertility clinic for over a year & had failure after failure.  Our nurses (& doctors), who I saw on a sometimes daily basis, were wonderful people who encouraged us not to give up hope & to stay positive.  Many days, this was a challenge in itself.  Three false positives had really taken its toll on me.  In September 2013 we were gearing up for an expensive IVF cycle, for which we had no medical coverage.   I was a hormonal & emotional mess.  Could we afford this?  What if it didn’t work?  Then what?  Would we do it again?  Could I handle yet another heartbreak?  I cried a lot.  I had a lot of meltdowns.  I gave myself shots.  I had so much blood work done my arms were black & blue.  We did the procedure (I am greatly simplifying everything here). I prayed that we would be successful.

Thankfully, our story has a happy ending.  In November, we found out I was pregnant & in December, we found out it was twins (a possibility we were fully prepared for!).  At Christmas, we finally let everyone know our good news.  Except for immediate family & some close friends, most people had no idea we had struggled so much or went to such great lengths to start the family we wanted.  At the time, I didn’t want to talk about it because, really, it was no one else’s business!!  People already asked us enough when we were going to have kids, I didn’t want everyone knowing we were going through fertility treatments.  I didn’t want anyone else getting their hopes up that this month might be the month.  It was hard enough for me to manage my own expectations without having to deal with other peoples.   Now though, I’m not afraid or embarrassed to talk about how our family came to be (although infertility issues do seem to be a taboo subject for many people).  We may have taken a different route & required a little medical help, but our girls are miracles just like any other baby that comes into this world.   I will tell people straight up what we went through because infertility is far more common than most people realize. If by talking about our experience, I can make another woman feel less alone or bring awareness to the issue, then please, ask me if our twins are natural or if they run in the family!  If I am in a hurry (which I usually am with twins) I may tell you that there are twins on my husband’s side (which actually had NO bearing on whether or not we would have twins) & leave it at that.  We were lucky that we could afford to proceed with IVF (when other options had not worked for us) & that it was successful on our first try.  Many people go down this lonely, isolating & expensive road two, three, five or more times with no success.

Although we had a hard time getting there, I, thankfully, had no major complications during my pregnancy.  I was tired, (exhausted actually), I was achy, I was swollen, I couldn’t see my feet, I couldn’t sleep… but other than that, I was good.  I actually loved being pregnant… It was what I had wanted for so long that I cherished every minute.  There had been a time when I thought I might never experience being pregnant so I was thrilled when I couldn’t fit into my normal clothes & didn’t mind that I gained almost 75 pounds with my girls (but I must admit it was a little scary the day I surpassed 200 pounds on the scale!).

13 Weeks

13 Weeks

37 Weeks

37 Weeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In late June, at 37 weeks, 2 days, we welcomed our two beautiful daughters into this world, weighing 5lbs 15oz & 5lbs 4oz.  All of the struggle & heartache we endured was wiped away in an instant as soon as we saw their sweet faces.  It had all been more than worth it.  TwinsIMG_1146IMG_4230

Fast forward to present day.  Our girls were six months old at Christmas & are the  funniest little people!  They bring me such joy, make me so happy & make me laugh on a daily basis.  I am complete because of these two little girls.  My whole life I knew that I wanted to be a mother… now that I am here, I know that this is what I was meant to do.  Raising twins does come with its challenges (especially with my husband on the road as much as he is) & yes, I have my hands full, but I wouldn’t trade my life with these girls for anything.DSC_0226

The girls & I have a good routine established & I find myself with a little more time to myself, a little extra time to get back to posting.  So, get ready for more of the usual BS… & a lot more about twins!

V Family Photos

By no means do I profess to be a professional photographer…. far from it actually.  But I do love taking photos.  Nature, city scapes & people, especially people.  I like getting the really good shot & I’d like to think I get this shot fairly often.  A few years ago I did some family photos for my brother & his family.  This summer, I did them for our good friends, the “V” family.  Jay is one of Colin’s best friends, so much so that they might as well be brothers.  The stories I’ve heard of things they’ve gotten up to…. well, those stories are probably better left untold.  Since Colin & I have been married, I’ve come to know Kelly, Jay’s wife well & she has become one of my closest friends.  To us, the V’s are family.  Jay & Kelly’s children, Eric & Emily, call us Aunt Brandey & Uncle Colin & we love this.  Despite not thinking so, their family is quite photogenic & it was far easier to capture good family photos than they thought it would be.

DSC_1087DSC_1099  DSC_1119DSC_1102DSC_1164DSC_1147DSC_1071DSC_1136DSC_1124DSC_1190DSC_1205As with most photo shoots, you can’t get all the good photos without a few funny ones in the process.

DSC_1111DSC_1113DSC_1116DSC_1191DSC_1183This last one is perhaps one of my favourites…. of all the photos I took of the V’s.  This is how Eric smiles all the time when you ask him to smile.  For something fun, I told them all to smile like Eric & this is what we got!  I love it!  I look forward to taking more photos of their family in the future.

Chicken Wings…

I am not a fan of them.  There I said it.  I’m probably the only person who doesn’t like chicken wings, but I just don’t & haven’t for years.  They are far too much work for far too little reward.  The same goes with ribs.  I will eat ribs, but always with a knife & fork & it is not often that you’ll catch me eating a chicken wing.  My husband makes delicious homemade chicken wings (so I am told) & yet I still don’t eat them.  The truth is, apart from being a lot of work, they are just too messy for me.  If I could eat chicken wings, however, without having to touch them…. if I could eat chicken wings like Eric, then I just might… DSC_0258

Hidden Gems: Nephews & Niece, Campfires & Trampoline…

I love to take photos & lots of them as anyone who knows me can attest to.  But it seems that although I am good at taking lots of photos, I have been terrible at sharing them!  Even my own family hasn’t seen many of my photos & they are in most of them!DSC_0358I’ve taken some really good ones recently, especially of our niece & nephews & what good are they if they just stay hidden away on my computer??

DSC_0315Take this photo of our youngest nephew Mr. Blake… could he get any cuter?  He is just so smiley all the time… he has the best smile & the best laugh. There is nothing better than his baby giggles! (Can you tell I am a proud Auntie?)

DSC_0333While I love that Grandpa is making him laugh, I also love how he’s got his eyes on Auntie B taking his photo!  Although his sister tries to tell him, he doesn’t yet think of Auntie B as the paparazzi…

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DSC_0323Look Auntie B, I picked a chive for you!DSC_0349Lily is funny about taking photos…. sometimes she doesn’t want to be very cooperative & gets right in my face (as with the chive photo) but sometimes she is the best & without me even asking her!  She stopped to smell the flowers all by herself!DSC_0366For a four year old she takes pretty decent photos too.  I am sure I was not half as good when I was 4.  I have a feeling my parents never even let me touch the camera when I was her age…. actually, I’m pretty sure this is true…. I saw my Dad cringe just a little when I so trustingly handed Lily my camera.  But she took a decent picture of Auntie B (which is hard to do)!DSC_0371Although I really like taking photos of nature & animals in our yard, I love taking photos of people (especially the kids)… you just never know what you might capture.DSC_0543No, Jude is not possessed…. just really enjoying eating his ribs…. & perhaps hamming it up for the camera a little bit.  He ate more ribs than even Uncle Colin (I think) & sure showed us how to eat ribs.DSC_0546He demonstrates perfectly why I am not a big fan of ribs…. they are so darn messy!DSC_0540One of the things that our nephews (& Lily) like to do when visiting Auntie B & Uncle C’s house is to have a fire.  It is a good thing that Uncle Colin likes to burn things.  When they know a fire is a possibility, the boys are relentless at bugging Uncle Colin to start it…the weather was rather questionable the day we last had a fire with them.  It was a little windy so we weren’t even sure if we would be able to have a fire…. but Colin doesn’t like to disappoint, so he lit one for the boys…. DSC_0554It was still pretty windy… & the photos make it look like the fire was WAY more out of control than it actually was.DSC_0555DSC_0559DSC_0565And of course, if you’re going to have a fire, you’ve got to work for it!  The boys love going to the wood pile & picking out the logs they are going to burn.

DSC_0577DSC_0578Sometimes it is good to have fires in your pajamas too…. but you still have to do the work!

DSC_0692In December when we had the kids here to get our Christmas tree, Lily found a Y stick out by the fire pit… & Uncle Colin has saved that Y stick for Miss Lily ever since. DSC_0689 He leaves it in the tree stump where she planted it & it’s a constant reminder of her in our backyard.  She got reacquainted with her Y stick the last time she visited.  Here she was telling us something very important about the Y stick!DSC_0686We often feel that when the kids come to visit we don’t have that many fun things for them to do outside (especially when compared to the things they see in our neighbours yards)… so we decided to buy a trampoline…. a big one! DSC_0601 While the boys have not jumped on it too much yet, Lily has made VERY good use of it.  Pancakes, it seems, are very good trampoline fuel, for those of you who are wondering. DSC_0600 One morning while we were jumping on the trampoline Lily said to me “Auntie B, I had pancakes for breakfast & they just make me sooooo jumpy!!”  Where she comes up with this stuff, I haven’t a clue but I thought it was hilarious!DSC_0621DSC_0619DSC_0631We discovered that the trampoline creates lots of static & not only did we get shocked like crazy but we also had stick up hair!  DSC_0614Blake didn’t want to be left out & got some crawling in as long as no one else was jumping around too much.DSC_0607Uncle C was really good a bouncing Lily around…. but jumping gave him hiccups!DSC_0637Mommy, Daddy & Blake were the cheering section while Auntie B, Uncle C & Lily bounced around!DSC_0634DSC_0665We have long known that Lily has a memory like an elephant but she really proved it recently.  Last fall she heard me talking on the phone to Uncle C about Luke & Jude shooting walnuts in our backyard with the big slingshot. DSC_0329 Well, ever since then, every time she saw us she reminded us that the next time she came she wanted to do walnut shooters!  May is not exactly walnut season…. so we had to come up with something else to shoot… water balloons!!  We told her we were “watering” the farmers field behind our house & she loved it!DSC_0642 So did her Daddy as you can see from the smile on his face…. one is never too old to shoot water balloons!DSC_0652This post I think, really gives you a sense of why I called my blog “BS… ramblings about food, photography & life….” this is just me rambling about my life & throwing in some photos!  And next time, I will ramble about food…