Which is your favorite?

On Tuesday, I briefly mentioned that we had Family Photos done a few weeks ago and that you could go and see a few of them if you went over to the Red Handed Photography Blog.

Tania had posted a bunch of pictures of the kids. On Wednesday, she posted a few of Jon and I together. And today she posted a bunch of our entire family.

I am SO thrilled with these photos. I love to be able to capture my family in pictures. I love to be able to catch moments or scenes from the different points in our lives. Some of those times are amazing and some are a bit tougher, but all those pictures go together to tell a story! Our Story!

As many pictures as I am able to take of the kids, or even of Jon….I am never able to get pictures of Jon and I together and none of our entire family. For Cara to volunteer her winning photo package to us as a family and for Tania to take the photos……I am so SO blessed.

This is such a gift. SUCH A HUGE GIFT to us. I am so thrilled to have photo’s from this time in our lives.

To see pictures of the kids, of Jon and I, and of our family all together, please go and visit Tania’s website.

Red Handed Photography

And if you are thinking about getting pictures taken, I would strongly encourage you to contact Tania. She is fantastic. The shoot was so easy and comfortable. Her ability to deal with all 7 of us and to not get stressed or upset, was amazing. She made this entire process so fabulous!

I’d love it if you would check them out and let me know which one(s) are your favorite?

I love this goofy shot of the kids……

Christmas Eve

Last year, we had a Christmas Eve Fondue with Jon’s parents and my kids LOVED it.

In fact, this year in November Jeremy started asking about that thing that we do every year….with the sticks and the cheese and the chocolate and the dipping. I finally figured out that he was talking about our Christmas Eve Fondue only…..we had only ever done it with the kids ONCE.

But I would LOVE to start a tradition of a Christmas Eve Fondue.

This year we were unsure how the whole celebrating Christmas with the families was going to look because we had Angelica to think about and her blood counts to take into consideration. Fortunately, everyone on both sides of our family was healthy and there was no issue about that. We did stay at or close to home though and it was only immediate family.

Jon’s parents came to celebrate Christmas Eve with us and it was such a great evening. We were able to have dinner and open presents and there was nothing terribly stressful or horribly rushed about the evening. The biggest challenge was making a dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free fondue……….that tasted DELICIOUS. See, if I had used regular bread then when it was dipped into the cheese, it could have pieces that fell off and I could have eaten then and then bad things would have happened…and so it was necessary to make the entire fondue safe for everyone.


But…a gluten-free, dairy-free fondue can be done and it can taste so SO YUMMY!

The first thing that I did was to call my friend who is the manager of a Cheese and Bake Shop in White Rock and ask for her suggestions for some cheese that I could use in a fondue that wasn’t from cow’s milk. She suggested I use a mellow Goat Gouda and a crisp tasting Sheep Cheese.

This is the same friend who shaved her head raising money to support our family. She is honestly the most amazing person and such a great, great friend. We’ve known each other our whole lives and I love her like a sister. In fact, when we went by the store to pick up the cheese, we had someone ask if we were sisters. If you saw pictures of her, you’d know that was a great compliment. She has the most gorgeous HUGE blue eyes, the highest cheekbones and the greatest, most amazing smile. She is one of those people who are beautiful, both inside and out.

Anyway, she suggested that we try these two cheeses and the end result was AMAZING! It was a fabulous non-cow dairy cheese fondue and EVERYONE loved it and it was the perfect blend of cheese and had absolutely NONE of that nasty “goaty” taste.

If you are needing some cheese or fresh bread or any treats to go with cheese or fresh bread, I would totally suggest you check them out. Amazing products, Amazing staff and the management is…….AMAZING!!!!

The Roadhouse Bake Shoppe on King George in White Rock, BC

Back to Christmas Eve….the Cheese fondue was so SO Yummy! We had a bit of trouble with the oil fondue not being hot enough and we had even started it heating about an hour earlier, but while we were waiting for it get a bit hotter, everyone was downing the cheese fondue. I had bought some gluten and dairy free bagels and had cut them up into hunks. It was perfect for dipping. I had blanched a bunch of veggies and the kids were plowing through them too. I had cut up some moose meat and some chicken and also had some tempura sauce on hand but that stupid oil just wouldn’t get hot enough.



We had eaten more than half of the cheese and Jon was turning the burner off so it wouldn’t burn to the bottom of the dish and CRACK….the dish broke….and that was the end of our cheese fondue.

Nana & Papa

It wasn’t exactly funny at the time….more annoying than amusing. The oil still wasn’t boiling and so I just took the meat to the kitchen and cooked in a pan and then we finished off our dinner.

It was just nice to be able to “be together”….that’s one of the important things about Christmas to me….having time to spend with family.

We cleared off the table and got to the “most important part of the meal” – according to Jeremy – the Chocolate Fondue.

There is a (dairy-free) Lindt Dark Chocolate that when mixed with a little soy creamer, makes the most delicious dairy free chocolate fondue. I have taken it to many places and no one ever knows or guesses that it’s not just a normal chocolate fondue.

Two Thumbs Up

Josiah gives it two thumbs up. We had TONS of fruit and also dipped some cookies into it. We ate until there was no more chocolate and everyone was full.

We cleared the table and started opening presents.

There were the “traditional” Christmas Pyjamas from Momma and Daddy.


For whatever reason, Jeremy needed to model his…both the front and the back…..and we HAD to take a picture…what a funny kid.

Modeling the back

The evening ran WAY PAST the kids “normal” bedtime and Judah was a bit cranky which is never very fun.

Tired and Grouchy

But, He seemed to get a second wind and cruised on for at least another hour.


It was a great night and we enjoyed ourselves so much. After the kids went to sleep, e tidied up the house, put the presents under the tree and just after 1 am, just as we were getting ready to head to bed – the baby woke up…..and I cried. Okay, i didn’t, but I could have….and he did just nurse and go back to sleep so it wasn’t that bad.

In my mind though, Christmas Eve was a great night. Lack of sleep, food mess-ups and all…..

Do you have any favorite Christmas Eve traditions?

It’s all about the Chocolate, Baby!

Living with food allergies can be difficult at times but it’s not the end of the world. Yes, there are definite challenges, but we manage work within the limitations and still live and eat amazingly.

Any effort that we have to go through is SO worth the vibrant health that we get to experience….ya know, minus that whole cancer thing….ummmmm, yah moving on….

Siah has an egg and dairy allergy and to look at him, you would never know that he has allergies. He doesn’t have dark circles and bags under his eyes or eczema on his skin. He is almost never sick and never seems to have “bowel issues”…trying to be subtle here. He is one healthy little boy.

In this picture, if you look, you can see all the little scratch marks on his face. He would claw himself all day and all night because his skin was bothering him so bad….I had already eliminated dairy from my diet at this point

Making a Funny face when talked to.

In this picture, you can see some of the eczema on his face. I remember when I saw this picture I was so excited, because he looked SO AMAZING. He was starting to heal at this point. At it’s worst, he was an oozing mess all over the top of his head, down his forehead, into his eyes and all over his cheeks and chin. It was horrible.

'Siah and Me

The rest of us, don’t eat dairy because it does not agree with us. It’s not an allergy like Siah, but more of an intolerance. When he eats dairy, he gets sick with vomiting and diarrhea and has eczema and it’s nasty. The rest of us might get bloated, or have tummy aches, headaches, or might just feel “off” or “icky” and most of the time, it’s just not worth it, especially when there are so many amazing tasting substitutes.

One thing that I’ve tried to do ever since we found out about Siah’s allergies is to make life as normal as possible. We eat ice cream, and pizza and have chocolate and pretty much anything that we want to eat…..we eat. I’ve just found dairy and egg free substitutes.

Special days like Valentines and Easter and Christmas can be difficult, but I’ve tried very hard to not have my kids feel like they’ve been denied “normal” while keeping things safe for everyone.

With the Christmas season comes Chocolate Advent Calendar’s and in past years, I’ve done many different things, from creating envelopes with different “things” to do or eat. I’ve put Jelly Beans into an Advent Calendar and that’s worked, but the best thing that I’ve done is to just “alter” the advent calendar’s so that they are dairy free.

First thing to do…..Get your Calendar and slice open the flap at the back, trying not to destroy the flap because you’ll want to seal it up again when you’re all done.


You’ll need to open it carefully and pull out that tray that’s inside. It might be glued to the cardboard and so you’ll have to carefully pull it apart and away from the box in order to get it out.


Then you’ll need to dump out all the original chocolates, and dispose of the original’s….I had 2 big girls that were willing to deal with a bit of an upset tummy to be able to eat the chocolates.


Then you need to get yourself a dairy-free chocolate bar. This particular one is from Super store. You can find dark chocolate that has no dairy in it if you search and read a million labels. This one is great because it doesn’t taste too dark and bitter and *the bonus in my eyes* it has almonds in it. YUM!


Break it into hunks and melt it down. I used about half the bar and melted it in the microwave for about a minute and a half.


I used a spoon to drop the melted chocolate into the plastic try.


You take your completed tray and pop it in the freezer to set the chocolate. It only takes a few minutes to set it enough to continue on with this whole ordeal.


While you are waiting, you could clean up the dishes that you’ve used, or just use the time to finish up any of the leftover chocolate…..MMMMMMM Chocolate!


After a few minutes, the chocolate is set enough to carry on. I pulled out my glue gun and heated it up and glued a few strips on the tray…..this will help the tray to stick to the box and then all the chocolates won’t fall out or slide all over the place.


You have to work quite quickly here because you want to get the tray back into the box before the glue cools and hardens….so slide it back into the box and you’ve got to make sure that it’s facing the right direction….one way it lines up with all the little doors and the other way it doesn’t….I’ve learned the hard way. Not fun!


You can just press on it gently to make sure that the glue is stuck to the box…


This picture has nothing to do with anything….I just think he’s very cute and he was sitting watching me with this “What the heck are you doing?” look……


Flip the box over and run a strip of glue along the back flap


and then seal that sucker up…..My 2 big girl helpers managed to shred the top of this flap and so it required a little extra lovin’ to get it sealed up properly.


Here are the calendar’s waiting for the kids to open them.


Opening the special Dairy-Free Christmas Calendar that is totally safe for him……


Everybody is excited about chocolate….


These two have almost the same hair-do…


I think he approves….


These pictures would be so much cuter if he didn’t have that giant booger in his nostril…Oh Well…just keeping it real. I wonder if I coulda photo-shopped that sucker outta there….yah probably, oh well…..


Definately a happy boy with his “daiwy-fwee chawclut”…….


Even the older ones still get excited about their chocolate calendar’s….


I love having my kids be able to participate safely in some of the treats and special things in life, and any extra effort that it might take to make this happen is SO worth it, to me.

Getting Away from it All (part 2)

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel and even before we got there, the kids were already asking to go swimming.

So we all got our bathing suits on and headed back to the pool.


I really was on this vacation – see?!?

The pool had actually been closed for maintenance and had just re-opened all clean and sparkly on the day before we arrived. Between that and the fact that we were the only ones in the pool the entire time we were there…..it was perfect for someone with a compromised immune system.

So Happy

Josiah was SO excited to be able to be swimming. He spent the majority of the time in the hot tub, and so did I. We typically would go swimming every week, but, back in the summer, we had to cancel our membership to the Walnut Grove Rec Centre because the pool is just not a great place for Geli and we didn’t want the other kids picking something up and bringing it home and so it was such a treat to be able to swim as much as we wanted for a few days.

Thrilled to be swimming

Jon and Jeremy and Judah hit the weight room before they came swimming…..

Working Out

I think this was the most exciting part of the weight room – for Jeremy…..

The draw of the Fitness Room

We don’t have cable and so it was such a treat.

So Happy

Judah worked on some push ups…..gotta build up that upper body strength, eh?

Girls ready to side

This is the 80 ft water slide that is inside the hotel. It was AWESOME! It’s almost pitch black inside the tube and you can get going pretty fast. It took a while and a little bit of coaxing, but even Josiah went down the slide.

Siah on the Slide

There were lots of smiles….

Wet Smiles

and a lot of silliness…..

Silly Faces


Frog Boy

It was so amazing to step away from everything. To get away from our house, from school, from work, from cleaning, for deadlines, from everything and to just do something totally fun together as a family. After Swimming on Tuesday morning, Jeremy snuggled up next to Jon and looked close into his eyes and said, “Thank you Daddy. Thank you SO MUCH for bringing us here. This is the BEST EVER!” All the kids mentioned many times, just how thankful and grateful they were to be able to get away and to stay at the hotel and to go swimming.

Everyone relaxed and it felt like everyone was able to catch their breaths and de-stress a little.

It’s amazing how little time it took, once we got home, for everyone to try to pick up the stress again. Xani came to me panicking about school and homework and I actually told her that for that night, we were still on vacation and that she got to relax and take it easy and then tomorrow she could make a list of everything she needed to get done and to then start plugging away at it.

This is kind of where we are at. Times away like this are so precious, because we do kind of have this weight of stress that we are living under. It’s like our reserves for dealing with normal (stressful) situations are all gone and we have barely enough to just hang on in each moment. I know this is not forever, but it does wear on me to see it playing out in my children. Children are not supposed to be stressed like this.

But, not to focus on the negative…..our time away was so fabulous. So needed. Such a blessing. So fun…..it was simply amazing.

We are so grateful to Jon’s parents for coming with us. It drastically reduced the kid to adult ratio…we were only out numbered by one. It was a blast to hang out with and to be able to spend some time away with them.

All of Us

We are so thankful to the Super 8 in Aldergrove for giving us a great deal. We so hope to be able to come back again.

And we are so grateful that we were even afforded this amazing time away. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The opportunity to escape was such a gift.

If you are interested in seeing the rest of the pictures from our time away, click here...


Back at the beginning of the month, MY cousin came over to help around the house. She brought her daughter with her.


Charlotte is, quite literally, one of the most beautiful babies I’ve seen.

Her smile is amazing and her eyes sparkle like…..like……..well, they sparkle…..A LOT!

DSC_0663 copy

She’s older than Judah, roughly the same size, no where close to his weight, and so obviously 7 months older in actions and abilities. She is just so stinkin’ cute!


She was quite enamored with Judah and when we put him down on the floor for some tummy time, she was so adorably curious.


There were lots and lots and LOTS of kisses and taps. She was so SO gentle with Judah.


I love that our family and extended family are so close and that our kids get to grow up together. Family is AWESOME! I remember when I was younger and all us cousins would get together. We have some fabulous memories, and I’m looking forward to being able to watch this next generation make their own amazing memories.


LIttle Bit ‘O This and a Little Bit ‘O That

I’m sitting on the main level of my house killing time listening to my baby scream his head off because he,
“WAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNTTTTTSSSSSS MMMMMMOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMAAAAAAA!” and seeing as he is mostly over the whole measles thingy and I’m so tired of his incessant night waking, we have started to institute the

Back to Bed, Baby! Initiative.

This involves getting up every time he wakes up and putting him back in his own bed. He is in a bed, and so he can easily get out and the biggest issue that we have is not even him coming to our bed in the middle of the night.

The biggest issue is the fact that since the while measles thing, he’s been waking up around 11 or 12 and screaming for no reason that we can figure out. He is quite verbal (as in everyone who hears him speak can’t believe he’s only 2 years old) and his language skills are quite advanced and so if he so desired, he could tell us if there was an issue…..I think that he’s OVERTIRED and can’t even really handle himself. You should see the dark circles he’s currently sporting under his eyes. Poor Baby.

The 11-midnight scream fest comes in a close second in the frustration factor. The number one issue is that he’s decided that regardless of whether we let him sleep with us or if we put him back in to his own bed, around 2am, he wakes up and then is basically restless and awake from 2am until after 5am. This time usually involves TONS of thrashing around. Crying because the covers are on. Crying because the covers are off. Kicking mommy and daddy in the head/stomach/back/whatever happens to be closest to the thrashing feet. Crying because we won’t let him watch a movie. Crying because he wants to go to the bathroom. Crying because he doesn’t want to go to the bathroom. Basically, there is lots of crying and very little sleep.

And so, it is time to learn how to sleep again.

This likely means that we will get even less sleep over the next 3-4 nights as we sleep train him to stay asleep or at the very least, to once again stay on his bed. YUCK! but it will be so worth it by next weekend when we are all sleeping soundly. I hope I’ve not jinxed it by saying that.


It was my baby girl’s 13th Birthday today. Angelica became a teenager today. I’m still a a bit amazed that I have a teenager and yet….it’s really not that different feeling from yesterday as she was quick to tell me. Time sure flies doesn’t it.


Jon and Jeremy went to church today and Xani and Siah and I stayed home. Siah’s still officially within the contagious time period and Xani was coughing like a mad woman. We made coffee cake and an egg/hashbrown hash-type breakfast. We cleaned the kitchen and then sewed like crazy.

I’ll be showing you over the next little bit some of the fun things that I made. Xani made 2 pillows and she did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself.


We’ve filled and hidden the kid’s Easter Baskets and tomorrow morning we’ll have a treasure hunt for the kids. They are looking forward to it and if it weren’t for Geli’s birthday being today we probably would have done them today, but I wanted to make her birthday special. We had her favorite meal of roast chicken, and potatoes, with carrots and asparagus and gravy AND…..Yorkshire Pudding. And she was a very happy girl. We’ve still not given her a gift or even had a cake so I’m not sure how special of a day it was, but ….well…….ya know……it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?


I’m still trying to come up with a fun activity for us to do as a family tomorrow……ya know, one that involves being trapped inside the house with a contagious child….ya! should be fun! It’s been a long LOOOOOOOOOONG week and I still have a few days left to go.


The baby has been making the funniest movements. I’ve been bent over the sewing machine and apparently, he didn’t like being squished because he kept trying to streeeeeeeeeeeeetch out and kept kicking out the sides of my body towards my back. It felt so weird, and yet……….TOTALLY AMAZING. Baby movements are the best thing ever.


Some people from our complex just had a stillborn at 24 weeks. One week shy of when Nathaniel was born. My heart os breaking for them and all they are going through right now. I only hope that I can, in some small way, reach out and be a support or comfort to them. I’m feeling stressed that I’m pregnant, though and am feeling cautious as to how that might make them feel. So many sad conflicting emotions. In some ways, it’s like reliving the whole loss over again. So SO sad!


Well, after half an hour, it’s quiet and so I’m gonna sign off and head up stairs to bed. I hope you all had a great Easter Sunday with great food and hopefully lots of chocolate…….

Keeping Records or Creating Memories

I spent a good portion of yesterday creating pages in a scrapbook.

I bought a small scrapbook for this baby because I really wanted to be able to keep a record of this pregnancy and to be able to “hopefully” capture the memories after.

I figured that if I went with one of the small scrapbooks that takes pages that are 8″ x 8″ that maybe…just maybe the smaller sized page wouldn’t seem so intimidating.

I also told myself that I wasn’t looking to create “the most gorgeous scrapbook” out there. I wanted this to be a cross between keeping records and documenting the memories. I was looking to create the feeling of an old spiral bound paper covered scrapbook.

I have some old scrapbooks from when I was a teenager and I love the informality that my old paper covered spiral bound scrapbooks have. It’s like they hold all my secrets.

Years ago, when my girls were little, I started a scrapbook for each of them. The big 12 x 12 pages….

I’ve realized a few things that really got me bogged down in regards to those scrapbooks.

1. I was trying to create the most gorgeous, elaborate pages ever known to man.

2. I tried to document EVERY. SINGLE. PHOTO that we took

3. I was trying to “copy” other people’s ideas of a scrapbook

I managed to work through a few things (in my head) yesterday and that leads me to a plan that I believe will really work for me.

1. I’m creating a more laid back feeling scrapbook.

Yes, I’m still using pretty paper and the odd sticker or ribbon or embellishment, BUT….these books “look” way more like me. A little laid back, but neatly laid out with special memento’s of certain days and events tied in with the pictures.

2. I’m highlighting only key moments or ages or events.

I actually worked on both this baby’s scrapbook and on Siah’s scrapbook. While working on Siah’s book, I’ve decided that I’m going to scrapbook ahead with this baby’s book and create pages for 1 month, 2 months, 3 months and so on…up to 12 months. I’m going to create first visit pages for the grandparents and for other key visitor’s. I’m currently working on Siah’s book even though I have no photo’s printed out. I managed to create about 12 pages for him yesterday and have a list of pictures that I know that we have on the computer that I need to just print out. I’ll just load them onto a USB and run down to the closest Shopper’s Drug Mart and print them out with the instant photo center and then slap them in and VOILA! A ton of pages completed.

I’m actually going to go and pick up another 3 scrapbooks and recreate books for Geli, Xandra and Jeremy, highlighting the first month, then a monthly pic or two and possibly some Easter or Halloween or special holiday’s. I think that I can get MUCH further with WAY less personal frustration and I’ll feel WAY more productive and good about actually accomplishing something with these “memory” books.

3. I’m being true to myself in what I’m creating.

I want a book that is a combo of pictures and special treasures or notes. For example, one of the pages that I created for Siah was a page with “notes” that I scribbled down in the early days with him. I had saved all the cards that people gave me and I was able to create a pocket with one of the cards and I tucked these “notes” into this created pocket. I love that I can look back one day and pull out a piece of paper that I wrote down little notes about his feeding, sleeping and pooping habits. One note has his weight on one day within the first month scribbled onto it. Another piece of paper has notes to myself with a grocery list, a note to book swimming lessons for the kids and a few different Dr. Appointments listed down. I tucked some ribbon that I had saved from one of his first presents behind the little envelope and the overall look is something casual, but cute and I love it.

I think that this will work for me. I think that I can actually accomplish this.

Seriously, I probably knocked out over 20+ pages yesterday and it was amazing to feel like I could have kept going. I am looking forward to creating more pages for both this new baby and also for Josiah and I’m feeling really good about being able to put something together for the older 3 kids as well.

I do also keep a small “treasure box” for each of my kids. It has their first outfits, the hat they got in the hospital, their first shoes, their first sweaters, hand prints and/or foot prints from different ages……the first tooth, first hair cut. That kind of stuff. The kids LOVE to go through their boxes and look at their stuff. They also suggest that we keep and put stuff in the boxes. So I know that they love and treasure these boxes, just as much as I do.

Do you scrapbook? Why or why not? Are you amazingly creative or do you just throw things in a book and call it done? Did you keep scrapbooks when you were younger? Do you have some other method of keeping memories and treasures?

Let me know what works for you?