Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 22: Playing the Part

I've discovered that if I have the supplies I really don't mind cooking; it's kinda fun and I actually don't suck at it. The kids have really liked the meals I've prepared and have been very complimentary!
This last week I made chili, Cobb salad (the kids had no idea what this was and it was a huge hit!), a potato bar (this too was new to them and was a huge hit!), and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. I also made up a dessert tonight that was rather amazing.
Chunky Monkey-esque Pudding:
1-60 calorie packet of vanilla pudding
1/4 of a banana, mashed
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
8-10 chocolate chips
1 heaping tablespoon of vanilla yogurt
Mix it all up and enjoy this 150-175 calorie dessert guilt-free!

Well, this week of playing mum has been rather rewarding. My heart has grown two sizes bigger and I've learnt that this whole being-a-parent thing ain't too bad. There are times that really stink but having kids that love you no matter what is pretty darn cool.

I totally pulled a move my parents would do when we were kids.
Two of the kids were fighting about who was doing what while washing the dishes. I tried asking them to be nice, I tried letting them work it out in their own, but when all else failed...
I had them wash all of the dishes, dry and put them away all whilst holding hands. I even had them giving each other compliments until they started laughing and being nice to each other.
Thanks Mom and Dad for making us kids be "best friends" with the person we were fighting with by making us hold each other's hands for the rest of the day. That tactic really saved me today! Ha!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 21: Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill to Fetch a Pail...of Honesty

I had one of those sad parenting moments today that really make your heart sad and glad at the same time.
Long story short, I caught one of the kids lying to me over something not so minor.
I knew they were lying and it was breaking my heart that they didn't feel like they could tell me the truth.
Finally, after about an hour and a half, the truth finally came out.
I took them aside and told them that of all things, being lied to was my least favorite. That lying makes me sad because it seems I can't be trusted by them.
I gave them a big hug (in which they lingered), thanked them for admitting the truth, and told them that I wanted them to be good and make good choices. I wanted them to know they can talk to me about anything and that above all, I loved them.
Consequences were divvied out and I turned to leave. The moment I did I totally got choked up.
These kids aren't even mine but this little situation really made me think a lot about what things must be like for those who do have kids, and what it'll be like when I have my own. This poor kid went to great lengths to avoid telling the truth and when it finally came out I didn't get mad, I really truly just wanted them to succeed in being honest. I felt so much love for them it hurt! And that lingering hug was the best kind of heart-warmer ever!
Is this what it's always like? Is this what it's like for God and His children here on Earth? How much forgiveness and love He must have for you and me!! He will patiently wait for us to admit our error and when we do He will be there to love us even more, not less.

Before bed the kids and I were sitting in the living room reading nursery rhymes and after each one Eden would promptly reply with his own funny version of that rhyme.
We were having a great time!
One of the rhymes spoke of two little children who had some sort of cafuffle and ended up getting hurt or something. Eden's rendition included something about the kids suing each other and how someone came out loaded from their lawsuit.
We all laughed and then Sam said, "Eden, these kids are like three years old. If they're suing this young they must be from the states! They're pretty fast to sue over really dumb things in America."
Oh, how I laughed at that cause it's so true! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 20: Rediscoveries and Discoveries

I don't know what it is about taking naps but they are seriously one of the best wonderful-feeling inducers. If given the choice, I'd normally rather sleep-in than take a nap, but today I got up early and took a nap instead...and all this before noon!

I felt like a whole new woman.

Why did I fight these so much when I was a kid? Napping would be my new hobby were it socially acceptable. My mind was clearer, my energy renewed and my overall well-being was increased two-fold. I love naps. I am grateful for them. They are good to me. I recommend them highly.

Thank you, God, for naps. I love them, and you, very much!

I was on the phone with Clinton asking him how things were today, after a while I asked him how Petey was doing.
He: He's fine. Just resting on the floor beside me.
Me: Aww! Is he cute?
He: Nope. He got ugly while you were gone.
Me: (laughing)
He: Yep, it's the damnedest thing.
Lol. My husband's hilarious sometimes.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 19: Some Things are Hard to Swallow, but Not Impossible

My nieces and nephews on my side of the family all grew up knowing their Aunt Dani had a "fake eye", but those on Clinton's side haven't been around me as much to just kinda know or accept my eye as-is. So now that the kids are getting older and they're seeing me much more often, each time I come to Grande Prairie I get asked lots of questions about my eye.
It usually starts with "the stare". As I'm talking to someone I notice they're staring at me (aka, my eyes) trying to figure out what's different. After all the years I've dealt with "the stare" I can spot it in a second and try to acknowledge the elephant in the room before the child (or adult) gets too distracted by it and I start feeling uncomfortable.
I had this conversation today with Chloe and Eden. I think it was Chloe who started the conversation (with "the stare") followed by, "How come one of your eyes is looking at me and one is looking up a little?"
I always tell the back story of what happened and then explain my eye to them. People are nice about it and kids are totally innocent and oblivious to any insecurities I have about my eye. I always finish with, "My shell (the special contact I wear to make my eye look a little more normal) isn't perfect, but I'm pretty cute anyway, huh?" They chuckle and say "yes", while I smile at my wit.
A couple months ago when we were here for Christmas, I was sitting on the couch playing with my five-year-old niece, Kaitlyn. She started "the stare" and then said, "Your eyes are a bit funny."
I said, "Yah."
And before I could finish the rest of my spiel, she gently put her tiny hand on my arm and softly said, "But you're still beautiful."
This kinda caught me off guard and got me thinking a bit. Why is it so easy for a child to tell the truth like it is? She didn't say I was ugly...she said my eyes were funny but that I'm beautiful anyway. I've always wanted to be funny and beautiful. :)
In truth, I am so very self-conscious and insecure about my eye. Sometimes I feel very sad about it and have my woe-is-me moments. I have these most often when my shell is no longer fitting quite right and "looks up" more often (like it is now). I look in the mirror and try to will it to look perfect, but alas it is what it is. I am grateful to have a shell to at least make my eye look more normal than it would without it. I am grateful that of any limb to lose I only lost an eye. I can still see out of my left eye, I have all my other appendages and I've gotten pretty good at using make-up to help camouflage my imperfect eye. And I am thankful for a sense of humor about it too.
I told myself recently that even when times are tough and I'm feeling down, at least one part of me is always looking up!
I guess the main reason I'm writing this all down is to share my insecurity with the little world of my blog in the hopes that talking about it makes it a bit easier to bear when I am feeling down. We all have flaws, but as my guilty-pleasure, America's Next Top Model, would say, "Having flaws isn't bad. Having flaws makes you flawsome!" The idea of embracing a "flaw" is somewhat liberating. My eye has definitely made me a unique individual with a never-dull story to tell.

Hello, my name is Danielle 
and I wear a fake eye. 
My real one got torn open 
by a bungee cord when 
I was five 
and became 
very distorted. 
I'm pretty insecure about my beauty
because my shell doesn't 
perfectly match 
my other eye, but 
it is what it is 
and that's OK.
Some would call me flawed,
and at times I would too but
I choose to feel flawsome.

We are always so much harder on ourselves than others would ever think to be. I know people reading this are thinking kind thoughts about me and wondering why I would ever question my beauty or whatever, but the truth is we all do this. We can be complimented out the wahzoo, but until we can accept things for what they are and embrace our "flaws" as contributors to our overall flawsome-ness, then we will be forever stuck looking down instead of up.
Thank you, Kaitlyn, for telling the truth like it is. My eyes are a bit funny, but I am still beautiful!

I made Cobb salad for supper tonight and it was delicious. However, my nephew, Jesse, doesn't like lettuce and he put up a bit of a fuss about eating his lettuce. He ate absolutely everything else, including the majority of the soup-ful amount of dressing he poured on his plate, but the lettuce was mostly just being poked at. I told him he had one job to do and it was to finish his lettuce.
About 20 minutes went by and he still had about 10 pieces of lettuce on his plate. I told him that he had one minute to finish his food or he owed me five minutes of wall sits (I remembered his mum telling me that their "punishment" had recently changed to wall sits since push-ups were no longer hard work). As soon as I said this he frantically started eating his lettuce. He asked me between chews how I knew their punishment and I told him "Aunties know lots of things."
As defeat quickly set in (with only 30 seconds left to eat the remaining lettuce), he tried to shove the lettuce in as fast as possible. Now this kid must really hate lettuce because he promptly started gagging and spitting his food back on his plate. Holding in my own upchuck at watching him cough up his food, I calmly said, "You're ok, take a deep breath and finish the rest that's not been spit up."
And he did!
Call me a horrible Nazi auntie, but he ate his lettuce and all was well. We had popcorn and played games together afterward, so I'm pretty sure we--and his tummy--are good.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 18: Family Reflections and Oil Inspections

Was home for 24 hours before leaving again for Grande Prairie to watch my SIL's kids for a few days while the parents are down in Mexico. 
The last 24 hours have been very short but sweet, consisting of lots and lots of catching up on sleep and cuddles with my boys. I am so thankful that I had a little bit of downtime with them and that Petey gets to at least have Clinton home with him again.
I am happy to be back in Grande Prairie and to have some one-on-one time with Clinton's family. I have some wonderful inlaws so I'm planning on having a great week here, even if it is -30 outside. :)

I highly recommend thoroughly reading labels before using the product attached to them.
I purused my SIL's kitchen cupboards for some olive oil to wash off my eye makeup, having quickly spotted a little bottle I snatched it and headed to the bathroom. After slathering the oil on my eyes I noticed a rather pungent odor. This did not smell like olive oil and I worried the bottle may have gone bad. Once I finished washing I reread the bottle: Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Summer Truffle.
Oh. That explained the smell. 
I'm sure this truffle oil tastes great in pasta but I really don't recommend it for the eyes. Lol

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day 17: Home Again, Home Again

Reunited and it feels so good!
We made our travels back to Calgary without a hitch. Coming through customs was fast and simple, our luggage arrived to each destination on time, and our flights were all smooth and punctual. 
It is freezing here, but being here means we are again reunited with The Boy. He was so happy to see us that he just kept rubbing all over us like a cat, and he's been snuggling and licking us ever since. :)
We've been pretty darn happy to be back with him too, though we've refrained from licking him and opted for lots of pets and loves instead.

When we got to the Calgary airport I texted the couple that's been watching Peter for us. The conversation was pretty cute so I thought I'd share...
This couple is so sweet! They loved him like he was theirs and he was totally zonked when we got him home. He had so much fun with them!
Thanks, Monique and Greg! Our boy thinks you're pretty great, and so do we!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 16: Last Day in California--San Diego and Reminiscing

Our last day in warm, sunny, bright, warm, beautiful and warm California. Did I mention it's warm and lovely here?
Well, we went out on a bit of a quiet note and spent the day in Old Town San Diego and in Seaport Village. What a warm and lovely day!
First, a tour of the Mormon Battalion Center. The church actually did quite a good job at putting this center together. It started with a movie about the battalion and their trek across the US, and ended with gold panning and other fun activities for the kids. There was also a panoramic view of Old Town from a tall tower on site.
(Maddie and her two gold nuggets.)
(And then Sam's.)
After the 2,000-mile trek at the historical site we decided we'd worked up an appetite and stopped for our last bout of Mexican food before heading back to Canada (the land of no good Mexican food).
The restaurant was all outside and the weather was perfect for it!
We even had time for a proper tickle session. :)
After lunch we toured through Old Town and enjoyed the cute shops and beautiful weather.
We even stopped at an old-timey candy store where Maddie and Sam scored some giant chocolate coins.
And Rennie saw her first real cactus.

After Old Town we wandered over to Seaport Village and walked the shops there. I actually remember coming here when my high school choir came here for a trip about 13 years ago.
We saw this cool looking cactus tree. The bottom looks just like a tree trunk and slowly fades into a cactus. Pretty neat.
We posed for one last pic on the boardwalk and then headed to Noodles & Co. for a quick bite.
Once dinner was over we said our goodbyes to my brother and his cute family before traveling back up to Los Angeles.
We leave early tomorrow morning, but this has been an absolutely wonderful trip. We've seen so many touristy things, eaten too much food and had a great time together. I am so glad we could show Rennie what a warm vacation feels like and it was so fun watching her enjoy her surroundings. I am so glad my brother and his family could meet us in San Diego and that we had a few days with them. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by people I love so much...especially in a warm and lovely place. Makes my heart feel all warm and lovely too!

I was reminded of something cute today that my nephew, Paden, used to call Clinton.
At dinner tonight Anton, pointing at Clinton, asked Maddie, "Who is that?" She looked at him unsure. Anton said, "That's Uncle Clinton."
Jen turned to me smiling and asked, "Isn't he Uncle Plinton?"
I smiled and remembered how cute that used to sound back when Paden was starting to talk. The closest he could get to saying "Uncle Clinton" was "Uncle Plinton". It lasted for a year or so but it was so cute while it lasted!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 15: Fifth Day in California--Coronado Island

What AMAZING weather we had today. I actually whipped out my shorts and my less-white-than-usual-legs thanks to self-tanner. The sun and cool breeze combo were ideal.
We hit the beach and played jump the waves (game Maddie created, object: jump over the waves...clever, no?) 
(Digging our feet deeper.)
We also walked around the cute town and had some Mexican food for lunch and some yummy ice cream afterwards.
(Picture of some famous hotel here.)
(Full view of the hotel.)
And we even had time to break a rule or two. ;)
Overall, it was a great relaxing day at the beach. :)

While we were sitting having lunch outside we heard Maddie and Sam almost chanting, "Pants on fire. Pants on fire. Pants on fire.", repeatedly behind us as they circled around an umbrella pole. It sounded almost creepy, like those creepy kids you hear in scary movies.
Anyway, once we caught what they were saying we started laughing as we imagined their chants getting progressively faster till suddenly their eyes opened wide into a creepy stare and someone's pants actually caught on fire.
Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

Day 14: Fourth Day in California--Sea World in San Diego

Another fun day. This one was extra fun because we met up with my brother, Anton, and his family at Sea World! We haven't seen them since last summer so it is so nice seeing them!
The weather was great and we had fun watching all the shows and riding the rides. Here're some pics from today.
(There was a whole acrobat show on top of the dolphin tricks...really neat!)
(Splash zone!)
(Waving to the audience at the end of the show.)
(Pretty but very smelly.)
(Petting the black bat manta rays.)
(Anton and I on the roller coaster. We had a good laugh at Anton's rather effeminate pose.)
(So close!)
(Victory! Felt just like a wet rubber mat. Pretty cool! I've pet a dolphin!)
(Beluga whales.)
(Waiting for a close up that never came. :)
All in all it was a pretty great day. We had lunch at In-N-Out and decided the burgers were fairly good but the fries were nasty. Clinton described them as tasting like oily sponges. Not worth it.
We had Chick-Fil-A for dinner and though they're still not our favorite they were much better here than in the Minneapolis airport (shudder).
Last but not least we also drove past the San Diego temple on our way into town. So pretty!
It's been great being with my brother and his family; looking forward to another day with them tomorrow!

We arrived at the San Diego military base and when we got to our room Clinton turned on the tv. And guess what was on...M.A.S.H! 
We thought that was pretty funny. :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 13: Third Day in L.A.--Conan

Well, today was another great day! When we woke up this morning to get ready for our trip Rennie said she was feeling pretty pooped and thought she'd just hang back at the hotel while Clinton and I went ahead to the show. She didn't want to have to ride a wheelchair but I couldn't just let her stay behind. So, I called the studio and asked what our options were for helping our group all stay together. They kindly offered us some special accommodation passes which included a shuttle ride directly to the studio doors.
We all thought this was a pretty sweet deal, that is until we realized it was an AMAZING deal. Not only were we given a ride to the studio, we were also given a guided tour of the whole WB Studios lot! So cool! Those tours typically cost $60/person and we got it for free!
Here are some of the highlights:
(This is Anytown USA, named this because it is used in many productions. This gazebo is where Harold Hill sings "Trouble" in Music Man and the church is used in Pretty Little Liars.)
(And this city hall is also from Music Man; it's where they started the "76 Trombones" musical number.)
(This house doubles as Ross and Monica Geller's house growing up. The scenes when Rachel and Monica are getting ready for prom were filmed here. This house is also Emily's house on Pretty Little Liars. Just behind the golf cart is the window the car drove through.)
(This is the Siever's house from Growing Pains.)
(This is the mayor's house in Music Man. This is also Toby and Jenna's house in Pretty Little Liars.)
(This is the manufacturing room where they make lots of things for movie sets, and the Oscar awards as you can see in the corner there.)
(This lamp is from the ship in Pirates of the Carribean.)
(Town sign from Suburgatory.)
(Largest sound stage in the Western Hemisphere. Inception, Perfect Storm and the Hangover movies are just a few filmed here.)
(WB water tower. It's being repainted.)
(Shoutout to Chels: this is where Friends was filmed.)
Because we came in on special terms, we also were able to take pictures of the set. It's so much smaller than it looks on tv.
We were in the second row right next to Andy's podium. He was about 3 feet away from us.
So much fun! We were even on tv for a split second just after Mel Brooks was announced. The audience starts cheering and the camera pans right to us. Kinda neat. 
The best part of it all was watching Clinton and hearing him cheer! He came into the studio and his first words were, "This is crazy. I can't believe I'm actually here." He wooed and laughed and smiled so much. I don't know which was more fun for me see, Conan or Clinton.

There's a clip they showed from The View of Barbara Walters talking about what she does on the weekends. Anyway, as she's talking the video "cuts" to the audience and a whole series of edited reactions are shown. They were obviously not accurate portrayals of her talking but just put in to be funny. Well, when we got back to the hotel tonight we were all laughing about the show and I mentioned this scene. Rennie laughs and says, "I thought that was funny too, but what was with those people crying? Why would they cry over that?"
I told her it was all fake and we had a good her innocence.