two years - a note to my l'il E

L'il E is two


To my sweet L'il E,

Two years ago today you showed up a week early and it's from that day that my life changed forever. You're the coolest little kid and I know you are going to grow up to do great things (and probably some not so great things).

I love being your mom and I still sit and stare at you like I did the day you were born. I don't think that awe will ever disappear. I promise I won't be like that creepy mother in that Robert Munsch book "Love you forever".

I can't believe how much you have grown and accomplished since I wrote this post a year ago. I loved the first year, but the second year has been so amazing seeing you morph from a little baby into a little boy. You learned to walk, you learned to run, you learned to talk and best of all you learned how to make us laugh.

You're a very thoughtful and observant little guy (you were even like that at a week old) and it's as if the wheels in your head are constantly spinning. You're not one to take risks, in fact you are extremely cautious and just like your mom and dad you suss out the situation before you get too comfortable. Unfortunately you inherited my stubbornness (we'll work on that) and dad's hairline (we'll work on growing that out a bit).

I wanted to write this note to you so that we could look back one day and remember all of the funny things you say and do. So here's a list of my faves:

1. Every morning you greet us with a very loud "Hiiiiiyaaaaa". Even though you're in a big boy bed and can get out of it on your own, you insist that one of us comes into your room to give you permission to get out of bed.

2. You love oatmeal (you call it "meal") or Cheerios for breakfast.

3. Our iPad is probably your most prized possession and I often wonder if we should stage an intervention, but the games and videos you play and watch have taught you a lot like letters, numbers, colours, and animals.

4. Your crutch is your soother. You only suck on it at bedtime and nap time but you LOVE it and I can't take that comfort away from you.

5. "Helpy?" is your favourite thing to say. You are always game to help with baking, unloading the dishwasher, sorting laundry, watering plants, chopping stuff for dinner, sweeping, and vacuuming. I know this won't last much longer so I'm taking advantage of it now.

6. You go nuts for chai tea and so we let you drink it diluted with a lot of milk and honey. You especially like to sit on your special cushion and have tea time as a family. It's pretty cute.

7. You love brushing your teeth. Please continue to love this important hygiene activity.

8. The streetcar ride is probably the highlight of your day most days and you love giving the driver the token. There are many crazy characters on our rides to and from school; you love observing them all and they don't seem to confuse you.

9. You're really into saying please, thank you and you're welcome all at once. We're working on the sequence of  who says what when but right now you're happy saying all three.

10. You give the best hugs and kisses. You don't give them out often but when you do I feel so loved.

Happy Birthday to my L'il E. I know you're big but you'll be my L'il forever.




February 06, 2013 — AlannaB

big brother


It's time to start adding to our library of baby books because L'il E is going to be a big brother this July!

I've been dying to spill the beans because the Hubs and I are very excited (stressed out) about all the cute baby giggles (sleepless nights), sweet baby cheeks (explosive diapers) and long baby snuggles (spit up stains) that are coming our way in 5 and a half months. What I'm looking forward to the most though, is sharing this journey with our L'il E and watching as he becomes an amazing big brother (he's such a good boy).

I am an only child so this is huge for me. It's going to be such an experience navigating the world of siblings and rivalry. I also secretly hope it's a girl because my dream always was to have a big brother.

Anyhow if you have any tips to share I'm all ears. They will be two and a half years apart, so I'm sure we're in for a wild ride.

Oh and I'll save my first trimester woes for another blog post. They're right when they say every pregnancy is different (barf!).



video killed the radio star

You might not know this about us but we're huge TV-aholics (sorry if you were hoping for something kinkier). So, to break our habit of watching bad reality TV shows like American Idol, The Voice, SYTYCD, and all the CSIs you could imagine we flipped Rogers the bird and never looked back.

For a while it was great because we were free of the skull-numbing TV schedule that had ruled our lives and all of a sudden we had so much more time. Then we discovered Netflix and all the content you could possibly want online and sadly we're back to our usual ways, but at least now we're watching stuff that's good and it's on our own schedule.

I'm into so many TV shows right now it's obscene. So if you've been wondering where I've been hiding it's likely been in my basement in front of our brand new TV watching the following:

American Horror Story - this show has taken over my life and I've been watching it so much that it's totally messing with my head.

Downton Abbey - I know I'm super late to the game on this one, but I just can't stop.

Homeland - I'm waiting on pins and needles for the rest of season 2 to get started already!

Dexter - I have a love/hate relationship with this show, but Season 7 has captured my attention again.

So I'm sorry my  friends, but I will come back to you soon. Well just as soon as I emerge from the cave.

Tell me, what are you favourites these days?





Quilted pocket advent calendar

The last few weeks have been hectic around here and I apologize for the lack of posts, but there are only so many hours in a day (right?!).

Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope everyone had a great holiday and that you're all rested and well fed. We had a fantastic Christmas, so good that I'm still recovering from all of the excitement.

This was our first Christmas at home with L'il E so I wanted to create new traditions of our own as well as incorporate existing family ones. I believe that traditions organically evolve (they can't really be created) and I'm so glad there are a few that seem to be surfacing (ok and one I created).

One of our  traditions that has evolved over time is homemade pizza for dinner on Christmas Eve. For the last few years that we have stayed in Toronto, the Hubs and I have made our favourite homemade pizza, uncorked a bottle of red and enjoyed a nice relaxing meal before the feasting of Christmas Day. This year we shared that with L'il E and for me it sealed the tradition for good.

Growing up I always had one of those yummy chocolate advent calendars, but always envied the families that had a homemade one with pockets or drawers (no I didn't feel deprived mom, I loved my chocolate advent calendar just as much). With that, I decided to sew up a quilted pocket advent calendar (I used this tutorial) and be one of those families I envied. I finished it just in time for the beginning of advent, but alas I wasn't organized enough to fill the pockets.  Next year I plan on filling the pockets with little notes, chocolates and trinkets as the days lead up to Christmas Eve. A new tradition in the making?

As for the rest of our Christmas celebrations it's mostly what the Hubs and I grew up with and surprisingly they don't differ very much! I imagine that many more traditions will arise as we celebrate more Christmases at home with our growing family.

What are your Christmas traditions? Do you stick to family traditions or make up your own?


remember when

Remember when we used to stay in our pajamas all day, when we used to sip our coffees and read the paper and didn't have our days planned around food and naps? Remember when we used to get excited about home projects and would spontaneously got out for dinner or drinks? Remember when we would just be?

Moments like these rarely happen with a busy toddler running round and when they do (first I pinch myself) I want to hold onto them and not let go.

Thanks to the rain, this weekend was a string of many of those moments. I was happy to be introverted and just stay close to home away from the busy-ness and influence of our crazy lives.

No one tells you you're going to feel this way when you're planning to have a family. There is so much attention placed on the pregnancy phase and then the baby's arrival followed by all of THEIR stages that somewhere along the way you just kind of get lost in the excitement and sadly so do some of your closest relationships.

No one talks about this part of having babies. It's just to-be-expected that everything is wonderful because - hey you have a baby! Well yes, it's wonderful, but there is more to life right....

So before I go any deeper I want to turn this around because whilst there are many hard times post baby it's important to remember what you had before the crying, diapers and sleepless nights and continue having those moments. I've compiled a short list of things to keep it real:

  1. Let the rushed morning kisses goodbye linger a little longer.
  2. Continue talking to each other. Take time early in the evening (before you're too exhausted) to talk about the day and ask questions.
  3. Encourage each other to do things like working out, taking a class or going out on the town with the girls/guys.
  4. Remember the things you used to do pre-baby days and do them together (date night, super cliche but so important).
  5. Continue to laugh. That is what will keep the spark alive.

The Hubs and I are 10 years strong this month, but these last few years have been the most challenging (but amazing). Having a child takes it's toll, but if you can weather the bumps I swear it brings you to a whole new level.

Here's to more rainy weekends, hibernation and remembering.

What are you secrets to keeping the relationship real post baby?





overnight no-cook refrigerator oatmeal

I've been busy and neglectful. Sigh!

Anyhow, let's talk about mornings. Are they insanely insane in your house?  They are in mine!

We're only a small family of three but every morning is a mad rush.

Prior to L'il E the Hubs and I ate breakfast together at the kitchen table every morning. Over granola and yogurt we'd chat about the day ahead and sometimes we would even have time for a hot cup of tea. Fast forward a year and a half and now I'm lucky if I eat sitting down. The Hubs and I have fragmented conversations between diaper changes, tantrums and the occasional bit of flying food. It is definitely the most stressful 90 minutes of my day.

In an effort to make mornings a little smoother I've been scouring blogs for yummy breakfast ideas that could possibly bring us back to the serene mornings of the pre-baby days.

I found this great recipe over at Fat Mum Slim for Overnight, No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal. I've modified it slightly because we're out of fruit and E is off bananas these days.


No-cook Refrigerator Oatmeal

Here's what you need:

  • 1/4 cup uncooked old fashion rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup milk (we use homo, but you could use almond milk)
  • 1/8 cup plain yogurt (if you want to use Greek yogurt increase to 1/4 cup)
  • 1.5 tsp dried chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey

Then you combine all ingredients in a mason jar, top with a lid and let it chill overnight in the fridge!


Here's to less chaotic mornings?



zucchini chocolate chip muffins

I hate zucchinis but when they are mixed with chocolate they're tolerable - okay - they're amazing.

The produce section in the grocery store is brimming with zucchinis this time of year and I love getting as many veggies into L'il E as possible so I went on the hunt for a yummy zucchini muffin recipe.

I found one courtesy of Pastry Affair and altered it slightly to accommodate our wheat free diet. They were a hit and L'il E didn't even know he was eating zucchinis.


Wheat-free Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

You'll need:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (1 medium zucchini)
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (or all purpose white flour)
  • 2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Then you:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a large bowl whisk egg, vegetable oil, brown sugar, and vanilla together.
  3. Stir in the grated zucchini.
  4. Mix in cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Fold in spelt flour and oat flour until just mixed in.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Fill muffin cups to 3/4 full and bake for 25 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
  8. Let muffins cool.




where have you been?

Hey gang! I've missed you. I'm sorry I've been away for so long.

Writers block can be the worst, especially when I love blogging so much. Life has gotten in the way and it has sucked all of the inspiration out of me. I've been busy - and not the fake "busy" - I've actually really had no time.

One of my strengths is that I can manage a lot of things at one time, but sadly it's also one of my greatest weaknesses. I have too many balls in the air and I am working desperately so that none of them drop. It's actually very exciting and inspiring and just what I want, but it's also requiring an exercise in some serious organizational skills. Lists. Check! Post-it notes all over my house. Check!

Even L'il E points to my post-its in the morning as I analyze what needs to get done today.

Despite having two full time jobs - PR by day and mum to L'il E 24/7 I've also got another full time job in hobbies and extra work alone. Oh ya did I mention I also have a husband?! Never mind friends!

I'm sure you're all thinking #firstworldproblems, but I'm venting and if you've read this far, clearly you care. Thank you.

So what have I been busy with? Well...

I am very excited to announce that I'm heading back to school next Tuesday. This time I'll be on the other side of the desk. I am going to be teaching an event management course to students in the Corporate Communications program at Centennial College; a course I received an A+ in almost 10 years ago. I think it's going to be a lot of fun and I will be sure to share my journey as Professor Banks as I move through the 15 week course.

I have also feverishly been creating inventory for my booth at the Queen West Art Crawl's Outdoor Art Show & Sale. As we get closer to the date I'll post my deets, but in the meantime mark your calendar for September 15-16, 2012. I would love to see your faces and I promise I don't expect you to buy anything.

I've also been trying to keep up with blogging elsewhere. My most recent post for TheKit received a lot of backlash from  readers in the comments section, but I think we're friends now. I also had my first Gastropost printed in the National Post (August 25) with a Gastrosketch and all!

I won't bore you with the rest, but just getting all of that off my chest is just what I needed.

How do you keep all of your balls in the air? I would appreciate the tips.


family ties

Honey, I'm home!

Now, before I get into the details of our family getaway I've just got to get something off my chest. When we arrived home yesterday afternoon after a full day of travel I was appalled to see that someone had stolen L'il E's almost new Radio Flyer wagon off our front porch! Maybe I'm too trusting, but come on. I hope that Karma bites this no-good, low-life, thief in the ass. Anyway I digress...


I've had a full day of reflection and my two takeaways from this week-long reprieve are cousins and in-laws. The Hubs, L'il E and I just spent a week in beautiful Lunenburg, NS at the Hubs' parents cottage, where we were accompanied by our nieces and nephew (ages 2, 3, 3 and 5), the Hubs' two sisters and one husband, the other was noticeably absent (ahem, we'll forgive you this time). With five kids under the age of five we didn't get much down-time, but I have returned feeling very refreshed and with a new sense of closeness to my inherited family.

As we frolicked at the beach, blew bubbles on the deck, and ate as a full family every night (God bless my east-coast mama for her sergeant major ways) I watched as memories were formed in the making. Despite countless trips to "2P", as the cottage in Lunenburg is affectionately named, this sense of family only just now has resonated with me. The thing that struck me the most was the inherent way cousins relate to each other. They all rarely see one another, but for the five days we were together there we no fights and no tears, just pure child-like fun. I can remember that same fun playing with my cousins as a kid and it's the most awesome feeling to witness it again through the eyes of L'il E.

Being an only "lonely" child I love that I have gained two sisters, two brothers-in-law, and nieces and nephews, plus two pretty great parents in-law. From the beginning I've always felt like the fourth child in their family of three, partly because I'm the youngest, but mostly because the fit is just right.

Yay for families and I can't wait to see it continue to grow and be nurtured.



into the wild

Tonight I took some time and hovered over L'il E's crib as he snored away. I looked on as he lay there so heavy and tired after a very busy weekend outdoors and wondered where the time has gone. When did he turn into the crazy, babbling and busy toddler that he is today? It feels like just yesterday he was tiny and nestled in my arms. I do this many nights, but tonight is different because tomorrow is his first day of "school".

His backpack is packed, his clothes are all Mable labeled and despite telling him almost every day for the last month, he has no idea what tomorrow holds. Just thinking that, makes my stomach drop.

I know he's going to be upset when we leave him and I know he's totally going to be okay within five minutes of our drop-off - I just want him to have fun and make friends.

This is his opportunity to become independent and fend for himself, but as his mother I fear his failure. I worry that he'll be too shy, or kids will be mean to him, I worry he'll feel lonely or he'll get frustrated trying to complete a task. BUT I can't be there forever, all day, every day. I can't swoop in and save the day for the rest of his life. He needs to figure out who L'il E is and make his own decisions and have his own opinions and have fun doing it. I know he is still small and I shouldn't be worrying like this, but this milestone is one that will begin the creation of his little social life and it's a tough world out there.

Best of luck to my E bear. Remember to share.



July 02, 2012 — AlannaB