June 12, 2012

Four Going on Fourteen

In just a couple days, Miss Cate will be turning four. Yikes! I still find it very hard to believe that I have been a mother for that long! 

It has become a bit of a tradition to throw large lavish birthday parties for the girls. We are often the party hosts and we love doing it so what better excuse to get together with friends and family?

For Cate's First Birthday we had a Garden Party in our backyard.

First Birthday

For Cate's Second Birthday we had a Dora Party complete with a scavenger hunt through the nearby park.

Second Birthday

For Cate's Third Birthday we really went all out and held a Princess Party at my inlaws beautiful home just out of town.

Third Birthday

Really, there was no topping that last party.

With two kids in daycare full time, the purse strings were a little tighter this year and so we decided that it would be a kids only party. Also, Cate had already "invited" all of her little daycare friends to her party, so I figured why not? I searched around for the right venue for the party, and as it turns out, it was right in our neighbourhood! 

The Birthday Girl and her little sister.

This past weekend, Cate celebrated her fourth birthday at A Gym Tale. From start to finish, every detail was looked after. Upon arrival, all the kids were signed in at the front desk under Cate's name. From there, the kids tackled the giant indoor play structures. There was even a little area for Maddie to hang out while the big kids worked their way up to the top of the big slide. 

Half and hour later, the party host came out, called all the kids down, and lead them into the "enchanted forest" for another 30 minutes of princess themed obstacles course, parachute games, and of course, bubbles. 

Circle Time

They then headed over to the party room for hot dogs and lemonade, followed by the princess cupcakes that we brought in. The hostess took care of everything, including tending to the kids' requests for 5 refills each! Next we moved onto presents and Cate was in her glory with all her little buddies around her. When she finished up, there were still a few minutes left, so the hostess put on a few magic tricks to keep the kids entertained until the very end. 

Princess Crown Cupcakes

As each child left, Cate handed them one of the home-made magic wands that we created using oreo cookies, pink chocolate and sprinkles :)

Sweet Magic Wands

Overall, the party was a hit and both girls were well worn out by the end of the day. Success!


May 27, 2012

30 Minutes or Less

It seems like the last 5 months have been a series of false starts. Every Monday starts with a stern lecture to myself and promises of more exercise and less food. Every Friday inevitably ends with too much food and not enough activity. This cycle, combined with my return to a full time job with 2 young kids at home, has resulted in me GAINING on even more weight, despite my repeated attempts to LOSE weight. 

Something's gotta give.

This weekend, my circle of friends and I competed at the Ottawa Race Weekend - Cate & I in the 2K and my hubby in the half marathon... yes, you heard that right! My friend, Katie, also achieved a life long dream of completing a full marathon - with an awesome time to boot. We had a blast the whole weekend and really felt part of something so special to our city. 

Team Inspiration
My inspiration team!

Seeing everyone succeed has really inspired me to go further and so tonight I signed up for the 5K race at the Army Run in September! Not only that - I indicated that my predicted finish time will be 25-30 minutes... 


That's right...

I've decided that short distances are my thing. I will never be a marathoner, nor do I have any interest in running for that long and so I've set a goal for myself to train this summer to increase my speed over 5K to come in under 30 minutes. At the Resolution Run in January, I came in just under 37 minutes so I have a little bit of work to do...

Overall, I'm happy - I finally have a fitness goal rather than a weight goal!

It will certainly be easier for me to achieve this goal if I lose some weight in the process, but that is not the focus. The focus is training and increasing speed. 

As a first step, I have set a training plan for myself that includes short 2.5 km runs, strength workouts, cardio classes and yoga. I've made a deal with myself that I'm ok if my workout only lasts 20 minutes sometimes, as long I as get my butt moving in the first place.

So, now it's your turn. The Army Run usually sells out and up until mid-June it's only $30 to register! Does anyone want to join my in my quest for a personal best? I could really use a training partner... hint, hint... 

May 2, 2012

Tastes like Chicken

I consider our family to be somewhat adventurous eaters. We love international cuisine and we eat curry at least once a week. Cate even had her first taste of shrimp in her first year. I guess that leaves me somewhat ashamed to admit that yesterday was the first time Cate ate fish.

Yes, she is nearing 4. 

Yes, I know fish is full of omegas and great for brain development.

Yes, I know we *should* be eating fish twice a week.

I grew up in a house where fish came in battered sticks from a fella name Mr Highliner and was served with ketchup (let's be honest, most things I ate were accompanied by ketchup). Living in the burbs outside of Ottawa, we didn't have access to fresh fish. Of the few times I can remember my mom cooking it when when they were entertaining, all I can remember is the smell.

Mmmm Nemo

I guess I've always been like that - smells can really set me off. Recently I made a whole bunch of turkey burgers to freeze, but unfortunately the smell of the defrosted turkey turned me off so badly that they are still sitting in the bottom of the freezer...

While I struggle with the smell, I wouldn't say that I dislike fish. I still remember how much I enjoyed fresh mahi mahi in Hawaii, or the time I went to The Pelican on Bank Street with my old boss and had the most delicious tilapia. I guess a big part of it comes down to the reality that you cook what you know. I haven't the least idea of how to cook fish really well. To the same token, anyone who knows me well knows that I don't really eat meat on bones, and well, fish have a whole lot of tiny little bones!

Putting my quirks aside, while perusing the frozen section for new dinner ideas this week, I came across the fish section. For some reason, this time I stopped and the shame of depriving my kids (and myself) of these crucial omegas prompted me to take a good look. It would seem as though the frozen fish department has expanded to include some items that actually look appealing! On a whim, I picked up some tilapia with a multigrain coating.

This is what I bought - highly recommended.

My expectation for the kids was that Maddie might eat it, but odds are Cate would take one bite after much coaxing and the rest would sit untouched. When I picked the kids up from daycare and I told Cate we were having fish sticks for dinner. I said they taste exactly like chicken nuggets (her favourite, she could live off those things). Surprisingly, she said "ok, Mom. Let's have chicken fishies".

It took a good 40 mins from the time we got home until they were ready, so I had two famished little girls on my hands. The fillets came out looking quite good, if you ask me. I cut them up for the kids - small bites for Maddie and larger nugget sized bites for Cate - and of course, served Cate's up with a side of ketchup (some habits never die).

Much to my surprise, she devoured them and promptly asked for more! Maddie also ate all of hers and started dipping her pieces into Cate's ketchup (she really is her mother's daughter). In the end, Cate ate more than a whole fillet herself! 

I could not believe I had waited so long. Especially because hubby came home and started munching on the leftovers. What was I waiting for?

Today when I picked the girls up from daycare I told Cate what we were having for dinner and she got upset with me and said she wanted more chicken fishies! I had to promise that we could have them tomorrow night since dinner was already in the slow cooker. 

I'm not sure if fish will make it into our weekly rotation, but now that the kids (and hubby) seem to enjoy it, I'll be sure to keep it in the monthly mix.

I guess our house might start getting a little smelly...

Am I the only parent who has waited so long to introduce fish? Do your kids like it? Do YOU like it? How often does your family eat fish? Have any recipes to share? 

April 22, 2012

The Pink Ladies

It was a long and uncertain road, but yesterday I had the chance to celebrate the months I spent fundraising with 6 hour long fitness classes at Bust A Move! I joined 4 other lovely ladies from the Losing it in Ottawa community to get our sweat on.

The event itself was terrific. Everything was very well organized and the most impressive part was that they managed to seek out enough sponsors to cover the cost of the event so that all the $349,000 raised will go directly to support both the Maplesoft Centre's Cancer Coaching Program and the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre.

As some of you know, I actually reached my $1,000 goal and so, as promised, on Friday night I went from blonde to PINK!

I can't believe how well the colour covered!

I joined the rest of the "Pink Ladies" at the Ottawa Athletic Club on Saturday morning. The atmosphere was invigorating and we were all anxious to get moving. 


After a few opening remarks, the exercise began with an old school hi-low aerobics class. I broke a sweat in the first 10 minutes and loved how intense it was. It also had me second guessing my ability to keep it up for the whole six hours! 

Luckily, hour number 2 has a surprise in store with Richard Simmons leading a low-impact dance style class. I ended up on stage for the opening set and let me tell you, I had a blast! When I first heard he was coming, I was definitely a little creeped out. I'm not sure whether it's the short shorts or his gregarious personality, but it was a bit much for me. Now that I've "met" him in person, I have gained a lot more respect for him and really got a kick out of his workout. 

It seems like the camera really had a thing for my pink hair -  it made several of the local newspapers!

Not sure why my arms are up, when clearly that is not what we're supposed to be doing!  Photo credits to The Ottawa Sun

Stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Photo credits to The Ottawa Citizen

Got to love the wide angle lens - look how long my leg looks!
Photo credits to The Ottawa Sun

The day continued with Zumba, Yoga, Kickboxing, Belly Dancing and even a free massage thrown in for good measure! While I found it to be a good workout, I didn't find it over taxing, although my knees and calves are a little worse for the wear today.

I ended the day with a quiet evening at home while the kids were out at Grandma's and Grandpa's for a sleepover. As I expected, I didn't make it much past 9pm before I fell into the wonderful deep sleep that follows a day of being active.

Once again, THANK YOU to everyone who donated to support this worthy cause and allowed me to participate in this amazing event. 

I couldn't have done it without you. 

April 11, 2012

How much are you willing to give?

Today, I made an executive decision.

I registered to become an organ donor.

You might be asking yourself why it has taken me so long to do so. I have been thinking about this subject for many years and finally today I had the AHA moment that I was waiting for to push me to make this decision.

Like many of you, I have been following Hélène Campbell’s story of her battle with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and her quest for a new pair of lungs. She has been advocating for organ donation through social media and has even received the support of celebrities like Justin Beiber and Ellen DeGeneres. Last week, Hélène underwent a double lung transplant and thankfully, she appears to be recovering well.

After reading several articles and tidbits over the last few months, I have finally managed to change my perspective on organ donation. I started thinking about how I would feel if it was my daughter waiting for a lung transplant. I couldn’t imagine being put in a position that so greatly relied on the generosity of others. More so, how could I possibly ask someone else to donate their organs if I was not prepared to do the same myself?

To be honest,the biggest factor holding me back was fear. What if I was in a coma and there was still a chance of survival, but someone I don’t even know decided that my organs would be better donated to someone else, than to keep me alive on the chance that I could survive? A bit silly, I know. Maybe I’ve watched too many medical dramas with unethical pushy doctors that they have made their way into my subconscious and now have me doubting our healthcare system.

Today, I turned over a new leaf and have decided that I trusted the health care system enough to fight for me. I trust my family enough to know that I would want to keep fighting for as long as I could. BUT, if there was absolutely no hope –then I would want to help someone else.

What do you think about organ donation? Have you registered to become an organ donor?

If you’re from Ontario, just go to beadonor.ca and have your health card ready. You can also check to see if you’re already registered. 

April 5, 2012

Sweet Easter Treats

Lately, Cate and I have been in the habit of baking together once or twice a week. Usually it's something healthy like my favourite cinnamon swirl protein bread or a whole grain fruit muffin, but with Easter coming up this weekend, we'll be doing the rounds for family dinners and so I decided that we should have some Easter treats to bring along with us. 

Since they turned out so well, I thought I would share the recipe with all of you. I had to make a few modifications from the original recipe that I found here http://www.curiositiesbydickens.com/easter-birds-nest-cookies/

Aren't these just adorable?

Easter Bird's Nest Cookies

1 cup Butter
1 8oz package of Cream Cheese
2 cups Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Coconut Extract
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
2 cups White Flour
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
Flaked Coconut
Green, Yellow, Red, and Blue Food Colouring
Candy Covered Eggs – I used PC speckled eggs because I liked the natural looking colours.
Royal Icing – You can make your own with icing sugar and water or you can buy the premade cookie icing with a piping tip already on the package.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together butter and cream cheese till smooth. Beat in sugar. Add egg, vanilla, and extracts. Mix well. Stir in the flour and baking powder.

Roll dough into balls (about the size of ping pong). The batter was really sticky for me so I added more flour to make it more manageable. Place them a couple inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Make an indentation in each one using your thumb.

Bake for 10-12 minutes on the centre rack. Cookies won't brown, so keep an eye on them. Remove from oven and use the back of a spoon to press down the indentation again.

Meanwhile, mix coconut with a couple of drops of each of the food coloring in a small bowl with a lid or a large freezer bag. Cover and shake until all the coconut is evenly covered. Adjust the colours until you get a nice deep brown colour. Spread icing in the indents on each of the cookies (I used a small paint brush) and fill with coconut. Press down on the coconut flakes and then tip them over to get rid of the excess. Place another dab of icing on top of the coconut in the centre of the cookie and place 3 multi-coloured eggs. Press down to secure them in place. This recipe makes about 60 cookies.

Et voila! Now you have adorable little bird nests! They make cute Easter table decorations, but are also tasty and satisfying.

These cookies were a lot of fun to make and kid friendly too. Cate pitched in to do everything from measuring the ingredients to "painting" on the icing and placing the eggs. Best of all, she is quite excited to deliver her special gifts this weekend. 

Happy Easter (and don't eat too much chocolate!)

March 1, 2012

Pretty in Pink

As February comes to end, I start to get anxious for Spring. The snow starts to melt, the days become longer, and the sun starts to shine a little brighter. This prompts me to look at my calendar in anticipation of summer nights barbequing in the back yard with friends while the little ones play in the kiddy pool. Truly living in the burbs at its best!

While pondering the family calendar this year, I was reminded of Bust a Move coming up on April 21st. I am so looking forward to the event itself, but the fundraising really has me concerned. As a team we've reached 44% of our $5,000 goal, but we still need to raise another $2,800 in the next 7 weeks!


We've decided to up the ante!

If we reach our goal before April 20th, we've decided that we would all dye our hair PINK!

I'm not talking a pinkish tone of red, I'm talking PINK. I thought I would take a few minutes to try out a few looks. Let me know which one you like best!

Should I go Canival Pink?

or Lady Gaga Pink?

That said... hurry on over to the Bust A Move website and put your pennies in the mix to support breast health and get me one step closer to becoming pinkalicious.

February 29, 2012

Where I'm at.

A wise man once said “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all”. Maybe this accounts for my recent absence from the blogging world. It seems like the last two months have been a haze of illness, lack of motivation, and false starts.

I feel like so many of my blog posts revolve around the excitement of starting a new phase of fitness or my latest weight loss achievement. It sets me up as a role model and motivator for others and that makes me hesitant to write about the hard parts of a weight loss journey.

But let’s be honest, that’s what it is.

A journey.

There are ups and downs and not everything is sunshine and rainbows.

I’m surrounded by so many positive influences and cheerleaders in my life. They make me want to eat healthy, be active, and stay social. …most of the time.

My Isagenix anniversary came up this week. Since last year I have lost (and kept off) 38 pounds. While this is a success, I still focus on the 8 pounds I am up from my lowest weight last year which was around Labour Day and also the fact that I have yet to hit the magic number to bring me back to my pre-pregnancies weight.

Silly, I know, but when you commit your life to something, you crave results.

A lot of my success last year came from the motivation to fit into my bridesmaid dress. Well, once again this year I have the honour of standing up with one of my dear friends at her wedding and we are ordering the dresses this week. That being said, I’m still stumped by what size to order.

The chic dress that I get to wear

Should I go with what fits me now and have it taken in a bit if I lose a little?

Or, should I be more ambitious and go a little smaller to motivate me to get my groove back?

I’m leaning toward the latter.

Either way, now I have a goal.

February 5, 2012

Rainbows and Party Hats

Today, we celebrated Maddie's first birthday with family and friends. We had a lovely lunch time party and the birthday girl soaked everything up! She was on her best behaviour and such a doll. 

I decided on a rainbow theme based on some of the amazing things I've seen on Pinterest over the past year. As usual, I went a little overboard, but it's just so much fun that I couldn't resist. Plus, Cate got a real kick out of everything, and she can know recite all the colours of the rainbow in order and has taught all of her daycare buddies how to draw them.

The decision to go with this theme really stemmed from these cupcakes. I did end up re-making them since the batch from last weekend were really inedible. These ones turned out light and fluffy - just perfect!





I wanted to add a few personal touches and so I made a fun banner showcasing pictures of Maddie from each month of her first year.




And of course, there were balloons!!!




I also made a little game board to play "Pin the pot of gold under the rainbow". I traced out where the pot of gold was supposed to go so there would be no question of who won. It was a hit with all the little ones!


Pinterest also had some great ideas for food. The fruit kebobs were a hit. I've never seen so many kids eat so much fruit at a birthday party before!


Single serve veggie cups with dip in the bottom made it easy for guests to wander with their snack.


The Birthday Girl was so excited to get the party started that she was dancing on the table with her Grandma.


The precious trio of BFFs. Cate was impatiently waiting all week for her besties to come over.


First things first, kids need food! We pre-made a ton of grilled cheese and ham sandwiches with yummy cheese like havarti, cheddar, and pizza mozzarella. Lesson learned though - cover them while they sit in the over to stay warm. They were a "little" dry when they came out and needed to be popped into the microwave to soften up again.


Oh yeah, we forgot party hats!


The Birthday Girl ate up her lunch so she could get to the best part...




But she was not the only one with this in mind...


In the end, Panda ended up with the bulk on the cupcake.


Maddie did not disappoint. She has icing all over herself - including the back of her head!


Finally, she was spoiled by all her friends and family!


Thanks to everyone who came out today!

January 29, 2012

It's a Cake-Smashing Day

In anticipation of Maddie's first birthday on Wednesday, we had a mini cake smashing photo session this afternoon! Cate was excited to participate and she helped me to make the cake (ahem... eat the jelly beans). 

While searching for a healthy cake recipe, I came across a suggestion to combine cake mix + 1 cup of greek yogurt + 1 cup of water. Given my love for greek yogurt, I jumped on it! The result was, well, a bit rubbery. Not sure exactly where it all went wrong. I strayed from my usual Betty Crocker mix and bought the Dr Oetker. I think that may have been my first mistake. I made Maddie's Birthday cupcakes later with the same mix, but swapped the yogurt with a cup of applesauce. It was a little lighter, but not much. 

Now I have 48 cupcakes that are a little chewy... I haven't yet decided if I'm going to remake some for the party next weekend. Thankfully I have a bit of time to think about it.

Do you have a go to cake recipe? If so, please share! Would love a more natural "clean" cake for Little Miss Maddie and her guests.

Finally, here are a few pics of this afternoon...