Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy New Year. Almost

As a new year draws closer, I find myself reflecting on the events of the past year. It included many things: a new job, three trips, a new friend, weight loss, a brother's marriage, and lots of little moments. Overall, it was a great year. I failed in living up to my "word of the year", which was "gratitude". However, I think where I succeeded was in being more grateful overall. This year, I will not be setting themes for every month. But, I still want to choose a word. So, I choose PEACE. I wish it for you and I wish it for me. And as much as it is within my control, I want to choose to make peace happen. Not as an abstract, "oh I hope all the wars end", but as a decision to live in peace. Corny, right? But much harder than you may think.
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Elf on a Shelf

From what I understand, it's a very Finnish (Scandinavian?) tradition to use elves around Christmas time to keep your children in line. As in, the elves are watching and reporting to Santa, so you better be good...
This year we are starting a new tradition. The elf on a shelf is coming to live in our house. Every night in December, he will report to Santa about the kids' behaviour. When he returns in the morning, he will choose a different spot for observing the kids. When the kids wake up, they will have to find the elf. I think they'll love it. We'll see.
ps. I found the elf and story book at Chapters.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


“Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles,frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pinecones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been
deprived of the best part of...education.” Luther Burbank
I sometimes find myself telling the boys not to play in the dirt outside because I don't want to deal with the mess that it creates. I don't understand why everyone likes making mud cakes in my garden plot; why not in the neighbour's garden? Mud cakes are dirty, dusty and messy. The mud doesn't usually stay in the garden, but finds its way onto the sidewalks and grass. Clothes get dirty. Faces get dusty. Hair gets filthy.
Today, I found Joonas (once again) playing in the dirt. And you know what? I stopped myself from forbidding him. Kids are meant to explore and get dirty. They are meant to appreciate and have fun in the outdoors. They can't do that if they are never allowed to get dirty or sweaty or smelly. I shouldn't let my own laziness to help with the clean up afterwards stop them. So, I let him play.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer Nights


One of my favourite things to do after the kids have gone to bed, is to sit on the patio. The weather cools down once the sun sets, but with a blanket, it's perfect. It's quiet. It's dark enough that candles don't seem out of place, but not dark enough to be depressing (winter). The geraniums are still blooming beautifully. A vanilla earl grey latte and I'm set.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thoughts

"You can't just do what you feel like. You need to do what you know you should do."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shapes

It's no secret that I'm no nature girl. However, I do find it cool when I discover neat shapes that are found randomly in nature.

Summer Fun

Despite all the new technology and gadgets and gizmos, one of the best toys of all time is water. Water in the sprinkler, water in the bathtub, water in a water table. This is the first year that Matias has asked for a sprinkler to run through. I love that I used to run through sprinklers myself. Some things never get old...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sisters

I have a brand new sister-in-law: Mimmi. (She's the one wearing the wedding dress) My brother Tim and her got married last Saturday. It was so nice that the whole family (fourteen of us) was able to travel to Finland for the wedding.
So, that now brings the total of this sisterhood to five. We're very different, but we get along great. Like all families, we have our moments: disagreements, awkwardness, misunderstandings. But, all in all, I can't imagine anyone that would complete this sisterhood more perfectly than these ladies. I am blessed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strawberries and Cream


One of the many things that mark summer for me are fresh strawberries. Add a little whipped cream with cinnamon sugar on top and I'm in heaven! Unfortunately, I have found in recent years that local strawberries no longer taste as sweet as they used to. In fact, the California berries in big plastic containers taste way better. I wonder why? Maybe it's the rainy, cold springs here? The strawberries do kind of taste like mud...I like to eat local produce, but in this case, it's gonna be Californian or nothing!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Discontinued


I have this interesting curse. Products that I LOVE tend to get discontinued: makeup, food, tv shows, hairspray, clothing brands, restaurant menu items.... The hairspray that I used for years on my thin lifeless hair suddenly got "tweaked" and no longer works for me. My favourite tv show was canceled last month. I could go on...Recently, however, I have been forced to question whether this is actually a curse. Maybe it is in fact a blessing for someone so reticent to change, such as myself.
Case in point; I used to buy Costco's Tribe hummus. For years. I loved the stuff and never thought of buying hummus anywhere else. (I must be a marketers dream come true). That was until a few months ago when Costco discontinued my favourite hummus (as Costco has a bad habit of doing). I was left to complain bitterly to anyone who would listen and either a)try their new brand b)buy the Tribe hummus elsewhere or c)stop eating hummus. With much complaining and reluctance, I tried the new hummus at Costco. Okay, so it was pretty good. But in principle at least, I was annoyed that they had switched brands on me. This was a personal assault on faithful hummus-buying ways. But, I kept buying it because it was convenient, came in a two-pack and I was really starting to like the taste of it. A lot. Fast forward to this past week. I happened to be in Safeway and spotted some Tribe hummus. Yum! I thought I'd treat myself and bought some. If you haven't guessed already...I didn't like it! Compared to the "new" hummus I eat, this Tribe stuff is barely edible. So...maybe being forced into making changes isn't so bad. Imagine what I'd be missing out on if I was still eating bad hummus?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wedding Shoes


I found shoes for my brother's wedding. I wasn't really planning to buy shoes, but then I saw these. My dress is several shades of gray...could these shoes be any more perfect?


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blah!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a classic in children's picture books. Today, I was Alexander. I tried to count my blessings and be grateful etc etc, but it was just a rotten day. I yelled at my kids. I stressed about job postings. We were late for kindergarten and preschool drop offs. It rained. Again!! Some days are like that.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Reading

I could never understand people who had many books on the go at the same time. Now I am one of them. I don't know if it's because I have less time to read, or because I have too many books to read, but I can't seem to stick to just one book at a time. I still maintain that reading one book at a time is more focused reading, but it no longer applies to me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Good Cause To Buy

I picked up this bag today. I needed a new gym bag and the proceeds from this one go toward breast cancer awareness, funding and research. I love it when I am able to justify my purchases...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friends

I find it hard to make friends. I am shy, introspective, very selectively friendly and find it hard to trust people. Not a great list of characteristics when trying to make friends. What complicates matters even more is that now I have a family. So, if I want to "hang out", I also need to consider whether Pentti will get along with the husband and whether the kids in both families are a good match. Of course I socialize with girlfriends on my own, and there are families we see that not everyone gets along so great. There are families where the kids are awful. Or where Pentti has nothing to talk about with the husband. Or where the parenting styles are so different that it's annoying to hang out. But, those are not families that I go out of my way to hang out with. Every once in awhile, we "find" a family that fits.
Julie is great. Her twin boys are in Matias' class and play nicely with Matias and Joonas. On Friday, the husbands met for the first time when we went out for dinner downtown. It was a hit.

It's nice to have friends:)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Thousand Gifts


Could you name one thousand gifts in your life? What do you think would happen if you tried? I'm reading this book pictured above, where the author decided to do just that. She wanted to appreciate the moments; she wanted to find joy in the now. So, I've started a list of my own. Every day I am adding things big and small as they happen. Today's highlights included dinner on the deck outside, sunshine glistening on the water in the pool, a morning sauna, and the excited yells of kids playing on the playground on a beautiful sunny day.
This book seems to fit into a theme in my life this year about gratitude and appreciation and slowing down. I don't know why I've been stuck on these ideas, but they just keep coming at me in unexpected ways. The pessimist in me thinks that perhaps something bad is about to happen. But is that any reason to not enjoy the moments now? In fact, if I KNEW something bad was going to happen, wouldn't I try even harder to appreciate every moment?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spa Utopia

You know those spas you see in movies, where people wear big fluffy robes? Where there are columns and statues and water falls, with soothing music playing in the background while people sit back, sip the complimentary rooibos tea and chat while they wait for whatever treatment they are getting? Well, I went to one of those today. The picture is of the foyer leading to the lounge, complete with waterfall and view of harbour. Ah...it was wonderful. Yes, the place is expensive. But sometimes you are looking for the experience and not just the service. Yes, I probably could have gone to some mall and gotten a facial for a fraction of the price. But it would NOT have been the same. Today was Mother's Day and I wanted to the whole pampering experience. It was SO worth it!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Daffodils

Who doesn't love daffodils? The spring here has been so rainy and awful that I have needed a lot of bright flowers to cheer me up. The picture is uploaded from my Galaxy Samsung tablet, which takes pictures. Gotta love it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May's Focus

This month's theme is others/neighbours. I will try to appreciate my neighbours and those around me. I will do this by doing random acts of kindness every day.
I actually have really great neighbours. The older couple immediately next door always bring in our garbage and recycling (unless we get to it first and do theirs as well as our own). With two of the families who live in our "row", I started a rotating potluck. Every couple of months the three families get together at someone's house for a potluck. So far, I've really enjoyed it and highly recommend getting to know your neighbours.
Anyway, I am going to focus on kindness toward my neighbours: literally those who live near me, but also those who are my neighbours in a broader sense. Those with whom I interact in my daily life.
On a side note, the daffodils in the pic were a gift from a friend of mine. She bought herself one of these (fake) plants and thinking that I would like one too, bought one for me as well. Just like that. This is the example that I will follow this month, in things big and small.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!


We had our second annual neighbourhood Easter egg hunt this morning. The kids were so excited. Seven kids running around the front yard looking for hundreds of hidden eggs; what could be more fun than that? Afterwards, there was an Easter breakfast. Yum!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Matias Turns 6


This year was the first time that we celebrated Matias' birthday at a venue, rather than at home. It went really well and considering that it was POURING rain that day, I was very happy to have booked a gymnastics party where the kids got to run around for 1.5 hours (especially since there were 14 of them)!
But, what I'm most happy about is the gift idea that I got from another mom. Instead of gifts for Matias, we had a "toonie party". This meant that each guest brought two toonies; no plastic toys from the dollar store, no wasted wrapping paper and no headache for the parents. Instead, they could bring two toonies. Matias would then take half the toonies ($2.00 coin in Canada) and use them to buy something he really wants for himself. The other half of the toonies, he will give to a charity or organization of his choosing. I love this idea! We have had some great conversations with Matias about who needs help and how we could help them. He hasn't decided for sure what he wants to do with the money, but I love the fact that he is thinking about it. I strongly believe that kids need to learn from an early age that they are able to contribute and "change the world".

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pena's Guilt

Today's beautiful irises are courtesy of Pentti's guilt. He is leaving for Finland again tomorrow. He'll be gone a week during which time Matias will have his birthday party (for kids). Oh well, at least I get some flowers out of it...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eggs

Today's inspiration comes from this wreath that I hung on our door. It was a beautiful spring day; the cherry trees are blooming and the sun was shining all day. I'm not sure about keeping the bow on the wreath, but I love the coloured eggs and all the other "stuff".

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Puutipu/wooden chick

Today's inspiration is Pentik's wooden Easter chick. Since Easter is in a few weeks, I thought I'd put them (I have 2) on display. I can't help it; yellow makes me happy and the chicks are so cute!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My New Favourite Drink



I have a new favourite drink: Earl Grey tea latte. Half hot water, half steamed milk, a tea bag and a shot of vanilla (or two). Yum!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lent


So, Lent (the countdown to Easter) starts on Wednesday. As an exercise in self-discipline and going along with my focus on family this month, I have decided to give up the internet on Sundays. I could try to give it up for the entire six weeks of Lent, but that just isn't realistic. But since I am focusing on family this month anyway, no facebook for me on Sundays. No email either. Or surfing.
Some of you reading this may think that I am making too many lists and rules for myself. I disagree. I think that it's so much easier to focus on something by setting specific goals. It is very noble to decide to want to become a better person/spouse/parent/teacher/whatever, but without thinking about ways to get there, it will remain just that. A noble thought.

Monday, February 28, 2011

March Already!

I feel like I failed February's goal of appreciating my family. I did try. But some days I lost it. Other days I was really tired. Yes, there were also good days, but somehow I feel like I failed. Like I didn't appreciate my family enough. I should have done more. I should have kept my focus better. I think perhaps family is one of those areas in life where I will always feel like I could have been more patient, more helpful, more supportive, more positive, more kind, more...the list goes on. However, since I feel like I failed, I am going to continue with family for March. My original plan was to make organization my goal for March. I really don't want to give that one up, so I am going to try to do both. My list of goals for March organizing are:
-clean out closets
-sort through teacher materials (this will kill me because there is SO. MUCH. PAPER.)
-spring clean
-clean up office

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pedicure


I went for my first ever pedicure today. I don't know why I'd never gone since I've had facials and manicures before. Anyway, it was glorious. It was especially nice because I went with a friend and so we could sit side by side in self-massaging chairs, drink our Starbucks and chat while someone made our feet pretty.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

video
Matias has had three piano lessons. He seems very excited about learning to play. For now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why Aren't We Happier?

It's not that I am unhappy. But, could I be happier? SHOULD I be happier considering I have beautiful, healthy kids, a caring husband, a home, food, friends, two cars and pretty well everything I need or want? Plus I live in a truly free country. The short answer is: YES. I should be really happy and grateful and appreciative of my life. And yet, some days I find myself grumbling because I can't decide what to make for dinner. Forget the fact that I have cupboards and a fridge (and freezer) full of food, and therefore hundreds of choices. I am blessed and I should remember that. That's sort of what I got out of the book The Happiness Project. And that's why I am into month two of my year of appreciation. January's focus on health went really well. I even lost some weight! For February, I am focusing on family.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Zucchini Frittata



One of my new favourite recipes. Since I am continuing to eat a reduced-carb diet, everything in this frittata is permissible. It's easy and super yummy!
8 eggs
salt and pepper
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped parsley (I left this out)
1 lb. zucchini that has been quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 3/4 inch slices
1 chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 sliced tomato
2 tablespoons oil

Method:
  • Preheat oven to 400. Beat eggs with parsley, salt and pepper till well blended.
  • Add in 3/4 cup mozzarella.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over med-high heat and add zucchini, onion, garlic, a dash of salt, and Italian seasoning. Cook till tender about seven minutes.
  • Stir in egg mixture and cook until edges are set about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Top with slices of tomato. Put in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with 1/4 mozzarella cheese and bake for five more minutes.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today's Inspiration


I love tulips! Not sure whether I've mentioned it before, but Matias' school often sells flowers to raise money for the school. I'm not too sure whether the flowers are donated or sold to the school at wholesale. Anyway, they keep them in the office and you can pick some up if and when you feel like it. I often feel like it since it's for a good cause, and they are usually quite a good deal. Besides, Pentti can't say anything because of the two aforementioned reasons...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Trouble With Diets


So, in appreciating my health this month, I am trying to eat better. Truth be told, I am on a diet. I also joined a gym!! The trouble is that the weight that I have gained over years, doesn't melt off right away. I had been on my new diet for two days when I decided to weigh myself. I wasn't deluded in thinking that two days of dieting makes for major weight loss. However, two days of dieting seemed like such a long time that I figured it had been a week because that's what it felt like. So, I pulled out the scale and the number was EXACTLY the same; down to the nearest tenth of a pound. What?? How was that possibble?? Then, I realized, oh yeah, I had only eaten healthy for two days and laughed at myself.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Glass Half-Full

I mentioned in a previous post that The Happiness Project was life-changing for me in 2010. It’s hard to explain why exactly. But one of the reasons is that the book made me think and re-evaluate things. One of the things I had to actually change was my attitude toward optimistic, cheery people. I used to think that those really bubbly, always positive people were shallow, dumb and downright annoying. (I’m being honest). But then I read the following: “It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” (G. K. Chesterton) In my effort to be a happier, more accepting, appreciative person, I realized that it is actually harder to be positive than negative. Cheerful optimists are not actually dumb; they just work harder to find the good in every situation. It turns out that to be negative and pessimistic is the easy road. In fact, I recently heard one of those perpetually positive people (who used to annoy me to no end) confess that she found herself in circumstances this past year where it was really hard for her to remain positive; she had to really work at it. Hmmm, who’d have thought?!

However, I do still maintain that there are oblivious people out there who always smile and think that things will work out. But why should I stress about them? Things usually DO work out for them just by dumb luck.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Books 2010

Here’s a list of the books that I read last year. There may be some that I have missed since it’s hard to keep track. Without a doubt, the best read of the year goes to The Happiness Project. I strongly believe that whether a particular book “moves” you depends on where you are in your life and what your interests are at that moment. For me, in 2010, The Happiness Project was life-changing. I will probably write about it in a later post. It’s one of those books that left me with lots of things to think about and mull over.

-The Happiness Project

-Shadow of the Wind

-Happily Ever After

-Minding Frankie

-Time is a River

-Literacy and Longing in LA

-Nurture Shock

-Love and Logic

-The Spellmans Strike Again

-Ei Kiitos

-Secret Daughter

-The Girl Who Chased the Moon

-Is That A Fact?

-Savor the Moment

-The Red Tent

-A Fine Balance

-The Help

-The Book of Negroes

-Knit the Season

-Three Day Road

-The Lost Symbol

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pussywillows



Today's inspiration and a sure sign that spring is coming: pussywillows.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day 6


I have actually had the word appreciate in my mind every single day. I'm hoping that it really is making me slow down and reflect on what's important. No, I haven't met all my goals every day. Exercise, for example, is a tough one. That's why I am glad I am giving myself a month to focus on health and wellness. No guilt for the odd day when I forget/miss something.
Today I appreciate the following things that contributed to my health and wellness:
-swim and sauna
-a great cup of coffee
-an aunt who watches the boys and always cleans a little while doing so
-roasted yams
PS. No, I won't always be posting about appreciating things. I'm still snarky, sarcastic me after all...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Appreciate Health

As I mentioned in my previous post, my word of the year is APPRECIATE. I have decided to choose one area for each month on which I would like to focus. It’s too overwhelming to think about appreciating everything in every area of my life. I think that the whole idea just gets lost. So, in choosing specific areas, I am hoping to focus my efforts. Of course a lot of the areas overlap. In focusing first on health and wellness, I am hoping that I am actually able to appreciate everything else on my list since I expect to be more engaged, alert and patient, less tired etc. However, I tried to pick logical times of year for certain areas. The boys are out of school in August, so that is a good time to focus on appreciating them (it’s not because they are my eighth priority). Anyway, here’s my list:

January: health and wellness

February: family

March: organization

April: church/spirituality

May: others/neighbours

June: intellect/education

July: marriage

August: children

September: job

October: money

November: leisure

December: creativity

I’m not sure how much I will be sharing in my blog, but at least for January, I’ll share that I am also making a list of specific ways that I want to appreciate wellness and health. This may sound onerous to some, but I want my efforts to be somewhat measurable, even if only to myself. So, in order to achieve wellness and health in January, my goals are:

-watch less tv (no surfing channels for something to watch; recorded programs only)

-get enough sleep (absolute bedtime by 11:30)

-limit internet use (esp. facebook)

-eat more healthily (specifically cut down on butter use and baking)

-exercise of some form every day

-read at least three books

-drink more water

-no night snacking after dinner (other than fruit or decaf tea/coffee)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!!


A blog that I follow had an interesting idea. The author chooses one word each year to be her "word of the year". I kind of like that better than having a list of resolutions, which inevitably get broken. After giving it some thought, I think my word of the year will be APPRECIATE.
This evening as I was driving to the grocery store, I saw the most stunning sunset I have seen in years. I had to pull over and take a couple pictures and just stop to stare and appreciate.