Gotcha X 7

Seven years ago, on a sultry Sunday afternoon in Guangzhou, China, I was handed a beautiful baby girl named Yang Guo Dan.
She was nine months old, to the day.  She was slick with sweat and covered in spots (scabies, which she promptly shared with Steve).  She weighed all of 15 pounds.  She was gorgeous.  And she looked up at us and smiled.
And, just like that, we were a family.  There were seven other families in our group receiving babies that day.  I didn't see any of the other first meetings, because our DanDan was the first baby and after she was in our arms we never looked up.  But those other families were a part of the whole experience and somehow, they all became a part of our family that day, too.

The emotions in that room were so intense that I can never begin to describe them.  All I can say is after that moment, none of us would ever be the same again. 
I remember leaving that building, with Katherine Guo Dan in my arms.  It felt so surreal.  We had waited so long and been through so much that it was hard to wrap my brain around the physical real-ness of her.  I kept thinking, "I can't believe that they just gave us this baby, that she is really ours!"  Sometimes I look at her and I still think that, the incredible miracle of it all.

These seven years have flown by.  Some days have been wonderful and some really difficult, but all of it has been amazing.  I can remember those first minutes with Katherine as if it were yesterday.  And when I look at my tall, strong, beautiful second grader, I can still see that sweet baby in her face.  Happy Gotcha Day, Katherine Guo Dan...

Happy Halloween

I'm bug lady, I think the others are self explanatory.  A great afternoon trick or treating and evening partying.  Some awesome costumes to admire, my favourite was Edward Scissor Hands and a pretty amazing Corpse Bride. Think I'll pass on that smooch evil clown.

makeover monday

i've wanted to make this for a long time and finally found all my supplies for it.

i took simple yard sticks and turned them into a coat rack.

5 yard sticks
5 hooks
wood for frame
liquid nail

i got my man to help me on this one. he built a frame to attach the yard sticks to.

after the frame was built, he used liquid nail to attach the yard sticks. once it was dry, he screwed in the hooks.

all finished and we hung it up in the living room.

happy monday!

linking up with...

Apple Cinnamon Bread

Apple Cinnamon Spice Loaf

I'm so excited for fall!

Apple Cinnamon Scrumptious
adaped from here

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 apples (I used Fuji)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x4-inch loaf pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the butter and granulated sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs until blended, then mix in the brown sugar until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until moistened.
  4. Peel the apples and grate/shred them into another bowl, or directly over the dough. Fold the apples and juice into the dough until well incorporated. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick or paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 mintues before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. (Note - if after 45 minutes the loaf is not done baking but the top is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent before putting it back in the oven. This should slow the browning on the top while the loaf finishes baking.)

Welcome to The Creative Toddler

As a full-time SAHM of a active, curious, adventurous little guy, I am always scouring the net to find ideas to keep my little guy entertained.

His Dad and I are both creatives by nature - he's in film and I'm a former art instructor and summer camp coordinator - so naturally we want to foster our little guy's inate creativity. Being that I'm the one who's home with Aiden the most it's up to me to plan as many creative adventures and provide as many different types of activities as possible to give Aiden the opportunity explore his own creative side.

At 16 months he is quite the curious little fella. He's really into music - guitars, pianos and percussion instruments are his faves, he loves a good book now and then, he enjoys the outdoors - digging in the rocks and his sandbox, and he's just started to develop his imaginitive side, using pieces of his floor puzzle as a phone for example. He's also a good creative problem solver and tries to figure things out for himself. And I have to say, it is an absolute honor and privilege to watch him learn and grow into the amazingly, brilliant creative toddler that he is.

So this blog is going to be a collection of sorts of all of the activities that I have done and will do with Aiden. I'll give you the instructions on how to do whatever it is we do, my tips for doing the project, and a review of how I think Aiden felt about the project. From time to time I'll also write about creative solutions to common toddler "issues" like feeding your uber-active-can't-sit-down-in-a-high-chair-for-more-than-10-minutes toddler. I'll try to post every day but if I miss a day please forgive me and remember that I have a 16 month old boy!

I hope you enjoy our adventures in creativity. And feel free to comment and email me with your ideas or feedback on a particular activity.

Creatively yours,
Maya :)

Trunk or Treat

We started the Halloween celebrations this evening.
Rachel wanted to be a pink butterfly this year.
The "pink" part was very important.  And she is VERY proud of her wings.
Katherine decided months ago that she wanted to be a colonial girl.  She picked out the fabric for her costume and helped Granny sew it.
I'm pretty sure she'll be the only 2nd grader around in period costume.
But she is perfectly happy with that.
Our church hosted a Trunk or Treat party this evening.  The girls have been SO excited about it - far more so than for the usual Halloween trick-or-treating.  There were lots of cars decorated and people in costume passing out candy.
Granny and Poppy decorated their red Prius to look like a ladybug and Poppy wore a lovely ladybug costume.  (I'm not sure I remember ever seeing my dad in a Halloween costume, so it was pretty exciting!)
There were s'mores and games and a cupcake walk.  The girls liked the old fashioned fishing game and managed to go through more than once.
Then they discovered the face painting.
Rachel was thrilled with hers, and it did add to her whole costume.
The girls ran around and talked to people and ate as much candy as they thought they could get away with.  We stayed until it was almost dark. 
Tomorrow we'll have school parties and trick-or-treating and more candy.  But my little pink butterfly and my colonial girl think that THIS was the best part of the holiday.  And I have to agree.

Spooky Halloween Cookies

To celebrate Halloween I made these easy biscuits with royal icing. Once you've baked your biscuits, mix up some royal icing and pipe an outline around your design as in the picture... it doesn't look pretty at this stage but the final product is a really great looking biscuit, or cookie if you will! Once you've edged your biscuits cou can then make your icing slightly runnier by adding a bit more water and then flood fill the biscuit using a piping bag with the end snipped off. You can use this to push the icing right up to the edging. If you want to make your biscuits even more special you can pipe contrasting colours on to the base layer icing and they blend in to each other like the eyes on the ghost!

Why not try some spooky cupcakes too! There are loads of great cupcake toppers available if you want some quick and easy decorations... team them with bright orange and green icing! These are some mini cupcakes from Lola's which a friend had for her Halloween party.

Tricky cheating ?

Little T and Little O had a lot of fun going around the neighbourhood to see our friends and begging asking for treats.

Little O was confusing people with his 'tricky cheating ?' instead of 'trick or treat ?'

The pumpkin results

Pumpkin carving 2011

As usual we had great fun preparing our pumpkins today. Little T even managed to be persuaded to get her hands dirty ! Little O, though, was not convinced and used a spoon...

We even had company and expert carving skills were displayed by the Bad Kamas from no 8 !