Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Y Ride

This time last year we had only just become members of our local YMCA.  I did not know much about the Y prior to then and had never been in one, but a friend had suggested we become members as we were still new in town and it was a great way to meet people.  It took several months to get around to it but finally last spring we signed ourselves up, and I must admit it was probably one of the best things we did for ourselves as a family since moving here (especially for me and the boys). 

I had only ever been a member of a gym once before in my life and I never felt comfortable there.  Getting another gym membership was not something I was interested in mainly because it was so expensive and intimidating.  But the Y is totally different, and it has been such an important place for me over this past year.  It has allowed us to do so many things as a family, and to stay healthy and active, without having to spend a lot of money.  There have been so many great programs there, both for me and for the boys, and it has allowed me to get out of the house with them and have a place to go, and keep my sanity in the meantime.  We've met so many great people and made so many new friends through our local Y.

Last spring I remember going one Saturday during the annual Y Ride and seeing all the participants cycling in the gym.  It looked like so much fun, I couldn't help but stand there watching and wishing I was a part of it.  I had never been on a spin bike before but that day I resolved that I would do it next year. 

It took me several more months after that to get up the courage to take a spin class, but once I did I was hooked.  And I have been going every week ever since.

This year I AM going to be participating in the Y Ride, at almost 6.5 months pregnant no less.  The Y Ride helps raise money to support the YMCA and all it has to offer.  Seeing as how the Y has given us so much, it only makes sense to give back.

I have to say I'm really excited for this event.  I have found a sense of community at the YMCA here that I have never experienced anywhere else.  It really is our home away from home.  The boys and I can be found there usually at least 5 days a week, and sometimes we go both in the morning and the afternoon.  Everyone is warm and friendly there.  We have always felt welcome. 

The Y Ride is on April 14th and it is a 6 hour event, though I have only signed up to cycle for 1 hour (not sure I could manage much more than that being pregnant!).  My goal is to raise a minimum of $75 but I would love to raise more. 

If anyone out there would like to donate to help me reach my goal, my personal page can be found here:  Martina's Y Ride Page

Friday, 23 March 2012

The Invites Are Out!

Finn's 2nd birthday is fast approaching and I've just finished sending out the invitations for the big day.

Normally planning the boys' birthday parties stresses me out to no end.  I am not a natural hostess, I don't really enjoy throwing parties.  I mean, it always sounds like a great idea but the work involved ends up feeling so daunting.  Last year Finn's birthday party was very stressful for me.  We hadn't lived here that long and didn't really have any friends in the area.  Pretty much all our guests were from out of town and it was hard to know if anyone was even going to bother making the trek out here to see us.  I really hated the whole planning process.  So much so that I didn't even bother throwing a party for Tristan's 3rd birthday last summer, I just wasn't ready to go through the stress again.

This time though I'm actually quite excited for the next party, mainly because we have decided to pair it with sort of a grand opening of the farm and hops yards.  Also, we have so many friends here now as well as some family, so it almost makes more sense to throw a party when you know people nearby might actually come.

We're going to have the party on the farm the first weekend in May (so a little after Finn's actual birthday, but that's fine).  I'm hoping that will be a good time for the weather to be beautiful and not rainy, but the nice thing is that even if it is a rainy day we will still have the hoop houses and barn to stay dry in.  There is plenty of room in there.  And I'm sure that the toddlers would have fun rain or shine!

I've got some great ideas for kids activities so I think all the kids will have a great time.  There may be a lot of them if most of the families I've invited show up!  At first I thought we'd be crazy to have so many kids at the party, but knowing that it will be outside makes it less scary.  There is a playground right beside the farm that the kids can play at, and there's no shortage of things to do and places to explore.  I'm sure the little boys will love sitting on the tractor!

Not sure what we're going to do about food yet for all those people but we already have a bbq at the farm so that makes it a little easier.  We can just do hot dogs and burgers with a variety of other snacks on the side.  Nice and fun and simple.  I have some ideas for what I'd like to do for cupcakes and other desserts.

Party planning is still a bit stressful, but I'm really looking forward to the event.  I hope we get some great weather, and that lots of people come out to celebrate.  I can't wait to have a fun day for my boys and especially for Finn, but I also can't wait for people to come see the farm and everything we've accomplished so far. 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Leg Hooping.... AARRRGGGHHH!!!

This is frustrating me to no end!  It looks simple enough, and actually when I first tried it weeks ago I got it (albeit only briefly) very quickly and so figured I'd have it down in no time.  Leg hooping has been the hardest thing to learn so far.  I've got a number of other things down.  Maybe not quite mastered them with much finesse, but I can do them.  I can move the hoop up and down from my hips all the way up to my chest (chest hooping wasn't easy either but it was easier than leg hooping).  I can hoop around my torso both with my arms raised or with them inside the hoop, and easily move the hoop up to my neck.  I can do a number of lifts up and down with the hoop from various places on my body.  There's a few arm hooping tricks I can do.  I'm just figuring out how to move through the hoop in different ways. 

But this leg hooping business....aarrrgggghhhhh!!  So I'm working on moving it up and down my thighs which I'm getting better at, and if it falls to my knees and I manage to catch it I can keep it there for a very short period of time before dropping it, but I can't move it down and back up again with any amount of ease.

My legs are covered in bruises.  But I will get it.  I am already better than I was, I just need to keep at it.  I will get it. 

Ok Mother Nature, You Got Me

One of my pet peeves is Canadians who are surprised about the weather.  If you have lived here for any amount of time, you know that no two years are alike and you should expect the unexpected.  Well, I eat my words.  I am genuinely surprised with the weather this spring, but pleasantly so.  Or should I say, the weather this winter.  We've had a mild winter that's for sure, but it has certainly turned into a very early and very warm spring indeed.  Here we are with still days left of 'winter', and we're getting temperatures that would be considered great for May.  It's amazing, and I'm surprised.  So I won't hold it against anyone this year if they say to me, "Can you believe the weather we're having?"

I have tempted Mother Nature and have washed all our winter stuff and put it away.  Risky, I know, but I couldn't stand having it crowding the mud room any longer.  I doubt we will be pulling out the snowsuits, and I've made sure the hats and mitts are still readily available if needed.  I'm sure we'll be using them again before spring is here for good.

It is absolutely lovely having this warm weather though and I feel as though we are very spoiled.  If/when the temperatures drop again, we'll all be complaining.  I love not having to put boots or coats on the kids.  Today they were even in shorts and t-shirts, and I was in a tank top and capris.  It's amazing, I must say.  Though I was looking forward to having less laundry to do since they're not wearing so many layers, so far that has not been the case.  It seems my children like to bath in dirt, and I have to immediately strip them down when they come in after playing in the yard or else my house would be covered in sand.  So they're actually going through just as many layers if not more at the moment. 

With all this great weather this past week we haven't even bothered going to the Y.  Partly because it's been March Break so a lot of programs have been on hold, and also because with T out of school I haven't wanted to put both boys in childminding.  But really it's been more fun to hang out in the backyard, and I find I can get a lot of my exercise done there while the boys play.  I can hoop to my heart's content out there while they're in the sandbox and not have to worry about anything.  Today I even brought my weights outside and did some exercising that way. 

I love this little prelude to spring/summer that we're getting and I hope it's here to stay.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Yummy Vegetable Soup

I love soup.  I could eat it every day, even in the middle of summer.  There is this organic vegetable soup that I would sometimes buy for lunch for the boys and I, and we all really like it.  But it gets costly buying it all the time, there would never be enough veggies in it, and I know it was loaded with salt (hence why it tasted so good!).  I tried on several occasions to make my own vegetable soup but it never tasted as good so I would just revert back to buying the store bought stuff.  Finally I think I got it, a super yummy homemade vegetable soup.

I based it loosely on this recipe that I found but ended up tweaking it depending on what veggies I had available.  I'm also pretty bad at keeping track of amounts, but this is basically how I made it today:

Vegetable Soup

1 diced potato
2 or 3 chopped carrots
1/2 chopped onion
2 stalks chopped celery
1 pint diced cherry tomatoes (or you can used canned diced tomatoes)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 can drained and rinsed kidney beans
3-4 cups vegetable juice
2-3 cups vegetable broth or water (whatever I have really)
*the amounts of liquids vary, I basically just keep adding until the pot is full
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dried herbs
1 cup cooked pasta

Put all veggies, liquids, and seasonings in a pot and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Add cooked pasta last.  You could do rice instead if desired.

This makes a huge batch so we can eat soup all week or even freeze some.  I love it because it tastes good, and it has a good variety of vegetables in it that my picky kids will actually eat.  They especially love kidney beans so I like putting them in for that reason, but you could use chickpeas instead.

You could add any veggies you want to this really, I would have put some green beans in as well if I had some, or maybe some leeks or even broccoli.

Going to eat some now!  Yum!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

It's almost planting season!

A few weeks ago the seeds we had ordered for our vegetable garden arrived and for the past few weeks we've been busy thinking about and planning how we are going to sow and plant them.  We have about 70 varieties of vegetables and some fruits that we will be sowing from seed.  Tyler went out and bought a large binder with plastic sleeves and calendar sheets so that we can organize them all and keep track of the sowing/transplanting/harvesting schedule.  It's taken a lot of thought to organize it all but we're in pretty good shape.

I've been spending lots of time familiarizing myself with all the different seeds and their needs.  I've categorized them and come up with a sowing plan so we know what seeds need to be started and transplanted when.  We'll be starting our first bunch this week.  March will actually be very busy with the majority of seeds needing to be started indoors, but there are plenty that will be started in April, May, and even throughout the summer as well.  We will pretty much constantly be sowing, transplanting or harvesting our fruits and vegetables from March through to September.

This week construction of the hoop houses began and they will be ready to go soon, however we will be starting the seeds in the basement since they will need warmer temperatures than the hoop houses can provide.  Once they are seedlings most of them can be moved into the hoop houses until they are ready to go into the ground in May.  Tyler has build a light table to go in the basement for starting the seeds. 

I am so excited for this adventure.  When I read through my books I do feel a little overwhelmed as it just all seems so complicated on paper, especially since we are ambitious and starting quite big.  But I think we'll just going to jump in and see what works, and I think between the two of us we will have enough knowledge and experience to be successful.

Some of the varieties of plants we will be growing include: onions, beets, celery, broccoli and rapini, artichokes (Tristan's favourite vegetable!), corn, cabbage, beans, peas, many types of lettuces and leafy greens, several varieties of carrot, tomatoes, and cucumber, and of course an extensive selection of herbs.  We're also going to grow melons and strawberries, as well as squash and pumpkins.  Tyler really wants to try and grow a giant pumpkin!  I've also got some sunflower seeds to plant as well just because I thought it would be nice to have some on the property, and maybe we will be able to get some more seeds out of them as well.  We're going to try growing peanuts as well.  I'm sure there are a few more vegetables I missed, we ordered a lot!  All this in addition to the hops.

Ultimately it is my goal to be able to grow almost all of our vegetables and as much fruit as we can as well (we already have apple trees on the property, as well as other berry and currant bushes).  I would like to learn how to successfully preserve our harvest through canning, drying and freezing so that we can eat our own produce year round.  We should be able to grow some stuff year round in the hoop houses as well.  It's a little scary to take all this on knowing that we will be having a new baby in the family right in the middle of the season, but hopefully together we can pull it off.

I know I'm going to be hugely pregnant soon, but it is still my hope to play as active a roll in the creation and maintenance of our vegetable gardens as I can.  Me and my belly will be out there planting and weeding as long as I can still manage it.  I'm also hoping that getting the boys involved from a young age will teach them the value of the land and what it means to grow our own food.  Maybe if I'm really lucky they will start to eat more vegetables too!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Spring is in the Air

I know we have been really lucky with our winter this year in that it was very mild and we didn't get completely buried in snow.  Well, I guess it depends on who you talk to, most of the crazy winter nuts that live in our town were hugely disappointed with how winter was this year.  I was not complaining.  I've said it before, I don't hate winter, the cold, or snow, nevertheless I quite enjoyed this past winter where it wasn't bitterly cold and I didn't have to dig my car out of 2 feet of snow everyday. 

Despite the easy winter we had I will still be happy to see the end of it and am glad that it seems to be wrapping up early.  I know technically we still have 2 weeks of the season left, but that hasn't stopped me from teaching the kids to chant "Go away winter!  Hurry up spring!" with me on a regular basis.  I'm just ready to not have to deal with so many layers just to go on the simplest of errands.

So it seems our chants have been heard, and in true Canadian form we went from -20 degrees two days ago to +15 today.  Heavenly.  There is nothing like the feeling of that first true spring-like day.  The sun was up early and it was hard to ignore the fact that it was light out when I woke up and the birds were actually singing.  There was a bit of that wicked spring wind blowing today but at least it wasn't bitterly cold.  Yep, it was a lovely 'spring' day.

I could not ignore the call of spring and so the kids and I headed out for a walk in the afternoon.  It's not like we haven't been out walking for months, because of the mild winter we had gotten out a lot more than we would of in past winters.  But today felt different.  Maybe it was because it was so warm and comfortable, and we didn't have to wear so many layers.  It might of been just the feeling that everyone was emerging from their winter hibernation.  We kept running into familiar faces, and even though they were all people we would see around all winter at the Y, it was still nice to see them outside. 

We wandered around for a bit before heading back home.  On the way home, this local man passed by us in his motorized wheelchair.  He is often out and about, cruising the streets with a very loud sound system blasting music.  I have heard him play anything and everything, from Celine Dion to Abba to Elton John to Lady Gaga.  Today as he approached I heard the most lovely song - Daydream Believer.  Not sure if he was playing it as a tribute to the late Davy Jones, or if it was just a coincidence, but I couldn't help but smile and sing along as he passed. 

What a lovely day.