Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Breaking Dawn

Camping on Safari

This past weekend, I took my Guides and Pathfinders to camp at African Lion Safari!
What an amazing experience for everyone who attended.
Friday night, I got to the private campground around 5pm and began setting up tents. Normally, I would wait for the girls to arrive before setting up the tents; but, there was a break in the rain and I wanted to take advantage of being able to put up the tents without getting totally soaked.

The girls began arriving around 6pm and we were able to get a small fire going before it began to drizzle again.

By time all the girls had arrived it was time for our snack, or "mug-up" as it's referred to in the Guiding world. Pizza and hot chocolate were perfect snacks to warm up our damp bodies.
For the first time in my history as a Guide leader, all my girls were asleep by 10:30pm on the first night of camp. I'm still shocked!

Despite the early bedtime, I couldn't sleep and ended up starting my morning earlier than planned. Hearing the lions roar as they began their day was quite amazing.

Saturday turned out to be a perfect fall day. The sun was shining and the temperatures were perfect. After a quick breakfast, the Safari crew picked us up and took us over to the park. Our first adventure was the bus through the animal reserve. Turns out that being the first bus through was lucky as all the animals were out and ready to be seen.

This little brown Zebu (above), was born the day before we arrived at Safari. While a little unsteady on his legs, he got a kick out of chasing the baboon!



This giraffe wasn't afraid of our bus tour at all. In fact, he was quite curious about us coming up to the bus and lowering his neck to look in the windows at the girls; which of course sent them squealing with delight!


The KING of the jungle, cleaning his teeth after his morning meal.

After our trip through the compound, we took to the park and explored EVERYTHING.  The girls had a great time in the discovery centre, learning about endangered and extinct species (earning their Endangered Species badge along the way).  Here two of the girls check out giraffe skulls.

We then ventured out on the scenic railway tour and were fortunate to see some animals along the way.  Say "cheese"

The girls burnt off some steam in the obstacle course before we went for lunch and the elephant swim.  Afterwards, we continued our day by attending all of the shows Safari offers.  A few of the girls decided to end their day at the park with a once-in-a-lifetime, elephant ride!

Overall, we had a fabulous weekend.  It was the perfect way to start a new Guiding year and get to know the girls.  I can't wait to see what adventures lie ahead for us.




Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Football

While my computer was down, we took the twingles to their first ever football game.  I received four free tickets to the Hamilton Tiger Cats, Labour Day classic, in exchange for helping Momstown hand out Backyardigans stickers before the game.

The day was actually quite chilly and we bundled everyone up in long pants and sweaters.  Then off we went to Ivor Wynne stadium to hand out stickers.  The twins were super excited and couldn't wait for the game to start.  Mr. Twingle and I thought their enthusiasm wouldn't be long lived as the game didn't start until 1pm and we had to be there for 11am.  However, what we didn't know is that there were going to be activities for kids to keep them occupied.

Even Pickle got in on the action, trying out her first bouncy castle!  Which, by the way, she thought was AWESOME.  She really got mad when we had to leave.


Boo decided he wanted to be a TiCat fan unlike me.  I'm an Argos fan so it's probably a good thing the TiCats weren't playing the Argos as they usually do on Labour Day.  Instead they played the Montreal Alouettes.  


When it was finally game time, we learned that we had seats in the VIP tents in the end zone!  We got free food and a great view of the game.  Here Boo & Pretty pose in front of the gate separating us from the field.

The TiCats set up a play.

Pretty was SO excited to pose with a TiCat cheerleader.

Overall, we had an awesome day.  We had to leave with about 7 minutes left in the game as Pickle was overtired and super crabby.  It was probably good to leave early and beat the crowds all trying to get out at the same time.  
The kids are already asking when we can go again?  Maybe next time I'll take them to an Argos game instead :p

Apple Picking

This past weekend we embarked on a family tradition and went apple picking at Frootogo farm in Waterdown.
The weather was absolutely perfect. Warm and sunny with a cool Fall breeze. We couldn't have asked for a better day!

The kids were super excited to be out in the fresh air and at the farm in general, even Pickle couldn't contain her excitement.  We grabbed a wagon and a bushel to collect our apples (before they were gone) and headed over to the animal pens.  Pickle was quite enthralled by the rabbits; but, not so much so that she didn't want to leave.  When we told her it was time to go, she immediately hopped back in the wagon, excited for her next adventure!


For those of you who haven't been to Frootogo, they have an AWESOME play area for the kids.  Climbers, slides, swings, a giant sandbox, bales of hay and a corn maze are just a few of the fun things for the kids to do.  Before we got to work, we let the kids burn off some of their sillies in the play area.  While Mr. Twingle took the twins through the corn maze, Pickle ran from slide to slide and car to car, unsure of what to do first.



 We finally decided to try and find Daddy and the twins in the corn maze; but, not before Pickle found a plastic chair that she decided HAD to come with her.  She carried it all the way through the maze, only tripping over it twice!

I couldn't help snapping a picture of these beautiful sunflowers.  They were scattered all over the play area adding pops of colour here and there.


As we were rounding up the kids to head into the orchard, Pickle spotted the giant wood painted characters from Winnie the Pooh.  She made a beeline calling "Tiggie, Pigget, POOOH!".  You can see by the picture, just how large they are in comparison.

We couldn't leave without a hug for "Pigget".

Finally, what we came to the farm for:  apples!  We picked two varieties, Cortland and Macintosh.  These are the Corts.  Aren't they purdy?  We picked two bushels of these to make apple sauce, pies, crisps and any other apple baked dish we desired.

Pickle though apple picking was great.  I think she helped herself to five or six apples.  Every time she turned around she had a new one in her hand.


If you haven't done so already, you should definitely check out Frootogo and start your own family tradition!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Back to School and Other Stuff

With my computer being down I didn't get to post about all the new beginnings this fall. 

Of course, perhaps the biggest is back to school.  The twins begin grade 2 this year and for the first time ever, they are in separate classes!  Pretty is in a grade 2/3 split class while Boo is in a straight gr. 2.  Pretty has been concerned all summer that she is going to have to work harder than Boo because she has the older kids in her class; but, a week and a half in and Boo is the only one bringing homework home!  

It's also been exciting for them since they get to take a school bus to school now.  The school board FINALLY honoured my request for a bus route.  There is no possible way the twins could walk the 12.2 km to school every day and after three years of driving them I'm happy that my gas bill will go down.

Here are some pics from their first day!

 Waiting for the bus



 Waiting for the bus to arrive at the school



 Lining up to go in

Home again, home again

Simple Things

It's a chilly morning in Southern Ontario.  Temperatures dipped to 4°C overnight and it's not much warmer now.  I'm not complaining though as I LOVE the Fall (I think I may have mentioned that once or twice before!)

What exactly do I love about this time of year?  Let's see...there's the new beginnings of a school year and Guiding year.  The crispness in the air and the beautiful bright colours of leaves changing all around us.  The apples and pears in the orchards begging to be picked and turned into pies, crisps, cakes and sauces.  Squashes and pumpkins baked in an oven and mashed to perfection are divine with any meal; and they make great centrepieces too!

For Canadians, Fall is a time of Thanksgiving as we celebrate, with bountiful harvests, in October and thank a Divine being for these gifts.

It's these simple things that I draw so much comfort and happiness from.  Yes, I know that may sound hokey; but, it's true.

As I type this, the twins are on their bus en route to school and Pickle is still asleep.  I'm enjoying the quiet of the chilly morning with a hot cup of coffee and blanket wrapped around me.  The only thing that could make this perfect Fall day better would be if my gas fireplace wasn't shut off due to the baby and I might be able to enjoy my coffee by the fire.

I hope you too can find the joy and comfort in the simple things.

Blessed Be.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Breakfast Made Easy and a Giveaway!

As a mom of three, trying to get the kids moving in the morning for school can be difficult.  You need to get them up and dressed, fed and out the door.  Usually within a relatively short amount of time.

Our mornings start at 6:00am when my alarm goes off.  I get up and get myself dressed; then wake up the twins.  I "try" to keep them quiet so they don't wake Pickle; but, that doesn't always work.  Thankfully, at almost 7 years old, the twins can dress themselves with the clothes I laid out for them the night before.

By about 6:20, I'm in the kitchen fixing breakfast and making lunches.  One of my biggest struggles is providing them with a quick yet healthy breakfast to start their day off right.  Which is why I'm so excited to have found FarmRich French Toast Sticks.  The twins LOVE them and they are so easy to make.  I try to limit the amount of food I actually cook in the microwave, so I do cook these in the oven; but, they only take 10minutes!  We've tried both the original and the cinnamon varieties and both are a hit!
The mom in me likes that they contain 11 nutrients and minerals, are a good source of calcium and Vitamin D and that all three of the kids will devour them!
Now that I know how good the French Toast Sticks are, I can't wait to try some of their other snacks...the mozzarella sticks look especially yummy!

"Farm Rich is always there for moms, with wholesome, easy-to-prepare snacks sure to please the entire family" The wonderful people at FarmRich are going to provide two (2) lucky readers with a coupon for a FREE product of your choice so you too can try something from their product line.

MANDATORY ENTRY

Visit FarmRich and tell me which product you're most interested in trying (1 entry)

OPTIONAL ENTRIES

Follow my blog on GFC, the link is on the right.  Leave me a comment (1 entry)
"Like" me on Facebook, leave me a comment with your Facebook name (1 entry)
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Tweet the following "Win FREE product from FarmRich & @twinglegal, ends 9/30 8pm EST http://bit.ly/r59uRF", leave me the link to the tweet. (1 tweet/day = 1 entry/day)

Disclosure: FarmRich provided me with a FREE product coupon to try their product and write this review.


Giveaway is open to both Canadian and US residents and will run until Sept 30 at 8:00pm EST.
Good luck to everyone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Hubby is Smarter Than a Genius

I am the first person to rave about all things Apple!

Between Mr. Twingle and myself, we own an iMac, MacBook Pro, 2x iPhone4, 2x iPhone 3G, a first generation iPhone, 2x iPod Nano and AppleTV.  Yes, we LOVE Apple.

Apple has an awesome reputation, not just for their products; but, for their customer service too.

And that is why I am so unbelievably frustrated by the events of this past week.  As I mentioned briefly on my Facebook page, my iMac "blew up" the Friday of the Labour Day weekend.  I was working on a blog post, when the computer randomly shut down.  This was an annoying, yet not new occurrence, so I didn't think anything of it.  I let it sit and then tried to turn it back on as I have many times before.  But unlike previous times, there was a very loud fan noise, followed by a "pop" and cloud of dark grey smoke out of the vent.  YIKES!
I immediately unplugged the computer and and booked an appointment from my iPhone for the Genius Bar at the new Apple Store in Mapleview Centre, Burlington.

Mr. Twingle and I took the computer in on Sunday for our scheduled appointment.  We explained the situation to our Genius and waited to see what he thought.  He wanted to run a diagnostic so he turned on the computer and to everyone's surprise, it started without problem!  The Genius ran a short diagnostic which reported that everything was perfect.  However, given the fact that the machine had "blown up" at me, he wanted to keep it to run a more in-depth diagnostic.  He checked in the machine with a timeline of completing it later that day, or Tuesday (Monday was the holiday) at the latest.  Mr. Twingle and I happily left believing we would know more by Tuesday and hoped it wouldn't be anything too serious.

When I didn't hear anything by end of day on Sunday, I figured they were busy with the long-weekend and only having opened the previous day and would give them till Tuesday, no problem.

Tuesday evening rolls around and I still haven't heard anything from the Apple Store, so I call looking for an update.  Since the Geniuses are busy at the Genius Bar, a receptionist takes my information and lets me know that a Genius will get back to me...or NOT.
Wednesday afternoon...still no call, so I call again and I'm again told that someone will get back to me today with the information.
By Thursday, I'm PISSED.  We were supposed to know what was happening by Tuesday at the latest and after two calls and two promises someone would get back to me I still hadn't heard anything.  So I call again and this time I tell them this is my THIRD follow up and I would like an answer.  I'm put on hold for an indeterminable amount of time before the receptionist comes back on the line to say "they haven't even looked at it, and it would be another 24-48 hours".

WTF?!?

Friday...I still haven't heard anything and out of concern that perhaps I'm getting the runaround because I'm a woman, I had Mr. Twingle call the store.  Unfortunately, he didn't get much further than I had.  The weekend comes and goes and my "same-day service" has become a week so Mr. Twingle and I go to the store in-person, Monday morning.

We spoke to Brandon, one of the managers and had him look into things.  There seems to be conflicting stories, not just on the phone; but, in person too.  One person, before meeting Brandon, had told us that there were two computers in for repair under the same last name so the techs were confused.  Brandon then told us that on Sunday when we brought our machine in, there systems were down.  So when they entered the information when they came back up, ours was put into the wrong queue and no one knew why our machine was still sitting there until we started calling, repeatedly.
Apparently, once they started working on our computer, they could not duplicate the problem.  The computer turned on as it should, everything ran properly.  When they took it apart, they couldn't find any instance of components blowing and there conclusion was that my computer blew because we own a cat.  Yep, my iMac had a hairball.  I kid you not...that was their explanation for what happened.  According to Brandon, their recommended course of action was to wipe the computer's hard-drive and reinstall the OS; oh, and he was going to install the updated Lion for free for all our trouble.

Not exactly what Mr. Twingle and I wanted to hear.  A computer doesn't go poof because of some cat hair; but, okay whatever.  Our Genius wasn't in at that particular junction, so Brandon recommended talking to him directly that afternoon when his shift started.  We were told the Genius would call us around 1:30pm since he started at 1:00.  Can you guess what happened?  We didn't get a call.  Mr. Twingle called at 3:00 and spoke to our Genius who confirmed everything Brandon had relayed.  He offered to do the back up and install more RAM as well; but, I had to bring an external drive and RAM to them since they don't sell RAM and don't typically back-up machines for people.
I trekked all three kids out to buy RAM and drop it off, along with the external drive for the back-up on Monday evening around 6:30.  I left figuring they couldn't do it while I waited, so it would be ready sometime Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, yesterday, I called around 10am just to see where things stood.  I was told that they had completed the service and were just transferring the data back onto the machine and it would be ready that evening.  GREAT!  I relayed the information to Mr. Twingle and asked him to stop by to pick it up on his way home from work.
At 3:00, just before Mr. Twingle was scheduled to leave work, I called the Apple store again, just to be certain that it was ready and I was told that everything was done and we could pick up the machine at any time.  WAHOO!

OR NOT

Apparently at 2:00, while Mr. Twingle was in a meeting and couldn't answer his phone, the Genius called him to tell him that the RAM was the wrong speed and the computer was rejecting it, so they couldn't finish.  Mr. Twingle, calls to see what's going on since we're being given two different answers and confirms that they haven't fixed the computer because the RAM is the wrong speed.

We are LIVID and tired of the bullshit.  Mr. Twingle picks up the computer on his way home anyway since the Geniuses' can't seem to get it fixed.

After 20 minutes on YouTube, Mr. Twingle was able to take the computer apart, verify that there wasn't anything blown, clean out the computer, reassemble it and install the RAM; which was the right speed and works just fine, thank you very much.  Proving that my husband is smarter than a Genius.

I've never been so disappointed by a service in all my life.  Not only could the "Geniuses" not locate or fix the problem, their customer service SUCKS.  I would strongly advise against taking your machines to the Genius Bar at Mapleview Centre anytime soon.

I'm Back

After a week and a half without my computer, I'm back online.

You may see an abundance of posts today as I try to catch up on events and thoughts from the past weeks events.

Happy reading!

Young Girls Target of Sexualized Marketing

A week and a half ago, the internet blew up with blog posts and news articles about the shirt being sold at JC Penny in the United States.  The shirt, pictured below, basically tells girls that they don't require brains, just good looks to get by in life.

One of the articles, from Think Progress, I read actually had an interesting point of view and made me realize, that it's not just shirts with inappropriate slogans that are the problem.

My, almost, seven year old daughter wears a lot of jeans and track pants because skirts and dresses are cut SO short that her ass cheeks hang out the bottom.  Even shirts can be a problem, cut so tight they don't leave anything to the imagination.  While some parents may not have a problem with this, I do.  It is unacceptable, at any age, to wear your skirts and dresses so short you're showing off your girlie bits, a la Paris Hilton.  

Sexualized marketing has been around for a long time.  Basically, once advertising guru's caught onto the fact that sex sells, everything revolved around that image. 

Teaching young girls to respect and love themselves no matter what is a constant battle and why companies like Dove are well aware of this and have developed marketing and self-esteem campaigns for girls and women alike.

I think more companies need to take this approach.  Use a model that isn't a size 0; but, a size 14 (which actually happens to be the average size of women in North America).  Stop airbrushing ads to make the models look flawless...as no true woman looks like that.

Help teach our young women that being smart, loving yourself and being healthy is what matters most.  Good looks will eventually disappear; but, a sound mind you can build on forever.
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NOTE:  I was actually working on this post when my computer blew up.  I had originally planned on publishing this post the day after the controversy.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Parenting the Lazy Mom Way: What is a Lazy Mom?

What is a Lazy Mom exactly?

Well I'm so glad you asked.

The short and skinny of it is this... a Lazy Mom is a mom who doesn't do everything for her children, she teaches her children how to do things for themselves, thereby making her a "lazy mom."
She raises her children to be responsible for themselves.
She teaches them to be ready for life when they grow up.
She gives her children boundaries so they feel safe and secure.
She doesn't let them "rule the roost."
She builds within them a "team" mentality.
She takes care of herself so that she can be a better mom.
She loves her children so she disciplines them when necessary.
She leads her children by example.

But a Lazy Mom also...
Makes mistakes along the way.
Doesn't always get things done around the house.
Sometimes fails at this thing called mothering.
Apologizes to her kids when she gets it wrong.
Struggles over whether or not she's a "good mom" just like everyone else.
Prays for wisdom and guidance as she raises her children.
Realizes she can't do it alone.

Being a mom sure isn't easy, is it?  It takes lots of hard work, dedication, consistancy and pretty much, blood, sweat and tears (lots of tears!)... but remember, if you put a little effort in now, then later you can be lazy....

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Thank you to Stacey from I'm a Lazy Mom for the wonderful guest post.  I'm definitely what she defines as a lazy mom and I'm proud to admit it.
Please hop over to I'm a Lazy Mom to read some of Stacey's other witty insights and don't forget to enter her giveaway for an Amazon Kindle and $80 Amazon gift card.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My First Attempt at Cake Pops

So the big rage right now seems to be cake pops.  Balls of cake dipped in candy melts made to look like various themed people, places and things.

Harry Potter Golden Snitch Sticker Kit (Miniature Editions Kit)As you may know from previous posts, I'm throwing the twins a Harry Potter themed birthday party this fall.  I found a great recipe for "golden snitch" cake pops on Mugglenet so I thought I'd give them a try.

Now this recipe calls for the use of fondant, which I've never used before.  So in order to not massacre the twins' birthday cake pops, I thought I'd make a trial batch first. 

I gotta tell you, while cake pops are super cute, they are not super easy to make.  The baking part was fine, even the mixing of the icing in with the crumbled cake was fine...messy, but easy enough.  I even got the sticks in them without problem.

I ran into problems when trying to dip the cake balls into the candy melts to coat them.  For some reason, despite following instructions, my cake balls kept crumbling off the stick.  I have no idea where I went wrong.  I'm definitely glad I decided to do a trial run first.

I gave up coating them and just let the kids eat the unfinished cake pops.  The good news is, they tasted delicious.  Bad news...I'm not sure I'm ready to take on this challenge for the party.  I may have to come up with another Harry Potter themed cake idea.