Monday, July 31, 2017

The Hundts Go Canadian

Canada turned 150 this year!  Pretty sweet, eh?

I've been going to Canada for the last fifteen years to my parents' cottage on Lake Huron in Port Franks, Ontario and have grown an incredible deep love for the country and its people.  Canada has, after all, produced the only place on earth where I can fully relax.  For that, I will always be grateful.

We were not going to be at the cottage this year to celebrate Canada Day (July 1st), so we decided to celebrate it here at home and go as big as we could to show our respect and love.

It started with a joke that we were going to eat Tim Horton's, wear red and white, and say 'eh' a lot, but once I got on Pinterest looking up Canadian food recipes and reading articles about how Canadian's celebrate Canada Day, I went a little nuts ;)

I decorated, bought Canadian picture books, invited our families over, and served a few authentic Canadian dishes.

Here are a couple of things we ate...

All-Dressed Up Potato Chips:
If you have not sampled these... do.  Like now.  They are hard to find in the United States, but the ones pictured below, Ruffles brand, are sometimes at Meijer.  If you see them, buy every bag they have.  These potato chips are the best and they're even better IN Canada at Canadian grocery stores.  At our Canadian shindig, these were the first food to run out.  

Nanaimo Bars:
A Canadian dessert! Named for the town, Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, these bars did not disappoint.  I would describe them as an almond joy mixed with a custard or cream-filled chocolate doughnut.  I would've passed this recipe by if I wasn't trying to go Canadian and now I will definitely make them again.
Read about the history of the Nanaimo Bar here.
Get the recipe here.

Fresh Strawberry Cookies With White Chocolate Chunks:
While not an actual Canadian food, I had freshly picked strawberries at my house (thanks, Mom) and these delicious cookies were red and white so why not?!
Get the recipe here.

Among our other dishes were recipes that paid homage to maple syrup.  We had maple baked beans and a salad complete with a maple syrup balsamic dressing, which was one of the best dressings I've ever had.
Get the salad dressing recipe here.

That very next week, I would be chowing down on maple cheddar cheese in Canada, which was OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD.  The cheese was so good, in fact, that it was almost worth paying $12.50 Canadian (we never looked at the price tag...oops).

Celebrating Canada Day, or "Leaf Day" as my boys were calling it, will certainly be a tradition in the Hundt House.  Canada has been too good to us not to celebrate.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Boys' Birthday Bash

Carter's birthday is May 3rd...

Nolan and Judah's birthday is May 7th...

While it appears I am really good at timing things (especially being a teacher and being able to have the rest of the summer for maternity leave), you probably know from reading my blog that I can't POSSIBLY have planned any of that considering all the trouble we had with getting and staying pregnant.    

Anyway, having all your kids birthdays so close together is both a blessing and a curse.  There has never been anything going on in May for either of our families- no birthdays, no anniversaries so having these in May has given us a great reason to celebrate.  You can have shopping on your brain for everyone at the same time and then be done so that's pretty great!

Our kids are little and we are certain plans and traditions will morph and change, but so far, we have given Nolan and Judah and Carter their own first birthday party.  Nolan and Judah got that because, well, there was no Carter so we thought we better let Carter celebrate his first birthday and make that all about him too ;)  From then on, we've had a bash to honor all three birthdays at once.  

The difficult balance is trying to celebrate your children, individually, when everything happens together.  We've made sure to celebrate the actual day of birth separate in hopes that will help each boy feel special and honored on their own.  We've also decided that any presents Josh and I get them, we will have them open on their actual day of birth. 

You don't need to hear all my baggage and thoughts in reference to trying to make sure no one will have significant issues that follow them into adulthood based on how we decided to celebrate birthdays so I'll leave you with what you've already read so far ;) Making people feel individually special is SO very important- to honor each child for their own genius, their own significance in this world is imperative.

We have chosen a birthday party theme based on a book that everyone loves at the time.  

Nolan and Judah's 1st birthday- Goodnight Moon
Nolan and Judah's 2nd birthday- Goodnight Gorilla
Carter's 1st birthday- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?
Nolan and Judah's 3rd birthday- The Perfectly Messed up Story

This year, we decided on Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  She is one of our whole family's favorite authors and had just died of ovarian cancer about six weeks beforehand.  It was a beautiful way to honor her and her wonderful work after she has made such a positive impact on my boys, our family, and our love for reading... 

Read a blog I wrote about her here
Take a look at her books and then go buy them at an indie bookstore ;) here THEY ARE AWESOME!

It seemed like all our family was going to be able to come except my sister, Colleen and her husband, Nick who live in Illinois.  She called the night before to ask about the party and make sure she was staying "in the know" about everything so she could feel a part of things even if she was absent.  We were discussing food when there was honking outside.  My boys ran to look, as they always would, and started yelling that Aunt Colleen was here.  

Sure enough, her and Nick surprised all of us and came... best.surprise.ever. 

The next afternoon, we ate all kinds of spinach, peas, and candy (buy the book and read it!) and had a blast celebrating these boys.  We are so so grateful our families- having our boys get to spend time with all their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins is special and we are lucky.  

Little Pea- about a small Pea who hates candy, which he has to eat every night for dinner.

Hap-pea Birthday! 

"And they all lived hap-pea-ly ever after." 
<3 Hundt Cousins: Judah, Carter, Nolan, Harvie, and Silesia <3 

Pavona Family: Mom, Dad, four sisters, and all their dudes. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Christmas' Half Birthday

Every summer, when I was growing up, I distinctly remember seeing store commercials on TV advertising a "Christmas in July" sale. This celebration made no logical sense to me and so those commercials always irked me.  Why in July?  It wasn't anywhere near Christmas, the weather wasn't like Christmas, they weren't going to help me get excited for Christmas, and it wasn't even halfway until Christmas!  With my family's tradition of celebrating half birthdays, that part bothered me the most.  Christstmas' half birthdays was in JUNE people!  JUNE 25th is halfway to Christmas!

Now that I am continuing to give half birthdays some airtime in my own family, I've decided to celebrate "Christmas in June" right where it belongs- ON JUNE 25th!  

I shared my idea with Nolan, Judah, and Carter. My boys were completely unsurprised, but still very excited, to be presented with yet another theme day or adventure, and they couldn't wait to help me plan how we might celebrate Chrstimas' half birthday!

Here is the list of ALL the things they thought we could do:

Most of these do actually fit with how we spend our Christmas, including the Cornell playground.  The two Christmases we've spent at our new house, we've went and played at the closest elementary school on Christmas Eve.  Two years ago, it was warm enough out to walk there. 

So, we woke up on the morning of our Christmas in June and tried to knock out as many of these as possible- we had an awesome day! 

The favorite highlights were listening to Christmas music all day, decorating Christmas cookies, and watching "Elf" as a family before bedtime. 

The daily grind of parenting can be mundane sometimes- I often feel like I spend most (or all) of my day diapering, pottying, making meals, eating meals, or trying to get people to actually EAT the meals.  A colleague once told me, early in my parenting, that the days are long and the years are short with your kids.  I now believe that's one of the wisest things I've ever been told (Thanks, Shannon!).  

Sometimes I look at my watch and can't believe how many hours my kids have already been up (Nolan and Judah were deer watching out a window into the backyard this morning at 6:30 am) or how far it is away from bedtime (how am I possibly going to entertain these troops for another three hours?!).  

Then, the next thing I know, I am completely dumbfounded that I have two four-year-olds and a two-year-old because I just took them home from the hospital a minute ago.

Even though the days may seem long at times, I know how fast all of this, my life with little humans, is flying.  That's why, through all those routine-type activities, I've tried to condition myself to look for and capitalize on opportunities for a little something weird, different, strange, or exciting to sprinkle into our days together at home.  Events that can hopefully start traditions or make memories my boys will always have in their hearts.    

Creating some out-of-the-ordinary days or experiences are one of my most favorite things to do!  I hope as my boys grow, they continue to love adventures, explorations, and taking opportunities to make the mundane and light it up with joy as much as they do right now.  

Next year, on June 25th, we will certainly celebrate Chtistmas' half birthday again.  I'll be grateful to give an encore performance and grateful for another opportunity to make memories with my boys.