Meet Reuben. Our 8-year-old Australian shepherd "puppy".

Reuben is many things to us. He's Brandon's first dog and our first "baby". He's part of the reason for a big break up in our dating years (so maybe it's not fair to blame the dog...hmmm). He cuts our vacations short, makes us seek out campgrounds that will accept dogs (Quebec is the worst place for that) . He's a bit (ok... a lot) of a spaz and if he loves you... he LOVES you. He's a garbage can and will consume anything that even resembles food (made himself really sick one year when he ate 20 kilos of Belgian chocolate on Christmas eve!) He's also the reason you'll find us (yes... all of 4 of us) out walking around our neighbourhood twice a day (I could write a whole other post about the benefits of those daily walks...)!

Summer 2006

Poor Reuben has been demoted significantly in the last 2 1/2 years (the timing of which coincidentally coincides perfectly with the birth of Layla... interesting). For as much as I complain about that fact that he's becoming more and more annoying - I have to admit that I think he's adjusted quite nicely to the two new faces that have been added to our family.

Before bringing Layla home - we were a little nervous (or I was... Brandon is rarely nervous about anything) about how he would react to the new baby. He was already 5 years old. He'd been (for all intents and purposes) our "baby" for his entire life. He wasn't used to kids, let alone newborns. What would he do if the baby cried for hours on end?

Winter 2008

So when we were ready to come home from the hospital, we had a strategy straight out of the "dog whisperer" to introduce Reuben to the new little one (that would replace him, usurp him and demote his place in the family forever - poor pup). I'm not sure that the dog whisperer technique had anything to do with it, but if my memory serves me right, everything went well. At first he was curious... and once he realized how little a newborn actually does (or moves for that matter) - he lost interest.

When the baby cried he would simply follow me around and poke at me as if to say "shouldn't you do something about this?". When the baby spat-up (and Layla was a spitter!) he would follow me around and clean up the mess left behind (I know... this is gross... but it sure beat having to clean it up myself!)

Winter 2009
And now we've gone and added another baby to the family. Meaghan's arrival pushed Reuben down another notch... poor pup (!)

Nowadays it's not always so peaceful (or fun) for him. Layla sits on him. Meaghan has started to grab at his fur. Our walks don't include a lot of play time for him and are often really slow (because Layla insists on walking of course). He kind of gets forgotten in all the business of taking care of the house and the girls... And then when he misbehaves Brandon and I have less patience with him....

He's a good dog. A clean dog. A loyal dog. I think I take all that for granted. And though I get annoyed with him now, I know I'll miss him when he's gone. There will never be another "Reuben". His little dog life is weaved in and out of the last 8 years of my relationship with Brandon. He's shared a lot of important moments with us (and has comforted me more than once when I cried)... sigh... I need to remember to love him more...

I'm going to go and hug my dog now.


Blushing in the ER

What a week it's been.

I did my first two book parties this week. One of which I hosted (and had me cleaning the house and baking along with the regular preparation for the book presentation), the other of which was completely in french.

Friday was supposed to be a relaxing day with the girls at home...

At 10 a.m., we were all still in our pyjamas when Meaghan started to stir about 1/2 way through her morning nap (unusual for her). After letting her grumble and whine for a little bit in hopes that she would roll over and go back to sleep for another 30-45 minutes, I gave in and went to check on her.

As I bent over her crib to soothe her - something shiny caught my attention from the corner of my eye...

An earring back was lying in the middle of her change table and there was no actual earring to be found.

In a split second I was thinking..."Where is it? When did she lose it? Last night? This morning? I'm sure she had them in this morning. Yes, she did. I cleaned them this morning. Maybe I loosened the back when I cleaned them? Maybe the earring only fell out later? Maybe it came off when we were outside? Maybe it was still in when I put her down for her nap? and... oh my goodness... Could she have taken it out and somehow swallowed it?"


Then began the frantic search. Move the change table pad, no not there. Check the clothes in the laundry basket next to it, nope. Pyjamas off, not there either. Lift the crib mattress, move the crib, check her polar, hat, etc... no, no, no, no...


What if she did swallow it? Is it small enough to pass? Could it get stuck? Could it hurt her?

Time to call Info-Santé.

They only confirmed what I thought. Chances were very small that she would have actually swallowed it, but it's better to be safe than sorry so it would be a good idea to take her in to the ER and have an X-ray done to look for the missing earring.

On a side note here... I normally pride myself on being a very "chill" mom. When Layla was a baby, a lot of people commented on how calm I was for a first time mom. I was just comfortable with babies (and even more so with my own) and wasn't really prone to panic. It turns out I'm a completely normal mom... and I do panic sometimes :-P

So... to finish my story (and you can only imagine how it ends from the title and the previous paragraph)...

After calling around to find someone to watch Layla (thank you Aimée!), packing a quick bag for Meaghan and putting on some more decent clothes (including a bra... remember, we were still in pyjamas!) I dropped Layla off and made my way to the local ER (Charles Lemoyne).

On my way there, I was thinking... this is probably all for nothing... but I still couldn't help those bad/panic thoughts from going to absolute worse case scenarios. What IF she did swallow it? What do they do? Pump her stomach? Give her something to make it pass? would surgery be necessary? Picturing my sweet little Meaghan with tubes and who knows what else sticking out of her did not serve to calm my nerves as I tried to stay within the speed limit! Sigh.

So when we arrived at the ER we wait for almost 30 minutes just to go through the "triage" (no idea what you call this in English). When the nurse went to take her temperature (and her diaper was removed to have a more accurate temperature reading)... what catches my eye?

A shiny little earring! Right under her little bum!



Blood rushing to my cheeks as I sheepishly look at the nurse and say..."Je l'ai trouvé...uh... merci quand même..."

And then I collected my things and went to pay for parking. $4.75 completely wasted!

Better safe than sorry --- I know. Still - how embarrassing!


Books, books and more... books!

"For everything there is a season" - right? Right. Well THIS season in my life seems to be all about re-discovering me, who I am, what I can do, what I want to do. This blog is a part of that. Attending a home-church is a part of that. My new exercise regime is a part of that. Trying new things is a part of that. One such new thing...

Some of the books on display for last night's party

I've recently decided to try my hand as an Usborne Books at Home Consultant. I discovered these AMAZING children's books when Layla was barely 6-months old and I hosted my very first "book party" (think Tupperware party but with a gazillion cool books for kids instead!). I love the books and I love "girl" nights so when my good friend (who's been a consultant for 3 years now) told me about a great deal to buy the start up kit I said to myself "why not? I'm on mat leave... I have a little extra time... I can do this". And although I obviously have a supervisor, when it comes to Usborne, I get to be my own boss, choose my own hours, decide how much time I'm willing to put in (which in turn will decide how much I get out of it).

So, after receiving my starter kit (hundreds of dollars of books at drastically reduced prices) a couple weeks ago and borrowing a bunch of other books from my supervisor - I officially hosted my first "book party" last night.

Looking through the books as I was preparing for the party totally takes me back to my childhood and gets me excited about the years to come with Layla and Meaghan. I don't remember a time in my life where I didn't enjoy reading and I hope to pass on that passion and interest to my girls. I also can't wait to do some of the arts & crafts or baking that I've been peeking at in Usborne's activity books. So much fun to come!

Layla was pretty excited about all the books set up in the living room...

So back to last night's book party...

Although I'm definitely new at it and I don't know everything there is to know about the books yet, I think it went really well. In terms of sales it was a HUGE success (thank-you, thank-you, thank-you to all my lovely guests!) I think a few of the girls are going to be hooked on the books! I also got the chance to re-connect with some people I haven't seen in YEARS. I'm convinced that motherhood gives you a whole new slew of things to connect on (ie. the 5-6 months post-partum hair loss... gross... I know!)

So far the best things about becoming an Usborne consultant are...

1. I get free books (huge benefit for my girls!)

2. I get to have regular girls nights (albeit eventually I hope it will be with ladies I don't already know... my friends can only buy so many books!)

3. I get to meet and connect with new people

The only down-side... I haven't worked out since Monday (and I was being so good...)! But I (and more importantly my girls) will have lots of new books to check out as soon as my order arrives... and I don't think a few days off will erase all the hard work from the last few months. Come on. Cut me some slack................ OK OK so maybe I have to cut me some slack too...


Happy moments

Since Meaghan is fast approaching her 5-month birthday I'm a little late with this post.

Still - I want to share some of my favorites from the newborn photoshoot that we did 1 week after Meaghan was born (last April).

Meaghan Marie Rodgers (Born on April 25, 2009 at 8:30 p.m. - 8 lbs 2 oz)

The pictures were taken by Leino Olé (Esto-Image) - a very talented local photographer who works out of his studio in Saint Lambert, Quebec. Leino has shared in a lot of our most precious moments since shooting our wedding pictures in June 2004 (our wedding, my first pregnancy, Layla's newborn and 6-months pics, our Christmas 2008 family picture and now Meaghan's newborn pictures). He's also become a very good friend of ours.

Sisters - Meaghan and Layla (1 week and 2 years old)

His specialty is maternity and newborn pictures and he's really good at what he does (If you aren't sold on the few pictures I've posted here, you can check out more of what he does on his website at

Meaghan with her Dad - She got him really good while he held her for this series of shots...

As you may imagine - taking pictures of a newborn AND a two-year old is an interesting challenge... not to mention making a 1-week postpartum mom look somewhat "good" (!)

Smiling with my new little (happy to be holding her. happy to NOT be pregnant anymore!)

When we entered his studio on a cool spring morning, it was toasty and warm (this is mostly due to the fact that the little one ends up completely naked for much of the shoot!). There were lots of toys to entertain Layla while Brandon and Meaghan got set up for the first series of pictures. Leino made everyone feel comfortable and even complimented my shrinking figure (let's not even pretend that this was based on reality... as I was still sporting a fairly round belly and behind!)
Leino really took the time necessary - breaking for feedings and messes (...with no diaper, I got peed on at least twice and Brandon got a lovely mixture of both... a few times... poor Dad? ha! Let's just remember for a moment who had barely one-week earlier pushed out an 8lb + baby with NO epidural...).

The complete "Rodgers" family - Brandon and his girls!

Obviously we were thrilled with the results. Such precious moments... such precious pictures.
In years to come... it's the pictures that we have (like these) that will help to trigger the snapshots of our past that are/will be stored in my memory.
In years to come... I'd like to think that Layla and Meaghan will enjoy pulling out the "old" albums to look at the pictures that tell the story(ies) of our family... wondering what their parents were like before they were around... wondering what they were like "before" they can remember... and triggering some of the snapshots of moments that are still to come and that will one day make up our most precious memories... hmm...
I'm sure I'll be pulling out the old albums too.

Be careful what you say...

I always knew this day would come.

What day?

The day that my sweet Layla says something awful to me... and I cringe... because I know she's simply repeating something she heard "Mommy" say.

My little "Angel"


I'm not even someone who swears a lot! And since Layla was old enough to understand me (and start repeating my words) I've certainly made an effort to clean up the few slanderous words or phrases that I've been know to use from time to time.

But words like "stupid" and "kill" are somehow still a normal part of my vocabulary.

Sigh... (yes... I'm sighing again...)

"That's so stupid" or "he's going to kill me"... I don't even think twice when I say it...

Now I know better. Life is a learning process. MOTHERHOOD is a learning process. Lessons from my childhood - such as "think before you speak" are all coming back to me now. I now know that I have to think AT LEAST TWICE before I talk :-)

So... what did happen? what awful thing did Layla say to me?




"I'm going to kill you Mom"




WHAT did my two-year old just say to me?

I racked my brain to figure out where she would have heard something like that... why she would say something so awful... and I cringed...

Earlier that day I did something (let's keep some things personal...) that would normally really bother her Dad. I came away from that saying "Oh boy... Your dad is going to kill me".

Before you judge me (I can hear the tongue clicking already)... let me just say that I KNOW. Obviously I shouldn't have said this to a 2-year old. Even if she doesn't understand what the word "kill" means, it was a definite faux-pas and I knew it the split second after it came out of my mouth. A split-second too late.

To finish my story... and redeem my daughter (I won't even try to redeem myself on this one) this all happened while we were in the car. Layla was chatting away on the back seat and started to "pretend" scold me. "You're in trouble Mom... I'm not happy..." (once again mimicking me and repeating the type of things I would say if she were in trouble - you should hear her tone and see her facial expressions when she's doing this... HI-LA-RI-OUS) and I think that (in her two-year old reasoning) she associated what I had said earlier that day "he's going to kill me" with a more familiar phrase "I'm in trouble"... and so... it just came out.

At least it was in the car. A little less embarassing than if she'd said it in the store or in front of friends (though now I AM sharing it with anyone who wants to read about it...)

Hopefully we nipped that in the butt with the following little speech: "Sweetie, you can't say that. It's really not very nice. Mamma never should have said that earlier".

Now let's just hope she never says that again... and never ever thinks that she means it (!)



Fill the Deep Freeze!

It's been a long time coming.

A few years ago, we played around (pretty seriously) with the idea of buying a farm, raising beef cattle, lamb and wild boar and marketing to individual customers and restaurants in the Montreal area. Suffice to say, we never bought the farm or got into the "meat" business but it got us thinking of the possibility of buying our own meat (or at least some of it) straight from the source - and supporting local farmers.

First the beef.

It so happens that Brandon's cousin has started beef farming. He's working on the farm that's been in the family for many generations and his cows are grass fed (and antibiotics free). We decided this past summer to buy a cow. Since we had no idea how much meat this would actually mean... we split it with another family. You can read all about their experience in The Beef Chronicles - a series of posts on my friend Aimée's blog -Under the High Chair.

We're thrilled with the taste and quality of the meat... and we spent yesterday checking out the Richmond Fair... made some new contacts... and so now...

We've put in an order for lamb.
I realize not everyone is crazy about lamb meat and as I'm sure some of you are picturing a fuzzy little lamb - but the lamb we're buying isn't small and cute. We're supposed to be getting 70 lbs of meat!

Now... I don't consider myself a professional cook or anything but I know what to do with beef - it's familiar. Lamb on the other hand... I think I've only ever purchased it pre-seasoned from Costco and then cooked it on the BBQ. What the heck am I going to do with 70 lbs and a variety of cuts of this unfamiliar meat? I'm already looking for recipe ideas (picked up a couple recipe cards at IGA yesterday)... and if you know of anything that's simple and good, pass it on over!

Good thing we now have a deep freeze in the workshop! It'll be quite full when we pack 70 lbs of lamb meat in there with the 100+ lbs of beef we still have left to cook up...


365 days in a year...

Have you heard of a 365 project before?

The first I heard of this type of thing was when one of my husband's colleagues was going to take a picture every day for 365 days... cataloguing her year and exploring her interest in photography (I presume).

It has me thinking. What could I do for 365 days? What kind of venture could I undertake...?

The new movie "Julie & Julia" (which I haven't seen, but I think I get the idea from the previews) has Julie blogging about her experiences in the kitchen - cooking through Julia Child's cookbook - in 365 days... that's an interesting idea but quite the undertaking.

With my girls, my projects around the house and I have to think "possible", I have to think "realistic".

I could try the picture idea. It's totally doable and it would be very interesting to look back over a year's worth of daily pictures... and I could make a calendar for the following year (how practical!)

I love the idea of cooking (or baking)... but maybe it would be more realistic to try a "52" project... and try a new recipe every week. I could call it... "52 Thursdays" (or something wittier perhaps).

So... pictures? food? hmmm... what about exercise?

Or maybe there are lists out there (already thought up) that give you ideas of tasks to accomplish over 365 days?

The wheels are turning on this one. If you have any ideas for me... please share!


Opposites attract

Opposites attract.

I have a little trouble with this cliché/catch phrase. On one hand, I totally believe that it's true. I live it. Especially on the days where I look at Brandon and wonder... WE ARE SO DIFFERENT... how in the world did "we" happen? How did this man become the love of my life? On the other hand, I don't think the idea that opposites attract tells the whole story. The reason that Brandon and I "work" is because yes, we're different, but we're also very much the same... especially where and when it counts - at the core.

When I met Brandon in grade 10... He was the quarterback, the smart guy, tall-dark-handsome. He was popular and had a gazillion (girl!) friends. He was sarcastic and witty - challenging. I fell for him. I fell hard. It seemed simple enough at the time. The biggest reason I liked him probably being how much HE liked ME. HE was crazy about me (or at least made me feel that way). A guy who had dated so many girls but never stuck it out for more than a few weeks. He pursued ME. A guy who I knew the name of since the first week of grade 7... but who only "saw" me, "knew" me four years later... He was "in love" with ME. (hello!?!?)

That was 11 years ago now. A lot has changed since then. WE have changed since then. Graduating high school, going on to college together, heading to different Universities, developing new passions and interests, breaking up, getting back together, fighting (a lot... too much at times), making up, doing the long distance thing (ok ok... only for a few months!), buying our first place, getting married, pursuing more school, starting a career, buying our second place, pregnancy, quitting school (me), continuing more school (Brandon), another pregnancy, another home...

11 years ago I thought we were different. I thought it was things like I was more outgoing than he was. I was a little more eccentric or wild (and I'm really neither...). I could sing, he couldn't (it turns out he can carry a note or two). Funny. In the end he's often better at being sociable than I am and as for being wild... let's just say that 11 years ago I didn't know that he would one day start dragging me to reptile expositions and want to build a "pet" room in the basement!

Don't get me wrong. I would still say that we are very different and that our strengths (and weaknesses) compliment one another. HOWEVER.... I'm starting to see that we're actually very similar. At the core we are the same. When it comes to the important things in life. Faith. Family. Finances. (etc) we have very similar approaches, very similar hopes and dreams. I may still dream to star in Broadway one day (not even close to being on his list of things to do in this life) or to have a cottage on the water (I think he'd prefer a hobby farm) and we may not agree when it comes to decor or wardrobe decisions... but when it comes to how we want to raise our girls, how we want to handle our finances or what we believe... when it comes to our "world view" we are on the same page. I am certain that this is the glue (along with our insatiable attraction for each other!) that keeps us together... and happy at that.

S0 yeah, opposites attract. As long as you're the same in enough of the important areas (!) Or at least that's how it seems to work for me.


Our wedding day. Over five years ago now.

What a great summer!

I am so tired of hearing people complain about what a crappy summer we've had in Montreal this year. I'm starting to feel like I'm the only one who actually enjoyed the summer - weather and all. In fact - not only did I really enjoy the last couple of months - I would say that it was one of my more memorable summers.

So... it wasn't really hot. I am well aware of this - especially after having a new pool installed in May! Had I known that it would be a cool and rainy summer, I may have tried a little harder to convince Brandon to put off buying a pool until next summer. As it turned out, our little pool only saw temperatures over 80 degrees for a couple of days in August. Still - we used it all summer (pretty much daily), it was always very refreshing (68 is sounding quite familiar) and as of a couple weeks ago, Layla is now confident enough to swim around on her own (with her floaties on of course!)... and that is kind of exciting for me.

Lot and lots of time with Brandon and the girls. Although Brandon did some tutoring and took on a brief summer school class over the last couple months - he was around A LOT - and I think I love him more for it. Our morning routine with the girls was smooth and relaxed... perfected by the time school was starting over for another year. Brandon would feed Layla her breakfast, I would feed Meaghan... we'd sit all together as a family, reading the paper, chatting with Layla, savouring my coffee... mmmmm... so nice.

My sweet little girls have morphed and transformed over the summer months. It's hard to believe, but Meaghan is already four months old and (as per my last post) sleeping nice long nights as of mid-August. She's cooing and laughing, reaching for her toes, rolling over... and chewing on anything in reach (what can I say? these are the things that totally excite me these days!)... Layla... oh my goodness... full sentences, running (without falling) along the sidewalk, going face-first down the slide at the park and swimming with JUST floaties! She's developing this weird and quirky sense of humour and constantly making Brandon and I giggle to ourselves. It's been fun just watching them grow. Truly fun. And memorable. Sigh... I love my family so much.

We spent our time mostly chilling around home but we DID take a couple nice short trips... (where it was hard to "think skinny"). A long weekend at a condo in Mont-Tremblant, a beautiful sunny weekend camping at Voyageur National Park. We were lucky enough to have good weather for both trips... and enjoy time with family and friends. The girls were gems for both trips - which as most parents can understand - can make ALL the difference!

We did do SOME work over the course of the summer months. of course. That's what homeowners to (so we're learning). We took advantage of nice days to do some outdoor projects... modify and extend our deck, build a pool deck, lay some sod, weed, weed, weed...(!) On the not so nice days, we headed inside to work on other projects... clean up and re-organize the workshop (the first step of several to clean up and finish our basement), paint the moulding, paint the doors (and install new hardware), install a french door, paint that too, ... etc etc etc.

So maybe all this doesn't sound all that exciting, but it was absolutely wonderful. I love my little house, I adore my husband, I'm captivated by my sweet little girls... Life is good and I'm trying to appreciate all of the small stuff that's making and keeping it that way (!)

I thought summer 09 was just great! Now... if only I could figure out photoshop... I would have added pictures to this post!

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