Birth Day

This is a story to my not-so-baby-anymore little boy on his birthday.
There once was your Mommy, and her pregnancy with you was as normal as can be. The doctor was very happy with how things were going and the way you were growing. Your ultrasound picture was the best ever, we could see all of your fingers and toes, because you were waving at us. It was June and the weather was warming up, I thought about how I was going to survive a warm summer with you in my belly, because you were already keeping me warmer than usual.  
You were 29 weeks along and kicking me left, right, and centre. You liked to wake up at 11pm to have a dance party just when Mommy wanted to go to bed. Mommy was feeling tired from a weekend of making Daddy a birthday party and needed to rest, but you kept on partying in Mommy's belly like it never ended.  It was Monday night and I was making your quilt, I felt some light pain just like a pinch in my belly but it went away. Daddy was out racing go karts, so we didn't go to the hospital to investigate.  In hind sight we should have.
The light pain came back the next evening. Mommy went to bed not thinking anything of it but woke up from your pinches in the morning. You were 30 weeks and 1 day so it never even crossed my mind that you wanted to come out just yet. We had a doctors appointment that day so we waited to investigate what was going on.  I went to work that morning thinking I was going to have an ordinary day.
By mid morning the pinch in Mommy's belly grew to a cramp. I decided to call the doctor, we all agreed that it would be best for me to go to the hospital. Daddy came to pick me up at work and drove me to the emergency room.  The nurse sent me upstairs to the maternity ward, so to the 3rd floor I walked up.
At the maternity ward, the nurses strapped monitors on me and told me to hurry up and wait because it was that kind of day. 15 minutes later they came back and were trying to figure out why I was having the pain, they said that sometimes false labour or early contractions may be caused by dehydration or an infection. As they were getting ready to investigate, the resident discovered that I was already 9 cm dilated and you were ready to come out! Daddy and I looked at each other and said, okay?? My first stage of labour was over and I didn't feel any of it. All the hospital staff apologized for ignoring me for so long because I didn't look like a woman in labour.
An army of nurses wheeled Mommy into a delivery room and prepped Daddy and I on what was going to happen next. There was no time for any procedures or medicines to help keep you in, nor was there time for medicines to help Mommy ease the pain. But to be honest I wasn't in much pain.
A doctor made sure that your head was down, you were but it took them so long to find your head on the ultrasound because you were so far down already. A nurse told me, if you have the urge to push, don't, because the head doctor is busy finishing up with another patient. I didn't know what that urge was supposed to feel like.  
We waited a little bit for my contractions to become more intense before I started pushing. The doctors were not sure if they should break your water or not, as you were a very special case. They argued that the water around you may protect you, but at the same time because you were so little it may block you from coming out. You broke the water yourself while Mommy was on the next push.
Daddy did a super job helping Mommy even though you gave us all a nervous surprise. Mommy walked into the hospital at 11:30am and you came out at 1:20pm, 10 weeks early. The doctor said you interrupted his lunch.
We didn't know you were going to be a boy but Daddy identified it to be so. I didn't get to hold you because you had to be whisked off to NICU to be specially taken care of. You were 3 lbs 2 oz, apgars at 6 and 7, and couldn't breath on your own. Yet, Mommy and Daddy did not worry. Everyone around us were surprised at how calm we were, and Mommy didn't even look like she just had a baby. You were the talk of the hospital for the next day. Apparently this kind of stuff doesn't happen frequently.
The doctor told us that you had a very good chance of growing the rest of the way in NICU without complications. We had no doubts in our minds that you will grow up to be a smiley healthy boy. You had to be transfered to another hospital right away because you were so fragile, you needed extra special care that this hospital couldn't provide. Since Mommy was going to get discharged the next morning anyway, you went to the other hospital while Mommy stayed behind.  
After you left, Daddy went to get dinner and some things for Mommy since we had walked into the hospital earlier that day with only my purse. We called everyone and you gave them the surprised of their life! I was so excited and over joyed about you I couldn't sleep that night, despite the fact that I was very tired.
We saw you the very next day, in your incubator. We couldn't hold you but we could reach our hands through the holes on the sides to touch you. Your little tiny hand gripped Mommy's finger so tight.  It was not until after a couple of days that we got to hold you. Your weight dropped to 2 lbs 9 oz before it went back up again. You spent a total of 60 days at two hospitals. You had good days and bad days, and so did Mommy. We thought it was the hardest 60 days ever! But looking back on it we think you were just what Mommy and Daddy needed, at the perfect time. We love you to pieces, 
Happy 1st Birthday Castle.

Baked Kale Chips

Who knew they taste so good?!  I didn't but I'm sure glad someone did.  I don't remember where I first found out about it, but now that I have, my cooking repertoire for kale has doubled.
Crunchy and delicious, it's hard to believe that they are vegetables.  It's super easy to make.
Recipe here.

Tomato

Ummmmmm fresh tomatoes.  I love tomatoes.  A fresh tomato, that is.  A tomato right off the vine is the only way to truly experience what a real tomato tastes like.
The tomatoes in the supermarket are not real tomatoes.  They have no taste and the texture is all wrong.  This is because the tomatoes at the supermarket, despite looking ripe and perfect, are all engineered to be like that.  It's not okay that a tomato is watery and tasteless.  It's not okay that I can throw a tomato at the wall and it will not break.  It's not okay that a tomato can sit on my counter for two weeks without rotting.  And it's not okay that my tomato was picked when it was green, and the red ones are left to rot on the vines.
When I was a kid, we grew our own tomatoes in the yard.  Oh how I miss that.  Since we have no yard, the next best thing for us now is the farmers market, where we can get fresh heirloom tomatoes picked just hours ago, which is where these ones are from.  The yellow ones and the dark red ones are my favourite, so sweet, they taste like meaty gooseberries.
Yum yum!
Oh, and one last thing, never ever put tomatoes in the fridge, they loose all of their flavour if you do.  It's something scientific to do with a flavour compound that gets destroyed when tomatoes go below a certain temperature, I don't know the details but I do know that they are less tasty, and less tasty is never a good thing.

Dining Out: Gyoza King

Our weekend felt like this:
Birthday parties, baby showers, farmers market, packing, keys to our new home... ... no wonder I had a two hour nap on Sunday night.
We also had dinner at Gyoza King.  Celebrating our new home was our excuse to not cook dinner.  Gyoza King was not our first choice but it was the only place where the line was not an hour long on a Saturday night.  We ate Nira Gyozas (potstickers), Ebi Mayo (prawn mayonaise), Karubi Robata (grilled short ribs), Aburi Salmon (marinated salmon sashimi), Katsu Don (pork chop with egg on rice), and Hotate Kinoko (scallops with mushrooms in butter sauce).  I wanted to order more but good thing Andrew stopped me.  It was all very good standard Izakaya staples.  Castle had berry applesauce and played on the tatami while we ate.  Now come to think of it, all restaurants should have tatami seating for families with babies.

Summer

Dear Summer,
You are hiding.  Come out come out wherever you are!  It's sunny but I still feel the chill in the air, and I still see the snow on those mountains.  I know it's only been a few days, but Spring was not very kind to us.  So I'm asking you, as nicely as possible, please please please show up soon.
 In the mean time, this is what we will do to feel summery, we will wear it on our hearts.
By the way, Happy Birthday Husband.

Busy

We have are having a busy day.
We have two birthday parties to attend.  On a Thursday.  Go figure.  And one of them is at our place.
This has nothing to do with anything but here we are, styling in stripes.
Because I can't imagine a blog post without a photo.

Dining Out: Coast

It was date night.
We went to Coast for dinner.
We had Muscles and Clams, Trout and Sablefish.
When I see Sablefish on the menu, I have to order it.  It's my favourite fish.  But when I order it, I always say Black Cod instead of Sablefish, because my mind automatically switches to the name that I know.  Someone thought it would be a good idea to come up with a new name for Black Cod so that it can sell better.  Apparently, people don't like to eat black food.
Dinner was good but it wasn't three gold stars good.  It was standard simple crowd pleasing seafood, with nothing special that really stood out. We did have a good waitress, though.
Coast is a place where tourists frequent, I know this because most of the people that sat around us were studying guidebooks and maps of Vancouver.  The food runner who brought us our steamers asked if this was our first time at the restaurant.  Yes, it was.  He replied with, are you traveling?  No, we said, we live just down the street.  He was a little caught off guard, and just laughed in response.
After dinner we headed off to meet our friends to take in the highlight of our night.  Wicked!  I haven't seen a musical in so long I've forgotten how much I love them.  It also helped that we had amazing seats.

stuck


Castle gets up in the middle of the night, let out a few cries, and off he goes back to sleep.  
That's a good night.  
Then there are the odd nights, where he gets up after an hour or so, screams and cries for about two hours, and off he goes back to sleep.  This happens when he is beyond tired and so exhausted that he can't calm down anymore.  
No matter if it's a good night or a bad night, when he lets out that distress call, we usually find him sleeping on his stomach, in the corner of the crib, with limbs splayed out in every direction, and at least two of those limbs sticking out between the posts.  
He tries to flip onto his back but can't because he is either trying to flip in the direction of the posts, which he is right up against already, or his limbs are tangly stuck between the posts and renders him immovable.
Silly goofball.  It is times like these that I find myself loving him even more.  I miss him when he goes to bed, even though I've spent all day with him.  Just when I thought my day couldn't get any longer, I want him around to see that little smiling face.  And when I go to bed, I think, I can't wait to see him in the morning.
(That's Andrew's Ninja Egg, by the way, if you were wondering.)

Father's Day

It was just a regular Sunday, except that it was Father's day.
We went to church, made Croque Monsieur sandwiches for lunch, called the Grandpas, made Daddy a Father's Day card, did some packing...
... and made Daddy his favourite meal.
Chicken fingers and fries.
Daddy would have this almost everyday if he got his way. But this did not come from a frozen box. For the breading of the chicken fingers I used ground up Rice Krispies. A little different and it made the chicken fingers Krispy! Recipe here. The fries tasted just like they were deep fried. Oven fries recipe here
Then came dessert. Peach shortcake. Recipe from a 2008 issue of Cooks Illustrated.
Daddy was happy. Because this is what I call a beige meal, where everything you eat is the same colour.  For one night and one night only, we had a beige meal, with no green things in sight.

Book

It's Friday and I'm happy because the sun is shining.  And I'm happy because I get to make crepes.  That is all for today.  

Okay, no, I'm not done.  My happiness has something to do with this book:
Heaven is for Real
A #1 New York Times bestseller.  It's about a little boy who went to heaven and came back to tell about it.  It's for real.  It's fantastic and you should read it.  I read it in one night.  I have always believed that there's a heaven but I have never thought about it seriously.  This made me think.  Thank you God.  And how great is it that this book cover is yellow!  I'm tellin' ya, all yellow things are good things.

smoke

Yesterday afternoon I was in the office with Andrew.  Sitting at my computer, I was laughing at something I found.  It was a blog about a Dad who dresses up in a different costume each day to wave at the school bus his son is on.  His son, by the way, is in high school.  And the Dad has a peg leg.  You have to see it to believe it.  
It was funny.
As we scrolled through the hilarious photos, we started to smell something, first it smelled like boiled potatoes, then it smelled like fish and chips, the next minute it smelled like smoke and something was burning.  I thought, hum, I wonder where that's coming from?  Something is definitely burning, and I bet it's one of our neighbours.  We had the fire alarm go off in our condo building last year because one of the floors filled with smoke from someone leaving something on the stove and forgetting about it.  Not this again, I thought.  Andrew said I should go investigate.
What's going on?
Out I walk of the office, thinking who (which neglectful idiot) is doing that? Before I could make the turn into the hall, in I look to my the kitchen, and low and behold, I had forgotten the pot of sweet potatoes I was steaming for Castle's dinner!  All the water had boiled away and the sweet potatoes were being charred by the smoke from the burning pot.  Aiya oh no!!
Oh no, Mummy!  My dinner.
Oopsies, me, yes me, I was the neglectful idiot, almost burnt our home down.  It's been 24 hours of airing out and finally using those smelly candles but I can still smell a faint lingering of smoke in every room.  I think it's just in my head. Moral of the story, do not go looking at funny things on the internet when you have something on the stove, unless you want a good excuse to buy a new pot.  Yes!  I get to buy a new pot!

Yellow

I'm a fan of yellow.  It was my favourite colour growing up.  Everything had to be yellow.  It was a world of yellow yellow yellow.  And don't even think about giving me anything pink.  I made yucky faces at pink, pink dresses, pink hairbands, pink socks, pink pencil cases.  Yuck.  Although, I do recall having wearing and loving a shiny pink bomber jacket when I was 8, but it was shiny, shimmery and iridescent, also it was PEACHY-pink, so it was okay.  Because I liked orange too.  And peach is like orange, only with a little bit of yellow mixed in.
All yellow things are good things, such as the sun, buttercups, sunflowers, bananas, turmeric, curry, cheese, pineapples, corn, eggs, butter, mangoes, lemons... and lemons, which leads to lemonade, lemon cake, lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, and my favourite, lemon tart!
See this book? I found this book last year.  I had to buy this book.  I made the lemon tart and brought some to work.  It was a huge hit.  When I showed my co-worker this book, she had to buy it too because she also had a serious affinity to all things lemon.  My boss took some lemon tart home for his wife, then she had to buy this book too.  My co-worker also sent a copy of this book to her brother, who replied with, "it was the best lemon tart ever." And he is a serious foodie.
Now here's the funny thing.  I've had this book for a while and I've only ever made the lemon tart.  There are plenty of other good recipes in the book but I have never even consider trying them out.  Shows you how much I love lemon tart.

Library Picks

This week we checked out:
Caps for Sale - I love the graphics and colours in this book, and it involves monkeys doing monkey business, a big plus.
My Book of Thanks - An easy book to teach little ones how to pray a prayer of thanksgiving.  I like the graphics in this one too.
My First Read-aloud Bible - I've been looking for a good first bible to purchase for Castle, this one caught my attention with the collection of stories from both old and new testament, short concise storylines, and colourful graphics.
The Tower of Babel - An oldie I found in the depths of the library.  This one was more or me, I'm a sucker for black and white line drawings.
The Dot - A fantastic story about creativity, encouragement, and self-discovery.

Park

It was his first time at the park.  He didn't know what was going on.  He kept on wanting to eat everything.
He didn't know you are supposed to hang on when you are on the swing.  And he was swinging, it just doesn't look like it in this picture.  He could have worn shoes, but Daddy dressed him.  No comment.

Castle

I can't believe this baby is almost 1.  I look at him and think, what happened?  Sometimes he looks so tiny, but most of the time he looks so big.  He sure did catch up on coming out so early and small.  Neighbours in the elevator always ask me how old he is.  I tell them his corrected age out of habit (minus 2 months), just so I don't have to explain himself.  They always reply with, "Wow, he's so big!"  I should just start telling them his birth age, because he's already that in size, and more.
He is a goofy charmer, always smiling to anyone and everyone, but he doesn't like it when Mommy and Daddy are not around.  He loves to eat anything and everything, even when it tastes weird or bland, but he refuses to drink plain water, there always has to be just a smidgen of apple juice in his sippy cup.  He is a great traveler, easy going and loves to be anywhere and everywhere, but only if it's outside.  Once we cross the threshold at our front door, he goes immediately into whiney mode.  He's our Scrumptious Head, Goofball, Ceeble Weeble, Cebers, Casberillis, Casbug, Casubao, and (the one that I use the most) Casbies.

Spot Prawns

This is one of the perks of living by the ocean.
Fresh live spot prawns.  They were still swimming in my kitchen sink not too long ago.  We love these beauties, sweet, succulent and meaty, they taste more like lobster than shrimp.  Be very careful when you peel them, they have sharp thorny spikes that can hurt.  And I'm not kidding you when I say they were the size of my hand.
This may sound weird and gross, but the best part is underneath the head.  All that brownish green stuff, it's flavorful and sweet, it gives shrimps their shrimpy taste.  It's called tomalley when it's in a lobster but I'm not sure if the same applies to spot prawns.  I always enjoy eating spot prawns at home, because when you go out to a restaurant, they never come with the heads still on.  To cook spot prawns I simply put them in boiling water, and let it come to a boil again for a minute before draining.
Eating tomalley is very normal and necessary in Asia, if you don't eat it, you are throwing away the most flavorful part of the shell fish.  In fact, there's such a dish as tomalley rice.  It's not really the thing to do here in North America, especially when there's an FDA warning against eating the tomalley of lobsters due to toxins.  I do not want to know what the case is with spot prawns.  
If you don't want to eat the tomalley directly, you can use it to make a very flavorful stock, perfect for a fish stew.  Put all the shells and heads in a pot of water and boil.  The water will turn a golden orange, and it will smell and taste like the best fish stock ever.
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