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Because Jackie asked, I thought I would share with all of you my new secret weapon when it comes to weeknight sanity savers:

A recipe book called Fix, Freeze, Feast.  It is da bomb!  Literally.  I. Love. It.

Technically it was my present to Dale for Christmas.  Which now makes me feel more than a little guilty, since he got me two of the best presents ever (a Digi Photo Frame which I have been lusting over for ages AND a West Jet Gift Certificate with specific instructions to use it when I need a Gill and/or Mom fix or want to escape from Cold Lake for any number of weather/toddler/work related reasons).  Where was I? Right. Guilty.  So I feel a little guilty because I obviously love the book way more than Dale does.  But then again, I am stuck here in Cold Lake working full time and attempting to feed myself and a toddler for 3 weeks while he is gallavanting working hard on the west coast for 3 weeks with his buddies unit.

Anyway, the whole book is full of recipes designed to make multiple entrees of an item specifically to freeze.  For example, in my freezer right now I have the following:

2 family size garlic mashed potatoes

4 small pan lasagnas

4 chicken curry meals

4 cashew chicken stir fry meals (just add fresh veg to repare)

3 meals for 2 of French Onion Soup (just add hot water and broil for 5 mins)

2 loaves of banana bread

2 meals balsamic marinated pork chops

and Lots of Individual sized tomato basil soups for lunches.

This method takes some preparation, and toddler-free time to make the meals, but I think it’s well worth the effort to be able to come home at the end of the day and be able to prepare a healthy meal in less than 30 mins for the most part. A warehouse club membership is also handy so that you can buy some ingediants in bulk (especially meat).  I would have to say it’s a little heavy on the meat and light on the veggies, but it’s not tough to make a salad or steam some veg while your entree is cooking, expecially since there is little to no other prep required.

I have also tried freezing a few of my other fav recipes, like Mozza Sticks from the recipe book Deceptively Delicious (another fabulous addition to any kitchen with kids!), which I won way-back-when from Megan and these fabulous Yam and Black Bean Burritos, which also freeze really well and Nate can’t get enough of!

But now for what you really want to know – what firsts did Nate have today?

1) He climbed into his highchair by himself (and then onto the table to get his milk…but I’m attempting to forget that part)!

2) He walked around the house wearing one of my crocs and one of Dale’s crocs (and then tried to walk up the stairs in them – which I am also trying to forget!)

How cute and slightly terrifying is all of that?

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I know, I know.  More than 2 months I have kept you waiting for a new post from me!  I’m sure you are all anxious to see new Nate pics and find out what we’ve been up to around here over the last little while.  And because I like you all so much I am going to indulge you to the fullest.

So here are the top ten things you didn’t know were going on at the Campbell household:

10.  We’ve been busy busy busy stocking the freezer with healthy meals that are ready to pop in the oven when we get home from work.  This has made my evenings oh-so-much-more enjoyable!

9.  I signed up with Gill and Laurel for a great class at Big Picture Scrapbooking called Library of Memories by Stacey Julian, and I’ve been organizing my iPhoto gallery in preparation.  I can’t wait for class to start on Feb 12th!

8.  I have finished work at 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron and am moving on to a new job at Wing Administration.  I’m kinda sad to be leaving all my fighter pilot friends!

7.  Dale is now a qualified Air Weapons Controller!

6.  We spent an absolutely wonderful week in Comox over Christmas with family and friends…and had a horribly long drawn out trip back home due to mechanical difficulties and weather delays.  Oh well…it was a service flight so the waiting was at least free!

5.  Nate has learned to drink from a cup, eat cereal with a spoon, climb onto chairs, walk down stairs and say the words mama, bye-bye, ok and thank you!

4.  He also decided that diaper changes are no longer fun and putting clothes on is highly over-rated.  I guess it was an inevitable development in the life of a toddler!

3.  Dale and I booked a vacation for 2 to sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and will be leaving the munchkin with his adoring Auntie Gill and somewhat-skeptical Uncle Brandon for a week in March.

2.  We have survived half of a Cold Lake winter complete with mountains of snow, endless weeks of -40 degree temps and all the sunshine you could ever wish for!

1.  I completed my 365 + 1 Photo challenge for 2008 and you can check out all the pics on my Flickr page! (Ther’s a link in my sidebar)

So tha’s what I’ve been up to.  Of course since I haven’t stopped reading bogs – just writing them – I know what most of you have been up to, but feel free to fill me in if you’re not of the blogging persuassion!  I am hoping to get back into the blogging habit over the next few weeks while Dale is away for work and I am working semi-part time (it’s a long story) and then taking a month off to head back to Comox for a visit and some serious girl-time.

Once again, my sincere apologies for deserting you, and I hope you’ll accept these pics of Nate as a peace offering!

playing-peek-with-daddys-h

dec-29-nate-carrying-momm

Of the diaper rash variety.

So…after espousing the virtues of cloth diapers for the better part of a year – including the fact that my baby’s beautiful bottom has never been marred by diaper rash – I am now encasing that precious tooshie in a disposable (oh horror of horrors!!!) in a last ditch effort to rid it of a lingering diaper rash.  This think just. won’t. quit.

We’re talking a month of ooozing open sores here people.  Sores that today for the second time caused me to take a day off work so that I could let my otherwise perfectly happy and healthy child parade around naked which the babysitter cannot do (totally understandably!)

We have been to the doctor.  We have anti-fungal cream.  It is doing nothing.  And, to be quite honest, the disposables don’t seem to be making a difference other making me feel incredibly guilty for filling the landfill with hoards of contaminated plastic when my perfectly good cloth diapers languish on a shelf.

Nate doesn’t seem very bothered by the sores at this point.  And they respond well to naked-fresh-air time by scabbing over.  But the problem is, every time we get them semi-healed over a weekend at home, once we take him back to our sitter’s the sores inevitably open up again to the point that on Thursday and Friday they were bleeding at almost every diaper change.  I know that our sitter changes him frequently (because I can count the dirty cloth diapers she sends home!) and she uses the same (disposable) wipes that we do when we’re out of the house (Kirkland brand – which Nate has never had a problem with, unlike Huggies and Pampers which seem to make his bottom raw).  I can only imagine that she is gentle with him because he adores her and she is obviously very concerned about his sores since she updates us regularly and even called Dale at work last Thursday to tell him about the bleeding.

But here were are at the end of another “unintentional” long weekend and we are debating whether to keep Nate home again tomorrow in hopes that we can totally clear up the sores before we send him back to daycare.  But we can’t stay home from work forever…and I am at my wits end.

We lather on the bum cream (Bare Organics – which we have always used and which helps make wiping very easy).  The sitter does the same.  We give him tons of naked time, change him immediately after poops and check for pees frequently.  But these 3 spots will not go away!

So Mamas – dig out your best kept secret solutions to diaper rashes and please tell me whether I should go to work tomorrow or not??  Will one more day make that critical difference or am I just wasting leave for nothing? I’ll owe you big time!

Hives.

Which compared to chicken pox, or worse – measles – sounds pretty good.  But believe me – hives are not a good thing in a 1 year old.  He cried so hard when I applied the cortisone cream that I cried too.  It just breaks my heart to see him hurting and unhappy.

The better news is that the benadryl and steroids make him sleepy and he is out like a light. Hopefully he can sleep comfortably and will feel better in the morning once the medicine really kicks in.

Warning to those with feeble stomachs or soft hearts…the following pictures are graphic.  But I feel a desperate need so share, especially since I’m parenting on my own and have no friends to speak of in Cold Lake to share with!  So please forgive me, and skip the pics if you wish!

And specially for those of you who weathered the awful pictures, here is a happier Nate earlier in the day (before the hives got really, really bad, and just after a nap and bottle!)  This should cheer you up – Nate chillin’ at his new Ikea table and adorable red chairs!

Apparently I am not meant to go to work this week.  Instead I am destined to stay home with a sick child.  

Monday and Tuesday Nate was home from day care with a bad cold, diarrhea and a wicked diaper rash.  Wednesday I managed to go to work (although I had to leave early to take him to the doctor for his one year check up) and then last night at bath time I discovered a bunch of bumps on him that I was praying were bug bites.

But by this morning (after being up with my-usually-sound-sleeper 3 times through the night) the spots had multiplied and are all over his arms, legs, neck and torso.  Fun.

I’m thinking possibly chicken pox, although they haven’t started to blister yet so I can’t be sure.  He also had strawberries yesterday at the sitters, and although he has had them there before without a problem they could be the culprit.

In any case the little man is rather miserable.  He went back down for a morning nap just before 8, which is very early for him.  I am still holding out hope that this is not Chicken Pox and he will be back at day care tomorrow.  But I’m not holding my breath either!

Today is somewhat bittersweet.  I am so happy to be celebrating Nate’s 1st Birthday but I am still somewhat shell shocked that my baby is no longer a baby…although I now understand why once a mother’s baby, always a mothers baby.

I only wish that we weren’t quite so busy with the crazy things life thows at us, so that we could have some time to really celebrate!  The painting is (finally!) finished and the unpackers are arriving in an hour, so today will be rather hectic.  But all day long I will be thinking, in the back of my mind, that one year ago today my life changed forever.   One year ago today I finally met the person I had been waiting for for 9 long months.  One year ago today, I became a mom.

Happy Birthday Little Man!

The last two days of our road trip to Cold Lake were good…but very busy!  We are here now and although I am happy to have finally reached our destination and be finished with long days in the car, I am still not quite sure about how I feel to be living here.  I’m sure it’ll get easier with each passing day as the sights and sounds of Northern Alberta become more familiar.

To update you all on the last to days though, here are some pics!

The Calgary Zoo is a great zoo!  We had a tone of fun checking out all the animals with Josie, Trevor and their little boy Ben.  It was an absolutely perfect zoo day – early September, warm and sunny and at 9:30 it seemed like we were the only people there!  It was actually kind of cool in the morning and so all the animals (like this Red Panda) were moving about and even playing!  It was one of my best zoo experiences ever.

Seeing this Gorilla baby was definitely one of the highlights of the day.  Her motions in sleep looked so much like Nate’s it was unreal and totally adorable.  She looked to only be about 8-10 lbs, but was completely content curled up in the straw all by herself and I couldn’t resist taking about a million pictures.

The Snow Leopard was just chillin’ in her hammock.

Josie, Ben and Trevor were awesome zoo-visiting companions!  They just moved to Calgary a week ago and so totally understand the ups and downs of moving across the country with an infant!  I met Josie online through her Dad and her sister and we started communicating when she began reading my blog, we’ve kept in touch for months now and I’m super excited that we finally got to spend a day together and meet eachother’s significant others and little ones.  Thanks Josie!

After the zoo we were invited over to my cousin Heather’s house for dinner with her family and my cousin Wendy’s family.  It was our first time meeting Heather’s little girl Keira, and Wendy’s youngest boy David and their first time meeting Nate.  Dinner was great (we were so thankful not to be eating in a restaurant!!) and the kiddos all had fun stealing eachothers’ toys and playing in the playhouse and on the slide!  I’m sure you all know how challenging it can be to get a picture of 4 busy little bodies…so you’ll forgive the photo quality here!

Our 6th and final day on the road was a long one.  We left Calgary just before 7am and headed North to Edmonton to pick up Grandma Campbell (Dale’s Mom) at the Airport.  She is staying with us in Cold Lake for 10 days to help with Nate and the unpacking – for which we are exceptionally thankful!  After a quick stop for lunch in Fort Saskatchewan we pushed on Northeast towards Cold Lake.  The only other stop we made was to capture this photo-of-the-day overlooking the beautiful North Saskatchewan River:

The bright fall colours and lush view of the river valley were a welcome break from the seemingly unending fields of wheat and straight stretched of highway.

And now here we are in Cold Lake, anxiously awaiting a call from our Realtor telling us that we finally have possession of our house and the keys are ready to be picked up.  Unfortunately, even though our furniture and boxes will be delivered today, they are not coming to unpack us until Monday, so we still have 3 more days to wait things out in a hotel, which I could certainly do without.  On the bright side, we should have some time to paint the bedrooms this weekend and get at least that stinky chore out of the way.

So this concludes my road trip updates, but look for 1st Birthday post coming your way very soon…and new-house pics as soon as I can take some!

I know, I know.  I’m late with my update and some of you waited around all night last night waiting anxiously to hear how day #3 went.  I swear it’s not my fault – the internet was down at our hotel last night, so we were forved to entertain ourselves the old fashioned way.  You know – watching T.V. LOL

Anyway, better late than never!  Yesterday was supposed to be a short drive to Banff, but ended up taking longer than expected since we stopped a few times along the way and got stuck in some construction, but it wasn’t a bad day at all.  Nate napped well in the car, played hard at the parks and we ended the day with a relaxing dip at the Upper Banff Hot Springs.

We were hoping to take advantage of the great kids zone and waterpark at our hotel, but it wasn’t open early enough this morning for us to stop in before Nate’s nap and we’re headed into town shortly for some shopping, followed by lunch, a gondola ride and some walking!

But without further ado, here are some pics to satisfy your curiosity.

Nate eating lunch in the Rockies (a bit grainy because I had my ISO set too high…AGAIN)

Family pic with the gorgeous scenery of the Kicking Horse Canyon in the background

Entering Alberta…where (somewhat sadly) we are now “from”

Mountains in Banff at Sunset from the Upper Banff Hot Springs

Dale and Nate at the Hot Springs!

And as an extra special update for Auntie Gill…Nate is now saying “g” sounds, which means he’s likely well on his way to saying “Auntie Gill”!!

Another great day on the road!  I am so proud of my superstar traveller (Nate…not Dale, although he travels well too! LOL) who almost never fusses in the car and poops (without fail!) early in the morning before we put him in the carseat!  Nate slept in until 7 am, then accompanied Dale and I on a 30 min run through Hope.  Not as great as my usual Sunday morning run with the Yummies, but at least I got out there.  By 9:15 we were on the highway again and headed over the Coquihalla.  We made a quick mid-morning stop in Kamloops then pushed on to Salmon Arm for lunch and a romp in the park for Nate.  This was my only chance to take pics today.

Daddy and Nate walking in the park

Nate eating a banana – his favourite!

Checking out the pier.

Gorgeous views from the pier at Salmon Arm.

The weather was stunning today and we truly hope it stays this way for the rest of our trip.  It makes the rest stops much more enjoyable!  We made it Revelstoke around 3:30, checked into the hotel and hit Denny’s for dinner.  Nate happily munched on his mozza sticks and chicken nuggets, grapes and pineapple, all the while smiling and laughing and putting on a fabulous show for all the neighbouring tables.  He is a total ham!

After dinner we headed over to the Revelstoke Aquatic Centre, which was a great choice!  It is definitely the best Aquatic Centre I have ever seen.  The salt water pool was as warm as a bath tub and it even had this great little “river” area that was basically a figure 8 pool with angled jets that made the water flow like a river current.  They had a floater seat for Nate and we all floated happily around the “river” for quite a while. We also tried the giant twirling water slide, which Nate happily went down with Daddy and then cried when Mommy tried.  What is it about Dad’s anyways??

On our way back to the hotel Dale and I again decided that Revelstoke is definitely one of our favourite mountain it stops and we vowed that next time we drive through we’ll send at least two days here exploring.  The Columbia River Valley is beautiful and the town of Revelstoke is very pretty and well kept and I know we could fill a few days checking out the local sights.

Tomorrow we’re headed for Banff where we’re hoping to check out the Hot Springs and squeeze in a short hike.  But for now it’s off to snuggle down into bed with my husband 😉

I’m sure these feelings are totally normal.

I’m sure that they will pass.

I’m sure I’ll get through this.

And I’m positive that Nate will be fine.

But I just don’t feel at all ready to go back to work tomorrow.

My uniform is ready.

My boots are polished.

The babysitter is arranged and everything is set.

So why is my heart so heavy?  Why am I so nervous to leave my baby?

I keep reminding myself that I’ve left him before and he’s always been fine.  I keep reminding myself that he likes his babysitter.  I keep reminding myself that I’ll be home at lunch, and then it’s only three more hours until the end of the day.

But I also keep thinking…am I about to let a 17 year-old band geek (albeit a super nice and very responsible one!) raise my child??

At least Dale keeps reminding me that if this whole working “thing” doesn’t jive, I don’t have to do it.