Viva Las Vegas !

For some reason I thought I had posted pictures from our trip to Las Vegas this summer but after getting the comment on last post (Thanks Farah) about not posting I had a look.  Nope none there so here are a few favorites.

Hayden asked us to take his Smurf with us to Vegas so when we remembered we would get a picture with him.  This is the Westjet ticket agent in Vancouver being a good sport for us.

We stayed at the Paris and while it seems nice from the outside it is in desperate need of updating so I would not recommend this hotel.  It's too bad because the location is great. 

We had breakfast a few mornings at the Bellagio that was right across from the Paris.  What a beautiful hotel and just a lovely place to spend time. 

I had the best steel cut oats I have ever had at the Bellagio !  Smurfy enjoyed it as well.

Of course, with no kids with us we really enjoyed some lovely meals while in Vegas !

We had a our first lunch at P.F. Changs and I was bummed I forgot to take any pictures of the meal.  It was very great and we got tons of food so bring your appetite.

Frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity's 3 was definitely a delightful treat on a hot afternoon !

We had a great lunch at La Cave at the Wynn and I would highly recommend it.

We dined at Holstein's one evening and I have to be honest in saying it was not our best meal while in Vegas.  Our waitress was a bit inattentive and the food was just OK !

I had the lobster rolls and Faruq had a caesar salad with a hamburger.

Now the drinks were amazing !  I had a Pina Colada milkshake which was very yummy !!

For the life of me I can't remember where these desserts were from but we had the chocolate cake and it was very tasty !!

We had these little babies after dinner at STK one evening. They are cheesecake pops and they were AMAZING.  Honestly,  I could have just had a few orders of these.  But I have to say the meal was really good as well.

We had some fun at the M&M's store !  Seriously, we need one in Calgary now.

We walked through most of the casinos on the strip just taking in all the action.

While down there we got to see Lion King and it was amazing.  I can't wait to take the kids to see it one day.  Love was the only other show we would have liked to see but it was dark the 2 nights we had free.  

The rest of the time we just spent sightseeing and enjoying each others company.  It was so nice to reconnect with Faruq as a couple. We had no real expectations of our trip other then to be totally relaxed.  It was lovely to be away but honestly it was great coming back to the kids.

I was a bit bummed because I misplaced one of my memory cards that had a lot of my pictures from the Vegas trip and summer vacation on it but I'm hoping I will find it at some point.  All in all we had a great trip and an even better summer vacation.

We can't wait until next summer when we can escape again for a week.  Huge thanks to my parents for keeping our wee ones safe while we were away.

Chow !!

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Wordless Wednesday (September 28th)

M &M store in Las Vegas 

~ We need one of these stores in Calgary ~

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Before having kids Faruq and I owned 3 adorable cats.  We loved these cats like they were our kids because really they were and they brought so much joy to our lives.  But as the years past the cats got older and started having issues with their health.   We had six months of going back and forth to the vet with Faruq's cat Rascal but finally made the very tough decision that it was time to let her go.

~ Rascal ~

Hayden arrived within a few months and added yet another dimension to our house.  Oscar, my big lovable cat adored Hayden and stood guard by him whenever he was awake and would sleep by his crib at night.  But Sydney our littlest fur baby was not receptive to the newest member of the family and proceed to spend almost the next year under our bed.

Shortly before moving to Calgary 6 years ago Oscar our beloved companion for almost 18 years got very sick and there was nothing that could be done so we made the painful decision to let her go.  We were all devastated that Oscar was gone especially Hayden.

~ Oscar ~

So that left just poor little Sydney and we made a painful to decision to let her go live with a very good friend of ours in Fort McMurray.  Rose was on her own and had one cat already.  We missed her but figured she would live out her final years in a more relaxed setting then ours.

~ Sydney ~

So that brings us to present day and we have been "pet free" for almost 6 years now.  Honestly, while I consider myself a huge animal lover I have enjoyed the break from pet ownership.  With adding the two girls to our family in the last 4 years life has been busy enough.  But now that the kids are getting older I have found myself longing for another cat (dogs are out as they are just too much work for me).  Hayden must have heard Faruq and I talking about this because now he constantly asks when we are getting a cat.  If that is not bad enough he has recruited Laila in operation " Drive mom crazy until we get a cat ! "

Every time we see a dog Laila will say without fail "I like that dog but I really want a cat".  She has even taken to telling strangers as much.  The other day when Faruq had the kids over to the playground for a play there was a couple with a young daughter and a puppy.  Laila of course being Laila went over to play with the puppy and talk to the owners.  After about 10 minutes the lady comes over to tell Faruq how lovely she is and if we didn't already know she really wants a cat.  I nearly peed my pants when he was telling me the story.

I'm torn on what to do.   While I feel pets are great for kids I just want to make sure we do this at the right time for everyone.  I'm sure Hayden and Laila are old enough but I'm just not quite sure Sophie is. We definitely need a cat not afraid of kids as they aren't going anywhere and if I have learned anything from our previous cats some do not like little people.

So what is the right age to introduce a pet ? 
What age should the cat be ?  Kitten or over a year old.
In Calgary is it better to go the the Humane Society or the MEOW foundation ?  I would love to hear your experiences with either.

I figure sooner then later we will be the owners of an adorable fur baby but I just want to make sure I do it when it's best for everyone.

Chow !

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Mama's Weekly Wrap-up (September 23th)

Gasp !  Has it really been over 3 months since I did a Weekly Wrap-up.  With fall here and we are back to regularly scheduled programming it's probably a great time to start writing this post again as everyone seems to have noteworthy stuff going on.

  • School has been in full swing for Hadyen now for almost 4 weeks and so far so good.  We are still having a few battles with the homework.  Honestly,  if he would just settle down and get it done the whole process would not take more then 30 minutes.
  • Hayden has decided to not go back to the choir he was with last year but instead take private voice lessons.  We were fine with either but honestly I prefer the latter. As well, he is talking about wanting to go back to piano lessons but we will wait until January to start those.
  • As I previously updated Laila has adjusted to school so well.  There has not been one day that I have had to fight with her to go but instead it's usually just getting her to wait until 12:30 the time we leave to go to school.
  • In the last three weeks we have already noticed a step change with Laila and her speech.  She constantly talks now and it's just not garble but actual words and sentences. I find a big improvement with her comprehension as well.  There are numerous times in the day now where she will correct anyone if they are referring to something with the wrong words.  
  • We have noticed her emotional state has mellowed as well.  I have always said that Laila is our emotional child but since her speech has grown the outburst have all but disappeared.  She is still a very typical 3.5 year old and when tired can throw a tantrum like no ones business but those are easy to handle.
  • Sophie is growing, growing, growing !!  She is missing Laila when she goes to school and almost everyday when we drop her off there is always a few tears.  I can see who will be ready for preschool next year.  Of course Laila will have no part of Sophie being at her school and tells me everyday  "To please take Sophie home now".
  • The room sharing is still going really well and we will move Sophie from her crib to a bed by Christmas as she tries to climb into Laila's bed every night.  We are having a mural painted on their walls right now and I will share pictures when it's done.  
  • Faruq is still enjoying his new job.  We have secured rides for Hayden to and from school so it helps with his schedule at work.  Most evenings he is now home just after the kids baths so he does bedtimes but honestly as the kids get older that is getting easier so I really don't mind them.  He is present on the weekends and takes the kids with him pretty much everywhere he goes so I get a break then.
In general,  life is very good for The Suleman's right now and we are just content to ride that wave.  Honestly, it's nice to be happily quiet for a change as we have faced our share of sadness over the last few years.  I want to share an update on my progress but will save that for another update.

Have a wonderful weekend !

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I love recipes and have recently started to compile a stack of some of my families favorites and other "must try" ones.  I not only have paper copies from magazine but a file on my laptop with electronic ones.  I find when my recipes are organized it is far easier to do weekly/monthly meal planning.

I have questions though that I would really love some suggestions on:

  • How do you organize your recipes ?
  • Do you store them electronically or on paper ?
  • If electronically, did you makeup a form to use continuously ?
  • Do you still have a paper copy if they are store electronically ?
I doubt this project will be done overnight but I would much prefer to do it properly from the start as to not waste time changing my mind mid way through the project.

I'm kicking myself because I recently read an article on someone creating a electronic copy of her recipes but I didn't bookmark the site and can't find it now.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated !!

Thanks a bunch

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Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I spent the weekend going through my food magazines pulling out recipes I thought might be good for the family and in my search I found this recipe that claims they are the ultimate chocolate chip cookies.  Faruq and Hayden love chocolate chip cookies so I figured I would give it a try.  Considering I baked them the other day and are almost half gone I would think they were a pretty big hit.

What you will need :

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla  extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
How to make them:
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat butter and sugar on med-high until light and fluffy, 6 minutes.  Reduce speed to med-low and beat eggs, one at a time.  Beat in vanilla.  Mix in flour mixture  just until incorporated; fold in chocolate chips and chunks.
  3. Use a medium melon baller (or tablespoon) (The original recipe called for a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop or large spoon but personally I think those are just too big for cookies), drop dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for one hour.  With the medium melon baller I got 50 cookies but use what they suggest & you will get 24.
  4. Arrange 8 unbaked cookies , 3 inches apart, on each of two parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake until edges are light golden brown, 14 to 15 minutes, rotating  sheets halfway through.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.  Continue baking until all cookies are baked.
Note: You can also add 2 cups of chopped walnuts or pecans if you wish.

(Adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Foods)

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Laila's Journey (Part 5)

Laila officially became a "preschooler" on September 6th and I have to say it is going amazingly well.  From the first day when she literally ran into the room and told me to go home it has just gotten better and better everyday.

The team of teachers and specialists that work with her and the other 9 children are just lovely.  Laila immediately bonded with them all and they truly care about improving the lives of these kids.

Every morning Laila asks if she is going to school and is very sad when it's the weekend.  She seems to be managing the 3 hours a day but is still very tired most afternoons when she gets home.  In the 3 weeks since starting we have noted big changes in her speech and can only imagine what it will like by the end of the school year.

~ First day of Preschool ~
September 6, 2011

We have our first big meeting at the school next week to discuss with the teachers there observations from the last month and what the recommend plan of action for Laila will be.  We are excited to hear what they have to say and work with them to bring her along further.

So my little lovely Laila is handling this next step in her life like a pro and I couldn't be more proud of her.  While the last few months were a bit of whirlwind with regards to changing schools and having her assessments done I feel like we are definitely on the right path with her now.

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Since returning from BC a month ago I have to say our daily busy lives have gotten in the way of me doing some of the things I really enjoy like blogging.  I love my little blog and miss having time updating it with all the stuff going on in our lives and interesting finds I make.  At least once a day I think "I would love to blog about that" but sadly just never seem to have the time.

Faruq is working quite a bit not crazy like before but most nights isn't home until after 7 so I usually have dinner and baths to do on my own.  Our days are even busier now that Laila is in preschool 5 days a week (more on that later) and Hayden is doing grade 3 which has brought more homework.  Little Sophie is very demanding of my time as well so there no worries of her being left out of anything.

I'm not complaining because our life is the best it has been in a very long time.  Everyone for the first time seems to be on the right path for them and we are blessed beyond belief.  I'm truly grateful for everything but just sometimes miss a little be of "me" time.

I would really love to know how others do it because honestly I just don't have much left over at the end of the day.   So I have let the guilt go about updating this blog regularly and will just post when I have time.

I hope everyone is settling into fall and enjoy a little warm weather.  This is my favorite season and Calgary has been getting some lovely days here.

Cheers !

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A few summer reads...

While in BC I was blessed with a few extra minutes everyday to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes.  I love to read but sadly at home I usually only get a few minutes before bed every night.

I actually managed to get 4 books knocked off my "must read" list.

The first was "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman.  It's a very easy read and has a lovely story.   I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. You can find it here.

The second was "Then Came You" by Jennifer Weiner.  I'm always excited when Jennifer has a new book coming out.  I have been a fan since her early days and while this latest book was good I still believe that some of earlier ones were better.  You can find it here.

The third book I read was "Stories I Only Tell My Friends" by Rob Lowe.  If you grew up in the '80's like I did I'm sure you share my love of Rob Lowe.  I remember him in St. Elmo's Fire like it was yesterday and have enjoyed him The West Wing and Brothers & Sisters.  He seems to have a timeless youthfulness to him and while others have gotten older he seems to just stay the same year after year.  I didn't even know he had written an autobiography until Oprah had him on one of her last shows this past spring.

I loved this book and admire him more for the struggles he faced through his career.  There were a lot of chapters where I found myself saying "that seems unreal" but most of the people he talks about are still living today so I'm going to trust that the stories are real.  You can find it here.

Lastly, I finally finished "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett and while I think it was a tad bit long I still really enjoyed it.  I managed to see the movie based on this book and thoroughly enjoyed that as well.  Find it here

Next up is Tina Fey's "Bossypants".  So far it is quite enjoyable but I'm sure it will take me until next summer to finish it so I will let you know what I thought about it this time next year.

What's everyone been reading this summer ? I would love to hear some other suggestions for "must read" books !

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