Monday, December 31, 2007

Anti-New Year's Eve

I’ve always been a little bit of a rebel. Emphasis on “little”, and definitely lacking a cause. When I was in grade nine, that meant smoking cigarettes beside the school (I hope my mom isn’t reading this. Although I guess she knows since the principal made me phone her from school when I got caught. To this day I wonder why we didn’t go BEHIND the school rather than beside it). But now that I’m older, I rebel in more subtle ways like not shopping at Wal-mart and drinking regular Coke instead of diet Coke. And my new one: I’m anti-New Year’s Eve. The more I feel I am expected to go out and do something wild and crazy, the more I resist. Last night we got together with friends for what I hope will become a new tradition of celebrating the night before New Years Eve. It was lots of fun and I didn’t feel pressured to kiss and hug anyone at the stroke of midnight. In fact, I was tucked in bed at midnight, which is earlier than usual. This is all just a pathetic excuse to justify getting old and boring, but I’m trying to make it seem cool. If this catches on and becomes popular, I’m switching back to the real New Years Eve.

So tonight we’re going to have a chocolate fondue, watch a movie, trick the kids into thinking that 10:00 pm is really midnight, and then the real fun starts. I’m going to get back to work on my puzzle and Dale will be thinking of something wittier to say in his next blog comment.

He finally commented on the last post a few minutes ago. The delay was due to the fact he was trying to think of something witty to write, but I told him to hurry up because Darla was pressuring me to post a new entry. He was all stressed about it, and after making his ultra-clever comment, he muttered, “I don’t know if I belong in the blog world.”

Speaking of my mother and new blog readers … now I know how people feel when they get a Facebook friend request from their mother. My mom phoned me today to ask for my blog address because they have computer access in Florida. They won’t get there until later this week, so hopefully by the time they figure out how to access the blog, I’ll have made a few entries and this one will be off the front page. Maybe they won’t figure out what “Older Posts” means. If they do, Mom, I’m just kidding. And thank Dad again for moving the piano.

By the way, Corinna – it was not us you saw at Sobey’s. Dale is the only one that’s left the house today and two out of three children are still in pyjamas. I’m thinking it doesn’t pay for them to get dressed today. I am already dreading next Monday.

Happy New Year, everyone!!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

If only 7-11 would deliver...

Other than summer, the week between Christmas & New Year’s is my favourite time of the year. The phone rang so early the other morning, I thought something bad must have happened. Then I rolled over and saw it was 10:18 a.m. It was just the neighbour wanting to borrow an egg. No one died. We leave the house only when necessary, like today when we ran out of tortilla chips. We’ve been watching movies (last night I watched Little Miss Sunshine including all four alternate endings) and doing puzzles. We all wear sweats and the same shirts every day. I’ve been wearing my glasses for three days straight. When I told Spencer it was time for bed, he said “But I haven’t had lunch yet.” He was right. We were two meals behind. All this to say, don’t drop in unexpectedly. Just kidding, you’re welcome to come see us in our slothy natural habitat.

But the flip side is that I’m getting the itch to organize. We put Neve’s $25 bed together yesterday and we’re very pleased with it. We put on the new quilt we got her for Christmas and she was so excited to sleep in it. We still need a mattress, but we borrowed Spencer’s for now. He was quite concerned about her impetigo germs in his bed, but I promised I’d change the sheets. The bed is a big step towards my goal of getting Neve’s room to not look like an orphan servant girl’s room. I still need some pictures, a lamp, and a window covering that is not a flannel sheet. I also want to clean out every single thing in this house that we don’t need or use. A green plaid glider rocker or crib, anyone? (the crib is not green plaid) We have to make room for the insane amount of gifts the kids got for Christmas. Spencer finished his Aquabase Invasion Lego set yesterday, which he (okay, me too) was so proud of. It’s a big set; the age recommendation is 8-14 (he’s six) and the only thing he occasionally needed help with was to find a certain piece. It took him almost three days to do it, but he kept plugging away. And today Neve stepped on it by accident so that’s another day’s worth of work. We have so gotten our money’s worth out of that. Same to Chloe’s Nintendo DS. She plays with it constantly. Funny how she never once asked for a DS, and now we’ve created our own little monster. I’m not too worried yet; I’m sure the novelty will wear off, and the look on her face when she opened it will carry me through many tumultuous teenage situations in the future. The game we got her is Nintendogs, in which you take care of dogs. She’s scared of pretty much all animals, but these she likes. She named her dog after me, so all day I hear “Sit, Ellen!” and “Lie down, Ellen!” This probably means something significant, but I don’t want to think about it too much.

There’s a new blog reader in town. He’s 40 years old and has a weightlifting trophy. Guess who? Dale’s suddenly all into my blog; checking it, asking me when I’m going to update it, or telling me what I should write about. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Not that I ever write mean-spirited things about him, but now I really have to think before I write. Plus I always tell him I’m “working” when really I’m sitting here writing nonsense. I guess he doesn’t really care about that, but it pains me to admit that I’m not 100% productive every minute of the day. This is just a warning to everyone: stop making nasty comments about Dale, because he’s reading this. His newfound interest probably comes from a catatonic state of boredom (does that even make sense?). We really must put our parkas on and leave the house for a change.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tidings of Comfort & Joy

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Hope you had a peaceful, happy day. It’s quiet on the homefront; we celebrated Christmas with Dale’s family in early December and with mine on Sunday. So today was a home day. Chloe played with her Nintendo DS all day, Spencer worked on his Lego, and Neve spent the day roaming around in her pyjamas and Dora dress up shoes. I was going to post a picture of all the kids’ toys but I’m too embarrassed. I am going to be on a major toy-eliminating rampage in January.

Spoiler warning: if you love Santa, stop reading now and go play with a toy he brought you. Last night, after all the kids were sleeping – or so I thought; you know where this is going - I went into the living room with my arms full of Santa gifts. Suddenly Chloe pops up from her hiding spot beside the couch and says, “Hi, Santa.” I almost had a heart attack. Last year, she was starting to express her doubts, but she hadn’t said a thing this year. I suspected she knew, but just wasn’t sure how to discuss it. I asked her if she was sad, and she said she sort of felt like crying and sort of felt like laughing. She didn’t seem too upset today; I’m probably more traumatized than her, but relieved at the same time. Next Christmas will be a little less complicated.

And in other news this past week, Neve has impetigo, we got a piano, and I had a very nice birthday. How’s that for a summary?

Impetigo – since I already traumatized several of you by making you look at Neve’s rash, I thought I’d be fair and subject the rest of you to a photo. We’ve been using a prescription cream since Thursday and it’s gotten a bit better since I took the picture. It doesn’t seem to bother her and it’s cute hearing her talk about “my impetigo.”

Piano – years ago, my parents said I could have their piano but we just never got around to having it moved. Finally they took matters into their own hands and my 70 year old father put it into the back of his truck with a front end loader and delivered it to us. When he got here, he backed right up to our deck, put down some planks and he and Dale rolled it into the study. I’m quite excited about it, but everyone else is getting tired of hearing me play a tortured version of “The Rose” over and over.

Thanks to everyone for the nice birthday wishes and emails and phone calls. We went to a lovely Christmas party at Rob & Gab’s, then out for dinner with Mike & Darla. We went to a restaurant I’d been wanting to go to for years called Step’n Out. It’s a very cute little place with a very fun atmosphere and the food was delicious. Their culinary skills are much better than their restaurant naming ones. The eccentric owner took a picture of us with my cell phone camera but I have no idea how to access it, so you’ll just have to imagine it in your head. I'll post it if I can figure it out, along with some more Christmas photos.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sunfire 1995-2007 RIP

As I feared, the car repair quote was not $200. It was seven times that, with a disclaimer that it might be even more once they opened the Sunfire up for surgery and could see what they were dealing with. So with a heavy heart, we decided to have it put down. It’s had a good life and has served us well over the years. In the midst of our debate whether to fix it or pursue other automotive options, an opportunity to buy a new (to us) car just popped up in front of us. Used car shopping horrifies both Dale & I, so we took this opportunity as a sign that it was meant to be. It might just be a sign that we’re lazy and cheap, but it’s a sign all the same. So instead of the overwhelming $1300+ worth of repairs, we now have to come up with $4000+. There must be an up-side somewhere in this. We’re actually surprisingly calm about the whole situation – we knew the Sunfire was living on borrowed time and to put it in perspective, we’re all healthy and the Christmas shopping is done. Any possibility of going to Florida this winter just died along with our Sunfire, but that’s okay. We’re going to embrace winter and learn to love it.

Yesterday was the last day of school before Christmas holidays. I think I’m happier than the kids, although they were at the end of their garlands too. Every day this week, Spencer started crying when he walked in the door after school and stayed crying until bedtime. He paused every now and then to ask for candy, but it was pretty much non-stop crying. That boy is exhausted. Chloe has been ornery and grouchy and argumentative and impossible to wake up in the mornings. I’ve been running on fumes all week, but it’s been a fun one. I’ve seen lots of friends and had delightful lunch dates, went to Santa vs the Snowman at IMAX, and the kids had their Christmas concert Thursday night. I was very whiny about it last year, but I have improved my attitude, so it was much better. One bad thing I realized as I was sitting there watching dancing snowflakes is that next year Chloe will be in Grade 5, which means she will be in the Middle Years category, which means … we have to go to TWO concerts! Help. Oh right, positive attitude. help

Oh, and one final bit of happy news: the CD player in the van is BROKEN!!! It can’t play the Kids Christmas CD or the Elmo one or the Veggies Tales one. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Car Trouble and Chicken Carcasses

I just got back from the mall and I vow not to go back til after New Year’s. I would love a new top or something that I haven’t already worn a hundred times, but too bad for me and everyone else who has to see me in the same old clothes. There were no good sales, but I did find black tights for Chloe. The thigh-high fishnet ones at La Senza Girl weren’t quite what I had in mind, but Sears had some normal ones. I bought a Christmas-y brown velvet jumper for Chloe too, against my better judgement. I’m not a big fan of jumpers, plus now I have to come up with a top to go with it, but I think Chloe will love it and I know the years of her wanting velvet party dresses are limited. Well actually I’d still like one, so maybe not. I’m disappointed I didn’t find anything for myself, but Neve was getting burdensome. She didn’t want to sit in the stroller, but she freaked when I put our jackets and her blanky in it. She buckled Ee ee in and when she insisted on pushing the stroller, that’s when I knew my time was up. I cannot handle my kids pushing the stroller – it makes me crazy. Plus I was out of candy. We were walking towards the mall doors and Neve ran ahead and lay down on the disgusting dirty wet rug smack in front of a set of double doors. I screamed and grabbed her, and she didn’t know what the big deal was. “Lock Mama out!” is what she was trying to do. Going to the mall with a two year old is just one big fat lesson in frustration. At least I can see straight today – I walked around for two days feeling dizzy and unable to focus my eyes properly. Then I switched my contacts to opposite eyes and everything’s good now.

The week got off to a bad start yesterday got with Dale’s car breaking down on the way to work. After I drove the kids to school, I went to rescue him. He was on Stradbrook just past Donald and fortunately he had been able to pull over to the side. By the time I got there (an hour later), he was frozen solid from standing in the road trying to guard the parking space in front of his car so the tow truck would have room to hook him up. So I parked there and we waited for CAA. Then we drove home to get Dale’s mom’s house key, then drove across the city so that Dale could borrow her car to get to work. All in all, Neve & I were stuck in the van for two and a half hours straight listening to the kids Christmas CD over and over. I’d be happy if I never heard Dominic the Donkey again. Through trial and error, I discovered that Neve likes the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, so we listened to that CD a few times too. Anyway, by the time we made it home it was 11:00 and my morning plans were wrecked. The friends that were supposed to come over at 9:00 did come by for a quick cup of tea, but we didn’t go to Costco as planned. Which is just as well, since I probably saved $200 by not going. That’s $200 I can spend on clothes for myself. Or on car repairs. I’d be ecstatic if it’s only $200. If only all problems were fixed as easily as my eye problems.

I decided to try and make some decent meals this week that everyone likes (I really must be in the Christmas spirit), so I got Dale to buy me a deli-roasted chicken so I could make chicken noodle soup. I can’t stand touching raw meat that has bones in it, so I thought an already-cooked chicken wouldn’t be so bad. Wrong. I got it out of the fridge and looked at it for a long time.

I got out the cutting board and the soup pot. I told myself that if me and my family were starving to death, I’d be overjoyed with a whole chicken and I’d happily deal with skin and carcasses. But it didn’t work. I could not get myself to touch it. The skin looked so disgusting. And its little legs were crossed. So we had salmon for supper, which didn’t really do it for me either. We currently have meat about once a month (not counting fish, or if we go out to eat or to someone’s house) and that’s becoming too often for me (the meat, not going out). And just to clarify in case anyone wants to have us over for dinner, it’s not the eating meat I have a problem with, it’s preparing it myself. If I haven’t seen it in its pre-death shape, I’m fine. So as long as Cornish game hen isn’t on the menu, there’s no problem. Dale cut up the chicken and simmered it when he got home and now I’ve got soup boiling on the stove. The whole house smells like chicken, which is not that appetizing especially when I’m still full from lunch.

Tonight we’re off to Imax to see Santa vs, the Snowman. Can’t wait to get in the van and listen to that *#$&*#% CD again.

The kids were playing dog. Guess who's always the dog. I'd like to bring that leash to the mall.

PS: You can click on the chicken to see a larger image. Feel free to use it as your desktop background.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The week before Christmas

Wow - 20 comments! That’s definitely a record. I loved reading all teh comments about appliances, food savers, and of course facial hair disagreements (which I discovered when speaking to Robyn in person was not about HER facial hair, but that of her husband. In case anyone needed clarification).

It was another productive week; got some baking done and gifts wrapped and the shopping finished. The contributing factor to my success was that Neve went to my mom & dad’s on Wednesday and didn’t come home until Saturday afternoon. She had a great time being the queen of a different household for a change, and I must say we enjoyed the queen being away. And we were all happy to see each other when she arrived home, so it was a win-win. She’s officially done with Pull-ups as of this weekend; she’s been dry at night for the past couple of weeks, so it’s underwear around the clock now. Next we must work on getting rid of her bottle.

It’s been a busy weekend, as weekends before Christmas usually are. We went to Christmas parties Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Sunday night the kids were in a Christmas program at the new church, which was super cute. My kids were dressed up as toys – Spencer as Superman and Chloe as a princess. I don’t think it was very clear to the audience why they were dressed this way, but they were happy, although Spencer had wanted to be a robot and I told him that was too complicated a costume to make on short notice. Unfortunately another boy came dressed as a robot, so I had to explain to Spencer that his mother must love him more. The program was for kids aged 3 and up, so that meant Neve had to sit with us. She brought her doctor’s kit and gave us needles, which kept her occupied for quite some time.

Anyway, that’s my little update. I’m looking forward to this week; I’ve got coffee and lunch dates with friends almost every day, plus I want to go shopping for clothes and hopefully find some good sales. I’ve been looking unsuccessfully for black tights for Chloe – if anyone sees some, let me know…

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Footwear and Freak-outs

Every day there are fewer boxes on the Advent Calendar – the countdown to Christmas is going too fast. I just can’t say enough good things though about how amazing it feels to be ahead of the curve this year.

• Shopping: 99% done (one fun gift left)
• Wrapping: 85% done
• Baking: 50% done (I like baking, so that’s not really a chore)
• Cards: 99% done

So the usual annual panic is not upon me, but I am a little disappointed that I don’t seem to have more spare time to sit and read my backlog of Style at Home magazines. But I’m sure that will come once the numbers above are all at 100. I haven’t been listening to much Christmas music either; whenever I put in a CD, Neve cries until I put in Veggie Tales. We do have one Christmas CD in the van with songs like “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” etc. that she not only allows us to play, but insists on. But there are only 10 short songs on it so I have to hear them over and over and over. And we don’t even drive around that much.

So far, we’ve already had a few Christmas celebrations – last Saturday we had a bowling/dinner event in Carman with my dad’s side of the family, and Sunday we celebrated Christmas with Dale’s family since his mom left today to spend Christmas in Florida. I’m so jealous; the weather here has been frightful. All I can say is thank goodness for remote car starters. Neve refuses to wear a hat, mittens, or proper footwear so I have to carry her (and her blanket and pink ee-ee and the new dolly that she got from Dale’s mom for Christmas) when we run to and from the van. I’m surprised Neve hasn’t repeated any of the words that have come out of my mouth. About the footwear, she has these great black boots (not practical or functional; for decorative purposes only) that light up when she walks. They sound tacky, and they sort of are, but we both love them. I’ve been squeezing her foot into them with all my might lately, but she hasn’t complained. Today we were in Chapters and she said, “Toes tight. Off.” She tried taking her boots off in the middle of the store, but luckily they are so tight that they require adult strength to remove. In a rare stroke of luck and being in the right place at the right time, we walked over two stores to the Shoe Company and found the exact same boots in a larger size. The good part was that they were clearance priced (regular price $29, now on sale for $19 with an extra 20% off. I LOVE it when there’s an extra percentage off the sale price. I know it’s all a marketing trick, but it gets me every single time.) but the bad part was the size selection was limited. She really should have gone up two sizes, but we had to settle for one. It’s probably not the wisest $16 I’ve ever spent since she’ll probably outgrow them in a month, but I justified it because I needed the shoebox for wrapping a gift.

Jumping to another topic, Dale had another night terror on Sunday night. In the middle of the night, I was jolted from a deep sleep by Dale bolting upright, leaping out of bed, and in the most terrifying, panicked voice ever, he says, “Oh no!!! I forgot!!” He is frantically looking out the window, then he tries to find his jeans and is heading for the door. He was freaking out and saying, “The baby! I forgot!” I kept saying, “DALE!” over and over and he stared at me for about 10 seconds (which is a long time to be stared at in the middle of the night) and then he finally woke up enough to realize he’d been dreaming and went back to bed. My heartbeat didn’t get back to normal for at least half an hour. It spooks me out; I just don’t know what he’s going to do, especially when he’s staring at me so eerily. The next day, he told me that he dreamed he’d left the baby (he wasn’t sure if it was Neve or a different baby) in the van and he knew it would have frozen to death by now. I suppose his panic was understandable in that situation. They say you’re not supposed to wake a sleepwalker, but really – what was I supposed to do? I would have let him go outside, but I’d probably have to eventually go look for him and I didn’t feel like going out in -30 weather. He hadn’t had a night freak for a while; I guess we were due.

Spencer’s bedtime prayer tonight: Thank you that I have a crush on A_____ and I pray that she will get a crush on me.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Continuing my daily blogging streak

Here are a few photos from last weekend. The first one was one taken on last Friday's outing when the kids were off school, which I never got around to writing about. The abbreviated version: I got an insider tip from a friend, so first we went to buy a bed for Neve at the Habitat for Humanity Re-store (brand new in-the-box Palliser bed - $25!! We still have to get mattresses though), a trip to Toad Hall Toys where we could have spent hours more than we did, a delicious lunch at the Underground Cafe, and a final stop at the Bay to the 4th floor (or 5th?) where they have all the Christmas trees decorated and the toys, etc. It wasn't quite as spectacular as I remembered in years past, but the kids loved it. Spencer said it felt like he was in a dream. And there, sitting in a lonely corner, was Santa ringing a bell, all alone (except for the camera person). I thought it would be a great opportunity to try and get a picture with Neve, but she didn't feel the same way. It seems like whenever she sees Santa, suddenly there is a magnetic force between her and I, and she gets sucked towards me like a watch in an MRI machine (or so I saw on the Simpsons). I'm going to try again after school tomorrow. The lure of the cane candy is strong, although I'm not sure why because she always takes one lick and says, "Me no like." Oh right, the photo. This was taken at the Bay downtown; the only photo I got before my camera battery died.

All I want for Christmas is ... Spencer lost his tooth on Friday.

And finally, a blurry picture of our Christmas tree. We have had a much happier Christmas tree experience than last year. We got a different kind of tree and I like it much better. The best part is that it hasn't fallen over once. With my new purple lights and the blue ones from last year, my purple & blue theme is becoming more obvious. I've still got lots of crazy kid decorations, but I actually don't mind them. I'm liking the Tanenbaum in general this year; I feel like writing a song about it, but someone already did.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I think I won

For those of you who were concerned about me after yesterday's post, I just wanted to let you know today was indeed a brighter day – literally and un-literally. The sun was shining and it was calm and peaceful (nothing moves when it’s this cold). I shoveled the walk and it really didn’t seem that cold; I was surprised the kids had indoor recess today. I went to the mom’s group at church this morning where there is free babysitting and then Neve napped all afternoon. She still managed to get a few tantrums in, but I can handle them better when I’ve had a break from her. That girl has been so two lately. Continuing with the positive, I got a lot done today. I finished getting out most of the Christmas decorations, put the boxes back in the basement, vacuumed the needles (the shedding and the thirstiness seems to have abated a little), wrapped some gifts, got my Christmas cards in envelopes, made muffins and two cheesecakes. Plus my neighbour came over for tea AND I went for a hair cut and colour. This sounds so impressive that I just want to keep going. I also did some Chamber work and some laundry, made some phone calls, and dealt with a stack of papers on the counter. Did I mention shoveling snow? I'm in a happier place now. What a difference 24 hours can make. I must remember that the next time I get stressed. The wine didn’t hurt either.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I just want to sit and look at my tree and listen to Christmas carols and drink warm apple cider

Today was a long exhausting day. The kids are restless, I’m tired of snow and boots and jackets and allowing extra driving time. I have four gifts left to buy and just want to get it over with, but we are busy every evening and Dale thinks I should wait til next payday to spread out the spending, but I just want to clear my mind (if such a thing is possible). My Christmas “cards” are done but need to be stuffed and stamped and mailed. My wrapping table has not seen much action. My house is half decorated and Christmas boxes are everywhere. My tree is dripping needles and needs to be watered every 10 minutes. My paper pile is growing again. I cancelled our daily newspaper today because I am sick of all the paper and I feel compelled to go through every single flyer that comes with it. I am fighting for control. I will win. And tomorrow is a new day and everything will look brighter, especially if it’s stopped snowing.

Today it was the kids’ turn to go to the dentist. This was Neve’s first appointment and I told her last night that we were going to the dentist in the morning. She starts crying, “No dentist!” I told her I would stay with her the whole time and she could even sit on my lap in the chair. She calmed down a bit, but when I said the dentist would look at her teeth, she said, “Me no open mouth.” And those were the very first words out of her mouth when I came into her room this morning. When we got to the dentist’s office, she did that hands-free cling again. But then we sat in the dentist chair and the hygienist moved it up and down and reclined it (a different girl than I had last week), and Neve quite enjoyed it. Then the hygienist asked Neve to open her mouth and she was totally cooperative and opened wide. You just never know how things will turn out with her. The dentist wasn’t quite as aggressive this time; maybe he goes easy on the kids. He did recommend putting sealants on Chloe’s molars, which I believe we will actually do. I have more kind feelings towards the dental office after today; Spencer had the best hygienist guy ever. He talked about finding superheroes in Spencer’s mouth and I overheard them discussing Spiderman and Batman in great detail. It sounded like they were both having fun, and for that the hygienist gets my love and gratitude. Spencer was very motivated to brush more regularly – “Sam says I should always brush in the morning.” (Our mornings are a bit hectic and that sometimes get neglected. Okay, almost always. But not anymore. Sam has spoken.)

And a Spencer quote: “Neve likes guns now.”

Me: “Oh yeah?”

Spencer: “Yeah. She didn’t at first, but I encouraged her and now she does.”

Here I am

I’ve been having a tough time getting to the blog these days. I’ve been busy shopping (almost done!!!), getting our Christmas tree and decorating it, working on our Christmas cards, setting up a wrapping station (it’s changed my life), and just keeping up with the regular household stuff. I promise I will write something soon, but for now here’s a link to some clever little videos. Big Box Mart is a favourite at our house, followed closely by This Land (which may not be completely suitable for children, but it’s all in the name of politics).