Thursday, January 31, 2008

Your Mama Don't Dance

In this video you can see:

a) Neve takes after her parents in the rhythm and moves department

b) It is time for us to go buy an iPod and docking station. As much as I love rockin’ in the hood with my ghetto blaster, we really could use the extra 200 square feet of space it takes up. That would be perfect for Spencer’s Ultimate Lava Hot Wheels set.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why is mommy so grumpy?

I have been trying with all my might not to mention the weather, but I just have to say if it doesn’t warm up soon, my children will all run away from home. I have been so snappy and angry that they are all scared of me. I guess that’s not the worst thing in the world, but I’m a little worried that I can’t remember the last time I smiled. Maybe if someone had wanted to see Juno on Tuesday night … I felt real special with all of you begging to come with me. Ha. I didn’t want to go anyway. So there.

Besides crushing my children’s joy and confidence, I have been busy with several things this week, including STILL working on Neve’s room. Tonight Dale hung up the curtains and some other wall things. It looks okay, but now I’m feeling like the room looks too busy. But I decided to go ahead and paint a flower/plant on the wall anyway. Not sure what I was thinking – it looks wrong, and when the paint is dry, I will paint over it. I’m getting carried away. Must stop now.

And I’ve inherited Spencer’s sore throat, so off to bed I go.

The scantily clad Tinkerbell lamp, with her wings still intact after 60 hours

Monday, January 28, 2008


The week is off to a good start. The boy is finally back in school – he really was sick, but by yesterday my patience was completely gone. He was crying about every little thing. Dale took the kids to the toy store at the Forks yesterday and when they got home, Spencer started crying because Chloe hadn’t bought him a $7 toy he wanted. I asked him why he didn’t buy it with his own money. “Because that would have used up all my money. Waaa waaa! This is the worst day of my life!” But later that evening he and Chloe were playing outside and things must have gone well because when he came in, he said it was the second best time he ever had in his life. (I’m proud to say the very best time was when just he and I went sliding a few weeks ago). So he was perking up, plus he started talking audibly after 4 solid days of whispering. If it wasn’t for the crying, it would have been a quiet 4 days around here. I’m not sure why talking hurt his throat but crying didn’t. Poor little bunny.

This morning after I dropped the kids off at school, Neve and I went to Home Depot, Rona, Jysk, got an oil change, washed the van, and were back home by 11:00 a.m. All this resulted in a lamp, curtains, and a curtain rod for Neve’s room and a van that’s already mud-splattered. First I have to say something about Home Depot. I still hate that store. I hardly ever go there anymore, but every time I do I feel like putting “Get rid of vile-smelling Subway” in their suggestion box. I never actually do it because that would mean standing near the Subway entrance to fill out a comment card. Why not replace Subway with a bakery? I’d go to Home Depot more often if I could get a brownie or bring home a fresh baked loaf of bread. Or if they really want to greet their customers with a strong smell, why not a Body Shop or Fruits & Passion kiosk? If only I worked there, I could turn that chain around. Although I guess that’s the whole problem – it doesn’t need turning around and the Subway is there to stay. But the smell was not my biggest issue today. I was shocked to see that the very same shower doors that were discontinued in the summer of 2006 are STILL ON DISPLAY in one of their sample bathrooms. “Doors not available” has been written on the glass with a Window Writer or something, which looks very professional. I guess there’s no point in trying to look professional when you can’t even be bothered to change a discontinued display for almost two years. I’m a bit worried about the strong emotions that Home Depot still invokes in me. Deep breath.

Nevertheless, I bought a lamp at the Depot. I may despise that store, but I still support it. My convictions are so strong. I am sure that Shannon will be horrified at my lamp choice. Fortunately she’s too gracious to say anything nasty, but … it’s a Tinkerbell lamp. I was looking for something cute but classy, and I ended up with Tinkerbell. I don’t usually buy things like that, but the colours match the room and it was a weak moment. But at least I said no to the Disney one that had dancing princesses and played horrible loud music when you pressed a button. Neve was quite taken with that one, but I told her it was too breakable. Like when I hurl it against a wall, one of the princess’s heads would be sure to come off. Unlike the Tinkerbell one that has fragile pointy glass wings that are guaranteed to be broken off by bedtime tonight. At least she doesn’t sing.

The curtains are plain green like the existing green in the room. I’ll see if Dale can put them up for me today and then pictures will be forthcoming.

And I'm definitely up for seeing Juno - how about Tuesday night, anyone??

Sunday, January 27, 2008

So far...

Yesterday I cleaned up the paint cans and moved Neve's furniture in place. This was probably a big mistake because I’m really not done painting, but I was tired of the mess and wanted Neve to sleep in her own room again. I need to do a bunch of touch-ups, plus originally I was planning to do two coats of the green line, but then I decided I could get away with one. Some day when I get an extra burst of energy, I will finish the touch-ups. For the line, I didn’t want a perfectly straight line (not that there was any danger of that happening anyway) but some of them look quite messy. There’s a fine line between a casual, relaxed look and looking like Neve did it herself. I believe I crossed that line. The trick is to not look too closely. When I show people her room, I will let them pop their head in for 5 seconds and then I will firmly guide them out. Next on my list are curtains (to hide the rotting, moldy window), a lamp, and hanging up pictures. I’m also considering painting a flower or two on the wall like the original picture.

I made this, but it looks better in real life.

Neve was very excited about her room. I asked her this morning if she liked sleeping in her new room.

Neve: Yeah! Me sit up in night.
Me: Then what did you do?
Neve: Me lie down again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stripe Decisions

Tonight I removed the last of the tape from the stripes in Neve's room. I like the purple, but now the top part of the wall looks dull and dirty. I'm just hoping when everything's done and there are pictures on the wall, it will all magically come together. I tried out some different skinny line options and desperately need opinions on which looks best. I'm planning to paint a line down the centre of either the purple OR the white (not both) stripes. I'm just not sure what colour to go with (you should be able to click on the picture to make it larger).

a) green line on purple stripe (left)
b) purple (top wall colour) on new purple (centre)
c) green line on white stripe (right)

The green matches the quilt and I'm also using it to paint Neve's bedside crate and some pictures frames.

Option b) doesn't look very exciting, but I thought maybe it tied together the top and bottom of the wall. Or not.

Please tell me what you think. There are no wrong opinions. Or are there...?

Spencer was still sick today and missed another day of school. He rarely gets sick, but when he does, he takes after his father. I know this video has been around for a while, but it's just so true.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Still painting

Progress is being made in Neve’s room. Last night I measured, re-measured, and then taped all the way around the room in preparation for the purple stripes (purple is not really the right description - it's more like a cross between purple and fuschia, but I don't know what that colour would be called so I'm calling it purple. But a different purple than the wall colour). Taping is not my favourite job. It seems like it should be mindless work, but it took all the mind I had and then some. But at least I had Shania Twain singing to me, so that made everything better. Listening to Any Man of Mine six times in a row motivates me like you wouldn’t believe. Even Dale was lured to the room by Shania. He ended up painting the stripes while I finished taping. Today Spencer woke up sick and stayed home from school, which meant I had to cancel my morning plans, which meant I had time to paint the second coat of purple. I’ve stripped off some of the tape, and it looks okay. Not EXACTLY like the picture, but I still need to paint a skinny line down the centre of each purple stripe. I'm sure after that it will be perfect. Hmmm. What makes me think I can do stuff like this?? Someone please hit me over the head with a paint can when I get my next bright idea. Speaking of paint cans, I bought a big fat gallon of the purple paint and it looks like I've only used a tablespoon of it. If anyone needs some purple/fuschia paint, let me know. It will be in the cellar with my 37 other cans of leftover paint. Half of them are probably dried up or spoiled, but cleaning out the paint can area has never yet made it to my to-do list. Although I guess I could do it with Shania's help.

One more blog-worthy piece of news. Quite some time ago, the decorating friend helped me pick some fabric to re-cover the papasan chair in Chloe's room (the one I got as a high school grad gift. Still going strong many MANY years later. Best gift ever. Except for the baptism wine glasses.). Due to a calculating error (though I did pass math in order to graduate), we didn't buy enough fabric. So I draped the piece of fabric over the chair, tucked it around, and there it sat for a year. My laziness and procrastinating was rewarded on Saturday when my dear and talented sister showed mercy on me and went to the fabric store with me to buy more fabric. Best of all, she took the cushion and fabric home with her, sewed it all up in a flash - incuding a zipper! - and delivered the finished product to me today. Did I mention the zipper? I don't know anyone besides my mom who knows how to sew in zippers. Not sure how I missed out on the sewing gene. But I can touch my nose with my tongue and I don't think they can do that. Thanks, Jan!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

And the winner is...

I got a registered letter from the City today. In fact it actually came on Friday, but since I wasn’t home I picked it up at the post office today. The City may have won in speediness, but I won the appeal. I was hoping for a more substantial victory, but at least I got something. They reduced my assessment by $11,000; I was hoping for $20,000. But whatever – I am declaring myself the winner. My next fight will be to get reimbursed for some of the tax money I had to pay in December. If they try to just deduct it off my TIPS payment for the next 3 years instead of giving me a lump sum, I will bare my pit bull teeth and bite them til they have rabies. Not sure how long that will take. But I’ll find out.

The joy I was feeling over my little victory was sucked away by the non-stop screaming of the two-year-old all the way home from the post office. She was already displeased about being dragged away from the Calico Critters play table at the toy store near the post office, so she was being sour about everything. She wanted to get into her car seat ALL SELF, and then just sat there on the floor in the van. Finally after much totally useless reasoning and me getting mad about standing outside in the frigid air that is not fit for humans, I forced her into her car seat and had to listen to eardrum-shattering screams til we got home. Thank goodness it only took seven minutes because if I would have had to listen to that for one more minute, I would have freaked. She kept screaming, “LET ME OUT!!” and “ALL SELF” and my favourite, “HAPPY NOW! HAPPY NOW!” (screaming/crying so loud that her voice was breaking and going up about 3 octaves). She calmed down when we got home, and I thought she’d be all worn out and have a great nap, but no. She’s been in Chloe’s bed (since her room is being painted) for two hours and is still not sleeping. I can hear her playing and talking, so every half hour I go and make her lie down again. She always blames it on her monkeys. “Ee-ee not sleepin’,” she says. And now I’m almost at the point where I don’t want her to fall asleep because we have to get the kids from school soon.

But she does make us laugh, so I guess we’ll keep her. Yesterday she was pretending to be a puppy and I asked her if she was wagging her tail. She said, “Me no have any tails on my bum.” For some reason me and the other children found this hilarious and kept repeating it. We need to get out more. As long as it doesn’t involve car seats. Even then, I think I’d rather go insane than freeze to death.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Baby Cate

Here’s Shannon's little munchkin – born yesterday at 10:53 a.m. The cell-phone picture doesn’t do her justice, but it was better than the one Cate’s father took with his Blackberry :) She is absolutely beautiful and perfect in every way. That goes for Cate too. So Siobhan and Robyn both guessed the right day, but yes, Siobhan you guessed first. There’s still no prize though.

In other less exciting news, my sister came over today to help me paint Neve’s room. We measured out and painted all the white stripes, now I have to let them dry before I do the taping for the purple stripes. I think it looks good so far. I also bought green paint to match her bedspread, which I will use for her night table crate as well as some picture frames. I guess I could get working on that right now, but instead I’m going to make myself a big plate of nachos and watch Little Miss Sunshine.

But before I do, here are a couple of pictures taken at the Legislative Building. Robyn’s photoshopped version is a lot better, but I took these on Friday during Chloe’s field trip. Neve & I tagged along for the tour.

And this one I just took to show Neve's static-y hair and what I am up against in this miserable climate. I wet it and did it in tight french braids only one hour earlier, but all these strands still managed to break free and stick straight up. Definitely a losing battle.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I fought the City...

In November, over a year after our renovations were finished, we got a notice in the mail that our property had been reassessed along with a big fat bill for retroactive property taxes. We had two weeks to pay $894, right before Christmas. I knew our property taxes would go up once we were reassessed, but the retroactive thing was a nasty surprise. I phoned every City department I could think of, but no one cared. So I decided to appeal the reassessment just for fun. Well, more out of spite I guess - I really just did it because I was pissed off about the whole situation, not necessarily because I don’t agree with the assessment. But I carried on, and this morning I had my day in front of the appeals board. Yesterday I suddenly started getting nervous about the whole thing, so I spent a good part of the day writing up my case and printing out summaries for the board, etc. I don’t know why I was feeling so uptight about it; I really had nothing to lose since we’ve already paid the $894 (if we win, we’ll get some of it back, plus less property taxes to pay in the future). I can’t imagine being a lawyer and being responsible for the fate of an innocent person (because I would only represent the innocent) in my hands. In the end, Dale actually came with me which was nice, especially since I had Neve. A couple of people had offered to look after her, but I thought they might take more pity on me if I had a child with me (yes, I really thought about that). I dressed her in tattered (but clean) clothes and shaved her head. I thought attaching an IV pole to her would be a nice touch, but Dale thought it was a bit much. Just kidding of course; although joking about ill children always makes me nervous. Anyway, it was an official type of thing with a swearing-on-the-Bible procedure and a 3-member panel as well as a person who records the proceeding, and the property assessor who I’m fighting against. There were about 5 other people also appealing their assessments, and thanks to Neve, they purposely took our case first. I think it went okay, although later I thought of things I wished I’d said. The assessor looked like she had just rolled out of her trailer park bed (that’s a little harsh, but I’m just practicing for when I’m a hardened criminal lawyer – but still defending the innocent) and had no case whatsoever. I had a page of facts and research to back up my case, so if I was a panel member, I would so declare me the winner. They will mail me a letter with their decision in two to three weeks.

I was going to write more, but I’m running out of steam. I’ve got nothing riveting to say anyway.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Neve's Room

We’re on the edge of the second week back to school and the transition from holiday sloth to civilized life has gone better than expected. I don’t love getting up early and I sort of miss the kids, but I’m also quite enjoying my quieter days. In a weak moment, I decided to end the fall embargo on extra-curricular activities and now the evenings are filled with art class and hockey and swimming lessons. Art and hockey are on the same night (different kids) and since there’s still no sign of Joey, it takes a bit of creativity to make it all work. Why we even try to make it all work is a mystery. I guess it pleases me to think I am contributing to my children’s … what? Well-being? Health? Future? Active lifestyle? I think I’ll go with the last one.

People have been asking for a blog update, but it seems my life is as boring as theirs because I have absolutely nothing of interest to write. I did have a fun weekend with a girls night out on Friday (went to Hu’s on First for dinner) and a 40th birthday party on Saturday (an amazing dinner at Bellissimo). I’ve got a few things up this week, and I also want to get going on Neve’s room. My poor children were not blessed with a mother that has any decorating skills whatsoever. Thankfully we have Shannon. She thinks she’s coming for lunch on Wednesday, but really I will lure her into Neve’s room with a caramel macchiato and lock her in until she’s made it look like a pretty, cheery bedroom instead of an orphanage cell. Knowing her, that will take about 5 minutes. On a side note, for those of you who don’t know Shannon in the real world, she is 8.5 months pregnant and dearly wishing her baby was already on the outside. If anyone wants to venture a guess as to when Baby Cate will appear, add your guess to the comments section. Her official due date is January 23rd, but her existing three children were all born early…

Anyway, here’s a picture of a kids room that I really like (not the frog part so much; but the wavy border and stripes). Neve’s room will never look anything like that, but I like to aim high. (Not that Shannon couldn’t make it look like that; just that I don’t have the time/skill/money to actually follow her advice). I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Deer Collar

I drove the kids to school this morning and on the way, we picked up Jake, our carpool boy. This was our conversation.

Me: What did you get for Christmas, Jake?

Jake: A hatchet.

That threw me off a bit; it’s not your typical gift for a 7-year-old. But he’s an outdoorsy, adventurous type, so that’s fine. After I processed that information, the conversation continued.

Me: Did you get anything else?

Jake: A deer collar.

Me: What? (He was sitting way at the back of the van, so I couldn’t hear too well)

Jake: A deer collar.

Chloe: What?

Jake: A deer collar.

The conversation ended there, either because we were all (except Jake) trying to imagine why one might put a collar on a deer or because we just assumed we’d heard wrong and didn’t want to annoy him by asking ‘What?’ anymore.

Later in the day I emailed Shannon, who happens to be his mother, and I mentioned his interesting Christmas gifts. This was her reply (I hope you don’t mind me quoting you, Shannon. Too late now.):

“LOL!!!!!!!!! Deer CALLER. Like as in super annoying thing that makes a deer noise to attract deer so you can run after them and hack them with your new hatchet! I can see you do not have hunting blood in you.”

I guess I don’t. I was imagining Jake and his pet deer frolicking together at his grandparents’ home in the country. I wondered if the deer had a leash too, but I thought that was silly. The purpose of the collar was probably just to identify him as Jake’s deer. Obviously I have much left to learn in this lifetime. But it gave me something to laugh about for the rest of the day.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Must remember to set the alarm tonight

Tomorrow life returns to normal and the New Year starts for real. We’ve had a low-stress, low-expectation holiday and I think it’s time to quit while we’re ahead and resume our regular schedule. Towards the end of the week, I was ready to leave the house and getting up for work on Thursday wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Then there was Friday. I promised my neighbour I would look after her two year old while she went for an appointment. She was concerned that 8:30 was too early to bring her daughter over, since she knows we sleep in. I insisted it was fine, and I can only imagine how she must have been cursing the day I was born on Friday morning when she rang my doorbell and phoned me repeatedly, with no response. She had to pack up her daughter and drive her to her mother’s before her appointment. I woke up feeling happy and well rested, but when I looked at the clock and saw it was 9:19, I almost threw up. I can’t believe I slept through everything. She’ll never ask me to babysit again. Even worse, it means I can never ask her to babysit again. I am so pathetic.

But the good part is I was instantly wide awake and the day could only get better from there. We packed in three playdates, and I did some cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping and errands. On Saturday, we continued squeezing in activities so the kids would have something to say for the “what I did during the holidays” sharing circle. But first Dale & I cleaned out the storage room and my heart felt lighter with every armload of junk we removed from the house. We got rid of so much stuff. We could probably have gotten rid of double the amount, but we got bored and I wanted to save some heart-lightening experiences for another day. Then we went sliding at Omand’s Creek, which was great until Chloe hit a tree. Then Spencer banged into a family that had just smashed into a different tree and were trying to pull themselves together. I decided to take them home before anything worse happened. Then we went to see the movie Enchanted, which Chloe loved and Spencer hated. He was in a sour mood the rest of the day (“Why can’t we go to a movie I like?”). Then we raced home since we were having people over for dinner. Spencer had a king-sized meltdown before bed, ending in deep, well-defined bite marks on Chloe’s upper arm. The screaming got worse when Dale told him his punishment was no TV today. Some of the screaming may have come from me, but it turned out okay; the kids played outside for over two hours this afternoon while I napped. They were all in bed by 7:30 tonight, although Chloe has reappeared a couple of times. Better Chloe than Neve though. If I had to put Neve to bed again, I would run screaming out of the house. Her bedtime routine is making me crazy lately; she totally runs the show and any attempts to regain control have failed horribly. We have to read two books (either Olivia and The Poky Little Puppy (which is probably THE stupidest book in the world) or The Little Red Hen and Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes.). She has caught on to me skipping pages and has to feel every single page herself. When I am done reading, SHE has to put the books away (she insists on keeping her books very very orderly and lined up exactly according to height), she has to get into bed herself with NO help, the zipper end of her blanket MUST be up by her head, and the other thicker blanket on her feet ONLY. She MUST sleep with her stuffed animals (or her “kids” as she calls them), but not always the same stuffed animals. I have no way of knowing which ones will be called to duty on which night, so every single night I am running around the house trying to find the chosen ones. And the whole excruciating routine is repeated every single day at naptime. Anyone who’s ever had a two year old can probably relate, and I know it’s a phase that she’ll grow out of and soon she’ll be a teenager, but sometimes I think a phone call from the principal wouldn’t be so bad compared to this.

Happy “real” New Year to all of you.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hundreds of dollars worth of new toys in the house...

and my children are colouring styrofoam.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Putting the toys away

Our Anti-New Years (ANY) was great. Three out of five were sleeping by midnight, and not the three that should have been. Can’t complain about 2008 so far, especially since I have yet to leave the yard (had to leave the house to put the garbage out) this year. I vowed that I would be up early today to organize the storage room, but that was the worst incentive ever. Most of us were up and dressed by 10:00 a.m., so I’m happy with that. I haven’t made my way to the storage room yet except to get some bake exchange cookies from the freezer for breakfast. I need to go buy some totes to put Christmas stuff in, so everything’s at a standstill. I debated about going out with all the kids, but easily talked myself out of that. I’m still working on my puzzle. This is the eighth day I’ve been working on it, and I think I’d be exaggerating if I said it was half done. I’m getting a little tired of it, especially since it’s taking up the entire dining room table. At least it’s a good excuse not to cook anything that we can’t eat standing at the counter.

Today hasn’t been completely unproductive. I got to cut open a vacuum cleaner bag to search through the dust and pine needles for a tiny toy fork. I vacuumed up Neve’s Calico Critter fork a few days ago, which is not hard to do since it’s the size of an eyelash. I was hoping she wouldn’t notice, but my hopes were not fulfilled. And then after I found it and washed it, she didn’t even play with it.

I’ve been trying to clean out the kids’ rooms and the playroom to make room for the new Christmas toys. I don’t know what to do about Spencer’s Lego. He doesn’t want the sets all mixed together, but it’s pretty hard not to. We need it all contained in the same area since there is Lego in every single room of the house. There is space in his closet, so my January goal is to come up with some kind of drawers or shelf system. Then there’s his Hot Wheels Ultimate Lava Land set. Thanks, Jim & Sabrina. Just wait til next Christmas - your baby told me it wants a pet ferret. This is the biggest Hot Wheels set I’ve ever seen. Right now it’s taking up 80% of the living room. That might be its permanent spot because I have no idea where else to put it, unless we get rid of the couches in the basement.

The prize for the most annoying toy goes to Chloe’s High School Musical book that came with a microphone that works. Need I say more. And the prize for the broken-the-soonest toy goes to Neve’s Fur Real lamb, which no longer bleats since she dropped it on the hardwood floor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.