Sunday, March 30, 2008

Waring: Graphic Visual Content

One more quick blog entry before I finally stop talking about it and actually do the Great Computer Shut Down. I just wanted to share my house purging success so far. We started in the study; Dale cleaned out boxes and boxes of work stuff and I cleaned out the closet. We threw out/recycled about six garbage bags worth of stuff, plus 3 boxes to give away. Then I helped Chloe clean out her closet and junk drawers and came up with another two garbage bags of stuff and one give-away box. I wish I’d taken before/after pictures of her closet, because the difference amazing. She usually has a very difficult time throwing things away, so I was very pleased with her. Luckily it’s garbage day tomorrow so if she suddenly has purging remorse in the morning, it’s too late.

BEFORE


AFTER

AFTER

Next on the list is our bedroom, Spencer’s closet, and the basement. I doubt I’ll finish it all this week; especially the basement. I’m going to show you a horrifying picture of my laundry room. Very few humans have seen this room. I had to build up nerve to actually show you, but I figured posting a picture of it will provide me with extra motivation to get it cleaned up this week. No miracles will occur in seven days so it will still be butt-ugly, but at least it will be cleaner.


I don't want to leave you traumatized with that photo stuck in your head, so here are a couple of sweeter ones. The first one is of the chocolate we brought home from the party; we're plugging away, but there is still much left to eat.


And here's Spencer holding baby Isabella. It's funny how he seems more taken with her than Chloe & Neve are. The highlight of my day today was getting to babysit her for almost two hours while Jim & Sabrina had appointments and shopping to do. She's such a good baby and it was so much fun holding her as she slept the entire time.

Happy Spring Break, everyone!

Chloe and the Chocolate Factory


I’m on holidays this week, and I know I said I was going to turn the computer off for the whole week. But I don’t get work email on the weekend, so I decided it wouldn’t hurt if I turned it on today. Dale’s rolling his eyes because he knew I couldn’t go a whole week without my computer, but I really wanted to post pictures from Chloe’s birthday party yesterday. The blog has been my escape from guilt for not journaling or scrapbooking or writing letters to my child for when they’re older, etc. At least I’m writing something down; the only glitch is that I don’t really want my kids to read it. At any rate, here is her party summary.

The party was at Morden’s Chocolates but since they don’t have a party room, the kids came to our house first. There were seven girls, plus Chloe and Spencer. Neve went to Grandma’s, which turned out to be the best thing. I was feeling a little bad that she wasn’t included in the fun, but I was worried that she’d be the centre of attention since some of Chloe’s friends are crazy about her. At Morden’s, she would have needed a full-time adult attendant, gotten horribly messy and eventually would have gotten bored.

So we had lunch, cake and presents (to my purging mood’s delight, all of Chloe’s gifts could fit into a shoebox – although they were mostly gift cards which equals shopping which equals stuff that won’t fit into a shoebox) at our house. Then we drove to Morden’s, where they set us all up at a big table. Each person had a tray of candy, marshmallows, graham crackers, chips, etc. that they could dip into milk chocolate, white chocolate or caramel. The kids were in their glory and made crazy amounts of chocolate. They could eat as much as they wanted, and take everything else home. It was fun to watch them; they really had a blast. At one point, Chloe said, “Am I dreaming, or is this really happening?” What more can you ask for?


She still loves her fake glasses; this is a new pair.

Getting started




I could've posted way more pictures, but I'm always hesitant to post pictures of other people's kids without their permission, so I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I think they're alive

Someone moved one of the vehicles during the night, but it's back now. I thought of going over there to ask if someone could move the car that's blocking our walkway, but they're not the door-answering type. And if that's the biggest problem in my life right now, I'm doing pretty good.

I went for a run today and ALMOST put out my neck/back again. I was running along when suddenly there was a flutter of wings and a big hideous crow flew beside me. The combination of me tensing up and jerking in fright was not a good one. Of course there were vehicles that happened to be driving that saw everything, which was actually a blessing - if the crow had attacked me, I hope with all my heart that someone would have stopped to help me, or at least call 911 on their cell. I wonder if 911 would respond to a call like that. Because if I see a crow attack even my own child, I will not be intervening. I will be calling 911 from a safe place that has a roof.

And then if that's not enough trauma for one run, as I was running on Wellington under the overpass, I spotted an OWL sitting in the rafters. Owls are in my top ten list of Birds That Look Evil. Quite near the top, in fact, possibly right after buzzards and vultures.

But since I certainly didn't want to stop, I kept running. I've ran four miles on my last few runs, which I'm finding quite manageable. How I'm supposed to run more than triple that distance on the day of the half marathon, I do not know. If an owl was chasing me, I could do it.

The Special Toothbrush

Thanks for the birthday party empathizing. I feel better about it today. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. I’m just doing my part to toughen up the kids who think the world rotates around them.

I’m very excited to say I started my spring purging today. I’m trying to hold off until I’m on holidays, but I snuck in a little teaser by going through the clothes in Neve & Spencer’s closets and dressers. I just couldn’t resist and it felt SO good. Three boxes worth of outgoing stuff in just one hour. I’m addicted. I’m actually giddy. I want more. Just a few more days until I can dedicate myself completely to the task of freeing up my space and my mind. Since it’s spring break, the kids will be around which is a bit of a glitch. They do not like to get rid of a single thing. Today when Spencer went to brush his teeth, I noticed the drawer was full of toothbrushes – about 3 per child plus at least 6 new ones. Spencer showed me which ones were his and two looked new, but one was well worn. But when I tried to throw it away, he said, “But I like to keep it as a desample (he meant example, which still doesn’t make sense) because it’s very special to me.” This is what I’m up against. Parachute guy with a missing parachute? Special. A tiny shark from a Kinder egg surprise from Easter 2003? Special. Tangled and twisted plastic slinky from a loot bag* he got when he was in nursery school? Special. These are all true examples. Hopefully the weather’s nice next week so I can lock the kids outside while I purge their rooms of anything that doesn’t have an obvious purpose.

* That will be my next birthday-related rant. Stayed tuned for “Loot Bags: Yes, You Can Have Too Many Stickers.”

On a completely unrelated topic, I’m pretty sure my neighbours across the street are dead. Two couples live together; an older one whom I assume are the parents, and a younger one who I used to think were brother and sister, but then I saw them holding hands. They are usually always on the go; their two vehicles come and go all day long. But neither vehicle has budged for two days. I may sound a little nosy (I prefer "observant"), but one of the cars is blocking our shoveled walkway to the street, which displeases me. This is the family that refused my freshly-baked cookies when they moved in last year. I’m not saying I wish ill upon them, but dot dot dot. If the vehicles aren’t moved soon, I’m going to start walking around the house to see if I can smell any rotting flesh. Now I'm all hungry for my chocolate bunny again.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chloe Turns Ten


Ten years ago today, Dale & I became parents. I can’t really remember life before children, which is probably best, but for the most part I think we made the right choice. We were living in a fun and busy neighbourhood in Toronto, making great money (by our standards), going to movies and restaurants whenever we wanted. Now … hmmm. Oh yeah, I get lots of hugs. I’m just kidding, despite our lives being 100% different than they used to be, it really is everything I dreamed it would be, and so much more. SO much more. Okay, I’ll stop. Everything I say sounds sarcastic and I’m trying to be all emotional and grateful for my three little blessings (“blessings” was meant to sound sarcastic. Not that they aren’t, it just sounds stupid). Moving on…

We celebrated Chloe’s 10th birthday by paying our mechanic two thousand dollars for van repairs. The up-side is that I guess the amount we paid qualified us for the complimentary interior and exterior vehicle cleaning. That saved me a few bucks at the car wash, so I guess it all evens out in the end. And maybe it was my imagination, but my two new front tires seemed super grippy on the snow-covered ice. It’s all good.

Fortunately we were able to scrape together enough change to order pizza for dinner, followed by cupcakes in a box. Chloe is having a birthday party on Saturday at Morden’s Chocolates, where they get to make their own chocolates, so a friend thought up this great idea to put cupcakes in a box to resemble a box of chocolates. Chloe decided she wanted an ice cream cake for her party instead, so we did the cupcakes tonight. We gave her a Super Mario Bros. game for her DS, which she is now officially addicted to. That’s awesome because now I have a guaranteed-to-work threat I can use when she doesn’t listen.


Neve (wearing her current favourite dress-up outfit) helping Chloe open her presents.
To think that Chloe sometimes has trouble staying focused.

Now we come to the part where I have a ill-tempered rant that will be of little interest to anyone. Until this year, I have never done friend birthday parties for both Chloe & Spencer in the same year. One gets a party; the other gets to take one friend to a movie. The next year we alternate. But last year Chloe didn’t want a party so we got off easy. Normally she wouldn’t get a party this year, but since it’s a special double-digit birthday I caved and am now doing two parties in two weeks. I am NEVER doing this again. Both kids said they wanted small parties because “they are more fun.” I couldn’t agree more. The trouble started when we tried making a guest list. To make a long story short, their parties are both huge. I haven’t sent Spencer’s invitations out yet, but I’ve been stressed out about Chloe’s. We probably should have just invited all the girls in her class, but she has friends in other classes and a couple of girls in the neighbourhood that she really wanted to invite, so she only invited 5 girls in her class. Despite our utmost best efforts, two non-invited girls heard about the party and have hurt feelings. Chloe told them she really wanted to invite them, but she was sorry she wasn’t able to invite everyone, which was perfect but it’s so out of her comfort level and she was upset after school. One of the girls isn’t talking to her now, which is not really a loss in this instance. I know it’s all silly and will be forgotten by next week, but it’s so awkward and it alarms me how much it bothers me that someone might be unhappy with me and/or Chloe. I hate feeling insecure.

But though my teeth ache and my ugly brown cords - that should be thrown away but will probably be worn for another three winters - are snug, I am gnawing away on a frozen one-pound milk chocolate bunny, and somehow nothing seems so bad anymore.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

The Easter weekend is coming to a close; it was filled with food, fun and family. We have all eaten way more chocolate than Canada’s food guide recommends. We went to my parents on Friday, to Rob & Gab’s on Saturday, and to Dale’s mom’s on Sunday. I also went for a 4-mile run and a spent a couple of hours at the spa at the Clarion. Dale gave me a gift certificate for a pedicure for Valentines Day, so I used that and spent some time at the mineral pool. Now that my toenails are all pretty, I’m going to start wearing sandals. I'm only half serious, but I am SO tired of my winter shoes (and jackets and jeans and sweaters) that I think I really will.
Speaking of spring, the time has come for serious spring cleaning at our house. I have not been keeping up with clutter control and things are WAY out of hand. There are always so many other things going on that I don’t have time to start any cleaning projects. I feel claustrophobic with the piles of stuff everywhere and my mind is as cluttered as my house. So next week (spring break) I’m taking the week off work and am going to try not to even turn my computer on. Dale’s off for part of the week too, so we’re going to go from room to room and get rid of stuff. I’m going to take before and after pictures and the difference is going to be earth shattering. Unless I lose focus, which is always a possibility.

The kids and their cousins (except for my oldest nephew and his wife) at my parents'.


At our house this morning after our Easter egg hunt. The kids each got chocolate and a toy - nothing celebrates the resurrection of Jesus like a Star Wars light sabre.


Should've got one for Neve too - I can't tell if she really loves that thing as much as she seems to, or if she's just trying to bug Spencer by grabbing it whenever it's left unattended (which is not often since Spencer is obsessed with it. Although he may have forgotten about it by tomorrow and it will be yet another thing on its way to the Salvation Army next week. )

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Still here


Spring has not forgotten us after all. The grass outside may not be as green as this, but the snow is decreasing and our joy is increasing.

Sorry for my lack of blogging; things have been busy around here with work and Heritage Fair project and taking care of a sick child, etc. Everything is pretty much back to normal now. My neck/back have recovered; I went for my last physio appointment yesterday. (I even started running again on Monday). Spencer had a mysterious illness that affected his leg muscles and he could hardly walk for two days. I have no idea what that was about, but he's back at school today.

Chloe's class had their Heritage Fair at school yesterday; they could choose their topic from a list of things that were relevant to Canada, and this is what Chloe chose. She was pleased as could be about the whole thing and it was an exciting day for her. (I forgot to take a picture at the fair, so we recreated the scene at home as best we could).



She had a surprise visitor at the Heritage Fair, which she was thrilled about:


It's Siobhan! She met me & Neve at school while Spencer, in his non-walking state, stayed at Darla's. Darla and Siobhan got to see each other face to face when we went to get Spencer, so that was fun. But that was the extent of a blogger's reunion - Siobhan's week in Winnipeg was/is super busy with lots of people to see and St. Patrick's Day festivities to attend. The Irish really are quite good at partying. Just like the Mennonites. I always go wild at Pioneer Days at the Steinbach windmill.

And here's Neve. Her dancing is kind of bizarre, but I think it's an improvement from the last dancing video.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Baby meets the cousins

You are all too kind for not laughing at my sneezing injury. If it had happened to someone else, I’d be laughing my head off. Maybe you’re laughing behind my back, but right now I can’t turn my head far enough to look behind me, so I don’t care. I’m on Day 3 of the meds and had my first physio session yesterday, so I’m on the Road to Recovery. Which eventually meets up with the Road to Avonlea (that’s for you, Siobhan). Unfortunately (?) I’ve had to put my marathon training on hold, but I’m hoping (?) I can resume running next week. Lots of question marks, but now that it’s turning warm (relatively speaking), running appeals to me more. Though we’re in for months of icy, slushy, muddy conditions, so maybe I’ll drag out my recovery time until the sidewalks are bone dry.



Baby Isabella. Just look at those lips!


Chloe got to see Isabella in the hospital on Saturday, but Spencer and Neve met her for the first time last night. Spencer’s initial reaction to the news of a new girl cousin was not pleasant. He burst into tears and cried about “being surrounded by girls” and “all the little people in the family are girls.” But due to Isabella’s thoughtfulness and sensitivity towards the situation, he’s coming around. She gave him a card that said she’s looking forward to playing with him and that she had a peace offering for him – a Mission to Mars Lego set. So he was happy, and I even heard him saying, “She’s cuter than I expected.” Cute she is, and a dream baby so far. Here are a few baby pictures. Next time I'll try to get her parents on a picture.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I am getting old and feeble

I an now going to share my most humiliating health episode ever. I know I will be teased and mocked, but I’m secure in my self-confidence, so I can handle it. And any mocking will be well-deserved.

On Friday morning, I suddenly had the worst neck/upper back surge of pain I’ve ever had. It was like jolts of electricity shooting down my spine. I stumbled to the couch and lay down, waiting for it to pass. It didn’t. And I couldn’t move. Thank God the kids had no school, so Chloe got me some Advil and water (with a bendy straw because I couldn’t lift my head). Waited some more, but still couldn’t move my neck. Finally the kids brought me the phone so I could call Dale, and HE HAD TO COME HOME FROM WORK IN OAKBANK to help me off the couch. Once I was up, I could move around slowly but any neck movement was painful. And if I lay down, I needed help to get up again. After 3 days of this (it got better during the day, but the mornings and nights were a nightmare), I went to the Pan Am Clinic today and the doctor prescribed two different types of medication as well as physiotherapy.

The cause of all this trauma, you ask? First let me just say that the doctor said he’d seen this before. Dale’s doctor friend at work said the same thing. So I’m not the only freak.

It was all caused by a sneeze.

Let the teasing begin.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Introducing...

. . . my beautiful new niece, Isabella, born this morning. She really would have preferred to stay on the inside longer, and she valiantly managed to hold off for quite some time. But even little Bella is no match for a surgeon with a knife, so out she came. She weighed 8 lbs, 11 oz and has a full head of dark hair. She is a perfect little angel - congratulations, Jim & Sabrina!

Yes, I know I need a tan and some bangs. But it's not about me.
Just look at that baby! She's SO cute!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Moment in March

I'm still weaning myself; here's a Moment from today. I keep forgetting how unphotogenic that couch is. Spencer read books to Neve for about ten minutes while I worked. Ten minutes may not sound long, but this is a breakthrough. Neve makes it very clear that she prefers me to read to her. She occassionally allows Chloe to read her books, but NEVER Spencer. And Spencer is usually very uninterested in reading to her. They're not exactly snuggled together, but it's a start.

Spencer has been quite interested in reading this year, but other than his Lego magazines, he hasn't been super-motivated to read stuff on his own. Suddenly on Friday, he came home from school and started reading a Magic Treehouse book. He read for about an hour (out loud at the dining room table, while my neighbour and her kids were visiting...), and then finished the book on Saturday morning. He was so pleased with himself, and I'm happy that two out of three of my children are now literate. Not sure how the third one will turn out - as you can see from her clothing choice, she has a mind of her own.

So today Spencer was telling me that he's done his leveled books (Darla, I know you'll like that) and now he is in a group "that gets to read chapter books in the hall." I asked who was in his group (I'm not exactly trying to compare him to other kids, I just want to see who he's more or less on the same level as. Okay, I'm comparing. But I try to do it discreetly.) and he couldn't hide his smile when he told me Alyssa (very last paragraph of that post) was in his group.

"She's the leader," he said. "And I'm the second leader."

I'm somewhat surprised to hear he was put in charge of keeping other children focused, but I heap praise on him: "Wow, Spencer! So you're the leader of the group if Alyssa's not there? I'm proud of you! Your teacher must think you're really responsible to be in charge of the group." Since I believe that enough praise cancels out all the times I am snappy (to put it mildly) with him, I keep going for a while.

Finally he says, "Well, the teacher didn't say that. Alyssa told me I could be second."

And there's only one other kid in the group.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Running

For those of you who were worried that I was laying in a ditch somewhere along Taylor, you can breathe easier. I'm alive and fairly well. There were times when I wished I had brought along the church directory so I could call Robyn, and thoughts of hot chocolate and wagon wheels were going through my head, but I made it six miles (not without a considerable amount of walking). I was gone an hour and a half, so that's about 15 minute miles. At that rate, I will complete the half marathon in 3.25 hours. The last of the full-marathoners will be limping in, and then there will be me. But that's all going to change tomorrow. We bought ourselves an iPod today with Christmas money (we like to drag out the spending) and I spent a good part of the day loading it up. Until now, I was listening to Dale's mp3 player filled with Helix and Ratt. Dale honestly doesn't understand how that could not be motivating for me. But now that I've got Shania Twain singing into my ear, my run tomorrow morning is going to be awesome. Five minute miles, here I come. I promise not to mention my running in every single post.

About the milk delivery: yes, delivery is still an option in 2008. We get ours from a guy who delivers for Beatrice. It's more expensive than the grocery stores, but cheaper than 7-11, and it's worth it not having to lug gallons of milk home from the store. You can also order a whole list of other stuff, and change it from week to week. We've been getting delivery for just over a year, and it's definitely simplified our life.