Wednesday, April 30, 2008

PE #7 - Sun and strawberry jam

Thanks everyone for the compliments, even if they were all bold-faced lies. There are definitely more wrinkles, age spots, and skin tabs than there used to be, but also less hair, less eyebrows (maybe not in Dale's case) and of course much more wisdom and maturity. And I really can't say I'd want to go back. I'm pretty happy at this stage in my life. Even more so if Neve would let me have a uninterrupted night for a change. The night-time chart has met with limited success, except in the "staying dry" row. Lots of stickers on that one. In fact, she hasn't peed in bed once since we started the chart. Thank goodness that was shortlived. But the waking up at night/crying for someone to sleep with continues, so we're trying something new tonight. Hopefully that will be my positive thing for tomorrow.

As for today, the weather made me very happy. It did cool off a bit in the afternoon, but we spent a bunch of time outside which I believe solves pretty much all of the world's problems. I even washed my windows from the outside (the ones I can reach easily). It always seems like such a daunting job that I procrastinate about for weeks, but it only took about five minutes. It probably should have taken longer, but it's already a vast improvement.

One more great thing: I made baking powder biscuits today and ate them with homemade strawberry jam from the freezer - SO good. I seriously ate at least ten.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

PE #6 - Anniversary

Nineteen years ago today, Dale & I had ourselves a wedding. Once you’ve finished the math, take a look at the before and after pictures.

Why does it look like I'm taking this picture myself?

I would have worn my head piece thing (all day) if I knew where it was.


In a freakish coincidence, Dale happened to be wearing the exact shirt he bought on our honeymoon. Who knew those souvenir shirts were such great quality? I must add that this shirt does not get worn outside of the house (except on our deck). We did a bunch of sappy poses to poke fun at our wedding pictures but we looked like mentally challenged aliens, so I just posted a “normal” one. Notice we're touching heads in both shots. Some things never change. We’ve had a good run, and hope to continue indefinitely. The man makes me crazy sometimes, but luckily his good points far outweigh the bad. That’s as mushy as I get after nineteen years.

In unrelated news, here’s a picture I will never show Spencer. Suddenly a few Lego characters stuck in a cake doesn’t seem so great. I am in awe of this cake, yet it scares me at the same time.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I have a good feeling about tomorrow though

I am always keeping a watchful eye out for the positive, and it was nowhere to be found this morning when I realized thieves had gone through the van during the night. It doesn’t appear that they took anything, but while cleaning up the mess they left, I came across two vehicle registrations. I was trying to figure out why we had two different registrations, both expiring in 2009. Turns out that when I renewed my vehicle insurance last week - I always forget that for some reason Dale and I own the opposite vehicle that we usually drive - I neatly stuck the new red sticker on the van license plate on top of the existing red sticker. Meanwhile, Dale’s been driving without his sticker and registration for a week. I had to pry the sticker off with a paring knife and exchange it for a new one at the insurance place. Embarrassing.

Nor was I feeling positive when I was making supper and realized we were missing two key ingredients. By the time I got home from Safeway, Dale was home from work and had to hurry out the door to get Chloe from art class and take her straight to basketball practice. So Neve, Spencer and I ate together and Chloe and Dale ate when they got home at 7:45. No wonder I rarely make proper meals.

The rest of my day wasn't much better - Neve was acting like a three year old all day, I had errands to do in 3 different parts of the city, the brakes are squeaking on the van again, plus I have tons of work to squeeze into my day (and night). So this is the best thing I can come up with:

Neve and I were cleaning up all the Bananagram (like Scrabble) letters that she had flung all over the living room. She picked up an R and said, “That a doopid letter.”

I said, “What?! The R?”

She said scornfully, “Yeah, nobody like dat letter.”

Sunday, April 27, 2008

PE #4

This positive thinking is kind of lame. I’m not sure if I can come up with something for 26 more days.

I believe the best part of my day today was my two hour nap. What does it tell you about my life when that’s the highlight of my day. Another great thing about today was that we had no plans, and the kids played outside with the neighbour kids for hours. I love that. It probably contributed to Neve falling asleep quickly and painlessly tonight – now THAT’s something worth being positive about.

PE #3 - A Night Out

Must squeeze in my positive report before the next one is due. Lots of positive things today: I slept in, had a decent run, went to Chloe’s basketball game, had a frappucino, and Dale & I had a night out. It went much better than the last night out when we ended up playing Bingo at Club Regent. I know, it doesn’t take much to improve on that. Dale made the dinner plans; we went to a Vietnamese restaurant on Sargent called Trieu Chau, which was amazing. That deserves an exclamation mark, but I’ll restrain myself. We’d never been there before, but we will definitely go back. Then we went to see Baby Mama, which is much better than it seems like it would be. Dale even enjoyed it.

There’s been some outcry in my email inbox – from more than one person - about the reduced negative content, so I will add that I was disappointed to come home to a mess in the kitchen and the babysitter on the computer. The computer was turned off when we left, and no permission was asked or granted to use it. Maybe my expectations are too high – my main concern is that the children were well taken care of, and I’m sure they were. But after they’re all asleep, is it too much to ask that a sitter return the place to the condition it was in when they arrived? In hindsight, I am also disappointed in myself about how I handled the situation, but it caught me off guard. Please give me your opinions!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Positive Energy #2

Thank you to Corinna and to my sister-in-law (who emailed me) for saying they don’t think I’m negative. That’s just what I wanted to hear (hope the rest of you are feeling guilty for not rushing to my defence). But nevertheless, I will carry on with saying something nice every day. The challenge is open to you other bloggers – company is appreciated on my new 30-day run. My definition of ‘positive’ is pretty broad, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with something. But if your problem is being too positive, feel free to post 30 days of negative thoughts. That would probably be way more fun to read.

Today’s positive thing was a delightful dinner out with Chloe, Teresa, and her daughter at Boston Pizza. It’s so nice to have something to look forward to all day, especially when it involves pasta smothered in cheese AND witty conversation (not from me, I just listened.) Another great thing about today was the half hour nap I snuck in after school. I promise not every Positive Moment will involve my new sheets (which were in fact purchased at Winners, Siobhan).

Neve at Night: Last night was a one-sticker night (for staying dry). She only cried for Dale once during the night, and he went up, tucked her in, and came right back down. I never heard from her again and thought we were making progress. This morning, Chloe & Neve both came downstairs at 7:19, fully dressed. It seems Neve went to Chloe’s room at 4:00 a.m. and climbed into bed with her. I guess it worked out okay because they both slept until Chloe’s alarm went off. This morning I praised her for staying dry, but asked her if she wouldn’t like to get more stickers tomorrow. “No,” she said. Sigh.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

30 Days of Positive Energy

Re-reading my last entry, and many of my posts in general, I realize that I sound quite negative a lot of the time. I definitely do have negative and cynical tendencies, but I think/hope I am more positive in real life than I come across on these pages. And I’m going to prove it with a new 30 day challenge. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all exclamation marks and smiley-faces or anything. I’m actually not even going to try to give up complaining; I’m just going to counter-balance it with one positive thing a day.

I’ll start in the bedroom (don’t worry, it’s safe to keep reading). I bought much-needed new sheets this week and slept on them for the first time last night. They have a much higher thread count than our last ones and they felt so crisp and cool and new.

Neve at Night update: the chart system started off with a bang (a good one). Last night, Neve went to bed perfectly, didn’t come out of her room, stayed dry all night, BUT she did wake up once, calling for Daddy. She got to put 3 out of 4 stickers on her chart in the morning and she was basking in the praise and princess stickers. That brings us to tonight. She cried when I put her to bed and kept coming out of her room and calling for Dale. I believe Dale caved and is lying beside her right now instead of watching The Office with me. I wash my hands of the situation. But like Siobhan said in her comment, I will have the whole bed to myself from now on. The new sheets are just the icing on the cake. See, I can do positive! Oh right, no exclamation marks.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Neve: Pros and Cons

Neve’s nights – and therefore, ours – are still a nightmare. We did have two nights in a row where we didn’t have to wash her sheets and blankets, but last night she peed in her bed again. When I asked her why she didn’t pee in the toilet or her potty, the best reason she could come up with was “Me like to pee in my bed.” I can hardly believe she would do it on purpose, but I’m starting to wonder if she’s figured out it’s a foolproof way to get a parental attention at night. As much as I am tempted to, I just can’t leave her in wet pyjamas and bedding for the rest of the night. Plus if she was doing it on purpose, I think she’d make sure her precious blankie was out of the way before carrying out her evil plan. The nights she doesn’t pee, she still wakes up a couple of times, crying until someone lies down with her until she falls asleep. I refuse to do so since Supernanny would not approve, but Dale’s a sucker so after two minutes of crying, up he goes. Therein lies the root of our problem. But if he doesn’t go, Neve goes to Chloe’s room and wakes her up. I made a chart this morning and explained to Neve how she could get stickers in four different categories (going to bed nicely, staying in her room, staying dry, and not crying all night). She listened carefully and seemed to understand. How can a kid be so rational during the day (well, sometimes) and so completely unreasonable during the night??

Just so it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining about her all the time, I’ll say something positive. One of her favourite shows is Super Why, which teaches kids the sounds of the alphabet and learning to read. I was watching with her one day for a few minutes, and when the kid on the show would say, “What letter makes a ‘puh’ sound?” Neve knew right away. She got a bit mixed up with the “a” and “e” sound though. And when we were looking at a book the other day, she was saying the letters – when she came to lowercase letters, she would say “lowercase a”, etc. I’ve never taught her that. TV is awesome.

On Monday, I had pictures taken of Neve by Leanne Olfert. She’s actually one of Chloe’s school teachers, but she does photography on the side. Here’s a link to her blog, where she posted some of Neve’s photos. Neve was in a reasonably good mood, but got a little uncooperative at the end. The dancing cheered her up though.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April Bonus Weather


It’s amazing how much the weather affects my mood. It’s almost scary. Think of how cheerful and positive I’d be if I lived in Bermuda. The weather in April is so inconsistent that days like Saturday are a gift and you have to enjoy them, because it could snow the next day. It was such a perfect day. My neighbour down the block had a garage sale, so Chloe went over there bright and early to set up a table of her own. It seems many many people have been eagerly awaiting garage sale season and business was brisk. Chloe made $40 which is substantial considering that most of her items were 50¢. The highest priced item was $4. She had such a great time; people were really nice to her and not one person bartered with her. It didn’t hurt that she had taped a sign to the table saying “Most money raised will go towards a church project raising money for a cow for a third world family” or something to that effect. I was so proud of her. Spencer had a different opinion. He told her, “That’s wasting your money! Poor people feel bad when they have to take money from people.” I told him, “No, we don’t.” Okay I didn’t say that, but I see I have some areas to work on with him.

On Saturday afternoon, I went for a long run. I’m still plugging away on my three runs a week. It’s going all right, though I still don’t enjoy it. Nor do I feel better about myself mentally or physically, I don’t have any more energy than I used to, and I haven’t lost any weight. You’ll never see me in a Nike commercial. However, yesterday afternoon was so gorgeous that I almost enjoyed it. Almost. I admit I was jealous of the leisurely dog walkers with their Starbucks in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I’m not sure how they were holding the leash. One sloppy chubby guy even had his tank top on inside out. I was laughing and feeling so superior that I was all fit and running, but like so many times before, my attitude came back to bite me. Later that afternoon at Chloe’s basketball game, Dale tried tucking my tag into my shirt and he started laughing. Yup. Inside out. Serves me right, I know.

And now a word about Neve. Besides having to read the same books to her every night, bedtime was a relatively painless affair until a week or two ago. One night, after the usual stories and tucking-in, she started crying “Sleep in Mommy Daddy bed!” Because we’re insane and still haven’t learned a thing even though this is our third child, we thought that was kind of cute, so we put her to bed in our bed. She fell asleep right away, and when we went to bed, we moved her back to her bed and all was fine. She quite enjoyed the situation, so the next night she wanted to sleep in our bed again. After a couple of nights of this, she started coming out of our room “to go pee” instead of falling asleep quickly. When she finally did fall asleep, she woke up when we tried moving her, or she’d wake up crying in the middle of the night when she realized she wasn’t in our bed anymore. One night she ended up sleeping beside our bed all night because I was too tired to make her sleep in her bed. But then she woke up at 6:45 when I got up to go for my run. It was a bad situation all around. So from that night on, we have been channeling Super Nanny and have insisted she fall asleep in her own bed. It’s been rough, but we’ve stuck to it. But now a new problem has surfaced. We always put her potty in her room at night in case she has to pee during the night, but now she’s decided she prefers using the toilet, which is fine, except that it’s an excuse for her to come out of her room. And THREE times in the last five days or so, she has peed in her bed. At least one of those times happened before she even fell asleep. It’s so strange because even when she was first toilet trained, she only peed in her bed once or twice. I don’t know what’s going on with her. Hopefully it’s a very short-lived phase. That girl is something. We were raking the backyard today and she was buzzing around. She went inside for a bit and came out with her swimsuit on, got the sprinkler from the garage, and said “How you turn this on?” She is very resourceful. Later on, she came outside completely naked. Spencer thought that was hilarious. He said he’s going to share that for News at school tomorrow. Poor teacher.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tiny Burst of Organizing

BEFORE: This is the cupboard above my stove.



AFTER

No, I didn't drink all the liquor. It's now neatly aligned behind the storage boxes. (Teresa, you inspired me with your icing/decorating box). Now that I look at the picture, the boxes could be moved to the top shelf for easier alcohol access. I just use it for cooking, of course.

I still have the organizing/purging bug, but I don't have the time to tackle any major projects right now. I've decided to feed my little addiction with tiny projects that can be done while I'm on the phone or when I need a quick break from staring at my computer screen. I apologize for the lack of stimulating blog material; I realize the contents of my cupboard may not be as fascinating to you as they are to me.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunshine, sunburns and spices

A winter coat and bare legs doesn't seem
contradictory when you're three.



Today was the kind of day I dreamed about all winter – warm and sunny and almost snow-free. The kids were outside a good part of the day getting a little colour in their pasty little faces. Neve’s legs even looked a little sunburned tonight; after three years, I’m still not used to the maintenance of a fair-skinned redhead. Chloe had an 8-hour playdate with a girl down the street – they went to yoga class, walked to 7-11 by themselves (along with a German Shepherd and a cell phone), played outside for hours, and flitted between both houses. She was in her glory with all that independence. Spencer played outside a bit too, but he could hardly drag himself away from all his birthday gifts (birthday party post below). His version of glory involves assembling Lego. Neve can’t get enough of being outside. She loves riding her trike and scooter, swinging, sliding and just playing. It’s a whole new world for her. Unfortunately I was glued to my laptop pretty much all day, but I did fit in a walk to Starbucks and visiting with the neighbours. I love when everyone’s out after being stuck inside for 6 straight months.

Neve was very pleased with her picnic setup. I quite liked it too, especially the two pigs together.

For those of you looking for something to do Friday night (April 18th), my lovely friend Teresa is a new Epicure consultant and she’s doing a party at my house. If you like delicious food and wine and witty conversation (?), you are invited! Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll give you the details. Out-of-province people are responsible for their own airfare – sorry!

Enjoy the sunshine…

Spencer's Birthday Party

Our birthday season is officially over. Spencer’s party yesterday was a big success. We had it at U-Puttz, the black light miniature golf place. We’d never been there before so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was impressed. It was clean and the staff was great. At least I think it was clean, it was all so dark I couldn’t really tell. Even the party room was black light. The birthday boy had a glow-in-the-dark orange chair to sit on, which was pretty cool. The miniature golf part went surprisingly well. No score was kept or rules followed, but it was all pretty orderly and the boys seemed to enjoy it. We ran into problems when the pizza didn’t arrive on time and I had to entertain eleven 6 & 7 year olds in the party room for what seemed like forever. We played Simon Says and I Spy, which was a bit of a bust in a dark room, but we survived. I was very relieved when the pizza delivery girl finally arrived. The cake was a hit (the darkness was on my side) and Spencer was thrilled with his presents (lots of Lego). The pictures were taken with a flash so it seems bright, but in reality we could hardly see anything except each other’s glowing white teeth. The better to eat you with. So despite the pizza delay fiasco*, it turned out better than I anticipated. Spencer was pleased as punch about the whole thing, which makes it all - yes, I’ll say it - Worth It.
* I just have to put in a plug for good customer service. U Puttz gave all the kids free bags of chips to eat while we were waiting for the pizza, and at the end when I was paying for the party, they knocked $40 off the price without me even suggesting anything. I expected them to apologize (which goes a long way), but they went a step further and compensated me for it. So go play some mini golf in the dark, and tell them I sent you.


According to Spencer, my cake turned out WAY better than the one I was copying. The scene on the sample cake was not authentic "and the people were all mixed up." Some of them apparently had no business being in the wrong scene. The original cake had a jeep with tire tracks in the icing that I thought were cool, but Spencer was adamant about keeping it realistic. Though I'm a cake-decorating hack (as in most other areas of my life), it was a fun cake to do and the positive reaction was more than I could have asked for. As I always say: just don't look too close. That's going to be the name of my next blog.

Friday, April 11, 2008

More birthday stuff

I’m back again. I was here all along, just busy with a bunch of different things; mainly work. The next week or so is going to be insane too, so don’t expect too much from me, except maybe some whining. I fear I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with the work project I’ve taken on (to my work people: just kidding of course). Right.

On top of that, tomorrow is yet another day in our never-ending birthday celebrations. Our family planning/child producing timing sucked. Hindsight is 20/20. Nevertheless, tomorrow we will dress in our party clothes (truthfully not one article of my clothing could be considered party clothes; they are all dismal and sad. I hear the mall screaming for me) and eat pizza and miniature golf in the dark with 11 rambunctious seven-year-old boys. What the #$#&@ was I thinking. Luckily all party details except the cake are taken care of by the glow-in-the-dark miniature golf place. Spencer wanted an ice cream cake. But I said, “No, I am going to make you a special cake.” Repeat swear symbols above. I guess I thought I was getting off too easy by not planning games and fun treasure hunts and party food. After I nixed the gun cake idea, I decided to make an Indiana Jones cake. A bull-whip is way gentler than a gun. I have never used decorating tips and icing bags before, so despite Teresa and Jan both showing me how to do it, it still took me 15 minutes to figure it out. I wish I was exaggerating. Then the icing kept squeezing out the top of the bag all over my hands. A big blob fell on the floor and I stepped in it with my sock. My hands were too icing-y to take off the sock, so I tracked it all over the floor. The bright spot in all of that is that I had the foresight to close my curtains before I started so no one could see that debacle. Anyway, the cake is pretty much done except for the Indiana Jones Lego accessories that I’m sticking on top. I have to ask Spencer’s opinion about who goes where and which guys are the enemies, etc. One of the enemies that may end up on the cake has a big machine gun, so Spencer’s wish may come true after all. Birthdays are so magical.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I have returned

I surprised myself with my willpower, but I succeeded in not touching the computer for an entire week. This is one of those things to file under ‘Now That I Proved I Could Do It, I Will Never Do It Again.” It was actually a great break for me and I’m hoping that I have broken some of my bad computer habits. For one thing, I am going to TRY to keep my laptop in the study and out of the kitchen so I’m not constantly “quickly checking my email” which results in me zoning out to the world around me and checking this website and that, and suddenly an hour has gone by. I’m not saying that email/internet is a waste of my time; just trying to convince myself that if my email goes unchecked for an hour, nothing tragic will happen. Probably. I’m also going to try to limit myself to checking my favourite blogs and websites once a day. It’s all baby steps.

We had a very successful spring break. Not as successful as I wanted to be in the cleaning and purging department, but successful in a fun and break-from-routine way. The kids and I took the bus to the downtown library on Monday, which was a huge thrill for them. Tuesday we went to a play at MTYP, then to my parents for supper and night. Wednesday morning, Chloe, Spencer & I went to Grand Forks with my friend Teresa and her kids. Dale and Neve came Thursday afternoon, and we all came home Friday. I didn’t do a lot of shopping, so I had lots of time to sit and talk and eat and drink and read. Today we had friends over for brunch, napped and went to Dale’s mom’s for dinner. And between all that, I found some time for cleaning. I did the kids’ rooms, our bedroom, and a tiny bit in the basement. I’m very sorry to say my laundry room hasn’t changed a bit. The more cleaning I did, the more my eyes were opened to all the things that needed cleaning. It would take a team of professionals six solid months to get this house in order. It is disturbing to see how much stuff we have. I took a van load of things to Salvation Army, plus there is another load ready to go. We filled about 20 garbage bags of garbage. I am anxious to keep going, but every spare minute in the next couple of weeks will be filled with a work project, so I’m afraid no further progress will be made until later in April. Hopefully the momentum will not be lost by then.

Hope you all had a good spring break; I missed you all. Here are a few posts to catch up. And though I’m dying to catch up on my favourite blogs, I will squeeze out a few ounces of leftover willpower and go to bed instead.

Seven


Spencer turned seven on Thursday, so we had a little celebration at the hotel in Grand Forks. The kids were in the pool almost all day; more than three hours straight in the morning alone. We had pizza and birthday cake for dinner and he got some presents, so he was happy. It doesn't usually take much to make him happy; he's pretty fun. He loves Lego and Star Wars and wrestling and lately he's really into reading. It's fun to see him grow up, but I love it that he's still a little boy in lots of ways.




And he still makes us laugh. I'm trying to remember some of the things he said this week; here are a few.


  • He's been having a problem with saying violent things (like "Neve, can I shoot your head off?), so I told him he had to stop saying things like that or he'd have to start paying me a fine. It's gotten much better since then - the worst I heard this week was, "I hate Dora. I'd like to send an army to destroy her." Funny how when Neve watches Dora, though, he's always right there watching with her.


  • He asked me today if he was allowed to say "the 'P' word that means the same as the "D" word." I had no idea what he meant, so after he was assured he wouldn't get be fined for saying them to me, he told me the 'p' word was "perish"


  • When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted at his birthday party next Saturday, he said a cake with a gun on it (I guess the yellow cake with the balloons wasn't quite what he dreamed of). I told him that wasn't happening and he said, "How about with just a tip of the handle showing?" I can just imagine all the kids going home from the party and telling their parents they had a gun cake.


  • At the hotel pool, he jumped into the water right onto a bigger boy who was about 12. When Spencer came near me, I told him to be careful when he jumped in. He said, "I know. I said sorry to the boy. But I said it the cool way. I said, 'Sorry, dude.'" He looked so pleased and delighted with himself.

Before & After

Here are a couple of pictures to prove that I actually did accomplish something this week. It doesn't look like a lot, but believe me when I tell you that there was an astounding amount of junk and things to deal with. I still need to take 'after' pictures of the kids' closets, but unfortunately I forgot to take 'before' pictures, so it's hard to appreciate the result.


Our dresser - BEFORE



Our dresser - AFTER


Our bedroom closet - BEFORE



Our bedroom closet - AFTER




Playroom closet - AFTER (sorry, no before shot - but in about 3 days it will be back to its messy state so I'll take a picture then)



This is a picture I found in one of the closets that Chloe drew several years ago. It's my favourite picture ever. I think it's supposed to be God when he created the rainbow. I've never been able to look at this without laughing out loud.