Saturday, June 28, 2008

But honey, Mommy needs to practice Word Twist

Neve spent a long time today playing with her Calico Critters. She arranged them nicely on the window sill in her room. All the kid critters were playing in the pool and the mommy was watching them. Then Neve said, “The mommy needs a computer.” Initially, I felt a stab of guilt. Even though I do most of my work while she’s napping or in bed for the night, I obviously still spend way too much time in front of it. But then I started thinking there are way worse things she could have automatically associated with a mother. Like a bag of ripple chips and a TV. Or cigarettes and a bottle of vodka. Or an ironing board. Suddenly a computer's not so bad. But still. Since I’m not working much for the next month, my July resolution is to limit my computer time when the children are around. In the meantime, we found a tiny monitor and keyboard in the Playmobil box and set it up. Neve was delighted so I can’t have damaged her too much with my computer time.

Speaking of resolutions, I am determined not to nag Chloe about her room for the entire summer. She only gets her allowance when her room is clean, but doesn’t seem to care about not getting it. So as long as she closes her door, I wash my hands of it.

Here’s a Neve quote from today (walking around, bored): “I want to live in different house. I so tired with this house.”

I've waited 10 months for this

Summer got off to a running start yesterday. It seems our mornings need some practice –Chloe woke up at 7:34 to Neve hitting her. She managed to fall back asleep, and Neve took advantage of the quiet time to take out ALL of Chloe’s doll clothes and spread them around the room. When Neve came downstairs at 8:30 (by which time I was showered and dressed!), I heaped praise on her for sleeping so long and not waking up the kids. Oops.

Despite the forecast of rain and 13 degrees, we woke up to a 20 degree, sunny morning, so the kids and I headed out to the beach with friends. By the time we got to the Quarry, it was overcast but still warm. The beach was pretty empty, except for our group, so it was relaxing and fun and such a nice way to start the holidays.

Can you look at this picture without cringing? And Chloe didn't think she needed a shower when we got home.

In the evening, Dale & I went shopping – he needed work clothes and I needed a swimsuit. Shopping for a swimsuit is nightmarish enough, but with a husband impatiently lingering in the background, my expectations were not high. Plus. swimsuit buyers have it in for medium sized women and try to only purchase suits in size 0 or size 18. WHAT is with that? To my pleasant surprise, buried among the size 18s, I found one swimsuit in my size that I liked. With only one to choose from, I didn’t have to make any tough decisions. I need a few more summer things, and since the sales and markdowns are already in full swing, this week is definitely the week to shop. I shouldn’t be surprised, but one store had a wall of backpacks on display where flip-flops had been last week. Get real, insane retail people!! Who wants to buy a backpack on what was the last day of school for some? After spending lots of money, we ended the evening with a movie at the cheap theatre. I think I’m going to like summer holidays.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hard to break the school habit

Eight hours down, quite a few more to go… it’s officially summer vacation. The kids were pretty low-key about the whole situation; in fact when I picked them up from school, Spencer was near tears because he missed his teacher already. We had a few friends over after school, and he spent part of the time sitting at the table, working in his phonics workbook (he brought it home on Wednesday and did the same thing that afternoon). He had the scissors handy and was clipping the page corners after he completed each page. HELLO?! Who is this boy?! At least I know how to keep him occupied for the next two months. Even without that, I’m feeling a little less panicked about summer holidays and the children’s relentless presence. We’ve made a list of things we want to do, so hopefully that will give us some focus and motivation. Although I believe focus and motivation are somewhat overrated. Let’s hear it for sleeping in til 11:00 every day.

Here’s my latest before & after project. Hopefully there will be many more in the coming weeks; I’m basically off work for all of July. YAY for summer!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Day at the Barnyard

After today, I figure I’m off the hook for field trips for a couple of years. My parental guilt is somewhat suppressed and my child is happy. And it really wasn’t so bad. Sure, there were mosquitoes, humourless parent volunteers who took their volunteering responsibilities WAY too seriously, stray hens littering the yard, barn swallows swooping, bratty kids, and a militant farmer who did not seem to enjoy the presence of children. But other than that, it was a gorgeous day. I did find myself wishing we had gone to Fun Mountain instead (only in my head – the other volunteers would have sneered at me and said something along the lines of, “That’s so frivolous and useless. This is so educational. They can pet puppies and be led in a circle while sitting on a shetland pony.”). But really (in case the farm family is reading this), it was quite educational and I learned some things that you just can’t learn in books. I’ll stop there.

Before the how-to-hold-an-animal seminar:

And After:

The rest of the day was a blur with teacher-gift shopping after school and Chloe’s basketball windup/pool party and Spencer’s soccer in the evening. I went for my first post-marathon run when I got home, and to my surprise, I found I had actually missed it. I’m hoping with two runs a week plus soccer, I can keep in shape throughout the summer. It’s nice running without the marathon pressure looming over me.

Speaking of things looming over me, I’m feeling stressed and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I think some of it has to do with the end of the school year – I’m looking forward to the break in routine, but I think I’m subconsciously worried about what to do with the kids all summer. They’ve been fussy and tired and grumpy and argumentative and I’ve been about the same, so it should be interesting. I’m sure everyone will chill out after a few days of holidays but I will be stocking the liquor cabinet just in case. That’s another thing to add to my double-sided to-do list for tomorrow - my last day of one-child peace.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bedtime, birthdays and basketball

This was from Father's Day - I kept forgetting to post it. The other kids were whining about something and didn't want to be in the picture.

With this great weather, we’ve made the mental and physical shift to summer mode. The kids have been staying up way too late and putting them to bed is an unmotivated drawn-out affair. For no apparent reason, Neve suddenly prefers sleeping on Spencer’s floor at night. He resisted at first, but now he seems to find comfort in having her there. They giggle and play, which eventually turns to crying and fighting. After we threaten to make Neve sleep in her own room, things quiet down and everyone’s usually asleep by 11:30. Getting everyone up in the morning is like waking the grumpy dead. Except Neve; she’s downstairs and dressed in her second outfit of the day by 7:30. About 15 minutes later, she’s in her swimsuit begging me to fill the kiddie pool.

Spencer has one last birthday party tomorrow and then we’re done with those until September. Thank goodness, because the house is overflowing with loot bag junk. The children refuse to part with any of it; it seems there’s no such thing as too many superbouncers. And the quality of gifts we’ve given has steadily declined since the beginning of the month. The birthday boy tomorrow is getting cheap crappy toys from the Bargain Store. I am looking for a way to incorporate my anti-stuff sentiments into birthday party gifts. Perhaps I can recycle empty cereal boxes into doll beds or make pen holders out of pork & bean cans. That should result in fewer party invitations next June.

I had a lovely pedicure today courtesy of Darla (and purple polish courtesy of Shannon). The lady did a nice job of transforming my dry, cracked, blistered running feet into soft, supple flip-flop worthy feet. Then Chloe had her last basketball game. Her team was in the finals for city champs, but they couldn’t quite clinch it. It was exciting; the game was at the U of W, and I had a knot in my stomach the whole time. It was pretty close (until near the end) and intense. Chloe is not the most aggressive player on the team, but she did really well and made some great plays. They got silver medals at the end, so everyone was happy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Time doesn't heal all wounds

This has been such a great week, but I’m glad it’s almost over. The weather was/is amazing and we’ve spent lots of time outside, with friends, and biking around. The kids had their school spring concert last night and it was one of the less painful concert experiences we’ve had. Knowing how I generally dislike the whole concert experience, that’s actually a huge compliment. The kids have been practicing for months; I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say they started learning the songs shortly after Christmas. The songs were catchy and the acting was good and even Neve sat through the whole thing. There was a family sitting right behind us to whom she took a liking, so she sat with them the whole time. I’m sure they loved that. We sat in the balcony, which was brilliant. We didn’t have to come early, got seats without having to deal with seat-savers, and still had a decent view. Everyone up there was laid back and no one else thought to bring their camera either, so we were in good company. My kids were just part of the choir, but at the end Spencer stood onstage with his classmates waving flags. When he was telling me about it before the concert, he was lamenting that he would be onstage for a shorter time than the others because he was the last one in the line-up. I secretly suspected they did that for a reason; it’s always a bit of a gamble putting him on a stage. I think I was right; that flag was busy. He was waving it vigourously, then tried sticking it in a hole in the floor, and held it horizontally under his chin everytime we clapped (we weren’t clapping for his chin-flag-holding, but for the music teachers and such). But suddenly when it was time to pray (as it inevitably is at a Christian School performance), he instantly clasped his hands together, closed his eyes and appeared to be in fervent prayer. I can’t remember what he did with the flag, but it was suddenly no distraction whatsoever.

So that’s one more school function over with; I think all that’s left is a field trip for Spencer. I volunteered to come along and was not as lucky as last time when their volunteer quota was already filled. Timing is everything. Since mine was off this time, I will be visiting a farmyard on Tuesday. I got a list of other parent volunteers, and they’re not exactly a fun-loving bunch. The parents who volunteer all the time are usually the anal, uptight ones who want to be there to make sure their kid’s sunscreen is reapplied at regular intervals throughout the day and are concerned about bus safety. The laid back, cynical, sarcastic ones are too busy blogging, so they don’t volunteer much. If you are reading this and you are a parent who always volunteers for field trips, I wasn’t referring to you. I’m sure you’re totally different.

Also this week, we’ve dealt with the stickiest birthday party situation ever. On Monday Chloe came home with party invitations from two different girls in her class. Both parties happen to be on the same day (tonight) at slightly different, but overlapping times. All the girls in the class are invited to the first party, but only about half of the girls are invited to the second one. Without going into tedious detail, there has been much stress, emails, and phone calls involved. After making arrangements worthy of a presidential visit, satisfactory plans are in place, but the feelings of birthday girl #1 (who incidentally is the girl that gave Chloe a hard time about not inviting her to her party) and her mother are likely irreparably damaged and it’s an awkward situation all around. I do feel for them and for the other non-invited girls; it does put a damper on the party. But I’m sure they’ll look back in 20 years and laugh and laugh and laugh. More likely, they’ll remember this for the rest of their lives, sort of like how I remember one long-ago party where the birthday girl’s mother FORGOT TO PICK ME UP on the way to the city for her daughter’s party at the McDonald’s caboose. This was back in the day when going to Winnipeg, never mind McDonald’s, was today’s equivalent of going to Disneyworld. It just didn’t happen that often. Must breathe deeply. Don’t get me started on that. Those wounds are deep and they’re not healing anytime soon.

Time to go pick up children from school. Only 4 more days!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Ex

Finally, a gorgeous summer day. We got the sprinkler going after school and a wet time was had by all. When Dale got home from work, we made our annual pilgrimage to the Ex. I love the Ex, but I was a bit disillusioned this year. They have a new "No Open Toe Shoes" rule which applies to some of the midway attractions. This rule was in effect at all of the fun houses, where you walk through moving tunnels, etc., which is the thing my kids love the most. Spencer and Neve were both wearing sandals and no amount of begging or sob stories could sway the operators (we tried several). They were all extraordinarily vigilant, which is somewhat surprising. Maybe they were promised extra weed at the end of the night if they enforced the rules. (I got a strong whiff of some in the non-smoking kiddie midway area). I even went to Guest Services where the girl was sympathetic, but firm. She did apologize, which goes a long way in my books, and gave us some free ride tickets (which of course we could use only on open-toe-friendly rides). Then the guy at the huge wavy slide would not let Chloe ride by herself even though she was right at the required height line. He made her take off her cap (!) and she was about a millimetre under the line. Neve went on it twice and he measured her each time. I guess he just wanted to be on the safe side; she might have grown during her first slide. These were all kiddie-ride workers, they're probably just pissed that they didn't get assigned to the Mega Drop where all the tattooed hot girls in their bikini tops hang out. I get that.
Vigilant carnie workers aside, we all had fun. The mini doughnuts, tacky games of chance and even tackier prizes, the petting zoo and Touch the Farm(er) - it's all good. It seems Neve is our adventure girl - she LOVES rides. She was up for anything; she was the only one who would go on the ferris wheel. Her favourite was the roller "toaster." It was such a beautiful night and we ended up staying until after 10:00 pm. Spencer summed it up pretty well, "It wasn't the BEST day of my life, but it was quite good."

Me, Spencer & Chloe do the Falls (Neve wasn't tall enough)

Neve about to win a tiny stuffed frog. Which is great, because I was just thinking we needed more stuff.

The annual photo to prove to the children that we did fun stuff when they were young.

Eagles in church

This is a link to a blog I've recently started reading. It's pretty funny especially if you grew up going to church (or still do). This is actually an older post, but it caught my attention since the idea of a bird in church both horrifies and fascinates me. It might solve the ongoing seat-saving issues at this year's spring concert.

Conversations with Spencer

The other day we were driving and a car honked at another car. We were talking about the reason for the honking, and Spencer asked me, “Do other drivers ever think you’re a bad driver, as opposed to the contrary?” He said it quite confidently, and I’m still not exactly sure what he meant, but I came up with some answer that satisfied him.

Today he was telling me about an incident at school. A teacher told him not to run in the hall, but he felt he was merely “walking fast” and challenged her on the definition of running. The teacher did not appreciate this, so she threatened him with a detention should he continue to "walk fast." Part of me cringed when he told me this; Chloe would never have challenged/talked back to a teacher (nor would I to this day!) and I can only imagine how this conversation went. I don’t blame her for threatening him because he quite likely deserved it. But. If it can be done in a respectful way, I’m not against questioning authority. I am horrible at it because I dislike conflict and just want everyone to like me, but I greatly admire that trait in others. Also, this particular teacher is notoriously sour and threatening Spencer with a detention seems kind of lame since he has no idea what a detention is. When he was telling me about it and wondering how she could possible not know the difference between running and fast walking, he said, “Where did she get her brain?”

I said, “Spencer!” (something like that)

“No, really. Did she get it from God or from the devil?”

I freaked a bit and told him not to talk like that and to respect his teachers, etc., but he was quite sure God was not involved in making a brain “as strict as hers.” Maybe the grade two curriculum will deal with that.

My spidey senses tell me to expect trouble ahead.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Something to check off the list

Here I am, running and smiling at the same time. My friend Wendy took this as I ran by.

The run is done. It was fun. There was sun. Thank you everyone.

I’ve run out of rhyming words, but the marathon was a definite success. It was a cool morning, but once the sea of people and all their body heat lined up to start the run, I never thought about being cold again. It’s definitely easier to run when you’re surrounded by other runners, so except for three 1-minute walking breaks, I managed to run the whole time. I’m not sure what my final time was, but I think it was somewhere between 2:05 and 2:10, so I’m happy with that. On long training runs, my joints got very stiff and my knees hurt, but everything worked properly today. I ended up with a blister on my little toe and a bit of blood on my ankle from scraping my runner against it.

Some observations:

· People cheering: great
· People ringing cowbells: annoying
· Lululemon does a brisk business in Winnipeg. I was pretty much the only runner not wearing one of their products. Even Dale was. (not really)
· Scrutinizing the other runners’ clothes kept me going for miles. From shorts hanging WAY too low, to cute strappy running tops with heavy duty matronly white bras underneath, to a portly woman wearing a long sleeved t-shirt with the front pulled up over her chest, revealing her blue sports bra. One girl was wearing a fanny pack hanging down low, with the zipper pull swinging around and around. I had to pass that one quickly because it was super annoying. Possibly I am easily annoyed when I am expected to run 13 miles.
· When you hear a thumping flat-footed, slightly out of control runner coming up behind you, nine times out of ten it’s a kid. I’m super impressed that they’re running the relay or half marathon, but you just know they’ll be throwing up later.
· The last mile seems like it will never ever end. People told me “You can hear the drums beating as you run the last mile, and your adrenaline will carry you through.” My adrenaline did not cooperate. But my legs came through for me and did the job.
· I knew of about 20 others running the marathon, yet I did not see one person I knew after the marathon, including Dale or the others we drove with. I wandered around aimlessly for about 45 minutes, constantly scanning the crowd and celebrating my success alone.

In a few short hours - after a long hot shower, crepes for brunch, and a little nap - I’ve already gone from saying “I’ll never do it again” to “We’ll see….” I would sort of like to be one of the people on the sidelines, drinking coffee from Tim’s and cheering. No cowbells though.

Congratulations, Darla and any other readers who ran! And a huge thank you to everyone who emailed and commented (even an encouraging haiku) and phoned to wish Dale & I well. You definitely motivated me!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Run baby run

The children have been deposited elsewhere for the night, my bib number has been pinned onto my shirt, and my runners are ready and pointing towards the door. In less than seven hours, I will be running. Thanks to everyone for the good wishes; I’ll definitely be chanelling all that positive energy around mile 9. I’m excited about the run, but anxious. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s just another long run, and trying not to over-think what I wear and what I eat, etc. Everyone has helpful advice and though I do need all the help I can get, I’m not really too concerned about the 45 seconds I could knock off my finish time by eating a gel pack halfway through. If worse comes to worse, I can always take advantage of the “Exit with Dignity” option. Although I can assure you if I have to drop out of the race, dignity will not be present. I will hopefully be passed out in a heap, oblivious to everything.

So here goes nothing. I’ll let you know how it all turns out. Good luck to everyone else who's running - hopefully we'll see you at the finish!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A writer in our midst

The summer vacation trial started off poorly today. Due in part to a late nap, Neve didn't fall asleep last night until after 10:00, so I had high hopes for sleeping in. But as it turns out, Neve woke me at 7:55 a.m by crying loudly in my ear. I shooed her downstairs to watch TV, where she stayed for much too long a period, according to the recommendations of the Canadian Pediatric Society. I fell asleep again until almost 10:00 a.m., when the ringing of the phone woke me. So I can't complain too much. The rest of the day was nice; Chloe had a birthday party and Spencer had a play date all afternoon, so I could work as usual. Dale had a work dinner tonight, so I took the kids to Boston Pizza for supper. We go there often because the kids get free meal coupons each month for reading a certain amount, but I haven't been very impressed with the food the last few times. My fettucini was bland and boring, and the kids portions seem to get smaller every time. Or maybe my kids are just getting bigger. Either way, I don't think we'll go back anytime soon.

In WAY more exciting news, our friend Siobhan is now a published author! Click here for a link to her article. Way to go, Siobhan - it's so professional and well-written. I'm honoured that you still read my blog ... feel free to send any writing tips my way!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Neve's stuffed friends have a picnic

I am always thinking of things to blog about throughout the day. But when I sit down to write, I forget all the clever things I composed in my head. Just pretend it’s all witty and entertaining.

Yesterday was the Chamber’s annual golf tournament, and since I’d never been to it (or any golf tournament) before, I volunteered to help out. I was disappointed that it was cool and windy, but at least it didn’t rain as predicted. On The Weather Network that morning, it predicted a 90% chance of rain in the afternoon. Yay for that other 10%. I dressed warmly, so it really wasn’t too bad. I was stationed at the 17th hole in case people had questions about ‘The Straightest Drive’ competition on that hole. Thank goodness no one asked me anything because I knew nothing. It was to my advantage that golfers are a proud bunch that would never admit to not knowing something about golf. As if they would ask a non-golfing woman a golf question. In fact, a non-golfing woman who WORE JEANS to the golf course. Apparently that is frowned upon. Upon my arrival, I was taken aside and discreetly asked if I had brought other trousers. Fortunately I had (in case my jeans got went in the 90% probability of precipitation). I did know that you couldn’t wear jeans to golf on certain courses, but I thought volunteer helpers would be exempt from that dress code. But it seems the presence of denim anywhere near the course displeases and distracts golfers, so I quickly went to change amidst pointing and whispering. Frankly my jeans looked a lot nicer than my ragged brown capris, but it’s their course so they can make up whatever rules they want. The rest of the day was good; the hole sponsor at my hole was serving BBQ ribs, crantinis, kahlua, Baileys, and chocolate chip cookies. That worked out nicely for me. Between burgers for lunch, beef tenderloin for dinner, and the ribs, Shannon would be jealous of all the red meat I ate in one day. My body doesn’t know what to do with all this protein.

One major glitch in my day was that I totally forgot Wednesday afternoon is my carpool day. I knew I wouldn’t be home in time to pick up the kids, so I made arrangements for Dale to pick them up from After School Care. Somehow poor little Jake did not make it onto the radar screen in my head. When Dale went to pick them up, he was surprised to find out he was bringing Jake home too, but just thought I’d forgotten to tell him. So he happily dropped Jake off at 5:30 or so, and when Jake’s father asked Dale if everything was okay (they had called the school in the meantime and knew where Jake was), Dale’s like “Oh yeah, everything’s great!” I am as embarrassed as I was when I slept through my babysitting gig for my neighbour, but fortunately they were very kind about it.

We ran into another glitch today. Chloe did well in high jump at the school track meet, so she was supposed to go to the private school equivalent of a divisional meet today. Her event was scheduled for the afternoon, and I was planning to go watch her. Chloe asked if she could stay at school for the morning and get a ride to the track meet with me instead of riding the bus in the morning and sitting there all day. (Yes, she’s a keener and she also doesn’t like to miss Thursdays because it's the day they have a different teacher that does art with them.) I checked with the teacher, and she checked with the gym teacher in charge of the track meet, and they said it was no problem for Chloe to come just for the afternoon. So when I went to the school office to sign her out at noon today, one of the office staff tells me that the track meet teacher had phoned and said there was a mix-up and Chloe’s event was in the morning. So we missed it. They felt badly and had tried phoning me at home, but it wasn’t really anyone’s fault – we assumed Chloe was in the 10 year old group, but she was in the 9 year old group, and no one told us otherwise. She was so disappointed, but after a good cry, a frappucino and some timbits, she came to terms with it and wanted to go back to class after lunch. They were doing some fun art project and watching a movie, so that nice. I guess it’s just one of those lessons learned. From now on, my children will attend the track meet for the full day.

Since I didn't get to take any pictures of her jumping over a metal bar, I had to settle for this instead.

Neve didn't suffer the same disappointment as her sister, but still gets a frappucino.

There’s no school tomorrow; it’s a practice run for summer holidays. Only nine more days…I hope we can make it through them without any more glitches.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Miscellaneous musings

I can’t get over how beautiful the weather was this weekend. Unfortunately the rain appeared again today. But yesterday was the very first time this year that I was hot (insert joke here). We’ve had a few pleasant days, and I do get warm when I run, but this was the kind of heat that you just soak up and breathe in and it feels SO amazing. I even put sunscreen (or suntan lotion, as Dale still calls it) on Neve. Her translucent baby skin was fiery red from the heat but once she was out of the sun, it went right back to its usual shade of linen. She looks sickly. I feel like putting fake tan on her, but a streaked orange child doesn’t look that great either. You would think they could improve the quality of those tanning creams so they don’t streak anymore, but if you’d seen my legs for 2-3 weeks this spring, you’d know that they still do. And don’t tell me it’s because I bought the $7.95 bottle instead of the $79.99 one.

We are in our usual June mode over here. Between Chloe’s basketball, mine and Spencer’s soccer, the kids’ field trips, track and field days, spring concert, special chapels, birthday parties (four in nine days) AND the marathon, we’re trying to keep it all together. Every day I have a knot in my stomach, worrying that I’ve forgotten something important. But it seems to be working out okay so far. Neve has gone to my parents for a few days again this week, which makes it a lot quieter (and duller) around here.

Here’s a few bits and pieces of intended blog posts that have been floating around in my big empty head. Once I write them down, I can release those thoughts and make room for new ones.

Neve at Night: Neve still sleeps in Chloe’s room every night (hence the DS licking). We’ve given up the façade of putting her to bed in her own bed; she just goes and sleeps on Chloe’s floor right off the bat. It’s so easy putting her to bed now; she’s just so pleased to sleep in her sister’s room that she doesn’t ask for a story or worse (for a while we had to act out stories every night with her stuffed animals). She just lies right down and that’s the end of that.

Speeding ticket: I was 100% positive that I would be getting a ticket in the mail from the photo radar – I saw the flash, and I was the only vehicle around - but three weeks have gone by and no ticket has appeared. Is it too soon to spend the $200 that I thought I’d have to pay? I love found money. And don’t be telling me my logic is flawed.

Running: The countdown is on. Six more sleeps until the (half) marathon. I did a six mile run on Sunday which went well. Two things contributed to that: I started my run just ahead of some sort of charity run on Wellington and one guy must have thought I was way ahead of the pack, so he waved and cheered for me. Or maybe it was someone I knew but didn’t recognize. Whatever the case, I tried to live up to his show of support and make him proud. The second thing that helped was listening to Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls over and over for the last three miles. Unfortunately I’m not taking my iPod to the marathon, but hopefully my friend will be there to cheer me on. I’m getting nervous, but am trying to tell myself that there’s nothing more I can do at this point. I’m going to go for one more short run tomorrow, and then I’ll just close my eyes and hope for the best. Since this is my first (and very hopefully, last) half marathon, I can get away with saying, “I don’t care what my time is, my goal is just to finish.” Yeah, right. I secretly want to finish in the top ten. I am trying to accept the fact that my pride will take a huge hit, especially when I analyze everyone else’s results and see that the unathletic obese girl that I went to elementary school with has beat my time by half an hour, despite her prosthetic leg.

Facebook games: I continue to waste large amounts of time that could be better spent organizing my June schedule or cleaning out the recipe book cupboard. Just when I start to get tired of one game, some evil person introduces me to a new one. The latest is Word Twist. Dawn still crushes me each and every time I play any game with her, but Corinna consistently proves her intelligence too (which turns out to be considerable higher than mine). Darla’s slipped a bit, but we’ll blame that on her self control and her determination to get her thesis completed.

Guns and other weapons: Spencer’s still obsessed with all things violent. Here’s a birthday card he drew for his friend featuring an assortment of festive weapons. I recognized the bullwhip and revolver, but I forget what the others were despite, or because of, Spencer's painfully detailed explanation. I'm pretty sure they have something to do with either Indiana Jones or Star Wars, his two current passions. I wonder what the boy's mother thought. She's not the type who would find that funny. Hmm, I guess I should have blacked out the boy's name so people don't know who I'm talking about. Don't tell her I said that.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Why I like having a 3 year old

Here’s a conversation from this morning when Neve and I were in a public washroom, in side-by-side stalls.

Neve: Let’s talk.

Me: About what?

Neve: About Kiki’s DS. (Chloe’s Nintendo DS)

Me: What about it?

Neve: Sometimes I like to lick it at night.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Rag Cupboard

After three months’ worth of positive energy, I was all set to do a bitter, negative blog entry to appease some of the readers who are tired of sparkly rainbows and teddy bears, so to speak. But too bad for them - or you, as the case may be - I have two good things to write about today.

We had an awesome dinner tonight. Planning meals and cooking are not my thing and unfortunately they don’t seem to be anyone else in this house’s thing either, so mealtime is a painful affair. I know, I know, the irony of the dietician’s family not eating well-balanced meals … blah blah blah. Heard it all before. But we discovered something new today: Veggie Ground Round. I’m sure this is very familiar to some of you, but we’re just slowly boarding the vegetarian train. Well, not even boarding – still buying tickets. Chloe’s becoming more and more rigid about not eating meat; she used to eat it the odd time if something appealed to her, but not anymore. Never a huge meat lover myself, the more environmentally informed I get, the less I feel like eating meat. Although I suspect it has more to do with the fact I hate preparing meat; if you invite me to your house for dinner, I will happily eat meat that I have not seen in its pre-cooked state. Except a whole Cornish game hen – ever since I worked at Minaki Lodge and saw whole bus pans full of hen carcasses, those don’t work so well for me. I’ve never been served one before or since then, so it’s a total non-issue but I just thought I’d state my position on CGH in case you were thinking of preparing one for me. Equally disturbing, this Jello version appeared when I was looking for a picture of CGH to link to.

But back to our Veggie Ground Round supper. It’s a soy product that looks exactly like a package of ground beef. There are different flavours to choose from; I bought the Mexican one and made tacos. I sautéed onions, green peppers and garlic, then crumbled in the Ground Round (which is pre-cooked) and cooked it just until it was heated through. The whole meal prep took about 8 minutes. And it was a hit - everyone ate it; most actually enjoyed it. Chloe was thrilled to pieces to have something that resembled ground beef. It’s the same price, if not less, than lean ground beef and I was also impressed with the packaging – the only garbage is the shrink wrapped plastic around the meat – it comes in a cardboard sleeve which can be recycled, as opposed to a Styrofoam meat tray which ends up on Brady Road. The best part is that since it was so quick to make, everything was cleaned up and all the dishes done by 6:05 (I just missed my 6:00 deadline). I guess that could happen with meat dishes too; I’m just viewing everything through my veggie-coloured glasses.

Secondly, I had an expected burst of organizing energy today. There is a cupboard beside the basement stairway (above) that hasn’t been cleaned since we moved to this house in 1998. Not even after our kitchen renovation five years ago, when the floorboards were removed and sawdust and debris fell through the cracks and coated everything on the shelves below. This is the rag cupboard, so every time we needed a rag, we had to shake off the sawdust first. After years of putting up with this, in about 30 minutes, it went from this:

To this:

I know this isn't the most inspiring and impressive makeover ever but my standards are low so it's good enough for me. Think of all the negative energy that cupboard caused over the years – all made right in 30 minutes. I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson to be learned here, but I can’t put my finger on what it might be. Maybe it will come to me in another ten years.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

PE #30

I’m having blogger’s block today. I can’t even think of a positive moment. But I must, since today is Day #30 and high time to put this series to bed. It wasn’t a bad day, but nothing in particular stands out. Neve rode her tricycle around the neighbourhood, which was fine until she got tired. Then I had to carry the trike which is one of my favourite things to do. There’s no good spot to hold on to, and the back of the trike banged my thigh with each step I took. One would think it would be more tiring to walk than to pedal, but a three year old brain seems to think otherwise. But despite that, it was lovely outside and we bumped into friends and played at the school playground for a while. Oh, and another good part of the day was when the kids got home from school. Tuesday is my favourite day because our carpool friend brings them home and I don’t have to wake Neve from her nap. So when they got home Chloe, Spencer and I sat and talked and had warm-from-the-oven brownies with milk. Usually things are frantic and fussy after school, so it was a nice treat. The conversation ended the instant the brownies were gone, but that’s okay because I needed a Scramble fix anyway.

Here’s a link to a story in one of my favourite websites ever, The Onion. It’s totally stupid, but if I ever feel like I’m wasting my life, I just think of the writers who make up these stories and suddenly I don’t feel so bad. But making people laugh is never really a waste of time - unless it’s an evil laugh – so check it out. Best line in the article: "I kind of wish I had ordered the fajitas now."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

PE #29

Above photo is a Looking Down shot (at our neighbour's tree)
And for a closer look, the photo below is Looking Up (this is payback for Vancouver people who shared their tree blossom photos in March)

I seem to have entered my third month of Positive Moments. How did it possibly drag out this long? One more day of being positive until I can stop trying to be someone I'm not. Just kidding; the warm(er) weather is making it easy to think happy thoughts.

We spent lots of time outside this weekend, playing, planting, and picnic-ing. We dug out the starter bike from the basement and put on the training wheels. Neve is feeling very proud and big-girlish. The boys are not exactly cheering her on in this photo; they look solemn and downcast.

We had a picnic at the park and lay in the sun afterwards. I can't think of many things I love more than feeling the heat of the sun on my skin. But if I could have changed one thing, it would have been nice if Neve wouldn't have kept throwing pea gravel at us while we slept.

Later we went exploring by the river and the kids did their part to contribute to the riverbank erosion problem. By the time we left, there was at least a foot of shoreline that is no more.

Hope you had a great weekend and are refreshed for the week ahead (how's that for positive?!). Thanks for reading!

Scramble addiction

By the way, I have been CRUSHED in Scramble (by a non-blog reader). In the last game we played, her final score was almost 200 points higher than mine. I'm not sure whether to give up or to keep practicing so that one day I might beat her. Who am I kidding - of course I'll keep practicing.

Weird neighbour

I think every block has one. We have a few, but thankfully the one that handed out OXO cubes for Halloween and had a perpetual garage sale in her freaky basement was sent to a live in some sort of monitored situation a year or two ago. She used to steal barbecues in the neighbourhood to sell at her garage sale. Her tiny black dog escaped from her yard several times a week and each and every time we would bring him home, the lady was shocked and completely flummoxed about how he had managed to get out of the yard.

But ever since the ambulance took her away, the Bizarre Neighbour title belongs to the guy a few doors down from us. He’s about 60 years old and lives in his childhood home. His mother died a couple of years ago, but until then they lived there together. I have no idea what kind of work he does; he is always dressed in a short-sleeved white or light yellow dress shirt, with dark dress pants. He doesn’t seem to have regular work hours and comes and goes throughout the day. He is stout and unattractive and I believe his faculties are not all functioning at the desired levels. He is always working on his house and yard, yet it still looks neglected and rundown. There are old vehicles and appliances in the backyard and the weeds are high. (I can’t say too much about that because our yard is hideous. We have so many weeds that … wait for it … I think we’re actually going to have do something about it. For years we have hidden behind the anti-chemical “we’re-growing-children-not-perfect-lawn” mindset because we’re too lazy to buy Weed & Feed.)

But despite my neighbour’s shortcomings, he is always pleasant. He seems awkward around females; he will wave to me, but won’t speak to me. That’s fine with me. So this week he came home with a huge, old, butt-ugly camping trailer. It looks likes it’s been through some hard times. It appears to be permanently parked in the green space behind our back lane. I am trying to imagine what he would use it for. Would he go camping by himself? I never see him hang out with friends, except for the guy who lived in his garage one summer. Where would he go camping? Why does he need such a large camper? If only he would speak to me, I would ask him these things. I am a little wary of him; he’s either just a quiet minding-his-own-business kind of guy or someone who might kill our whole family while we sleep.

Just thought I’d get that in writing in case something happens to us.

PS: I’m not counting this as a Positive moment post.