Wednesday, July 30, 2008
My name is Lisa Newcombe. I have known Ellen since emigrating to Canada from England almost 7 years ago (and have to say she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet). We work together at the Chamber. Love reading the blog. Ellen's life is so fun and interesting although I would like to see more naughty children stories.
My pet peeve is spitting and working down I see it a lot - gross.
My worst job I have to say was strawberry picking when I left school to tide me over, it was so hot that summer whilst bending over to pick I ended up having very bad sunburn on the backs of my legs!!!
If someone gave me $100.00 - I am guessing I would spend it on the kids!
My favorite TV show whilst at school was a show called Grange Hill (a big hit in the late 70s/ 80s) - children's everyday lives at a comprehensive school and still going strong today apparently. Check it out on YouTube - when I see it now I think what dreadful acting!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
We crossed off another item on our list today. This is one of the things I didn’t think we’d actually do this summer because Neve is a bit young for it. Not only would she need constant supervision (I hate that), but an adult (me) would have to be in the water the whole time, going down slides all day long and wrecking my new swimsuit. Spencer is going to day camp at church this week and their afternoon activity today was Fun Mountain. Chloe was suddenly desperately regretting not signing up for camp and the weather was supposed to be hot, so I dropped Neve off at her grandma’s in exchange for my older nieces, and we spent the afternoon at the waterslides.
We have not been lucky with our waterslide weather this year and today was no exception. A cold wind was howling and the skies looked ominous most of the time, but the kids didn’t notice. I have officially turned into my mother; I sat on a lounge chair wrapped in a sweatshirt and towels and didn’t enter the water. I remember my mom doing that at Fun Mountain when I was young. It was unfathomable to me that she didn’t want to go down the slides. The circle of life. Or full circle. Something like that. In my defence, I will say that it did look like fun and I would definitely have joined them if it had been hot. But I was very happy sitting and reading a book. Spencer was officially a ward of the day camp and I wasn’t responsible for him at all, which made me feel a little guilty but more like a guilty pleasure. The kids had a great time, and the weather got warmer as the afternoon went on. In fact by closing time, it was almost warm. The website says that the slides are open til 7:00, but for no apparent reason (okay, maybe the weather), they closed at 5:00 today. I should put in a plug for the place though; despite having a slightly dated aura, it really is well-kept, clean, and fun. They have lounge chairs for observers like me, a nice picnic area, plus the bumper boats and mini-golf. If it wasn’t for Neve, I’d love to go back on a hot day and spend the entire day.
And the best part – I bought a dress there today. Along with the sunscreen and souvenir keychains, they sell clothes in the gift shop. Much to my surprise, a cute black frock jumped out at me. It’s something you could wear as a beach cover up or to a wedding. That might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s super cute. I hope with all my heart that somewhere along the line, at least one person will compliment it and ask where I bought it. To which I will proudly reply, “Why, thank you! It’s from Fun Mountain, of course.”
Check back tomorrow for another Guest Blogger post. I am loving this - keep them coming!
Tales From the Tot tamer: Hello everyone! This is my new project! Please jump in, browse around, leave a comment and please add yourself to the feed! This is just one more step in becoming a writer full time!! Thanks! See you on the blog!!
My name is Siobhan Keely, but for the longest time I wanted to be called Tuesday.
I've known Ellen since Chloe was 1 year old and Chloe came to my house and was the easiest baby to look after as she slept most of the day.
My worst job was nannying for a psycho mom. I lasted 9 months (about 6 months longer than I should have) - shortest childcare stint on my resume. As a matter of fact, I don't even include it on my resume.
If someone gave me $100, I'd buy a Braun Silk Epilator.
My biggest pet peeve is chewing gum. It's disgusting. And I HATE when little kids have it.
My favourite tv show as a kid was The Electric Company which you can now borrow from our local library. I loved when they went all crazy singing the song and I loved the guy who dressed up as a little girl, mostly because I wanted the dress he wore.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Since my lack of blog material is getting obvious (see post below), I propose something new. This blog is now open to guest bloggers. Anyone who’s interested can send me an entry and I will post it, subject to my discretion – the more nice things you say about me, the more likely I will post it. It can be about you, something you’re passionate about, a plug for your own blog or business, a great book you’ve read recently, or something totally random. If that feels too broad or intimidating but you’d still like to participate, try answering any or all of the questions below.
- Your name
- Why do you read this blog? (for the benefit of other readers - how you know me or how you came across this blog)
- What was your worst job? (I know several of you have good stories to share about that)
- If someone gave you $100, what would you spend it on?
- What is your pet peeve?
- What was your favourite TV show when you were in junior high?
I confess I googled “icebreaker questions” to come up with some of these (my imagination sucks) and I found a link where people could send in suggestions. Here are some good ones you can try at your next social function:
- Were you born a man?
- Is that a pyjama top you’re wearing?
- Can I sleep with your wife?
- How many five-year olds do you think you could take in a fight?
I am not expecting an inundation of entries, but I will be embarrassed and will stop writing for a long, long time if no one sends me anything. I think it would be interesting to hear what you have to say, so don’t disappoint me. If you’re a secret blog reader, don’t be shy – it’s a perfect opportunity to come out of the closet.
After one of the last days of school, the kids and I made a list of things we wanted to do this summer. We went in a circle and everyone contributed ideas. Many ideas involve food or candy, except for Neve’s. All of hers involve her neighbour friend:
· go to Tegan’s house
· have friends over (like Tegan!)
· see Tegan, etc.
This is what we’ve done so far:
· Swim in our (kiddie) pool
· Go camping (I’m counting the cabin as camping)
· Ride our bikes
· Walk to 7-11 for slurpees
· Walk to Dorothy’s (for ice cream)
· Everything involving Tegan
Left to do (not all of these will happen):
· Fun Mountain
· Go to a hotel
· Have a party just for fun and give presents
· Sleep over at Grandma & Poppa’s
· Go to Sugar Mountain
· Set up sprinkler in the rain
· Go for a breakfast picnic in the park
· Lower Fort Garry
· Mrs. Mikes (best chili burgers/chili fries ever)
· Get Dippin’ Dots on the Esplanade Riel
I’m going to have to start scheduling some of these things or else September 2nd will be a very busy day for us.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
There have been complaints about the infrequency of my posts lately – I’m on holidays, dammit. Leave me alone! I thought the minute details of my week away and the non-sensical Unisys story would have scared everyone away. I’m just kidding of course; I love you all to pieces for humouring me and my blog.
The rest of the week has passed in a blur. On Thursday, the kids and I went to the Cupcakery in Osborne Village. The kids had fun choosing their cupcakes; they all looked so pretty and sweet (the cupcakes). It’s a cute cheery little place, but it would have been nice to have a spot to sit and eat the cupcakes (it’s takeout only). A bit pricey too; the four cupcakes cost over $11. That would have bought me several cake mixes and icing ingredients. But it was a nice treat, and more importantly, another thing to cross off the list of things we wanted to do this summer.
In the afternoon, the kids had friends over and I did yardwork while the kids played outside. There are so many areas of our tiny yard that need work and I don’t seem to be accomplishing much. But I try. While I’m outside, I am always spying on our new neighbours two doors over. They haven’t moved in yet, but are doing much sawing and carrying wood in and out of the house. I haven’t talked to them yet, I just quickly look away when they make eye contact. Between that and my noisy pack of children, I suspect they’re second guessing their decision. And with good reason.
Yesterday we went to the waterpark in Portage. The wind made our wet skin pretty chilly, especially at the top of the waterslides, but at least it wasn’t raining. Dale’s sister and niece came along, and the kids had a great time. Neve was a bit high-maintenance and had a complete meltdown at the end, but other than that it was a fun day. And the evening was even more fun; Darla came over for some technical assistance which I dragged out as long as possible just so I’d have a friend to talk to.
And now we’re off to Hecla for the day, to Dale’s brother’s cabin. The thought of four hours in the van with Neve gives me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. But it’s supposed to be hot and sunny, so I’m sure it will be …. (sorry, haven’t said it for a while) … WORTH IT!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Dale’s been on holidays this week and the weather’s been great, so we’ve been having fun. We hung out at the Quarry on Monday afternoon, and in the evening I had a soccer game at Assiniboine Park and Dale and the kids biked over to watch. It was a beautiful evening. Yesterday we cleaned the garage (which does not look as clean and empty as I was hoping it would), the kids played outside in the little pool, we babysat Isabella, and had drinks on the deck with friends after dinner. Today wasn’t so good – the temperature wasn’t great, but we forged ahead with our plans to go to the waterpark in Portage. We were well on our way there when it started raining and the temperature kept dropping. So much to everyone’s disappointment, we turned around and came home. Dale took the older kids to see a movie, and Neve’s napping, so that’s okay too. It’s been a while since I’ve had peace and quiet in my house. Dale’s sister and her kids will be arriving in town any minute, so we’re all excited to see them tonight.
Making good use of the sand at the Quarry
Isabella, the living, breathing doll
Also yesterday, my neighbour took the kids to the Humane Society to deliver the money they raised from Paws & Claws and from previous lemonade stands they’d done. The total was just over $200, and my neighbour said the HS was very appreciative and good to the kids and even took a picture of them, which they said they would put in their newsletter. So everyone was happy.
Since people found such delight in Dale’s night-freak, I thought I’d share his mini-episode last night. He wasn’t as frantic this time, he just uttered a very clear, polite, and genuinely concerned, “Are you all right, Winston?” After which, he bolted upright but was quickly calmed down and went back to sleep. This morning I asked him who Winston was, but he didn’t have a clue.
And finally, here’s a website I came across, which is sort of interesting in light of high gas prices and trying to use vehicles less, etc. You type in your address and it gives you a score on how walkable or car-dependent your neighbourhood is.
But she was a ray of bright summer sunshine compared to her boss, the plant manager. We’ll call him Ed, since that was his real name. He looked like Victor Kiriakis from Days of our Lives (convenient how everyone looked like somebody famous); powerful and cold. He did not demean himself by speaking to someone of my standing; I only remember him grunting. He was bad-tempered and did not enjoy it when things did not go his way. When walking around the office on his fear-mongering walks, he was known to stop and pick up stray paper clips from the floor, yelling at everyone that they were wasting resources.
The reception area was a dim, depressing, windowless room (I guess there must have been a door somewhere) where you were locked in for security reasons. You could only enter the rest of the building by being buzzed in by the receptionist or taking a back hallway past Ed’s office. I hated reception relief; I was terrified of Ed and there were rarely visitors or phone calls, so the time passed slowly, especially since Elvira did not adhere to the 30 minute lunch guidelines. And then, sometime during that week, Elvira suddenly contracted carpal tunnel syndrome and went on disability. I blame it on being an insecure 18 year old who was scared to find another job; when I was offered her job, I took it.
Thus began the worst months of my life. For seven hours a day, I sat in that office completely and utterly alone. Ed didn’t give me any work; I couldn’t be trusted even though he never gave me the opportunity to prove myself untrustworthy. But I had to look busy, even though my only duty was to answer his phone when he wasn’t there. If his boss from the US called, I had to track him down no matter WHAT. I remember searching for him throughout the entire plant with my heart beating frantically. I don’t know what would have been wrong with saying, “He’s not in his office right now, can he call you back?” But I knew better than that. The one other duty I had was to feed his fish when he was away. The relief I felt when he wasn’t in the office was counter-balanced by the stress I had about my fish-feeding responsibility. He was very proud of his huge fish tank with all of his fancy fish, and the feeding instructions were so detailed and complicated that he had to actually speak them instead of grunting them at me. I was so afraid that a fish would die on my watch (none did) that I’m sure it took years off my life. I hated my job so intensely that even though I looked forward to the weekend, I couldn’t enjoy it knowing Monday would come again so soon. No matter how much I tried to put work out of my head and enjoy every second of my time off, it was overshadowed by Ed and the soul-crushing depressing-ness of that reception office. To make a long story short, I eventually quit and went back to school (for a secretary course, of all things. This was such a great experience, I wanted more like it).
Okay, that story got much longer and detailed than I planned. I was only trying to illustrate a point. Now that I think about it, my point makes absolutely no sense. In fact, it’s actually the complete opposite of this story. But now that I’ve written this all, I may as well post it. What I was trying to illustrate is that I love summer so much and it’s going by way too fast and I’m trying to hang on to every second. And obviously my brain isn’t working that great.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
On the deck of our cabin (which looks like the one in the background)
We spent the week at Brereton Lake in the Whiteshell in a rented cabin that was part of a rustic little resort. I chose it blindly from the internet; the price was right and the little cartoon drawing of the resort appeared satisfactory. I was very relieved to find a very clean, somewhat modern, two-bedroom cabin complete with satellite TV. It wasn’t on the water, but the beach was just a minute’s walk away, which unfortunately included having to cross a highway. There was a store and restaurant and ice-cream shop, and the owner bent over backward to make sure we were happy with everything. There were videos and books and games we could help ourselves to, canoes we could borrow, and tennis rackets and balls we could use for the tennis courts. Behind our cabin was a trail along a ridge, which the kids loved exploring. The three closest cabins were occupied by families with kids around our kids’ ages, so they all had fun swimming and playing and running around together. We had campfires at night, and it was nice sitting around with the other families eating smores and talking.
On the ridge trail
The weather wasn’t great – I believe there was rain at some point every single day. But surprisingly, it didn’t really matter. I brought some activity books and an art case and the kids spent hours on end drawing. The biggest hit was the “How to Draw Powerpuff Girls” book. I can’t even count how many Powerpuff girls they drew. In Spencer’s defence, there were also instructions on drawing “Rowdyruff” boys, so he mostly did those. Mostly. They also loved the “Yes & Know” books, where you use an invisible ink pen to play different games. I loved those when I was young, and I was kind of sorry I hadn’t bought myself one too. But I read a pile of magazines and two whole books, (plus half of one that I’m reading aloud to the kids), watched many movies, played games, napped, did lots of Sudokus, taught Neve to write her name and Spencer to tie his shoes. When the sun came out, we sat on the deck and did more of the same, or went down to the beach or to the play structure. It felt so free to have no schedule and no responsibilities (besides the children) for a whole week. All the meal planning and preparation paid off; I stuck the week’s menu on the fridge right when we arrived and mealtime was a breeze. I am in awe of how well that went; we didn’t make anything complicated and we always knew what we were having, so there was literally NO stress involved. I am so going to try that at home.
Drawing Powerpuff girls
We only left the resort three times. One particularly dreary day, we went to Kenora, which wasn’t much fun in the rain. We went to Zellers (I tried to squint and pretend it was Target) and walked around the docks a bit, but it was too cold and wet. We also went to my sister’s cabin twice, which was a few lakes over from ours. The road to their cabin is hilly and twisty and every time we went over a steep hill, Neve would say, “That tickles my wiener!” I wonder who she got that from. My brother-in-law indulged Spencer and took him tubing, which was the highlight of his (Spencer’s, not Bob’s) week. And it was my sister’s birthday while we were there, so we got in on the party and cake.
Spencer's in the middle of the tube; I'm surprised you can't see his beaming face from here.
Happy Birthday, Auntie Janet...
Dale often has unsettling night incidents when we’re away (and sometimes when we’re not) and he did not disappoint. The second night, he bolted upright, stared at me and said, “WHO ARE YOU?!?” And if that wasn’t fun enough, a few nights later, he jumped out of bed like a frantic madman and started running for the door.
Dale: Bean stalks!! Where are the beans??!! WHERE ARE THE BEANS!?!?
Me: DALE!! DALE!! GO BACK TO BED. LIE DOWN. LIE DOWN!!!
Dale: Where are the beans??!!
Me: Under the bed. You’re at the cabin. GO BACK TO BED.
Eventually he climbs back into bed, sees Neve (who climbed into our bed during the night) lying there, and says, “Oh. Here’s one.”
On the way home, we stopped to pick strawberries. As if unloading and unpacking and laundry wasn’t daunting enough, we had four pails of berries to deal with too. I made two batches of jam, froze some, and still have a bunch in my fridge.
Oh, and last night, there was a mosquito buzzing around my ear again. But at least our tap water is clear instead of the colour of pee when you’ve been taking multi-vitamins, so it was still worth coming home.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Last night Dale and I were lying in bed talking about how we weren’t ready for our week at the lake to end. Except for the yucky lake water coming out of the taps, we couldn’t think of one benefit of going home.
Then the mosquito came. After a few useless swats in the dark we turned on the light, hunted it down, and settled in again. Then the next one came. I am not exaggerating – this happened at least TEN times in the next hour or so. That high pitched buzzing in my ears just about pushed me over the edge. That’s the only night it happened – I think God sent them so we wouldn’t be so sad about going home.
And home we are, all showered and clean and about to sleep in our own beds. The promise of a mosquito-free night is stronger than I can resist, so I’ll try to write an update tomorrow.
Friday, July 11, 2008
But I'm thinking things can only get better! Have a great week! I'll leave you with a new clip of Neve dancing. That girl loves her stripes.
Today I did laundry, started packing, and baked muffins, mini quiches, tea biscuits, and chocolate chunk cookies. I have never made mini quiches before, but for some reason I decided we must have some at the cabin. I made a detailed meal plan with more “real” meals in seven days than we would normally eat in seven months. Simple living at the lake? Not for us. We will be eating like royalty on our Royal Chinet. It’s all kind of silly, but it sucks to go on a holiday and eat canned Irish stew the whole time.
Also this week, the kids had dentist appointments, which they always greatly look forward to just because they get to pick a superbouncer when they leave. We have many, many superbouncers at home, but somehow the novelty never wears off. Before that, we went to the library downtown, which was also fun, except that the kids kept asking if it was time to go to the dentist yet. We rode the glass elevator with about five other people, and by the grace of God, Neve waited until we got out of the elevator and out of earshot before saying, “That man had a baby in his tummy.”
Tonight we went to the Keg for dinner with friends, and I just want to say if anyone ever plans a surprise dinner for me or something, please don’t pick the Keg. I don’t love red meat (except for hamburger, classy person that I am) and that place does not do other meat well. But the company was fantastic and my Keg sized strawberry dacquiri was nothing to complain about. It was so nice to get out; I’m finding three children hovering around me day and night can get quite intense. Last night, two out of three children ended up in our room during the night. I couldn't sleep with Neve's snoring, so I went to sleep in Spencer's bed. Some time later, there was Neve standing beside the bed. I don't know how she found me. She climbed in with me, and as soon as she fell asleep, I went back to my bed. She was not pleased to wake up alone in Spencer's room this morning. It's driving me crazy.
And tomorrow we’re off for a week of even more concentrated family time. I’m making a clean break and not taking my laptop, so take care and see you in a week. I’ll miss you all!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Robyn, Claire (hope no one minds me naming names) and Grandma perusing the art selection:
The haunted house. I hope children aren't having nightmares tonight - I thought Moo Moo Cow disguised as a toilet paper mummy was as scary as it got. I was wrong.
The hula hoop contest:
Water balloon toss:
Darla laughing at Spencer's gun picture (which is still available, by the way)
On a completely different note, tonight I was reading to Chloe & Spencer outside on the front porch when a guy in a silver Mercedes pulled up and asked if he could take a picture of our house. I asked him why, and he told me he had lived in our house from 1958 to 1962 (when he was 15-19 years old). He told me a bunch of things about the house, and how his parents had divorced during that time, and I got the impression that it had been a difficult time from him. His father stayed in the house, and he lived here with him after that. The man struck me as a little odd (but so do most people), but I believe he was telling the truth. He didn’t ask to see inside the house, but Dale came home as I was talking to him so I felt comfortable enough to invite him inside. He stayed in the kitchen, dining room, and living room and refused my offer to see the rest. He seemed choked up and I think he was having a really tough time with the memories. He took a picture of the outside before he left, and promised to send me some old pictures of the house. I found it all very interesting and wished I had asked him more about what the house and yard were like back then. He did say they had planted the two evergreens in front, and I felt like asking him what they were thinking when they’d done that. I guess they didn’t realize two cute little trees would grow into enormous, sun-blocking, pine-needle dropping, lawn destroying bird havens. Speaking of which, the children and I saw two blue jays doing bizarre things in those trees today. I can’t quite describe it. Blue jays are also in my top ten list of least favourite birds. Some day when I have nothing else to write, I’ll share my list with you.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Here's a plug for a festival taking place at our house this Wednesday. Chloe and her neighbour friend have been working hard, organizing and planning this fundraising event all by themselves. The charity was Neighbour Girl’s idea since she is crazy about animals. Chloe is pretty much scared of all animals, but her love of event planning transcends the cause.
If you're in the area, PLEASE stop by. All are welcome - if you need our address, email me or leave a comment.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
I haven’t been sharing my anti-stuff rants lately, but here are a couple of things I read this weekend that I found interesting. First, there was an article in yesterday’s National Post about the benefits of sky-high oil prices. I, like many people, am terrified of high fuel prices and the doom and gloom surrounding these predictions feel like the end of the world is nigh. But this writer’s opinion was that there would gradually be a shift back to higher density cities, less urban sprawl, and people buying more local products, which in turn would boost local manufacturing. I’m thinking these are all good things.
The second article, in today’s Free Press, talked about how bottled water is a waste of money and resources. I know this isn't exactly breaking news and I'm already very pro-tap water, but it was a good reminder. Now I just need to buy some more good quality bottles that aren't made from evil plastics.
Getting off the soapbox now.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
It’s been a full weekend, and there’s still a day left to go. Spencer, Neve & I had another beach day at the Quarry on Friday, and when Dale got home, we all drove out to pick Chloe up from camp. I really missed her and couldn’t wait to see her. Even though she’s been away for a few days before, it’s always been with family. This time I kept wondering how she was doing - if she was warm enough at night; if there was non-meat food available; if she was homesick. Fortunately, all my worrying was in vain and she had a great time. When she first saw us, she hardly even acknowledged us – just kept on talking to her friends and writing down their phone numbers (on her hand, which washed off before she copied them onto paper). She wasn’t even excited to see Neve, which is completely unlike her. But after a short transition period, she admitted she was happy to come home. I felt all warm and happy when I realized she still loved us. Just to make sure, we stopped at Syl’s in Carman for ice cream.
We made everyone share one sundae.
Okay, not really – everyone had their own ice cream, but one was not enough for Dietitian Dale so he got a second ice cream treat, which the children pounced on and made him share.
This afternoon we went to the best wedding ever. My cousin and his (now) wife got married in their backyard, beside the pool. It was small and simple and relaxed, and exactly the way I would do it if I got married again. It was a hot, perfect day and the kids swam the whole time.
Spencer was the first one in.
The happy couple (I must start photoshopping my eye wrinkles, or stop smiling so much):
Oh, and the other happy couple:
Congratulations, Rob & Gab!!
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
We had a great long weekend; Dale was off Monday too, so it felt like a mini-vacation and we were all in the holiday spirit. Like Christmas, only warmer. One of the highlights was going on a bike ride to the park, across the walking bridge (with a stop at Sargent Sundae, even though it was morning), and back home on the other side of the river. It was such a gorgeous morning and the kids were in happy moods the whole time. We also had some fun dinners with friends, spent another day at the Quarry, and had family over for a Canada Day dinner at our house with a bike ride to the fireworks later. We hadn’t been to the fireworks since Chloe was a baby and the children were in awe. They were cheering and giggling and soaking it up.
At the Quarry:
On the way home:
What Spencer's been doing all week:
Baby Bella (Neve still looks like she kind of wants to eat her):
I've been trying to put the kids to work - here they are rolling change. They each have some set jobs; one of Chloe's jobs is to choose and make one meal per week. This week's meal was pizza (including the crust from scratch). She enjoyed it so much that she later made banana bread on her own. She does need a bit of help, but I'm pleasantly surprised how much she can do on her own. I see a whole new world opening up before me. I am going to test the positive reinforcement theory to its full capacity. I will be praising her until I lose my voice. Then I’ll switch to writing notes of encouragement. I HATE cooking. Every day I hate it more than the day before.
But alas, I'll have to wait until the weekend for more cooking help; I took Chloe to camp today for a two-night starter camp. She was very excited - could hardly fall asleep last night (but I had to wake her at 10:15 this morning) - but also nervous. She was in a cabin with three other friends from school, so I'm sure she'll have a great time. Check out the air conditioning in the cabin - that would have been a nice amenity back in the day when we roasted in our windowless, vent-less, rustic log cabins.
I took this picture from the van window while I was driving. Nerd alert. I was going to crop out the highway, but I'm too lazy.