Saturday, August 30, 2008

Long weekend part 1

These are the highlights of my long weekend so far, in point form and pictures:
  • Taking the kids downtown on the bus on Friday. We went to the library, Toad Hall Toys, had lunch on a patio in the Exchange, and then to Portage Place for ice cream. The kids did great and while I was somewhat disappointed we didn’t see anything exciting, at least they didn’t see ambulance people attending to a woman passed out half on the sidewalk and half on the road like I did on Thursday. I love downtown (really!).

  • Going to the quarry today. We were happy to get in one last trip before the curtain falls on another summer at the beach. I could have done without the gale force winds and the resulting sandstorm, but it was a gorgeous day and we had fun with friends.




  • Going to Mrs. Mike’s for our annual juicy burgers and chili fries fix (no one needs to tell Dale his butt is on the internet)

  • And here’s the BEST part. I was wearing my Fun Mountain dress tonight and while we were waiting for our food at Mrs. Mike’s, a woman came up to me – a total stranger – and said, “I just love your dress! It looks so comfortable!” And though I was dying to tell her where I got it, I practiced being gracious and normal and just thanked her.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I feel like an Olympian

(They ask for money too, right?)

On September 5-7, I am participating in the dragon boat races at the Forks with a Chamber team. It’s a Canadian Cancer Society fund raiser, with money being raised for cancer research. If this is a cause you support anyway, I would be delighted and appreciative if you would donate through this event, because it makes me look good. My goal is to raise more than my co-workers so that it looks like I have more friends than them.

It’s easy to donate online with a credit card – here’s the link. Just click on ‘make a gift’ under the thermometer that currently says zero (I believe/hope that's not up-to-date!). The minimum donation is $5 and every bit helps!

If you prefer to go the cash or cheque route, let me know and I will even come pick it up. Unless you live out of province, in which case I’d be happy to send you a stamped, self-addressed envelope. :)

As an incentive, if I receive donations, I promise to post a photo series of me wearing the Fun Mountain dress. Oh dear, I'm not sure if that's an incentive or a deterrent.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The quest for a decent water bottle

Not counting the weekend or my work day tomorrow, I only have two more days to spend with the kids before school starts. I booked haircuts for Tuesday so that the kids will be freshly shorn for school, but the appointment is smack in the middle of the day which rules out any major excursions. We still have a few things left on the List, but some of them could be done in fall. One thing the kids really want to do is take the bus downtown to the library. Maybe we’ll do lunch at the Underground Café after and just hang out downtown for the day. Most of the parents I see hanging out with their kids downtown are smoking, tattooed, overweight, and carrying Giant Tiger bags, so I’m going to try to counter-balance that. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things; I’d make the same sort of comment if everyone was skinny, blonde, and drinking Starbucks (none of those apply to me). I’m just all about shaking up the status quo and giving the downtown tourists something different to look at.

I walked to do some banking with the kids this morning, and we decided to go on a little field trip to some neighbourhood stores. First off was the coin collecting store on Corydon, where we looked at, well, coins. The woman working there eyed us suspiciously as we looked around. Then a man came in and looked around, and she had to watch him too. In my paranoia, I was worried that she’d think we had something going on – me and the kids were there to distract her, and the man would steal something. So we didn’t stay long. Then we went to the Diamond Gallery next door, and the kids had a great time checking out the bling. The owner was super friendly and answered Spencer’s questions about which was the most valuable diamond, etc. (again, it sounds suspicious). But she was lovely and even took out a selection of diamond earrings to show Chloe. We also stopped at World of Water, which sounds boring but they had a selection of water bottles I wanted to check out.

And now I’m going to spend the rest of this post talking about water bottles. You may tune out now if that doesn’t excite you. I want to buy each of the children a decent water bottle for school. Until now, we have either used disposable water bottles (which we re-use much longer than recommended by the water bottle experts) or dollar store bottles, which break or don’t have proper spouts or are supposedly made of poisonous chemicals. World of Water had the Sigg bottles, but I wanted something more easily-accessible for the kids than the screw-off caps. I am told you can get different bottle tops, but they didn’t have any in stock. The other brands of water bottles either had poor quality spouts or straws that are a pain to keep clean. Tonight Dale and I spent a good 30 minutes (!) at London Drugs, trying to find the perfect bottle. It could not be done. I am not against spending the money for a good quality bottle, but it must have ALL the features I want if I’m going to pay $40 a bottle. I’m trying to live out the ‘Stuff’ philosophy: better to have one good quality item that will last you many years than 30 bottles that end up in the landfill. But on the other hand, I don’t remember having a water bottle when I was in school. We just drank from the fountain, except for special occasions when my mom would send me Tang in a Tupperware cup with a lid, which leaked all over my lunch kit 75% of the time. And occasionally the Grade 12’s held hot dog sales to raise money and we could buy pic-a-pop or no-name cans of cola. Maybe the children of today drink much more water than we did, but I’m not really aware of an overall rise in health and fitness among children. So maybe they don’t need water bottles and I can just cross that off my list. I’m going to go to Mountain Equipment Co-op tomorrow and see if they can solve my problems. Has anyone else had a issue with this? Any advice or suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trying to make 3 look fun and effortless

Today was a much better day. By 10:00 a.m. I had showered, whipped the house into presentable shape, and baked tea biscuits. My new neighbour came for a visit with her 3 week old baby, so I wanted it to look like I had things under control. It’s always a bit awkward when a brand new mother with her one tiny angelic baby comes into contact with me and my three Tasmanian devils whirling around my messy, disorganized house. I really want to tell her, “some day this will be you,” but I imagine that’s the last thing she wants to hear. Since I’m committed to the growth of this city and I don’t want to deter anyone from reproducing, in these situations I try to clean up the kids, dress them cute, and bribe them to be polite and silent. My façade usually crumbles after a few seconds, but nevertheless I like to think those first 3 seconds make quite an impression. But the neighbour was very easy-going and did a splendid job of not appearing overwhelmed at the chaos around her, even when both kids (Chloe was still at the lake) were hovering around her asking questions while she breast-fed. Though it might be a bit soon to ask if she'd mind babysitting sometimes.


My productivity continued with some Chamber work, cookie-baking (yes, biscuits AND cookies in one day), salad-making, picnic-packing, dragon-boating, and spending a great evening at the park with friends. When I’m in the park and see a whole group of people barbecuing / eating / kids playing, I’m always wistful that it’s not me. Today was my lucky day because there I was, part of a large vibrant group making other people jealous. We even had a fire going with marshmallow-roasting and smore-making options. And not just regular white marshmallows - Darla brought pink and brown (strawberry and chocolate flavoured) imported marshmallows. My children were so pleased with those that it made up for the fact that all I'd brought them to eat were boiled eggs, while everyone else ate big juicy hamburgers. Neve's slippery egg popped out of her hand before she'd taken a bite, so I rinsed off the dirt and ashes as best I could and gave it back to her. I must remember that's not an optimum picnic food for children. The kids ran free, all over the playground, all evening. Alas, it did not seem to tire them out whatsoever. Neve was still awake at 11:30 tonight. And she’ll be up by 8:00 tomorrow. She is definitely the kink in the system; this was not a good summer for sleeping in. But with my new earlier bedtime, it’s all going to improve. Last night I was up 30 minutes past my goal, but I vow to do better tonight.

I just want to mention I've added Stephen's blog link to the sidebar. He is a chatty fellow and has much to say about all sorts of things. You're pretty much guaranteed a laugh, as long as you can figure out what he's talking about. Go, Stephen!

Leisure thoughts

Until 2:30, my day was a complete waste of time. At that time, I finally got through to someone and was able to register for the #$&*$!* Leisure Guide programs I wanted. I haven’t registered for anything through the Leisure Guide for many years because I remembered how painful the registration process was and how lame the program I enrolled in was. But with all of our disposable income going to school tuition and vehicle repairs, this year we decided to go the economical route with our extra-curricular activities. My neighbour and I decided to enroll our 3-year-olds in Kinder Ballet, and Dale and Spencer wanted to take a martial arts class together. . On the inside front cover of the Leisure Guide is a large box that says:

Registration begins
Monday, August 25 at 9:00 a.m.

Register at
www.Winnipeg.ca/leisureonline

or
Call 986-5663

Check online for the most up-to-date info on course offerings!

So I dragged myself out of bed at 9:00 a.m. today and tried to access their website. I got a message: Too many users – try again later. I kept trying every few minutes, and after an hour I finally got in. And THEN … it tells me I need a login ID, which I can only get by calling the registration phone number. That number, of course, is busy. Occasionally it rings through and a message tells me that all operators are busy, and then automatically disconnects me. The phone was glued to my ear all day as I kept trying.

The helpful Leisure Guide also tells me that I may register for Aquatics programs only at “Any City Pool”. Though I am not registering for any Aquatics program, I decide to drive over to Pan Am Pool to see if I can register anyway, and to ask if I can get my login ID through them. Alas, Pan Am Pool is closed for cleaning until October; and the doors are locked. It would have been lovely if the LG would have shared this tidbit. There was plenty of room under “Any City Pool” to add “except Pan Am.” So back home I go. I phone a different pool to make sure it’s open and see if I can get my login number there. So I call one and when I tell her I’m trying to register for a program and ask if I can come in and get my login ID, she says yes.

Then I dare to ask, “Could I get it over the phone?”

“Yes,” she said.

It would have been lovely if she’d volunteered that information, but I am pleased nonetheless. So she checks my contact information and tells me my login ID will be emailed to me in 24 hours.
“So I can’t register online until I get this email?” I ask, with obvious frustration.

“No.”

With much swearing and bad thoughts swirling around in my head, I hang up. Then I went out on a limb, called right back and asked, “Would I be able to register for the programs over the phone with you?”

“Yes,” she said pleasantly.

(sound of me banging my head against the wall)

Had I only known it could have been so easy, I would have done this first thing in the morning and there might have still been room in the Kinder Ballet class. Fortunately Spencer and Dale got in to their class, so at least there was some purpose to my day. I am partly to blame in this whole maddening situation, for I later read on the third page of the LG (in small print) that you should create this login account prior to registration day. But why is it so complicated?? And if you’re able to register for any program at any pool (except Pan Am), why not share that information? Maybe they don’t want everyone doing that, but then why let anyone?

Another thing that Miss say-nothing-more-than-you-have-to failed to mention is that you may add your name to a waiting list for Kinder Ballet, so after further probing I did get us on that, but my hopes are not high.

Okay, I’m done. Because this consumed my day, I had the most unproductive day ever. The only bright spot was taking the kids for a swim at a friend’s house later in the afternoon, which was fun and refreshing. Oh, and playing hooky from soccer tonight (I can’t stand the team that we were playing against – how sportsmanship-like is that?!) and going for ice cream instead.

On a much happier note, we spent the weekend at my sister’s cabin and had the best second-last-summer-weekend ever. Saturday was cool and rainy, but it cleared up in the evening and after the kids went to bed, the adults sat in the hot tub. The water was scalding, the air was cool and the stars were spectacular. It was one of those summer nights that I'll remember for years. (Dan, these pics are for you.)

This is what we woke up to Sunday morning (technically almost afternoon by the time I got up - I was sorry to have wasted such gorgeous weather, but sleeping in was glorious too).


This is my niece Tia, who had major heart surgery exactly ten years ago. She's been healthy ever since, so it was definitely something to celebrate:



Spencer in his glory (with Tia) after a tube ride:

A comical little scenario ensued when my brother-in-law realized the Javex he thought he was adding to the hot tub was really dish detergent. By the time I thought to take a picture, this was all that was left. The suds were three feet high, covering the entire surface of the hot tub when the wind started blowing large clumps of suds into the trees and lake. The kids were scooping up handfuls and playing with them and great fun was had by all.

Chloe ended up staying at the cabin for another couple of days so I’m down a child, which makes things surprisingly less chaotic. I can’t believe we’re into our last full week of summer holidays. I'm trying to wean myself off of late nights. My goal is to be in bed by 1:00 a.m. today and then move it up by 15 minutes each night thereafter. We'll see how that works out.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Guest Blogger: Julie

Today’s blogger is one of my longest-running friends (‘oldest’ isn’t accurate). We were indeed brought together by a love of books (remember the mail order ones in grimy canvas bags?); however Julie exaggerates the athletic and popular part. I remember being in pure awe of her in grade 5 when she was my first friend to get her ears pierced. I yearned for pierced ears, but my parents wouldn’t allow it (eventually a friend did the job for me with the help of an ice cube and a sewing needle, but that’s another story.) Although she now lives in a different city and we seldom see each other, our friendship is the type where we just pick up where we left off and I know she will be a life long friend. And today (I’m writing this on Sunday) just happens to be her birthday. Hope it was happy!

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Name: Julie C.

I first got to know Ellen through our informal book exchange when she and I were eleven and twelve, respectively. We exchanged Trixie Beldens, Katie Johns, those terrible (in hindsight) Silhouette First Love and Sweet Dreams romances (such impossibly high and unrealistic expectations!), and many other novels with their origins in the Scholastic order forms (like the WildFire titles, and those by Phyllis Anderson Wood). We were different in some ways: Ellen was athletic and popular; I was neither. Ellen and her sister possessed the Sunshine Family; I was obsessed with Barbies. Yet somehow, probably because we shared similar readerly interests, we struck up a friendship. After her summer of Minaki and my summer of Centre Island, we shared an apartment on Pembina for 9 months in the late ’80s, where we compared fishing lodge stories, and at which time she and Dale cajoled me into playing Crazy Eights and their unorthodox version of Bingo. As the first roommate of my eventual total of eleven, Ellen was a hard act to follow. In 1997, Ellen & Dale invited me (or I might have invited myself) to stay with them for a week in Toronto. They were the perfect hosts, touring me around Niagara on the weekend, and handing me a key so I could come and go as I pleased during the week. For those reasons, and because her wry wit adds spice to my life, I read Worth It! (Even if I miss out on the daily fix, I always go back and catch up.)

Worst job:
Just when I’d repressed the memories. It’s probably a three-way tie between The Bay, where I was the most incompetent cashier in history (I lasted two months before I found an office position; really, I’m surprised I wasn’t let go, because I tried to avoid cash duty by hiding in the toy aisles and stockroom), the CWB during the months my supervisor was off on mat leave, when the contracted replacement did her best to oust me (the rest of the time was fine), and my first two week temping at CBS. The week I temped as a receptionist for an Ottawa consulting firm was also particularly memorable: I made a few spelling and grammatical improvements to a letter the head honcho intended to send, and informed his acting assistant (the regular receptionist, filling in for the admin. asst. on vacation). She was nice enough, but seemed a bit timid. She told me to remove the changes and revert to the boss’s original. Later, she gave me the final, signed copy to mail out: I peeked, and noticed that she had re-introduced the corrections, no doubt taking the credit herself, the cullionly boil-brained scut! (See Shakespeare Insult generator http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/.)

If I had a million dollars…I mean $100:
As a matter of fact, I’ve just received that amount, and I’m debating whether to spend it on a haircut, pedicure, massage, new clothes, a wheeled tote for my laptop (which will ultimately save me the money I’d spend on massages), two Torrington decorative wall shelves, or on a whim.

Pet Peeves:
There are honestly guest bloggers who have none? Nary a one pet peeve? That’s OK, I can more than make up for it—so much so that you would think I was born to be someone’s maiden aunt.
  • Nose & ear hair – really, this is a huge ick factor, particularly in men 35+, sometimes younger. I once turned down a second lunch date with a bicycle courier guy whom I’d met at the Eaton Place Food Court solely because his nose hairs needed trimming.
  • Dogs whose owners let them pee on our lawn
  • Shoes that are not lined up at the door (thanks to my Mom for that one)
  • Parents oblivious to their kids’ snotty noses
  • Boys who “flitzed” girls’ bras in grade 6
  • Men who hork and spit on the sidewalk (a variation on a theme by Lisa)
  • Gum on the sidewalk (why do my shoes always find it?)
  • Typos, spelling mistakes, and glaring grammatical errors (my own included)
  • Drivers who don’t blink for lane changes and corners, or who don’t stop at stop signs

Favorite TV shows in junior high:
There was a TV in our home since I was about 3 years old, I think. Although I watched my share of programs, I don’t feel I was ever glued to the screen, except maybe for the Friday night line-up: Diff'rent Strokes, Dukes of Hazzard, SCTV, and Dallas. I had the worst crush on Michael J. Fox as Alex on Family Ties, and I’ve always been a fan of Bugs Bunny.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rainy Day


We spiced up our rainy day with pizza and cupcakes for lunch to celebrate Neve's half birthday. Doesn't that sound like a "perfect mom" thing to do? Every once in a while I like to pretend I am one. Especially if cupcakes are involved. The rest of the time I am sitting on my fat cupcake ass, zoned out on Facebook, and ignoring my children except to yell at them if they try to sneak sips of my Coke Zero.

It’s rained on and off for the last 36 hours or so, briefly clearing up at all the wrong times. I left work yesterday afternoon in a thunderstorm and was so sure my soccer game would be cancelled that I put off doing all the errands I’d planned to do on my way home. But the game went on as scheduled so I got nothing on my list accomplished. Today I planned to tackle some cleaning and organizing, but the sun came out occasionally and totally threw me off. No, it doesn’t take much. But nothing motivates me to clean like a rainy day. For Spencer, on the other hand, it’s the perfect excuse (not that he needs one) to read. As we were driving through white sheets of rain (while doing the errands I didn’t get done yesterday), Spencer said, “Now this is what I call good weather!” He just got a stack of old Hardy Boy books from Dale's mom and is enthralled with them. With names like “The Flickering Torch Mystery”, “The Clue of the Broken Blade” and “The Sinister Signpost,” who wouldn’t? Even at their most intense, Hardy Boy books are about as scary as Curious George books compared to Harry Potter, so we’re at a good place.

Dale & I just got home from a night out. We went to a new restaurant for dinner – Don Pedro’s in the Exchange. They serve Mexican food, which Winnipeg has been sorely lacking. I thought it was quite good; they had live music and the building is very cool. The name of their lounge is Pink Taco, which threw me off a bit. But I’d go back. Then we went to a movie which shall remain nameless because I am embarrassed I saw it. It was the stupidest movie I’ve ever seen; let’s just say it involved ping pong with a grenade and fires being put out with hummus. If you saw it, you can feel my pain. But you probably didn’t. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter because the only reason we went out was because I needed an occasion to wear my Fun Mountain dress. Despite initially singing the praises of its versatility, I have only worn the dress once. It’s too fancy to wear to the beach, too flirty to wear to church, and too beachy to wear to work. The wind was icy tonight and the rain felt like snow, but there I was in my bare legs and arms and neck and back. All for nothing too, because not one person asked me where I'd bought it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Guest Blogger: Stephen

Today’s guest blogger was a secret blog reader until now. I love it when those emerge; it’s like a little ray of sunshine in my monotonous life. I can’t give Stephen as flourishing (does that make sense?) an introduction as I’d like since I don’t know him that well. But I do know he’s funny, which in my opinion is the greatest attribute a person can have. I also know he has a very cute son that I can only hope will still be attracted to Neve in 13 years or so and they can hang out during youth group under the supervision of the youth pastor. If they do end up together, that's two more e's for the Family Vowels List. That's way better than a dowry.

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My Name: Stephen Benjamen K.ry.m.usa.(Believe it or not, my last name actually doesn't have any periods stuck in the middle, but since this blog is googliable [You may now use that word any time], I don't want my name to be traced in a, say, job search, or current employer search [since I'm writing this at work during down time]. So neurotic you say. Well, there aren't many of us K.ry... [you know the name] around and after reading this I'll let you decide if that's a good or bad thing. [Especially if you {I'm talking to Corinna} have realized that we're still in a parenthetical comment, which tends to happen all too often in my writing, but is enjoyable to me {at least}]). Also, you might (but probably won't) find interesting the fact that in the given names in my family (me, wife, 2 sons): 15 of the 20 vowels are 'e'. (others: 3 a's, 1 i, 1 o).

Why do I read this blog?
Several reasons.
  1. I've chatted with Ellen once, I believe, in real life. We were both doing time working in the toddler zone at church. She knows my wife (Sheri-Lee) better than me (i.e. she knows me less well than she knows my wife - I DO know my wife better than Ellen... I think...)
  2. I've linked here from Corinna's blog (which I read at work [who happens to have a little boy around the same age as my son, and, it should be mentioned Neve]). Mainly (I hypertext over) because I see the sans serif "l said" in the comments sections and I read that as, not E(L)LEN, but I (first person singular pronoun) and would always think "Who uses that as their name? WHO?! For the LOVE of God - wh...oh, Ellen."
  3. I'm pretty sure my son has a crush on Neve (since he stares and is speechless whenever she's around him [at least, that's what I'm told]), so I have to make sure that if, decades down the road when they're allowed to date, my son has chosen a reputable family (with a large dowry).
  4. I think Ellen is funny (and so, please take what I write with a grain of work-boredom salt laced with attempts at humour). And I was finally persuaded to write this because she keeps asking us lurkers to de-lurk.

What was your worst job
I've had better, and worse, (who says one can't marry their job?) but I'll discuss tree-planting - because it combines the highest highs, and the lowest lows. (This is not a comprehensive list):

LOWS:
  • Putting on cold (you can see your breath), wet (think dew, INSIDE a tent!), dirty (you wore this the day before: 12 hours in a field), bear-maced (not human mace, BEAR mace [though of course this wasn't EVERY day, just... the LOW ones]) clothing at 5AM, wherein it was time to go make your lunch while standing in line for breakfast.
  • Bugs. I have pictures of a friend whose face and neck is swollen and lumpy because of the number of black fly bites.
  • Working your body into the ground to make more money. Everyone I know has mild to serious recurring problems: knees, wrists, ankles, backs, you name it. I'm not sure if mine are the result of, or merely aggravated by, tree planting.
  • Smelling the result of eggs being eaten every morning passing through certain individuals digestive tracts. Not to mention having to "do yo' business" Au Natural with the bees and the leaves.
  • Hornet bites. (These are actually pretty cool if you discount the intense, mind-numbing pain. From an analytical perspective, the little fellas seem REALLY, truly, Berserkingly ANGRY with you for invading their territory.)

And thankfully, I've left some sordid details out.

HIGHS:

  • Supper! There is no joy like having worked for 12 hours and then having a hot, hearty meal waiting...
  • Hot, (propane-heated), showers. We were such pansies compared to the old-schoolers.
  • Waiting for a helicopter (to be used for 'fly-in' blocks [which is what the area to plant is called]) on foggy morning, wondering if it'll clear, playing Trivial Pursuit CDN ed. for Cokes, having the planting day CANCELLED! because of fog and spending the rest of the day relaxing in the community center (near our camp) hot tub with a slurpee in one hand and the Lord of the Rings in the other. Oh ya. Sure, we LOST money because of camp costs, but our spirits were revived! :P
  • Getting a letter from your sweetheart!
  • Reminiscing with friends who were there. We remember all the good times and laugh at the bad, thinking: We should go back. "Look at how much you could make in one day!" "Remember hiking through the mountains on days off?" "Remember how funny it was watching Conrad on his knees cursing the intricate root system: 'Why won't you open for me!?!?' ".... Such naive fools.


Treeplanting: Hate it while you're there. Love it once you're done.

If someone gave you $100, what would you spend it on?
First of all, I'd need to know the motivations of said 'someone'. Are they just a kind soul who's pleased to see their grandchild safe into this world or are they a sinister figure lurking on the corner with left-handed scissors. Furthermore, if they can spare $100 dollars, might they not have deeper pockets? What's wrong with $1000!? Pfff.

I would want to spend it on books.
Or dinner with my lovely wife somewhere special (somewhere more classy than McDonald's, though there's nothing wrong with McDonald's and their food is transfattilicious).
Likely I'd spend it on diapers or coffee or lawsuits (if I were being sued).


What is your pet peeve?
I was going to talk about having to spell each of my names. P-H for Stephen. "E-N" not "I-N" for Benjamen (not Benjamin). And of course my last Name-That-Shall-Not-Be-Mentioned. (In fact, I am talking about that). My current #1 Pet Peeve is a coworker who is extraordinarily quiet and punctilious (a word, which we all know, comes from the Latin punctum "prick") when he eats. Maybe it's the ravenous tree-planter in me talking, but sometimes I want to yell: "Open your mouth when you chew!! Just so I know you're alive!!". And in my imagination, his response will be to silently stare at the wall with a quiet smile, holding his fork at a 37 degree angle, poised above the next morsel of right-angle cut food, counting down from 20 at which point he can take, and savor, his next, deliberate, bite.


What was your favourite TV show when you were in junior high?
I don't remember. I was too busy expanding my mind rocking the video game world playing outdoors.Actually, I don't think my favourite has changed if this is still on:Robotech.But for theme music, I'm going with... the Raccoons!.


To summarize the other icebreaking questions (though I don't think this is a requirement AND this is getting awfully long).

Was I born a man?
I don't remember that far back, but I doubt it. I believe I was born male. baby-sized. I've heard of very few men being born. Though, it's possible the universe began to exist yesterday, so depending on your view of epistemology and the concept of 'birth' you might be able to say I was born a man.

Is that a pyjama top you're wearing? well, I'm glad you spelt it pyjama and not pajama, otherwise, sleep issues would likely have arisen. But... seriously, why do you ask - can you see me right now? Because that would be spooky.

Can I sleep with your wife? What am I? A pimp?

How many five-year olds do you think you could take in a fight? Ahem. Okay. Once upon a time, when I was 17 (anyone remember the David Meece song by that name? No?), I had the unfortunate experience of thinking I could take 7 women in a fight. Unfortunate because I mentioned that aloud - to my (now) wife. I was young and cocky (and probably bulging with muscles [What?? If my memory is bad, at least let it run free before it's put down]). I've matured enough to know I'd never want to meet any of this blog's readers in single combat. But if I could take 7 women, I'm sure 20 five year olds would be no problem.

Now, do you understand why there are so few of us?

The 'S' word

Every year around this time, we run to the mailbox each morning. The school sends out class lists in mid-August, and we are all anxious to find out which teacher the kids will have and who will be their classmates. The lists arrived today and all in all things turned out well. Both kids were pleased with their teachers, especially Spencer. He has the same teacher he had for Kindergarten, and she’s very sweet and kind. Today was the first time we’ve really talked about school since summer holidays started, and I think we’re all ready for it. You know how much I love summer; I wait all year for this, but I am just now reaching the point where I let myself day dream about a quiet house, doing errands with just one child, and getting into somewhat of a routine. I am blocking out the parts that involve crazy early mornings, homework, lunches, or waking a napping child to pick up the others from school. Yeah. Maybe I’m not QUITE ready for September.

Today I had a fainting incident at the x-ray clinic. This happens to me from time to time; I blame it on having crazy low blood pressure. But it’s never before happened during a mammogram while part of me was being held in a vice. I apologize for making you picture that. I don’t know how it all turned out; I woke up flat on the floor so I guess the machine must have released me at some point. I’ve had a headache and a sore neck ever since, so I must have hit my head nicely going down.

I’m off to bed with hopes that it will all feel better in the morning. There are currently two children sleeping on my bedroom floor; not only did my feeble attempts at getting the youngest one to sleep in her own bed fail badly, now the boy is suddenly having night fears and wanted to sleep in our room tonight. He is traumatized by something I read to him from Harry Potter today, so we’ll be taking an indefinite break from that series. I’m going to whip them all into shape come September. Just watch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Congratulations to our little scholar


Here's a shout-out to Darla ---- after years of hard work and late nights, she presented her thesis defence today (not sure if I have the lingo right) and has now officially completed her thesis, which means she has her Masters degree (right?). CONGRATULATIONS on this amazing accomplishment!! I just hope you'll still be up late and on your computer to keep me company. You should start blogging...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just what you’ve always wanted to know - continued

If I had $100, I would buy a new lever door handle for my garden doors. Two years of turning the broken handle up instead of down is starting to get to me.

If I had money left over, I would buy a PedEgg. I’ve heard they’re amazing.

Favourite TV show when I was young: I can relate to Shannon in the TV deprivation department. We didn’t have one until I was in junior high. But my oldest brother had a 12-inch black and white one in his room that he bought with his own money. Sometimes when he was away we would sneak into his room to watch it. He was quite mean and did not take kindly to anyone going near his room, so the whole time my heart would be pounding and I would jump at every sound. This sucked a lot of joy out of the TV-viewing experience, but Trapper John M.D. was pretty riveting so it was worth it. Oddly enough, my parents would rent a colour TV for one month every December for the purpose of watching Christmas specials. In hindsight, I suspect my mom was concerned about how to occupy five children (four really; my oldest brother could sit in his basement bedroom and watch his own TV) over the Christmas holidays. Whatever the case was, I loved December. And when we eventually got a full-time TV, I had much catching up to do so I watched TV non-stop for many years even though we only got four channels, one of which was french. It’s hard to narrow down one favourite: One Day at a Time, Square Pegs, and Newhart would probably top the list.

Before we got a TV, I felt like I was the most deprived child on Earth. But having long forgotten those feelings, I now look back fondly at that time. I rarely watch TV anymore so I would happily live without one and make my children suffer like I did, but I don't think Dale could handle it. I must admit it is a sanity saver sometimes, especially during that nasty after school/before dinner time. And once the older kids go back to school, Neve will be probably be spending a fair amount of time staring at the black box in the basement. As long as SuperWhy keeps teaching her things, who am I to put an end to that?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Heat wave


I'm not sure if this is an accurate memory or one that gets made up as the years go by, but I remember when I was young there was always a nice intense heat wave in the middle or end of August. The past few summers the weather has started cooling off after the first week of August or so, and I always long for one final 30+ degree heat wave, which has been elusive. This year, it looks like my dream is coming true. The weather was scorching all weekend and it's supposed to continue into the week. So we will try to keep busy with activities that do justice to an August heat wave. We got a good start this weekend...

My brother Dan is here for a couple of weeks, and he spent the weekend with us which was a big treat for us. The kids are crazy about him. After swimming lessons on Friday, we went to the Quarry - a perfect beach day - and it ended up being a mini-blogger reunion since Darla was there as well. We talked and laughed and reminisced all day long about past blog posts and funny comments, etc. Dan and Darla may not remember that; it might have been just in my head. But it was awesome.

On Friday night, we went to baby Elle's birthday party. Elle is my cousin's baby and is named after me so I like her a lot. She was so cute and good and cooperative the whole evening. The kids swam the whole time; I want a pool so bad.

I didn't take any pictures on Saturday, but we had a relaxing day - sleeping in, hanging out on the deck, and having friends over for dinner. And today we went to my parents' for lunch, then to Teresa & Anthony's for dinner. The kids swam and smashed a pinata and the adults ate and drank.


Funny how the guys are all sitting while the women are getting the food ready (below). But they paid for it later by having to run the 18-metre (a future Olympic event). It was a bit grim. I suspect they'll be sore in the morning.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

My nine month nightmare

I’ve gotten to the end of my supply of guest blogger posts. If you’ve been thinking of sending one in, now’s the time. Here’s the link to the original post.

In the meantime, I will take a crack at the questions. I was surprised and impressed with everyone’s concise-ness. My answers are very rambling and long-winded, so I’ll drag this out for a few days. Today’s entry focuses on my worst job.

I talked about one bad job here, but that was nothing compared to my worst job. The top award for that goes to the magazine publishing company that I worked for when I lived in Toronto. It was owned and run by an old German couple and their lazy-eyed adult son named Klaus. They produced magazines that were distributed in Germany, promoting tourism and trade in Canada and the U.S. They were bad people. They were mean-spirited, harsh, paranoid and unethical. Second chances were unheard of: many people were fired (while still in their probation period) during my nine months there; by the time I left there were only 3 others (out of a staff of about 20) who’d been there longer than me. They discouraged co-workers from socializing outside of work, or at work for that matter. If I dared to go for lunch with a co-worker, we would leave the building separately and meet up at a pre-determined location. There was no lunch room but eating at your desk was also frowned upon. One woman was fired because she always brought aromatic ethnic food for lunch. Once I ate a banana at my desk and threw the peel in the garbage. When Klaus came in to the room, he demanded, “Who ate a banana in here??” After that, I only brought odour-free food like Wonder Bread and carrots and ate my lunch as fast as I could. I would put any garbage back in my lunch bag and throw it in a trash can outside during my lunch hour. They would ridicule and belittle the employees; I don’t remember a single word of encouragement, ever. The old couple also criticized and humiliated their son on a daily basis, so at least they were consistent. And their business practices were so unethical that I had a constant stomach ache. One day I finally had enough and gave my two-week notice. But they were afraid I would sabotage the computer network, so as I expected (and hoped) they asked me to leave right away. And I ran out of there as fast as I could. My self-confidence took a severe beating at their hands and it took a long time to heal those wounds.

Fortunately the working conditions at my next job were the extreme opposite. Maybe I’ll continue that story some day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

River excursion


After rainy days on Monday and Tuesday, I was ever so happy to see the sun emerge again yesterday. Despite everyone’s complaining, it really hasn’t been a bad summer. It did start late and the temperature has yet to reach the 30 C mark (I could be wrong; no research was done on that), but we haven’t been stuck inside many days like we were on Monday and Tuesday. And even then, the kids had swimming lessons as usual. A little rain doesn’t hurt anyone. Unless they’re made of paper. I should have taken advantage of the rainy days to clean up my messy, overflowing, disorganized house, but I didn’t. The basement in particular is a chaotic nightmare. I sorted through totes of kids clothes a while back and made some progress, but I never quite finished. They make it sound so easy in the magazines: have 3 boxes – give away, store in a better spot elsewhere in the house, and keep. Or maybe there’s no ‘keep.’ That must be my problem. Either way, there is no space to PUT three boxes. My storage room is basically un-enterable. And if I must enter it, I can only do so in the daytime because the florescent light doesn’t work. I’m starting to get stressed about the clutter, but I hate to spend nice days in my cellar when I know there’s a long winter coming. Maybe I’ll sit on the deck with a vodka slush tomorrow and make lists of everything I need to do. That feels sort of productive.

And speaking of lists, we’ve been progressing nicely with our summer list. Yesterday we dragged ourselves away from the Olympic TV coverage and took the water bus to the Forks and went for Dippin’ Dots on the bridge. We also watched the skateboarders and walked on the path by the river and watched the Paddlewheel Queen paddle down the river. It’s like that vessel is frozen in time; it hasn’t changed a bit since our grade six field trip. All good fun.

I just checked the weather network and lo and behold, it’s supposed to be 30 degrees tomorrow. In fact, there’s 30+’s straight across the board for the next seven days. We’re off to the Quarry tomorrow to soak it up.


The girls on the water bus

The boy on the water bus

Devouring dippin' dots

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Guest Blogger: Patricia

Today’s guest blogger is my adopted sister, Patricia. She and her husband rented a suite in my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a few years when they were new to Canada, so they started coming to family dinners and such. Soon we didn’t really care if my brother came to family functions; we just wanted to make sure Patricia and her husband were coming. She’s the life of the party and it’s impossible to have a conversation with her without laughing your head off. Sadly, they moved to Edmonton last summer but I am confident they will move back to Winnipeg some day. RIGHT???

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Hi all, My name is Patricia and if you can't understand a single word of what is written below, don't worry…it is not that you are tired after a long day of work, it's just ME…English is not my first language. I am from Uruguay and I arrived to Winnipeg with my husband Maurizio on a cold December day almost 5 years ago. We have known the Friesen Family ever since and as they couldn't get rid of us they ended up adopting us.

I enter Ellen's blog everyday looking for updates. I love how she writes; I have already told her that she needs to start writing a book. Quit your job Ellen, so you can post more often!

My favourite TV show growing up was Miami Vice. I loved the show but my mother won't allow me to watch it because it wasn't appropriate for kids under 15… So, as I had to watch it I had to bribe my mother every single week. To tell you the truth, 60% of the time I ended up in bed before the show started…My mother is a very strict woman that didn't want her 10 year old to have a severe trauma on her adult life due to watching a very violent program on TV.

If I had 100 dollars I will probably buy a new bra and a couple of camis for one of my co-workers. In the company I work for, the staff is mostly men and let’s say that they get very distracted with her. My "friend" the Plant Manager tried to talk to her about "the issue" but it seems that it didn't work. I would have paid to hear that conversation…I can only imagine.

My worst job probably was at my father's company. I had to cover the vacations during summer while I was on secondary school. It didn't matter who was on vacation, I was always stuck with the worst machine ever and I will go home every day looking like a snowman, covered in flour because the silly machine, again, wasn't working properly. I wasn't looking forward to going to work the next day and I wasn't looking forward to doing it again the next summer either. I am a very imaginative person and I always came up with, what I thought, were good excuses to not go to work but nothing really worked.

I looked up "pet peeve" in the dictionary and it seems to be a particular or recurring source of irritation. I don't have a pet peeve… But I am certain I am a pet peeve for a lot of people.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The weekend - part 2

I better pick up the pace with my weekend update before the next one arrives. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking... (including one I added to the last post with Spencer ON the deck instead of UNDER it).

This is Dale's mom arriving at her surprise birthday party. I'm not sure at what age surprise parties are no longer recommended, but this was #75 and it worked out okay. She's a young 75 so I think we're okay for a few more years yet.



We spent Saturday to Sunday at my parents' house with my whole family except Jenn (we missed you). It was a fun filled couple of days with lots going on. For example, a backwards-tractor driving contest (you know you're in the country when):

Go city girl, go! (Sabrina did better than me)

Swimming...

The zip line:

More water fun:

Frisbee golf (in the distance):

Baseball:

Lots of food and treats:


And Isabella even got a haircut (from my hairdresser niece):


This was our second annual weekend at my parents'. Some of us camped in the yard and some slept inside. The weather was perfect and everyone had fun, especially the kids. It's becoming a summer highlight for them. Even my 17-year-old nephew was around a lot of the time, and Neve developed quite a crush on him. She said his name fondly in her sleep Saturday night, while Dale got through the whole night in the camper with only one sharp gasp. A raging success all around.

Stay tuned for a new guest blogger tomorrow...

Monday, August 11, 2008

The weekend - part 1

The weekend got off to a running start on Friday afternoon with a visit from the police. Spencer and I went to the neighbour’s down the street for a quick visit. After a minute, Spencer ran back home but I stayed and talked to my neighbour in her front yard for another 10 minutes or so. When I got home, Chloe (who was in the house with her cousin) said Spencer hadn’t come back yet. I thought that was odd, and since he didn’t come when I called him, I looked through the entire house, then the yard, the back lane, the garage, the van, and asked the neighbours if they’d seen him. He was nowhere. The more I looked, the deeper the sinking feeling in my stomach. Finally, when I’d looked everywhere, I called 911. I resisted calling; deep down I knew he’d turn up, but I didn’t know what else to do. I told myself it would be worse if I waited too long; so what if it ended up being a false alarm. I kept looking for him the whole time I was on the phone with the dispatcher. The neighbours joined the search. I was calm and cool on the phone until the operator asked me to describe the writing on his t-shirt. It suddenly dawned on me that maybe he really was missing and we’d have to find a recent picture of him, etc. and I started freaking a bit. And then, while I was still on the phone, one of the neighbour boys found Spencer under our deck. The relief was overwhelming. I told the operator we’d found him, but she said since everything had been entered into “the system”, the police would still be coming to make sure everything was okay.

Spencer felt pretty bad about the whole thing; it was a game at first, but he obviously didn’t realize it would escalate to this. He’s never done anything like that before. I was pretty shaken up, but we zipped to the airport to see Dan, who arrived from Vancouver.

After we got back, two police officers showed up at our door. Spencer was very anxious. They came in and talked to him: “Are you Spencer? So what happened, buddy? You didn’t realize that your mom would call the police, did you? You really worried her. Next time you want to hide, hide in your room.” But they did it in a really nice way – serious enough so that he will never do something like that ever again, but not in a scary way. I was secretly worried that they would question my parenting, or be suspicious that Spencer ran away from me for a reason, but they were very pleasant and kind.

When Spencer apologized to them (“I’m sorry for wasting your time”), one of the officers replied, “You didn’t waste our time. That’s what we’re here for. We’re only angry when mean people waste our time.”

Spencer is embarrassed and still a bit anxious about the whole situation and didn’t want me to tell anyone. He later relented and allowed me to share it, as long as no one asked him any questions about it. When my family heard about it, they teased him enough so that by now he has endured almost as much trauma as I did, so I guess we’re even.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Guest Blogger: Corinna

We've had a busy weekend (which I will try to post about tomorrow), so I apologize for the lack of posting. Today we will focus on Corinna, who is a relatively new friend of mine but seems like an old one (definitely not age-wise; I don't even know if she's 30 yet). In addition to our ages, we have a lot in common - kids the same age, sense of humour (not coincidentally, this is a common trait among guest bloggers) and is anti-stuff. However, she is WAY more motivated and talented than I am with her home business (Norwex), sewing skills, and a new teaching job for fall. She's also got her own blog - make sure you check out the link on the side to see her sewing projects.

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My name: Corinna

Why I read this blog: I actually don't really remember when the first time was that I met Ellen, although it may have been at my nephew's birthday party when Neve was drinking juice out of everyone else's glasses and Dale was gagging as Ellen kindly told him that this was tame compared to some of her shenanigans. I loved her right there. (I bet you don't even remember that, do you Ellen?) I started reading the blog during the end of the renos and was so glad when the stories kept coming after the renos were done. And I always think she should write a book, she's just so darn witty. (What else did you want me to say about you Ellen?)

Worst job: I perseverated nicely about one of them a while back in the comments section so I'll spare you, but it's a toss up between Suckbooks (Smithbooks), as I ended up referring to it, and Aalto's, the CanadInns restaurant I worked in after D'8Schtove was no more. All I can say is, I can barely stomach buffets now. The gluttony and food-wasting was bad enough, but when the soup for the next week after seafood night is seafood chowder, it kind of makes you wonder how fresh everything can possibly be. At least they reused THAT and didn't throw it in the garbage like the leftovers of many of their patrons. If you don't think you'll eat it, DON'T TAKE IT! Isn't that logical?!?

What I would spend $100 on: Fabric, maybe, or highlights.

Pet peeve: Slurping and dogs off leash on beaches and parks where it specifically says NO DOGS! Luke, my oldest son, almost got attacked (that was how I saw it anyway) by a massive dog in a park one time and ever since I'm afraid of dogs attacking my kids. And I've been known on more than one occasion to inform people of the "dog on a leash" rule. I actually scared away three people at our lake this weekend, two big scary guys and an equally scary girl, all with many scary tattoos and a scary big black dog scampering around on our beach. I honestly don't know where my courage comes from and when I went from loving dogs and wanting one to abhorring their crotch sniffing, unpredictable, bounding ways. I think it may have been right around the time Luke was born, come to think of it. Or the time my friend made me rub her enormous, slobbery dog's butt to help him get up the stairs, all the while referring to him as her baby. I truly don't hate dogs, especially when I know the owner, but we’ve just had some unpleasant experiences with off-leash dogs.

Favourite TV show: Probably Growing Pains. I just could never get enough of Kirk Cameron's white boy afro, good looks and charm.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Guest Blogger: Shannon S.

I will tell you an anecdote about Shannon that sums her up perfectly. Last October, when she was about six months pregnant with her fourth child, she was telling me how she was trying to get as organized as possible so she'd be ready when baby Cate arrived. I'm not talking about normal preparations like buying diapers. Oh no, she takes organization to a whole new level. She had already bought and wrapped presents for her older kids' teachers - not just their Christmas gifts - but gifts for Valentines Day and St. Patrick's Day. Bought AND wrapped in October. I am not making this up. I never even thought of buying teacher gifts for those occasions, never mind six months in advance. Thanks to her, I have a new source of guilt. She even has a gift-wrapping room in her gigantic house, which is worthy of a home decorating magazine. So here she is - the most organized, neat, multi-talented, funny (the laughing kind) friend who makes raising four kids look easy.

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My name is Shannon Aileen Silvestri.

I know Ellen from Bible Study and while I agree that she is superdy duperdy nice, I also love that she is a real person as in not Mary Poppins annoyingly nice. After all, she is the one who taught my 7 year old his first swear word.

My worst job. Hmmm...well, I was really bored when I worked at a printing company, BUT, I did begin my love of CBC radio while there so that was great. This was not a job per say, but my final year of University I had a MEAN cooperating teacher who I might still run from if I met her on the street. Unless I was in a car...

If I had 100 bucks I'd put it on my registered Starbucks card. Do you all know you can save money if you use a registered card to pay??

The pet peeve that has me the most annoyed at the moment is all about driving. I just came home from a 10 day road trip to Drumheller. I drove the whole way apart from the first 3 hours. I am a fast driver. 4 kids in the car including a baby who is prone to 3 hour crying sprees...you'd drive fast too. I like to use the cruise control and my pet peeve is when I need to use the brakes. ARRRGGGH. This is what happens...I am in the left lane approaching a couple cars in the right lane to pass. The car in the rear sees me and thinks "OH, what a great idea...I will pass too!". So they pull out in front of me all speedy and business like. Then, the second they are parallel with the car ahead, they slow to the exact same speed as that car and I am stuck behind them both. The desire to ram into them is only controlled because of those 4 kids in the back.

Here's the thing about tv. I love tv. I LOVE TV. But in Jr. High my parents still only owned a tiny black and white tv. And we only got CBC. (Which is an awesome radio station but not such a hot tv station) I still get icky chills when I hear the theme song from hockey night in Canada. So my fav shows at that time were probably 3's Company or Golden Girls or something. Whatever came on at 5 or 5:30. NOW however, I have a super FAB bigscreen right in my bedroom and I love lots of shows.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Week number no idea

I’ve entirely lost track of the days, never mind the weeks. I went back to work today for the first time since the end of June, so my weeks should start having a little more structure now.

Speaking of structure, Chloe and Spencer have been in swimming lessons each morning this week. Getting out of the house by 9:30 a.m. is very daunting, but by some miracle we’ve only been minutes late each day. The lessons are going well; Spencer’s struggling a bit because I put him in a level that is too advanced for him. I wanted both kids to have their lessons at the same time and that’s all that was available. I’m trying to prepare him that he quite possibly will not pass this level and therefore will not get a badge, but that’s not going so well. We do a different swimming program during the year that doesn’t do the badge system, but he remembers the thrill of getting a badge last summer (which is probably lost by now) and he wants that joyous experience repeated. He was fretting about it so much that I finally told him I’d buy him a slurpee if he didn’t get a badge. In hindsight, that may not have been the most motivating, reach-for-the-stars parental guidance, but he quit obsessing about it which was great.

Also this week: Chloe got some culture – she went to Folklorama with her grandma and auntie and cousins on Tuesday night, and to Rainbow Stage to see Peter Pan with the same group, plus Dale, on Wednesday. Spencer got to see a movie - I took him to see Wall-e one night; and poor Neve got nothing. Except a trip to the playground (which the other kids got too). Maybe that’s why she’s been in a foul mood. She is so three. She wore her dress backward on purpose yesterday (zipper in front), refuses to let me do ANYTHING with her hair which is torture for me. I can’t stand it when her hair is in her eyes. Most days I do still manage to at least put her bangs up, but I have to steel myself for the struggle. She does exactly the opposite of what I tell her to or what is expected of her. She still refuses to sleep alone. Her and Spencer were shouting and screaming in the backyard and I asked them WHAT was going on. “I not biting Spencer,” was Neve’s reply. Not that she wasn’t trying.

Luckily after being away from the kids the entire day and evening (I had soccer tonight), I feel more fondly towards them all. Hopefully that carries me through our morning crazy-time tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Guest Blogger: Chloe

Thanks to all of you for sending in your entries – I even have a happy little backlog. Keep them coming; I will post them in the order they arrive. Chloe saw some of the guest blog posts and wanted to be included. I think she was mostly excited at the thought of an assignment. She told me the other day that she wishes summer holidays were over. Her goal is to be a teacher and I will be very surprised if she ever changes her mind. Here she is in a nutshell.

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My name is Chloe.

I read this blog because my mom writes it. But she doesn’t let me read it very often.

My worst job is cleaning out the garbage.

If I got $100, I would buy DS games and more books.

My pet peeve is Spencer sticking the corner of his blanket in my nose.

My favourite TV shows are: Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zach & Cody.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Guest Blogger: Robyn

The anticipation of today’s guest blogger is probably keeping many of you from focusing on your goals of the day, so without further delay let me introduce … Robyn. I’ve known Robyn since she revealed herself as a blog stalker in the comments some time ago. Since then, we have met in person many times, and she even turned out to be Chloe’s Sunday school teacher this past year. It’s not the “coincidental” stalking situation that it sounds like - we started attending Robyn’s church; she was there first. She is a talented photographer, has a witty, dry sense of humour (the best kind), is always fun to talk to, and yes, is breathtakingly beautiful!!

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My name is Robyn.

I read this blog because it makes me laugh. I love the way Ellen writes and appreciate her real-ness and honesty about parenting and life in general.

My worst job was through a temp agency. The previous summer they sent me to work as a secretary at a place in the seedy part of the exchange. The parking lot was always littered with condoms. I was warned not to park in the back of the lot. Anyway, that summer went alright. However, the temp agency sent me the next summer to work in the factory. I folded lumber covers for one day and found out very quickly that I am not cut out for physical labour. I have a lot of respect for the women who work there that I met. They were very accepting of me, and one lady in particular took me under her wing at break times…the end of which were signaled by the ominous buzzer. Remarkably they wanted me back…must have been super desperate, but I absolutely refused. And I learned that it’s not because I’m better than those who work in factories. In fact, they’re so much better than me with their good attitudes and hard working natures. Okay, now that sounds like a good job…but the actual working part was really horrible, monotonous, and exhausting. My other worst job was with all the stressed out smokers and a creepy guy that I was convinced would rape me and smoke the whole time. I referred to that job in my comment on a previous post.

If someone gave me $100 I would put it towards a ceramic flat iron. I was confronted by my hair stylist friend yesterday. Okay, she lovingly told me that my life would be so much easier if I had one. I think she thinks that I’m letting myself go because I’ve stopped getting my hair coloured (mostly because it’s too expensive!) and every time I see her seems to be a wash-and-go day. Also, every time I see everyone else seems to be a wash-and-go day too.

My pet peeve is creaky sounds right now. We have at least three sources of creaky sounds in our house right now that have been driving me nuts.

My favourite TV shows growing up: Who’s the Boss?, Dukes of Hazard, and Facts of Life, Silver Spoons (Ricky Schroeder is so hot), Growing Pains, Family Ties.

And to answer the other questions…Yes that is a pajama top I’m wearing right now. I wear jammies as long as possible every day in keeping with the fact that I’m letting myself go. I have a five-year-old and I can barely take her in a fight so I’d say my max is maybe one. I was born female, but my singing range is that of a man’s. I don’t have any wives anyone can sleep with.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday night of a long weekend

I’m saddened by the imminent end of yet another summer weekend. It was a good one – we had friends over for dinner on Friday night, went to the neighbours’ for dinner on Saturday, to my mother-in-law’s on Sunday, and today we did some raspberry and strawberry picking and made a brief stop at the Quarry. Throw in a few errands, a nap, some reading, a couple of movies, and babysitting baby Isabella, and that was the weekend (so far). This weekend also marks the end of my holidays, so it’s all downhill from here. To make reality sink in even further, I even bought a school supply for Chloe this weekend (a USB memory stick). It’s really not as bad as I’m making it sound – I am sort of looking forward to going back to work, and we still have a whole month (almost) until school starts.

Somehow I forgot to take pictures all weekend. I remembered tonight and got a cute one of Spencer and Bella. Spencer is very fond of her; they snuggled together on the couch for a long time. He was admiring her chubby legs: “She has stronger legs than I did when I was a baby. That embarrasses me.” It seems chubbiness equals strength in his mind, and strength is the best thing of all. And if that wasn’t compliment enough, I overheard him telling her lovingly, “You are the most powerful Jedi knight.” I could tell she was pleased.


I hope everyone loves the guest blog posts as much as I do. It’s so nice being able to post something without having to think about what I’m going to say. Stay tuned for a new one tomorrow. There’s still time to send in your two cents. You can just email me your content – if you don’t have my email address, click on the link in this post.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Guest Blogger: Dan

Today’s guest blogger is my older brother from Vancouver. Dan is one of those people who is talented at many things, from home renovations to photography to pottery. Unfortunately, he took up my allotment of talents so there was nothing left when I was born. I guess the supply got replenished by the time Jim was born. I remember BJ & the Bear well; I think of it every time I hear Billy Joel’s “My Life” on my iPod. Greg Evigan was awesome.

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My name is Daniel Friesen. You can call me Dan or Daniel, but only two people in the world can call me Danny. My mother is not one of them.

I read this blog to hear stories about my sister and her brood, and enjoy the photos, but even if Ellen wasn't my sister, I'd still read it for the smiles and laughs it brings!

My worst job... If you mean which one did I enjoy the least, it would have to be pulling weeds in a field of canola (back in the unpolitically correct days when it was still called rapeseed), and getting eaten alive and driven insane by mosquitoes. This is when I discovered a practical use for cigarettes - I noticed that the guy I was working for didn't have as many mosquitoes buzzing around his head, and so, asked for a ciggie to hang out the side of my mouth generating a little cloud around my head. It helped maintain a little bit of sanity. Luckily that job only took a few days. (The crop was being grown for seed, and for some reason, couldn't be sprayed with weed killer, in case you're wondering.)

The job I was worst at, and should have probably been fired from several times was in my Dad's seed cleaning plant. I was supposed to keep the place running in the evening, but would always take way too much time after supper, watching tv, or just generally being lazy, and by the time I made it out there, a bin would have emptied, and the machines were running empty, or worse, a bin would have filled, and plugged up the entire system, wasting a lot of seed. Sorry Dad.

If I had a hundred dollars, I'd probably buy some bike parts or tools. Woo.

My biggest pet peeve is traffic violators. Particularly drivers or cyclists who roll through stop signs. Misspellers are a close second.

Favorite tv show in junior high was probably BJ and the Bear. I wanted to be a trucker, and that was a cool truck!

What would the Tot Tamer* do? (WWTTD)

Footsteps on the stairs
Small person comes to our room
Each and ev'ry night