Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crazy talk

Even with only two children home for most of the weekend, everyone was driving me nuts by the end of it. This is just a small sample of our conversation at dinner:

Spencer: Mom! Have you ever seen a booby trap?

Me: No.

Spencer: Well! Then you’ve never seen an Indiana Jones movie. You know the part where … blah blah blah (keeps talking for the next 10 minutes)

Neve: Spencer telled me butterflies can kill me.

Chloe: You know what I dreamed last night? That Grandma, at least I think it was Grandma, was standing on the oven and a purple duck came walking along, at least I think it was a duck and ... blah blah blah (keeps talking for 5 minutes).

Neve: I want juice.

Me: We don’t have juice.

Neve: Yes we do.

Me: Then go get it.

Neve: (at fridge) We don’t have any. I want Coke then.

Spencer: I want a real bullwhip for my Indiana Jones Halloween costume. You can buy them at Navy Army Airforce.

Me: You mean Army Navy Surplus? It closed down.

Spencer: No. Navy Army Airforce.

Me: Where’s that?

Spencer: I don’t know. But if we drive around, I’ll remember where it is.

Neve: (crying) I wanted to go to Boston Pizza for supper.

Then came bedtime, which had been going well - Neve has been sleeping on the floor in Spencer’s room for the past while and they’re both happy with that. I’m not sure how Spencer thinks a three year old would protect him from danger, but it gives him much peace of mind having her near him. But tonight, Neve was crying because she wanted to sleep in our bed. Spencer was crying because Neve was too loud, and then Dale started crying because he couldn’t find me (I had run over to the neighbours). When I came home, I calmed Dale down and dried his tears, got Neve settled in her own bed, and tucked Spencer into his. It’s nice to be indispensable. But Monday mornings are no longer the enemy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Chloe is spending the night tonight at a friend’s – it’s only the second sleepover of her life. The first one was a few years ago, when she spent a night at a friends’ cabin just before the friend moved away. I’ve resisted sleepovers, mostly because I wanted to make sure Chloe was at the point where there would be no midnight phone calls asking to come home. But she’s spent lots of time at this friend’s house, so I know she’ll be fine and she was very excited to go. It doesn’t hurt that she’s only a 3-minute walk from home. She’s had a busy social weekend – since Friday morning, I’ve only seen her for about three waking hours. It’s starting to feel like we only have two children; we just got Neve back last night. She wasn’t ready to come home yet; why would she when her every desire and whim is met beyond her wildest expectations? No one to fight with, no one to bug her; just three and a half solid days of ‘yes.’

I have nothing else of great interest to write, just some observations of the past week.
  • I saw a Berenstein Bears book at the library today dealing with drug issues. The cubs are trying to find out who is behind the drug trade in Bear Country. I think it’s great for books to address relevant issues, but it’s hard to take seriously when characters named Brother and Sister are fighting drug dealers.
  • A graham wafer crust is $1.00 at Dollarama and $3.47 at Sobey’s. Too bad I’m scared to buy food products (other than candy) from a bargain store.
  • I was reading the Cowboy and Octopus book to Neve tonight. In one part, Cowboy can’t figure out the teeter-totter, so he says, “This dang thing is always broke.”

    Neve said, “I was telling Grandma about this dang thing.”

    “The see-saw?” I asked.

    “No, this dang thing,” she says, pointing at the see-saw.

    I wonder if my mom knew what she was talking about.
  • Out of the blue, Spencer asked me, “How do you score serious brownie points?”

    (I know that’s from a Tim Hortons ad or something, but I thought it was funny coming from nowhere. It was surprisingly hard to explain, although that’s coming from me of the “paper towel dispenser” explanation.)
  • And because there’s nothing funnier than singing baby heads, check this out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Just thought I should check in and let everyone know I’m still here. It’s not like people have been phoning me and knocking on my door to make sure I'm okay and that my body isn’t rotting in the storage room or anything. However, I’m sitting in my basement right now and I think I do smell someone rotting. I haven’t seen Neve for a few days, but I’m pretty sure my mom took her. That (the musty basement) reminds me of something Spencer said today. He played at a friend’s house today, and when he came home I asked him if he was going to invite the boy over here sometime.

Spencer: Yeah! Well, no. I told him ‘You DON’T want to come to our house!’

Me: Why not? (thinking it’s because we don’t have a Wii)

Spencer: His house is SO nice. It’s new and really nice. The houses in Linden Woods are so much better than ours. Ours is old and yucky.

I’m ashamed to admit this, but that seriously hurt my feelings. There are lots of things about our house that aren’t perfect, but I thought children were supposed to love their homes. What am I doing wrong? I loved my house when I was young. I guess I did envy my friends’ houses sometimes. Dale thinks I’m being a baby. Maybe we’ll buy a Wii for Christmas; I think that would help. Although I’m sort of against video games and we already have a perfectly good Nintendo from 1989. We even have Duck Hunt and Wheel of Fortune.

I’m getting off track. I was just going to say it’s been a busy week and I’ve had no time to write anything. I went for dim sum on Tuesday with an assortment of female relatives, after which my mom took Neve home with her. We’ll go pick her up Friday night; what a happy break. The house is so quiet and peaceful. However, my dream of leisure time has not materialized; I’ve spent most of the time working or dealing with the other kids. I did manage to go for a run and a bike ride today, and tonight the four of us watched Princess Diaries, which was actually kind of fun.

And now the sun is setting on another day. I find I am struggling with energy and motivation issues; I'm crabby and I feel like I could sleep for five straight days. Not sure if I need vitamins or more caffeine, or maybe I should just go to bed earlier. I’m sickened by how many times I've used “I” in this (and every) post. Sometimes this whole thing seems so narcissistic,which obviously it is, but today it seems especially vulgarly so. Maybe it's because I'm already irritable. I’m going to try and write an entire post this week without the word “I”.

Me is going to try the early-to-bed idea. Huh, that's even more annoying.

:) (must end on happy note)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Part 3: Eleven Things

Things I love about Neve:
  1. She will ALWAYS choose fruit over candy
  2. Listening to her have conversations with her dolls, which usually go something like this: “You’re so pretty!” “No, I’m not.” “Yes, you are!” “I like to wear princess dresses.” “Me too!” Kind of shallow, I know. They don't ever get to the deep stuff.
  3. When she puts lip gloss on and kisses me on the lips so that I’ll turn into a frog
  4. She knows most of the lyrics on Chloe’s Miley Cyrus CD and asks me which part of “Fly on the Wall” I like best
  5. If she sees Chloe wearing a nightgown, she’ll run and change from her pyjamas to a nightgown too
  6. When I come home from work she always runs to me, laughing and squealing
  7. She loves her naps and sometimes asks to skip lunch so she can go to bed sooner.
  8. When Spencer is scared to go upstairs or downstairs alone (he’s still in his anxious phase), Neve will often say, “I’ll go with you, Spencer.”
  9. How she calls all band-aids “maps.” When she first started talking, we had band-aids with pictures of Dora and her map, and the name just stuck.
  10. How she never gets tired of dressing up in pink princess dresses and fancy shoes
  11. She often smiles at and says hi to strangers in the mall or on the street. If they don’t hear her (or pretend they didn’t), she’ll say it again.
Gently swinging the Ariel head

The novelty wears off

A few weeks ago, she was always singing this little song she made up. It went something like this:

Yeah, and yeah, and no and no and yeah
I not want to see
Your scary scary face.

It had a catchy little melody and Chloe and I started singing it from time to time. I guess that turned Neve off because whenever we sing it now, she always says “I’m never singin’ that song again.” Here are seven seconds of rascally Neve, defiantly NOT performing on demand.

Eventually I got a tiny snippet of her song, but then she became more interested in counting apple cores.

And that concludes the series. Someone asked if I was going to write Eleven things about Dale, but then I'd have to do one about myself too so I wouldn't feel left out. Or I could make mine the opposite and share the things I hate about myself. I could make it sound like a cheesy job interview: "My worst qualities are my passion for hard work, I'm sickeningly loyal, and my work ethic is way too strong."

In reality, I hate my Word Twist addiction but off I go to feed it. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bag Lady

Just wanted to show off the awesome new bag that Corinna made me. She makes beautiful bags which I’ve eyed enviously for some time. She uses the best fabric and does such neat work, with detailed inner pockets and everything. She’s starting to make them for paying customers too, so keep her in mind if you want a one-of-a-kind, cool bag. (You can check out her sewing blog to see some of her projects.) This sounds like an advertisement, but I’m just so excited about my bag! This is totally going to replace my tired purse. And YES! It goes with my Fun Mountain dress.

Tomorrow: The conclusion of the ‘Eleven’ series.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Edge or no edge: your opinion matters

I need a little more time to come up with Neve’s list. I’ve only come up with seven things I like about her so far. Hopefully tomorrow will be a good day.

I’ve been baking tonight. I made a bunch of brownies for a bake sale at work tomorrow. I don’t like side pieces, so I assume that no one else does either. Normally in a situation like this (when the brownies should look pretty and sell-able), I would trim off the edges and just use the centre pieces. But it has come to my attention that some people actually prefer side pieces. So I’m considering filling one plate with only side pieces. Dale thinks it’s a bad idea. What do you think? Would you buy it? I could put a little note on it: For Lovers of Edge Pieces or something like that, just so people don’t look at it and say, “All edge pieces?? What kind of garbage is that?” I’m cutting them up first thing in the morning, so if you read this before 8:30 a.m. or so, I'd love it if you would leave a comment and tell me if I should go ahead with the edge piece plate. Decisiveness isn't my best quality.

On that note, if you’re downtown tomorrow, head over to the Paris Building (259 Portage, Main floor) and buy some baking! All money raised goes to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The sale is from 9:00 – 1:00, or until all the baking is gone.

I bought a few cute boxes at Michael’s to put the brownies in; the rest will just go on paper plates in the morning.

In other happenings, Chloe started piano lessons this week. She is very excited about it, and I’m not finding the practicing nearly as annoying as I thought I would. The piano is in the study so we can close the door if needed, but so far it’s actually kind of pleasant hearing her play. It turns out that her recorder-playing at school has given her a good head start with reading music, so she’s almost through the first piano book already. That’s the first positive thing I’ve ever said about a recorder.

Neve has been continuing to sleep in her own bed all night, every night. Except we had a little hiccup last night; she came to our room during the night and wanted to sleep with us. But I dragged myself out of bed and took her back up to her room. I confess I lay down with her until she was asleep, which fortunately took less than five minutes. But in those five minutes, I probably formed the beginning of a new habit that will take five months to break.

Here's a picture of the neighbourhood kids playing outside. They always have some unique transportation combination on the go. This time it's the plasma car tied to the wagon; other combinations involve the stroller, the scooter, the Cozy Coupe, or the creeper (the thing on wheels for sliding under a car to change oil, etc., though it has never once been used for that purpose). Someone is always pulling the caravan at high speeds; how no one has sustained serious head injuries, I do not know.

And this is the best thing I’ve heard in a long time. I’m generally not fond of censorship or book banning, but for Bratz I will make an exception. I don’t need them influencing my daughters to dress like cheap hookers. I think I’m doing a fine job of that myself.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Part 2: Eleven Things

What I love about Spencer:
  1. He often tells me I’m the best mom ever (and not just when I let him have marshmallows)
  2. How he pores over the Scholastic book order for hours, trying to narrow down his choices
  3. He’s curious and eager to learn about everything, from volcanoes to how ice cream is made
  4. He’s the only one in our family (adults included) who never ever forgets to bring their dirty dishes to the kitchen after a meal
  5. He loves going exploring down by the river, finding sticks and secret paths
  6. He’s not embarrassed to hold my hand in public
  7. He’s very protective of Neve and freaks if she gets too close to the street
  8. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say, “I’m bored.” He can occupy himself for hours with his books, his Lego, or fighting imaginary enemies with a stick.
  9. He washes his hands about 20 times a day (possibly OCD behaviour, but we encourage it)
  10. He’s not self-conscious about using big words and usually uses them in more or less the right context
  11. He loves watching Neve’s “baby shows” on TV with her, even though he pretends not to

I was trying to think of a nice story about Spencer’s sensitive side, but only funny ones come to mind and I’ve already shared all the ones I remember. He says funny things on a daily basis, but if I don’t write them down basically as he’s saying them, they’re lost in the black hole in my head. So I've been purposely trying to concentrate on what he says (as I always do, of course).

This is the first thing he said when he came home from school yesterday: “I’m so proud of Chloe! She got sixteenth in her cross country run today!” (Despite my initial reaction of “sixteenth??”, apparently there are many runners and the top 20 in each category get ribbons).

Later, the kids were asking about the meaning of their names. Spencer wanted to know his, and unfortunately it means “dispenser of provisions.” No matter; we still named him that. He wasn’t too impressed with the meaning, especially when I explained, “You know, like a paper towel dispenser” (it’s all I could think of). Then we talked about Neve’s name, which I told them means “snow” in Portuguese.

Spencer thought about that for a second, then asked, “What does my name mean in Portuguese?”

Sabrina? Anyone?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Part 1: Eleven Things

I’ve switched things up a bit - I’m not sure I love this, but it’s something different. I’ll probably change it again, so don’t let it throw you off. I’m interested in switching the whole blog over to WordPress because it looks more professional (therefore matching my high level of professionalism), but it’s well beyond my mental and technical grasp at this point. Some day when I have nothing to do, I’ll go buy myself WordPress for Dummies and teach myself something for a change.

The day is getting late and I’m dragging a bit, but I didn’t want to wait any longer before beginning my new 3-part series. The longer I make you wait, the more pressure I feel to write something interesting. That doesn’t seem to be happening, so I’ll just get it over with.

Sometimes I feel like I’m always complaining about my children. Most of you know me and hopefully you know that I really am quite attached to all of them and have much love in my heart for them. For those of you who aren’t convinced, this new series will focus on what I love about my kids. I’m also doing this in case the children read this some day. It will be the little gem they find among all my whining. (Hi kids! Come visit me in the nursing home. I am not long for this world. I’m almost FORTY, you know.)

Eleven things (and one story) I love about Chloe:

  1. She can somehow convince Neve to do almost anything (like wear a certain outfit) after I’ve given up trying
  2. She sticks to her vegetarian convictions even when I know she’d really like a meatball sometimes
  3. She makes me homemade cards for every occasion
  4. She almost never watches TV
  5. She’s always up for going for a bike ride
  6. She loves all things chocolate
  7. She still loves to wear skirts and dresses
  8. She makes a weekly list of the clothes she’s planning to wear each day
  9. Even though she loves to sleep late, she never gets mad when Neve wakes her up at 7:30 on a Saturday
  10. She’s still excited about cooking one meal a week (despite some inconsistency)
  11. She makes up treasure hunts for Spencer and his friends

Last week one day on our way home from school, Chloe saw the Humane Society building and asked if we could stop in.

I said, “Why? Do you want to pick up a puppy on the way home?”

Neve piped up, “I want to pick out a butterfly.”

We all laughed loudly, and then I caught Chloe’s eye in the rearview mirror. She was sitting in the back right behind Neve and was trying to look at Neve’s face. Neve had covered her head with her blanket to hide her face.

Chloe mouthed to me in the mirror, “How is she?”

I said, “She’s embarrassed.”

Before I could say anything (like “Oh Neve, it’s no big deal, don’t be so embarrassed”), Chloe gently explained to her, “Neve, there are no butterflies at the Humane Society. Just dogs and cats and hamsters and animals like that.”

And then Neve was fine. She just didn’t know why people were laughing at her until Chloe explained it. I am always surprised how Chloe senses Neve’s feelings and handles the situation far better than I would.

Neve, spit it out! If Mommy cares more about getting a picture of this than preventing you from choking, I guess it's all up to me.*

*Old photo from 2006 - Neve's past the putting-foreign-objects-in-her-mouth phase (for the most part)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The case of the surplus shingles

I didn’t get my trilogy act together yet, so here’s a quick little update on the shingles. They are still in our backyard, but the mystery has been solved. Dale went for a walk today and he saw some guys on a roof in the next block, removing old shingles. Dale knew one of the guys, so he asked him if they were missing some shingles. It turns out yes, yes they were. In fact the guy had seen the delivery truck on his block and even chased after it. I’m not quite sure how he could have lost it before the next block. This is the same guy who chased an intruder down our back lane all the way to the river while calling the police on his cell phone. He ended up catching the guy and holding him until the cops came. That was a few years ago though, and I guess no one’s getting any younger and more fit with time. Actually I think I’m more fit than I was a year ago at this time, so what’s his problem? I’m losing focus. The shingle truck is supposed to return tomorrow and collect its misplaced cargo. It doesn’t always pay to have a backup plan. I could have used that thinking time to decide what we are all going to wear for our family pictures next Saturday. I take that quite seriously, so it’s going to be a stressful week.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bits and pieces

Thanks for the kind words regarding my FM dress. Since it was conveniently lying on the floor from my photo shoot yesterday, I wore it for the better part of the day today. It made quite a splash at the second Happy Hour of the school year (a fantastic new tradition invented by Shannon). I’ll probably wear it again tomorrow.

I was looking at Spencer’s class list and came across a child with an unusual name. I’ve never heard of this child before and I was wondering if he was a different nationality (I’m always happy for diversity).

So I casually said to Spencer, “Hmm. I don’t think I know who ____ is. What does he look like?”

Spencer says, “He looks quite good, actually.”

And that was the end of that conversation. I guess I’ll have to wait for the class picture.

A quote from Neve (directed at me): “I sort of don’t like you sometimes.”

At least we’re on the same page there.
Speaking of Neve, she has slept in her room all night, every night ever since Tuesday. No crying, no coming out of her room, no sneaking into Chloe's bed, nothing! The first morning when I was praising her for staying in her bed, she said, "Jesus told me he wants me to sleep all alone." Hallelujah and amen. I sort of like her (and Jesus) a lot in the morning these days.
Here’s a link to a great blog that Darla told me about. It’s called Cakewrecks and it’s hilarious. Check out the 3-gifts-in-a-pile wedding cake and Tom Selleck’s icing chest hair. Thankfully they only poke fun at professionally decorated cakes or I’m sure some of my flops would be up there.
I was surprised to find 40 bundles of shingles in our back yard this afternoon. I was home all afternoon but didn’t notice them being delivered. I’ve asked all the neighbours who have bad roofs if they’re missing something, but so far no one has claimed them. I’m guessing the situation will work itself out, but if not, I’m not sure what the protocol is. How long do I put up with them blocking proper access to the back gate before I list them on eBay? Dale suggested donating them to Habitat for Humanity. We’re probably getting ahead of ourselves, but it’s good to have a plan.
Watch this space for a new three-part series coming soon. And no, it doesn’t involve the FM dress.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The dress

The unveiling of the Fun Mountain dress begins now (click here if you don't know what I'm talking about). I was planning to do a lengthy series with me wearing the dress in many different situations, but I ran out of steam. This is as good as it gets.

Here I am at the beach. (Hurry and take the picture - I feel like an idiot)

Watering flowers:

At a drunken cocktail party:

And in my natural habitat, playing Word Twist.

So you see, the dress really is quite versatile. Unfortunately, Fun Mountain is now closed for the season so you're out of luck if you want one (and I know you do). I'll be wearing it all winter with leggings, boots and a shawl. (I just want to clarify that's a joke. Maybe.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Neve goes to school

Much to Neve’s delight, the day finally dawned on her first day of “school.” She skipped right in with no hesitation. Since it was the first time, I stayed and watched the gym time for the first hour, then left after the kids went to the pre-school room. That left me an hour to do as I pleased. I bought a magazine and sat in Tim Hortons and ate croissants until pick-up time. It was like eating sweet, sweet air but with more fat. I’ve never been to France, but I bet these are better. I would be frightened to see the caloric information, but I enjoyed every flaky crumb. I’ve been thinking of all the things I could do with my two hours on Tuesday mornings – going for a run, errands, helping out at Dale’s office – but I think I’ll stick to croissants and magazines. The magazine I bought was called Cookie, which I’d never read before. I quite liked it, except for the travel tip that suggested bringing a recorder along on car trips to keep the kids entertained. ?!? Does that writer hate herself? Unless she means the kids are entertained by watching the parent freak out and snap the instrument into tiny shards.

When I went back to pick Neve up, I could tell she was so proud of herself and felt so grown up. She talked about it for the rest of the day and would very much like to go back again tomorrow. “Every Tuesday” is difficult to explain to a three year old. I’m happy it went so smoothly; she was very excited, but she sometimes has separation anxiety so it could have gone either way. She was just so cute with her enormous backpack and her impossible-to-suppress grin.

I took full advantage of the ‘big girl who goes to school’ situation. I told her tonight that since she’s big enough to go to school, she’s big enough to sleep in her own bed. And incredibly, she actually did! That hasn’t happened for a long time. She almost always falls asleep in our bed, and then we move her to her room when we go to bed, but she always ends up in Chloe’s or our room during the night. It’s too soon to say how the night will go, but falling asleep in her own bed is a huge step in the right direction. I might have to think this through a bit; I can’t threaten to pull her out of school if she doesn’t stay in her room because that’s just plain mean to both of us, so I better work on some back-up incentives.

And I'm still exhausted beyond explanation. The house is a mess, my mind is cluttered, I'm managing my time poorly and I don't know how to fix any of it. I'm heading to bed for some Cookie time (I'm referring to the magazine, silly friends. Definitely no energy for anything else).

Monday, September 08, 2008

I wish it was still summer

I’m finding the new school regime exhausting. I thought I’d feel all free and unencumbered, but the peacefulness during the day is offset by the homework, the driving, the tiredness, and the reappearance of those dang birthday party invitations (no offence to anyone who has invited my child to a party; we really love parties and are happy to be invited. Really.). In the last week, I have done more shopping and errands than in the entire last two months. Every night I’m running out to get something. I thought I was so organized with the indoor shoes this year – both kids assured me many times that their shoes still fit. Two days into the school year, they’ve BOTH suddenly outgrown them. Then there’s stuff for school projects, gifts, lunch stuff, extra-curricular needs, etc. I’ve tried shopping during the day with Neve, but that’s about as much fun as fainting during a mammogram. It’s interesting how every store from Dollarama to Safeway to Staples is filled with Dora items. Unless you have a small girl child with you, this is not something you would notice. But little girls these days come equipped with a Dora radar and are able to spot a pencil case with a picture of Dora and her backpack all the way across a warehouse store. I know there have been Dora equivalents throughout the ages; for my nephews it was the Lion King, and for me it was …. it was …. hmm. Maybe Holly Hobby? I just don’t remember the stores being that saturated with anything back then. Maybe that’s because we only had a co-op store in our town which sold nothing remotely interesting. And even then my mom seldom took me; I had to ride my bike three miles on gravel (okay, one mile was pavement) to get there.

Blah blah blah, I’ll stop my whining now.

Here’s the good thing about today. I brought a couple of things to a consignment store a year ago. Both items sold, but despite numerous visits and phone calls I’ve been unsuccessful in collecting my money. The lady keeps telling me she’s just “behind on the books.” Today when I went in, she told me she didn’t have the books with her so she was unable to look up my account. I’m pretty sure I will never see the money, but I dug through bins and found a brand new gymnastics bodysuit for Chloe which the nice lady let me take. It still doesn’t even things out, but I’m so happy with this bodysuit that I’m letting it go (for now). It’s so cute and it fits Chloe perfectly. It’s a custom made suit which would have cost at least $50, and even if I’d had to pay, it was priced at only $8. Too bad I couldn’t find one for Neve.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Dragon Boats

Sorry for the dry spell; I feel blogged out. It felt like a busy weekend, although I suspect that’s mainly due to my decreasing energy and stamina as I grow older. It won’t be long until a trip to the grocery store or dentist will completely wear me out and I’ll have to spend the next two days in bed to regain my strength. Actually that kind of sounds appealing, but I’ll try to hold off until my children are at an age where they no longer find it fun to jump on my head while I’m sleeping. If there is such an age.

School went well this week; the children are happy with their circumstances and Neve and I are getting used to the new normal. Neve starts her little pre-school program this week (only one day a week) and she is anticipating it with glee. It’s at a gymnastics centre, so one hour is spent in the gym followed by an hour in the pre-school room with stories, snack, and a craft. Spencer went to the same program when he was three, and he loved it. We went shopping for a bodysuit on Friday, and naturally Neve chose the tackiest one. It bears a striking resemblance to a negligee except for the Barbie head on the front, which is surrounded by a tiny peacock and other assorted animals. I would very much like to meet that designer in a dark alley.

This was the weekend of the Dragon Boat races. Everyone and their brother’s dog were in the vicinity of the Forks on Saturday. There was a Goldeyes game, a country music festival, and the Dragon Boats all going on at the same time. We had two heats on Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday. This was the first time the Chamber was involved, and we did quite respectably especially considering that other teams seemed so professional and experienced with their fancy shirts, custom life-jackets, and even their own oars sporting their team logo. Maybe they did all that just to be intimidating. We didn’t need all that bling; we were strong and powerful and won two of our races, and got second in the other. I have no idea what that means, or how (or if) the final standings are calculated. But it was fun to be a part of and I'd definitely do it again. Thank you to those who made a donation; it was much appreciated!

As if I wasn’t sore enough, I had a soccer game right after today’s race. It was very chilly on the field, and the intermittent ice cold sheets of rain didn’t help. We lost badly (as usual), which was a splendid way to end the season. I still feel chilled, despite taking three hot showers today. The transition from summer to fall has not been gentle. Ever since school started, I’ve been having a tough time keeping warm. It seems much too early, but tomorrow I’m going to dig out my winter clothes. I have only one pair of jeans that is suitable for wearing in public so I’m hoping for some amazing surprises in my winter clothes box. And don't worry, the Fun Mountain dress won't be put away yet. I promise I will post pictures this week. I worry that after all this build-up there will be disappointment, so use the next few days to try and lower your expectations.

Look how far ahead we are! We rock! I am in the second row on the right of the boat, if you're able to zoom in that far.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

School is now in session

The first day of school was a success all around. The children woke up happy and excited, except for Neve whom I had to wake for the first time since June. We got to school on time and everyone made it to their class without crying (unlike Spencer last year – he got lost in the hall). In the photo above, Spencer looks somewhat less anxious than in last year's photo. Chloe’s new accessories are not very obvious; here’s a better one.

For those of you who just must run out right now and buy some of your own, they are called armings (like leggings, but for arms) and you can get them at Claire’s, the home of high quality, practical merchandise for tweens.

I apologize for the absense of the Fun Mountain dress, but happily, I have received some donations for the Dragon Boat cancer fundraiser, so photos will be posted next week. Plus it was only 7 degrees this morning, which is definitely not FM dress weather.

Neve and I hung out at home this morning and surprisingly the TV didn’t get turned on once. I read her a pile of books and then she played nicely on her own with her little plastic Dora. It seems Chloe’s not as indispensable as I thought she was. A wave of de-cluttering hit me, and I turned the inside of the ottoman from this:

To this:

Then I tackled the playroom craft closet and while there is still room for improvement, in one hour the space went from this:

To this:

And then I followed through on a threat (because of the mess) and taped the closet shut. At least it will stay clean for a few days. I’ll allow access after recycling day; the bins can’t handle any more junk right now.

Neve had the longest afternoon nap she’s had all summer and because of some evil Murphy’s Law, I had to wake her again at pick-up time. She was crabby the rest of the day. I had to carry her everywhere, which is fine since I need to work on my upper body strength anyway. But carrying around a full grown three-year-old is starting to look a little ridiculous. And as we all know, it’s all about how it looks. She had a crying fit when we left Shannon’s after our first happy hour of the school year, and later she hit our neighbour baby over the head with a stick. She was being a mean little tot all evening.

Spencer had issues of his own - not listening, bugging Neve, and being silly (not in a fun way). He gnawed on a twig and then spent the next five minutes spitting bark all over the yard. He said he’d been nice at school all day and now he had to let out the nastiness. Help. Just before bedtime, I fled the house to go shopping. Dale loved that. After the stores closed, I sat in the van for a while and listened to Delilah. I feel slightly puzzled that I’m stressed at the end of the day when I only had one child to care for, but when I think of all the work that is involved in getting kids set up for a new school year, I guess it’s understandable. Somehow I can always justify my stress. At any rate, I’m delighted that tomorrow is a work day. I’m hoping to put in some overtime.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Waiting to exhale

Today was a gift from God. I guess every day is, but today was gift wrapped by a Martha Stewart angel and sent by Heavenly Expresspost. Just when I was starting to get sad and nostalgic about the last day of summer holidays, today came along filled to the brim with frustration, impatience, and annoyance. I’m the first to admit I love summer – I love having the kids at home and having no schedule. But we’re at the point where everyone in our household needs some outside stimulation, and these rainy days are not helping. First of all, I ran errands with all the children. Fussing, Complaining, Crying and Fighting tagged along. The afternoon was filled with more of the same. I can’t even count how many times I heard “Mama!” today. To add to that, Chloe and Spencer decided to set up a Playmobil village, but grew tired of that after 15 minutes. Then they took out all the craft supplies to make something that never materialized. Next came the play-dough and the bucket of play-dough toys. Nagging them to clean it all up took more energy than cleaning it up myself, but eventually they did (only to mess it up again later). Spencer stuck to me like a prickly burr all day, due to his current anxiety issues.* He insists on being on the same floor of the house as me at ALL times. I don’t love it when I run down to the laundry room for a second and I hear my name being called from all ends of the house. I guess I could just answer, but that’s just as bad. And then came the recorder-playing session. I’m not making this up. Bring on the school bells. I was very tempted to drag the kids out again this afternoon to buy the teachers exquisite back-to-school presents.

Thankfully, both children are as excited about school tomorrow as I am. Clothes are laid out, bags are packed, and lunch kits are ready. Though everyone is tucked into bed, Chloe (and possibly Spencer) will lie awake for hours, their anticipation level WAY too high to fall asleep. As a special bonus, almost everyone is tucked into their own beds tonight, which hasn’t happened for a while. I’m sure Neve will appear in our room at some point during the night, but for now she’s in a cozy little bed on the window seat in the playroom (we’re trying different spots – she currently naps in her closet, but apparently that doesn’t cut it at night). So tomorrow after I deliver the older kids to school, it’s just me and Neve again. It’s going to be rough at first; I depended heavily on Chloe to entertain her. Hello, Treehouse.

*Spencer got freaked out by the evil voices in the second Harry Potter book, and has been on edge ever since. Switching to the Hardy Boys hasn’t helped; today he told me, “I hate to admit it, but I’m finding this a little scary too.”

I think we’ll stick to Robert Munsch books for a while.

In a blatant contradiction of his fears, here’s a little story from today.

In the parking lot of Safeway, we saw a purse left in plain sight on the seat in the car beside us. I made a comment about that not being the wisest practice.

One of the kids asked, “But who would break the window and take it with all these people around?”

I told them that wasn’t necessarily a deterrent for thieves.

Spencer: “Most villains are dumb. I wish I would meet a really dumb one so I could punch him in the face. Now THAT would be paradise!”

Happy Back to School Day, everyone! Around 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, you should hear a great big collective sigh of relief echoing throughout the land.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Weekend part 2

I knew I shouldn’t have put ‘part 1’ in the title of the last post. The rest of the weekend was mostly filled with sleep and other sloth-ful activities. I didn’t get up before 10:30 either day (and still napped in the afternoons), ate vast amounts of chocolate cake, and drank too much. I planned to go for a run this morning, so I didn’t bother getting dressed or showered until 9:00 p.m. when I finally admitted to myself it wasn’t going to happen. On the productive side, I did go through all the papers the kids brought home at the end of June and organized their stuff for school on Wednesday. I think we’re all set, although it’s kind of like Christmas shopping in that there always seems to be “one more thing” to buy. After two separate painful shopping trips, Chloe and I finally found an acceptable back-to-school outfit. She wanted a pink frilly satiny dress from Sears; I had to convince her it was a little formal. We came up with a skirt and top, along with very interesting accessories that Chloe bought with her own money. You’ll have to wait for the first-day-of-school photo to see those.

And in a staggering lapse of sanity, I thought today would be a great day to scrapbook. Scrapbooking is a skill I greatly admire, but unfortunately I suck at it. I’ve done two mini-scrapbooks; one for each of Chloe and Spencer’s first birthday parties. I did such a hack job that they look like the kids made them themselves. I’ve had an album and the photos for Neve’s for ages so after 2½ years, I chose today. I did one page before losing interest, leaving all the scrapbook junk spread out all over the floor in the study. And I have to redo that page because the ink of the typed caption smeared badly.

In other fun, we played Dutch Blitz tonight with the kids, and Spencer summed it up pretty accurately: “This is fun! But it’s also kind of worrying.”