Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 28

I’ve got nothing today. But I’m determined to write something because the end of the 30 day challenge is so close I can almost taste it. I just hope it doesn’t taste like chicken. I’m hoping it tastes like Wonderbars, which is one of my favourite Halloween treats. Speaking of treats, I have enough treats for about 50 kids and I’m suddenly panicking that I might need more. In the ten years we’ve lived here, we’ve always had around 30 kids, but you never know. A bus load of kids from Starbuck or somewhere might show up this year. Neve always drops out of trick-or-treating early, so as long as the Starbuck kids come later, we can give them the un-popular candy from Neve’s bag.

We carved our pumpkins tonight. Chloe went the no-carve route with her pumpkin (I took a picture of the end result but I’m too lazy to download/upload it) and Spencer designed a “scary face” for his pumpkin. It doesn’t look at all scary to me, but he was pleased. I saw this great idea in Family Fun magazine where they inserted bolts into the pumpkin to look like Frankenstein, but Spencer didn’t think it was as great as I did. (It’s so frustrating when the children don’t like my ideas. Chloe is working on a school project and I have so many fabulous ideas and suggestions, but she doesn’t like any of them. So I wash my hands of it. Well, I’m trying, but my hands really want to get dirty.) Luckily I got a pumpkin all to myself so I carved a spider in a web. Hopefully it looks better in the dark. I love carving pumpkins, but they never end up like I imagined in my head.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 27

Just got home from the movies and since I want to get to bed at a reasonable hour, I’ll test the “picture (video) is worth a thousand words” theory and post a video of Neve watching Benjamen watching the video of Neve dancing. Notice how Neve furrows her brow when Benjamen is asked if Neve is his girlfriend (you have to listen carefully), and her relief when he says yes.

Your turn, K.r.y.m.u.s.a family.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 26

I got a little carried away with Photoshop tonight. I rarely use it on my pictures other than to take away red-eye or a zit. Okay, and maybe to remove the occasional love handle. But I haven’t yet stooped to smoothing away my wrinkles or adding cleavage. You don’t really want to hear, “You look so … different … in real life.” Unless it’s in a good way. Although I’ll probably only be around for another forty to fifty years; the pictures will probably last longer. Except if they’re stuck in my computer, which will be defunct long before I am. Here’s a little confession. When we got our first digital camera (may in rest in peace), I VOWED (yes, in capitals) not to be like everyone else with a digital camera and stop getting prints made. I kept up for a while, but eventually my vow was broken and I have not printed out photos since August 2006 (besides the occasional trip or special occasion). TWO YEARS. I have thousands of pictures on my computer. Some of them are saved on CDs, but most are just on my hard drive. I’m so far behind that instead of feeling overwhelmed or guilty, I’ve decided that this is my new system. The photos are all sorted by date; it’s easy to find one if I need it. So I’m saving money, time, and storage space. If I would at least get them saved onto CDs, I think I’d get over my uneasiness over the whole situation.

Back to Photoshop. I was playing around with an online tutorial and discovered a whole new world of sharpening/brightening effects. I’ve probably overdone it on these pictures, but they’re my first attempts. If I can’t even be organized enough to save or print out my pictures, I don’t know why I’m dabbling in this, but I just am.


Notice how one girl is wearing a parka and one is wearing a fairy costume with bare legs.

Off I go to bed to traumatize Dale with my night guard.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 25

Today was Halloween Costume Coordinating Day at our house. I thought I’d take some pictures before everything’s covered in outwear on Halloween night.

Neve has been saying for weeks that she wants to be Snow White, but she’s exercised her 3-year-old prerogative to change her mind. She now wants to wear a ballet costume to her pre-school Halloween party tomorrow and our standby cat costume on Halloween. I had to bribe her to try on her Snow White costume so I could at least take a picture. That plunging neckline would be a bit chilly; I guess the cat costume is a smarter choice. Maybe the 3-year-old is smarter than I give her credit for.

Spencer is Indiana Jones, although he looks like a cross between a pimp and a Hassidic Jew. Someone is lending us an authentic bullwhip to complete the outfit, so I’m sure that will change everything.

Chloe decided to be a businesswoman, based solely on her desire to show off her cell phone (our old non-serviced one). When Neve discarded her Snow White hair, Chloe decided to add that to her costume. If anyone sees any other Snow Whites with cell phones on Friday night, let me know.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Day 24

The let-down began when we checked out of the hotel. But our annual Grand Forks weekend was still [see blog header]. The kids were living the dream by swimming and playing and eating non-stop junk food. This is the first year Neve has been passionate about the pool. She spent hours in the kiddie pool and has the dry blotchy skin to prove it. And if that wasn’t fun enough, Teresa (we were there with friends) and I took the kids to see High School Musical 3 on Saturday afternoon. Go Wildcats.

I usually do quite a bit of clothes shopping for both me and the kids, but I couldn’t get into it this year and ended up with only 3 items of clothing for the kids and not one single thing for myself. That disappoints me greatly, but at least it gave me more time to relax at the hotel. Dale and I were at odds all weekend which also put a damper on things, but on the upside, everyone slept like babies (that sleep through the night) and there was no bad night time incidents like last year (we made sure no sushi or red licorice was consumed). As the kids get older, sleeping in a single hotel room is getting so much more civilized. And since the courtyard area at the hotel closes at 11:00 p.m., forcing us to go to bed, I actually got more sleep than usual. One more upside: I bought 2 ½ Christmas presents. Yay, me. I hate it when I buy half gifts – I can’t cross it off the list because I still have to find another thing to go with it – but that’s just how it works out sometimes.

Neve is following in her sister's footsteps and starting to lay out her clothes (I bought the above outfit on Friday and she wore it the rest of the weekend) for the next day before she goes to bed. The blue thing beside her jeans is the dress that her Polly Pocket was to wear the next day.

Now the countdown to Halloween begins. I still have to find something for Chloe to wear, assemble the other kids’ costumes, make sure I have enough candy to hand out, make Halloween treats of some kind for Neve’s pre-school class, and (shifting now to Christmas) have to think of something to make – and then make twelve dozen of it - for Darla’s bake exchange on Saturday. Any suggestions are welcome.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Day 23

We’re off to Grand Forks for the weekend. Even with our pathetic Canadian dollar, we are all dis-proportionately excited. You’d think we were going to Disneyworld, Disneyland, AND Tokyo Disneyland. I shudder to think of the let-down when it’s over and we have nothing to look forward to until Christmas.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day 22

Thursdays wear me out. I don’t know how you full-timers manage going to work five days a week. I did it for many years so I guess it can be done, but I also remember how eagerly I looked forward to Fridays. Working in the office only one day a week is a treat, but it’s always a crazy busy day. Even though I work at home the rest of the week, some people are hesitant to email me at home so they save all their projects for Thursday. Oh, look at me complaining about how busy and important I am. Sorry. The best part about today was going to a luncheon and hearing a presentation about development in downtown Winnipeg. It was exciting hearing about new building projects in the works, as well as some long overdue renovations like the Met and Union Bank Tower. Restoration work has also begun in the Avenue Building, which is right beside the building I work in. It’s been vacant for many years, and I’ve heard that the pigeon shit is knee deep inside. I don’t know if that’s true, but I have seen the workers wearing haz-mat suits. Back to the presentation, it seemed like design was a large factor in these projects – it’s heartening to see them take it so seriously. However, sometimes the end result doesn’t resemble the initial plans (“Nah, marble is too expensive. Let’s just use drywall.”) But I’m thinking positive, and if even one of those projects comes to fruition, it will benefit this lovely city in which some of us live. (While searching for info on the Avenue Building, I came across this site - this guy has some amazing photos of Winnipeg. Definitely worth checking out.)

Now that I think about it, I think my even more favourite part (the kids have rubbed off on me) was the progressive dinner I went on tonight. It’s been several decades since I last took part in a progressive dinner. I’ve started volunteering with a teen mom mentoring group at church, so we all went to one house for appetizers, another for the main course, and another for dessert. All three host families were so kind and welcoming and it was a fun way to spend a week night.

On a totally different topic, a while back my dentist decided I should wear a night guard. I’m not really sure why; I think he just needed some money. This was our conversation:

Dentist: Oh, I see your teeth are wearing down. Do you grind your teeth?

Me: No.

Dentist: Do you clench your teeth?

Me: No.

Dentist: Do you get headaches?

Me: No.

Dentist: Do you wake up with a sore jaw?

Me: No.

Dentist: Looks like you need a night guard. Let’s see if your insurance covers it.

This is the same dentist who wanted me to get braces, pull out my wisdom teeth, and get all my fillings replaced. I started seeing a different dentist at the same practice and he didn’t think any of it was necessary, except for possibly the night guard. Since my insurance covered it completely and I was tired of the dental office hounding me to make an appointment, I gave in. After several molding and fitting appointments, I finally got the night guard on Monday. I totally forgot about it until last night. I had never mentioned it to Dale, and his reaction when I wore it to bed last night was priceless. He was freaking out at how hideous it was. He couldn’t stand hearing me talk, so of course I kept talking. He was almost gagging. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. I guess the dentist did know best.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 21

I’ve finally discovered the key to a successful day: aim low. Besides my three goals, I accomplished almost nothing, but I’m choosing to focus on the things I did, rather than on the things I didn’t.

First, the sleep. I excelled at that. I was up for half an hour around 8:00 to send the kids off to school and then went back to bed. The next time I woke up, it was 11:30. I woke up happy and rested, which is very rare for me. In fact, I think this is the first time that’s ever happened. The only downside was that I had a lot of dreams, including one in which I bought a camera. I was a little disappointed when I realized that wasn’t reality.

But up I jumped and went for a run. It wasn’t a long run (two miles), but it was drizzling and I hate running in the rain so that counts as extra credit.

The camera purchasing didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. I went to Future Shop first, just to make sure the camera I wanted was on sale for $137.99 so I could get Black’s to price-match. The price was correct, but they had no more in stock. Then I went to Black’s and told them the camera was on sale at FS for $137.99. They checked the website, but the price now came up as $149.99. Plus they were out of stock on the website, in which case Black’s does not match the price. Luckily, the store on Regent had some in stock, so they honoured the $149.99. I guess if I’d gone to the Regent Store, I could’ve gotten the camera for $137.99, but it would all even out with the gas money. And then Black's tells me the only A590 they have left is the floor model. But the Grant Park store had some, so I trekked over there. But I now have the camera, so all is well.

This is my inaugural shot with the new camera (I just had the van cleaned and the gauge section was so clean that it looked like there was no glass.)

I’ve never gotten the hang of taking pictures in the dark; this is tonight's attempt.

We went downtown to the library (did you know that there are only three libraries in the city that are open on Wednesday evenings??? There are a few more that are open until 5:00 on Wednesdays, but the majority of the city’s libraries are completely closed on Wednesdays. What’s up with that?? I knew our community library was closed that day, but I thought different libraries were closed on different days. Have studies shown that people don’t read on Wednesdays?). We had the privilege of seeing an intoxicated person receiving medical attention on the sidewalk. I love downtown (really). I always feel like I have to add the (really), because I am serious. It’s nice to get the children out of the suburbs sometimes. Maybe by closing the suburban libraries on Wednesdays, that’s what the City thinks too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 20

My luck seems to be on the upswing. Here are all the good things that happened to me today.

This morning I took my broken camera to the store where I bought it. Unfortunately they could do nothing for me except recommend a repair place. That’s not the lucky part. I took a look at the new cameras and found one very similar to mine, but with more advanced features (the Canon A590IS, if you want to know) and it was only $164. That’s a lot less than I thought I’d have to spend. Even better, they match any competitor's price up to 30 days after purchase, and I found the same camera on sale at another store for $137.99. I didn’t even bother calling the repair place. I feel like I’m failing the anti-stuff movement, but I’m going to go back and buy it tomorrow. I would have liked a larger zoom (this one is only 4x) and I hope I won’t kick myself later for not upgrading, but it’s just not a great time to spend more money right now. Actually in my 38 years, I have yet to come across a great time to spend more money. I’m sure it’s coming any day now. I feel lucky.

I bumped into Sheri-Lee lurking in the corner of the camera store. It was funny because her little boy saw me first and I said hi, but Sheri-Lee didn’t hear me. She had her back to me, so I said hi a little louder, but she still didn’t hear me so I looked totally stupid and the store lady was right there waiting to help me and looking at me like I was a crazy person. At least Ben was still smiling at me. That was lucky.

My neighbour and I succeeded in getting a joint Costco membership on our second try. Our first attempt on Sunday failed when the customer service lady seemed to doubt our same sex partnership. But with a few documentation amendments (it’s amazing how often Photoshop solves my problems), we beat the system. Saving half the cost of a membership wasn’t really the issue; her and I both had a problem with the whole membership concept, so now we’re happy and victorious. I know I shouldn’t be proud of committing a forgery felony for the sake of $25, but somehow I am. Let the spending begin. I have a feeling Costco will come out of this ahead.

My parents came over for supper and my dad took a look at the garage door opener. By “took a look” I mean he spent about two hours fiddling with it and taking things apart and adjusting things. It still isn’t working, but he took part of it home to “rebuild it.” My dad can fix anything; he’s awesome. Looks like we can hold off on buying a new garage door opener for a while.

My parents took Neve home with them and are keeping her until Friday. Then she’s on her own. Or we might pick her up. So I have the whole day to myself tomorrow. My three goals are: sleep, buy a camera, and go for a run or walk. I love my parents. I should probably tell them that instead of writing it here. They don’t even have a computer.

Even the laundry room smell isn’t so bad today. It always gets worse when I do laundry, so guess what I’m not doing anymore. I think it might be a venting problem. I have no idea what that means, but I read it somewhere. I can probably fix it in Photoshop.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 19

It seems it’s our turn for a streak of bad luck. Not major bad luck, just the annoying, mildly expensive kind. The first thing to go was the camera. It was working perfectly until suddenly the display screen went blank and “E18” appeared in the corner. The instruction book didn’t mention that error message anywhere, so I googled it. There are crazy people out there and they all have computers. There were many websites and forums and threads on the topic, all of them filled with anti-Canon hatred. The participants and commenters all seem to believe that Canon is the anti-christ and are purposely making their cameras with defects so that people will have to buy new ones. I have no doubt that some companies do that (see Story of Stuff) but it’s just hard to take these people seriously when every other word is spelled incorrectly. I have nothing against the occasional spelling mistake – some words are tricky, like the town of Carman for example – but if they could’ve at least spelled “camra” right, that would have helped. Anyway, there were some DIY fixes recommended, one of which included banging (I think they used the word “tapping”) a certain corner of the camera on a table top 25 times. Seriously. (It didn't work for me.) Another person shared photos of a step-by-step fixing process she undertook, which included taking the whole camera apart. I may as well throw mine in the garbage now. It still works occasionally, if you call this working: I have to turn it on and off five or more times until the lens decides to open, and then I have to take 50 pictures or so until the pictures are no longer blurry. So now I have to get it fixed or more likely, buy a new one. It is almost four years old, which is ancient in modern technology years, but I still liked it. (The photo above is one of the 96 test photos I took tonight.)

Then there’s the garage door opener, which has been non-functioning since spring. We didn’t park in the garage all summer because the bikes and stroller and outside toys took up all the space. Well that, and because the garage door opener didn’t work. Not a big deal when it’s nice outside, but the snow will be arriving shortly and I will be swearing loudly and angrily when I have to get out of my vehicle to open/close the garage door. I was hoping my dad could fix it, but he’s already done that a few times (it was an old one that he pieced together from spare parts), and today he said that we should just buy a new one. I checked the prices online and they’re not as expensive as I thought they’d be, but it was still $150+ I hadn’t planned on spending before Christmas. Damn.

I sort of believe in the “bad things happen in threes” thing, but I’m not sure if either of these next three things count as number three, or if another thing is looming on the horizon. A while back we had issues with the dishwasher not draining, but that eventually fixed itself. Today the problem returned. After running it, there was two inches of water sitting at the bottom. I think we’ll wait and see if it will fix itself again. Then there’s the smell in the laundry room. At best, it smells like something died a horrible death in there, but today I almost fainted when I opened the door. I will describe it no further; I’ll just say I’m hoping that will fix itself as well. The last thing is the #&@*!$ brakes on our van. We’ve had them fixed three times over the last six months (we only paid once). Now they’re squeaking again.

I guess it’s not all bad if stuff like this happens in bunches. I’d rather have all the stress condensed into one week than dragged out for three. But I’m still dreading Number Three.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Day 18

Today’s post is yet another kid conversation. I feel like I’m cheating when I do this, but it’s handy on days when I can’t come up with anything else. This conversation took place after Sunday School today.

Neve: Jesus is talkin’ to you. Can you hear him?

Me: Hmm. Can you?

Neve: Well, he’s talkin’ far away. Are you hearin’ him?

Me: Not right now. Are you?

Neve: Yeah!

Me: What’s he saying?

Neve: Does Jesus like goldfish?

Me: Probably. He made them. (I thought she meant real fish, but I later realized that she meant the snack).

Neve: Oh right.

Me: So what’s Jesus saying?

Neve: He’s sayin’ that he likes goldfish.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Day 17

Spencer came downstairs this morning bursting with excitement. “I had this awesome dream and I LOVED the ending! I was standing in the rain naked – well, I might have been wearing underwear – and the Ark of the Covenant was there. When I woke up, I forced my mind to go back to the dream and I switched things up a bit but I kept the ending the same. I can’t remember it now.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 16

Again, I'm just squeaking in under the wire for my blog post. Thank goodness it records the time you start the blog post, not the time you finish.

Unlike yesterday, today was a very leisurely day. I looked after Shannon's baby Cate for a few hours this morning. She was perfect - she had a little nap, then came with Neve and me to story time at the bookstore. She stayed in her car seat most of the time and was totally content. People kept complimenting me on my cute baby and one middle-aged man even told me to "enjoy these years; they grow up so fast. My kids are 17 and 20 and I wish they were little again." WHAT?! Really?? I'm supposed to enjoy them while they're young? Why has no one told me that before?! Sarcasm aside, it was cute of the man to say that, especially since he was holding the door open for me and the stroller as he said it. So I tried to look all humble and grateful and told him that was excellent advice.

I was going to bake cookies in the afternoon, but Neve wanted to help. She had to go down for a nap, but she INSISTED that I not bake without her. I finally had to promise I wouldn't, just to get her to go to bed. You may wonder who is in charge in this house, but that should be obvious by now. So I napped for a glorious hour, until Neve woke up too soon. Another thing she dislikes is me taking a nap, so she was not pleased to find me in bed. But not even a three year old dictator can tell me when I can or cannot nap. That's where I draw the line. (See? I can be firm.)

Tonight was our big Chamber Red Carpet Gala, where everyone dresses up fancy and awards are given and "networking" happens. It's an extravagant affair with amazing decorations like ice sculptures and huge, dramatic centerpieces. There was complimentary valet parking (I'm sure they were thrilled to park our filthy Silhouette) and washroom attendants (I don't love that). During the cocktail hour, there was live Latin music and a juggler from cirque du soleil. After dinner, Ron Paley and his band did the music. They were awesome. I thought they were more old style big band music, but they played everything from the Rolling Stones to Shania Twain. The dance floor was packed, but I'm sorry to say Dale & I were not part of it. Dale's a rather stiff dancer, and I'm pretty pathetic and un-rhythmic myself. The food was amazing - here's the menu (copied from the program) in case anyone wants to pretend to be interested:

Assorted fresh baked rolls, lavash and flax bread with whipped basil butter
Smoked Goldeye and Bothwell horseradish cheddar cream mousse with cranberry crepes and prairie greens
Fire roasted butternut squash soup with wild boar and carrot rice drizzled with chili oil
Fire roasted chili bone marrow and herb crusted tenderloin of beef with port wine sauce. Roasted thyme flavoured vegetables and dolphonois potatoes.
Warm dark chocolate fondant with raspberry sorbet and strawberry mint, orange salsa

(The "bone marrow" part sounded disturbing to me, especially since I'm not that into meat, but it was delicious.)

I wanted to post a picture of me and Dale all dressed up, but there's something wrong with my camera. I eventually got it to work somewhat, though the pictures are still blurry. This one was taken after we got home, so I wasn't so fresh anymore. When I told my hairdresser where I got my dress (at Aritzia), she's like all, "Wow! Really?? It must be a cool dress. I love that store!" That concerned me because my hairdresser is seriously tattooed (as in, not just one tiny butterfly on her shoulder), pierced and has very interesting outfits. I admit I was flattered though; I only dream about being as cool as her. However, I have a feeling she'd be a bit disappointed in this dress. It's really just one small step up from my Fun Mountain dress.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 15

You know the type of people who constantly complain about how busy they are? The ones who somehow always have plenty of time to tell you exactly how busy they are? There’s a woman like that at gymnastics – her daughter is in a class at the same time as Chloe. She goes on and on about how brilliant her children are and how they’ve won medals for skiing and how they compete against much older children because they’re so advanced. They’re at the ski hill or gymnastics (which is “just their recreational sport”) every night of the week. Life is just so busy when your children are so talented and clever. I’m probably just jealous because besides gymnastics, we’re only doing one other activity. And that’s karate through the Leisure Guide. Overachievers we are not. I have no problem with people being busy – it’s just bugs me when they “complain” about it. Chances are no one was holding a knife to their throat to force them to sign their 6-year-old up for seven different things, so deal with it. If a knife was involved, I take it all back.

In complete contradiction of the above paragraph, I will now proceed to complain about how busy my day was/is, and call it a blog entry. I was at work today and since the Chamber has two big events tomorrow, there was much to be done. I didn’t leave the office until 6:45, and then had to scurry across town to pick up the kids from my mother-in-law’s. Then I rushed back to my end of the city for a hair appointment at 7:30. Dale met me there after his evening session, got a quick haircut himself while I was under the dryer, and then took the kids home. When I got home, I had some soup and am now back at work on the computer. Well, okay, at this moment I am blogging and finishing off the last of the Happy Hour dessert ball (which tastes better than it sounds), but I will resume my work shortly. Oh, and I also went to my co-worker’s mother’s funeral this morning. I am SO busy. I am so smart and skilled. And my children are GENIUSES.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Day 14

I thought it was about time for another Neve/Elaine dance video. This one is only sixteen seconds. She's dancing to the music of the blue toy under the table - every once in a while she has to nudge it so that the music will resume. (The beeping is me on the phone - multi-tasking AGAIN. I'm awesome. But so are you.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 13

Sometimes I get obsessed about something and can think about nothing else. I spend all my time and energy on it, until suddenly I just lose interest and forget all about it. My water bottle search is a prime example. I went to every store I could think of, searched online for hours, and talked to everyone I know about water bottles. Then I got bored. I sent the kids to school with bad plastic water bottles we had on hand and put it completely out of my mind. Until today. Dale told me Office Depot had stainless steel bottles with the spout I wanted, but he didn’t dare buy them because he knew how particular I was. I zipped straight over there and bought two. I question the quality of the spout, but they weren’t too expensive and now I no longer have to feel guilty about re-filling Aquafina bottles.

The children, especially Spencer, have been fascinated by the federal election. I have explained the whole procedure to them in endless detail – all about the candidates, the ridings, the pros and cons of each party leader and the party platforms. The questions are endless. I’m not very knowledgeable or interested in politics but they couldn’t tell when I was lying, so I think I pulled it off. They made me promise to let them come with me to vote. So after school, we walked to the Mormon church down the block to cast our vote. As we were going inside, Spencer said with uncontained glee, “Mom! You have to show me the Marijuana Party!” I have no idea what he was expecting (as it turns out, the Marijuana Party didn’t even have a candidate in our riding), but he didn’t seem disappointed at all. He got to put the ballot in the box, so he was pretty pleased about that. He asked if he could mark the ‘X’ on my ballot next time.
I read about a book today called “The Minivan Years.” I’m not sure exactly what it’s about, but if it’s about conversations that take place while driving the kids around, I could probably write the sequel and three-quel to that. Some days it feels like all I do is drive around. And interesting, often disturbing, conversations always abound.

This is one that took place tonight after dropping Chloe off at gymnastics.

Spencer: Neve, do you like my friends?

Neve: Yeah.

Spencer: Who do you like?

Neve: I like Logan.

Spencer: Do you like Luke and Nathan?

Neve: Yes.

Spencer: We could hire you to be our death digger. You could dig graves and when you die we could put you in one.

Neve: Okay.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 12

This has been one of my most relaxing long weekends ever. Today we finally got out of our pyjamas and combed our hair and went to my parents' house for the day. It was a good day and I didn't even over-stuff myself; definitely not because of my self-control, but only because turkey and pumpkin pie aren't really my favourite foods. I feel differently about stuffing though. And gravy. I love gravy. Actually I thoroughly enjoy any meal I don't have to cook myself.

The only problem with a long weekend is that it totally screws up the rest of my week. This week's schedule is a jumbled-up mess in my head. I'm hoping it all works out.

I leave you with some pictures of the weekend - Spencer reading (I must try to get a picture of him doing something else), Neve doing a floor puzzle, and Chloe holding Bella.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day 11 / Thankfulness

I read Lindor Reynold’s column in today’s paper and am copying her Thankful For list idea. Except I have to say hers was the lamest list ever. She starts off all serious with the usual health, family, and so on, then tries to be clever with “Tina Fey for her Sarah Palin impersonations” and “Sarah Palin for making it easy.” Mixing serious and witty (if you can call it that) is tricky and I don’t think she nailed it. Also on the list is a preachy “I’m thankful so many of you understand that those of us who have plenty have a moral obligation to share it with those who have little,” followed directly by “Ten Spa” (one of the priciest spas in the city). I have nothing against spas; it just seems a little odd in this context. To her credit, her last point is “Finally, I’m thankful you’re all out there, reading, agreeing, disagreeing and entering into this vast dialogue of people who care passionately about the world and our place in it.” I can agree with that.

Anyway, my list isn’t brilliant either, but here’s my attempt. And it’s not that I’m not thankful for my family, my health, and my easy access to the necessities of life; it’s just that I take those things for granted so I’m not including them here. (I’d insert a smiley face if I didn’t sort of hate them.)

I’m thankful:

  • That Spencer never asked to continue the “seed” discussion from yesterday.
  • That I don’t work at the front desk of the Children’s Museum. We took the kids there this morning and despite my lack of enthusiasm about going in the first place, the kids all had such a good time running around that I now have warm feelings in my heart towards it. Neve had to be carried out kicking and screaming, as did several other children during our time there. That must be such a treat to watch (and hear) day after day. Maybe the staff is just happy that kids have so much fun that they don’t want to leave. Maybe not.
  • That there are no mice or birds in my house (why oh why am I even thinking this, never mind writing it down?!).
  • That Dale cleaned up the desk in the study and I now have a place to work. Thankfulness is also directed at my neighbour, who got us an awesome desk chair for free (his office was clearing out surplus furniture). We’d been using Chloe’s cheap steno desk chair for years and thankfully had no idea what we were missing.
  • That I can function on way less sleep than I used to. It’s done wonders for my Word Twist skills.
  • That there are only (?) nineteen days left in this 30 day blog challenge.
  • That it only cost me $84 to fill up the van this weekend rather than the $120 it cost last time.
  • That the all-day rain has finally let up. We’ve had a steady stream of water flowing down the basement wall and through the laundry room to the drain. As if my laundry room didn’t have enough problems already.
  • I’m thankful that Chloe lets Neve sleep in her room pretty much every night. It’s been a couple of weeks since the three year old has come to our room in the night.
  • I’m thankful no one will ever know exactly how much chips and pop I’ve consumed this weekend.
  • For lazy, unproductive, movie-watching, chip-eating no-obligation long weekends. There’s nothing, and I mean NOTHING, better than the Sunday night of a long weekend. We had pizza for dinner (Neve was begging for pizza all weekend, but we ordered the sushi last night instead. She didn’t give up even though we kept telling her we’d already had take-out one night, and we didn’t have the ingredients to make our own pizza. At lunchtime she prayed, “Dear Jesus, thank you for the pizza we’re going to have for supper.” What were we supposed to do? If she’s smart, she’ll pray for a trip to Disneyworld next.) and played Dutch Blitz and the kids and I stayed up late and watched “Camp Rock.” The only problem is that I forgot it was Sunday and I totally missed Desperate Housewives. I hate that. But I’m still thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day 10

I'm cutting it close with the midnight deadline here. Though I could always fall back on the bonus entry.

I spent day one of the Thanksgiving long weekend doing absolutely nothing. As I lay in bed this morning, I had all kinds of goals in mind. I thought I might save all of my digital photos onto CDs, update my iPod playlist, buy a docking station for the iPod and get rid of our enormous 80's stereo, rearrange the entire living room, buy and install vinyl and paint the walls in the laundry room, and clean out the study and organize a dynamic new workspace. I don't know what happened between then and now, but I'm sitting here watching "A Night at the Roxbury" with not one of the above things accomplished.

But it wasn't a total waste. I was forced into a little birds and bees talk with Spencer. On the way to pick up sushi for dinner, Spencer suddenly started asking about how babies were made. He understood the part about the baby growing in a woman's stomach, but he was confused about the role a man plays in the process. I tried to be vague and said something about the man having to plant the seed. Somehow this made him even more curious and he asked what body part the seed came from. I told him (which he found hilarious, of course) and he wanted to know more. So I told him we could discuss it later, when Neve wasn't with us. She already knows more than any three year old should. Thankfully, Spencer forgot about it and I'm off the hook for now. It's not that I have a problem telling it like it is, I just don't think he's quite ready for it. I can just see him telling all his friends at school or chasing girls and telling them he wants to plant a seed. I guess I might have to bring it up again just to clarify a few things.

The sushi place mixed up our order, so we had to go back and get it corrected. When we were finally eating, Spencer asked earnestly, "Do you think we should trust this place again?"


We have a winner! Of course you’re all winners, but some are more so than others. The correct answer was donating blood. Though Shannon S.’s method was somewhat questionable, she was the first person to post the right answer. And for the record, I read her comment in today’s post before I saw the one in yesterday’s. She’s got a competitive streak; I believe she won the last (and only other) contest we had. Click here for those results. Come to think of it, I never did see her soap carving. It’s not too late. For all you runners-up, since this contest went over quite well, I’ll try to come up with another one soon. Stephen’s also got a little quiz going on. He says there’s no prize, but I bet he’s just kidding.

So I just have to tell this little story about giving blood. Someone at work heard about the initiatives Canadian Blood Services was directing towards businesses and thought we should participate. Everyone in the office thought it was a splendid idea and a date was set and arrangements made for the Blood van to pick us up and everything. As the date got closer, interest slowly waned, and only three of us remained. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really want to go either. I’ve donated three times before (many years ago), and I either fainted or was very close to fainting each time. Because of that, I’ve never been able to donate the full amount. But since there were only three of us, I felt I couldn’t back out. During the screening process, my two co-workers were eliminated because of low iron and high blood pressure. I’m actually surprised anyone passes the screening process. I forgot all the questions they asked. Like: Have you ever taken care of monkeys? In the last 12 months, have you had sex with a man who had sex, even one time since 1977 with another man? (I didn’t remember the exact wording – I just checked on the Cdn Blood Services site). Luckily what happened in 1976 doesn’t matter. And so on and so on (and on and on). Anyway, I passed with flying colours, so that left the entire Chamber initiative hinging on me. I didn’t feel very good about that, knowing I would surely faint in the middle of it. But amazingly it went off without a hitch. I donated the full amount and was nowhere near losing consciousness! It went much quicker than I remembered, although with the screening/waiting time, we were out of the office for two hours. I felt sorry for my coworkers who had to sit there and wait for me the whole time. No future blood drives are being planned.

By the way, since Siobhan thought that last blog entry shouldn’t count towards my 30 days, this is a bonus entry. So here’s a bonus story. It was garbage/recycling day for us today, so when I got home this morning, the recycling bins were strewn around my parking spot as usual. I got out of the van in a huff to move them so I could park. The recycling guys always turn the bins upside down when they’re empty, but for some reason one was right side up. I was picking them up when I noticed a dead mouse in the right side up one. I screamed gently (as in not a blood-curdling one) and quickly kicked the bin out of the way and tried to erase the sight from my memory. But I was wondering why the mouse hadn’t gotten dumped with the recycling; the guys just pick up the bins and dump them into the truck. When Dale got home from work, I mentioned the situation to him and he went out with a thin plastic bag to take care of things. GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING. He told me he was trying to pick up the dead mouse with the plastic bag, but there was resistance. Finally he scraped it off and then realized its head had become detached from its body. DISTURBING MATERIAL WARNING. The mouse must have been trying to crawl through a hole in the bottom of the bin, but became stuck and eventually passed away. So its head was still stuck in the hole and Dale had to poke it out with a stick. This is disturbing on many levels but the top three ick factors are 1) it’s a nasty way to die; 2) I'm thinking the recycling guy must have seen the mouse head sticking out the bottom when he dumped the bin in because he left the bin right side up; and 3) the recycling bin is right beside our back (side) door which means there was a mouse one foot away from our door. That means there are probably other mice around, and now that I think about it, our house has had a funny smell lately and now I’m convinced there’s a mouse rotting somewhere. We’ve never had a mouse in the house and if I find one somewhere we will have to move. And I’m not even officially scared of mice.

The moral of this story is don’t ever ask for a bonus post again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 9 / Hint

I tried to hold off with another hint until tonight, but I just can't. Those were all brilliant guesses (well, some of them) but unfortunately, all wrong.

Hint: My coworkers who also tried to do this thing were not able to do so for medical reasons.

And this counts as a daily blog entry, by the way.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Day 8 / Contest

Is it really only Day Eight of this challenge? Twenty-two more days seems daunting.

We’re going to do something different today – a guessing game! And for extra motivation, there will be even be a prize. There's a $10 Starbucks card up for grabs; the first person to tell me the correct answer in the comments section wins. There's only one guess per person allowed; however, if the answer is not forthcoming, I will provide additional clues and then you can guess again. Here's the question:

I did something today that I haven’t done for about 12 years. I did it during work hours, and some of my co-workers also tried to do it, but I was the only one who was successful.

What was the thing I did today??

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Day 7

Wow, double-digit comments two posts in a row! The fears topic was obviously a hot ticket. I’m trying to think how I can facilitate the discussion to keep it going. I don’t really feel there’s been sufficient closure on the bear incident. I also had many questions about the chicken coop situation, but I saw Sherri-Lee today and discussed it in person. H-O-R-R-I-F-Y-I-N-G. That took a long time to type. Or we could keep talking about who likes Robert Munsch and who wishes his pen would run dry. I’m on the fence with that one. But Judy Blume is awesome. She was my absolute favourite writer when I was young. I learned all kinds of things that weren’t talked about in my sheltered Mennonite community.

Or perhaps we should discuss trilogies and sequels, or how about microwaving tin foil? Okay fine, I’ll try not to copy Stephen today. I did have a topic in mind, but I need a photo that’s saved on my other computer and I’m too lazy to fire it up. So instead, I’ll give you the condensed version of my shopping excursion tonight (and I thought the bird list was the bottom of the barrel).

I have a fancy dinner coming up next weekend, so I needed a dress. Definitely a need. Trust me. But although I enjoy buying kids’ clothes, shopping for myself is even less enjoyable than listening to Neve cry in the van for 10 solid minutes because she forgot to bring her laminated picture of Barbie (that's just an analogy that has nothing to do with this story; I was trying to think of the worst thing ever and that's the only recent memory I could come up with. It doesn't sound that bad in hindsight, but I was stressed at the time. Also, for the record, I did not take any children with me on my shopping trip. Because that would have been like being locked in a chicken coop with freaked out chickens.) I only go shopping when I desperately need something specific and then of course I can never find what I’m looking for. I went to every single store in the Polo Park area that sells women’s clothing, except Lululemon. I really want one of their hoodies, but I’m sort of against the whole store so I don’t even want to go look because I know I’ll buy one. Plus they don’t sell fancy dresses (do they?). Anyway, I was about to give up and head to Superstore – as if it wasn’t punishment enough to go dress shopping, I had to buy groceries after dragging myself through the mall and trying on stupid dresses – when I noticed a new store that I’d never been in. To my surprise, I found five dresses that I liked enough to try on, and I came out a winner. The dress isn’t quite as elegant as I’d wanted, but it can be dressed up with some nice jewelery and heels, or it can be dressed down for work, church, or the beach. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but it does kind of remind me of the Fun Mountain dress. Help. I need a personal shopper.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Day 6

I’m sporting a brand new filling today and no one even noticed. I want to be just like Stephen, so I went to the dentist today. It’s been a while since my last cavity and I had forgotten how unpleasant that whole experience is. I spent the whole time trying to decide if I should give in to my desire to faint or not. As tempting as it was to let the darkness carry me away, I was pretty sure the dentist wouldn’t even notice that I’d fainted and I didn’t know if there are adverse effects to being passed out for a long period of time. Or worse, I was worried I’d wake up all woozy and disoriented and uncomfortable and he’d still be drilling away and I wouldn’t be able to say anything because of the damn dam.

Luckily, my day improved after that. I’ve discovered two things that almost always make me happy: decluttering and buying kids’ clothes. I know those two things sound like opposites, but I’m staying true to my anti-stuff philosophy and only buying things we need. And Neve definitely needed a hot pink vest and accessories to match. She doesn’t think she needed the black sweatsuit I also bought her (“black’s not my favourite colour”) but I disagree. I tried to convince her that she liked it, and when Chloe got home from school, she tried and failed. That’s not a good sign;* if I was smart I would just return it now. But smart I am not, so the outfit will sit in her closet with the price tags still on until she’s outgrown it. At least she approved of the vest and mittens. Tonight Spencer, Neve & I played hide and seek in the green space behind our house, and this is what she wore:

* This is an example of what usually happens when Chloe, the Neve-whisperer, steps in. The other day I came home with a Snow White wig for Neve’s Halloween costume (again, a necessity), but she would have nothing to do with it. “It’s not pretty,” she said. “It makes my face look funny. I am not wearin’ it. Give it back to the store.” I tried to reason with her, but that was about as successful as trying to tell Spencer that no harm will befall him if he goes to the basement by himself. When Chloe came home, Neve showed her the wig. After a short discussion, Neve came to me and said, “I changed my mind. I’m going to wear this for Halloween.”

Monday, October 06, 2008

Day 5 - Fear and Loathing

This daily blogging is a good mental exercise for me. Most days I have no idea what I’ll write about, but so far I’ve always managed to come up with something. Not necessarily something interesting or remotely relevant, but enough to count as a blog post. I admit I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel with today’s entry. Bet you can’t wait until tomorrow.

My least favourite animal is the bird. I know some of you love birds, so please don’t take offense. It’s just that your family’s pet parrot probably didn’t flap its wings in your face one too many times, or fly at your knees under the table as you ate dinner. Or perhaps you’ve never had an injured bird almost land on you. Or a red-winged blackbird swoop down and scrape through your hair as you roller bladed. When you visited your grandmother, you probably didn’t have to get to her door via the garage, where an unsociable barn swallow had its nest, like I did. Birds just don’t like me, and I have been known to go to great lengths to avoid interacting with them.

Here is a list of birds I dislike, from sort-of least favourite to absolute least favourite.

11. Owl – spooky
10. Vulture – This would be lower on my list, but thankfully they’re not that common in these parts.
9. Peacock – They freak me out because they seem too big to fly, so I get brave around them and then suddenly it’s like an enormous shrub flapping by.
8. Raven – sinister, black and evil
7. Crow – Raven’s smaller cousin that caws
6. Sea gull – I’m always scared to eat at the beach. In Florida, I’ve seen them swoop down and take fries from people. I have goose bumps just thinking about it.
5. Blue jay – They’re not scared of people (at least not of me) and they make a horrid sound. We have lots of them in our front yard.
4. Parrot – they’re just nasty
3. Barn swallow – swooping and unpredictable
2. Red-winged blackbird – more aggressive than I am (ie. the roller blading incident)
1. Pigeon (see photo below. I can totally feel that boy's fear.)

It seems everyone has something they’re terrified of… what’s your fear? Don't dig too deep; I'm not a therapist or anything.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

303DOB08 Day 4

Fall has always been my second worst season. Mostly because it means winter is coming, and partly because everyone else is in love with it. I know that’s not a great reason; just imagine how ornery I’m going to be when I’m old. However, today was such a gorgeous day that I’m starting to change my mind. It started early with the Run for the Cure downtown. My boss Karen fought breast cancer a couple of years ago (and won), so a few of us from work participated in the 5k run/walk with her. Karen is amazing; she didn’t let cancer slow her down a bit (even when she probably should have!) and is in my all-time top ten list of people I admire. I know this sounds like I just want a raise because she reads this, but it’s all true. The walk was cool to be a part of and quite touching to see groups walking in support of friends or family with breast cancer.

I was all motivated and inspired when I got home, so I forced everyone to go for a bike ride to the Forks. Spencer complained for the first ten minutes, until I told him I’d fine him a nickel every time he asked “Are we theeerrrrreee yet?” After that, the mood lightened and he actually enjoyed blazing trails beside the river. It was a fun route – we even passed a makeshift homeless dwelling (is that an oxymoron?) on the river banks - and it only took half an hour each way. Too bad it’s almost winter or we’d do it regularly. Then, since I like to condense all my weekly exercise into one day, we later walked to a playground and hung out there for a while. I also thought about going for a run, but I successfully talked myself out of that.

When I was trying to sneak out of my sleeping household this morning to go to the run, Neve came downstairs. She is a morning person. And a cheerful morning person at that. That trait must have come from the same mysterious place as her red hair. Anyway, she came running to me and said, “OKAY! At night, I fluffed and I thought it was power coming out. But then I smelled my gecky (blanket) and it was stinky.”

WHERE did that girl come from?!? Well, probably the same place as her brother.

We had friends over last night, and at one point Spencer came downstairs and asked me how to spell “Chloe” and “friend.” I didn’t think anything of it (other than the fact he didn’t know how to spell his sister’s name) until today when I saw this sign he put on Chloe’s door:

It seems Chloe was teasing Spencer by telling their friends he had a girlfriend, so he did the same (looks like he should have asked me how to spell "girl" too.) It didn’t cut as deeply as he’d hoped.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Dobby0830+3 something something Day 3

I helped my neighbours move a TV to their basement this afternoon. The man and woman neighbour were carrying it and I was just the door girl. While maneuvering around a tricky corner just before the stair descent, the TV slipped out of the woman’s hands and thumped to the floor. Her husband was not pleased, but he was trying his best to bite his tongue. After that, I helped her carry her end and we made it downstairs with no further incidents. (For the record, and to put myself in the best possible light, I had offered to help with the lifting before, but they said they could handle it.) The TV still worked, and they gave us their old one to give to my nephew who moved into his own apartment today, so it was a happy ending. But it made me think of the times that Dale and I have moved furniture – it’s an ugly scene with lots of bad words involved. I don’t know if I’m just upset that I have to do heavy labour, but it always puts me in a foul mood. Dale either moves too fast/too slow/too jerky, etc. (never MY fault!) and it’s heavy and awkward and he always gets the giggles. The madder I get, the more he giggles. It’s so nasty. Anyway, I think neighbour wife was glad I was there so that neighbour husband was on his best behaviour. She’d probably have been even happier if I’d been helping her hold the TV.

And here is the reason we never buy the children’s school portraits. (Chloe was the first to admit it looked freakish, so we’re laughing with her, not at her.)

Friday, October 03, 2008

303DOB08 Day 2

Click here for an explanation of the title. That @#&*$ Stephen is going to put me to shame. It's amazing how many paragraphs he can write about absolutely nothing.

Today was a great day. We got to look after Shannon’s baby Cate this morning, Siobhan came by for a visit, and we celebrated Spencer’s half birthday. He hasn’t gone to school for the last two days because he twisted his neck doing a somersault off the ottoman yesterday morning. Dale was home today, so he took him to the doctor (who scolded Dale for not bringing the boy in sooner “because you can’t take chances with the neck” but at the same time told him there was nothing that could be done and it would just fix itself in five days), plus he took Neve to story time and went grocery shopping. I could get used to this. It was pleasant having Spencer home for the day – he played with baby Cate, read lots, and he and I even played Lego together. Go me.

The week has been quite productive overall. Here are some of the week’s statistics.

0 – times Neve came to our room in the night
0 – times I went for a run
1 – movie watched: “The Women” – sort of lame, but watchable enough. (I know! I’m surprised too that no one has ever offered me a job as a movie reviewer.)
2 – birthday gifts bought
3 – kinds of baked goods made today – cookies, brownies, and chocolate cake (no biscuits though, unless you’re British)
4 – totes of clothes sorted
4 – cheques received in the mail (that never happens)
6 – bills received in the mail
7 – loads of laundry done
27 – fundraising chocolate bars sold
28 – more days in this blog challenge
30 – times I thought about going for a run
119 – minutes that Spencer has already read in October (he has to keep track for school)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

30 day challenge

It seems I’ve challenged Stephen to a 30-day blog contest. Well, it’s not really a contest since there’s no prize that I’m aware of, but I didn’t know what else to call it. What a way with words I have. I’ve been having a hard time coming up with more than one post a week lately, so I’m not sure what I was thinking. I was just trying to be tough and Stephen called my bluff. I can’t imagine him having any shortage of thoughts to transfer from his head to his blog. All other bloggers are invited to join the challenge too. Should be interesting all around.

And that’s my post for today. Unless something interesting happens tonight. And it just might.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

One handlebar

I’m sorry for the inconsistency with posting lately. Blame it on my September doldrums – exhausted, grouchy, and disorganized. BUT! It’s now October, so I officially declare that phase over. From now on I will be happier, more energetic, and more carefree. I think I’m off to a good start. I went for a massage yesterday which made a huge difference. I’ve gone for massages pretty regularly over the last six or seven years, and even though the massages felt great, I didn’t notice any long-term benefit. But I’ve started going to a new guy who is amazing. He’s so good at finding the trouble spots and fixing them. It’s almost like physio, but with more pampering. He keeps a wet towel in a slow cooker until it gets crazy hot and then puts it on my back and neck. I’ve been waking up in the morning with sharp lower back pain, but I felt like a new person this morning.

Today I spent some time going through Neve’s clothes. She has still been wearing tank tops and flip flops every day, so I decided it was time to hide those and get out the fall clothes. I’m all for hanging on to summer, but flip flops in October just seem like you’re trying too hard. We are fortunate to get hand-me-downs for all three kids, so we have insane amounts of clothes in storage. I have a small pack rat problem; I find it difficult to get rid of clothes. Especially when I come across clothes that Chloe loved and wore all the time, and would now fit Neve. They were cute at the time, but somehow in the seven years that have passed, they’ve become outdated and shabby. There are so many clothes that she wouldn’t have to wear the same outfit twice, so I tried to just choose the cutest ones and leave sentimentality (?) out of it. Neve won’t be little forever – I must dress her cute while I can. Who am I kidding – I have no say whatsoever in what she wears, but at least I can control the options. Well, sort of; it seems the dress up box is also fair game for everyday wear. Most of today was spent in a Snow White dress (as per photo below). Anyway, the clothes sorting project was tough but I think I did okay. It helps that a co-worker is going to Romania soon and wants to take second hand children’s clothing. Sorry little Romanian children – the clothes may not be that great, but they were loved.

Best moment of the day: Neve was riding her trike and singing, "I can ride my bike with one handlebar, one handlebar..."

I've been suffering from serious blogger's block, so I'll just post miscellaneous pictures to fill the space. The comments have been way more interesting than anything I have to say, so carry on.

Spencer cracking an egg. The boy must learn to cook for his future wife and protector, Emma Kate.

Spencer in his usual state (when not cracking eggs)