Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday

I survived another Thursday, my crazy day. Dale works evenings, plus it’s my office day, and then we have something up every second Thursday night. Tonight was an off night, but by the time I got home from picking the kids up at my mother-in-law’s, it was 7:45. Then it was a mad rush to do homework and get everyone into bed. The best part of today was having lunch at a place I’d never been to before. It’s a small cafĂ© called Eat Bistro, which is in Aqua Books, a second hand bookstore. It’s a very cute place and the food was delightful. We even had the best cupcakes ever for dessert, which they make right there.

Speaking of lunch, I volunteered in Spencer’s class yesterday at lunchtime. When they were going out for recess, I noticed him chasing a girl and saying “Yummy!” I asked him what he was doing, and one of his friends said, “Oh, he does that all the time.” Tonight when I was putting him to bed, I asked him about it. After much prying, he told me he only does it to three girl classmates. These three girls all happen to be Oriental. I asked him why he chases these specific girls and after some discussion, I concluded it’s because he sort of likes one of them, and the other two are her good friends. He was acting all silly and embarrassed while we were talking, until finally he said, “I’m not comfortable with this conversation.” It’s interesting how he can communicate remarkably well when he wants to. Anyway, I told him he had to stop chasing and pretending to bite the girls because they might not understand he’s just being silly and have hurt feelings. I felt like telling him the other option would be to chase a white girl as well; it just seems wrong to single out one race. I really don’t think that registers with him at all; I think it’s their striking good looks that appeal to him.

Other Spencer talk today:

“Why does Neve speak with a different accent than the rest of us?”

“Can we stop at Tim Horton’s for a doughnut? No pressure. No offence, either.”

Next time I’ll try to share some Chloe tidbits. There is no shortage of material there, but as she gets older, it’s tougher to come up with things that won’t embarrass her. Hey, that can be my new threat: If you don’t clean up your room/be nice to your brother/stop playing that #$&*% recorder, I’ll write about that boy you’re sweet on.

Oh yeah, and ….. MEXICO ….. six more Thursdays. Still thinking about it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mostly about Neve, with a little dash of Spencer

We finally had some civilized weather this weekend. Since we couldn’t use the weather as an excuse to stay inside and do nothing, we actually left the house several times in the same weekend. We went bowling on Friday, Dale took the kids sliding on Saturday, and we went skating at the Forks on Sunday. The kids also played outside in the backyard a couple of times, Spencer did karate, and Neve did ballet, so it was an active weekend. (I started this post on Sunday).


This was Neve’s first ballet class and she was beside herself with excitement. We bought a bodysuit and ballet slippers at the mall on Friday. She told every stranger who made eye contact with her, “I’m doing ballet!” Her face was almost exploding from beaming so much. She wore her ballet outfit the rest of the weekend, along with a pink mesh skirt that came with her swimsuit. It looked just like a tutu and she was completely happy with it. As we were (finally!) getting her coat on to go to ballet, she said, “I don’t want to wear this skirt. My teacher will know it’s from a swimsuit.” It didn’t matter to me if she wore it or not, but it bothers me that she’s already conscious about what other people will think. I wonder why that doesn’t concern her when she’s wearing 3 different stripe patterns. But we dug out an old ripped-up tutu from the dress up box, and that pleased her. Parents are not allowed in the ballet class, but she was just as happy when she came out as when she went in, so I assume it met her expectations.

Sometimes I feel bad for Neve and sad for myself that she is growing up so much faster than the other kids. She listens to Chloe’s music, tries to copy Chloe’s outfits, and says Chloe’s words. She’s going to be the girl that her firstborn friends’ mothers won’t want their daughters to hang out with. We went shopping at a little clothing store on Corydon today and the shop girl chatted with Neve while I tried on clothes. They found out they had the same birthday and hit it off. Neve started singing along to Disturbia on the radio, so they had a conversation about which songs they liked. Neve sang Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus songs for her, while wearing a pair of oversized pink sunglasses. It was pretty funny, but I couldn’t help remembering that when Chloe was three, her favourite song was Polly Wolly Doodle. We’re missing a little innocence these days. But by the third child, my tolerance for Fred Penner and the Doodlebops has expired. I’ve created a pop-singing monster. She’s like a little sponge; she picks up the words so quickly. There's a niggling little voice in my head that tells me I could be teaching her something more intelligent.

The cool thing to do in Chloe’s class is to memorize and recite the word Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosts, which they believe is the longest word in the world. (According to the list I just googled, it’s only the seventh longest. I am NOT telling her about the other six.) I cannot tell you how many times a day I hear this world. It’s almost as bad as listening to her practice recorder. I know I’ve said this before, but I hate that instrument with a capital H. She had a recorder test on Monday, so all weekend – at the most inopportune times – she would come into the kitchen with her recorder and start blowing away. From now on whenever I struggle with feelings of guilt about my parenting, I will remember how I resisted the urge to snap that recorder in two. Now that’s something to be proud of. I sort of got off track; here is Neve repeating Chloe’s word to the best of her ability.


I’m really enjoying hanging out with Neve these days. She still has tantrums and fits of unreasonableness, but most of the time she’s in a good mood and fun to be with. She’s always singing or talking or saying hi to strangers we pass. She makes me laugh all day. It's nursery school registration time, so I think I'm feeling all sentimental and wishing time would slow down just a little. If I start whining about "I can't believe how fast time goes" or "It seems like just yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital," feel free to give me a cyber kick. Whatever that is.
Neve's current favourite game is “Rapunzel and her step-sister.” She is Rapunzel and I am the step-sister. I have to be mean and nasty to her until I eventually see the error of my ways. Then we hug and become friends. At first, she found the conflict exciting, but also slightly disturbing. Tears would start glistening in her eyes when I said things like, “Oh, Rapunzel! You need a haircut. You’re not wearing THAT dress to the ball, are you?” (her fairy tales get a little mixed up). I would stop the game and assure her I was just pretending, but she insisted I carry on with the nastiness. Now she’s hardened herself, so I’ve stepped up the insults. The nice thing about this game is that I can continue with whatever I’m doing; I just say my lines as I type, cook, or play Tetris.

Two miscellaneous things she said today:

“Where do unicorns sleep?” (she doesn’t know that unicorns are mythical creatures, and somehow it felt mean to tell her the truth, so I just said, “In the woods.”)

She was holding a stuffed animal as she watched Chloe at gymnastics today. “My hands are so hot from holding my Webkinz.”

Spencer has been obsessed with his Indiana Jones Nintendo DS game for weeks. He plays it as he comes downstairs in the morning and he’s back at it the second he gets home from school. In December, his monthly reading minutes were around 500; this month I think he’s up to 100 so far. On Monday I started restricting his DS time to 30 minutes a day. It’s only been two days, but it’s great so far. He hasn’t complained a bit; I think he’s relieved to do something else for a change. He just didn’t have the strength to tear himself away. Unfortunately he hasn’t been reading much, but he’s spent hours playing Lego. Today he built a “pirate island.” He called for me to come upstairs to see his creation. “And bring the camera,” he said. He wanted me to take a picture of it to send to Lego magazine, where they always feature pictures of kids with their creations. He asked if I’d sent in the last picture he made me take, and when I admitted I hadn’t, he said, “Well we have to send this one in, because I think I have a 59% chance of being in the magazine.” Here he is, and off I go to email the picture to Lego. The odds are slightly in our favour.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I will TRY to stop talking about our trip

After all that contest excitement, I had to take a few days to unwind and relax. Siobhan was the official winner, but she made Stephen do some geographical research and now he is the winner of the Timmy’s card. You just never know how things will turn out.

I was flattered by the comments about ping pong not being sporty enough for us. If only you knew. I gave up on the push-ups quite some time ago and haven’t run since October. Ping pong was quite an exertion for me. But I’m turning over a new leaf. I went for a run on Wednesday night at the U of M while the kids were in swimming lessons and I’m planning to go for another one tomorrow while Neve’s at ballet. I also want to re-start the push-up schedule, so combined with the two runs a week, I hope to be in amazing shape by the time we go to Mexico. I’m still trying to avoid eating after supper, but that’s not been a great success so far. I bought a new swimsuit yesterday, which is a whole new motivation. I’ve never spent that much on a swimsuit before, but apparently it’s the thing to do. I feel sort of sick knowing that I could have paid for a well or something in a third world village with that money, but DAMN I’m going to look hot at the pool. I have to clarify that I’m being sarcastic; not about the price unfortunately, but about looking good at the pool. My body is so past its swimsuit prime that it’s not one bit funny. No swimsuit is going to fix that.

I went to the passport office to apply for our passports this week; on the coldest morning of the year. I guess everyone else who’d been planning to go stayed in their warm beds instead because the place was deserted and it only took five minutes. I think about our trip at least once every seven seconds. It’s completely consuming. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I guarantee you I’m thinking about Mexico. Is that normal?

Chloe is starting her first ever science fair project. I hate science fairs. I hated them when I was young and I hate them even more now. Most of the work has to be done at home, and although I am a strong believer in kids doing their own projects, there is still a lot of stuff she’ll need help with. Then there’s the parents who do pretty much the whole project themselves, so I feel we need to compete with them. The science fair in on March 18th, so we will be eating and breathing this thing until then. It puts me in a sour mood. Luckily my thoughts quickly return to Mexico.

Dan & Jenn are famous for the unique gifts they give the kids for Christmas. This is one Chloe got this year. It’s a little paper tree that goes from this:


To this (in about an hour):


To this (in a few more hours):


We had a lot of fun watching the transformation. I have no idea how it did that. Maybe that could be Chloe’s science fair experiment.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

We have a WINNER!

And the prize goes to....Siobhan!

Yes indeed, we have joined a ping pong league informally organized by my brother.

Thanks for all your guesses. I wish I could send you all TH gift cards. XOXOXO

Hint #2

Still no winner...

Hint: This sport involves a ball.

Everyone can now guess again. This is so much fun for me.

Hint #1

We don't have a winner yet. Before people go and disqualify themselves for not following the rules (Siobhan!), here's a hint. After this, you may guess again. But only one guess per person is allowed until the next hint is posted. If you get the right answer on a illegal guess, not only will you not win, but I'm putting the Tim Horton's gift card back in the mailbox for the paper boy.

HINT: Though Dale and I are part of the same league, we never play together.

Carry on.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A contest: SOMEONE must want that gift card

Okay, now I’m just adding the all-caps word to be annoying. I PROMISE I will stop that soon.

I almost had another altercation with a front end loader today (for the record, Dale was the one driving when we hit the other one). It was pushing snow around at the end of our back lane, and since I’m now nervous around those things, I made sure it was well out of my way before proceeding. But then it suddenly backed up right towards me and I had to frantically scurry out of his way. My tires were spinning out on the ice and my RPM needle was freaking out, but fortunately I got out of the way and saved my little Versa courtesy car just in time. I wonder if the shop would have provided another courtesy car while they repaired this one. I don't even want to think about the hassle that would have been. Neve was with me and I didn’t think she noticed my moment of panic until she said, “We almost hit one of those things again.” Actually, I’m surprised not everyone in this city has hit or been hit by snow clearing machinery. Those guys are insane. They’re all over the road and don’t care where they’re going; it is entirely up to you to stay out of their way. I’m very grateful that they’re working hard to make our streets driveable, but I’m also very afraid of them. They would probably be pleased to hear that. (PS. though I am excellent at multi-tasking, I did not take this photo while escaping the tractor wheels of death. I got it off the internet.)

Our friend Stephen wants people to make lists of stuff – go humour him and tell him which cities you slept in this last year and what you want to read this next year. I’m planning to read lots of silly books when we’re in Mexico, but I’m trying to come up with an intelligent wish list that I won’t be embarrassed of.

Just to make things interesting, I decided it’s time for another contest. Dale and I have joined a new sports league. The first person to guess WHAT SPORT it is will win the $10 Tim Horton’s gift card that the paper boy didn’t want. You must submit your guess in the comments section, and you are limited to one guess. If no one guesses the correct answer, I will add hints and you can guess again after a new hint has been posted. Any readers or their families who are also in this league are not eligible to guess (you know who you are).

Let the guessing begin.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We DO have paprika!


Today’s feature: before and after photos of my spice cupboard reorganization. I’ve been looking for spice containers for a while, but the only ones I could find came with big wooden rotating stands. Then I saw these at Canadian Tire and I liked the size and shape. I didn’t need magnetic ones, but it’s quite handy when stacking them. Accessing the bottom spice in the back corner might be a bit awkward, but it’s nothing compared to the frustration of searching for a spice. It was so unorganized - the spice could be on one of two shelves, in a bag, in a spice jar, or both. I found four different paprikas. I had to make another trip to Canadian Tire for more spice containers, and I’ll probably make a third to buy some extras. While I was there, I got two sets of clear plastic drawers to organize all of Spencer’s new Lego. That’s going to be next week’s project. In the meantime, here is today’s accomplishment.

BEFORE:


AFTER:

(Did you notice it’s alphabetical?)
BEFORE: (Spice Cupboard #2)



AFTER:

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

As a matter of fact, it WAS all necessary

My new year's resolution is to insert one all-caps word into every blog post title this year. I'm also working on compiling my list of other people's resolutions.

So I bought some stuff yesterday. Even though I haven’t been preaching many anti-stuff sermons lately, my dream of minimalism is still alive and well. Before I tell you about my purchases, let me share some recent anti-stuff victories.

First of all, this Christmas was definitely a success in terms of useful gifts. We filled the kids stockings with things like socks, underwear, lip balm, band-aids, accessories for their iPods and DSs, and Thermoses (that was a good one – took up lots of space!). You’re probably imagining the fallen faces of my children on Christmas morning, but I did break down and buy them a few non-essentials as well. One thing Spencer got was a watch, which he didn’t touch for a week. Finally I asked him if he was ever going to wear it. He hesitated before he carefully answered, “It’s a cool watch, but I actually don’t care about the time.” So I returned it. All the other stuff has been put where it belongs, unlike other years when it goes into a box and stays there forever because it doesn’t have a home. Even the gifts the kids got from others were remarkably practical, though I suppose the practicality of Lego could be debated. Between all of us, we got at least 25 new books. I love that.

Another anti-stuff success was fixing our shower caddy (where we put shampoo, etc). The part where our shower caddy attaches to the shower head broke and it kept slipping off the shower head. So instead of throwing it in the landfill and buying a new one, I went to Canadian Tire to buy a zip tie. When I saw new shower caddies were only $6.99 and a package of zip ties was $2.49, I wavered. But chances are the new shower caddy would end up slipping too, so I stood firm. It’s all fixed now and the slippage has been eliminated.

I was going to cite my slippers as another example, but it’s not a good one. Let’s just say I tried fixing them with duct tape (kind of embarrassed about that), but it was completely ineffective. They’re only a year old, but sadly they are going in the garbage.


I know I will be mocked for my anti-stuff efforts (the slipper duct-taping sort of begs for it), but having less stuff is so freeing. I have a long long way to go, but I carry on.

And now for the stuff I bought.

  • Twelve new glasses. We've had a lot of breakage lately and there have been occasions when we’ve ended up serving guests cold drinks in mugs. The mismatched old glasses are on their way out. Except for one glass Teresa bought me twenty years ago when I moved into my first apartment (she gave me a set but only one remains). I remember trying to sell it at our yard sale when we left Charlottetown. No one bought it, so I kept it. Since then it's had a special place in our lives.
  • A basket to put in our front closet with all our extra winter mitts and hats. We each have a basket by the back door for this too, but they were crammed with way too much stuff. Now they contain one pair of mitts and one hat, and the rest goes into the basket. Neve dumped it all out this morning and pulled her Webkinz around in it. New things really are a novelty around here.

  • Spice containers. In the near future, I will show you a before and after picture of my spice cupboard. I am excited to tackle this project. For now, the spice jars are providing cheap entertainment for the children. Maybe I'll put some in their stockings next year.


  • Two clear bins on wheels. They are the perfect size for my laundry room shelves. One contains our rollerblades and sports stuff is in the other. They have wheels at the bottom, which make them easy to roll out, like drawers. The result isn’t quite as stunning as I hoped, but it feels more organized (before and after photos below). We’re hoping to begin a transformation of our laundry room soon, so it’s a work in progress. (I also cleaned out another cupboard and moved the beverages to this one.)



Finally, here’s my favourite new thing which is worth every penny of the $1.50 I spent on it. It’s my new mouse pad. It does bother me that it will be completely useless in one year, but for now, the calendar printed on it has greatly improved the quality of my life. It’s handy when someone emails me about a certain date, or when I need to check a date for work events, etc. It probably ranks in the top ten ideas ever. I haven’t gotten around to inserting a photo – but yes! It is also a picture frame. And it’s an m&m advertisement. Some stuff is just so worth it. Anyone else have any great new stuff stories to share?

Monday, January 05, 2009

I guess I AM a van person

As much as I hate to see the holidays end, it is sort of nice to get back to normal. We had a lovely holiday and I feel refreshed and renewed. I finished one book and 95% of my puzzle. We took full advantage of our injured van situation and went pretty much no where all week. Except two nights in a row we stuffed all three children into the back of the Cavalier to go see the lights at Winter Wonderland. I think the maximum occupancy of a Cavalier should be three; two if anyone is older than 12. The kids are pretty snug in there, except for Neve who sits in her booster seat like she’s a princess on a throne. She uses a car seat in the van, but there’s no way that’s fitting in the car. We’re already less safe in our low, tin can car on the icy, slippery roads with snow piled so high on every corner that you can’t see if it’s safe to enter an intersection, and Neve’s not even properly secured. The kids are fighting and kicking the front seats and it’s almost more than I can bear. I have a new appreciation for my van and a new respect for families with cars.

We were unsuccessful the first night we tried to make it to the lights thing because we got stuck behind emergency vehicles on the bridge on the west Perimeter. We sat there for 45 minutes, unable to move in any direction, watching a man get removed from his truck (which was sideways against the guard rail) by the jaws of life. By the time they wheeled him to the ambulance (he was alive), we were late for our next engagement. We took a different route the next night which got us to our destination, but I’m not sure how much of the lights the kids saw sunk down in the back seat with the windows iced up from five people breathing in a space meant for two. We bought them mini-donuts out of pity so everyone was happy in the end.

And now regularly scheduled life has resumed. I loved having the kids home, but there are definite advantages to having the house to myself again during the day. The three-year-old is around too, but she naps in the afternoons so peace and quietness abound between 12:30 and 3:00 p.m. Work has resumed as well but the break has put things more in perspective and I am newly motivated. I might feel differently by the end of the week. My annual organizing senses have kicked in and this morning I cleaned out the shelves by the back door, emptied out the fridge, and organized the pen and scissor drawer. Dale and I also cleaned out the basement freezer tonight, but that was more of an emergency. The plug is sensitive and occasionally someone gets something from the freezer and notices things are slushy. Luckily we never have meat in there; it’s mainly just cookies and empty cartons of ice cream that needed to be cleaned out anyway. But in a perfect world, I probably would not have chosen to clean it out in the middle of dinner.

I didn’t make any New Years resolutions for myself, but I do have lots of suggestions for others. One thing I am trying to do is to join Dale in not eating anything after 7:00 p.m. I’m only doing this until the Mexico trip, which is kind of silly. When I’m sitting in my lounge chair in the scorching sun thinking of the inhumane winter I’ve endured, you wouldn’t think I’d care what people think of me in a swimsuit. No one can accuse me of humility.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

It's official...



I am giddy with excitement. Even though our trip is still many weeks away, winter suddenly doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Snow? Ice? Windchills? Minus 35 degrees? It doesn’t matter because I have 168 hours in the Mexico sun to look forward to. Hmm, suddenly that doesn’t sound that great. And some of those 168 will be night time hours. I’m going to try to stay awake the whole time. It’s going to be awesome.

In other news, it is now 2009. Dale’s mom, his sister and her family came over for New Years Eve. Since they live in Florida, we never get to spend New Years with them, so that was nice.


Wishing you all a happy new year and may all your dreams come true…