Saturday, February 28, 2009

I AM smarter than a fifth grader

I spent my day finishing up my science fair project. I can think of many other ways to spend a Saturday, but now that I’m finished, I’m feeling pretty great. But NO, it wasn’t worth it. I have been crabby about this project from the beginning. It’s mandatory for grade five, and all of the work must be done at home. It must be an experiment or an innovation with specific guidelines that have to be followed. According to my sources, scientific methods and procedures have not yet been taught in our grade five curriculum, so the whole project is beyond the average fifth grader’s skill level. Chloe is bright and does well in school, but she could never have done this project on her own. I could complain for quite a while yet, but that’s no fun to read so I’ll show you my project instead. I am quite pleased with how it turned out and hope I get a decent mark.

In other news, Friday was Dress-Like-a-Book-Character day. I was just looking for more stuff to do, so I did the coat-hanger-in-the-hair Pippi braids for Chloe, and Spencer was the Jewish pimp again. Neve’s just showing off her freckles.

Spencer got another note in school yesterday (from a different girl).

In conclusion, I found a picture Neve drew. When I asked, she said it was “supposed to be Rapunzel, but I didn’t know how to draw her.” Looks like she put in a good effort.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Who ate my skirt?

"I want a piece this big ."

I forgot to post this with the birthday photos. Poor Barbie doesn’t look as glamourous now. She looks like she’s either swaying to Kumbaya or dancing to “all the single ladies… now put your hands up” while standing in an eroding mountain of chocolate.

The days are going by way too fast and things are spinning out of control. I feel overwhelmed and am constantly fighting the urge to curl up in a fetal position and stop functioning. But I know that when I get on the plane in eight days, somehow, some way, everything of importance will have been done. And if not, I won’t care anymore. I can’t believe how much preparation is needed for a one-week vacation. It’s completely disproportionate. I hope with all my heart that when I’m sitting by the palm trees in the blistering Mexican sun, all my stress and tiredness will evaporate like the ice (made from filtered water) in my daiquiri.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I am now the proud owner of a four year old. Four seems so much older than three and I feel a little sadness that I’ll never have a three year old again. Funny how I am already forgetting all the tantrums and stubbornness and frustrating days and am only remembering the happy, loving times when we spent the day running through flowery meadows with a wicker picnic basket. But if one must turn four, we had a pretty fun time celebrating.

Neve’s first words this morning were, “Is I four now?” and then, “Will my clothes still fit me?” She was on a high all day. At church, she told everyone who made eye contact with her, “I’m four today!” We had a little family and friends party tonight, which she was eagerly anticipating all weekend. Actually Chloe and Spencer were looking forward to it just as much as Neve was, and the party did not disappoint. We went with a princess theme, with pink punch, sandwiches made from pink bread, and salads and veggies - which I’m sure princesses also eat. My niece did a fabulous job of decorating a Barbie cake.* Neve was thrilled with it. The kids did a treasure hunt, played, and ate lots of candy. Before bed, Neve asked when her next birthday will be. She thinks she’s going to be five tomorrow, so hopefully she won’t be too disappointed in the morning.

Chloe’s gift to Neve was a slumber party in Chloe’s room on Friday night. She decorated her room with streamers and all the kids dressed up as royalty. She set up Neve’s play tent and all three kids snuggled in to watch Barbie Island Princess on the little DVD player. Chloe supplied candy and treats that she had bought at Dollarama with her own money. Neve and Spencer slept on the floor in her room, and they all fell asleep listening to an Odyssey CD. Nothing makes me happier than when the kids are having fun being together like that. Must savour those moments!

*Check out Cakewrecks for some not-so-fabulous Barbie cakes. They kind of mock Barbie cakes in general, but you can’t deny they’re pretty delightful for a little girl. And me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


There is a literacy centre in Spencer's class this week where kids can write notes to classmates. This is what he brought home today.

I guess I was wrong to tell him to stop.

(keep the book suggestions coming - see post below. Thanks for the ideas so far.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The benefits of caffeine

I’m doing it again – saving up lots of stuff in my head to post until it’s too daunting to write it all down. So here’s the condensed version.

  • I’ve been watching The Office way too much. I think about the characters and story line all the time. I wonder what Pam looks like with makeup. I wonder if Michael and Toby get along in real life. I wonder if Angela is fun in real life. The line between fiction and reality is fuzzy.
  • I accomplished a lot today. Besides my usual daily obligations, I made muffins and a cake, worked on my – I mean Chloe’s – science fair project (future post coming on that), bought party supplies for Neve’s birthday, and most exciting of all: finally finished Neve’s first birthday album. My achievements were largely fuelled by a morning frappucino. I should do that more often.
  • I’m currently watching an episode of The Office where Michael comes back from Jamaica and is all relaxed and into island living and wants pina coladas to be served in the office at 3:00 every day and tells staff things like deadlines are not important. I look forward to feeling that way after our trip. I am starting to get very, very excited. I can’t comprehend that I will be sitting on a beach wearing my new swim suit in less than three weeks.
  • Speaking of beaches, I am stockpiling reading material to take with me. So far I have Memoirs of a Geisha (Darla, is it okay if I take your book to the beach?), an Emily Griffin book, and The Red Tent (which I want to re-read). I want to take one more book – I was thinking of a biography for some variety. Any suggestions? I don’t want anything too deep or disturbing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A hearty time was had by all

As Darla mentioned in the comments, Valentine’s Day is indeed one of my favourite days of the year. Dale and I always put a path of hearts (hanging from the ceiling and stuck on the walls) from the kids’ bedrooms right down the stairs to the dining room. We put confetti hearts on the table and a little surprise is waiting on each of the kids’ plates, and then we always have chocolate cake for breakfast. Since Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year and we had time for a leisurely breakfast, we decided to make chocolate crepes with chocolate whipped cream/cream cheese filling instead. Spencer was disappointed that we didn’t stick with tradition, but the rest of us were happy. You can’t please all of the children all of the time; if two out of three kids are happy about something, I count it as a success.

The day got even better from there. For Neve’s birthday present, we went to Build-a-Bear so she could make herself a friend. Her birthday’s not until next Sunday, but Dale didn’t work yesterday so it was a good chance for us all to go. Neve was so excited she could hardly stand it. She came down to our room at 6:45 a.m. to ask if today was the day we were going to Build-a-Bear. She went back to bed, but I doubt she slept after that. Here’s the event in pictures.

My sister and niece met us at the mall, so it was a pretty fun occasion. Since then, Hello Kitty (unimaginatively named by Neve) has gone everywhere Neve has gone. I have a love-hate thing for Build-a-Bear, but the delight it has given Neve so far can’t be denied. Chloe has two Build-a-Bears that she is still enamoured with as well, but Spencer has two naked ones lying somewhere in his room that he doesn’t care about, yet he doesn’t allow Chloe to adopt.

We put the kids to bed early and had a late dinner with the help of Mobile Maitre’d, like we did last year. Then we watched a whole bunch of episodes of The Office; Dale gave me Season 3 (and some chocolate) for Valentine’s Day.

Hope your heart day was happy too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Technology sucks

Yesterday was not a great day at work. Something went terribly wrong with the e-newsletter that I send out, and the server kept processing it over and over and many people got it seven times. Some got it even more. Many of them felt it was their duty to let me know (I don’t blame them) and since my email address is the “reply to” address, my inbox was seeing much action. It was near the end of the day, so after I phoned the tech guy I deal with and freaked out on him, I just shut down my computer and went home. When I picked up the kids after work, I told them about my bad day and how everyone was sending me nasty emails. When we got home, Spencer went straight to get a pen and paper, wrote for a while, then handed me the paper. He told me to send it to all the people who emailed me.

With the correct spelling and punctuation, it says:

Dear ______,
Shut up and stop saying swears about mom. Something was wrong with the machine, okay? Ellen’s son, Spencer

That improved things one hundred percent for me, “shut up” and all.

I didn’t have the nerve to check my email until this afternoon. There were about 300 emails, which is not bad since we sent it to 7000 people. I was tempted to send some of them Spencer’s message, but most of them were polite. What’s interesting is that I sent a grovelling apology to some of them and almost all of them replied saying, “No problem. That’s technology for you.” or something along that line. My favourite was from a guy who replied to my apology with “Hitting the delete key is not as taxing as some might think.” Anyway, it just reinforces my belief that a sincere apology goes a long way. I just hope and pray that it doesn’t happen again next week – they may not be as understanding then.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Scraping the bottom of the barrell

I’m starting to worry because I have nothing to say but I don’t want to get in trouble again for only writing one sentence.

Just so no one will ever complain about that again, I will hereby bore you to death with a list of my top ten stores, in no particular order.

  1. McNally Robinson
  2. Small Indulgence
  3. Toad Hall Toys
  4. Party Stuff
  5. Target
  6. Pier 1
  7. Urban Barn
  8. Bulk Barn
  9. Indigo
  10. Bernard Callebaut

What’s your favourite?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happiness is...

...wearing your spring jacket in the middle of February.

Monday, February 09, 2009


This is me at 7:00 this morning standing on the roof of the front entrance, holding the ladder for Dale who is climbing onto the roof to clear snow away from the bathroom fan vent (we woke up to the sound of water dripping onto the bathroom floor from the fan). Chloe took this picture from the upstairs bathroom window. I’m going to enter it in a photo contest, but first I’m going to photoshop out my irises completely so all you see are the whites of my eyes. Should merit an Honourable Mention at least.

The reason for the water drippage was because it was raining today. I know rain in February does not make for optimum driving or walking conditions, but seriously, if it’s mild enough to be raining, I’m not complaining. That’s catchy. Maybe I’ll get it printed on a t-shirt. The roads and sidewalks were crazy icy today. My thoughts were with the letter carrier, who somehow managed to navigate mine and everyone else’s death-trap front steps to bring us our bills. Thanks for risking your life for that, my blue-uniformed friend.

Here are a couple of pictures from this weekend.

The ping pong league took a new direction this weekend with an inaugural round of Donkey. It seems there is no limit to the fun that can be had with a ping pong table.

Chloe making valentines for her classmates. She dressed up candy boxes to look like iPods. The Hershey kisses were the ear buds.

And here's Bella with pigtails. She's talking and walking and doing all kinds of clever tricks these days. I love this picture; I can't look at it without smiling.
I had Baby Cate on Friday for a bit and I'm so sorry I didn't take a picture of her. She was definitely blog-worthy as well with her adorable little pigtails and cool clothes. Pigtails on babies is one of my favourite things ever.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I'm going to TRY to blog every day this week

Maybe if I try writing small bits at a time, it won’t seem so daunting to blog. That’s my goal for this week.

You may recall our Christmas confrontation with the front end loader. This week we finally got our van back after five long weeks of squishing three children into the back of a compact car. We are all very pleased to have it back. Jim even did some extra little fix-ups, which I forgot to thank him for tonight – so thanks for going above and beyond, Jim! At church today when people had the chance to stand up and share things with the whole congregation, Spencer whispered to me, “Aren’t you going to stand up and say we’re thankful to have our van back?” I guess I’m not that thankful. He has suggestions for me every week, such as, “Are you going to ask for prayer for Neve’s runny nose?” or “Are you going to tell them it’s Grandma’s birthday this week?” He desperately wishes I would stand up and share something; unfortunately for him, I’m pretty sure that’s never going to happen.

The kids were talking about the Beyonce song Single Ladies yesterday. Dale made some comment about how he liked me so he “put a ring on it,” and told Spencer that he’d probably buy a ring for his girlfriend one day. Spencer was startled and unhappy about this news, especially when we told him how much a diamond ring costs. He didn’t think it was fair that the guy had to buy the ring. You could tell he was thinking about it for some time. Later that afternoon he suddenly said, “Well, I guess girls can get three types of diabetes and boys can only get two.” (I believe he was referring to gestational diabetes). In his mind, that evened things out completely; he’s now perfectly okay with the ring-buying responsibility.

The weather was gorgeous this weekend, we had just the right ratio of planned activities and unscheduled time, we got together with friends and family, the house is reasonably clean, and I am more organized than usual. I’m feeling pretty optimistic about this week - hope you can say the same. Hugs and kisses to all of you!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Checking in

Oh right, I have a blog. I am using the January blahs as an excuse for everything. I am exhausted, unmotivated, uninspired, anti-social, and all I think about (besides Mexico) is my bed. But I believe today is February so I’m sure things will improve starting now. Now? How about…now?

I thought of things to write about during the week, but I can’t remember anything interesting now. I thought I’d at least let you know I am still in existence. I’ve been busy learning new tricks at work – we’re changing the way we send out our weekly e-newsletters starting this week. We’re using new software and a whole new system, so I’ve been doing countless online tutorials and stumbling along blindly. I’m now at the point where I’m fairly certain it will work out, so I’m relieved about that. I still have work ahead of me tonight, but that’s okay because I’ve had a nice weekend. The last couple of weeks have been so busy, but our weekends have been quite unstructured and relaxed. On Friday night we went to Boston Pizza for supper and then hung out at the new Indigo for a while. Yesterday I took the kids to the library, then Spencer went to a birthday party, and Chloe and I hung out at Polo Park for a few hours. We got smoothies and shopped and had a really good time together. We’re going to try and do that more often, before Chloe gets to the stage where she finds it humiliating to be seen with her mother.

In the midst of this crazy week, I thought it would be a good time to finish the photo album of Neve’s first birthday party that I started in early 2006. I made a photo album/mini-scrapbook of the older kids’ first birthday celebrations, but I lost steam by the time Neve’s birthday came along. I had bought an album and printed out pictures, and it sat on the shelf like that for several years. So this week, I bought background papers and spread it all out on the table beside my laptop. Whenever I need a break from staring at the screen, I start cutting and cropping and eventually produce a page of the album. The quality of the book is downright embarrassing and I will never be showing it to a real scrapbooker, but luckily Neve doesn’t care. When she wakes up from her nap, she always asks me if I did any more pages. My goal is one page a day, but most days I’ve done two. There are still many pages left to do, but I’m hoping to be finished by her 4th birthday on February 22nd. To further torture myself, my next project will be starting school scrapbooks for each of the kids. I do not enjoy scrapbooking at all, but the kids love the books and it eases my guilt about not printing out and putting all our photos in albums.

And now, just in case anyone doubted my claim to be part of an official ping pong league, here is proof.

Okay, so I wear my parka to play. Doesn't mean it's not official.
Some players are more serious.

Especially Rob.

Look how much fun I'm having - I'm smiling as I lob the ball back and forth. Could I be any more dorky?

In conclusion, I asked everyone in the family what the highlight of their weekend was.

CHLOE: Babysitting Bella (she accompanied her older cousin – and baby Bella was asleep when they arrived, so they watched a movie and ate popcorn. But the feelings of responsibility and maturity are pretty heady stuff for a ten year old. Not to mention the babysitting money that her cousin generously split with her.)

SPENCER: Hitting the turkey with my bow and arrow. (It was a picture of a turkey at the archery birthday party he went to yesterday. Nothing says happy birthday like pretending to kill animals.)

NEVE: Spinning around and getting a sticker at ballet.

DALE: Watching lots of episodes of The Office (Dale got me Season 2 for Christmas and has become more addicted than me.)

ELLEN: Getting a mocha frappucino at the Starbucks drive-thru on the way to ballet and spending 45 minutes relaxing and visiting with two friends whose daughters are in the same class.