Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I wondered if anyone would comment on the “worth it” from yesterday. I wish I had a prize to give you for your efforts, Corinna. How about if I promote your Lilypad and Friends sale on Saturday? Corinna and her crafty friends are having a sale this Saturday, May 2nd from 10:00 – 3:00. Corinna makes great bags and her friends make really cute things too, so it’s not the type of sale where they have crocheted toilet paper doll covers or anything.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve realized just how much work Neve is. Even though she’s independent in a lot of areas, her absence makes things a million times easier. (I have to insert the obligatory disclaimer here before people get concerned: I love Neve to pieces. She adds a spark to my life that I could have never imagined; she is funny and sweet and, to quote Kelly Clarkson, my life would suck without her.) But this is what I’ve done since she’s been gone (another Kelly Clarkson line): I washed the van, raked the front and back yard, washed the windows, went running twice, went to the movies, cleaned the bathroom, tidied the main floor (and it stayed that way!), blogged twice, and got lots of Chamber work done. There’s more, but I don’t want to sound braggy. And it’s only 3:00.

Dale & I took the older kids to see “Earth” last night. Our first choice was Monsters vs. Aliens 3D, but our free admission coupons from the Cheerios box apparently did not include 3D movies. It didn’t say that anywhere. We generally don’t have much luck with coupons. The rare time that we actually remember to use them, there is some bizarre loophole. “Oh. We don’t take those on the first Wednesday after a full moon. I know it doesn’t say that anywhere but we can do whatever we want.” Luckily Earth was a close second choice and amazingly enough, they accepted coupons for that. We all enjoyed the movie, although the circle of life concept was a bit harsh for Chloe. She had her eyes covered whenever the animals faced danger from predators. There were cute moments too, which unfailingly resulted in loud, hearty laughter from the woman behind us. She especially enjoyed the silly antics of the polar bear cubs. I don’t know why her joy was kind of grating; I’m sure that says something unpleasant about me. There were also a few too many bird scenes for my liking; I woke up from a bird-swooping nightmare last night.

Off I go to carry on with my Neve-less productivity.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I would have canoed if I'd had to

Neve has been acting like a crazed dictator lately. She’s usually pretty easy-going, but she must have resolved to turn from her happy ways and make life hellish for the rest of us. She’s been glum and controlling and needy and feels strongly that everyone must obey her and satisfy her every whim. We have been doing our best the past few days not to give in to her, but we’re exhausted. This morning I drove her to my parents, where she will remain until she is herself again or until Wednesday, whichever comes first. Spencer told me to tell Grandma & Poppa not to let her have her own way about everything, but I didn’t want to scare them so I said nothing (Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this … sorry). I’m hoping it’s just a little phase that a change of scenery will fix. A change of scenery where her every wish will be granted is probably not the best place for her, but it sure is good for us.

I had to drive through flood waters to get Neve to my parents, but it was worth it. The water is already much lower than it was, but it was still a little freaky driving through it. Especially when you’re trying to take photos and then water splashes onto the windshield. I was driving my parents’ truck (van/car traffic was discouraged on this road), so I was trying to find the windshield wipers in an unfamiliar vehicle while holding my camera and trying to stay on the road. It all worked out in the end and Neve was filled with glee about driving through the water. See, she’s happier already.

Flood humour

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another one percent

I had such a nice day today. It was a beautiful morning, so I went for a walk/run while Neve was at pre-school. Then I went to a thrift store and got two awesome bargains - a top for me and a pair of brand new Gymboree shoes for Neve (which she doesn't like - maybe that wasn't such a bargain). Neve & I picked up bagels at Tim Horton's and had a picnic lunch at the park. At home, I squeezed in a rare weekday nap, and the day went downhill from there (nothing bad happened, it just lost momentum). The weather got cooler and windier later in the day, but I am trying to take advantage of every bit of sun and warmth. Well, except for the nap, but all that sun and exercise made me tired.

Spencer and I somehow got on the topic of paralysis tonight. I told him the story of Joni (a woman who became a quadriplegic because of a diving accident) and how even though she was paralyzed from the neck down, she could still paint by holding the brush in her mouth. I made it into a pretty long, tragic story and at the end, Spencer said, “WOW! They must have had to scrub those brushes hard to get rid of botulism before she put them in her mouth.” That’s what he got out of that story. He is very fascinated with botulism and its cousin E-coli. He can work them into pretty much any conversation. I wonder who he gets that from.

Kid conversations

We cleared out some stuff in the basement this weekend and Chloe decided to make the extra space into a school room. And the children played school all day Saturday and Sunday. Chloe was the teacher and Spencer was her student. Neve sometimes joined the class but she struggles with conforming to a rigid schedule. Spencer does too, but Chloe bribed him with promises that he could play her Super Mario DS game. The power she holds over him is scary. She had him doing math worksheets, art, library, and geography. I believe this conversation in the van today was a result of their weekend curriculum:

Spencer: “Neve, what are your three favourite countries?”

Neve (without hesitation): “Mexico, Florida, and Canada.”

Spencer: “Neve! Florida is not a country. It’s part of the United States.”

Neve: “Oh. Then Russia. And Greenland. And Luxemburg.”

The downside is that Spencer didn’t want to go to school today. Seven days a week is a bit much. So he hung out with Neve and me today.

One of our errands this morning was renewing my car insurance. The autopac agent was young and surly. She eventually warmed up and told me her entire life story. She had some fairly serious dental issues and I could see Neve staring at her mouth. My prayers went unanswered, and I could only sit there and cringe as Neve asked, “How many teeth do you have?” The woman was embarrassed and said, “I don’t have many left.” I quickly changed the subject, but my eyes were drawn to her mouth even more after that. It was the longest insurance transaction of my life.

On our next stop, Neve had a screaming tantrum leaving the store. She went boneless and jelly-like so I had to carry her to the van. When I tried to buckle her in, she became the opposite of boneless. And tonight she hid in the front closet while Dale, Chloe, Spencer, and the neighbour searched frantically for her (I wasn’t home). Thank goodness the police didn’t have to be called this time, but they might have scared some sense into her. Or she might have enjoyed the attention; you never know with her. She is something else.

Neve was playing with her Dora mermaids in the bathtub tonight and the conversation went like this:

“I like your tail.”

“That’s not a tail! It’s a fin!”

“Oh!” (nervous giggle) “I’m sorry that I called it a tail!”

“That’s okay! You can call it whatever you like – a fin or a tail!”

“Oh, thanks!”

There are so many things that the kids say or do during the day that I try to remember later, but 99% of it just floats right out of my simple little head. But this was my one percent for today.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I want to marry the weather

What a day!!! It was so warm and sunny and uplifting that it was fully worthy of all three of those exclamation marks. I don't dole out exclamation marks for just anything, so that's saying a lot. I don't know what today's high temperature was, but I saw 18 C on my thermometer at one point. Mother Nature loves us after all. Well maybe not the people in the flood zone, but those of us protected by a floodway are feeling the love. Even for the others, at least it was a lovely day for sandbagging. (right?) There aren't even words to describe how much I love days like this. The neighbours are out, the kids are getting fresh air, and my skin is warm and tingly from the sun. Maybe that's my spidey sense. Unfortunately my spidey senses didn't inform me that my four-year-old was ankle deep in mud while I was making supper. By the time I noticed, the damage was done and she was delighted, so I just took pictures instead of freaking out.

Baby Bella spent the afternoon with us. She loved being outside. She walks well, but she still loses her balance now and then. She didn't like putting her hands on the ground to push herself back up, so she'd do it with her elbows which was funny to watch.

We just got Season 4 of The Office and have been watching a couple of episodes every night. We also have a daily calendar with Office quotes (it was a gift) and this one is from one of my favourite episodes:
You people need to educate yourselves. Myth: Three Americans every year die from rabies. Fact: Four Americans die every year from rabies. How many of you know someone who has been afflicted or affected by rabies? . . . It is truly the silent killer.
No, it is the foaming, barking killer.
- Michael Scott
This will mean nothing to you if you're not an Office fan, but it makes me laugh every time.
In conclusion, here is another quote from today:
Something bad happened at school today, but it had HARDLY anything to do with me.
- Spencer

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Not my favourite way to spend a beautiful day

Chloe and I spent the entire day cleaning her room today. It was like a bad dream that I just couldn't wake up from. I thought it would take about two hours, but it was more like six. How two people can spend six hours cleaning 150 square feet of space is not easily understood. That's where the Before pictures come in:

That girl has the makings of a serious hoarder. She cannot bear to part with even one scrap of paper, dried up pen, broken dollar store jewellery, or notebooks with scribbles on every page. I found several little boxes that contained a single stone perched on a kleenex. When I suggested perhaps throwing it away, she would look at me in horror, "NO! You can't throw away _____ (insert name here)!" She names rocks, pens, erasers, and her stapler. They are all her personal friends. When I made her go through a box of stuffed animals, she lined them all up and pretended it was American Idol. In the end, she just couldn't bear to eliminate anyone so they all went back into the bin. And that's why it took six hours. We did end up with two garbage bags full of junk and two totes of stuff to give away. The furniture is arranged kind of funny now, but Chloe is thrilled with it and it really does feel like a new room. That's not going to last long.

We have an overnight guest today. Baby Bella spent the day with us and is fast asleep in Neve's room. The room must be happy to finally have someone sleep in it at night. She is cute as a button and helped us clean. She got bored after a while and then Dale took her for a walk. She went to bed perfectly and hasn't made a peep since 7:30. I forgot babies were so little work. :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sun and mud

The snow is melting again and we’ve got a lake going on in our front yard. To get to our front door, everyone must make their way across a slippery, half-submerged plank. This is exciting for everyone and I’d be lying if I said we weren’t hoping that someone will eventually fall in (preferably someone whose laundry I don’t have to do).

Today was so warm and sunny that we got out our front porch table and chairs. Sitting there made me very happy. Not quite as happy as I was one month ago at this time, but still happy.

Insert wistful sigh here.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I can finally put away the Happy Birthday banner

So the boy turned eight today. Spencer woke up happy and stayed that way all day. I guess Wednesday was just an off day. He was very excited about the Lego set we got him and has been working on it every possible minute. We also went to the museum for two hours until the meter ran out. I must remember never to go there during spring break again. Parking was a headache, everyone and their crying little brother decided to come to the museum today so we had to wait in line for 30 minutes to buy tickets, and as an extra bonus, Neve had an all-out, kicking and screaming temper tantrum when it was time to leave. Other than that it was fun. Even though I thought the advertised “archeological dig” was stunningly lame, the children loved it. It was just a big sandbox with dinosaur bones buried in it. Kids could “dig” for bones for five minutes, and then when the timer went off, two workers re-buried the bones and fixed up the sand.

Spencer on the Nonesuch looking like a gangster. (Despite his objections, a haircut appointment has been scheduled.)

Tonight we had a birthday dinner with friends. Spencer chose to have crepes and birthday cake, which is my kind of meal. He wanted an Indiana Jones cake (again), so I did my pathetic best. It took about 10 minutes to decorate, which is nothing to brag about. By the time the third birthday in six weeks comes around, a lot of my enthusiasm has waned. I feel bad for Spencer, although I don’t really think he suffered too much. And he’s the only one I decorated a cake for, so that must count for something even if it could qualify as a cakewreck.

Run, Indy, run
Being the middle child, Spencer’s age milestones aren’t as traumatic for me as the girls’ are. I’m not sure how I feel about him being eight though; it seems a lot older than seven. He’s still my little boy in a lot of ways. Sometimes when I give him a choice of what to have for lunch or a snack, he’ll ask me, “Which is easier for you? I don’t have to have anything if it’s too much work.” He loves karate and reading and playing his DS. He’s passionate and loves learning new things. He makes me laugh every day and always makes things interesting. He’s been begging to go sandbagging all week, so Dale’s planning to take him tomorrow morning. Love that boy.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A break from spring break

We had a lot of snow today. This thick, wet snow reminds me of Japan. When Dale & I arrived in Sapporo, this is what it was like. We spent the first week or so trudging through sticky slushy snow, applying for jobs at different English schools. We didn’t have proper footwear and our feet were perpetually cold and damp. Eventually we just wore our runners and changed into our good shoes in the lobbies. We were so elegant. It took me weeks to warm up. It never got as cold as it does here, but it was definitely a damn cold. I mean damp.

Today we took the bus downtown to the library, the used bookstore/cafĂ©, cityplace, Portage Place, and the Bay. I try to take them to the Bay as much as I can because I fear it won’t always be there. I love the Bay, but it saddens me to see how shabby it looks. The toy department is now in the basement and it's not exactly as magical as it used to be. These dogs remind me of Rowdy, the dead stuffed dog on Scrubs.

Anyway, I thought we had fun, but when we got home, Spencer asked how long we’d been gone.

I did the math and told him, “Four hours and 15 minutes.”

He said, “Well then, that’s four hours and 15 minutes that was wasted.”

I freaked out a little, because of course the whole excursion was for him (and his sisters). I personally could have thought of quite a few things I’d rather do. He started to backtrack a little and said, “Well, it wasn’t a total waste. I liked most of it, but all the time in the dress shops was a waste.”

We didn’t go into ONE dress shop. We walked past some dresses in shop windows, but that’s as close as we got.

At the bookstore, I told the kids I’d buy them each a book. The girls happily picked out books, but Spencer couldn’t find anything he liked. He didn’t like anything I suggested. Then he found an instructional “How to Prospect for Gold” book with teeny tiny print and no pictures.

All I said was, “Are you really going to read this?”

“No,” he said.

At home he complained to Dale that “every book I wanted, Mom forced me not to get.”

I’m not sure what his problem was. I'm disappointed that I'm not enjoying spring break as much as I thought I would. I think the weather is largely to blame, plus work's been busy this week and I feel guilty that I haven't had time to do creative things with the children like make cities out of cardboard boxes or paint giant murals with homemade paints that are also edible. The truth is that even if time was coming out of my ears, I doubt I'd feel like doing those things. So I feel guilty about that too. The children are now at Grandma’s until tomorrow. A change of scenery is what we all needed. Hopefully Grandma feels the same.