Tuesday, June 30, 2009

First day at the quarry

We spent the first day of summer vacation in my happy place, the Stonewall Quarry. It was a cool morning at home, but we went anyway and it turned out to be a gorgeous day. Darla, Leanne, Erin, and the Scotts were all there with their kids and the whole day was nothing but fun. I was planning to leave around 2:30, but it was so pleasant that I couldn't tear myself away until 5:30. And even then it was hard. The younger two kids were near meltdown stage by the time we got home, and when there was talk of going to the beach again tomorrow, Spencer almost burst into tears. "I don't want to go again tomorrow! WHY do you always make me go to the beach?" I think that was his sunburn talking - the sunscreen on his back was not applied very carefully. But he had a lot of fun today so hopefully after a good sleep he will come to his senses.

It's such a nice evening; Chloe and I just got back from a bike ride around Wellington and Wolseley. We had to bike through about four inches of water covering the bridge at Omand's Creek, so that made it exciting.

And now I must go wash the beach towels and get picnic food ready in case we decide to do two beach days in a row.

Neve wearing the poppy swimsuit for the third summer in a row. And yes, it is too small. Try telling her that.

So glad I don't have to wake anyone up in the morning

Another school year is now officially over. I remember the first day of school like it was just yesterday.

I’ve been desperately looking forward to a break from frantic, grumpy mornings, having to wake Neve from a dead sleep to pick the kids up, the crazy school parking lot, homework policing, endless school forms to fill out, and fighting to get the kids bathed and put to bed at a decent hour, only to start the whole sorry process over in the morning. [side note: I must express my immense appreciation of Dale who makes my life a thousand times easier by preparing the kids’ lunches every single day. He also does almost all of the grocery shopping, so I never need to concern myself with the whole lunch situation. Since the kids still need to eat lunch in the summer, I was hoping he’d continue doing it, but it turns out he’s pretty happy for a break himself.]

Anyway, I am excited about a break from our normal routine, but I also have the annual uneasy start-of-summer “what ARE we going to do all summer??” feeling in the pit of my stomach. I feel like I should have prepared activities and scavenger hunts and cool craft ideas that would captivate children from ages 4-11. It always takes a while for us to settle into summer mode, but we always do so eventually. The girls didn’t fall asleep till about an hour ago, so hopefully the little one will sleep past 7:30 a.m. for a change.

To celebrate the end of a great year (prideful moment: the kids both did really well this year. Chloe even got on the honour roll, which I didn't even know existed) and the start of summer vaca, as Spencer calls it, we went to the new California Sushi restaurant near our house for dinner. The sushi was great and the staff were so friendly; I just wish it wasn’t right across the street from the sushi place we usually go to. I feel disloyal not going to the old one, but I hate to see the new one fail. With the amount of sushi our family can eat, we might be able to keep both places afloat. Then we went grocery shopping as a family, which was not one of our best ideas. As mentioned, Dale usually goes alone, but I thought since no one needed to go to bed early, we’d split the list and it would take half the time. We ended up buying double the amount on the list, and taking twice as long. Not to mention the fun of having two kids trying to ride on the cart and all three asking for different things at once. By the end, we didn’t have the stamina to say no anymore so we ended up buying stupid things like wagon wheels, organic animal crackers, and milkshakes in juice boxes. Then I had to hurry and bag all the stuff because Neve kept the conveyor belt button pressed in right until we left the store so everything was piled in a big mountain at the end of the belt and the bananas and avacados were crushed at the bottom. I know, it serves us right; I don’t know what we were thinking. The next time the children see the inside of the grocery store will be when they are old enough to drive there themselves.

In closing, here are some pictures of the doll house in Neve’s room. She likes to put the Barbies to bed each night.

The bed is a popular place. Having the washing machine so close comes in handy if you wake up in the night and feel like throwing in a load. Main floor laundry rooms are also excellent for resale value.

Poor Grandma has to sleep in the dining room since there’s no room for her in bed. It reminds me of old-fashioned stories where they lay out the dead in the parlour. But Neve told me the grandma doesn’t mind sleeping on the table.

The sole male - the Sunshine Family version of Ken – is relegated to the attic, where it appears he passed out while listening to the stereo. In the other corner is an unidentified Barbie who probably fell asleep there after sewing late into the night. I wonder why no one got the couch. Poor Grandma would surely be more comfortable up there.
I hope they all sleep well; Chloe will probably get them up for the day around 7:30 tomorrow morning. I hope she leaves the rest of us alone.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rainy day

My nephew Jordan graduated from high school yesterday. I’m mad at myself for forgetting my camera, because I really wish I had a picture of him. All the guys wore tuxedos or new suits, but my nephew wore a plaid suit jacket that my sister-in-law uses to dress her Halloween scarecrow. I’m not joking. He (Jordan, not the scarecrow) is creative and funny and definitely dances to the beat of his own drum. Speaking of drums, he has played with several professional bands, and even travelled across Canada with some of them. He finished high school a whole year early, but waited to graduate with his classmates this year. That brings us to the end of the bragging portion of today’s blog entry. My brother and sister-in-law put on a great party afterward; some of the girl grads in their fancy dresses showed up as well and Neve was sure she was in the presence of princesses. Now we don’t need to do Disney World.

The rain and other factors messed up some of our weekend plans. We were planning to camp out in Dale’s new father’s day tent in my parents’ backyard last night, but we ended up sleeping inside instead. Then Chloe and Spencer were supposed to go to my sister’s cabin until tomorrow, leaving us with only Neve. But Chloe hasn’t been feeling great, so just Spencer went.

Our afternoon pool party plans were wrecked by the weather. So I thought it would be a good day to clean the house, but instead we all napped, if you can call four hours of sleep ‘naps.’ I only slept for two and a half hours, but both girls slept for at least four hours. Chloe hasn’t napped since she was three; she was obviously sick. I would have slept longer, but I could hear the music from the ‘Rock on the Range’ concert at the Stadium all the way over here, with all our windows closed.

Tonight we watched a movie and ate way too much popcorn and puffed wheat squares. I’m not as worried about my carbs anymore; I tried on my grade 12 grad dress at my parents’ this morning, and it still fit. Jordan must be rubbing off on Chloe because she’s decided she is ‘definitely’ going to wear my turquoise lacy 80’s dress to her grad. And that’s in writing for all to see and to never let her forget.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

There are some things about summer that I love less than others

There is very little that I don’t love about summer. You will never hear me complaining about the heat, unless I have to shingle a black roof on the hottest day of the year or jackhammer concrete in a dusty desert while wearing heavy protective clothing. None of those things have happened so far in my life, so I’ve never complained (okay, maybe I did when I was young and had to hoe endless rows of trees in the hot sun.)

But there are a couple of summer-related things I could do without. One is the elm seeds that are constantly raining into our yard from the neighbours’ tree. Every inch of our yard is covered in flat white seeds that will all sprout into little elm trees. It happens every year, but the trees seem especially prolific this year. Every time we open the patio doors, seeds fly into the house and make their way all over the house. I have found them in my food, in my bed, and in every corner.

The other problem is birds. They seem to love summer as much as I do and it’s hard to go anywhere these days without coming into contact with them. Especially alarming are the barn swallows that have a nest right by the front door of the gymnastics centre the girls go to. I have to time my entrance and exit from the building when others are around. If we’re late, we don’t bother going.

There was also a bird situation at home the other day that took several years off my life. I went out the front door to talk to a neighbour on the sidewalk and left the door open. When I was going back inside, I was at the top stair when I saw a bird sitting by the porch railing RIGHT by the open door. I jumped ten feet in the air and ran to the door on the other side of the house. I stayed near the door, not wanting to enter until I knew the bird hadn’t come in the house and screamed for someone to close the front door. Luckily the bird was injured so it hadn’t moved. Not that I wish harm on the bird; it did fly away when Dale went right up to it - its wing just seemed a little weak. Now I’m scared to use my front door.

I was scared again on my run tonight. I was running along a wooded path while Chloe was at gymnastics (I think we should switch gymnastics clubs) when suddenly there was a deer just feet away the path. It was at eye level with me, munching a bush and not one bit concerned about seeing a human. In fact, it looked like it was moving towards me. I ran very fast for a while, checking over my shoulder every few seconds. I had to run back the same way I came, which was worrying. But it was gone when I came back. For a country girl, sadly I’m not much of a nature person. Thankfully the girls’ gymnastics classes ended today, so I won’t be running out there again for a while. At least not until fall, which is prime deer season.

I’m so happy the activities are all ending and we will have a break from running around. Neve loved her pre-school program, but every once in a while she liked to make my life more difficult by clinging on to me like velcro and refusing to go in. Her teacher got very good at peeling the child off of me, but today Neve put up an especially spirited fight and ripped the button loop at the back of my top in the process. So the back of my shirt was hanging open until a cashier in one of the stores I went to found me a safety pin.

After my run tonight, I stayed and watched the rest of Chloe’s gymnastics class. Thankfully I brought my iPod so I didn’t have to listen to all the suburban mothers proudly arguing about whose daughter spends more time at the gym and goes to more national competitions. Not that anyone wanted to sit near me anyway – I was beet red and sweating from my run and the smell coming from my sticky sweaty wrist brace was what I imagine flesh-eating disease would smell like.

Talking about birds before reminded me of these picture from Mexico. I always meant to do a post on Things I’d Rather Not See in Mexico. Better late than never (maybe not). I’m sorry for leaving these images in your mind.

I hope and pray that no one reading this knows this person because I think she might be from Manitoba.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fun in the Sun and a Run

I started this entry a few days ago and haven’t been able to tear myself away from being outside long enough to finish it. It’s been hot and sunny and I’m loving every minute of it. I bought a new umbrella for our patio table yesterday – I was so happy to find one that matched our chair cushions and was a very reasonable price. The only glitch is that it turned out to be gigantic. Our cable wire is in a very inconvenient spot, so we have to lift the umbrella out of the base and then crank it open while holding it as high up in the air as we can. Then we insert it back into the stand, being careful to work around the wires and the hanging plants. But other than that, it’s awesome.

Speaking of things out of proportion, here’s Neve in the baby pool. We do have a bigger one that we have since pulled out from under our deck where it was being put to good use as a Mosquito Breeding Centre. But Neve had quite a lot of fun in this pool, so who needs a bigger one?

We had a great day today. Chloe & I did the Super Run at the marathon this morning. It’s 2.6 miles long, which is a very civilized distance. Chloe did great and it was fun for her to experience the marathon excitement. I was relieved that I wasn’t in the half marathon group, but also a little wistful. Yay for Darla, who ran the half – you’re amazing!

After the run, we all biked to the park for a Fathers Day picnic. We came home for naps, and then went to friends’ house who just got a pool put in. Their pool and yard are spectacular. They are our new best friends. We had supper and hung out there the rest of the day.

We are all so ready to be on summer holidays. The kids are going to bed later every day. By the last school morning, they probably won’t have gone to bed at all. That will be nice for their teachers.

Here are some kid things from this week:

Neve: "For Fathers Day, I’m going to let Daddy pick out my clothes." (she didn't)

Spencer: "Dad, what’s your favourite thing to do in bed besides sleep?" (pause while Dale thinks) Spencer: "Sleeping in with your kids?"
I’ve mentioned how all Spencer wants to do is play his DS or read. I was all excited the other night when he said, “Let’s go somewhere.”

I said, “Sure! Where do you want to go?”

“The library.”

(We did go, but we rode our bikes and stopped to play at the playground on the way home.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Ex

Yesterday was our much-anticipated annual trip to the Ex. The weather cooperated delightfully and the crowds were small enough that we never had to wait in line, yet big enough that we still got to see lots of interesting people, which is one of my favouite things about the Ex. All the freaks in the city put on their tube tops and congregate at the Ex. I’ve never seen so many people with stretched ear lobes in one place before. We all love the Ex because it feels like we’re on vacation. The kids are starting to like the bigger rides, which is fun. Neve is definitely a midway girl; unfortunately she was too short for most of the big rides. But I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves for the most part because I am sporting a lovely wrist brace on my right hand for the next three to six weeks. I fell when playing soccer Sunday night and broke my fall with my wrist. That’s what I get for trying to pretend I’m twenty. I feel so stupid wearing the brace; I look like I either have a made-up injury or am going rollerblading. A cast would have been way better – then people might actually pity me and carry my shopping bags instead of rolling their eyes at my “medical device.” It’s one baby-step away from a cervical collar. The doctor said it was a “bad” sprain that they sometimes end up casting, so that’s what I’m telling everyone. “No, no. It’s not just sprained. It’s a BAD sprain.” Anyway, working on the computer for long periods of time is painful, so I’ll keep it short. It is a bad sprain, you know.

Spencer clinging to Dale on the ship ride.

Neve and her permanent Ex smile

Spencer was chosen to be a volunteer for a magic/science show. I’m kicking myself for putting the camera away too soon – a live goose materialized from inside the toilet paper bundle and Spencer had to hold it. He’s not that fond of animals in the first place, never mind holding a live goose. He asked for a Wet One as soon as he sat down. But he did great and was thrilled to be on stage. It was his favourite part of the evening, followed closely by seeing a kid throw up right in front of him when getting off the submarine ride.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The weather until now has been pitiful, but I never got too upset about it because I was stuck inside working anyway. And the instant I finished, the weather turned beautiful. It’s like heaven is smiling on me. So you can all thank me. Or hate me because I was the reason the weather sucked - your choice.

This was the best weekend I’ve had in a long time, largely due to the hot, sunny weather.

The kids were off school on Friday, so we took the bus downtown, which is the children’s favourite pastime. We had sushi for dinner, then went to Jim & Sabrina’s for a soak in their new hot tub.

Yesterday I was outside the entire day; planting flowers and doing yardwork while the kids played. I seem to have overestimated my flower needs, so I spent much time running around the yard finding spots to plant them all. Some of the shade-loving plants ended up in full sun, and vice versa, but worst case scenario is there will soon be fewer plants to water. The novelty of watering plants wears off fairly quickly for me, which is too bad. I always start out so strong.

The day ended nicely as well; Dale & I went to a movie and to Elephant & Castle for drinks and appetizers after. We saw The Proposal was better than I thought it would be (I was expecting very little) and Elephant & Castle never disappoints. We also walked around the Forks for a bit and just had a nice, relaxing, child-free night.

This morning we had church in the park followed by a picnic lunch. It was a beautiful day; the kind of day I dream about all winter. I had a nap in the afternoon and a soccer game in the evening. I don’t know how any weekend is going to top that.

It was a little taste of summer, and I’m ready for the main course. I am a little concerned about occupying Spencer. If I would let him play his DS and read all summer, he would never utter a single “I’m bored.” Much to his dismay, his DS time is limited to half an hour a day, and I’m limiting his reading as well. I know that sounds wrong, but he needs more exercise and adventure in his life. He likes going exploring by the river or playing a game of soccer, but Dale or I have to do it with him. We can’t entertain him all summer, so I hope he learns to instigate and imagine ways to keep himself busy. Chloe is good that way; she’ll think of some game or something and force or bribe or threaten him to play. Today her and the neighbour girl had a water fight, and Spencer eventually joined in, which you can see he enjoyed. And the van got washed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Big sigh of relief

The work project I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing these last few months is (basically) FINISHED! I hardly know what to do with myself now. There are lots of areas in my life that have been badly neglected, so there’s no shortage of things to do. I got a good start this afternoon with some cleaning and laundry and making popsicles (which I’ve been promising the kids for weeks). I even washed the glass microwave tray, which has been bothering me for a long time. The next thing on my list is to make banana bread with the 75 black bananas that keep crashing to the floor every time I open the freezer. You know I'm tired of that work project when I get excited about having time to wash microwave trays and bake banana bread. I’m also looking forward to saying yes when Neve asks me to read her a book, or when Chloe wants to play Monopoly. Okay, ‘looking forward’ to Monopoly might be an exaggeration. Let’s just say I’ll be happy that I can use an excuse other than “I have to work.” Change is good.

My Bud Watch has been abandoned somewhere along the way. The blossoming bush has been cut down, so it’s out of the picture (literally). The other one isn’t much further along than the last time I took a picture. I should have picked a different tree. Far more exciting is the fact that my peas and lettuce are coming up. I have a good feeling about my garden this year.

That’s all I have to say. I am hoping to blog more regularly now that my life is returning to normal. But first, I must go mash old bananas.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Still here

Just saying hi and letting you know I haven’t given up blogging and decided to live a real life instead or anything crazy like that. This month is always a busy one, compounded by the sad fact that I am still consumed with a work project that I am sure will never end, plus a weekend away at camp with a group that I volunteer with. I got back this afternoon, then rushed straight downtown to Chloe’s piano recital and then to a birthday party for one of Neve’s favourite friends.

After Chloe’s recital, we went to a second hand book store nearby. It’s a disorganized mess of a store in an old musty building with books piled in every possible spot and an assortment of creepy customers and staff. When we walked in, Neve stopped and crinkled up her nose and said loudly, “What do you think it smells like in here?”

Chloe and I were looking through books while Dale the germophobe was dying a little on the inside. I asked Spencer if he was finding anything interesting, and he said, “I don’t really like this kind of store.”
Dale said, “Me neither. I keep my hands in my pockets and try not to touch anything.”
Spencer said, “Me too! I can’t wait to wash my hands after this.”

Even when I found a Lemony Snicket book in perfect condition, he firmly turned down my offer to buy it. “I’m never going to touch it.”

It was sort of funny, but Spencer’s fear of germs concerns me. I know he gets it from his father, but I think it’s a bit extreme for an 8 year old. What bothers me even more is that he’s recently been having panic attacks at night. They are very frightening for both of us and we’re trying to figure out the source of his anxiety. I guess we’ll eliminate trips to the used book store.

On a happier note, when I put him to bed tonight, he told me he was happy that I was home again. He said, “Nothing’s the same without you. It just doesn’t feel very right when you’re not here.”

That's the best compliment I've ever heard.