Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hardly worth going to bed

I am squeezing in a pre-trip post, as (sort of) promised. We're planning to leave at 6:00 in the morning, which is an oxymoron to me. Six a.m. is pretty much the middle of the night. We've got everything packed and ready at the door to load into the van tomorrow. We had a busy day today - all week actually - and the kids are over-tired but very excited about the trip. Neve narrowed down her stuffed friends and has agreed to bring only three. Hello Kitty is staying home with Unicorn (Hello Kitty is Unicorn's mommy, according to Neve) and Pink Ee-ee. They all appear to be satisfied with that arrangement.

Take care, everyone - will try to update from the road. XOXO

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Impending holiday

Thanks for the blogging reminder, Corinna. And even Stephen commented on the last post – that’s definitely worth a new post. I don’t seem to have much time for blogging this summer. And don’t ask what I’ve been busy with, because I will get a blank look on my face and try to remember something substantial that I’ve done, and there will be a long awkward silence. My brain is on its summer schedule and operating at about 30% of its normal capacity (which is frightening at best) and it physically pains me to think hard.

I do remember doing Dragon Boat races this weekend. It’s something I will probably never forget because our drummer fell off the boat during our first race. For some reason, our boat suddenly almost tipped over and I thought we were all going to fall in, but just our drummer girl, who sits on a precarious little seat at the front of the boat, ended up in the water. And then as our boat kept going, she kept thumping against the side of it – we basically drove over her. It was part horrifying/part hilarious, but I admit the scales are definitely tipped to the ‘hilarious’ side. Dale and I still start giggling uncontrollably when one of us says “remember the drummer falling in?” (and we say it often). The drummer girl is the 17 year old daughter of my co-worker; no one else wanted to drum so she got forced into it. She only came to one practice and was not very confident to start with, never mind when everyone on the team was giving her conflicting advice on how to do her job (there was a small lack-of-leadership problem on our team). She would get a blank look on her face and look like she was about to cry. And then she ended up falling in. I feel bad for her – her mom said she had a bad headache the whole next day (she did not come back for future races) and it wasn’t her fault she fell in, but the whole situation was quite hysterical and highly memorable. We had two races on Saturday, which went a lot better, and our last one this morning, which went even better. It was nice to end on a high note, with everyone still dry and in the boat.

I just looked through some pictures and am remembering some things we’ve been up to. We went strawberry picking with Jan and the girls:

Went to the zoo:

We’ve also spent time with Dale’s sister and brother-in-law, who are visiting from Miami. Chloe especially has been spending lots of time with her cousin; they only see each other once or twice a year, but are very close. Chloe’s also been getting regular work as a mother’s helper. She usually has two or three jobs a week and is always excited to go. It’s about time she started paying her share of the mortgage. But first she is paying to have my old camera repaired. She is very eager to have her own camera, but she wants one that is not only good quality, but must also be pink. A camera with those qualities is around $200, not to mention the memory card, batteries, case, etc. She doesn’t have enough money, so she (and by that I mean, I) checked into fixing my old Canon. It’s expensive to fix ($89), but it’s a good camera and we have the memory cards and everything, so she decided to go that route. Dale laughed at me for keeping the old camera when we got our new one, but who’s laughing now? Well no one is yet, but Chloe will be if it’s fixed by the time we leave on our trip.

Which brings me to our trip. We are leaving on Friday for a driving trip to Toronto. We’re all getting excited, but we have a crazy week to get through before then. I am helping out at our church’s day camp every morning, and in the afternoons/evenings, I have appointments, work, a soccer game, and friends coming for dinner, not to mention packing, laundry, cleaning the van, and all the usual pre-trip preparations. I have to convince Neve that she does not need to bring along all her “friends,” which is what she calls the assortment of stuffed animals she sleeps with and drags around everywhere. One of her friends is Hello Kitty, which is gigantic and takes up as much space in the van as an adult. We are also having a blanky crisis – her blanket is so worn that the cover is completely ripped and the inside blanket keeps coming out. Both grandmas have fixed it so many times that it’s now beyond fixing. I’m trying to convince her to just bring the blanket cover because I freak out when she comes to our room in the night, crying for me to put the blanket back into the cover. I want a holiday from dealing with blankies and searching for her friends at bedtime. I can easily picture us driving 200 miles back to find one of her friends at the last restaurant we were at. Help.

I will try to squeeze in another blog post before we leave; if not, maybe I’ll do it from the road if our hotel has a public computer.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Uncle Dan

Spencer and I went out for ice cream tonight and the conversation was interesting, as it usually is. A police car passed us and he said, “You know what’s discouraging? The police are really cracking down on speeders. And you know what else is discouraging? The gangster situation in Vancouver. There are hoodlums just hanging out in bars and the situation is bad.” He talked for some time about the dire gang problems plaguing Vancouver. He had first-hand information from Uncle Dan, who went back to that gangster-infested city today. We had a great time with him here and we were all sad to see him leave. We spent a beautiful summer afternoon at the park today – we had a picnic, a train ride, and walked around the gardens. It was even more fun than watching a squirrel climb into a vent.

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Fun Thing

My fun thing yesterday was watching a squirrel crawl into my neighbour's dryer vent. I phoned him to tell him, and he sounded like this was nothing new.

"I'll just turn on my dryer," he said.

That was a bit alarming, but we stood at the window and watched. But it never came out and then I had to put Neve to bed so I don't know how that situation turned out.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fun at the lake

I am trying to not think about the fact that it’s mid-July already. We’re still not into the summer groove around here, but maybe that’s just how summer is supposed to be. From now on, I am lowering my expectations and am going to aim to do one fun thing a day, even if it’s just something small. I’ll let you know how that goes.

My brother arrived from Vancouver on Friday and my family spent the weekend at my sister’s cabin. The weather was great and we did all kinds of fun cottage activities like waterskiing, tubing, hot-tubbing, pinata-bashing, trampolining, paddle boating, tie-dying, chipmunk-capturing, and eating more sunflower seeds than any non-Mennonite could comprehend. We also played an “Amazing Race” type of game that produced much laughter and gaiety.

Dale’s sister and her girls arrived from Florida last night. The annual summer visit from the Florida cousins is always much anticipated, and my children are spending the night at Grandma's (where Dale's sister is staying) as well. I have some work to do tomorrow, plus it will be a good chance to clean up this mess of a house. I still haven’t fully unpacked from camping at Bird’s Hill, never mind the cottage weekend. With the kids home all day, things are always a mess. I am on the brink of a big purge, but I have to be in exactly the right mood to tackle that. Even then, I often lose interest and leave projects half-done so that later I don’t know what I’ve sorted through and I just put it all back where it was. And that makes me crazier than if I’d never started in the first place. I think I’ve just talked myself out of any big cleaning projects; maybe I’ll go for a bike ride instead and call it tomorrow's One Fun Thing.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dude looks like a lady

I feel like I don’t quite have a handle on the summer holidays yet. I feel scattered and unmotivated and unorganized. A large part of that is due to not feeling well; we are all still dealing with sinus issues and my nights have been a disaster due to everyone’s hacking coughs and other problems. I’m not going into work for a large part of the summer, but I am still working from home. I need to block off specific work times instead of constantly checking email and feeling that I should be working at all times. My workload is a lot lighter in summer, so I am thinking about work way more than I should be. I just need a system.

Spencer is still not doing well at entertaining himself. I had to confiscate his book today. He was not happy with me and threatened to run away from home. When Dale got home from work, Spencer told him he wanted us to get a divorce so he could just live with Dale. Nice. Just for that I’m posting these pictures on the internet:

(posing very naturally as a girl - that's how I always stand)

I’ve been reading beat-the-boredom summer vacation ideas in magazines, but nowhere have I come across “Turn your brother into a sister.” Spencer was a willing participant in Chloe’s makeover idea and wasn’t embarrassed in the least. He asked if we could go somewhere so people could see him. I said no. For the record (and in case Spencer is reading this in five years), Spencer not only gave me permission to post this on the blog, he really wanted me to.

In a sweeter Spencer moment, he made brownies today almost all on his own. Here’s hoping tomorrow will be a happier, more care-free, more stress-free day of summer vacation.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Dry beds and clean(ish) washrooms - it's good to be home

We survived our camping trip, but barely. All of us were (and still are) feeling under the weather, with hacking coughs, runny noses, and/or sinus headaches. Spencer slept from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, Neve slept at intervals throughout the day, and I feel like I didn’t sleep at all last night. The nights were freezing so we slept with sweatshirts on, but woke up in the morning roasting in pools of sweat and hot haziness. No camping trip is complete without wet bedding, and since our tent was very watertight and secure, we had to leave our tent windows open during a downpour to accomplish that. The bedding didn’t all dry out by bedtime which complemented the nightime chill nicely. Our kleenex box was also left out in the rain, so we all had to wipe our runny noses with Bounty paper towel after that.

But besides that, it was great. There were no mosquitos, which was amazing. We had campfires, went to the beach all three days, went for bike rides, and went to an ampitheatre show. The kids had a lot of fun and it was nice being together without our usual outside distractions. That being said, I am very happy to be home and I don’t think we’ll camp again for quite some time. We had talked about camping on our upcoming trip to Toronto, but we have now unanimously and strongly decided against it. I shudder to think. We do have yurts booked for a weekend in August, but that doesn’t seem quite as daunting. At least our bedding will stay dry.

And now, most of the camping stuff has been cleaned up, the laundry’s already in the dryer, and everyone except me is tucked into bed. The week ahead is pretty open, but with the way we’re all feeling, that’s a good thing.

Hope everyone has a happy first full week of summer holidays!

A lovely mermaid that washed up on shore.

Thank goodness coughing like your insides are coming out wasn't considered Rowdyism. Wouldn't you hate it if your name was Rowdy? And who came up with $619? The next time you want to be rowdy, ask yourself if it's worth $619. Sometimes it is.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Camping: the prep

Before we had Neve, we went camping a couple of times with the other kids. It was pretty much all work and no fun, at least for me, and then it rained and everything got wet and we sat huddled in the middle of the tent trying not to touch the sides. The campers beside us had a big solid trailer with a generator or something, and they were eating microwave popcorn and watching DVDs. I vowed I would never sleep in a tent again. But I obviously need to go to Vow school because we are going camping this weekend. In a tent. The children speak fondly of the two times that we camped five years ago. They probably only remember it because of the pictures; we are not bringing the camera this time. I’m trying to have a positive attitude; the weather sounds decent and we are not venturing far out of the city; I will not be humiliated if we just can’t hack it and come home early.

Neve has been sick the last two days, so I’m sort of concerned about going camping with her. I’m tempted to bail out and tell Dale to go ahead with the other two; being a mother is all about sacrifices. But since Neve didn’t budge from the couch all day, I’m thinking she might like a change of scenery. She can lie in the tent all day instead. And since I have now spent more time getting ready to go camping than the actual time we will spend at the campground, we are going no matter what. And it will be fun. Even if it’s not, everyone better pretend they are having the time of their life because it’s a #$&*#@! lot of work.

Dale and I are participating in the Dragon Boat races with my work again this year, and we had our first practice tonight. Our instructor worked us like we were heading to Vancouver 2010 (I know paddling is a summer Olympic sport so it’s not til 2012, but with the intensity of our workout, we’d be ready by 2010). I am going to be so sore tomorrow, and there’s nothing like sleeping on an air mattress to soothe away muscle pains.

Wish me luck; I’ll let you know how it goes.
PS: The picture above is not from our last camping trip; I think it's from a refugee camp in Pakistan or something. The same, but different.