Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wet paint

I started a post on the weekend that I never got around to finishing, so basically I’m just writing to tell you I’ve been too busy to write.

I have been painting for the last five days. You would think you could get a lot of painting done in five days, but that is not the case around here. There are constant interruptions; finding time to paint for a solid hour at a time is hard to come by. But the end is in sight – the living room and dining room are done, and I just need to do one more coat in the kitchen and then the trim. After readjusting my expectations, I am happy with the living room, but I’m still deciding about the dining room and kitchen. At this point I will just be so happy to have it over with that I can pretty much live with anything. The quality of my painting has been poor; it’s streaky in places, I have painted over fruit flies, and I didn’t properly patch everywhere I should have. But my goal here is not perfection. I will settle for mediocrity and speed. I will show photos once it’s all finished and there are pictures up on the walls.

We have so much going on right now and I am still exhausted all the time (I think it’s partly due to low iron – my blood was declined when I tried to donate on Saturday). There really needs to be about five more hours in a day. Instead of complaining, I should go and make the most of the hours I do have.

Here are a few links to keep you occupied until my paintbrush is finally washed and put away.

My blog (thanks Teresa. I meant to post this a week ago when it was more current, but it's still funny)

Funny famous blogs (thanks Jenna)

Speaking of Jenna, stay tuned for a little story coming your way in the next day or two. Snap crackle pop meow (aren’t you curious?)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sleepover, steak, sofa and a squirrel

Despite all my new-found free time, I am not managing to post very often (thanks for the nudge, anonymous friend). I have lots to say, but none of it is overly interesting. Is anyone else exhausted these days? My energy is completely gone by supper time and I’ve usually dragged my weary body to bed by 10:00. I don’t know if it’s the early darkness or the busyness of the fall routine, but just thinking about it is making me tired. I will try to squeeze out a few paragraphs of assorted topics before I expire.

Spencer had his first non-family sleepover on Friday night. I didn’t let Chloe sleep at a friend’s until she was about ten, so I guess I’m losing some parental vigilance already. I can only imagine what I’ll be letting Neve do at his age. Spencer did fine; there was no middle of the night phone call, and he even left his blankie at home. Don’t tell him I wrote that.

On Saturday we had dinner at Jim & Sabrina’s. We’re re-starting our potluck theme dinners; this one was BBQ, so everything had to be grilled. The food was amazing; there was everything from stuffed jalapenos to pesto zucchini to steak. It was a beautiful evening and a great night for hot tubbing. The picture below is not a good indication of how much fun it was - Rob looks startled and/or like he's one of America's Most Wanted. Dale looks sad, Bob looks worried, and Sabrina looks like she's not enjoying that bite. The following two photos are better; I just hope no one is angry with me for posting pictures without permission (if you look closely, you'll see glimpses of Baby Bella and Baby Elle in the background).
We suddenly got new living room furniture this weekend. Our old sofa was ripped and worn out, so I’d been checking out sofas on kijiji now and then. We went to look at a set on Sunday and ended up buying it. Unfortunately it was in St. Agathe, so three trips later, our new sofa, loveseat and chair are in our living room. We moved the old stuff to the basement (a horrible experience that involved swearing and anger) and have yet to move the even older hide-a-bed sectional out of the basement. It weighs more than our van and there is no decent spot to get a grip on it, so I am refusing to help move it. I pity the next able-bodied, strong male that happens to drop by our house. Wait, I mean, come on over! I’ll make cookies!
Now that we have the new furniture, I need to paint, get a new rug, new lamps, new artwork, new end table, and reupholster the ottoman. Oh, and the chair is way too huge for our living room, so I actually need a new chair too. That’s it.

We are back in full swing with school and extra-curricular activities. I tried so hard not to over-schedule activities, but it seems I failed. We are busy every weeknight except Wednesday. The kids all have swimming lessons on Mondays, and then they are each doing one other activity. It doesn’t sound unreasonable; I think the problem is that I have so many children. But they’re all happy for the most part. All Spencer says is "good" when I ask him how his day was. No further information is divulged. Neve clung to me like velcro a couple of mornings when I tried to leave her at school, but her teacher un-stuck us, and after a few tears it all turned out well. Neve is loving her social life; talking about her new friends and hanging out with them in the playground after school. The other parents I’ve met are super friendly and I’m so pleased with the whole nursery school situation so far.

I keep meaning to mention our neighbourhood psycho squirrel. You may remember when I saw it crawl into my neighbour’s dryer vent. Since then, the neighbour put a vent cover on his open pipe, and then put a plastic cage over that. But that’s not enough to deter our little bushy-tailed friend. He chewed a hole in the cage big enough for his body to get through; Dale was alarmed the other day when he saw the squirrel trapped between the closed dryer vent flaps and the cage cover. But he (the squirrel, not Dale) chewed his way out, and since then the whole cover has come off and is lying on the ground. There are squirrel paw prints all over the flaps, and I’m pretty sure he can still get in the vent somehow. The neighbourhood cat was very determined to catch him the other day, but he’s basically untouchable. That thing makes me so nervous.

Our neighbour lets us eat all the apples we want from his tree - I hope he meant that because Neve has eaten almost all of them, except for a couple that the squirrel got to first.

And lastly, a couple of kid conversations today:

Neve asked me, “What did you be when you growed up?”
I’m still thinking about that one.

Later the kids were talking and Chloe said, “I can’t wait til next year because I get a locker.”

Spencer said, “I can’t wait til I can drive. Except I don’t like the teenager part.”

“Why?” I asked.

He said, “Because I don’t know if I’ll choose the right path when I’m older.”

I’m still thinking about that one too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So far so good

We’ve almost made it through the first full week of the new fall routine. It’s all gone smoothly, which I’m enjoying while I can because the second week is always worse. The older children are happy to go to school every day, although Spencer would deny that.

Neve is living the dream; she is loving school. She loves it all – calendar time, the stories, the play centres, the snack, and the kids. She comes home with pictures she’s painted every day (now we don’t have to paint at home EVER again…the four words I always dreaded most: Mom, can I paint?). Her teacher is amazing, and they have an energetic new principal this year who is already transforming the atmosphere of the school. He is the husband of an old friend of mine, so I feel all important having an “in” with the principal.

I was a bit concerned on Monday after school when Neve told me, “The thing about school is that I like it, but I’m getting so tired of it.” But by the next morning, she was eager to go again. I was very thankful about that because I’ve been sticking to my set work hours while she’s in school and at naptime, and it’s working out better than I hoped. I love having my evenings free and am getting better at staying away from the computer. Dale and I have been watching the fifth season of The Office, while I pursue my new hobby. Pole dancing while watching TV is not as easy as you would think.

We have also had great success with Neve sleeping in her own room. There was a small misunderstanding about the chart - she told Dale, ““I can’t wait until I fill up this chart because then I get to sleep in Chloe or Spencer’s room again!” We explained that this is actually supposed to be a lifestyle change, which did not please her. But she is very motivated to get stickers on her chart, so she has slept perfectly in her own room five nights in a row. I fulfilled my end of the bargain by taking her to Dollarama and she is now the proud owner of fake purple hair attached to a hairband.

Tomorrow is my day off. Have I mentioned how much I love my new work schedule? I promise I will stop talking about it soon. I figure if I could stay focused on work when the weather outside was so perfect all week, I can handle anything. My house is in desperate need of a team of cleaners; the main floor is okay (on the surface), but the basement and second floor look like they’ve been ransacked by Red Bull-drinking home invaders. I know the weather will cool off eventually and I won’t mind being stuck in my basement as much; we just can’t have any company until then. Company that doesn’t do stairs would be okay, but we don’t have many friends in wheelchairs.

Happy (almost) Friday, everyone!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The back to school edition

Spencer looking as happy as he always does in his back to school photo. He gets so nervous about the first day; but he's always much happier at the end of the day. I really should start taking the picture when he comes home from school. But I won't, because this is funny.

Neve is as thrilled as she could be. You may have noticed from previous pictures that she wears this dress a lot. I thought the beads and the hairband were a nice touch.

Neve scootering to school. This shot makes it look like she attends school at the local penitentiary. It's just minimum security though, so it's okay.

Fall always saddens me - I’m not a fan of “sweater weather” (or of that phrase) or the smell of new crayons or the picture of the chubby golden turkey on the Canadian Living magazine. I don’t love routine and I especially dislike getting up early. I also dread the early darkness, the rushed evenings, and the thought of getting out the fall coats and (it's closer than you think) mittens. The kids played well together this summer for the most part and we weren’t running out of ways to spend our free days, so while I wasn’t desperate to get them back to school, I must say I’m enjoying it so far.

The older two children have now been in school for three days, wearing their new indoor shoes and sitting at their desks all day. Chloe loves it and is excited to go every day. She is especially excited about band this year. Her instrument is the trumpet, which she brings home to practice. Spencer and Neve were crying and begging her to stop playing it on Friday. The recorder sounds like a cheery songbird in comparison. But I am impressed at how she can blow it and the sounds she can make it produce. I’m sure it can only go up from here. Spencer, on the other hand, would rather be at home playing his DS but he’s not complaining too much. He has a great, creative teacher who loves reading and he seems to like her a lot.

A big change this fall is that Neve will be going to nursery school every morning. She went to meet her teacher for 15 minutes on Thursday, then went for one hour on Friday morning, and tomorrow is her first full morning. I wasn’t sure on which of those days I should take the official “first day of school” photo, but she was very excited the very first day when she went to meet the teacher, so that’s when these photos are from. I’ll probably take a few more tomorrow. I thought I’d feel sadder about Neve starting school, but she is so delighted and ready for it that it’s all good. Her teacher told me about a puppet show Neve put on for her; it sounds like she is very comfortable there already. Of course she hasn’t even had spent a full morning there yet, so I’m probably speaking way too soon.

The best thing about the kids all being in school is that I’ve reorganized my work schedule. Instead of working until midnight and having work projects at the back of my mind pretty much all the time, my goal is to fit in all my hours Monday to Wednesday while the children are at school (Neve is home in the afternoons, but she still naps every day). That way, I’ll be off Fridays, evenings and weekends. Keeping focused on work during my new work hours will be a bit of a challenge, but the payoff is pretty motivating. I’ve already started a new hobby to pass time in the evenings. Otherwise I find myself gravitating to the computer to work; I’ve realized that I enjoy my job more than I thought I did. I’m not ready to unveil my hobby yet – I want to see how it goes first.

In other big news, Neve is sleeping in her own bed for the third consecutive night. For the past year or so, she has slept in either Chloe’s, Spencer’s, or our room every night. It’s worked out okay, but she would often keep the kids awake by talking and singing and being silly. So two nights ago, after the tenth warning or so, I got fed up and made her sleep in her own room. She cried for about 30 seconds and then fell asleep. When she woke up in the morning, she was so proud of herself for staying in her room all night. I made her a sticker chart with the promise that she could pick something from Dollarama after five nights in her own bed. Last night, she came down to tell me she was scared of the shadows in her room. I tucked her back in and told her there was no such thing as ghosts.

She said, “But Spencer told me ghosts are actually real!”

I said, “Who are you going to believe? Me or Spencer?”

Neve said, “I think Spencer.”

I knew eventually I wouldn’t be her most trusted source of information; I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

I hope you and your children (if applicable) are all happy to be back in school. And breathe in that smell of new crayons before they’re all broken.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Summer in September

High Tea Bakery - Neve, Chloe, me, Madeline

I’m way behind on my updates. I started writing about our weekend, but now it seems so long ago. But since Sheri-Lee and her inquiring mind want to know what we did, and I know there is one other lovely young reader who is waiting for an update, here goes.

Last Quarry Day of 2009

This last weekend was one of the best long weekends ever, especially for a Labour Day weekend. I don’t usually have high hopes for the September long weekend, but the weather was hot and we had no structured plans, which is a great mix. We went to the quarry on Friday with Jim and Bella, and then Dale and Spencer left on their camping excursion. The girls and I went shopping at Polo Park for some school things, and they both got their hair trimmed. When we got home, I put Neve to bed and Chloe and I made brownies and watched a movie. On Saturday morning, Darla and her daughter Madeline biked to our house and then we all cycled to High Tea Bakery together (top photo - courtesy of Darla). It was a beautiful day and we sat outside eating cookies, tarts, and/or cupcakes. I could do that every Saturday. It’s a 30-40 minute bike ride from Darla’s house to ours, so they put in a lot of miles that day. Way to go, girls!

Then Chloe, Neve and I wasted over an hour driving to Transcona and back to look at some grimy couches I saw on kijiji. That almost cured me of my kijiji addiction, until I found a fireplace mantel to replace the fireplace I painted on plywood. That's going to be a work in progress; you'll hear more about that in the near future.

After Neve’s nap, we did a little more shopping and then went to Moxie’s and had dinner on the patio. We had a very nice time with girlie drinks and delicious food (salmon and salad on the kids menu – a refreshing change from chicken fingers and grilled cheese) and even Neve behaved respectably the whole time. Then we browsed at Indigo for a while before heading home. The boys were home by then, and I asked them if their camping excursion had gone smoothly, or if they’d forgotten anything. They both got funny looks on their faces and Spencer tried hard to hide his smile, so I knew I was on to something. I just didn’t think it would be something so … critical. It’s good for my self-esteem when things didn’t go as perfectly without me as they make it seem.

On Sunday, we spent part of the day at Rob & Gab’s pool. It was sweltering and the pool was sweet. On Monday, we biked to the Forks and had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory with Dale’s family. We ate in the trolley on the patio, which was a highlight for the kids. We also got organized for school and did some cleaning. Chloe finally cleaned her room, which was at an unprecedented level of messiness. That’s saying a lot because it has been very, very bad before. I’m very thankful she cleaned it because I was at a loss with how to proceed with that situation. I love it when problems fix themselves.

And that was our weekend.

The children started school today, but I haven’t downloaded the pictures yet so I will get to that another day.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The boys go camping

This is Dale here. I was asked to contribute as a guest blogger. Sorry for those who were waiting for Ellen, but I guess you will need to settle for my post about mine and Spencer’s camping trip.

A few weeks before the labour day long weekend, I was considering taking Spencer tenting (as Ellen bought me a tent for Fathers Day). I was a little hesitant so I waited until the day we were to leave to reserve a camping site. It seemed that Ellen was a little nervous whether I would be able to pull all of this off. But I left work early and I was able to buy all that we would need to eat. When I got home, Ellen had printed off a nearly exhaustive list of all that I would need to pack (even the tent made the list which seemed a little obvious at the time). This list made it very easy for me and I was able to pack up everything and be ready to hit the road with Spencer by 4:30 with a cold Dr. Pepper for Spencer to drink on the way. Just before I was ready to go, Spencer came home from the beach with Ellen, his uncle Jim and his sisters and cousin. Jim made a comment when he saw the packed van that me and Spencer should just sleep in the van rather than the tent (that made me laugh a lot). As we were about to leave Ellen gave me a hug and said that she was impressed how organized I was and that I WAS able to pull it all off (I was thinking pretty smug thoughts about how I was able to make things look so easy). We went to Spruce Woods and made it there by 6:30. The first thing I did was find the best spot to put up the tent. I went to the trunk to get the tent and there was the box just as I had packed it. I pulled the tent out, spread it out and hammered in all the pegs. I had just finished hammering in the last peg when it hit me I had not seen the poles for the tent in the tent box; sure enough I had forgotten the tent poles. So the first thing I did was tell Spencer we can’t let mommy know about this (obviously she does now). So I ended up using Jim’s suggestion and we took the back seats out of the van and slept in the back. It was kind of neat although my back is still sore.

The rest of the camping trip was wonderful. Spencer was in charge of what we did; so we did everything he wanted to do. We had smores in the morning, we played mini golf, we went canoeing, and biking. In the afternoon we were able to go to the desert sands 51/2 km walk (at the hottest time of the day on the hottest day this summer) that was somewhat challenging but both Spencer (although he was mumbling something about heat stroke) and I made it through and the ice cream later tasted great. We are already talking about next year’s tenting trip. I am going to add “tent poles” to the top of the packing list.