Sunday, December 26, 2010

MC 2 u


That’s my trying-too-hard-to-be-cool Christmas greeting. I didn’t get around to sending Christmas cards this year, so this is it. There are several people that live far away whom I keep in touch with only at Christmas, but this year the only card I sent was to my sister’s German exchange student from last year. Unfortunately, I only mailed it on Thursday so even that was rather pointless. But I do sincerely wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a spectacular Boxing Day.



We’ve had a fun couple of days over here. On Christmas Eve morning, I took the kids to Birds Hill for a sleigh ride. It was perfect sleigh ride weather and a good time was had by all. We spent the afternoon cleaning the house, which is a crucial part of Christmas Eve. The house MUST be clean in order to properly celebrate Christmas; otherwise I am testy and distracted. After an early sushi dinner, we went to the candlelight service. It was lovely as always, but not entirely serene: Neve enjoyed placing her chattering Zhu Zhu pet on the balcony railing; it was a Christmas miracle that it never fell on the people below, and not one five-minute period went by without Spencer asking the time.

But it was all worth it just to drag out the anticipation of opening gifts. The kids each open one gift from us on Christmas Eve and then Santa fills the stockings for them to open on Christmas morning. I made a determined effort to downscale the kids’ gifts this year, partly because we are going to Florida this spring, partly because we don’t need more stuff in this house, and partly because we bought a Wii as a family gift. Spencer was thrilled with his Lego, but the girls weren’t exactly jumping up and down about their gifts. Fortunately the Wii was as big a hit as I thought it would be for the older two, but Neve somehow got lost in the shuffle. Her face did not light up when she opened her $12 Polly Pocket set (“She doesn’t know the value of gifts – she’ll be happy with anything,” I mistakenly thought.) She did end up having fun with it, and when I put her to bed, she was filled with anticipation for Christmas morning. While helping Santa with the stockings later that night, I had a sinking feeling when I saw her meagre gifts: two books, a lacing craft, socks, underwear, bandaids, candy, and a small My Little Pony set. It seems I did a stellar job of resisting the temptation to over-buy. Seriously, it was one orange away from a Little House on the Prairie Christmas stocking. If there had been a store open – any store – I would have been there in a flash.


Chloe's face is not lighting up either. Christmas 2008 has proven to be a tough act to follow. But what 12-year-old girls doesn't want a chandelier?! In my defense, she's been begging for a room makeover; I thought this was a step in the right direction.


Sure enough, Christmas morning was disappointing for her. She didn’t complain at all and she had a smile on her face, but it never reached her eyes. Dale and I felt like throwing up. We tried to cheer each other up by saying things like, “She’ll learn Christmas isn’t about the presents” and “Look how much she loves that lacing craft that I bought on sale for $2.79.” But then the knife in our hearts twisted 180 degrees… suddenly I noticed her sitting at the table, playing with her new socks. She had one on her hand like a puppet, and it was talking and biting the other socks. I don’t know if that was resourceful and creative of her, or pitifully sad. So in theory, keeping it small and simple is awesome, but it reality it sucks. You can comment and tell me how splendid it is that she's being creative with sock-play rather than some mind-numbing, mass-produced toy, but it won't make me feel any better.


There’s a happy ending though. We celebrated Christmas with Dale’s family today and she got two gifts there, both of which are much better than anything we got her. She played very happily with them all day, and when we got home, she played with her new Polly Pockets. So maybe we made the right decision, but even so, next year I am buying her something beyond her wildest dreams.

I’ve gone on way longer than I intended to; I’ll just say it’s been a wonderful Christmas so far. We’re all having lots of fun with the Wii (except Neve). Dale gave me Dance Dance Revolution, so I have been spending every spare minute trying to transform myself into a white Mennonite with rhythm. Well, I’m already a white Mennonite; it’s the rhythm that is elusive. We had a great day with Dale’s family today, especially since his sister and her family are here this year, and tomorrow we’ll be with my family.

Enjoy the holidays; here’s hoping your joys are many and your disappointments are few!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My past two days in minute detail

As most of you know, yesterday was the date of my birth. I had a very nice day. I had to go into work for a meeting first thing in the morning, but that was okay because even the traffic was on my side. I got to work in record time and even got free parking because the meter was broken.

Afterward, I went to Darla's for a delicious lunch and then home. I read the new book Dale got me as one of my birthday presents (Mennonite in a Little Black Dress) and had a little nap before picking the kids up from school. The kids were in a happy, cooperative mood because it was their last day of school. My neighbour Karen and her kids came over and we hung out until it was time to go for dinner. Dale and I and the kids went to The Line Up in the Exchange District - it's just a casual, counter-service little place, but kid-friendly and something different. Then we went to the drive-through lights show, and then home for a movie and birthday pie. My sister and her girls came too and we all watched Home Alone. It was the first time Spencer had ever seen it, and to say he enjoyed it would be a gross understatement. Oh! And guess what I got in the mail?! A $50 gift card from the radio station contest! On my birthday! I wish I would have specified which gift card I wanted, because I got a dud. I don't mean to sound ungrateful so I won't mention the company name. I'll just say I really don't need a remote-controlled helicopter. Dale is happy though.

I am officially off work until January 4th. This morning I went to Superstore, which made me wish I was dead. Once I got home and got the groceries unpacked, my love of life returned. Then Teresa and her kids came over with a delicious lunch and a very delicious birthday cake. Later I went to Polo Park to punish myself (not sure for what) but instead I rewarded myself by buying some boots I'd been searching for for months. I had some money earmarked for boots, and with tax the total came to exactly that amount. Of course, they were the only pair of boots in the whole mall that were not on sale, but I'm so pleased with them I don't even care.

Tonight we went out for Thai with Mike & Darla. This is an annual thing, except this year the restaurant was a thousand times better than last year; you gotta love traditions that only get better.

I didn't specify any particular moment of peace, but I'd say napping two days in a row is pretty peaceful. Hanging out with a few different friends/family these past couple of days has been awesome too - it's one of the best things about the season (second only to napping!).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Done

As promised, here is Ted E. Bear. He had prime seating. All the kids were dressed up as toys, in case that isn't clear.
Here's Spencer assuming everyone's taking a picture of him.
I bought my last Christmas gift today - that's my feeling of peace for today. It feels good to be done. I have also wrapped every gift except one, for which I first need to find a box. I'm scared I won't have enough purple wrapping paper for that last gift. I'm a little obsessive about that. I prefer to wrap all my gifts in the same paper; if that's not possible, at least coordinating paper. There were a few glitches this year, the main one being that Neve has been gathering miscellaneous objects around the house to put into gift bags for Bella. I try to hide them behind the tree. There is a "wrapping centre" at her school, so she brings home empty boxes and toilet paper rolls wrapped in busy red Santa paper and proudly puts them under the tree. It pains me. But I suck it up. I am also not delighted with the way Dale wraps things. He doesn't make the edges very neat, and he uses up way more of my precious coordinated wrapping paper than he needs to. I am a very efficient wrapper, which I learned from my very efficient mother.
Okay, Christmas, we're ready for you. I'm not sure if I'm entirely prepared for two weeks of school vacation though. Neve has major post-sickness attitude going on. She is clingy, fussy and ornery. I don't like to involve Santa unncessarily, but tonight I resorted to, "I sure hope Santa isn't watching. I'd be sad for you if he filled Chloe and Spencer's stockings, but not yours." She just smirked and said, "Santa always brings presents except if you're in jail." I don't know where that came from, but I don't like it. I'd take her to see Mall Santa so he could set her straight, but I heard the wait was crazy. Spending three hours in a mall with a cranky kid is not a contender for the daily peaceful moment.
PS: Happy birthday, Darla!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I've fallen (behind) and I can't get up. Oh wait, I'm up. I'm trying to think back to some nice moments over the weekend, but can't pinpoint specific ones.

Neve was sporting a low-grade fever until Sunday after her nap. I suspect almost anything could be cured with a three-and-a-half hour nap. She was totally fine this morning when I sent her to school, but unfortunately the school called as I was on my way out with friends. She really wasn't that sick, so I took her to Starbucks with me. She was pretty pleased to sip hot chocolate and hang out with us. At one point, she whispered to me, "Now I know your secret about what you do when I'm in school!" I'll have to make things more unpleasant next time. Anyway, she just needed a BM and then she was fine.

My work party was on Saturday night, and after that Chloe and I went to a party in the neighbourhood. On Sunday was Spencer's Christmas program at church; he had a minor part in this one as Ted E. Bear. My sister made him an awesome costume which I will try to post a picture of tomorrow. That was concert number four out of four; I've got to say it's a relief to move on.

As for my peaceful feeling today, Dale's sister and her family just got in from Florida, so we went to see them at Dale's mom's tonight. Most of Dale's family was over there, and it was starting to feel like Christmas. The kids are always so excited to see each other; they don't come every Christmas, so it's pretty special.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The day I didn't leave the house (hardly)

Today turned out differently than I imagined, but probably for the better. Neve woke up with fever, so we spent the whole day at home together. Instead of running around doing errands this morning, we cuddled in bed and watched TV. Then Neve drew dreidels while I wrapped presents. The theme at school this week is Hannukah; the first thing Neve said when I told her she'd have to stay home from school today was, "But we made latkes yesterday and are having them for snack today!" (The teacher is going to save her one for Monday.)

Neve napped in the afternoon, while I watched Glee and wrapped gifts. The best line was, "For Christmas, the only thing I asked my parents for was to stop requesting to be my friend on Facebook." Actually there were quite a few good lines, but that's the only one I remember on the spot.

I left the house only to zip to Canadian Tire for a few minutes after dinner. It was a rare treat to have an entire day at home with very low expectations. It would have been nice if I'd at least gotten the bathrooms cleaned, but that's what tomorrow is for. Neve is still sick, so it will probably be another quiet day.

Chloe and Spencer both ended their school week on a high note. Chloe was part of a talent show/competition-type thing at school and her group won. I don't really know what it was all about, but she was quite excited. Spencer was still flying pretty high from the performance yesterday, and then an envelope from HOT 103 (radio station) arrived for him in the mail today. They have a "card for a card"contest going on where you can send them a Christmas card, and if they read it on the air, they'll send you a gift card. Spencer and I each sent a card and I guess his must have been read on the air, because he got a $50 Best Buy gift card. I was happy for him on the outside, but on the inside I was wondering why they hadn't picked my card because I went all out with a photo of Bananagram tiles arranged in a crossword, spelling out MERRY CHRISTMAS HOT 103. That wasn't as easy as it sounds because there are no number tiles so I had to play around in Photoshop. The whole thing took way longer than it should have, and Spencer made his card on a scrap piece of paper in two minutes. I don't remember what he wrote, but I know he put "PS: I'd like a Best Buy gift card please" at the bottom. Maybe he'll buy me something.

I have a high feeling of my own...Dale & I booked our flights to Florida today. We're not going for a while yet, but it's nice to have our plans solidified.

As for my peaceful feeling, it was definitely snuggling on the couch with Neve after her nap, reading lots of Christmas books. I didn't feel anxious or rushed or guilty that I wasn't cleaning - it was just, you know, peaceful.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Two evenings of fun


Tonight was Spencer's school Christmas concert - BEST CONCERT EVER! Sorry, didn't mean to shout, but my pride is bursting forth. My kids aren't particularly athletic, musical, or brilliant, so today was finally our moment. Spencer had a major speaking role in the play, and he did great. He played a city kid who was complaining about being stuck in the country for Christmas - this was not a stretch for him. Yay, Casting Director. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends came to watch him; it was definitely one of the highlights of his school years. So, yeah, I might be mistaking pride for Christmas peace, but be that as it may.

Last night, I went out for a fabulous dinner with friends. It was for a good friend's 40th birthday, and her sister treated four of us to dinner at her private club. It was so elegant and decadent. There were no prices listed in the menu; that's different than the Boston Pizza-type restaurants I'm used to (that wasn't the only difference). It was such a great night - there was plenty of amazing food, wine, great conversation and lots of laughter.

How do you like all that positiveness? I couldn't think of anything bad to say. Well, I probably could, but I won't. I'll try harder tomorrow. Actually I have high hopes for tomorrow too. I have no obligations whatsover; maybe a little shopping, a little cleaning, and lots of wrapping.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pics


I found my camera in Neve's room. I was about to start unjustly accusing Bella of misplacing it; she was here when I last had it. I love having a scapegoat that can't defend herself.

Before I post this picture, let me just say that in spite of my seeing-impaired eye for design, I knew right away that this wasn't going to work. I'm planning to exchange the purple circle pillow for a plain purple one, but since I really like it, I was also considering changing all the regular patterned pillows to plain black ones (I haven't consulted Shannon yet - she is probably cringing at me trying to make design decisions. Don't worry - there WILL be consultation).



As for my Christmas peace moment, I promise I will stop talking about my advent candle soon, but we've been making an effort to all sit down and eat dinner together. We light the advent candle and let it burn down to the next number. Eating by candlelight every night makes for a peaceful atmosphere, even if the rest of the house is chaotic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Off to a bad start

Things aren't looking too promising for my daily "Peace" piece; I skipped the second day already. I should know better than to make promises I probably won't keep, but if all the stars align, I will post again tonight.

My Christmas moment came yesterday when Neve gave me a cute little candy cane she drew. She even cut it out - all choppy, but she's definitely got some fine motor skills developing. If I could just find my camera, I'd take a picture of it.

I was trying to create another Christmas moment, this time with inspiration from Shannon. I bought a purple pillow for the couch, to add a little special-ness for Christmas. I don't think well while shopping, so it didn't register that a patterned pillow would look odd together with my existing busy-patterned cushions. I love the idea though, and now I want to get all new cushions so that they'll go with the purple one. Help, Siobhan! Save me from buying unnecessary things!! (or is it necessary, Shannon?!). Again, if I could just find my camera, I'd post a pic and let you be the judge.

I'll tell you already, finding my camera would definitely be my Christmas feeling of peace for the day. Hopefully I just saved myself a blog post.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Peace

Inspired by Siobhan's blog, peace and contentment are my goals this month. I am trying to unclutter my mind and my calendar and free myself from unnecessary or unfulfilling duties (this post is brought to you by the prefix "un"). I feel pretty relaxed; most of my shopping is done, there's some baking in the freezer, and the decorations are up. Now I'm trying to intentionally focus on things that make me feel peaceful and content. I'm going to try and post one thing a day that makes me feel Christmasy and happy.

Today's moment is from last night (which would technically make it yesterday's moment, but I'm using it for today). I spent a large part of the day cleaning the basement thoroughly, getting rid of lots of old toys and garbage, vacuuming, dusting and even putting up some Christmas decorations. It now looks much less dungeon-like and with only the Christmas lights on, even looked ... I can't believe I'm using this word to describe my basement ... cozy! Friends came over for a movie night; we had lots of junk food and chocolate and the kids had a pile of blankets and pillows and we all watched Elf together. It was a very fun night.



Bella was over too, so the kids all had a great time. She's hilarious ... this morning she wanted Neve to play with some mini-princess figurines with her, but Neve wasn't cooperating. Finally Bella said, "This is ridiculous!" and hurled mini-Belle across the room.

Neve’s Christmas concert on Thursday was so cute. It was the most genuine, fun, relaxed kids concert I’ve been to in a long time. The concerts at the other kids’ school are always very…well, lots of words come to mind, but I’ll use the word professional. They are always lovely, but to an underachiever like myself, I sometimes feel like the pressure to perform perfectly is unnecessarily high. Spencer’s concert is this week; he has a speaking part and I only hope he rises to the level that is expected of him. Well, actually I just hope he does his best and has fun doing it.

Going back to last week, Neve lost her second tooth on Friday, about 30 seconds after this photo was taken. Some helpful child told her that if you write the tooth fairy a note, she will leave both the tooth and money, so that’s what she did. Yesterday she decided she could part with her tooth after all, and decided to scam the tooth fairy by putting it under her pillow again. The tooth fairy didn’t fall for it, but Neve’s trying again tonight. I think the tooth fairy is too smart to set precedents she will later regret, even if she is somewhat tempted.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How I love that brown truck parked in front of my house

(Thanks, Darla for the lovely candle - you're awesome!)

I am missing one of my kids’ school concerts tonight for the first time ever. I figured after 8 years of dedicated service, I could use a break. Neve didn’t nap today and she was having a meltdown at 5:00 already, so things weren’t looking positive for the evening. Sadly it’s Chloe’s concert that I’m missing, which is the one that’s the most enjoyable and relaxing. But I’ve got to say I’m pretty relaxed sitting in bed with my laptop and watching Charlie Brown Christmas with Spencer.

Tomorrow is Neve’s concert; she has three separate performances due to the very limited capacity of the gym at her school. It’s a complicated affair, but she is beside herself with excitement. Her class is singing Jingle Bells and it’s going to be awesome.

Next week we’ve got a few more Christmas events, but I feel like things are under control. I don't feel stressed or crazy. That could change at any hormonal second, but the whole family is enjoying it while they can. It helps that the Fed Ex guy keeps bringing me packages I’ve ordered online. I’m so addicted to online shopping. Aimless mall wandering has been kept to a minimum and because of that, I feel like I have the Christmas spirit this year. So thank you Amazon and Chapters for showing me the true meaning of Christmas.

Last year I really didn’t have that Christmas feeling; besides the more convenient shopping, I’m not really sure why it’s different this year. I think it helped that the snow came earlier, and also that we are giving the kids a Christmas gift I know they’ll love. I hate to think that the Christmas feeling is really affected by shallow things like that, but somehow my goodwill towards men (and women) is at an all-time high.

Spencer was pretty happy today too. He got chosen to go up on stage during chapel at school to do a rap. He was glowing all evening. He said, “I’m the most famous kid in Early Years.” (their school is broken down into early, middle, and senior years). He seems convinced his fame will last all week and is going to make the most of it.

I’ve mentioned this Haiti blog before; here’s their version of a modern-day Christmas. I thought it was pretty clever.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

24 more days


I forgot to make a new blog template - I've switched to a basic template in the meantime (didn't notice the fall leaves til now - too tired to change it); I found the other one was very hard on the eyes.

The Christmas season officially began at our house today. The Playmobil advent calendar is in business. I made up my own this year from a Playmobil nativity scene I bought at the end of last season. It worked out pretty well and I feel so resourceful. Spencer also made up an advent calendar for his sisters. Each day, there is a box containing Lego pieces out of which they are supposed to build a specific thing. There are no instructions, so I’m curious to see how that will turn out. The kids each have chocolate calendars too, bringing the total number of advent calendars in the household to five. The excitement is high. I was really hoping a certain someone would give me an advent candle again this year (the kind you burn a little each day), but I guess I’ll have to get out a plain taper and a Sharpie. I should do a bunch and sell them on Etsy.

Speaking of Etsy, I’ve been doing a lot of shopping online lately. I actually didn’t order anything from Etsy; most of it was from Chapters. If you’re on my Christmas list, the odds are high that you’ll be getting a book, movie, or CD. Receiving the packages in my mailbox is like a gift for me, so I’m pretty happy with the whole situation. When I do go into a store, I always buy things that weren’t on my list – just unnecessary add-ons to existing presents. I was hoping to be done my Christmas shopping by December 1st. That goal is far from being met, but I’ve got most of the hard-to-buy-for people done, so I feel okay. I think a lot of people had December 1st as their shopping deadline (or maybe start date?) because the stores were crazy this week. I don’t think they were as bad in the evenings, but judging by the daytime crowds, no one in this city has a job. I wonder where they’re getting their money to shop.

The kids were so rangy today (what do you know? I didn’t think spell check would approve of “rangy”). They were loud and silly and fighting. We went sledding tonight with my sister and niece, and even that didn’t wear them out like I thought it would. In fact, the frigid air perked them up nicely.

That’s my two cents for today. Now for the best part of my day…Modern Family on the new TV.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Birthday boy, the tooth fairy and Santa

My posting has been very sporadic lately; I keep hoping that will change. Here are a few pictures just to prove I am still around.

It was Dale's birthday on Tuesday. We went out for dinner the weekend before, and on his birthday we just had a family dinner. He chose the meal (curry) and Neve made him wear a king hat. Instead of birthday cake, Dale wanted peach cobbler so that's what he got. (Spencer is going through a phase (I hope) in which he tries to not smile for photos, or make his eyes weird, or something equally silly.)



Other excitement this week was the falling-out of Neve's first tooth. It's not very clear in this picture, but it's in the bottom row. It was very loose for a couple of days, and finally came out when she took a bite of a burrito Thursday night. We couldn't find the tooth at first, but then we found it embedded in the tortilla shell. The tooth fairy left her a twoonie (which is probably lost by now) and she was very excited about the whole situation. She shows her toothless grin to everyone we see.


And speaking of magical beings, we went to see Santa on Friday. I always buy a picture, and until this year, they always let me take a picture with my own camera as well. Now Santa's elf no longer allows it, so I took a picture of the picture instead. The quality of the original picture was poor so this is even worse, but it makes me feel somewhat rebellious to have produced a digital copy of the photo. Anyway, all the children asked for reasonable things except Spencer who requested a garter snake and a laptop. Luckily he doesn't believe in Santa anymore so I'm not too concerned.

That's all for now; I will try to return soon. If nothing else, at least to fix up this very half-hearted attempt at a blog re-design.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lucky

We had our first real snow of the season today. I don’t know why it still comes as such a shock every year. I was frantically digging through our winter bins trying to find snow pants for everyone (except for the one who is too cool for snow pants). I thought the kids had tried on their winter boots at Halloween and they all fit, but this morning two-thirds of my children were complaining that their toes were crunched. So I wasted precious child-free Christmas shopping hours this morning shopping for boots. To make matters worse, both pairs have to be exchanged or returned because they don’t fit right.

Unfortunately, the pink Three Musketeers boots that I bought Neve last year in a very weak moment still fit her perfectly, but since I was in the boot-buying mood, I bought her a new pair of fashion boots as well. It must be my lucky day because it was Mystery Dollar day at Old Navy and I won $25 off my purchase. Besides the boots, all I bought was a pair of jeans for Spencer which I thought were $16 but turned out to be $24, so when the cashier told me my new reduced total, I don’t think I looked quite as excited as she was hoping. I guess I ended up getting the jeans for free, so it’s all good. Too bad they don’t fit either. Maybe it wasn’t such a lucky day.

Speaking of lucky days, I meant to post yesterday to talk about two other people’s lucky days. First of all, it was Siobhan’s birthday. She is still not as old as I am, but she’s getting closer. Siobhan started a new blog recently so if you’re looking for inspiration, peace, and simplicity, check it out. You know you’re not going to find any of that here.

Dale’s luck involves the TV. He’s been waiting for our old garage sale RCA to break for years, and it finally happened on Tuesday. There was no talk of getting it fixed like there was when my stove stopped working. The TV was promptly unplugged and thrown outside. By the next day, we had a brand new flat screen in its place. He pretended to be embarrassed that I was taking his picture in Costco, but his joy shone through.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Math

Many of you know how attached Neve is to her blanket (gecki). She refused to let me take a picture of it because she’s embarrassed, but I’m sure she’ll be thrilled about this post when she’s older. (Right, older Neve?) Anyway, her gecki is well-loved, well-patched, and well-shredded. In addition to the raggedy main part of the blanket, there are also six separate pieces that have worn off over time. If I could add up all the time I have spent trying to find six threadbare fabric scraps (gecki strips) at bedtime, I would be rich. (I’m not sure how the time converts to money, but if I had more time I would think of a way). Usually the strips are lumped into a ball when I tuck her in, and I quickly leave before she checks to see if any are missing. But more often than not, the call will come, “I’m missing my third gecki strip!” (each of the strips is identified by its own number). I always thought the whole gecki strip situation was maddening, until it suddenly became a learning experience.

I’ve been working on math skills with Neve. I know that makes me sound like a Baby-Einstein-hyper-parent who teaches her fetus Spanish, but in reality I’m just trying to compensate for the way-too-many hours she spends watching PVR’d episodes of Strawberry Shortcake. She also happens to be very keen on math, which I assume comes from the same dormant gene as her red hair. She begs me to ask her math questions, like “what’s 2 + 2?” Up until yesterday, she always counted on her fingers. She even had two extra invisible fingers on each hand, so she could do equations that went as high as 14. But even if it was just 3 + 1, she would count it out on her fingers.

So yesterday, I asked her, “If you had three gecki strips, and then you found two more, how many would you have?”

With no hesitation or finger-counting, she answered, “Five.”

“How about if you had six gecki strips, but then four got lost?”

“Two.”

It was a miracle. I asked her question after question – both addition and subtraction - and she knew the right answer every time. Now as long as I can convince all her teachers to use gecki math in the years ahead, I’m pretty sure we have a redheaded mathematician in our future.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Lazy man's virus

I got the following spam email yesterday:

Subject: Dear Internet User

Hi,

You have just received a Taliban virus. Since we are not so technologicaly advanced in Afghanistan, this is a MANUAL virus. Please delete all the files on your hard disk yourself and send this mail to everyone you know.

Thank you very much for helping us.

Thanks & Regards

Miss Freya

Miss Freya was so polite and respectful, it almost made me want to delete all my files. But I need to do a back-up first.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I spent my extra fall-back hour blogging

As many of you are tired of hearing, I dropped my external hard drive last weekend and lost over a year’s worth of photos. The few pictures I now have of that time period are mostly ones that I posted on this blog. My relief over having at least some photos made me vow to blog every day, with pictures. But that's coming from the same person who vowed to back up all her photos. Too bad good intentions count for NOTHING.

I'll blame my lack of blogging (and everything else I've neglected) on my usual fall fatigue. The day starts out all positive and energetic, but suddenly around 5:00, I feel like I could fall asleep on the spot. By 7:00 p.m., it feels like it’s midnight and it just seems too daunting to throw in a load of laundry or run an errand. I could also blame it on new exercise program. I jumped on the bandwagon about two years after everyone else and have started doing Jillian Michaels’ 30 day shred. I’ve been doing it early in the morning, which is my worst time of day. But my clothes were getting snug, so it must be done. I also signed up for a Pilates class one morning a week. I didn’t see anywhere that the class was called “Pilates for the Elderly” but it should have been. I am by far the youngest person in the class. However, if you think that means I am the most fit and flexible person in the class, you would be mistaken. I am at the bottom of the spectrum. I hate that class. But when I sign up for something, I always follow through, so I have another seven weeks to put up with the smug smirks of the seniors. I guess I’m just jealous, and a little hurt that they never invite me to come for lunch at Zellers after.

I went to a sale at Corinna's today. She and a few of her crafty friends had their stuff on display, and it was all amazing. I meant to mention this in advance to tell everyone to come, but Corinna also has some things on Etsy - definitely worth checking out. I especially love the cute roll-up totes to keep in your purse; I always like to have some on hand for little gifts even though I'd like to keep them all for myself.

While I'm talking about talented friends, I'll also mention Shannon and her new venture. She's helped me with lots of projects, from redoing the living room to organizing the craft closet. She's so good at taking problem areas that are always messy and cluttered and organizing them so there's a place for everything. The feeling of getting a disorganized area under control, or a tired space freshened up, is so motivating that it is worth every penny of the very affordable fee Shannon charges.

And one last plug for a friend...Teresa is my beloved Epicure dealer (is that the right term?). She made us a delicious cheesecake for dessert tonight with a Citrus Berry mix. I rarely make an appetizer that doesn't involve an Epicure spice. There are lots of practical little Christmas gift ideas that would make a great teacher gift or stocking stuffer (like mulling spice - mmm). If you're interested in getting her newsletter with specials and other info, let me know and I'll pass on your name to her.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Boo!

A hunter, Boba Fett, Supergirl, a plumber, a princess, and a cat
One of the top five most exciting days of the year is now over. It was a great night; the weather was very civilized, we saw lots of neighbours, and we had fun with friends. Oh, and we have enough candy to last for the next three years. It seems the kids got much more candy than usual, in less time. There are a lot of people on our street who hide in their basement on Halloween, but the ones that do give out candy are pretty generous because there aren't many trick-or-treaters (usually about 30 - but even less this year). I bought full sized chocolate bars; there are still 12 left. I wonder how much weight I'll put on this month. I might just eat all the leftovers tomorrow and get it over with.
Hope you all had a happy halloween - all treats and no tricks!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Passion

Sorry, this isn't as exciting as the title makes it sound. Unless you're Spencer, that is. For some reason, he was fascinated about the civic election from start to finish. Dale can get pretty passionate about provincial and federal politics, but Spencer's interest in this election was self-inflicted. He soaked up all the information he could about the candidates before the election and decided who he was cheering for all on his own. He wants to run for mayor someday, and says the first thing he'll do is allow children to vote. Since he was a lot more passionate about the election than I was, I let him fill out my ballot. He begged to miss swimming lessons tonight so that he could watch the results come in. (Don't feel obligated to watch these videos; the first one is 18 seconds long and the second one is a minute and a half.)




My posts have been rather Spencer-focused lately. I realize I do have other children. But one more thing - check out this cool program Stephen wrote based on Spencer's code.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vote for sushi


I know I'm boarding the sushi-making train (not to be confused with the Sushi Train) a little late, but today I made sushi for the first time ever. It is the most loved food in our household, but it took me a while to admit that we were spending way too much money on it. I went to a friend's house today, and not only did she teach me how to make it, she sent me home with enough sushi to feed the whole family for dinner along with nori and a bottle of sushi seasoning so I can do it on my own next time. Everyone was pretty excited over here; I think we just might have sushi again tomorrow. I don't know if it's normal to take pictures of sushi, but I did. I had to sift through many photos for the best ones. I think I just exceeded the number of times a person is allowed to use the word sushi in a single paragraph.


While looking through photos, I remembered these from Neve's ballet class. It was parent observation week, and it was the cutest thing I've ever seen. I got a little carried away with the photoshopping. Neve's ribs and chest look a little eerie, but that's nothing compared to her headless teacher.
While I was photoshopping, I thought I may as well play around with one of the sushi pictures. And yes, as a matter of fact I do have better things to do. I'm caught in a procrastinating time warp.

For the local people, don't forget to GO VOTE on Wednesday (civic election). Even if you're like me and don’t feel strongly about any of the candidates, go exercise your right to vote. I'm hoping I will have an epiphany of who to vote for by then; the two people running for city councillor in our area have been referred to as Dumb & Dumber in the media, so I might close my eyes and pick. Dale says he’ll probably vote for Kowalson because whenever he sees the sign in people’s yards, it looks like Kornelsen at first glance. It’s as good a reason as any, I guess. But GO VOTE! Even if it is just to humour me.

Love, → ll → ↓ (is anyone's code name cooler than mine?!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spencer

I was going to surprise all of you and post every day since my last one. Good thing I didn't make any promises I wasn't capable of keeping.

Today's topic is Spencer. He still makes us laugh with the things he comes up with. I don't think his teachers are laughing as much. This is the top of his French test. I asked him what was up with his name. He was delighted that I'd asked. "Did you crack the code?!" he said. I guess the teacher did too, but she doesn't seem very appreciative of his coding abilities.


While I was scanning things, I scanned his Christmas list too. If you can get past his teacher's-nightmare printing, you'll see he's given this substantial thought. He's divided his list into categories and circled the things he most wants. He knows he will only get one or two things on this list, but it doesn't stop him from adding things daily. I'm not sure what he's saving the fourth column for.

At least he didn't write it in code.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This is for Siobhan and Darla

I'm going to try really hard to post more often. But it does make me feel special when I haven't blogged for a while and people actually notice. You're awesome.

We went on our annual Grand Forks fall exursion (GFFE) this past weekend with Teresa & Anthony and Doug & Lorie. It doesn't vary much from year to year: it always involves swimming, shopping, talking, eating, and drinking. We did mix it up a bit this year by exploring Grand Forks culture on Saturday afternoon. The adults went on an Art & Wine walk downtown. It was fun, even though some places had run out of wine by the time we got there. The water tower appears to be a favourite subject of many a Grand Forks photographer, so we were a little tired of seeing that after a while, but we went to a lot of neat places we'd never been before. This is the first year that we could leave the children at the hotel by themselves (legally), although Dale ended up staying and swimming with them.

The shopping didn't completely click for me this year, but I think it's because I get these crazy high expectations and start wanting everything I see, so it's always disappointing when reality sets in. Part of the reality is that I actually don't enjoy shopping. However, I am pleased with my new $20 jeans (which cost almost that much to hem, due to a mis-communication with my ESL tailor) and also with the winter coats I got for Spencer and Neve for $15 each at Sears. They seem warm and look reasonably attractive and they even came with a hat and scarf. Beat that, Please Mum.

On the other side of the cross-border shopping coin, here's a less positive experience. We bought three new kitchen bar stools at Target. I had already scoped these out online beforehand, but due completely to my own incompetence, I never bothered to take a measurement of the height we needed. At the store, Dale and I tried them out and were both 100% sure we needed the taller stools. We were wrong. Now we are stuck with three useless stools. We thought of cutting off the legs, but I don't know how precise we could be with our hack saw. I don't want to make it sound like I know everything about woodworking, but it seems like it would be important for all the legs to be exactly the same length. Oh well, it might be a good excuse for Dale & I to take a little Sunday drive one of these weekends.

One other unhappy turn of events happened when we went to the mall on Sunday. Neve's toy of the moment was Chloe's webkinz dog named Jessie. For the past week or two, Jessie had been loved and fed and cuddled and tucked in at night. Alas, Jessie was taken into the mall and never made her way out. We retraced our steps, checked all the stores we'd been in, and asked the employees if they'd seen her (him?). When we gave up, Neve cried and cried (more than she ever did for Ee-ee). "Jessie's going to be lonely! Who will feed her and take care of her?" We were all very sad for her, but she hadn't been attached to it very long. And as luck would have it, our next stop was Target, where Neve had some birthday money to spend. She bought a Zhu-zhu pet and Jessie was all but forgotten. It's a good lesson: money does buy happiness.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Ten Ten Ten!

Since today is the tenth day of the tenth month of the (two thousand and) tenth year, I thought I'd take ten photos to sum up our day. I had a tough time narrowing it down, and I also failed to get a completely accurate representation of the day: there are no pictures of anyone fighting or arguing or complaining that there was nothing good to eat.


Neve anxiously anticipating the clock on the microwave changing to 10:10.


Hour #20 of Chloe cleaning/organizing her room. The amount of stuff one girl can cling onto is staggering.


Raking leaves into a pile to jump into. Still hasn't rained, so the leaves still haven't been bagged.


Dale making sandwiches for a Thanksgiving picnic. I'm thankful for picnics in October.


The witch's hut in Kildonan Park (where we had our picnic). I checked the internet in advance for its operating hours. I didn't find the info I was looking for, but I did find a reference to the Witch's Hut being "one of Winnipeg's top cultural attractions." That may be overstating things JUST A LITTLE, but the kids were pretty delighted with it.


Swinging at the park. There is a huge new play structure under construction in Kildonan Park, but the swings were a hit in the meantime.


Neve eating a apple with her side teeth due to a loose bottom tooth.


A bridge over troubled duck-filled waters.


Gorgeous flowers in October. I am in love with 20+ degree weather in October.


End of a ten-filled day - watching TV in my bed.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Leaves



The kids have been having much fun with the annual leaf pile. They rake it up into a big pile, jump in it, and rake it back up. I’m not sure when those leaves will make their way into bags; probably after the first rain makes them soggy and dirty.

And if playing in the leaves wasn’t fun enough, while the kids were out there, the fire truck pulled up right in front of our house, firefighters jumped out and kicked in the door of the house across the street. They came out a few seconds later carrying a burning frying pan. The neighbour was out for a run when all of this happened, so she was quite startled by all the commotion around her house when she got home a little while later. Luckily the damage was minimal; thank goodness for monitored smoke detectors.

I keep saying I’m going to start a regular exercise routine “in fall.” I can no longer deny that we are well into fall. If I wait a little longer, it will be winter and I’ll just aim for the following fall. I actually did dig out my rollerblades yesterday and went out on a sorry little excursion with them. My shins hurt and it seemed like I was going against a hurricane wind no matter which way I went (it wasn’t even that windy). I had two very near-falls, in which I flailed around for ten seconds trying to balance myself before pretending nothing had happened and continuing on my way. I’m sure the drivers around me were laughing their heads off. I wouldn’t know because I tried very hard to avoid eye contact with anyone. The worst part is I didn’t even break a sweat because I was going so slow to avoid all the twigs and leaves in my path. So today I went for a run, which was a bit more successful. The last time I ran I found $70 on the ground so now I keep my eyes on the path and hope that the next time that happens, I won’t come across the rightful owner desperately searching and scanning the ground for his lost money. I had already spent that money ten different ways in my head. Here’s hoping for next time. How’s that for incentive? That, and fitting into my jeans.

It takes a lot for me to laugh at things I see or read if there’s no one else around. I might smile or laugh on the inside, but I’m not a LOLer when I’m by myself. If someone wants to analyze that, I’d appreciate it; in the meantime check out the link that caused an exception (you have to click on the beans) Analyze THAT.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Here I am, the one that you love

Who can identify the song lyric in the title? Best band ever. I am getting all choked up just thinking about their music.

I thought I should post a new update to go with the new blog background. I've been working a lot, but since a couple of projects are now finished, I hope to start paying more attention to my family and housework (and blog) in the near future. So I'll post a few pictures and leave it at that for now.

Neve at ballet with two of her closest friends

Neve & Ghandi at the Forks. She calls him her great grandfather and insists we visit him every time we go to the Forks. Sometimes she calls him Blackie - for obvious reasons - but I always hope no one around us hears her.

Chloe dressed Neve up and got her to dance and "beatbox"

Below is a picture of Chloe on one of the happiest days of her life. Thanks to a connection of Auntie Jenn's, an autographed picture of Justin Bieber arrived in the mail for her. On the back was a handwritten note to Chloe from JB's best friend back home, who is riding alongside JB's wave of fame. It's a smaller wave, of course, but he has appeared in one of Justin's videos and is well known to devoted Bieber fans. The photo just happened to arrive on Chloe's half-birthday (I know, we're geeks), which we celebrated with sushi and cheesecake. Life doesn't get much better than that when you're twelve. Or forty.

And now for a little quiz ... who do you think this doll looks like? The first correct answer gets an autographed Justin Bieber picture if I can pry it from Chloe's hands while she sleeps. Just kidding, there's no prize because there's no right answer - but take a guess anyway.