Monday, February 28, 2011

Feb Photo #17 - Almost March

This is not the world's best photography, but the purpose is to show that the days are getting longer. This was taken at around 7:00 p.m. and it still wasn't completely dark. Words cannot express how happy this makes me.

Here's a little fact you probably didn't know: every month, Dale prints out a chart of the sunrise and sunset times and puts it on the fridge. That's what people do when they're old. According to this chart, on Feb. 1st the sun rose at 8:02 a.m. and set at 5:21 p.m. Today, Feb. 28th, the sun rose at 7:14 a.m. and set at 6:07 p.m. That's 94 more minutes of daylight in just one month.

There you go. Some good news on the last day of February. It's supposed to be a lion of a day tomorrow, but I guess that's a good thing. Come quickly, little lamb.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feb Photo #15 - Fairy party

Today was finally Party Day. I believe it lived up to, and possibly exceeded, all expectations. Neve was basking in her birthday glory all day. We played a game to earn their fairy wings, searched for fairy gold to spend on crowns and wands, did manicures, fairy tattoos, ate fairy food including wands (pretzels dipped in white chocolate, rolled in sprinkles), little raspberries filled with whipped cream, and an amazing fairy house cake that my niece Bailey decorated. Then we opened presents, played more games, and danced. Spencer was in charge of the store and bank (for the fairy gold), Chloe ran the manicure and tattoo station, Dale was the helper with a cameo as a fairy king who delivered a parcel from Tinkerbell (as part of a game) and I was the fairy godmother. It was actually a lot of fun, probably the most fun party we've done. It helped that I started planning for this in early January. The other kids won't have parties this year because we'll be in Florida, so I focused all my energy into this one. I don't know what I'll do with all my spare time after this.

(These are only three out of the 254 pictures I took today. There are some really good ones with all the fairy guests, but I try not to post pics of other people's children without permission)


Here's a few more pics:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feb Photo #14 - Tea party

I know you're probably very tired of me talking about Neve's birthday party, but I promise after tomorrow, I will be done with this topic. I spent most of the day working on party decorations and set-up, but it wouldn't have taken me nearly as long if Neve hadn't been home. She is so enthralled with all the decorations that she keeps playing with them and rearranging them. I borrowed some cute tea set dishes from Shannon, so Neve set up a big tea party for 10 of her closest stuffed friends. I'm embarrassed to say we never have tea parties. I should add that to my vision board.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Feb Photo #13 - sometimes I feel like I live in a zoo

The children like to play a game they call Chaos in the Kitchen. It involves letting all of their Zhu-zhu pets run wild in the kitchen. There are seven other rooms in this house that don't have carpet. I have no idea why they choose the kitchen for this game; possibly they enjoy the added danger/excitement of the hamsters possibly plunging down the three stairs to the landing. You can imagine how delighted I am when I am busy working in the kitchen - trying to sort through school papers and homework while cooking dinner and cleaning up, etc. - to have these mechanical rodents constantly underfoot and banging into my feet. Today, I took this as my cue to drop what I was doing and went to play Dance Dance Revolution in the basement. The kids' radars magically picked that up and they were instantly hovering around me wanting a turn. And when I finally gave up and went back to the kitchen, guess what game they felt like playing again?

To anyone who's considering starting a family, I realize this post probably isn't what you want to hear. Don't let me scare you too much; I just had a bad day (nothing specific; I'm just tired and crabby).

And the six-year-old had a nice long tantrum in the van about "useless things." I didn't handle it well. Actually I did pretty good for the first ten minutes, and then things got ugly. But on the bright side, she announced today that she's getting married to a boy at school. They are planning a lunch or dinner together in the near future followed by a spring honeymoon to the play structure at the park. Neve said, "He's so funny and nice. He'll make a great husband!" Maybe I won't have to put up with those tantrums much longer. Good luck with that, Carter.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feb Photo #12 - Six

Today I had 89 pictures to choose from. You're lucky I narrowed it down to just three.

Baby Neve joined us six years ago today and nothing has ever been the same since. She brings lots of laughter, happiness, frustration, and aggravation to this family and we're all crazy about her. Or crazy because of her? It's hard to tell sometimes. She makes our lives fun and we would be lost without her.

She had a great day today: lots of presents that did not disappoint, a birthday-crown-wearing, cupcake-bringing, mom-volunteering day at school, dinner at Boston Pizza, and a family party afterward. She had a sparkle in her eye and a little spring in her step all day; it was a very fun day for all of us.

I took at least 10 pics of this, and this was the best one. Neve's the only one looking at the camera. Well, Spencer might be, but we haven't seen his eyes since he was seven. Check out my baby grand-nephew - this was his first visit to our house. Coolest baby ever!

Life is good. And there's still another party to look forward to on Saturday (hence the 5-days of party planning, Dan) with her school friends.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Feb Photo #11 - More party prep

Today's picture was an easy choice - it's the one and only photo I took today. My sister and nieces came over today and we had a tissue paper flower-making session. I might possibly be a little carried away with the party planning. I'm still trying to make up for Neve's lame Christmas. You should see the pile of presents on the table for her. I'm pretty sure the smile is going to reach her eyes this time. I have to have a talk with the other two kids so that they don't expect the same number of gifts for their birthday. (In case any readers [Chloe] are concerned about equality, the dollar amount will meet or exceed hers; just not the quantity.)

Neve is extremely excited about her birthday tomorrow. I asked her what would be different tomorrow when she is six. She said, "I'll grow more, but I'll probably still cry about useless things."

I was sorry to hear that.

Anyway, thanks to Louis Riel and the government of Manitoba, we had a wonderful weekend. Lazy and relaxed, yet productive and fun. A couple of our weekend plans changed - we were hoping to go skiing today, but it was just too cold - but it was still awesome. I feel refreshed and rested and ready for five more days of party planning.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Feb Photo #10 - Party prep

Several family members didn't get dressed until 7:00 p.m. today. It was that kind of day. We did some party planning for Neve's birthday party on Saturday. Here the kids are painting a fairy for the pin-the-wings-on-the-fairy game.

I have fairy wings for each guest, so I was trying to think of an activity in which they could earn their wings. I asked Spencer for some ideas, and without hesitation, he said, "High jump!" He was totally serious. I had to spend quite a bit of time explaining why that could be complicated with 5-yr-olds.

Neve had another good day; she appeared to be on the brink of a breakdown when we went bowling tonight, but she rallied and made it through. However, the day ended with a lie and a confiscated tamagotchi. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Feb Photo #9

Neve has been very obstinate and ornery the last few days. After asking her to do something many times yesterday, I finally said/shouted, "If you don't do it right now, I will take away your tamagotchi."

She is very attached to her tamagotchi and has it with her at all times (except when she asks me to babysit it at night) so I thought this was the ultimate threat.

Instead, she calmy considered this for a few seconds and asked, "For how long?"
"Until tomorrow."

"What time would I get it back tomorrow? Right in the morning?"

That's where the bargaining ended and I went back to yelling.

But today, she was happy and singing and relatively cooperative. It helped that we had a very lazy day with nowhere to be. I tried to suppress my nagging about little things like when she didn't get her pyjamas on after her shower. And sure enough, she eventually got cold and put them on. You'd think I'd have figured that out sooner with almost 13 years of parenting experience.

One nice thing she did today was "plan a party for Daddy because he's so nice." She even gave him a little present (a baggie of yellow heart candies that she didn't like).

Hopefully tomorrow is another day of more nice than naughty.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feb Photo #8

After a month or two of planning, at least 50 emails and much indecision, we had a fun dinner out tonight with Jim & Sabrina and Bob & Janet. All carb counting went out the window, even without the white chocolate cheesecake that I almost ordered before Dale reminded me about the fair trade challenge. The food was delicious and we enjoyed every bite, except for the last one Dale was about to take before he found the hair in his food. (In the end, the staff handled it very well and we left happy.)
We should probably start planning now if we want to do this again before we qualify for the seniors discount.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feb Photo #6 - Skipping school & snowmen

Chloe's had a runny nose for a few days, so last night I told her she could stay home if she wanted. I didn't think she would; she hates to miss school. But I guess Day 3 isn't her favourite day, so she took me up on it. I had work to do so it was a pretty low-key day, but it was so gorgeous outside that we walked to the mall at noon. The guy at Jugo Juice asked if Chloe had no school today. Chloe looked embarrassed when I told him she was playing hookey. It turns out you "skip" or "cut" these days. Who knew. This is an purposely over-photoshopped pic (I'm trying to develop my creative side!) of the bridge-crossing.

Later, I chased the kids outside to make a snowman before it gets cold again. Here is Spencer throwing together a snow-lump as fast as he can so that he can go back inside to play Wii.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Feb Photo #5 - All you need is love and fair trade chocolate

Today was our annual valentine extravaganza. My nieces slept over last night to be part of the fun. This alone would have been celebration enough for my kids. But chocolate must be involved as well. We had chocolate cake with ice cream for breakfast, and heart-shaped gummies on the side. We sugared the kids up and sent them off to school with cupcakes. Spencer didn't eat anything for supper; we'll be very lucky if we get through the night with no chocolate coming back up.
Chloe's class is participating in a 30-day fair trade challenge. It's optional, but they get extra marks if they participate, and a few more marks if they get other people to join in. Today was the first day - Dale, Spencer, my nieces and I all agreed to do it, so our cake and chocolate sauce were made with fair trade cocoa, as were the chocolates we gave the kids for valentines day treats. I'm hoping this will keep me away from the Chipits bag. I did buy fair trade chocolate chips too, but the price works out to about 75 cents a chocolate chip, so it's not as hard staying away from those. Spencer already slipped up and ate Toblerone at school, but apparently he can just add an extra day at the end. I have a feeling he'll still be making up days by Christmas.
The kids all got Tamagotchis as a little Valentines gift. You may remember them from about five years ago. We're either way behind or ahead of the next curve, because the kids are pretty obsessed with them. Dale and I don't usually exchange gifts, but he surprised me with an e-reader, which is so awesome. It will be perfect for taking with me on trips or really anywhere. It came preloaded with 100 books, so I read a Brothers Grimm fairy tale to Neve in the van while we waited for the kids after school. I got Dale a chin-up bar because nothing says I love you like upper body strength.
After the kids are in bed, Dale and I are having take-out pasta for dinner. You know it's a special day when he makes an exception to his not-eating-after-7:00 rule. Happy Valentines Day, everyone - love you all!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feb Photos #4 - Vision accomplished

Look what I did today. Teresa came over this afternoon and made my dreams come true. I know others tried to help me, but I'm not a very quick learner. I guess the combination of the stiffer icing and this specific decorating tip just clicked for me. Only six weeks into the year and I'm checking off vision board accomplishments left and right. The trick is to not aim too high.

Teresa, you rock. And you're skinny.

Because I'm feeling so happy about this - I'm even using the top picture as my new desktop background - there are bonus pictures. We went to see my niece try on grad dresses today, which was awesome. Neve was very taken with all the fancy princess dresses. Bailey was a very good sport and tried a pouffy one on just for Neve.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Feb Photo #3 - movie night

Today was opening night of Justin Bieber's movie Never Say Never, so guess where we were tonight. Chloe is blurry because she was too excited to stand still for the picture (which was taken with my Canon point-and-shoot). The movie was better than I thought it would be; I actually quite enjoyed it. I was a bit concerned when the audience started screaming when the previews started, but they all calmed down fairly quickly. After I got into the movie, I felt like cheering and screaming myself, but a 41-year-old mom with Bieber Fever is not a pretty sight. Downright creepy really. JUSTIN 4EVER!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Feb Photo #2 - Recyling Day

I wonder if the recycling truck guys ever analyze our diet. Dale would be horrified if he saw that I had posted this picture. Any current or future clients, please look away and never speak of this again. Just remember it was Superbowl Sunday this past weekend. Normally the only contents are a paper bag from organic mushrooms and one empty toilet paper roll.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Photo of the Day #1 - Tropical

Stephen has challenged me - in a passive sort of way - to a Photo of the Day series. I need to practice with my new camera and learn to use the features, so I figured this was a good way to make it happen.

Picture #1 is of my new plant in my new study. The redecorated study will be unveiled at a later date, once Shannon is back from her winter vacation and ready to help me with my style challenges. But the new paint and the new plant have already improved the quality of my life. With the sun shining on the plant, it feels warm and tropical, like I'm right beside Shannon on the beach. I wish she'd pass me a margarita.

So I'm going to try to do this every day for a month. There will be probably be some photos not taken on the exact day, but I'll do my best. Check out Steve's photos as well. Anyone else in?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Tiger Sister

I know a week has gone by, but there’s not much to report over here. We had a good time with Bella, enjoyed a couple of warm (by February standards) days, got the valentine decorations out, had a mini Superbowl party, and did some party planning for Neve’s birthday.

Chloe would argue with the “not much to report” part. She bought a Netbook (mini laptop) on Saturday and has been glowing ever since. Thank you to all her babysitting clients who contributed to the cause; it’s nice not having her hovering around me waiting for me to go to the bathroom or something so she can pounce to check facebook. There are still guidelines and restrictions in place, but we’ll see how long I’m able to enforce that. She’s probably IM’ing her friends from her room right now. Chloe, if you’re reading this, go to sleep.

I continue to hone my tiger mom skills. Both Chloe’s piano and band teacher have commented on improvements in her performance since the crackdown. After reading a tiger mom-related article in Time magazine yesterday, I introduced a new math component to our schedule today. I drill the kids on times tables for five minutes each (addition and subtraction for Neve). Good times. The children are delighted.

My new higher standards have not been without a price. In just two short weeks, Neve has turned into a perfectionist. Her room, clothes, and hair all have to be perfect. She had a meltdown – crying, yelling, clinging - in church yesterday because she felt she had made the wrong footwear choice. And her valentine-writing was a nightmare. If she made a letter too big, too small, too squishy or too messy, she had to start over. No amount of reasoning or arguing could convince her that her four- and five-year-old classmates would not care. So we had to cut and glue bits of paper to cover each mistake and try again. We had to do this up to three times per valentine. The irony that these cut-and-paste mashed-up valentines looked much worse than a lopsided “o” would have looked was completely lost on her. When Spencer tried to convince her that her letters looked fine, she yelled, “But I’m Tiger Sister! It has to be PERFECT!”

Speaking of perfection, here's a Minnie Mouse-inspired cake my niece Bailey made.

Crazy wiggy cousins
Dale's been spending quality time with his Talking Tom Cat app. This is the new Angry Birds at our house. See? There's lots of time for fun between math drills.