Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The end is near!



It hasn’t quite sunk in yet that the end of school is upon us. We’ve had (or will have) three “last day of school”s in a row: Chloe yesterday, Neve today, and Spencer tomorrow. It's going to be weird not walking Neve to school tomorrow. Next year she goes full time; I was all sentimental today.

Neve's class had a little Kindergarten graduation/farewell with a poem and a song for the parents. It was super cute and the kids were delighted, especially when they got to play kazoos (the recorder's simple cousin) for part of the song. Lucky us, they got to take their kazoos home. Lucky me, it got lost in the playground after school. Unlucky me, it was later located. Neve asked if she could take it to Chloe’s awards night tonight. I said "NO!" so loudly that I startled her.



It wouldn’t have been the worst thing; that was one boring evening. The school calls to let you know if your child is getting an award so that you’ll show up. However, they don’t say what the award is. The first award of the night was for memorizing all assigned Bible verses, and about 90% of the kids got it, including Chloe. That’s super and all, but the thought of sitting through the entire remainder of a gorgeous evening watching other people’s kids get awards made me unhappy. Luckily, Chloe pulled off one more near the end of the evening so it was all good. She made Honour Roll with distinction (above 90% in all subjects), which I was so proud about since several kids in her class that often get awards didn’t even make it. Then came the award for Honour Roll with Great Distinction (above 95%) and all my smugness vanished. Serves me right for my bad attitude. I see that my Tiger Mom skills need to be honed to get Chloe to the next level. Just kidding, we are very proud of her.



In order to enjoy this summer to the fullest, I realized I have to get my kids to seriously pitch in and help out around the house. It’s time to move beyond the occasional emptying of the dishwasher. They’ve shown me they are capable of more (usually by accident). So I've been working on a summer chore chart. My children respond well to charts; the more complicated and intricate, the better. I still need to fine tune it, but there are daily, weekly, and “as requested” chores for each child. Each chore is assigned a point value, which transfers to a dollar amount at the end of the week. Once a certain number of points are accumulated, they will get a special treat. In addition, the first person to reach a specific number of points each week, will get a reward (TBD). It's intense. The kids will love it, except for the chore part.

The initial implementation will be the hard part. Even though a major purpose of a chore chart is to eliminate nagging (no chores = no rewards), I know there will still be lots of “reminding.” The kids have no idea what they’re in for; I’m waiting until my charts are perfect before I unveil them. I better get on that, or summer will be over. They wish. (evil laugh)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Ex 2011


Yesterday was Red River Ex day.  Bailey and Tia came with us and a good time was had by all.  My kids don't love rides, which saddens me.  Chloe put in a valiant effort; she went so far as to board Pharoah's Fury (the boat ride that swings back and forth - see photo below) before she had a panic attack and disembarked before it started.  Neve was more adventurous when she was younger; now she's scared of almost every ride.  We always make all the kids go on Niagara Falls, which is a log ride that splashes into water.  I always wonder if they put in new water each time they set up the ride, or if they tranport the tank with the water in it.  I assume it's the first; I know I shouldn't spend time pondering the health and safety aspects of the Ex.  They do have lots of hand-sanitizer stations set up, but I don't really love touching the lever to dispense it.  I'm starting to sound like the Dale and Spencer.  But it's all worth it.  This year we got to see the Human Cannonball, which was as awesome as I thought it would be.  Dale, Bailey and I went on the Mega Drop, also known as Drop of Doom or Drop Zone - the key word being Drop.  It was very intense.  Dale and I were by far the oldest people on the ride.  They probably had the paramedics on standby in case our hearts gave out.  We must be close to qualifying for a seniors discount.  I guess I'll find out next year.  Can't wait to ride it again, right, Bailey?!

Neve riding the tractor in the little kids farm area.


Me, Tia and Bailey on the Polar Express.  Again, I was the most elderly person on it.  But I saw Darla go on it before me, and she's only a few years younger than me.  Well, maybe quite a few.

Pharaoh's fury




I took about 50 pics of the ferris wheel from every angle you can imagine.  I'm sure you're all dying to see them; come on over and I'll put together a ferris wheel slide show for you. 


The happy/tired bunch

The weather has been gorgeous this weekend.  We still have our compost and mulch piles sitting on the boulevard in front of our house.  I was determined to get rid of them today, but alas.  We achieved all our mulching goals - under the evergreen trees, right in front of the house, and even a little newly-cut flower/shrub area in the backyard.  Our neighbours have been eagerly eyeing our mulch pile ever since it arrived; we told them we were sure there would be plenty for them as well, but we wanted to see how much we needed first.  As the weeks passed, I'm sure they were losing hope that we'd ever deal with it.  I was about to go tell them they could have the rest when I spotted a problem area in the corner of our backyard where the grass doesn't grow well.  Mulch is the solution for everything.  By that time it was getting late and we were hungry and tired and needed to put a child to bed, so we now have a project for tomorrow. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grads / what's a first down?



These are my two beautiful nieces: Bailey had her high school grad on Wednesday and Tia had her Grade 9 grad today. On top of all the parties, dinners, award ceremonies, etc., Bob & Janet's 25th wedding anniversary also happened to be this week. I bet they wish they had timed that better. Remember that, all you future June wedding candidates - it's a crazy time of year. Three of my four siblings' anniversaries are in June and I forget them all, every single year. So here's a mass anniversary wish for them, as well as anyone else who got married in June. I guess that probably doesn't make you feel very special. But you are. And so are the grad girls. You're awesome!

Today was one of those days that surpassed all expectations. That's mostly because I really had no expectations. It was a work day and I rode my bike downtown, which is still a big novelty for me. I can't tell you how much I love a) zipping past a whole row of cars stuck in traffic; b) not being stuck in traffic in a stuffy van with broken air conditioning; c) enjoying the sights and smells (mmm...lilacs) around me. The exercise and avoiding the hassle of parking are added bonuses.

The kids were at Dale's mom's when I got home from work, so my neighbour and I had drinks on her deck and soaked up the sun. It was a perfect day today: 25 C (or so) and sunny. I think that's probably the number one contributor to my great day. It never fails to amaze me how much the weather affects my mood.

Tonight I did something I've only done once before, about 25 years ago. I should make you guess, but I won't: I went to the Bomber game. I got tickets from work, so I thought I'd check it out. Because I loved my bike ride to work so much, Dale & I took our bikes to the stadium. It took less than 10 minutes and they have a free bicycle valet service that made it super easy. We had tickets in the VIP section at field level, with free food and a fun atmosphere. If I could hang out there every game and if the weather was as perfect as it was tonight, I'd buy season tickets. I actually don't completely understand the game, but no matter. The highlight was sitting right by the airplane that drives out onto the field after every touchdown or field goal. I especially liked when it stalled on the field and the "pilot" had to push it back to its spot. Dale's highlight was when the Hooters girls came around with complimentary boxes of wings. Who knew football was so much fun? Well, probably everyone except me.



I was mocked by a guy I hardly knew for taking this picture, but I didn't even care. My self-confidence skyrockets on beautiful days. Tomorrow looks like it's going to be another great day, but I'm trying to keep my expectations nice and low.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dale follows through




After my marathon experience last year, Dale's spirit of competitiveness kicked in and he vowed he would run it this year. As the marathon got closer, he greatly regretted his decision, but he carried on.

Even though we set two alarms, we slept in until 5:25 this morning. Somehow we pulled it all together in 5 minutes. My neighbour Karen was at our house at 5:30, and off we went, picking up Corinna along the way.












Karen and Dale - ready to get the run over with



It was a great day for running. It was a bit muggy, but overcast and not too hot. After the marathoners and relay people were on their way, Chloe, Spencer and I did the Super Run. We had a great run - the kids did awesome and it was a lot of fun. Then we zipped home, ran to the Crescent and caught a brief glimpse of Karen as she whizzed by, then waited a few minutes til we saw Dale. We made signs and cheered on the runners and had a great time.








Wellington Crescent

Then we headed to another part of the race and saw Dale again, before making our way back to the university to see the runners at the finish line.









Lyndale Drive



Karen was way faster than I thought she'd be, so we totally missed her at the end. I don't know why she didn't dawdle a bit and let us see her enter the stadium. Always thinking of herself :)






Dale's mom joined us at the finish line and we were pretty excited when we saw Dale trudge down the home stretch. Words can't describe how happy and relieved I was to cheer him on instead of running it myself. However, I am a bit jealous of the feeling of accomplishment and relief at the end. He did awesome - he made it to the end with no major injuries and could still smile. Way to go Dale - you rock!! Happy Fathers Day!







While we're talking about Father's Day, Happy Father's Day to my dad!! You're awesome too! Love you!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bella







We've had Bella with us for a couple of days while Jim and Sabrina are away. She is an endless source of fun and funniness. Here she is sticking lilac petals up her nose (if you look closely, you can see it sticking out in the last pic).


We especially love her funny faces. In the middle of walking through the crowded marathon expo, there she was standing still making a crazy face. While waiting in line to pic up our race kits, I noticed there were little bumps under her bodysuit (we were on our way to ballet). Turns out they were saftey pins she must have taken from the counter and stuffed down her bodysuit.







And a nice one of her and her second cousin at ballet.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The usual June rant

I started writing a blog entry earlier, but it started to sound familiar to me. Sure enough, I checked the blog archives and realized I had written almost the exact same thing the past few Junes. I’ll sum it up: knot in my stomach, busy month, always sending baking or money to school, we’re all tired, and did I mention busy?

We are all hanging on by a thread, but Neve’s thread is thinner than the rest of ours. She’s been having meltdowns on a daily basis. Yesterday I finally forced her have an afternoon rest, and from her room I could hear her screaming, “WHY did you push me to my bed? You had a mean look on your face! WAH! I wanted the VANILLA yogurt instead of the strawberry!” All reason and logic has been abandoned.



My little Nanny McPhee. Her tooth is getting looser and creepier by the day.


Since our schedule is so carefully orchestrated these days, when Neve’s school carnival was postponed tonight because of rain, I knew I should cram as many errands into this bonus free time as I could. But instead, Dale and I went to Hu’s for dinner. We had a great meal and lovely uninterrupted adult conversation. And we returned library books on the way home so I could at least cross one thing off my to-do list.

The countdown is on … Dale runs the marathon in 3 days and 11 hours (there’s a countdown clock on the Marathon website). He is nervous, but excited. I am a tiny bit jealous, but mostly relieved. If you’re looking for something to do Sunday morning, come cheer him on – I’ll let you know what he’s wearing so you can look for him. He’ll probably be the strong, steady one in the middle of the pack. My neighbour-friend (no relation to a sister-wife), Karen, is also running. Look for the fast, fit one at the front of the pack. Chloe, Spencer, and I are doing the Super Run. The training has been minimal. Spencer and I ran a mile a few weeks ago and Chloe said she ran laps in the gym at school the other day. At least we didn’t injure ourselves from over-training.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

बेफोरे एंड आफ्टर

Why is Blogger making Hindi my default language? As long as I type in HTML, I'm okay, but as soon as I switch to Compose, it automatically changes it to Hindi. WTH? The line spacing is odd too. Oh Blogger, how you drive me crazy.

Just a quick little post today to show off my new office space. My friend Shannon has an amazing eye for organizing and prettying up spaces. Hence her company name: Pretty Organized. Her rates are very modest and worth every penny. She is also the Kijiji Queen - I casually mentioned in an email that I'd like another wooden chair in the study, and by that evening a cute blue (very inexpensive) chair was in my house.

BEFORE: (and this was already tidied up considerably!)



AFTER:



For more before and after pics, skip on over to Shannon's blog where she describes the process better than I could।

हवे अ ग्रेट डे!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

June: in like a lion

I’m not sure how it happened that we are suddenly well into June. The days are all blending together; one day all too soon I will wake up to find the children are home for 70 days straight. With no major plans, the summer looms long and barren before me. As much as I love summer, it always takes me a while to get into a grove. Maybe the transition will be smoother this year.



The weather isn’t too summer-like yet, but we’ve been pretending it is. We went to the new playground at the park on Saturday with some of my family. Fun was had by the toddlers and teenagers alike. Things got exciting when Jim almost got into a fight with a woman and we were all eventually escorted out of the park. Okay, the eviction had something to do with closing time.

Reflection

Extreme swinging with some rebel kids Spencer made friends with

This is where Bailey wants to be proposed to - or do the proposing apparently

On Sunday, we went to Red Rock for the afternoon. They had an open house for kids coming to camp this summer, so we went to check it out with some friends. The weather wasn’t great, but we had fun exploring the camp. Chloe’s going in August; Spencer was firm about not going to camp this summer, but at the end of the afternoon, he asked if it was too late to sign up. It is, but things look promising for me for next year. As for this year, I’ll have to keep thinking of creative ways to get him to spend time outside. He has recently discovered books on CD. He’s been spending a lot of time in the living room listening to The Red Pyramid, which is read by someone with a British accent. Where is Darla’s Discman when you need it? He is up to disc seven of twelve. Sometimes he subconsciously starts speaking with a British accent in regular conversation. Did I mention the long summer ahead?

I liked the girls reaching for each other in this pic


Spencer and his two best buddies

Camp rules appear to be lax; they let the kids take turns driving the boat

At least we’ll have lots of time this summer to deal with this: (the piles are even larger than they appear)



Last week, we had a landscape designer come and give us some advice on our front yard. Monday morning, I ordered the compost and mulch she recommended, but didn’t realize it would be delivered that very day. The good thing is that it will force us to get moving, since our projects usually get dragged out much longer than they should.

Our study is a perfect example of that.  One day in the very near future I will post pics of how Shannon's decorating and organizational skills made it into a happy little room.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

18 months after the earthquake

This is Chloe and I'm writing this post on Haiti. I'm doing this for a school project and I'm doing this to raise awareness about the earthquake 18 months later.



The earthquake in Haiti caused so many deaths, injuries and devastation. The earthquake happened January 12, 2010. The people still have so many problems to deal with. There are still thousands and thousands of people living in tent cities, and now in the pouring rain because it’s rainy season. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. 70% of Haitians lived on $2 (US) a day, and 80% of the residents lived in poverty. Now, almost a year and a half after the earthquake, the country hasn’t improved very much.


Haiti hasn’t been getting as much help as they need. 6 billion dollars was donated, but only 2 billion dollars has gone to Haiti, which means that less than half of the money donated to help Haiti has actually gone to where it was supposed to go.


A week after the earthquake, the promised and much needed help had started to end, after just a week!!! Or it hadn’t come at all.


If you think about where Haiti could be in terms of rebuilding, it’s crazy to think how far they could be if they had gotten the help they needed, and the money donated went to where it was supposed to go.


If we can get anything positive out of the earthquake, it’s that a lot of people now believe in God and said that God was protecting them and he was the one who kept them safe.


The situation in Haiti is so discouraging and heartbreaking. One way you can help Haiti is by donating money to smaller organizations. If you donate to bigger organizations it’s not guaranteed that all of the money you donated is going to go where it should, or even if any of it will get sent where it should. Large aid organizations have a lot of administrative expenses and sometimes it takes a long time for the money to go to the people in need due to bureaucratic reasons. There are several smaller organizations, such as a single mom house in Haiti, where you will know that the money you donated is making a difference.