Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween

Back: Ninja, Harry Potter
Front: Las Vegas cowgirl, Justin Bieber, generic princess, Selena Gomez

The excitement of Halloween is only a tiny step down from Christmas at our house. It was an awesome Halloween. The children look grim in this picture, but they were just keeping in character. They kept their excitement in check.

If my memory serves me correctly, the weather's been pretty mild the last couple of years, but this year topped them all. No snow pants, boots, or mitts required. Most of our gang didn't even wear jackets. The kids had a great time as always, and even us adults dressed up and had a blast. Well not Dale, he just stayed home and handed out candy.

Neve was a princess. I tried to convince her to be something more creative, but she would have none of it. The upside is that it only took one trip to the basement to get her whole outfit together. She said everyone at school asked her if she was Cinderella, so she always had to explain that she was "just a princess." She told me that eventually she got tired of answering, so she just stayed quiet and didn't say anything. Probably not the greatest way to deal with things, but I'm guessing she learned that from me.

Spencer went as Harry Potter. That only took one trip to our friends' house to borrow the costume.

And Chloe dressed up as her beloved Justin Bieber. That took at least five trips to Salvation Army and Value Village, as well as one to Rona for the purple spray paint (for the shoes). It wasn't that cheap either - I had to pay $6.99 for old no-name high tops that were so dirty and worn that I could hardly bear to touch them. I shook them out of the bag straight into the washing machine, which helped a lot. But if you're ever wondering if anyone would even want your old worn-out runners, apparently Value Village and I do.

We went with a feline theme for our pumpkin-carving this year. Neither of them turned out exactly like I imagined, but perfection is boring.



I spray-painted my hair black for my witch costume. It feels disgusting and I know I should wash it out before I go to bed, but I'm not going to.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not your average Hallmark cards

When I re-read my last blog post just now, it felt like it ended too abruptly. It seems the last paragraph got cut off when I copied from Word to Blogger. Just pretend this is part of the last post…

The only downside to the weekend was that while we were away, Justin Bieber was gallivanting all through Winnipeg, often just minutes away from our house. I told Chloe he probably even stopped by our house because my sister-in-law went to school with Justin’s best friend’s mother, so we’re practically family. If we had been home, I would have flipped up some pancakes on my new griddle (not to be confused with girdle) and we would have had a nice home-style dinner with Justin (I bet he misses that with being on the road all the time) and just laughed and laughed together.

Now I have closure.

Here’s a little Neve update for those of you considerate people who have asked (and for the rest of you). I might make this a regular feature. I’ll call it Neve Watch and come up with a fancy logo and everything. She is doing well. She is so in love with her teacher that she says she wishes she was her mom. I sometimes wish that too. So as long as Miss H doesn’t EVER take a sick day, we should be fine. For Christmas, I am putting together a pretty gift basket filled with Cold F/X, Advil, T3s, and for the really bad days, government-approved medicinal marijuana. I better throw in some powerful anti-nausea meds as well – I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen if the teacher threw up. Let’s change the subject.

Yes, let’s change it to the always amusing subject of wife-beating. A co-worker brought in some vintage birthday cards her father had given her mother many years ago. Many, many years ago, before anyone had heard the term “politically correct.”



Nothing says happy birthday like making fun of your wife's weight. But that's gentle and kind compared to this one:



I've always wondered how to make someone sweet and sunny. I'm going to see if the thrice-daily beating works on kids too. I like how the caveman put down his club - for now, at least - and gives his wife a flower (durn it). I'm relieved they didn't show any bleeding or bruises on the woman. She looks a little too young and child-like to be married; it's all a little sinister. But so awesome at the same time. I'm trying to tame some of my packrat ways, but after seeing these, I'll never throw out another card.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Grand Forks 2012


This last weekend was the second weekend I was away this month, so between preparing to go and cleaning up after and making sure everything got done in between, this month has been a blur. Neve and Spencer started swimming lessons today and Chloe starts on Wednesdays, so right now Mondays & Wednesdays are triple booked until volleyball season ends. On the plus side, I realize I get restless if I’m not busy enough so that’s definitely not happening very often. I’ve started crocheting when I have nothing else to do; I’ve crocheted three scarves this month and am well into the fourth. The scarves are mediocre at best, but they go nice and fast, unlike this baby blanket that took me almost two years to finish:


We had a great time in Grand Forks this past weekend. It was our annual weekend with Teresa & Anthony and Doug & Lorie. I don’t know how many years we’ve been going, but it must be at least ten. I wasn’t as focused on shopping this time as I usually am, but I bought a few Christmas gifts, clothes, running shoes, etc. I am most excited about my new griddle. Not to be confused with girdle, although I might be excited about that too.

The kids swam and watched TV until their eyes bled. Us adults tried going out for a nice dinner on Saturday night, but apparently the UND homecoming is a big deal and everything was packed. We ended up at some pub-like place and had the worst dinner ever. I can still feel my heavy, doughy crab cakes lingering at the bottom of my stomach (serves me right for ordering crab cakes at a dingy pub). I would never tell Neve this, but I thought I might be sick in the night. Luckily that never happened, so it’s all good. Unluckily, the weekend flew by in the blink of an eye and life is back to normal for the foreseeable future. Luckily, normal is good. Unluckily, normal is boring. Okay, I’ll stop now. (Luckily.)

Spencer's dream come true - not only did the guys agree to play Risk with him, he won (luckily)

Of course the kids were looking at Teresa's camera on the only shot I got where all the kids had their eyes open (unluckily)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Anxiety

We are still dealing with Neve’s extreme throw-up phobia over here. I was sure it would be a short-lived phase, but instead it’s getting worse.

When Neve's teacher told the class yesterday that she would be at a conference today and there would be a substitute teacher, Neve sunk to her lowest point yet. Not only was the next day (today) a Thursday (the day the first child threw up), it’s also the day I can’t pick her up for lunch because I go in to work. She was beside herself with worry; among other things, she was worried that the substitute teacher might throw up. The same teacher subbed one afternoon last week and the only reason Neve agreed to go back to school after lunch that day was because her regular teacher was also there, doing student testing. I had to talk to the sub and make sure she was aware of Neve’s issue. It makes her feel better if her teachers and lunch supervisors know about it; not really sure why - maybe so they can shield her from any vomit-related situations that arise. I believe I’ve spoken to every staff member in Winnipeg School Division #1 except for the superintendent himself.

Anyway, last night she could hardly eat dinner and nothing we did could get her mind off her anxiety about the next day. Reasoning with her was about as successful as me trying to convince Chloe that Justin Bieber isn’t awesome. I was pretty sure that once the school day was over (assuming the teacher kept down her lunch), she’d say it wasn’t that bad and would be proud of herself for facing her fears. But she was so distraught and bordering on hysterical last night that I finally gave up and asked Grandma if Neve could skip school and spend the day with her instead. I don’t know if that was the best parenting decision I’ve ever made, but the relief that came over her when I told her she could go to Grandma’s made me think it was the right thing.

I’ve wondered if there’s some deeper issue involved, but she seems to love everything else about school, her teacher, and her friends. It’s frustrating because her irrational fears are casting a shadow on all of the good things. Even though I think it’s ridiculous, I know it is very real to her and I’m not sure if we just wait it out and hope this phase passes, or if we need professional help. If anyone has any advice or insight you'd like to share, please do so!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Tofino - signs and wonders


The Tofino blog series is becoming longer than the actual Tofino holiday. These are the last ones, I promise.
Sabrina makes friends with a parrot. I didn't.
While my mom and I were looking at some shops in town, we heard strange sounds coming from the bushes nearby. The girl from the quilting shop said, "Oh, my pig must be stuck." She disappeared into the bushes and came out with Winston, her pet pig. He had gotten his leash wrapped around the trees and wasn't happy about it.

Now for some other highlights of this week. On Wednesday, I went to Government House (home of the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba) for a reception for a leadership program I'm doing this year. It was a formal, fancy affair where each of us were personally announced to the Lieutenant Governor and his wife in a receiving line. There was a short program - speeches, etc., with entertainment by Keith from Keith & Renee, followed by a light dinner. It was pretty fun; when I was leaving, there happened to be only me, the aforementioned Keith, and the L.G. and his wife in the front foyer. I had my camera with me, but I was too shy to ask for a photo so I just took one of my Silhouette parked in the driveway instead.


And who'd have thunk we'd be swimming outside on the Thanksgiving long weekend. Mike & Darla had us over for a swim; it was a pleasant day outside, but even more pleasant in the warm pool. Marco Polo was a big hit - in fact quite literally for Dale who banged his head on the bottom of the waterslide while he was it. The kids went back in after supper and swam in the dark; we enjoyed every second and can't wait til the pool opens again next spring. I'm expecting it will be open by Easter. Right, Darla??

And of course I have to mention the big day we had in Winnipeg today with the first regular season NHL game. I'm not really into hockey, but it was hard not to feel the excitement. We watched the game at our neighbour's; Karen even made a Jets cake. Go Jets Go!!
I found a card in the Thanksgiving card section at the drugstore in Tofino that put me in the Thanksgiving spirit (Lexie was my Vanna White). The inset on the left is what it said inside - in case you can't read the small print, it says "You gotta love a holiday that centres around a large, flightless bird. Happy Thanksgiving from the Cat." I wonder if they sold many of those cards. I didn't get one thanksgiving card, never mind any from a cat. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Tofino - the extended version



I’ve been home since Monday night and it kind of feels like my holiday was just a dream. That’s the bad thing about holidays. Luckily I have my 1000 photos (most of which I’ve posted here) to prove I actually went.

First let’s get the birthday party fiasco out of the way. The invitation just said “Oct. 2” and I don’t know why I had it in my head that Oct. 2 was a Sunday. When you send invitations, write the day down too, people! Oh well, I guess I have to take the blame for that one. The Sunday party time conflicted with plans Dale had made, so when he called the birthday people to explain why Neve wouldn’t be there (I’m hoping he was able to hide his glee at my screw-up), the birthday boy’s dad seemed very disappointed that she wasn’t coming. In my experience, parents are not generally too disappointed when a fringe friend can’t make their child’s party, so maybe Dale mistook his disappointment for relief. At any rate, Neve cried too, so it was delightful all around and I felt awful.

There were a few other glitches while I was away – Neve cried for me every day, an unexpected volleyball game messed up some carefully-laid plans, and on Monday morning two out of three children forgot to take their lunches. It all worked out in the end, thanks to Grammy and a very good friend who took Neve under her wing. When I got home, the house was clean, the kids were sleeping, and the shelves were back up in the study. Nice work, Dale.

Moving on to the trip. As I mentioned, my cousin got married in Tofino, which is on Vancouver Island. I was originally not planning to go, but Jim and Sabrina convinced me to tag along with them and baby Lexie. I owe them for that (and for some other things). My parents also went, but they drove and made a longer trip out of it. Ours was a whirlwind, including a crazy long drive from Victoria to Tofino, but I still found the time away relaxing and refreshing. The wedding couple had reserved the entire lodge (Middle Beach Lodge) for their guests, so it was cool knowing everyone there. I met lots of new people and saw lots of old people (as in familiar, not aged). The best part was seeing my cousin and his fiancĂ© who turned into his wife, his kids, and my uncle and aunt who all live in BC. Even though we grew up three provinces apart, we would usually see each other in summer so we were pretty close. Close enough so that when I was 12 or 13, he was pointed out my hairy legs and told me I should be shaving them. I obviously held his opinion in high esteem because I bought a bottle of Neet that day. Anyway, I’m so glad I went; his new wife is lovely and they seem to make a perfect couple.



The scenery out there is amazing: the ocean with its fluctuating tides, the mountains, the forests, and did I mention the ocean. My room overlooked the ocean and I fell asleep and woke up to the sounds of the waves. The view from the main part of the lodge was gorgeous too. I loved walking around the beach looking at the wild kelp/sea onions (?), purple and orange starfish, anemones, millions of mussels, and whatever else got washed up in the wavesSurfing is very popular out there; there were surf shops everywhere you looked and crazy surfers in the icy water.





The food was delicious – from the breakfast buffet with fresh croissants and cinnamon buns to clam chowder, salmon, and lots of fresh fish & chips. We looked forward to 8:00 p.m. when the lodge put out warm, fresh baked cookies. We ate at some cute restaurants in town, plus a not-so-cute restaurant on the way from Victoria. We were looking for eclectic seaside charm, but got a former Smitty’s-like place instead.

On Sunday, my parents, Jim & Sabrina, Lexie and I went on a whale watching expedition. We were indecisive about going, but knew we'd regret it if we didn't. Again - well, Worth It. The lesson we can learn here is that we should just do everything.



Sea lions

Seals


Baby's first whale-watching excursion. Lexie was so good the whole trip; she's a great traveller. Jim and Sabrina probably wouldn't have minded a few less diaper blow-outs, but her happy little head made up for the inconveniences at the other end.






Grey whale (also saw a humpback)







Cathedral Grove




The Mormon groom with his two wives. I hope the wedding couple doesn't mind me posting their pic. (Like the placement of the saw on the wall?)

This is getting excessively long. I have 980 more pictures so I might post a few more another day. Or not.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Tofino



I started writing a blog post about the trip tonight, but I ran out of time and energy. I will try again tomorrow; just wanted to let you know I'm home safe and had an awesome time.