Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Should’ve gotten a puppy

It was a hot hot sunny day today; one of those days you just know you should take advantage of because it’s almost September. 

I really wanted to go to the Quarry, but instead we went to the dentist and replaced our dead fish.  Those were two separate outings; we go to the kind of dentist that doesn’t sell fish.

Poor fish … Swimmy and Napoleon passed away within one day of each other.  Petland has a 30-day guarantee on their fish, which I have a feeling we’ll be making good use of.  They might discontinue it by the time we’re done.  Although Petland probably isn’t losing money; we bought a new chemical that is supposed to help Swimmy II and Napoleon II live a long, healthy life.  That was probably $8 wasted; I suspect it’s pretty much hit or miss.  Napoleon II lost a fin within an hour or so of bringing him home, so we might be back at Petland before the weekend.  Who thought fish were a good idea?  

Playing with my new 50mm lens

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's not over til it's over

Somehow it’s suddenly the last full week of summer holidays.  Being away three weeks was so great, but it condensed all our regular summer stuff so much that it feels it’s been a short summer.  It’s been very full and very fun … I just wish it didn’t have to end quite yet.  When we were at the cottage in PEI and dreading the end of the week, I happened to come across this quote in the newspaper:

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”
- Dr. Seuss

I repeated that to myself many times, and I think it helped.  Who knew Dr. Seuss was so smart.  And he’s not even a real doctor.  (Interesting fact:  Dr. Seuss’ first book “And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street” was rejected by 43 publishers before being published.)  Anyway, that’s my mantra now, so I’m smiling non-stop.  I look ridiculous.

A friend invited me and the kids to her cottage last week, but I wasn’t sure if I should go because I feel like we haven’t been home much and I’d have to shift around my work, appointments, etc.  But then I looked at the calendar and decided we should squeeze out every bit of summer fun while we had the chance, so off we went.  I’m glad we did.  They have a beautiful cabin on an island and it was the perfect mini-holiday.  The kids spent hours kayaking on little plastic flat kayaks (Spencer is now considering an Olympic future in flat water kayaking).  My neighbour Karen was at her cottage nearby, so we did our Friday Happy Hour on the deck gazing out at the lake instead of at my back lane.

peach sangria - so good and summery

My hometown (Rosenort) had their annual summer festival this weekend, so the kids and I went for a bit on Saturday.  The highlight was the Ping Pong Ball Drop, where a plane flies over and drops ping pong balls, which you trade in for a prize.  Best thing ever.  The next best thing was ordering a Chipster at the marketplace shops. I can’t wait til it arrives.

Spencer has developed a new like of biking this summer, so I asked him if he wanted to ride his bike with me while I ran on Wellington yesterday morning.  I was happy when he said yes and pictured us running/riding side by side and bonding.  I guess he pictured riding ahead as fast as he could to the end of the divided stretch and zipping back home way before me.  There was zero bonding; I may as well have gone by myself.  Spencer hadn't crossed Academy before without an adult – it’s a busy street and sometimes we have to wait for a long time before it’s safe to cross - so I thought he'd probably be waiting for me there.  He wasn’t; when I got home, he’d been there for a while already.

I raised my eyebrows at him and said, “You crossed Academy by yourself?”

I guess he was anticipating that I might be upset with him because he had an answer ready.  “Mom.  There was a gap (between cars) so long that the Beatles could have crossed it and they’ve been trying to cross that crosswalk for years.”

Spencer continues to be passionate about the Olympics.  In addition to fencing, he now wants to do judo.  There’s a class offered at our community centre but it’s four hours a week, so I’m looking for something a little less involved and a little less expensive.

He’s also starting to measure time based on the Olympics.  Chloe was talking about marrying Justin Bieber yesterday.  Spencer was trying to throw cold water on her dreams by reminding her of the four year age difference.  “He’s two Olympics older than you!” 

I don’t think Chloe’s biggest obstacle in that relationship is a two-Olympic age gap.

So we’ll see what this last week of summer vacation brings.  I didn’t have many school supplies to buy this year, so that’s all done.  I’m supposed to label each of Neve’s crayons, pencil crayons, markers, and pencils individually, but I’m not going to because I’ve decided to be more of a bad a$$ mom this year (but not bad a$$ enough to write out swears).  For example, I was supposed to buy a one inch binder, but I bought a 1.5 inch binder by mistake and I’m sending it anyway.  Next I’m going to get a facial tattoo and not send the kids lunch or sign their agendas.  It’s so liberating.  And then I’ll tell everyone, “Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened” even if it doesn't really make sense.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Expanding the Family

It's always funny to give my post a title that makes people wonder if I'm pregnant.  Because pregnancy is  hilarious.  But since a baby is scientifically highly unlikely in my case, we expanded our family by taking the fish route. 

Our friends brought their cute little dog camping last week and Neve was quite taken with her.  She liked walking her, except she didn't really take charge and the dog would eventually would get so tangled up that Neve would have to call for help.  She was too timid to actually touch the dog, other than a quick pat on its back.  We said no (for many reasons; the kids' fear of dogs being number one), so she then asked for a cat.  We said no (again, mostly because the kids are kind of scared of cats too).  Then Neve asked for a hamster, which was another no because we're all scared of rodents.  When she finally asked for a fish, I was tired of saying no so now we have a fish.  Two, actually, because then Spencer said he'd always wanted a pet too.  So we drove straight to Petland, bought two fish and the necessary supplies, and now we are seven.

It's been pretty exciting around here.  Neve and Spencer run to check the fish first thing every morning.  I check them too, mostly because I'm scared they'll be dead.  We had a series of fish many years ago that ended badly every single time, so I'm relieved they've survived three full days already.  Neve is hoping to teach her fish tricks and feeding time is especially thrilling.  It's so adorable when they grab their pellet and their little jaws go up and down when they chew.  I'm going to be one of those people who won't shut up about their pet.  And I'm going to take lots of pictures and show them to people on my camera screen.  "And now he's swimming counter-clockwise!"

Oh, and the fishes' names are Swimmy and Napoleon.  I'll let you figure out who named who.

Happy trip home from the pet store. 

I didn't even take a picture when I brought my babies home from the hospital.  Tomorrow I'm going to make a sign for my front door that says "in case of fire, save my fish."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rushing River - Year 3

I’m very happy to report we had beautiful weather for camping, and since all the mosquitoes have apparently migrated to Vancouver (everyone loves the mountains), there wasn’t a single mosquito that came out at dusk or buzzed around our ears as we fell asleep.  It was almost like heaven except I hope Dale showers more often in heaven.

This was our third annual Rushing River camping trip with two other families, and even though we stayed one night less this year, we packed in a lot of fun.  I could save myself time by linking to the last two year’s blog entries – we did the same things: swimming, canoeing, kayaking, game-playing, hiking, eating, drinking, napping, talking, and sitting around the campfire.  We all had campsites right on the water; it’s so great to be able to swim and canoe right from our site.  The kids love their independence there – the boys run all over the place in a big pack and the little girls play Barbies and go to the playground.  My niece Sarah came with us last time, so Chloe missed her this year, but she went on a long canoe ride with Dale, read, and planned a photo scavenger hunt and a treasure hunt for the kids.  There’s a little island across from our campsites that the kids love going to.  The boys rowed over in dinghies and claimed the island with a tea towel flag.  All the kids and dads also rowed/canoed over to play a game of Kick the Can, which you could hear all over the campground.

The days were sunny and warm (not hot), but the nights were cold.  I brought lots of warm blankets and I bundled up at night, but I was still cold.  Where are those hot flashes when you need them.  Mine like to wait until I’m stuck in the van with no air conditioning (except we do have air conditioning because we paid lots of money – twice – to have it fixed.  Don’t get me started on van issues).  Anyway, I shivered through the nights but everyone else was okay.  I had to snuggle up to Dale despite his non-showering situation.  But overall, it was a great time and I’m looking forward to next year.  I’m making notes on how I can be more efficient in my packing.  Our van was much fuller than last year, which is weird because last year we had Sarah, her bedding and bag, an extra tent, as well as enough clothes and food for three days instead of two.  WTH?  Might have something to do with the many large comforters I brought.

And of course, one of the best things about camping is coming home and having a long, hot shower in your own shower and sleeping in a clean, warm bed that doesn’t deflate in the middle of the night.

The island

The tiny little beach at our campsite

Neve pouting about something

What Neve looks like when she's sleeping.  In a few years, she'll be mortified about this picture being on the internet.  Actually, she'd probably be mortified today already.


Chloe leading a duct tape craft session

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer: Week 7

This is the first week all three kids have been home.  It’s been completely unstructured and unscheduled, which has been nice.  The younger children have been watching way too much TV, so I made a poorly thought-out rule that they could only watch two half-hour shows a day.  They’re still spending too much time in the basement playing Wii, which I haven’t yet regulated because it’s nice having the main floor to myself, especially since I’ve had a heavy workload this week.  But I did pull the children out of the cellar, made them (and myself) get dressed, and took them on errands with me yesterday.  This is something I haven’t done much since Chloe reached the magical babysitting age.  Our errand outing was actually kind of fun, despite me and the kids getting in trouble at Scholar’s Choice.  The kids were jumping on the pogo sticks in the store, which I understand the store employees might not like, but: 

a)      There were no other people around and the kids were doing it carefully – Chloe was holding onto Neve’s pogo stick to keep it steady.
b)      It’s a toy store … it’s natural to test a toy before you buy it (which of course we weren’t going to.  But still.)
c)      I was standing RIGHT there, watching them.
d)     Most of all, the sales lady was so rude and condescending about it. 

I wish I’d thought of a witty comeback, but I couldn’t think of one that didn’t involve me hitting her with the pogo stick.  That might have been satisfying, but not so much witty.  Then we went to Costco, where they had food samples in every aisle.  They don’t let kids take a sample without an adult present, so at the sausage sample table, Spencer waited for me.  When I got there, he reached for a one, the lady said, “Hey, who are you with?”  I said, “He’s with me.”  (There were no other people near us.)  So she grudgingly let him take one.  Then Neve reached for one and she snapped the same thing at her.  So I said, “She’s with me!  These are all mine!  I have THREE!”  It was maybe a little louder and ruder than I intended (or maybe not) but she was quiet after that.  And we all took our sausage samples (except Chloe) and I didn’t even say thank you.  I’m sure I taught her a valuable lesson.  She’s probably blogging right now about the rude mother who was dressed like a homeless person and her gang of vagrant children.

After the errands, I was getting ready to take the kids to Birds Hill to meet my parents who were camping there.  I was trying to fit our bikes into the van, which involved bringing them up from the basement and trying to scrunch them up into the back of the van.  The bikes are heavy and I was grumpy.  When I opened the door, it got stuck on the spring or something and it smashed back on my forehead very hard.  Once I could stand again, I carried on and have been popping Advils ever since.  

We had a very nice time at Birds Hill; my parents (mom) cooked us a delicious garden-fresh supper, some of us went for a bike ride, and the kids swam.  They rode to and from the beach in the back of the pickup truck, which was their dream come true.  Before heading home, we sat by the fire and drank hot chocolate.  It felt like a little mini-holiday. 

Neve eating one of many, many plums, which resulted in many, many bathroom visits today.

My mom handing out hot chocolate

I've been using my new lens - can you tell the difference?  I can't really either.  But I'll figure it out.

It was just a taste of what’s to come tomorrow – we’re going to Rushing River for a few days.  Our camping is a lot more rustic than my parents’ camping, so I’m desperately hoping that the rain will stop before we leave.  I enjoy camping when it’s nice weather, but am not prepared for rain.  The Weather Network is promising me sunshine, so I’ll hope for the best.

I’ve been packing all day, except for work and a little excursion. A few weeks ago I told Spencer I’d take him downtown one rainy day and show him all the walkways that connect downtown.   It’s the first thing he thought of when he woke up and saw the rain today and he was so excited that I didn’t have the heart to say no.  We took the bus to The Bay, walked through the skywalks and underground until the Grain Exchange Building and took the bus home.  Spencer was so impressed that he has now ranked Winnipeg as his third favourite city in Canada.  And just for that, I’m calling my day a success, headache and all.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

That summer feeling

I'm not one of those people who are good at many things, but one thing I am good at is being able to relax when I go on vacation.  If I could only pick one thing to be good at, it probably wouldn't be that, but I'm making the best of it.  Leading up to the vacation, I am always very busy and stressed and anxious; unable to take deep breaths and bordering on going crazy.  But as soon as I'm about an hour away from home, I transform into a new person without a care in the world.  When the end of the vacation is in sight, I spend a lot of time wondering how I can keep being the carefree person instead of the busy, stressed one.

I'm not sure what happened this summer, but I think the carefree person has stuck around.  The house is disorganized and messy, very few proper meals have been cooked, doctor and dentist and hair appointments have been neglected, I wear the same clothes several days in a row, and I've been basically shirking all duties and responsibilities.  Motivation is low.  I read a lot.  I do stuff with the kids.  I eat quite a bit.  I believe I'm toeing the line between happy summer relaxing and all-out lazy slothiness.  In a rash attempt to appear productive, I bought stain for the deck furniture.  Apparently stain does not apply itself.  I'll give it a bit more time. 

The blog is also not updating itself so I guess I will help it along. Looking back, we've actually done a lot, but it's all been fun stuff.

Spent last Sunday with the family at Dale's brother's cabin at Hecla

Cousin fun before Dale's sister and niece went back to Florida

There's always a gorgeous sunset in Hecla

BBQ at Assiniboine Park with my family

Some of us walked around the park in a line.  Strange looks and hilarity ensued.

Uncle Dan (in the background) before leaving for the airport.

First trip to the Quarry this year - with the neighbours

The girls and I rode our bikes to the water bus stop and took the boat to the Forks.  We were the only passengers on the boat both ways, so the boat guy let Neve drive the boat on the way there and Chloe drove it all the way back.

We also saw friends, hosted sleepovers, Dale & I went on a long bike ride along Sturgeon Creek, and I still had time to make a fairy garden with Neve.  It was all tiny and cute with little twigs and moss, but it lost some of its charm when Neve added her Polly Pocket girls and horse & carriage.  I felt like such a good mom and I hate when no one is around to see me having fun with my children, so I took a picture:
I'm not the only one wearing the same clothes.  I think Neve's worn this top every day this week.

A big highlight this week was our 2nd annual work day o' fun.  A limo bus took us to Inn at the Forks, where we had breakfast and pedicures (the guys had golf lessons and a round of golf) then shopping at Polo Park with generous gift cards.  I spent mine all on a lens I'd been wanting for my camera.  There were some other smaller things I'd have loved to get, but the lens is something I wouldn't have bought myself so I'm very happy.  Now I just have to learn how to use it.  We met up with the guys at Rudy's downtown for drinks and appetizers before going home.  For dinner, we all went to my boss's house where we had Lovey's BBQ and other treats.  There were smores by the campfire, an amazing fireworks display, and gift cards for all the kids.  It was such a fun day and it definitely achieves its purpose of making me love my job and my employer.

We picked Spencer up from camp today.  He had a good time but was happier to see us than I thought he would be.  Chloe was at my sister's cottage for a few days, so we went to pick her up after.  Spent a lovely afternoon at the cottage - I went on a tube ride that was apparently scaled-down for middle-aged women but it still felt fast and scary.  I'm going to get my boater's licence just so I can repay my brother-in-law for all the "fun" he's given me over the years.  I know my shoulders and arms are going to be aching tomorrow and I'm so worried about how I'm going to hold up my book.  Maybe I'll take it easy and nap instead.

Monday, August 06, 2012


Thought I'd better post something today since some people check my blog even before TMZ.  I'm honoured, but I'm feel pressure and responsibility to post things that are worthy of that honour.  So Spencer created a stop motion series in honour of Olympic fencing.  This is his first attempt ever at this sort of thing, so it's a developing skill.

Production has begun on the second installment of the Legolympic series.  Spencer has finished his part (the photo-taking), but he's leaving for camp tomorrow morning, and without him around to hound me to do my part (making into a movie), it may not be posted for a while.

This is Spencer's second time going to camp; he went two years ago before he was quite ready for it and didn't want to go the next year.  This year is totally different; he has friends that are going and is excited and very ready for it.  He's excited about it; I guess so excited that he gave himself a giant hickey on his upper arm.  I told him he's going to have to explain that all week.  He appeared not to care, but I heard him asking Chloe for a piece of duct tape to cover it.  That would require no explaining at all.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Summer Fun

This is a picture I meant to post last week – my idea of a perfect summer afternoon at Mike & Darla’s gorgeous pool. 

My attempt at daily blogging this week hasn’t been a success.  Luckily I don’t think anyone’s noticed.  There’s your guilt trip and your cue to comment immediately telling me how special my blogging is to you and how I make you complete.  Go ahead, skip straight to the comments and read the rest of this after. 

So after three weeks of trip and one week of day camp, this was our first week of regular  summer scheduling.  More accurately - lack of schedule.  I’ve been getting up early, but the kids have been sleeping in, watching TV and not getting dressed unless we have to leave the house.  They’ve jumped on the trampoline with the sprinkler underneath, helped me with yard work, played with friends, and ridden their bikes.  The sidewalks are decorated with chalk drawings, and the backyard is littered with hula hoops and water guns.  Chloe’s been away at camp all week, so things are even more laid back than usual.  She’s the most independent one of the kids and helps out the most, so I wasn’t looking forward to her being away.  But one less person in the house just brings everything down a notch, so it’s actually been nice.  It’s shifted the dynamic and Neve and Spencer have been getting along better than usual.  Or maybe it’s just that there’s not much to fight about when you’re watching the Olympics all the time.

I took the kids downtown one day to get lunch from the food trucks on Broadway.  It was fun walking around and deciding what to get.  Spencer ended up getting a hotdog and Neve and I got Filipino food from the Pimp My Rice truck, which was delicious.  There was a waffle truck I was tempted to try but, you know, the carbs. 

We also went to Kildonan Park with Teresa and her kids one day.  We had a fun time; the kids swam for a few hours and then we visited Hansel and Gretel in their hut.  They were doing well; Hansel is taking a while to fatten up.  In the evening, we went to Banana Boat for ice cream with Blake & Kristin.  Unfortunately, it was exactly during one of the only bursts of rain this summer so we couldn’t walk on the paths by the river as planned, but it was still a good time.

Yesterday my little nieces hung out with us all day.  They were so cute and good; it was fun having them around.  After a group Happy Hour in the neighbour’s screened-in room, we had pizza and sushi with Jim and Sabrina and Dan. 

Today was a rainy day, perfect for sleeping in.  My sister picked Chloe up from camp, which is near their cottage, so I drove out to get her from there.  All reports indicate fun was had, but I like to think she was pretty happy to come home too.  She didn’t say that in so many words, but I’m pretty sure locking herself in her room for 4 hours straight is a good sign.  I interpret things as I see fit.

I'll sign off now because I can't WAIT to read all your lovely comments!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Let’s talk about my trip some more.  Today’s spotlight is on food.  I can’t even believe I’m making you read about food we ate on the trip.  Join me tomorrow for a thought-provoking entry about the variety of ice buckets at hotels.  This blog is going downhill fast.  But I seem to have taken a lot of food-related pictures, so instead of just sitting there on my hard drive, I’m going to share them.  

This was at an old-fashioned A&W in Wisconsin with a carhop that came to our van to take our order.  We had just had lunch, but we couldn't NOT stop here.  The kids just got milkshakes, so unfortunately we didn't get the tray that attaches to the window. 

Poutine in Quebec City - I think I put on weight just by looking at this

Our first (of many) fish & chips

All you can eat mussels in PEI

Lobster dinner in PEI ... mmmm

Homemade crepes on the cottage deck

Why don't they have McLobster here??

We had to try it ... not bad!

scallops and fish fresh from the Acadian coast of Nova Scotia

We brought take-out to a park the last night of our trip and I was scared because there were warning signs about seagulls.  The seagulls were perched on lamp posts, just waiting to swoop down on our food.  I may have freaked a little and caused Neve some trauma because she was very nervous and had the lid of her container ready at all times in case the birds tried to get her macaroni and cheese.  Not our most relaxing meal ever.

Holidays are all about eating ten times as much as you normally would and I love that so much.  I gave myself one week’s grace, but starting Monday, I’ve been trying to reign myself in.  I’ve been getting up early to go for a run, and trying to stick to a reasonable number of carb servings (except for tonight when I ate an entire peanut buster parfait).  I admit I was expecting instantaneous results, but sadly my thighs are still rubbing together when I walk. Totally Worth It though.