Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I am good at confedens

Neve brought her "reflection journal" home from school yesterday.  It is full of gems like this:

"She" is Neve's teacher.  The one who is saying "I Love You" to Neve in the drawing.  My kid may need to work on humility and spelling, but she rocks at confidence.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


So cold that we got slurpees to laugh in the face of winter

I wrote this blog post on Friday but never got around to posting it.  It consists mainly of whining about the weather, but thankfully the weather smartened up this weekend.  But here’s where I was at a couple of days ago.
I’m tired of starting frozen vehicles.  I’m tired of constantly shivering.  I’m tired of only two cars making it through a green light.  I’m tired of iced up windows and I’d be happy if I never saw another sundog for the rest of my life.  I should probably be careful what I wish for; I guess blindness would make that wish come true.  I don’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything, but I’m also going stir crazy, trapped in these four walls.  I mean almost literally trapped; our front door wouldn’t open yesterday without defrosting it with a hair dryer first.  Anyone who’s never lived in a cold climate must think we’re insane for living here.  And this week, I would agree.

The cold is definitely bringing out the crazy in people.  I ran into Superstore to get a few things today and I bumped into someone I haven’t seen for a while.  Because I’m an awesome conversationalist and couldn’t think of anything clever to say, I said, “Nice weather, hey?”  She replied earnestly, “I know!  It’s amazing what difference a day can make!”  Um.  It’s -23 today.  It was -26 yesterday.  It’s awkward when people don’t get sarcasm.  I never know if I should explain myself or just play along.  I picked number two.   

Also at Superstore, I heard someone exclaim “Hansel and Gretel!” as if greeting long lost friends.  Of course I turned around to observe the situation.  An older man was addressing another old couple.   I assumed they all knew each other, but the couple looked at him like he was crazy.  After a few more words, the old man just walked away, with the couple staring after him.  Maybe they were all CIA agents in the past and Hansel and Gretel were their code names. 

Speaking of old men, I caught the eye of two seniors in Tim Horton’s yesterday.  They questioned the effectiveness of my thin work coat and said “I can warm you up.”  It does not actually feel good to be hit on by seniors. 

So I’m not sorry to see the week come to an end.  Hoping for a warmer, less crazy week ahead.
The children love it when I make them pose together in front of 7-11.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The bathroom gets an update

I'd like to introduce you to my newly decorated bathroom.  The first Before and After picture below might not make much of an impact, but keep scrolling.

I still think bad thoughts about the quasi-plumber who, for no reason, didn't centre the toilet.

no more unorganized baskets of stuff under the sink

instead, baskets of stuff are now on the shelves (but more organized!)
I wish I had pushed the towels further to the right before I took this picture. 

I'm happy with how it turned out; it feels fresh and bright and clean.  I've been drinking lots of water and tea just so I have an excuse to use the bathroom more often.  I'm loving the shelves - I found instructions for building floating shelves here and Dale did a fantastic job making them.  I'm still playing around with the shelf arrangements.  I mostly used things I already had around the house.  Some fresh or nice fake flowers would add some life to it, and I'm going to keep my eyes open for something less plasticy than the Dollarama mirror.  My friend Kristin is going to make me new blinds once I get new fabric and I'd still like to put tile between the sink and the bottom of the mirror.  So it's still a work in progress, but nothing urgent (unless you care about the neighbours seeing you naked when you shower).  It's amazing how good it feels to do a little home project like this.  There's no shortage of spaces in this house needing projects, so we'll see what we'll tackle next. 

It's highly unlikely we'll tackle anything if it means leaving the house for supplies.  I tried to stay strong and not mention the weather, but I am weak.  Apparently yesterday was Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year.  That may not be the case in Miami or Costa Rica, but with temperatures of -30 here, I'd have to agree.  Spencer couldn't bear the thought of going to school yesterday so I let him stay home because it was so cold.  I think he struggles with symptoms of depression and he's hating school this year.  There's no obvious reason for it - he likes his teacher and does well socially and academically - so I'm hoping it's just a phase that will pass.  In the meantime, I'm subscribing to Corinna's mom's philosophy and aiming to get him to school 80% of the time.  I'm sure my carpoolers are thrilled about that.  I bet Corinna's mom did more stimulating things with her children than let them play Minecraft all day but unfortunately I still had to work (to pay for tuition for school he doesn't want to attend). 

Anyway, I survived yesterday - and even walked Neve to and from school - but today I'm giving up.  I refuse to check the actual temperature, but I don't have to to know it's not fit for any living thing.  I'm trying to come up with a quick money-making scheme so that we can go somewhere hot, but have yet to come up with anything legal.  If a thousand people would send me $10 each, that would be awesome. 

I'll stop complaining about the weather now and go drink some more water.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cooking up a storm

One of the New Years resolutions I pretended not to make is to try and eat dinner together as a family as much as possible.  I don’t enjoy cooking, so if I’m busy with work or anything else, cooking is the first thing to go.  When that happens – and it happens more often than not - the kids make themselves toast or cereal or find something in the fridge or Dale will make scrambled eggs for them.  Neve hates this and begs for a “sit-down supper” every day.  When I came across this article, I decided to turn over a new leaf.  I figure I can use all the help I can get with keeping my children out of prison.  Especially Neve. 

I happened to get two new cookbooks for my birthday/Christmas this year.  Evidently other people feel like I need help in this area too.  It’s working; it’s jump-started my dinner goal.    Last week I tried a recipe called Unrolled Cabbage Rolls, which was a hit with the whole family.  Yesterday I made salmon burgers that contained feta cheese and dill, among other things.  Today I made portabella mushroom fajitas, which Dale said was the best meal he’s ever eaten.  He didn’t say the best meal he’s ever eaten at home, which would be understandable; he said the best meal EVER.  Unfortunately he worked late both days so we didn't actually all eat together, but it was close.  After he read that article, he's going to try harder.  Guilt is awesome.

Since I’m not a confident cook, I follow recipes to the letter.  I feel like if I don’t follow it perfectly, it won’t turn out.  If it calls for fresh dill, I don’t substitute dried dill.  If it calls for green pepper and I only have a red one, I will make a special trip to Safeway to get a green one.  I’m not even joking.  So the salmon burger recipe called for fresh salmon fillets chopped up in the food processor.  It never entered my mind that I could have used canned salmon instead until my sister mentioned it later.  I also made my own bread crumbs because the recipe told me to.  It’s been a big time commitment.  Hopefully I’ll learn to cut corners or I’ll have to quit my job.  I think that’s a sacrifice Dale would be willing to make.


I sometimes read old blog entries and the thing I enjoy most is reading funny things the kids have said.  As they age, the things they say aren’t as cute anymore so when they do say something funny, I have to write them down.  Here are two recent conversations.

Me, waking Neve up for school in the morning (I’m not a morning person, but I pretend):  “Wake up Neve!  It’s a new day!  Get up and make the most of it!  Who knows what today will bring?!” 

Neve, still half asleep:  “Gym.”


In the van on the way home after picking up Neve and Spencer from school, I told Spencer to text Chloe to see how close to home she was (she walks home) and if we should pick her up.  Chloe texted right back with: “Umm sure?  Never say that again.”  When she got into the van, I asked her what that was about.  She showed me the text she thought I had sent:  Yo dawg.  Wanna ride?  Where ye at?"  (Spencer likes to mix in Old English whenever he can).   This doesn't sound as hilarious now as it did at the time, but we laughed our heads off.


Hope you're all staying warm. It's been bitterly cold here, but I have a new mantra:  

There's no such thing as cold weather, only inappropriate clothing.

I believe the original saying is "bad" weather, but "cold" is more relevant and also I'm not sure how one would dress appropriately for a hurricane.  You should see how I bundle up for walking Neve to and from school.  And I'm not cold.  I still hate winter, but as long as I don't check the temperature beforehand and dress in five layers from head to toe, I'm finding it bearable.  Ask me again in a week.

Oh, and the bathroom shelves are done.  Just need to add some finishing touches this weekend and will post pictures after that.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dog birthdays and bathroom painting

I feel like I’m neglecting the blog a bit now that I’m doing the daily Instagram photo thing.  It’s kind of fun and a lot quicker than blogging.  Hopefully I’ll eventually be able to do both.

So we made it through the first week back to school.  Or was this the second week already?  Once the back-to-school anxiety was over with, it went pretty smoothly.  Spencer and Neve started swimming lessons on Tuesday; again much anxiety beforehand but both kids grudgingly muttered afterward that they’d had fun.  The three letter F word is hard to admit to sometimes.

Also this week was the celebration of Neve’s stuffed puppy’s 1st/7th (human years/dog years) birthday.  Technically her birthday was on Dec. 25 since Neve got her for Christmas last year, but she didn’t remember until the other day.  How can a mother always be expected to remember her child’s birthday.  We had to get the dog gifts – things we found around the house – and birthday cake and everything.  Nothing like another birthday to make it four birthday months in a row.  Six if you count mine and Dale’s.  And you should.

I’ve spent more time this week than I’ll ever admit trying to get all our iphones and ipods and imacs set up properly.  We all have different emails, but some of us share an Apple ID and all of us share an iTunes account.  It’s a bit of a nightmare.  I’ve made some progress, but Dale’s pictures still show up on my iphone (but not vice versa), and whenever I download an app, it shows up on Neve’s ipod-formerly-known-as-Dale’s-iphone (but not vice versa).  But I’ve got the calendar all synced, which I love.  We’ve gone paperless.  The other thing I love is the Find my iPhone app.  Since all our accounts are connected, whenever I want to know where Dale is, I can find him by a little green dot on the map.  I know it’s kind of creepy and stalker-like, but so very handy.  It works with the kids’ ipods too.  Big Brother is in the house.

The bathroom-updating project is still in progress.  Dale whipped up some floating shelves for the wall behind the toilet, and I wanted to paint the wall behind them a different colour, like this.  I bought a turquoise-like colour at first, but I painted the first coat this morning and it looked awful (see photo below).  I debated just painting it the same as the rest of the bathroom, but I clung to my dream.  I went and bought a new colour and I like it a lot better.  The painting’s now done and Dale said he’d put the shelves up tomorrow.  I still have to get a new window covering and some baskets for the shelves, but it’s coming along. So if anyone wants a full quart of turquoise paint that's sort of like the colour of the "mart" in Kmart, it's yours.

yeah, I know, this looks bad.  Stay tuned for the "after" pics.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Tell me why I don't like Mondays

The kids are back in school, and as wonderful as our holidays were, since 9:00 this morning I've mostly just been sitting and taking deep breaths with long and loud exhales.  None of the children were particularly excited about going back to school, but Spencer was in a category of his own.  He's been stressing about going back to school for a week already; my advice to enjoy every day and not waste it worrying about school was not heeded.  This morning, he was on the brink of an anxiety attack.  Five minutes before we had to leave, he was still not dressed, breakfast had not been eaten and his backpack not packed.  And he'd been up since 7:00, lying on the couch.  When we finally got into the van, I let him rant for 30 seconds about how much he hates school.  I tried to concentrate on counting to 30 but I still heard snippets of how school is "pure misery" and how it "defiles everything it touches."  I'm not sure what the problem is; he does well in school, has a good teacher, and good friends.  I think it's mostly that he'd prefer to spend the day playing Minecraft.  Whatever the case, I was trying to think of a nice after-school treat for him, but maybe that's too much like a reward for being negative and stressed. Maybe I'll do the opposite and greet him at the door with flashcards and a workbook or a trip to Sylvan Learning Centre.  That will teach him to pretend he likes school.  I think I'm on to something.  Another chapter for the parenting book I plan to write someday.

Right now I'm enjoying my calm and quiet house and the fact that I don't have to get anyone anything to eat or chase anyone off a screen or find a misplaced item.  I finally have access to the new iMac, so I'm playing around with that, and getting some work done in peace.  At least for another hour or so until Neve come home for lunch.

We ended the Christmas holidays happily:  Friday we went skating at the duck pond and got treats at Rocky Mountain Chocolate, had Happy Hour, then went to the Y.  The kids always gaze longingly at the waterslides at the Fermor Y whenever we pass by, so we made the trip over there.  Unfortunately the pool had closed five minutes before we got there due to a pool "fouling."  I guess that's better than if it had closed five minutes after we got there.  Especially if we'd been in the pool with the shit or whatever caused the "fouling." So we drove to the extreme opposite end of the city and went to a different Y where the pool was not "fouled."  After we swam, the kids played on the play structure there until after 10:00 p.m.  It was a nice, relaxed, unstructured evening.

Other weekend activities included fencing, gymnastics, a mall excursion for Chloe and Neve, playing with friends, dinner at Corrientes and Rook with Mike and Darla on Saturday, and hanging out at Bob & Janet's last night.  Oh, and I finished painting the bathroom.  I've still got the shelves and some tiling to do, but it's heading in the right direction.  Since I had the paint out, I pretended we were selling our house and started patching and priming and touching up miscellaneous nicks and holes.  That took much longer than anticipated because I couldn't find the paint I used in the kitchen and tried several different ones that all looked like the same shade but were not (my paint cans are now all labelled).  It's definitely a domino effect; everything I haven't painted now looks like a rundown crack house in comparison.  

Hope your 'back-to-routine' is going as smoothly as possible.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


The egg nog and Toblerone are gone, the Christmas playlist is off the ipod, and I’ve gotten almost all my Christmas cards sent out.  We had fun; I just wish it wouldn’t have gone by so fast.  


And now 2013 is upon us.  I publicly shun resolutions, but secretly I have all sorts of things to improve on in the new year.  Most of my resolutions are actually for others, like for the kids to improve their manners and be more positive.  They love that.  My only aim for this year is to take a picture every day with my new birthday iPhone and post it on Instagram.  I believe you can access it without a smart phone: check out http://instagram.com/ellenkornelsen/ if you want.  No pressure. 

My brother Dan has also taken up the challenge, which is both good and bad.  Good because it’s much more fun to do this with someone else and it will keep me more committed.  Bad in that his pictures are going to make mine look like something a toddler took with her plastic Fisher Price camera.  His pictures are here: http://instagram.com/truenorth44/

Speaking of cameras, we gave Neve a Barbie camera for Christmas.  It’s literally a Barbie that’s a camera.   
It’s hilarious and it actually works quite well.  Even though Neve asked for this for the last two years (I couldn’t find it last year), she didn’t seem delighted when she opened it and she’s hardly played with it at all.  I’m getting her socks next year.

After days of hibernation, we finally left the house yesterday.  We took our pasty-faced selves to the hill by the creek and spent a couple of happy hours sledding. Chloe would have been a bit happier if there hadn’t been some boys from her school there.  She was suddenly very self-conscious and wished she wasn’t wearing ski pants.  Apparently there is nothing more mortifying than wearing snow pants in front of boys she claims she doesn’t even like.  We came back all rosy-cheeked and clear-headed and rewarded ourselves with a chocolate fondue.  As if one excursion wasn’t enough, we then proceeded to go on a second one!  On the same day!  However, we didn’t actually have to leave our van; we did the Winter Wonderland drive-through lights show.  It was fine, but it feels sort of wrong to do Christmas things after Boxing Day.

Some kind people were handing out free hot chocolate at the bottom of the hill.  Their motives were unclear, but we took our chances and survived. 

Today I burst out of relaxation mode and painted the main floor bathroom.  It was brown before, now it’s a light gray that I copied from my friend Kristin’s walls.  I’ve only done one coat so far, which took a lot longer than I thought such a small room would take.  But I like it so far – it feels fresh and bright.  We want to put up some shelves, etc., so I’ll post some pictures in a year or two when we finish that up. 

Spencer’s been spending a very large part of his days playing Minecraft on the new computer.  I encouraged him to invite a friend over today so he could do something different, but that backfired.  Turns out the friend likes Minecraft even more than Spencer does and I didn’t want to be the mean mom and ban them from the computer.  I did chase them outside for a while, but they basically just stood right outside the door and talked about Minecraft. Once school starts again, I’ll be more strict about screen time limits, but for now, it lets me paint in peace.

My body isn’t going to know what hit it when the alarm goes off at 7:00 a.m. for work tomorrow.  I still want to do another coat of paint tonight, so I’d best get on that.