Wednesday, February 27, 2013


When I do the math, I know baby Neve must be eight, but it’s hard to accept.  It seems like she’s been around forever, so it’s not that I feel like we just had her, but she still seems so young to me.  When Chloe was eight, she was like an adult.  And Neve … well, Neve’s still the baby that gets cuddled and squeezed and gets away with everything because she’s the baby.  The older kids had a hard-knock life compared to Neve.  Or maybe they were pampered at her age too and I just forget.  I’m sure that’s it.  Whatever the case, there was an “8” candle on the birthday cake, so the facts don’t lie.    

Neve has very specific ideas in her head of how she likes things and is a bit of a micro manager.  She wanted to bring cake pops to school for her birthday – white cake with pink coating and sprinkles.  Making cake pops is daunting for me and since it was a busy week (mostly rotating around her birthday celebrations), we had to plan ahead.  I made the cake on Wednesday afternoon, Dale, Chloe and I made the pops Wednesday night, and we packaged them Thursday night.  They turned out really good, although I shouldn’t have ignored the tip about trimming off the brown edges of the cake (ain’t nobody got time for that) because when the cake was all mushed up, the dark bits made it look like whole wheat cake.  Still, they were cute on the outside and I’ve got to say they tasted amazing.

cake pops

After school on Friday, I took the kids bowling, then Dale joined us for dinner at Boston Pizza.  The last time we went to BP, I wasn’t very impressed, but this time everything was perfect – the food, the service, the happy-birthday-singing.  Neve loved it.  Then we went home and had birthday cake with the relatives.  It was a great day; the only bad part for Neve was some stress at school when some girls gave her a hard time about not inviting everyone to her party.  Neve is very sensitive about stuff like that and is very careful not to mention her party at school.  We had talked about this possibility beforehand, and I told her if anyone asked about her party to blame it on me: “I really wanted to invite everyone, but my mom said I could only invite a few kids.”  She invited less than half of the girls in her grade, so it wasn’t like there were only a few left out.  Anyway, Neve handled it well, but she felt sad about it.  I hate drama and birthday party stress so much; I’m so glad the kids only have friend parties every other year.  According to my calculations, her 10th party in two years will probably be the last official kids birthday party we have.  Not like I'm counting the days or anything.

Boston Pizza employees singing happy birthday - I'm sure they're thrilled to be on my blog

Neve looking critically at her cake (although she said she loved it)

Despite my complaining, I love planning birthday parties.  Neve wanted a spa party, which delighted Chloe greatly, since she loves planning parties even more than me.  She planned the spa part, and I took care of the details.  This was the sign I made for the front door:

For those of you who aren't familiar with Winnipeg, Ten Spa is the name of one of the fanciest spas in town.  Unfortunately, Neve didn’t see the cleverness in this and wanted it changed to Neve’s Spa.  I changed the other signage, but I kept this one up on the front door because I knew the parents would get it.

When they arrived, the kids were shown to the waiting room, where fresh flowers and magazines awaited them.  They didn’t exactly sit there quietly like I hoped, but that was to be expected.  Then the workers (Chloe, my nieces and their international-student-sister), each called a small group of kids and took them upstairs to either the manicure, pedicure or facial station.  I just realized I am going into painfully minute detail here.  I’ll post pictures (ones that don't show the faces of kids whose parents I don't know well) and you can just take a look.

Relaxing before the guests/clients arrive

The help

Time got a little tight, so we took a quick break for snacks, cupcakes, and present-opening, then finished up with the spa treatments.  The girls seemed to really enjoy it and Neve had a lot of fun.

Cupcakes courtesy of Groupon and the Cupcake Corner

Thank you to all who made it a special day for her with calls and emails and cards and presents and coming to help celebrate.  Neve, if you’re reading this one day – ignore any complaining above.  The preparation and work were all one hundred percent Worth It to see you have fun and feel special.  You make us laugh every day at the funny things you say and do.  You love to dance and sing and you have a sparkle in your eye (except when you’re mad, and even then it’s not long until you’re laughing again).  You love fashion and you love to talk and talk and talk, until sometimes I have to tell you to stop or I’ll go crazy.  For example, today you spent the entire walk home from school telling me about an ice chunk you found in the school yard. You like to do things perfectly, from your schoolwork to making sure your outfit is exactly how you want it (a touch of OCD, but that’s okay!).   You are kind to your friends and you are excellent at keeping a secret.  We love you, Nevie!

Friday, February 22, 2013

We’re not in Kansas anymore

The last week has been a blur.  I wanted to write about our little weekend getaway, but the short week has thrown off my already-precarious schedule.  Besides work and the usual things, I’ve been busy getting ready for Neve’s birthday (today), so this will be short and mainly consist of pictures.  I think I’ve put up more pictures for two days in Kansas City than I did for our three week East Coast trip, mostly because the narrowing-down process takes time, and I need to use every second dreaming up ways to make Neve’s day a fraction as special as what she expects it will be.

So we got up early last Friday and headed south.  We had booked a hotel in Kansas City the night before, so it wasn't quite as spontaneous as it sounds.  Spontaneity no longer works that well for us.  The kids did great on the drive for the most part, watching movies, reading, and playing on their electronics.  My brother and sister-in-law were also heading south, so although we didn’t travel together, we were about an hour apart on the highway so we texted back and forth all day, which was kind of fun.  They continued south the next day, and once they started texting about palm trees, it wasn’t fun anymore.  Anyway, we drove all day and arrived in Kansas City about 13 hours later, which included stops. 

We stayed at a really nice Sheraton, but it was far from downtown – about half an hour on the freeway.  We went to the Crown Centre downtown and did a few things there (Crayola store, Lego store, Hallmark visitor’s centre), but we mostly stayed at our isolated suburban hotel and relaxed.  We spent a lot of time at the pool; some of us read, some of us swam, some of us worked out in the gym overlooking the pool.  We went out to eat, including dinner at Dickey’s BBQ.  Apparently BBQ restaurants are a very big deal there, but it’s really just big hunks of meat.  Poor vegetarian Chloe was not in her element.  But they had free soft ice cream cones you could make yourself, so that made up for it.
No snow
Frozen custard is a big thing there
Neve's version of Marilyn Monroe standing on a vent

There were some cool buildings downtown

Sunday was beautiful – bright and sunny and warm.  It got up to 14 degrees, which would feel like a very cold day in July, but now it felt tropical.  Dale and Spencer went to the World War I museum, which they loved, but my highlight was going to a park and playing on the play structure and exploring a little creek and just sitting on a bench feeling the warm sun on my skin.  The children got very tired of us saying this, but Dale and I kept exclaiming how amazing it was that you could just get in the van, drive for a bit, and it was like summer.  Good times.

Monday we headed home; it was windy but the roads were great and no sight of snow until after Sioux Falls (about 4 hours south of Fargo).  Then snow started appearing, until there was enough that it was blowing across the road.  Visibility wasn’t great, but not horrible either, so as long as we took it easy, it was okay.  There were a lot of cars in the ditch though. When we heard the I-29 was closed north of Grand Forks, we decided to stop in Fargo because we knew hotels would be full in Grand Forks.  By this time, the icy winds were blowing snow around like crazy and it was bone-chillingly cold.  We booked into a hotel, much to the kids’ delight (except Chloe who was concerned about missing classes).  To everyone’s further delight, we found out our good friends Blake and Kristin were also stranded in Fargo, so we got to hang out with them after dinner. 
Fudge from Scheels in Fargo - our favourite

Getting home was an ordeal: we left around 9:30 in order to get Chloe to school for the afternoon.  No such luck; it was slow going on the roads (lots of cars in the ditch), made even worse by an accident between Grand Forks and the border which brought traffic to a standstill for an hour.  Anticipating the insanity at the border, we took a different route which saved us lots of time but still didn’t get us home until 3:30.  But despite the hassle, it was Worth It.  I can’t say I fell in love with Kansas City, but I’d definitely go again and stay in a more centrally-located hotel and explore the city a little more.  For years, Dale has talked about a little trip like this – just heading south until it gets warmer – so it was a dream come true for him.
Home snowy home


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Kornelentines Day

My nieces joined us this morning for our annual Valentine's Day chocolate cake breakfast.  We loaded them up on sugar and sent them on their way.  It would be nice if Valentine's Day would always fall on a weekend so we wouldn't have to rush off to school and work right after breakfast,  but it's still a pretty sweet way to start a weekday.

Neve (I) made little iPhones to give to her classmates as valentines.  I found the template on Pinterest, but it still took me hours to customize and adjust it to the size of the candy hearts I bought.  Remember the night of little sleep that I mentioned in the last post?  That's when this project got done.

This is the card Neve started writing to her teacher before I saw it and made her erase it and start over.  They don't call their teacher by her first name.  I don't know where that came from.

Even though Spencer and Chloe don't have valentine parties anymore, they still wanted to give out valentines.   So this is what they (I) came up with.   Have I mentioned that I love valentines day?

The momentum of the day kind of fizzled after breakfast.  After work, we went to Dale's mom's for supper.  It was very nice, but not the romantic dinner of our youth.   But we're heading out of town for the weekend tomorrow, so we'll fit in a dinner of some sort then.  We're going to have ourselves an adventure - we're going to drive as far south as we can in one day, stay a couple of days, then drive back home.  We all like driving trips and are looking forward to a break.  When we go away, I am very good at completely forgetting I have any responsibilities.  I'll keep doing my picture of the day on Instagram (I've also put the link on the sidebar), so you can see what we're up to if you want.

A friend recently asked if I could design a "Love Wins" pin/button for the Marquez-Greene family.  That's the family who used to live in Winnipeg whose six-year-old daughter Ana was killed in the Connecticut school shooting.  My friend has a connection to the family and came up with the idea in hopes of supporting them emotionally and financially.  Once the pins are ready, I will have some available to distribute, so if you’re interested in supporting this family, let me know. I think there will be a suggested donation amount, but will let you know the details once it’s all worked out. (This has all been done with the approval of Ana’s family; the design is currently the profile picture for the Remembering Ana Marquez-Greene Facebook page and they welcome others to post it in Ana's honour as well.  I will even remove my bunny picture for this). 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

And the award for first child to break a bone goes to ...

Things have been slightly overwhelming lately, but I’m starting to feel like I can almost breathe again.  They’re shallow breaths, but at least I’m breathing. Things took a turn for the crazy on Friday when Chloe came home with a very sore arm after a fall at cheerleading practice.  It was the cheer team’s last practice before their competition on Sunday, and they had just gotten their new cheer uniforms that very day.  Dale took Chloe to emergency after practice and the x-rays showed a broken humerus.  Insert over-used joke here.  I have to mention that Dale and Chloe were back home in 90 minutes – that included x-rays, seeing the doctor and travel time.  Yay, Manitoba healthcare!  Anyway, the much anticipated new-uniform-wearing competition was out of the question.  Chloe had been so looking forward to it and was heartbroken.  She was a trouper; she didn’t cry once about the pain, but when the doctor told her she wouldn’t be doing cheer for a while, she wept.  When you put it in perspective, it’s a small blip, but perspective isn’t always easy to come by.  Her disappointment made for a heavy heart for all of us.  Neve cried more than Chloe did. 
The good news is that as far as broken bones go, Chloe did it right.  Not only was it a clean break (the bone was still in alignment), the pediatric orthopaedic specialist we were referred to said yesterday that the humerus is one of the fastest-healing bones in the body.  He didn’t even cast it; she just has a sling to support and protect it and said she can move her arm and use it as much as feels comfortable. We have to get it checked again in three weeks, and as long as it feels okay, she can go back to cheerleading then.  
Chloe’s been amazing – in her usual independent fashion, she rarely asks for help with anything and is managing very well, even though she has to do everything with her left hand.  She insisted on going to watch her cheer team compete on Sunday, and when they won a trophy, they sent her up to accept it.  Their next competition is in April, so she should be good to go by then.
The broken arm was just part of a busy weekend.  Happy hour, yoga, gymnastics, family movie night, birthday party, and friends over for appetizers and drinks on Saturday, followed by dinner at Wasabi.  My dinner was amazing; I will be back.  On Sunday we went skating at the Forks with Jim and Sabrina and Bob and Jan.  The weather was beautiful and every other person within a 50 mile radius was also there (except Chloe).  Chloe always uses my skates, so finally I got a chance to skate.  Silver lining, people.  It was a lot of fun, and we vowed to do it again soon.  I love the little warming huts along the river – so creative and cool to see. 
Wasabi - crawl to Mama, caterpillar roll

The nieces
Also this weekend, Dale dropped Spencer off at fencing on Saturday morning, watched as Spencer went into the building, and then drove off.  Turns out fencing was cancelled (can’t be expected to read every email they send) and instead of asking someone in the building if he could use a phone, he decided to walk home.  His fencing class is four kilometres from home, in the far end of Wolseley.  He had to cross a few busy streets, make a few turns and cross a bridge, but he managed - all while carrying his fencing sword (it was in a carrying case).  I questioned his judgement slightly, but I couldn’t help but be impressed that he found his way home.  I honestly had no idea he was that resourceful.  I guess I can’t abandon him in the woods if we’re short on food.
It’s only Tuesday, but it’s been one of those weeks you can’t wait to get to the end of.  I’m busy at work, valentine’s day preparations are in full swing, there is lots of school-related pressure (Mom, I need to bring an empty box to school.  Mom, I need $10 to go on a field trip to Festival du Voyageur.  Mom, I need a million valentines.  Mom, you have to fill in this form.  Mom, can you volunteer for 100 Day.  Mom, I want to bring cake pops for my birthday for everyone in my class and for everyone in the grade 2/3 split class too.  Mom, can you write out my homework for me because my right arm is broken) and Neve’s birthday party is always at the front of my mind.  We’re planning a little getaway this coming weekend, which will be awesome, but it condenses the busy-ness.  I guess I’ve been thinking about everything too much because I couldn’t fall asleep Sunday night.  I figure I got three hours of sleep at the absolute most, and even those three hours were broken up.  By the end of the day yesterday, I was close to tears (which is saying a lot – I only cry about once every two years).  Thankfully I had a long, solid sleep last night and feel like a new person today.  But in the midst of my exhaustion yesterday, this is a conversation I had with Spencer:
Spencer:  I have to bring soup cans to school tomorrow.
Me:  Empty soup cans?
Spencer: (looking horrified) No!  They’re to donate to Winnipeg Harvest.  Who donates empty cans??
Me:  Oh.  Does it have to be a certain kind of soup?
Spencer:  No.
Me:  Okay, I’ll write it on the list.
Spencer:  They have to be red because we’re building a sculpture with the cans.
Me:  The soup has to be red?  Like tomato soup?
Spencer:  No.  It doesn’t matter what kind.
Me:  So the can has to be red?
Spencer:  No, it doesn’t have to be a can.
Me:  But the packaging has to be red, like Campbell’s soup?
Spencer:  No, it doesn’t matter what kind.
This is where I bang my head against the wall and decide to continue conversation on a day when I've had more sleep.
He’s lucky he’s got a good sense of direction or I would’ve taken him for a drive to the woods.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Aint nobody got time for that

This is a house I drive by on my way home from work.  I’ve spent considerable time analyzing it, since traffic is often slow right there.  Many questions come to mind, not the least of which is why anyone would choose this paint colour.  Did it look different on the paint chip than it did in real?  I get that.  Maybe it was on sale in the “oh man, that’s the wrong colour” section.  Then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and maybe the colour is exactly what they wanted.  That brings us to the next set of questions.  Did the paint run out?  Was no one physically or financially able to go get more?  Did they not have a ladder to do the part over the entrance?  Couldn’t they climb out the window and stand on the entrance roof?  I'm not going to lie - I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this, but the house has been like this for a long time. 

Like most situations these days, Sweet Brown came to mind:


I’m never at the cutting edge of viral videos and memes (still don’t even know what that is), so I’m sure everyone’s seen this by now.  I saw it last week and everyone in the house has been singing the tune and saying “Aint nobody got time for that” ever since.  It never gets old and it applies to almost everything.

In other news, I started doing yoga this week.  When Siobhan was here in December, she did a private class for a few of us and I loved it.  So when a Groupon came up for a yoga deal, I made like a cheap Winnipegger and grabbed it.  The deal is two months of unlimited yoga for $60.  The “unlimited” applies only to one specific type of class (barre), so I don’t know that it’s the most awesome deal ever especially when the yoga place has a permanent $40 introductory month deal that applies to every type of classes.  None of you are probably that interested in these minute details, but my point is that I started yoga. 

I’ve only been to three classes so far, but it’s not exactly as I imagined it.  There are too many planks, squats, and arm curls and not enough lying there and focusing your mind.  In fact it’s almost exactly like the Jillian Michaels DVD I do in my basement for free, except longer.  But being the frugal person I am, I will still take full advantage of my Groupon and will have rock hard abs by the end of it (if $60 could really get me that, it would be money well spent).  I’ve worn the exact same clothes all three times.  I wonder if anyone has noticed.