Friday, May 31, 2013


I'm sure you've all been wondering all day if I managed to get up early to go for a run.  I'm pleased to say I did.  However, I only ran two miles instead of four and I wouldn't even have gone at all if I'd realized it was raining.  I hate running in the rain, but it was a very light rain so it wasn't that bad.

I had a full day today and it got fuller when Dale's car wouldn't start this morning.  He still doesn't have his new car since the earliest the cruise control could be installed is Monday (he could've gotten the car this week and then brought it back to the shop on Monday, but it's a hassle because the shop is in Headingley and it's supposed to take four hours).  Thank goodness he's already bought a new car or this would be a frantic weekend of car shopping.  Anyway, he had to get to Oakbank to see his 9:00 client somehow and since I needed a vehicle throughout the day, I drove him to work. That was an hour and half of my life I'll never get back.  It was complicated trying to get everyone where they were supposed to be on time; Neve was 45 minutes late for school, and I completely missed the volunteer tea at Spencer's school, but the other three did okay.  I had to be back at Spencer's school to help with pizza lunch, so that was fine.  I've been at his school more this week than in the past three months combined.  My favourite was digging through the lost and found bins trying to find Spencer's gym shorts.  He lost them a week or two ago and said he's looked for them, but sometimes (always) I'm a better finder.  I dug through giant bins full of sweaty gym clothes and smelly socks and old lunches until I decided I'd rather just buy him new shorts.

The best part of my day was hanging out with my new personal shopper.  My friend Rachel is good at absolutely everything from cooking to decorating to fashion and beyond.  We went to the mall today, where she had set aside a bunch of clothes for me from the store she works at.  I tried them on and she helped me put things together and brought me different sizes as needed and told me what looked good.  This is my dream come true.  I don't like shopping for myself, but this was the best thing every.  To top it off, she bought it with her staff discount so I got four tops and a sweater for a steal.

Oh, happy hour was another best part of my day.  So was my niece Tia's school musical.  Her high school put on "Joseph and the Technicolour Dream Coat," which I've never seen before.  For some reason, I wasn't expecting it to be so good, but it was fantastic.  (I've said it before: it's all about having low expectations!)  This was seriously the best high school play I've ever seen.  It was high energy, fast-moving, and a lot of fun.  It's the first musical ever that I was sorry to see end.  Usually I'm sneaking glances at the program whenever the lighting is bright enough just to see how close to the end we are.  The whole audience seemed to really enjoy it and it looked like the kids were having a great time, which is how it should be.  Way to go, Tia!

And that's my day.  Hope you had a good Friday too.  Feel free to leave a comment with your day's highlight.  It doesn't have to be all about me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


I went to bed at a decent hour last night, so I fully planned to get up at 6:15 for a four-mile run before work. My track record at getting up early isn’t awesome, never mind getting up early enough to go for a run. When I told Dale my plan, he laughed and said he’d believe it when he saw it. With those words, I knew I could summon the willpower come morning. I woke up 15 minutes before the alarm, so I thought I’d just lay in bed until it went off. The next thing I knew, it was 7:35 and I woke up to Dale bolting out of bed. It seems I didn’t set the alarm. I was so disappointed in myself. The nice long sleep I had made me feel rested and amiable though, so I soon forgave myself.

It was a busy day at work, then I rushed home to pick the kids up from school, then rushed to my teen moms group. It’s the last one of the season, except for the weekend retreat in June. About half of the girls have reached the maximum age of the group so they won’t be back in the fall. After doing it for a few years, I feel it’s time to move on as well. It’s kind of sad because it’s been fun and I love the girls and I’ve learned way more from them than they learned from me. I plan to keep in touch with them, but it won’t be quite the same. However, I won’t miss how crazy it makes my Thursdays and how exhausted I am when my head finally hits the pillow. 

I was getting some birthday cards ready to send and asked the kids to write something nice in each one.  When I got home tonight, I saw this is what Spencer wrote in one of them.  I'll have to ask him to elaborate in the morning, but apparently self control is a trait he admires.  Who knew?  Maybe if I succeed at getting up early to go for a run tomorrow, he'll admire me too.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Our next door neighbour moved away today.  He’s lived here the whole time we’ve been in this house, which as mentioned in yesterday’s post, is 14 years.  His wife was around for most of those years, but they parted ways about five years ago.  I was happy it was him who stayed in the house.  He was the perfect next door neighbour – a nice, older, laid-back Mennonite man who didn’t socialize much and was hard of hearing.  Can it get better than that?  I have other neighbours down the street that I love more, but I’d feel sorry for them if they lived right next door.  It was nice that my neighbour man couldn’t hear the kids being loud or me yelling at the kids not to be loud.  He rarely (never?) had friends over, but didn’t care when we had parties.  He let us eat all the apples we wanted from his tree of life – oh wait, that’s Satan.  Wrong story.  He did have an apple tree though, which Neve ate clean every year. 

The neighbour has taken early retirement and is moving to a place in the country.  I’m happy for him, but sad to see him go.  The house has been sold to someone who’s going to flip it, so we won’t know who our new neighbours will be for a while yet.  I should point out that our neighbours on the other side are awesome neighbours too and we’ve always gotten along well.  But they spend a lot of time outside in summer too and even though they never, ever complain, I feel bad when my kids are noisy.  I know we are very lucky – I’ve heard some pretty horrible ‘bad neighbour’ stories.

While he was packing and purging, he asked if I was interested in an old Mac computer.  I thought maybe Spencer could use it for Minecraft or something, so I said sure.  Next thing I knew, I had a giant old red Apple computer on my kitchen counter.  I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so old or quite so large.  Then he asked if I also wanted a Mac laptop – “much newer and faster” than the desktop.  Not one to learn from my mistakes, I said yes.  Now the ancient desktop has an ancient clamshell laptop friend.  The desktop emits a hum that would distract you from any work you tried to do on it, neither is capable of wi-fi, and the operating systems are older than all of my kids put together.  They both have Photoshop, Quark, and other design programs installed, but they’re really old versions.  Now that I’ve done an awesome marketing job, let me know if you want them.
- - - - - -

Overheard this afternoon:

Neve to one of her best friends:  Did you know you’re not my best friend?  God is.

Long pause

Neve’s friend:  Who’s your second best friend?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Today’s highlights included:
  • Discovering the new refrigerator was covered in a thin plastic film that was supposed to be removed.  Once we took it off, the finish was much nicer and the mark that I thought was a scratch was gone.  I feel silly I didn’t realize there was a protective film on it, but it’s not like we’ve ever had a new fridge before.  We also put the handles on so it’s all good to go.  I threw away a lot of expired salad dressings and empty jam jars when I cleaned out the old fridge, and tonight Dale went grocery shopping and filled it with nice fresh produce and dairy products.  I’m so pleased with the whole situation that it was almost worth waiting 14 years for.
  • Going to a volunteer appreciation tea at Neve’s school.  All the kids in the school sang a medley of Beatles songs, which was so awesome.  I’m not just saying that, it was the cutest thing ever.  Neve and I hadn’t talked about the volunteer tea before school today, and she told me later that she thought I had forgotten about it.  She sang her heart out, looking at me and smiling the whole time. 

  • The Goldeyes game.  It was school patrol night (really? who came up with that?) so I ordered three tickets some time ago.  Things always seem like a good idea far in advance.  After school today, we were still trying to decide which three were going.  Not which three had the privilege of going; which three had to go.  Chloe, Spencer and I lost.  In hindsight, we actually won.  A rainy afternoon turned into a beautiful evening and we had a great time.  We ate junk food and actually got into the game and stayed for the whole thing.  The Goldeyes won, which was a bonus because now if we bring the ticket in somewhere (McDonalds, Sal’s?) we get a free something if we order something.  I should’ve listened more closely.  I’m hoping we can go to another game or two this season, but next time I hope they don’t hand out free inflatable clapping sticks.  I’m going to bring something sharp just in case.

Beautiful view of the new museum

I sent Dale a pic of us having fun at the baseball game and this is what he sent back to show me how much fun he and Neve were having.  Nice try.  Neve's smile looks forced.  I like how he must have staged the photo to show only the healthy things and hide the Froot Loops and Oreos. 

Monday, May 27, 2013


It's shaping up to be a busy week, which will make it easier to find things to blog about.  On top of regular things like work, laundry, Neve's soccer, a hill-training run, and baking snickerdoodle cookies, we bought two new things today.  Actually we bought one of the things last week, but it was delivered today.  And the other item was bought today, but we won't have it until later this week.  Both are things that will change our lives for the better.  I bet you're so curious.  No?  You know I'm going to tell you anyway.

The item that was delivered today is .... a new refrigerator!  We bought our old one 14 years ago when we first moved into this house.  You're probably thinking, "Fourteen years... yeah, it's about time."  But you would be wrong.  We bought the fridge second hand, when it was already very old and suitable for little more than a garage fridge.  Since we had other new home expenses at the time, we decided to buy something cheap just to last a year or two until we could magically afford the fridge of our dreams.  Now that I'm older and wiser, I know there is never a time when there is extra money just laying around, waiting to be spent on something we don't really need.  As long as the fridge was working, a new one wasn't a priority.  But then one day several years ago, something bumped the lightbulb and it shattered.  The base of the bulb was stuck in the socket and we couldn't get it out.  Whenever we accidentally touched the socket area, sparks flew and blew the breaker.  Still, we didn't feel that a new fridge was our top priority.  We became very good at avoiding the socket area and we got used to having no light in the fridge.  From time to time, I would daydream about a nice new fridge with a light, but the thought would leave my mind quickly, just like all my other thoughts do.  Then last weekend, I accidentally bumped the top of the milk jug into the socket area and I heard a zap and sparks flew all over, including at my feet.  That annoyed me, but I flipped the breaker back on and carried on.  Later that day, the exact same thing happened to Neve.  That was my tipping point; the one that 99.9% of people would have reached years ago.  So Dale and I went and ordered a new fridge that very day.  Oh, and then later that week, a frozen block of Philadelphia cream cheese fell out of the freezer and gave Neve a big cut above her eye.  She tells everyone it's a cream cheese injury.  I know with the new fridge, the freezer will NEVER be so full and messy that you have to shove things in and slam the door.  It will remain sparkling clean and organized all of its days.

It's nothing fancy - no icemaker, no bottom freezer, no computerized smart-fridge that controls your life - just a new, energy efficient version of our old one.  It's a bit bigger, but it still fits into the space where the studs were hollowed out so it doesn't stick out.  It's clean and shiny and best of all, it has a light.

The other new item is less exciting to me, but Dale's pretty happy.  He bought himself a new (to him) car today. When it comes to cars (and fridges), we make do with what we have for a long time.  Neither of us care that much about cars (or fridges), so it's easier to just stick with what you have.  We'd actually been looking at new vans, since ours is nearing its golden years.  But then I drove Dale's car the other day and convinced him he needed a new vehicle more than I do.  It has served him well, but there are a lot of things that need repairs, including some that have crossed the line into the danger zone likes brakes and coolant leaks that give him headaches.  Anyway, long story short, he bought a Nissan Sentra;  they have to install cruise control, but he should have full custody later this week.

Upon hearing about our exciting day of new acquisitions, a friend asked me if we'd won a lottery without telling anyone.  Unfortunately we did not, but it's amazing what you can get when you just sign your name on a piece of paper.  I love it!  I'm partially blaming/crediting Teresa; her death has made me want to enjoy life more, and I know she would have strongly encouraged us to just go for it.  We might go yacht shopping tomorrow.  

Neve walked home for lunch with some neighbours today, and when I went outside to meet her on the sidewalk, she was running towards me with a big smile and an even bigger bunch of dandelions for me.  I loved that even more than a new fridge or a new car.  Although I do love the fridge a lot.

A week of blogging begins

Sometimes I think I should tweet instead of blog.  Random thoughts pop into my head all day long, but I forget them all when I sit down to write.  That’s actually lucky for you; many of my thoughts aren’t worth sharing.  As we all know, that doesn’t usually stop me but I’m definitely in a blogging slump lately.  My goal this week is to try and write something every day, even if it’s just a paragraph.

The weekend is ending on a good note.  Tonight we went to Dairy Queen because we had free blizzard coupons from Cheerios that expire this week.  The kids had blizzards, but I had a peanut buster parfait which was even more delicious than usual because Dale doesn't eat after 7:00 so he had to sit and watch me eat it.  And now we’re watching new Arrested Development.   The weather wasn’t bad this weekend, so I got some yard work and planting done.  On Saturday afternoon, the girls and I met my sister and niece for an outing.  Winnipeg holds an annual Doors Open event where they open historic buildings to the public and every single year I somehow miss it.  Until yesterday!  We went to a Unitarian church on Wellington, which was interesting – part of the building was a converted residence, which still looked exactly like an old character home, and the other part was a newer addition.  Then we went to the Mariaggi Hotel in the Exchange.  It’s a small boutique hotel with theme rooms based on different countries.  I’ve never been there before and the cool part is that it’s tucked away where you hardly even notice it and the rooms really are quite something.  I don’t think the majority of the Doors Open crowd - families and old people - are the target clientele for this hotel (“Mom, where would the kids sleep and why is the shower in the main part of the room and not in the bathroom?”) but it was pretty cool to explore, even though the hotel guests weren’t thrilled when we walked into their rooms.  Just kidding, we only got to see the unoccupied rooms.  There’s a 3000 sq ft penthouse at the top which I would have loved to see, but unfortunately it was booked. I'm not quite sure it's my thing - it's so ... how should I put it ... obvious?  I think I'd prefer going somewhere more understated and less single-purpose.  I could go on but I won't because my parents read this.

Those are the only two Doors Open places we went to.  Next year I’ll aim for more, but at least I can now say I’ve been.  Then Jan and I and the kids walked around the Exchange a bit and got some falafel balls from a new Shawarma restaurant. 

That’s where I’ll end for today.  I must leave something to write about tomorrow.  I'll leave you with some pictures of Neve modelling the adult features of the hotel rooms.  

Oh, and one more picture I meant to post last weekend.  It was the kids' inaugural swim of the season in Mike & Darla's beautiful pool.  It was cool and a little rainy, but the water was warm and the kids had a blast.  I was too wimpy to go in, but I'll make up for it next time.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Teresa

Dear Teresa,

I can only imagine your birthday cake this year ... I'm sure it puts the cake I made last year to shame.  Remember we went to Deer & Almond for your birthday and it was really good but the food portions were teeny and everyone was still a bit hungry when we got back to our house, so we had nachos.  And cake.  If only I could bake you a cake this year, I'd even go beyond my go-to chocolate cake and search Pinterest for something crazy like this. Actually that's not true. Colleen's chocolate cake recipe can't be beat, but maybe I'd add another layer or more fruit; exotic fruit like jackfruit or kumquat.

I've been composing a continuous rambling birthday letter to you in my head over the last couple of weeks.  Sometimes its dramatic and heartbreaking, complete with screenshots of our last text conversation ever.  Other times it's tender and funny and touching.  But in the end, I'm just going with simple.  There's nothing new to say or write.  I know you always read the blog even when you sort of pretended you didn't and rarely commented.  But I often wrote things with you in mind because I knew you'd email or call after reading something you wanted to talk about.  I'm not sure what the internet connection is like up there, but I'm guessing it's pretty fast, so I'll probably keep writing things I want you to read.

Remember when I was in grade 12 and you were in grade 11 and we had a day off school and you wanted to go shopping in Winnipeg?  Unfortunately, the grade 12s were doing a hire-a-student fundraiser that day (I think they called it Slave Day before political correctness came along), so I had to participate.  You solved that problem by "buying" me for the day.  You made me gather eggs in the chicken barns which was a bit of a nightmare with my bird phobia and all.  You're lucky you can't feel guilt in heaven.  And then you got me to bake chocolate chip cookies, because you always loved those cookies.  And then we went shopping.  Today when I stopped by the cemetery to bring you a chocolate chip cookie, the memory of that long ago day came back to me.  I should have gone to gather some eggs too for old times sake, but I just stuck to the cookie.  I hope it doesn't attract wild animals.

Hope you had a birthday more spectacular than my little earth-centred mind could ever fathom.  I love you and miss you like crazy.  But don't worry about me.  Go ahead, carry on with your heavenly fun and divine perfection. (really?  no guilt?)

Love, your cousin-friend Ellen

PS:  No, YOUR hair is nicer.

Thursday, May 09, 2013


I’m not sure what the protocol is for getting back to regular life after the death of someone you love.  I only know that some days I feel like staying in bed (even more than I usually do) and other days seem almost normal.  The overwhelming sadness I feel for Teresa’s husband and kids is a constant heaviness on my chest, knowing that their days won’t seem normal for a long time.  I know that even in my grief, I need to appreciate my “normal” days and live life the best I can.  

 My sister gave me a quote on a tiny strip of paper she had saved from somewhere.  It says:

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.”  (Mary Jean Irion)

I’ve put it where I can see it several times a day, so I've way over-analyzed it.  I’ve mourned my past unappreciated normal days, felt guilty for not living life to the fullest on current normal days, and dreaded the next time I will desperately long for a normal day.  I’ve now progressed to focusing on thankfulness and contentment for each day.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  

So in the interest of appreciating my current normal, I will carry on.

Oh, and I need to say a big thank you to everyone who has been so kind the last few weeks.  I've appreciated every phone call, text, facebook message and email, the beautiful flowers and delicious meals and baking.  (For those of you who are feeling bad that they didn't even think of bringing us a meal, don't worry.  You still can.  Just kidding, I wouldn't have thought of it either.)  Your support and prayers have definitely made a difference.  THANK YOU.  I love you all.

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