Monday, November 25, 2013

Dale has a birthday and other stories

Dale turned a ridiculous age this weekend.  I can't quite believe how old we're getting.  Especially Dale. But there are presents and cake involved, so it's not the worst thing.  As is appropriate for his age, we stayed home and had a very low key day.  I made scones for breakfast, Dale went for a massage, had a nap, and watched TV.  Dale's mom came over for birthday cake in the evening, followed by a few wild and crazy rounds of Red Seven.  But then!  We summoned all our energy and left the house after 10:00 p.m. on a bitterly cold November night.  I had suggested going to a new casino/bar called the Shark Club in the afternoon to watch the Jets game, but Dale didn't seem interested.  Turns out he thought I wasn't interested (why I would suggest it if I didn't want to go is unclear), so we decided to check it out after most of the kids were in bed.

When we got there, there was a line-up and we quickly realized this may not be the place for us.  There was no one over the age of 25 as far as the eye could see, and no female who was wearing as many clothes as I was.  We stood in line while deciding what to do, feeling very old and frumpy.  There were three girls behind us who convinced us to stay, and when we got near the front of the line, I asked the bouncer if the place was suitable for people of our age.  He told us there were people of all ages (not true) and let us cut to the front of the line and let us in for free.  He probably didn't want us standing in line, scaring away the younger, hipper crowd.  

Anyway, it all turned out fine.  The casino had a few other "mature" people; Dale played blackjack until he lost his modest allotted entertainment fund, and then we went home.  I might try a little harder in the birthday planning department next year.  Actually, the jewel in my birthday planning was the remote car starter I surprised him with - installed and all.  Blake and Kristin also contributed to the celebrations with a delicious ledis rap (as spelled by their daughter) dinner with an amazing pavlova for dessert on Sunday.

Also this weekend: SANTA!!!  (as in the movie Elf).  It breaks my heart not to post the picture here, especially since it may well be the last one with all three kids.  There was strong opposition from the older two about going in the first place, and I was very worried about what Spencer was going to ask Santa for.  He ended up asking for a sonic screwdriver and a TARDIS, which are Doctor Who-related items.  In a surprising and amazing stroke of luck, turns out Santa is a Doctor Who fan who actually knew what those items were.  I hope he didn't promise Spencer he'd get them.

Our Santa visit was followed by dinner at Boston Pizza, and then Chloe, Spencer and I went to see the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire.  I didn't find it quite as intense as the first one, but we all liked it.  I love Jennifer Lawrence.  I think we could be friends in real life.  Well, it might be more one-sided.  The line between friendship and stalking can be tricky sometimes.

I've been very committed to finishing my Christmas shopping by December first, which is unprecedented.  It's been my life-long goal to be done early so I can relax and enjoy December without having errands and shopping constantly in the back of my mind.  I think it just might be possible this year; my only hope is that's as awesome as I've always dreamed it would be.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Not ready

We got our first snow this weekend and it looks like it’s here to stay.  I know this is what happens where we live, but I’m finding it difficult to come to terms with.  There’s a dark cloud over my head about the arrival of full-fledged winter, which seems kind of wrong when I live in a good, safe, comfortable city with many friends and family around me. I keep reminding myself that many people would give anything to be in my situation, which unfortunately does little to lift my spirits. So, a generous dollop of guilt for my ungratefulness is a nice complement to the dread I’m feeling about how I’m going to get through the next four or five months.
I hope you didn’t come here expecting to find something cheery and positive.  Sorry.  Here’s a picture of Lexie to cheer you up.  She stayed with me on Monday morning, which was pretty fun.
I pride myself on being a pretty good winter driver. In my approximately 30 years of driving (I can hardly believe that … oh boy, am I old!), I don’t think I’ve ever had an accident.  As I was driving along Monday morning after dropping Spencer off and the carpool kids at school, being proud and haughty of my awesome driving record, I hit an icy patch as I came near the turnoff onto Route 90.  I couldn’t stop or turn in time, and I clunked the van up onto the curb of the little barrier boulevard. I sat there for a second, then put the van in reverse, backed down off the curb, and drove away.  Amazingly, everything seemed fine but I was shaking the whole way home.  I’m so thankful no other car was involved and I’m so thankful that the van seems okay.  I hope there’s no internal injuries that will affect the van later, but it’s not like the van is in the prime of its life anyway. But it didn’t deserve to hit a curb.
Since then I’ve been more cautious on the roads.  But if I’m worried in a vehicle, I can’t imagine how cyclists must feel.  I’m noticing a lot of cyclists on the road and I can’t help but admire them, but mostly I just feel very, very scared for them. I saw two cyclists biking along on the icy streets in Osborne Village tonight - one was wearing a ball cap and one other was wearing a beret.  Maybe they feel like a helmet won’t do much for them if they slip under the wheels of a bus. It was dark and neither had reflective clothing or lights on their bike, so I’m guessing safety does not come first.
And here's Lexie again.  She's a little frustrated with trying to get that baby's pants on.

Snow always makes Christmas seem that much closer, so I’ve been trying to get a handle on the shopping. We’re planning to go see Santa on Friday despite the objections of the older two children.  I think I’ve successfully threatened/begged/convinced them to go, however, their condition is that I not post a picture of it on the blog. That saddens me; I’m still hoping they’ll have a rush of Christmas spirit and goodwill towards their mother and allow me to post it. On the way home from school yesterday, I asked Spencer what he’s going to ask Santa for, and he said,  “I’m going to ask that everyone with a Cockney accent would start speaking regular English.”  Apparently Cockney accents annoy him. I believe he had an accent-related request for Santa last year as well.  I started to encourage him to ask for something else, but his other ideas were even worse so I left it. He should be asking for things like common sense, awareness and many guardian angels, because right after this conversation, I dropped him off at the corner near our house so he could run home while I went to pick up Neve from school.  As he was getting out of the van, I said, “Be careful crossing the street.”  He proceeded to start walking straight across the street without even lifting his head, never mind looking both ways.  There was a car coming, so I honked and he quickly ran back to the curb.  I was turning at the corner, so I waved to Spencer to walk before I turned.  I meant that he could go before me; he took it to mean that he could try and cross the street again without looking up.  Another oncoming car, another frantic honk by me, another scampering back to the curb.  The third time was the charm and I was pretty relieved to see that he was still alive when I got home five minutes later. I will be praying hard every time he leaves my sight.
I think I've posted before and after pictures of this closet many times before.  How does it keep getting so messy?!  It always happens when the seasons change; the mix of summer, fall and winter stuff was driving me crazy.  So in twenty minutes, this:
became this:

Yeah, it's probably not particularly interesting to anyone else, but for some reason the thought of posting before & after pics of it on the blog motivated me to clean it.

Here's a random picture involving an interesting onion ring and Chloe.

Here's an awful picture depicting the cold and messiness of the season that is now upon us.

And finally, a happy Lexie picture. That cheers me up a little.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The weekend that feels like it will never end

Sometimes I find long weekends too long.  Hello, first world problem that I should never say out loud.  Normally I love long weekends, especially in summer when we can go to the beach and do other fun outdoors things.  I also love them if I have a project or task that provides direction and focus.  But a cold November weekend with no plans and all five of us in the house can drag on.  Spencer and Neve had no school on Friday, so that makes it four days of staring at each other and our four walls.  It feels like all we’re doing is eating.  Sometimes we’re not finished cleaning up from the last meal before the next meal starts.  Neve often complains that we don’t have enough “sit-down” suppers, but even she commented on how many we had this weekend.

I always say I’m not one of those people who needs to be doing something all the time, but I’m starting to wonder.  As much I say I love to sit and read a book, after about five minutes, I get restless.  Maybe that’s why I have three books on the go at the same time, all of which are taking me very long to get through (years, in one case).  These are some of the things I’ve done this weekend, all in short spurts: played games with the kids, taught Chloe how to crochet, took the kids swimming, did lots of Sudoku, did laundry, made peanut butter rice krispie squares, went for a run, applied for new passports, ordered and picked up photo prints, wrote two letters, did yoga, Christmas shopped - both online and in-store, made two trips to Tutti-Frutti, went to a movie (Captain Phillips) and out for dinner with Dale, put together our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, had two movie nights with the kids, learned how to create a website, and went through some bins of clothes. Oh yeah, and I read two of my books, plus a different one that I’m reading to Neve.  Every time I looked at the clock, I couldn't believe it was still so early.
Despite the hundreds of hours of free time this weekend, it wouldn’t be complete without the kids suddenly remembering all the homework that’s due tomorrow.  Panic, frustration and despair have all made an appearance.  Tuesday, I’m ready for you.  It's time to start looking forward to the next weekend.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Before and after

Hello again.  It's been nice taking a little break and not feeling pressure to come up with something when I had nothing to say.  But I've missed you.
You may remember my bathroom fix-up paint job. The good news is that I got it all done a couple of days after I started.  The bad news is that I probably should’ve just left it as it was.  At least before, people assumed I had done a good job of painting, but you know, funny things happen in older houses and there are always cracks and imperfections.  Now people will look at it and think, why did they let Neve paint the bathroom? (sorry, Neve.)  I tried so hard to sand it smoothly and evenly, but it looks sloppy and rushed.  I am saddened by my lack of skills, but I find it pretty easy to move on and will just try never to look up there again. 
Also in the good news category is that I patched and painted a couple of spots in the living room since I had the mud and primer out anyway. I am quite pleased with my handiwork on one spot in particular, but I think that may be largely due to the fact it's in a corner where the lighting is poor.
I forgot to take a picture before I started, so this is more like during and after.

While cleaning up the yard this weekend, I couldn't help but compare this (at the height of its glory):
to the current situation:
Comparing summer to fall is not exactly comparing apples to apples, but still. One day last week while I was working in the study, I heard a crash on the deck.  One of the hundreds - if not thousands - of squirrels that live in and around our yard knocked one the plants down.  Thanks for that, vile rodent.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Day 31 - The End

One last picture before its demise

If all November days could be like today, I'd be pretty happy.  It was sunny and warm (relatively speaking).  I went for a run in the morning and spent most of the afternoon outside, raking and pulling up plants and putting things away for winter.  We ran out of leaf bags, so we have a big pile of leaves in the middle of the backyard.  Neve was gone most of the day today, so I'm sure after she sees the leaf pile tomorrow, we'll be raking again.

Even though it was lovely to spend time outside, I'm always sad when it's time to put away the summer things in preparation for the long, harsh winter.  It's so exciting to plant my flowers in the window boxes and hanging pots and watch them grow - and so depressing to see them die in the fall and have to pull them out.   All that work for nothing.  Well, that's not true ... the enjoyment they bring me all summer is definitely Worth It.  

Chloe was babysitting until the wee hours this morning, and was still fast asleep when the phone rang just after noon.  It was Chloe's driving instructor, asking where Chloe was.  Turns out she had a driving session scheduled at noon, so that was the fastest wake-up ever.  Up she jumped, pulled on whichever clothes were the closest (her room is crazy messy so there were lots to choose from), and I zipped her to the meeting spot.  The importance of showing up on time has been drilled into the class and Chloe was afraid we'd be charged $37.50 for being late.  Her driving instructor is not the most easy-going, warm person ever (nor would I be if I had to put my life in the hands of 15-year-olds every day), but the Aero bar/bribe we grabbed on the way out the door seemed to do the trick.  Chocolate can solve a lot of problems.

We spent a lovely evening at Blake & Kristin's tonight.  We had raclette for the first time ... it's sort of like a fondue that involves melting cheese and cooking veggies and/or meat on a little grill.  We ate it with baguettes and pesto and potatoes and it was all delicious.  That was followed by fresh warm cinnamon buns for dessert, hits from the 80s, and talking about Twitter and Snapchat and other technology we pretend to be familiar with.  Hashtag good times.

And on that note:  #31days, #over, #totaleclipseoftheheart, #whatwillIdowithmyfreetime, #whathappenedtoclubnoveau, #worthit, #thanksforreading, #youareallawesome

PS:  Here's my Halloween selfie for those who aren't on Instagram.  My hair had already fallen flat by this time.  (why yes, Bailey, those are your grad earrings.  I'll bring them to your house tomorrow!)

Friday, November 01, 2013

Day 30

Neve had a bit of the post-Halloween blues today. She was so grouchy on the way to school this morning. She was complaining about this and that and said, "Halloween wasn't that fun."  My stern lecture about children in war torn countries who have witnessed their parents being killed and who are forced to live at the dump and scrounge for food scraps didn't cheer her up. I was quite happy to leave her at school. Thankfully she was happier at the end of the day.  I'll blame it on the food dye like everyone else does. 

Today was a rare day with nothing on the calendar except Happy Hour. I did some cleaning and errands and we went to Dale's mom's for supper. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend. 

Sorry, the sole purpose of this blog post is so that I only have one more day to go!