Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

Another happy Halloween is now behind us, except for the mountains of candy that wait to be eaten. This was the first Halloween in years that our annual Halloween Friends didn't join us. The kids all went  out with other friends, so Dale and I sat in the living room and twiddled our thumbs waiting for trick or treaters. We never get many, but they were especially scarce this year which was odd since it's a Friday night. People (myself included) love discussing how many kids they get and analyzing why it was a better or worse year than usual. My kids stayed out longer than usual and reaped the benefits of people's surplus candy at the end of the evening. A few people dumped their whole bowl of candy in the kids' bags. We have a staggering amount of candy and I can't quite fathom the fact that most of it will end up in our five bodies in the next week or two. 

At 16, Chloe is pushing the trick-or-treat boundaries, but she forges on. She loves Halloween and dressed up three times in three different outfits. She dressed as a dalmation for a Cheer party, as an 80s grad for school today, and a bride with a masquerade mask tonight. Thank goodness she takes responsibility for assembling her own costumes.

That would be my grad dress. I don't remember why I chose a dress that drew attention to my mid-section.

The balloons kept Neve nicely insulated on this cool evening.

Sherlock Holmes. Thanks to Steve and Sheri-Lee for the use of the pipe and the magnifying glass.

Chloe and friends (skeleton and steam punk girl)

The candy sorting and trading begins

Can't take his eyes off his candy

Even though our Halloween was different this year, it was still a fun night.  It was the first year that I stayed home almost the whole evening. I kind of missed it - I love walking around and saying hi to the neighbours and meeting new ones. I did go to a couple of houses with Neve and her friend and met some new neighbours who have tiny little twins.

Hope everyone had a happy, safe Halloween. I'm waiting for the kids to go to bed so I can dig into their candy bags.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day 29 (according to the calendar)

It was the night before the night before Halloween and much was accomplished today. I got a massage, did some errands and made a delicious butternut squash soup for supper. I didn’t even know what a butternut squash looked like before today, but somehow that crazy little gourd turned into a little miracle of a meal. I used a recipe from my sister - it has a Thai twist and it's the best soup I've ever tasted.
Baby and mommy butternut squashes

I also made naan bread to go along with it. And pumpkin-shaped cookies for dessert (not pictured).

Then we carved pumpkins, tried on costumes, and made up treat bags to hand out. In honour of my sister-in-law Joan who loved Halloween and was always very generous with handing out candy, I stepped up our offerings this year. When Spencer saw the baggies I had put together, he said, "Oh, we're going to be that house!" It's not so hard being that house when we only get about 20 kids.

Neve's costume - a bag of jelly beans.
When Neve was getting ready for bed today, she said, "I hate flossing but I love myself for doing it." I couldn't agree more. I guess I should go do the same and head to bed. Bonne nuit.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 27 (hopefully no one's counting)

Eleven words I don’t like to hear: “Mom, I have to build a 3D model of a chloroplast.”

Unfortunately those are the very words Spencer spoke last week. He is usually very conscientious about his work and I never have to tell him to do his homework. (I know that’s many parents’ dream, but don’t be too jealous; it comes at the cost of some anxiety issues.) But he needed help with ideas on how to construct the chloroplast model. This is what it's supposed to look like:


Seriously?! I’m usually pretty good at coming up with ideas for stuff like that; I learned from my mom who can make anything with recycled boxes and containers, and from my dad who can build anything that can be imagined out of metal. But I struggled with this one and ruled out various options before deciding to go the papier mache route. From there, Spencer mostly took over. He used a balloon as the mold for the main part and made the disks inside out of clay. But it took time: layers of papier mache, drying time, spray painting, gluing and assembly. Towards the end, he said something about his partner. I freaked a little at this new information and asked Spencer what his partner was contributing.
His answer: The powerpoint.

After listening to me rant about how that kid (and his mom) got off easy, Spencer stuck up for him and said, “He also did a lot of research. I couldn’t have done this project without him.” At least Spencer recognized he also couldn’t have done the project without me; he thanked me sincerely and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I had a long list in my head but since he was being so sweet, I left it there. I’m a sucker - he knows exactly what to say.  
Anyway, here’s “our” chloroplast. I think it looks better than the cartoon version above. We win.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I started a Photography class tonight. It was pretty spontaneous; I only registered for it this morning. I took Level 1 a few years ago and always meant to continue to the next level. But with three kids and all their activities, there was never a good time. It still isn’t great; there will be a considerable amount of choreography involved to get through the next nine Mondays. But I loved everything about today’s class and am excited to get to my homework. (I will not be submitting the chloroplast photo above.)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Catch-up day

I’ve fallen behind on my daily blogging. When I suddenly realized there was no prize for being consistent, my motivation waned. There should be prizes for everything.

A few highlights from the past few days:
Spencer and I went to see Sherlock Holmes at MTC Thursday night. That was fun, even though Spencer barely said two words to me and always tried to be at least ten feet away from me, except when I bought him hot chocolate at intermission. I tried to appeal to the side of him that likes to be unique so I told him he was being such a clich├ęd, stereotypical teenager. Maybe he’ll take that to heart and he'll realize it's cool and quirky to have long talks with your mom, punctuated with lots of hugs. I’d even settle for a side hug. At least we both really enjoyed the play, so that's good.

I almost won the wine draw at work. To enter the draw, you had to put in a bottle of wine and $15. The money went to United Way and the wine went to the winner of the draw. Wendy, the person in charge of the draw, made it fun by doing a “backward” draw – every morning for three weeks she pulled a few names and on the last day, the last name picked was the winner. I was in it right to the very last day, but alas, my name was picked third-last. Doh! Except what I really said was: @#$&%*. So the winner won 43 bottles of wine and it was actually lucky I lost because I didn’t know where I was going to store them anyway.

All five of us went to the Bomber game on Saturday. I go to a Bomber game approximately once every five years and we’ve never been with all the kids (I think the older two have gone before), so it was a big deal. We got free tickets through Neve’s school and there was a big group of parents and kids all in the same section, so it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t even cold. I think the Bombers lost though. We parked at Jim & Sabrina’s and after the game, and even though they weren’t home, we stayed for a long, awesome hot tub. In fact we invited Bob & Janet too and helped ourselves to drinks. At least we fed their cat.

We finished off the weekend by going to Blake & Kristin’s for pizza that was as good as Pizzeria Gusto’s pizza, then going home and watching Amazing Race. And then we started counting down to the next weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 22

Today was a news-filled day. Sad news from Ottawa with the tragic murder of a young soldier. Sad news here with the discovery of dead babies in a storage locker. Less important in light of those events, but happier: a civic election resulting in a new mayor. Brian Bowman is a former chair of the board of The Chamber and he's a great guy that's liked by everyone (well, maybe not by Judy, his main competitor). Call me naive but I have high hopes for Winnipeg in the years ahead.

On a totally different note, I've been reading the book Blubber to Neve. I read it when I was young and thought it would be a good one to read together. But I'm pretty sure it traumatized her. It's about a girl who is bullied, but it's written decades ago when bullying was rarely acknowledged or addressed by teachers and parents. Sometimes I roll my eyes at the things people call bullying these days but if it prevents kids from being treated like the girl in this book, I'm okay with a bit of hyper-sensitivity. The kids in this book were nasty and did such mean things to their victim, like forcibly shoving a chocolate-covered ant (or so they told her) down her throat and pulling down her skirt in front of boys. Neve was horrified by this behaviour and had no idea kids did that. Equally alarming to Neve was the prescence of a few mild swear words. They don't write books like they used to. Where is Judy Blume these days anyway?

But we still liked the book. There were good lessons to be learned. Neve will either always stick up for bullied kids or she'll have gotten some great ideas and will become an excellent bully.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Our friends got a new puppy last week and we finally met her today. Her name is Lucy and she’s adorable. She is so calm and sweet. And smart – she’s figured out she gets a treat when she comes inside nicely, so she goes out just to come back in and get a treat. We are not really a pet family, but if they stayed so little and cute, I’d be tempted. (I’m sure she’ll be an awesome full-grown dog as well, but there’s something irresistible about a puppy.)




In less cute news, tomorrow is Winnipeg's civic election. GO VOTE! People have died fighting for their right to vote. There's your dose of guilt. It's a tight race so your vote matters! If anyone needs help deciding who to vote for, I'm happy to help!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy Birthday to Joan

I have lots of time to think when I run. I think about everything from what to make for supper to things I’d like to invent. I also think about Teresa and Joan and their families. One of the songs on my playlist that always makes me think of Joan is I Run for Life by Melissa Etheridge about her fight with cancer. It makes me wish that Joan’s cancer had been beatable too, but I know she’s more cancer-free now than Melissa Etheridge or anyone else on earth and I’m thankful she’s not suffering anymore.  

But today happens to be Joan’s birthday and she is so missed down here. I made a little movie in her honour – it’s the first iMovie project I’ve ever completed, so it’s a little rough. It shows only my side of the family since I used only pictures that I’ve taken but I know she was loved by many more. They’ll just have to make their own video. :)

I bet she’s having a fantastic time in heaven right now, dancing with the angels. And the best part is she won’t even get a year older. Party on, Joan!  Lotsa Love!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I'm gonna run to you

I ran the WFPS half marathon for the first time today. I'm a fair weather runner so I wasn't crazy about doing a race in mid-October, but my neighbor Karen convinced me to. It turned out to be a beautiful morning and I came as close to enjoying a run as I probably ever will. Even the guy beside me in the picture above looks impressed. Actually he was probably looking to see if I was someone famous because of all the love and cheering my awesome family was heaping on me. This is around mile 10.5 and I was feeling pretty good. My legs started to get tight the last mile but it was a great run. I got my personal best time of 1:56 and 20 seconds. I'm happy about that but somewhat dismayed that I only beat my previous record by 58 seconds even though it felt like I ran way faster. Oh well, it's all good. It was a great event and I really liked that we could stay indoors right until the start time.

Chloe took the above picture with her phone; check out the ones below that Dale took with my good camera. Not only is every photo blurry and far away, I am not on one of them. 

My personal favourite - no photoshopping involved

While we're talking about pictures, I vowed to take a food photo a few posts ago. Here are some squares I made yesterday:

They were fudgy brownies with raw cookie dough (no eggs) no top. I got the recipe from a co-worker and it was the first time I tried them. They are rich and sweet and heavy but so delicious.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Throwback Saturday

I meant to post this on Thursday but I didn’t get around to it. Instead of waiting until next Thursday, I realized there is probably no TBT police that will arrest me for posting this on a Saturday. I should probably have figured that out sooner.

Today’s throwback is to our annual October weekend in Grand Forks with Teresa and Anthony and Doug and Lorie (and sometimes Rob & Gab) and all the kids. It was always a bright spot to look forward to in an otherwise dreary season. After Teresa passed away, we didn’t have the heart to go without her and our long-standing tradition came to an end. I really miss it – sitting around the courtyard, comparing purchases and deals, reading In Touch magazines, eating, drinking, talking, and laughing. Maybe we’ll start a new tradition sometime down the road, but for now all we have are sweet memories and a few photos.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chloe wrote a blog post


My mother has been asking me to write blog posts about my trips this summer ever since I got back. So here it goes. Trip number 1.

In the beginning of July, I went on a missions trip with my youth group. We went to Jacksonville, Florida. It was a three day drive, and so much fun. The days were filled with eating a lot of candy and loud music. Only a few wrong turns were made. One included 2 of the vans getting lost in the mall of America parking lot for about half an hour.

We finally reached our destination at about 11 pm. We unpacked the vehicles and after a quick tour of the YWAM base we were staying at, we walked about a block to the beach. Being the crazy people we are, we decided it was time for a midnight swim in the ocean. Only a few cell phones were water damaged.

The next 5 days were filled with doing work projects around the base, talking to random people around Jacksonville, team building activities, many trips to Walgreens for food and souvenirs and endless trips to the beach. Many of us would wake up around 6 in the morning to go to the beach and either swim or just watch the sunrise. In the evenings we would sometimes have a worship time on the beach, or just hang out at the base and talk to people and bond! Sleep apparently wasn't important on the trip, as we got nowhere near how much we should have. But sleep deprived teenagers can be fun. On our last full day, we rented surfboards and one of the staff taught us how to surf. It was so much fun, and the next morning a few of us went down to the beach to try again.

Leaving was hard, but was made a bit easier when one of the staff decided to have an impromptu road trip. She was going to go down to Tennessee in about a week, but decided to go with us instead! And then leaving was made harder when half the people started getting sick. I'm not sure why, but almost everyone started feeling sick and there was puke and it was not pretty. This caused us to rethink our plans to go to Six Flags, which was kind of upsetting. I hate rides and I was sick, so I didn't mind, but some other people were really looking forward to it. We eventually all made it back to the church.
Photo credit goes to Brynden, my youth leader. All the pictures I took seem to have vanished from the computer (or may have been deleted from my camera before I saved them to the computer). Not sure what happened. :(

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 15

It was a good day today. Siobhan is in Winnipeg this week and she came over to do a personal yoga class for me and a couple of friends this morning. That was pretty cool. All I had to do in return was bake a few chocolate chip cookies. It was great hanging out with her and even though I haven't yet convinced her to move back here, she said it was her best Winnipeg visit yet. Progress is being made.

I posted a photo of the rest of the group on Instagram, so I thought I'd post a different one here. Don't we look yogalicious?! (I don't know what that means either but I think it's a cute word).

It was another beautiful fall day. When Chloe got home from school, we went for a little bike ride and then later I went for a run, followed by a walk to 7-11 with Chloe tonight. If the weather stayed this nice, I would be in such good shape.

Also tonight, I was in the Polo Park area when I noticed the new Target was open. So I went and found out today was its first day. Someday I can tell my great grandchildren that I was at that Target on its first ever day of business. Judging by Target's sales in Canada, that's probably unlikely. I hope I'm wrong; I am a fan of Target. It's clean and civilized and empty. I guess the empty part is the problem. No fewer than four salespeople asked if they could help me tonight. I tried to think of things just to make them feel useful, like bringing me a basket and stuff. I liked it. So everyone, please go to Target and spend lots so they stay in business. The new store looks so enormous from the outside, but on the inside it seems like it's about the same size as Grant Park. I don't know how that's possible; maybe there's a trick wall with a secret compartment behind it. Now that would impress the great grandchildren.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Neve is thankful for

Neve took my "thankful photo idea" more seriously than the others but she just sent them to me this morning. The pictures were taken with her old iPod so the quality isn't great but it works. 

She is thankful for music (this is her princess CD player):



Nice clothes:


And last but not least: freckles!!!!!!! (The exclamation marks are hers)

I'd say those things sum up her life pretty well. And I'm thankful that she did my blog post for today. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thanksgiving #2

Today was the warmest Thanksgiving Day I can remember. Of course my memory isn't that great so maybe it's this nice every year. But I don't remember ever having to dig out shorts from my summer clothes bin before. Whatever the case, the lovely weather made it easy to be thankful today. 
Besides the usual "family and friends" thing, here are just a few pictures of things I am thankful for.
A healthy body that allows me to go for a run on a beautiful morning:

Flowers still blooming in mid-October:

Reading the newspaper and eating breakfast on my front porch:


The neighbour's cat who kept the squirrels and birds away from me as I sat on the front porch:


And that was all before noon. In the afternoon, we raked leaves and spent as much time as possible outside before heading to Dale's mom's for Thanksgiving dinner.

This morning, I told the children to take pictures of things they were thankful for. In a rare turn of events, they didn't listen to me. On their way to bed, they quickly took pictures of the first thing they saw.

Chloe uses this almost every day and is very thankful for this:

Spencer is thankful for Doctor Who and just happened to be wearing this t-shirt:

Apparently Neve took a picture but forgot to send it to me before she went to bed, so we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what she's thankful for.
I hope everyone had a happy long weekend with much to be thankful for.