Sunday, November 30, 2014


Between work and school and Christmas preparations, the days are flying by. My Christmas shopping is progressing at a snail’s pace. I don’t have the motivation to finish early like I did last year. I’ve tried staying out of the stores as much as possible this fall, so it’s a jolt to be thrust back into retail chaos. I was especially overwhelmed at Bed Bath and Beyond. It’s “beyond” all right. Definitely sensory overload, with millions of colourful things I had no idea I needed or wanted until I saw them. And everywhere I go, such weird people. At Target customer service, there was a guy in front of me who asked to use their phone. He tried dialing the number many times but every time there was a very loud beeping before he finished dialing. Finally the customer service lady helped him remember that we always need to dial the area code. So he finally gets through; turns out he’s calling to make an appointment for a massage and he has a long conversation about which massage therapist is available when. Why he suddenly needed to make the call while shopping at Target is unclear. That’s just one tiny example of the oddities out in full force.

Other things going on these days:

Dale had a birthday last weekend. I made him the breakfast of his choice (bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and fruit, if you’re wondering), gave him tickets to a Jets game in the afternoon, and had some family over for birthday cake in the evening. I believe he had a good day, even though the Jets didn’t win.

I went to the Legislative Building on Monday with my photography class. I took hundreds of pictures, both inside and out. Not many shots were as great as I was hoping, but it was fun. This afternoon our class went to the Western Canadian Aviation Museum and shot there for a few hours. Once I sort through my ridiculous amount of photos, I’ll post some.

Our new neighbours have moved in. It’s a dad and his two boys. Dale met them already and has given his stamp of approval. I’m planning a neighbourhood Christmas party that probably only a couple of my neighbours will actually come to, but hopefully the new ones will come so we can analyze them. I made a typo on the invitation (I spelled our street name wrong) which I feel sick about; I expect that will discourage a few people from coming. They’re probably thinking, “If she can’t even spell her address right, her house will probably be slovenly and there will most likely be hair in the food.”

Spencer had no school yesterday, so he and I went to a Chamber luncheon with Justin Trudeau as the guest speaker. We put him in charge of guarding the doors until the start of the event. He was very diligent and questioned everyone who tried to enter, including the convention centre staff and Chamber employees. He was pretty excited about the whole thing, especially the mashed potatoes at lunch. Oh, and the part where he talked to Justin and shook his hand and took a picture with him. I’ll post the picture once I get it from the photographer.

I like to hunch my shoulders over because it isn't cool for a teenage boy to stand up straight.

Spencer's second picture of the day with a prominent person

We took advantage of a 45-minute block of time between children’s activities to go see Santa, despite the protests of some (ie. one) of my children. I knew it was Black Friday, but I thought most parents were probably smart enough to keep their children far away from the mall that day. Due to a rare combination of good luck and good timing, my thinking was correct. This surprised us all. There was literally no one else in line, so we were in and out in minutes. While Spencer asked Santa for money and power, I was reprimanded by two different elves for taking pictures with my own camera even though I still bought their picture. Bah, humbug. I think I said this last year too, but I guess next year I really will allow them to opt out if they’re going to give Santa a hard time.

We got our Christmas tree today. It is … interesting. The lowest branches are about three feet off the ground. We will literally be able to sit under the Christmas tree and open our gifts this year. Some of the short ones may even be able to stand. The other odd thing is that it has no smell whatsoever. I love the scent of a pine tree – smelling it whenever we walk in the door – but this year I’ll have to use my Bath & Body pine scent room spray instead. Tomorrow is decorating day.

Last but not least, Chloe passed her lifesaving exam today and can now officially be a life guard. She’s been taking full-day classes every Saturday for the past two months so she’s happy to have that over with. She has to take a couple more classes to be a swim instructor, but apparently they aren’t as intense. Now if only she had time for a job.
That's my update for the past week or two. You may also think of this as our Christmas letter. It's looking like another non-Christmas-card/letter year. We did go on two trips this year (Costa Rica/skiing in Fernie) so it would make for a nice, braggy Christmas letter, but the part about my sister-in-law dying puts a significant damper on things. So I think I'll just leave it. 
I'll try to post again soon with some pictures. Hopefully there will be a decent one of my Christmas tree and everyone can comment that they don't even know what I'm talking about; the tree is splendid!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christmas shopping begins

After setting a world record for the slowest flip ever, the house next door sold after being on the market for a few months. I'm not sure why there is an "I" in front of the "sold" on the sign. Is the sign itself sold? Should there be an "it" at the end? An "am" in the middle? I curious about who our new neighbours will be and I hopeful that they will want to build nice fence with us.

I doubt it's a coincidence that the house finally sold shortly after a fresh layer of snow covered up the chaotic backyard and the gaping hole under the front steps. The snow appears to be here to stay. This disappoints me. I'm always hoping for one of those once-in-a-century years where the snow doesn't come until mid-December. The only good thing about the snow (besides increasing the property value next door) is that it makes me think about Christmas shopping. Often I have a good start by now, but I've had no desire to go shopping yet. In fact, I have been in very few stores the past few months. I'm tempted to stay home and buy everything online, but my goal is to shop local this year. Very local, in fact. I'm trying to buy what I can in the smaller stores in my neighbourhood. I ventured out today for the first time and ended up buying things I didn't need, just to support the nice neighbourhood business owners. It will end up costing me a fortune, but it won't crush my spirit like the mall would. Except when I'm broke. Oh well, nothing's perfect. There are some things that I know I'll have to get at the bigger stores but if I don't make it there, everyone's getting Tiber River products.
One other thing that got me started thinking about Noel was the Santa Claus parade on Saturday. We watched it at my work with family and friends and I took lame pictures. I still have much to learn in my photography course. But it was fun as always and it's good to know Santa's in town taking orders now.

Here are some pictures that turned out better, due in large part to the cute subjects.

PS: Happy birthday to Siobhan!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Home day

I really wanted to go to a Remembrance Day service this year, but as I drove home from my photography class late last night in the cold and snow, I decided I would pay my respects from inside my warm home, where I am very grateful to live in peace and comfort. I’m never sure what activities are acceptable to do on Remembrance Day; anything too frivolous feels kind of wrong but I guess whatever makes you appreciate the sacrifice of others is fine. We seized the opportunity to spend the entire day at home, which was a rare treat. Neve created PowerPoints for fun, Spencer played Minecraft, and Chloe hung out with her cousin. Dale and I worked in the storage room for a couple of hours, cleaning and organizing and clearing a path to the freezer. We didn’t go through the file cabinets or dig into any boxes but it still feels a hundred percent better. We vowed to allot an hour or two each week and cycle through each room in the house. When it’s Storage Room’s turn again, we can dig deeper. Except by then, we’ll probably be right back at the Before picture. But it’s a brilliant plan in theory.


Dale’s sister from Florida and her family have been in town for a few days and are leaving early tomorrow morning. Chloe was thrilled to have Sarah here and they spent every possible minute together. It’s always hard for them to say goodbye. At least Alex from Target (click here if you’ve been living under a rock or have no teenage girls in your household) is now following Chloe on Twitter, so she has reason to go on.

As mentioned above, we got snow yesterday. Siobhan may be doing handstands on the beach in Hawaii but here we have a thin little layer of snow trying to stick around. I’m cheering for the sun to do what it does best and get rid of it. I’ve got my heart set on a few more snow-free weeks. At least my niece Sarah was excited to see snow.
While it’s lovely to have a day off on a Tuesday, it’s messing with my head. It feels like it’s Sunday night but the real Sunday feels like it was more than two days ago. And tomorrow is like Monday but it's really almost the weekend again. I better get to bed so I can finish this weird week strong.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Why is it so dark at 5:30?

The thing I like about daily blogging is that it provides a more accurate glimpse into everyday life. When I blog less consistently, it's usually about someone's birthday or a special occasion or event. But when I look back and read old entries from a year or two (or eight) ago, the plain, unexciting posts that remind me of the different stages we've gone through as a family are the ones I like best. I definitely can't see myself blogging every day, but I'm just writing this down to remind myself to do a daily blogging stint every once in a while.

Today was an odd day. I had work to do but no tight deadlines, so I lacked focus. I'd do some work, then get up and roam around the house. These are some of the things I did:
  • I removed all the screens and washed the windows.
  • I put away all our summer shoes. By "put away" I mean I threw them all down the basements stairs to deal with later.
  • I found a technique online to remove salt stains from footwear so I cleaned all our boots and shoes.
  • I watched four episodes of The Mindy Project (I love it, Corinna) while eating a toasted tomato sandwich for lunch
  • I cleaned off the kitchen counter, including some things that had been there for weeks because I didn't know what to do with them.
  • I made naan bread (again). Dale put a pork roast in the slow cooker this morning before work and I thought it would be a nice change to have naan bread with the pulled pork instead of buns. It wasn't. Last week when I made naan bread, we ate it all so fast and everyone wanted more. Today I made a double recipe and there are a thousand pieces left. It doesn't go with pulled pork.
Reviewing the list of achievements makes it seem like a productive day, but it doesn't feel like it. I felt blah and unmotivated all day. I'll be like everyone else and blame it on the time change.

Now it's time to tease my dad. This is his Facebook status.

I'm guessing he meant to search for Lilystone Farm but he must have typed it into his status bar instead. And then he liked it! Yay Dad! If you're his Facebook friend, you should go like it too. We're not laughing at you, Dad, we're laughing with you. I think it's awesome that you're on Facebook and you should post things way more often. You've come a long way with technology; the early days when you would send emails with the whole message in the subject line in all caps are a distant memory.

I feel like going to bed but it's not even 8:00. I guess I'll go roam around the house and look for things to do that don't require much focus. Maybe I'll deal with the pile of shoes at the bottom of the basement stairs.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Day 31

We spent a nice Sunday night with my family, celebrating the birthday of a certain lovely twenty-one year old.

I've been taking lots of pictures for my photography course, experimenting with different settings and trying not to use the flash. Some of my attempts are less successful than others. Most of them, in fact. But I keep practicing.

The birthday girl plays Donkey
Other than that, the weekend consisted of eating lots of Halloween candy, raking and pulling up dead plants, replenishing my energy with more little Kit Kats and Coffee Crisps, and going out for dinner with Dale on Saturday. We got a gift card for our anniversary for CafĂ© Dario and finally got a chance to use it. It's a unique little restaurant in an old house; the food was really good and it was a rare night out for just me and Dale.

I think my 31 days of blogging are done, give or take eight or ten. I'm going to try to keep it more consistent from now on. We'll see how that goes.