Thursday, March 24, 2016

18


This little peanut is now an adult:


How does that happen?!

If I had one wish, I wouldn’t waste it on riches or more wishes. My wish would be for Parental Time Travel. This differs from regular time travel because instead of having the ability to alter the future or history, it would solely be used to jump back and forth to raise your children in non-chronological order. When you’re exhausted after a sleepless night with a restless baby, jump ahead to when the child is fifteen and sleeping til noon. Feeling sad that your 14-year-old son doesn’t want to cuddle? Jump back to when he’s two and loves nothing more than to snuggle up with you and a book and his gecki. If your daughter is 18 and you’re nostalgic for the days when she was home more, skip back to a day when she’s begging you to help her with a craft. Need a break from diapers? Leap ahead to a time when your child would rather die than let you see their bare bum.

I’ve given that way too much thought. If someone is smart enough to make that happen, please do so. Maybe they already have and it’s called a video camera. But it’s not quite the same.

Back to my little Chloe turning 18.

She’s been an easy one. Smart and independent, easy-going and fun. Her naughtiest phase was probably around the time Spencer arrived on the scene. She stopped napping right before he was born, just when I really needed my own nap. Luckily Chloe loved Cinderella, so I’d set up the VCR for her and head to my bed. Sometimes she fell asleep during the movie, but usually not. Kids are weird. How can they watch the same movie literally a hundred times? Those little mice sure are cute though.

When Spencer was born, Chloe thought he was her new toy. She was very possessive and a little bit controlling. Once when he was sleeping in his bucket seat, I saw marks on his face. When I looked more closely, I saw that he had crayon lines drawn all over his face. I asked Chloe what happened and she said, “I face painted him!”

And one day when he was sleeping in his crib, suddenly he woke up much earlier than normal. I headed upstairs and saw Chloe zipping out of his room. Again, I asked what was going on. “I just pushed him so he would wake up more better.”

As Spencer grew, Chloe believed she was his parent. (To this day, I think she often feels like she would make better parenting decisions than we do. Most of the time, she would be right.) She liked to have full control over him, telling him what and when to do things. And he listened. Except sometimes when he bit her out of sheer frustration. Now they get along well, at least as well as Spencer gets along with anyone. He prefers books and records to people right now.

When Neve was born, Chloe KNEW that baby was her toy. Dale and I were older and tired-er so we basically let her raise Neve as she saw fit. I agreed to watch Neve while Chloe was in school. It seems to have worked out; those girls love each other. Chloe still begs us to have another baby, but it will be her turn next – although hopefully not for a looooong time.

Not counting her chronically messy bedroom, Chloe has also been an organizer and a planner. She writes lists for everything. She writes meticulous notes with multiple colours of pens. She plans out her day, her month, her life, and so far things have mostly gone according to plan. She works hard and does everything in her control to make them happen. We know that things won’t always work out as planned, but she’s relaxed enough that she’ll roll with it and make the best out of the situation.

I could go on and on about how awesome she is, but I’m scared stuff like that will come back to bite me.  Next thing you know she’s dating a drug dealer and living in an abandoned train car. I don’t know why that’s the worst thing that came to mind; I loved the boxcar children. I guess I just don’t want to write worse stuff in case I jinx it and everyone will look back at this post and say, “It’s like Ellen somehow knew what would happen!”

All that to say: Chloe, you’re a dream child (even if that changes, I’ll always love you)! You’ve made the world a better place and I love being your mom more than I could ever have imagined!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wacky hair / neighbourhood watch

Two exciting events took place today. One was wacky hair day for Spirit Week at Neve’s school. (It was also Colourful Clothing day, but Neve opted out of that, saying she didn't want to stand out. Hmmm...)

Her expression represents the moment accurately
 
It turned out pretty good but I should mention how happy I was to drop Neve off at school this morning. She likes to be woken up half an hour earlier than is necessary, and today she wanted to be woken up a half hour earlier on top of that. That’s a lot of time to spend together first thing in the morning, especially for a non-morning person like me.

As is always the case, affixing a bottle to a head was tricky. Twist-ties and fishing twine were involved and yet the pop bottle was still a bit wobbly. This made Neve frustrated and irritable. By the time we got to her school, I was ready to kick her out of the van. After dropping Spencer off, I drove by her school again and she was standing at the corner on patrols, beaming. All’s well that ends well. Although I have no idea how she’s going to change into her gym shirt.

The other excitement today was thwarting a break-in. Ever since we were broken into many years ago, I am very attune to suspicious behaviour. I have been known to report suspicious vehicles and take photos of strangers lurking around the back lane. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a tiny bit disappointed sometimes when it turns out to be nothing. 

Most of my time is spent working on my computer in the study at the back of the house. I often hear neighbours’ doors slamming and people talking and vehicles driving down the back lane. Sometimes when I need a distraction, I get up and look out the garden door windows. This morning, I heard a vehicle stop in the back lane and a door slam. It sounded like it was right by our garage, so I looked out the window and saw a guy in my neighbour’s backyard. There are occasionally guys in my neighbour’s backyard – he does construction and sometimes his workers or his brother come to pick something up, etc. – but there was something suspicious about the way this guy was looking around. So I opened my garden door and stepped out onto the deck. He froze, then turned to me and asked, “Does Jessica live here?” When I said no, he said, “Oh. It must be one street over.” He zipped back to his vehicle, which was parked behind my neighbour’s garage so I couldn’t see it from the deck. I ran to the fence  in my socks and saw him get into a silver Nissan Pathfinder, with a woman in the front seat. There was no license plate on the front of the vehicle, so I stood there and waited. They stared at me as they sat in their vehicle for a bit. Finally they inched forward a bit and rolled down the window. The guy gestures toward his passenger and says, “She thought Jessica lived here but it must be a street over.”

I said, “What’s Jessica’s last name? Maybe I know her.”

He came up with a random last name, and I mulled it over and said, “Nope. I don’t know of anyone by that name who lives around here.”

There was more useless conversation consisting of them unconvincingly repeating “I was sure she lived on this street!” several times. I regret not asking them why they were going to Jessica’s back door if they weren’t even sure it was her house. It was very clear to me that they were up to no good, but it was all a very polite, civilized conversation. When they eventually drove away, I waved to them as I memorized their license plate.

I ran in to call the police non-emergency line before I forgot the license plate number. A police officer called to follow up a little while later. He expressed doubt in my judgment in approaching the guy. What he doesn’t know is that I’ve been waiting all my life for an opportunity to practice my Jillian Michaels kick-boxing and my non-existent martial arts training. It didn’t even enter my mind NOT to approach him. I did pause to think that maybe I should wait to catch him in the act of kicking in the door to prove his criminal intent, but then my neighbour would have to fix his door and that sucks. He owes me one.

The problem is that I think I’m way tougher than I actually am. That will likely be my downfall one day. Just put “Vigilante Neighbour” on my headstone and my pride will eclipse my lack of judgment.

Now I'm jumping up to look out the window at every sound. I'm getting no work done. I hope nothing bad happens out front. I can't be everywhere.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Van-tastic

Photo credit: Jim
 
We've had a couple of vehicle-related issues recently. Cars are a necessary evil. I wish we could walk or bike everywhere. I know two guys that actually do that. Okay, I'm sure there are many guys that do that but I'm thinking of two in particular. One is relatively new to the city and doesn't have a car. One day he looked at a map and thought it didn't look too far to walk from downtown to Club Regent casino. It took him four hours on a cold winter day. The other guy is a cyclist: for years, I have seen him pedalling his bike daily on Kingsway, summer or winter. Again, he's not the only one but he is the only one that I've seen that does it with his children. He has a wooden box at the front of his bike and has carted his children to and from school for many, many years. I've seen them all over the neighbourhood and beyond and one thing that puzzles me is that his children still fit in the box.
 
I try to walk to places as much as possible but I'm not willing to go to that extreme. Besides, I can't imagine convincing Spencer to climb into the box. So I am stuck with motor vehicles. And speeding tickets. And car accidents.
 
Yup. First I get a ticket for speeding through a school zone on Harrow. I haven't had a ticket in years so I thought I had a good shot of getting my fine reduced. I thought, "What do I have to lose?" and went to traffic court. Well, it turns out I lost my dignity and $4 in parking. The judge was stone-hearted and cold. I pleaded guilty but said I was a careful driver who hadn't had a ticket in years and then played my trump card by claiming the fine would cause financial hardship. Those are usually the magic words, but not for this judge.
 
In a condescending and mean way, she said, "I see here you had a ticket in 2009. You have to learn to pay attention to the signs and keep focused on the road."
 
Hello?! That's seven years without a ticket! I should be getting a trophy and a key to the city! Do you know how much I've driven in those seven years and how many school zones I have driven through??
 
She did say she could give me more time to pay and asked how much time I needed. I said, "Twenty years." Apparently she did not like that answer and gave me three months instead.
 
The accident was less traumatic, at least for me. Poor Chloe was at the wheel, stopped and waiting for a break in traffic to exit a parking lot, when someone backed out of a parking spot right into the van. Not sure how he couldn't have seen a giant red van, but these things happen. He was a young driver as well and I would have paid money to see how that situation played out. I imagine they both looked like deer in the headlights, having no idea what to do. The guy called MPI right from the parking lot and claimed full responsibility. Chloe eventually remembered our instructions and took pictures of his license plate and drivers permit. Then she called Dale, who told her to draw the accident scene and get the guy to sign it. Which he did! Chloe was a bit shaken up by the whole thing, but she did good. I'm so glad it wasn't her fault - oh right, and that no one got hurt.
 
That little bump caused $3500 worth of damage, which my brother Jim is fixing as we speak. On his birthday, in fact. Both my brothers are autobody guys, so just ask me for their contact info if you are ever unfortunate enough to need it. They gave us a rental vehicle that's so identical to our van that Spencer didn't even realize we had a rental until I told him. So it's been pretty painless.
 
Happy Friday! Hope the weekend is amazing - especially with the spring-like weather - I love it! And drive carefully!

Monday, March 07, 2016

Working for the weekend


Well, that was a busy weekend. Friday night was the Chamber’s Spirit Awards Gala. It went really well and was fun to get all fancy and hang out with the co-workers. Dale and I wore the exact same clothes we wore to my nephew’s wedding; I hope no one noticed. Good thing Dale bought a suit – he wore it twice in one week. What are the chances of that?! My dress situation was a fiasco. I ordered it online from Hudson’s Bay; a designer dress on sale at 75% off. When it arrived, I was saddened to see they had sent me the black/red version instead of the black/white one I had ordered. But I liked the way it fit, so I called customer service and asked them if they could send me the right one and I’d return the wrong one. It sounds so easy. Oh, but it wasn’t. I won’t go into detail because you have better things to do than hear this very long and not particularly interesting story, but after many frustrating phone calls in which they said a white/black version of this dress did not exist, I gave up and kept the black/red one. On Monday, two days after the wedding, I received the white/black dress in the mail. They had charged it to my credit card at the non-sale price (but they so generously waived the shipping fee). I had already worn the red/black dress and I couldn’t muster up the passion to start the fight all over, so I returned the right dress to the Bay and am trying to move forward with my life.

The family at the wedding.


On Saturday, we went skiing at Holiday Mountain in La Riviere. It was a perfect day for it – sunny and very mild, but the snow conditions were still good. There were no line-ups for the lifts and we never had to go inside to warm up. The kids weren’t super excited to go skiing; Neve didn’t want to miss gymnastics, Chloe was tired and not feeling great, and Spencer just likes to be home. But we basically forced them to come and they were so glad they did. HA! When will they learn I’m always right?! They came alive in the fresh air and we all had so much fun together. The small hill and the limited runs made us look back longingly on our trip to Fernie two years ago and we all want to go back so badly (Jan, can you please make that happen?!).



 
 
And now for some video clips. In the one where Chloe goes over the jump, she had just yelled, "I don't want to do this!" Hence the guys yelling from the chairlift. Neve takes a little tumble after her jump, but she pops right back up.
 


Sunday was a three-birthday-party day. Neve went to one of her best friend’s birthday party at Wheelies, Chloe and I went to my great-niece Nixi’s 4th birthday party, and then the whole family went to Jim & Sabrina’s for Bella’s 8th birthday party. My cell phone pics from Nixi's party didn't turn out well, but I got a few of both birthday girls at Bella's party. We are lucky to have such sweet, cute little girls in our life.



All the cousins except Bailey (plus a few extras)

Nixi and her li'l sis (Neve told me to write that)
 

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Day 30 - ETM

 
My 30 day series ended up taking 44 days. I'm finishing strong with a photo of what happens when I ask Spencer to set the table.
 
"Why should it always be the same boring way?"
 
You can tell he's taking art class this semester. Or can you?

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Day 29 - ETM

 
Today you get an extra-large selfie of my head on a lunch time run. I can't say I enjoy every moment when I'm running but I hate it less than I used to. In fact, days like today make me almost love it. It was - 8 C but the sun was warm and bright and the running trail was so beautiful with almost no one else around. I'm so happy it's March ... turning the page on the calendar yesterday felt like a new beginning.