Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Neve turns twelve

When I was pregnant with Neve, Spencer had a hard time comprehending the process. He wasn't curious about how the baby got into my belly or how it was going to come out; instead he puzzled over who the baby was going to be. In his almost-four-year-old mind, he thought she must be someone we already knew, no matter how many times we told him it was going to be a brand new person who'd never existed before. Many times during the last month or two of my pregnancy, he would ask, "But who is it going to be?"

At the time, he went to Sioban's awesome home daycare. There was a little girl who also went there who was a bit of a bully. Let's call her Kayla. She wasn't his favourite.

One day when he came home from a particularly frustrating day, he asked his usual question.

"We don't know who the baby is yet. We'll have to wait and see," I told him for the hundredth time.

He sighed deeply and said, "I sure hope it's not going to be Kayla."

Spencer was very relieved not to be holding Kayla.

Neve was our little bonus baby. Still is, in fact. We thought we were finished after two kids but then we reconsidered. We hemmed and hawed for months (years, even) and weighed the pros and cons. Finally, I got some wise advice from Teresa who said something to the effect of, "Don't ask yourself if you want another baby and all the work that goes with it; instead ask yourself if you want another older child. The baby years last such a short time but you'll have an older/adult child for the rest of your life."

Thinking about the big picture was very good advice indeed and nine months later, Neve was born. Okay, maybe not exactly nine months, but Neve at least partially owes her existence to Teresa. 

My only regret is that we didn't have her five years sooner. Imagine if she turned 22 on 2/22/2022. That would be the best thing ever.

While looking through Neve's baby pictures, I'm reminded of how she was everyone's favourite toy. There's a picture of her in a doll cradle. There's one of her in the baby swing with headphones on, listening to an old walkman (set up by one of the kids). There's one of Chloe taking Neve's blood pressure with the toy doctor set. One of newborn Neve dressed in a princess crown and accessories. And many, MANY pictures of Chloe holding her possessively. We loved that baby from the start. I guess I could just post the pictures instead of describing them, but that means digging through digital files or scanning the prints. Ain't nobody got time for that.


We still love that baby. She's a good kid. She works hard in school and at play. She writes sweet notes. She loves popcorn and chocolate. Gymnastics is her passion and she's always flipping and twisting and handspringing around. She's always up for a challenge or for an episode of Gilmore Girls. She loves her sister and brother and is excellent at folding laundry and making smoothies. She also has a soft spot for cats, Bean in particular. As she makes the transition from little girl to pre-teen to the teenage years, I'm enjoying every ounce of "little girl" while I can. There's lot to look forward to, but why rush it?

The celebrating started last night with some family over for birthday cake. It was a good turnout for a Tuesday night. we were delightfully surprised to have my nephew bring a friend ... that was actually more exciting than Neve's birthday. (He's an awesome, funny, good dude; the surprise is just because he seemed pretty comfortable with his single life).

My picture-taking was not on point.

The partying continued today with scones for breakfast, home for lunch and a partial episode of Gilmore Girls, and bringing cookies to school. Things were dampened (literally) by having to go to swimming lessons. Due to pool renovations, it's only a six-week session so we don't want to miss any classes (plus I like to run during that time).

Dinner was at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Chloe had to work, but joined us as soon as she was done. Finally at 9:15 p.m., we were all home together for the first time and Neve opened her gifts. We gave her a gymnastics mat, which we're hoping with all of our hearts will muffle all the jumping and bouncing she does upstairs. It's the gift that keeps on giving. I hope.

The last piece of the birthday puzzle is her party with friends. That doesn't happen for another 10 days, so we'll take a break from partying until then.

Sweet baby Neve twelve years ago

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Long weekend

Well, that was a nice long weekend. The holiday is Louis Riel Day, but in other provinces it's Family Day, so I always feel pressure to do things with the kids. I kept seeing pictures on social media of families at Festival du Voyageur (I'm looking at you, Corinna), the zoo, the Forks, and engaged in various outdoor winter activities.
That was not the case here. Neve had back-to-back sleepovers, Chloe was away most of the weekend, and Spencer was ...well, Spencer. Yesterday I was overcome by the desire to at least have all the kids in the same room at the same time, so I gave them the choice of going skating at the Forks for a couple of hours or playing Dutch Blitz. I was almost disappointed how easily they fell into my trap and basically begged to play Blitz. I thought I had raised them to be more suspicious of things that sound too good to be true. But I was still pretty pleased with my success, even though I had to leave for yoga before the game was over.
Dale and I proved we can have fun without the children by going to Hecla for the day on Saturday. We stopped in Arborg at my cousin Johnny's bakery for some sweet treats and then headed to Dale's brother and sister-in-law's cottage. They had a fire going and it was so warm and cozy and peaceful. But the best part was hanging out in their sauna and doing our own version of the Thermea cycle. The people ice-fishing on the lake seemed surprised to see people in their swim suits rolling in the snow on the lake every fifteen minutes. We should have acted surprised to see people in their snow suits sitting by a hole in the ice. Once we were all saunaed-out (what's up, spellcheck? You don't think "saunaed" is a word?), we had a delicious dinner, played some Rook, and drove home late at night. It was such a great day.

The other days were a good mix of relaxing and productivity: I did lots of laundry; everyone got clean sheets for Louis Riel day, which is pretty special. We have a certain girl's birthday to celebrate tomorrow, so time was spent on preparations. I went for my first outdoor run in ages on Sunday and did yoga Friday, Saturday and Monday. My yoga month ends tomorrow which I'm really sad about. I definitely got my money's worth - I went almost every day. I loved feeling the heat (even though I continue to smell like stale salt & vinegar chips) and I feel like I got stronger. I'm hoping to still go to occasional classes but I really need to increase my running and cardio in general.
In unrelated news, Spencer finally brought his report card home from school today.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Day 30

I'm wrapping up the series with another day of mediocre highs and lows. I'm sure I've made you all jealous with the non-stop excitement that is my life. In my defense, January and February are not my best months. July and August would be better. So much better in fact that there wouldn't be time to blog every day because I'd be out enjoying life. I don't hate winter as much as I used to, but it definitely still sucks away some of my joy. I feel half alive most days. That sounds extreme but it's kind of true. Well, let's say three-quarters alive; it's not that bad.

  • Yoga.
  • I washed the van today. It's dirty already, but it sure felt good for about thirty seconds.
  • Watching Gilmore Girls tonight. It's been tougher to fit it in lately so it was a treat.

  • Work stuff that makes me raise my eyebrows. Lately there's been a duplication of work that is pointless and time-wasting and it's starting to bug me.
  • Chocolate. You're probably thinking that's in the wrong category, but there's so much of it around since Valentines Day and it's all so delicious that I can't stop nibbling. I'm trying to pace myself but I'm wondering if I should just eat it all in one day and get it over with.
  • Spencer felt good enough to go to school today but he forgot to pick up his report card today, despite my last words to him as he walked out the door being "don't forget your report card."

I wasn't kidding when I said mediocre. Let's see if you can do better. Special shout-out to Dan, Sheri-Lee, and Siobhan for playing along. Honourable mention to Jim and Steve and anyone else who commented. Thanks for reading, everyone! I'll be back!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Day 29

For my last two days of daily blogging, I'll go back to the highs & lows.

  • Another early morning yoga class (it's getting easier!)
  • Going for breakfast with an old school friend (the emphasis is on "school friend", not "old" or "old school"). We were close friends growing up and even though I rarely see her now, we always have lots to talk about when we do meet up. Long-time friends are more and more precious to me as I grow older (it's hard to use the word precious without saying it in my head like Gollum).
  • Going for the first run in weeks while Neve was at swimming lessons
  • A delicious supper/snack of fresh salsa and fajitas at my niece Bailey's Pampered Chef party. I was starving and it was so yummy. Speaking of Pampered Chef, if anyone has something they've been wanting to order from there, I'm sure Bailey could add it to her order. I'm pretty excited about a whipped cream maker I ordered. It promises to make whipped cream in 30 seconds. I will be testing and timing that the second it arrives. You can see their products here.


Hmm, there's nothing really bad to report. We're trying to make some school decisions that I didn't expect to be making, but we've got two good options to choose from so it's not actually a negative thing. Oh, Spencer was home sick today, but honestly it was kind of nice having him lying on the couch while I worked. Except today was when report cards were sent home and he wasn't there to get his. He tells us so little about what goes on at school so the report card is one of the only barometers I have of his school life. Now I have to wait until tomorrow. Life is hard.

And finally, here's both a low and a high. The mermaid tail blanket I ordered for Neve for Christmas never arrived. The company I ordered it from (Rosegal) claim it was lost by the shipping company and say it's not their fault and because I didn't purchase insurance, too bad for me. However, they said because I was a "valued customer" - even though I've never ordered anything from them before and never will again - they would let me buy the same item again at 50% off OR they'd give me a store credit for 50% of the amount. We messaged back and forth quite a few times, with them firmly sticking to their offer and me refusing it. But eventually they agreed to refund the whole amount to my VISA. This was a pleasant surprise for me because I am actually very poor at negotiating and rarely achieve success. But we still don't have a mermaid tail blanket, much to Neve's dismay.

Your turn to share your highs & lows. Don't be shy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Day 28

Happy Valentines Day, everyone! Our main celebrations were on Sunday, but we did a little celebrating today too. I made cookies this morning (Pillsbury heart cookies from a package) but most of them are still uneaten because I guess people are getting sugared-out around here. Plus a friend dropped some cute cookies off for us and hers were better.

Dale got me three different types of chocolate - actually four, because I found more on my pillow. He's pretty sweet that way. Since we went out a few times last week, we just went to Shawarma Khan for dinner tonight.

I just spent a LONG time trying to find a good picture of Dale and I to post, but no one is sorrier (sorryer? both look wrong) than me to tell you that no such photo exists. There are very few of us together, and in the ones there are, we look as stiff and posed as the American Gothic painting. Dale may as well be holding a pitchfork.

This is us in Florida in 2011. We still wear all those clothes, in fact that's still one of my go-to tops.

This is us in 2012 or whenever Jim turned 40. It's not super obvious, but we are attempting to dress in 80s attire.

It's not getting any better. This is us in 2012. Dale chipped his tooth at the start of our trip and looks like a hillbilly in every picture. There I am wearing the same top.

This one is still pretty stiff and unnatural, but it's the best of the bunch (Vietnam 2015). Not wearing the purple shirt, but I'm pretty sure I took it along on that trip.


I think we need to book a professional photographer and get some portraits taken. I pity our children trying to dig up pictures for our surprise 50th anniversary party. What a dismal slideshow that's going to be.

We've been through a lot together: some bad, but mostly good. What's important is that we still love each other after all these years! So what if we don't have any pictures to prove it?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Day 27

It's the end of another era. Tomorrow Neve has her last class Valentines Day party. At least I assume it's the last; I don't remember the other kids doing it in grade 7. That's kind of sad because her and I love coming up with fun valentine ideas. However, I don't miss those early years when the kids were still learning to print and writing the "to" and "from" names on the valentines was a punishment. We'd start in January sometimes and write a few each day. That's when you really appreciate small class sizes. My heart would drop when I'd hear of a new kid coming. Some parents were smart and just wrote the names themselves. That horrified me at the time and I admit I did think a tiny bit less of them, but they had the last laugh. They saved themselves a lot of stress and frustration and after a few weeks, I couldn't have told you which parents did it. And if my memory serves me correctly, I never received one award for making my kids do it themselves. I should have though.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Day 26

Our Kornelsentines celebrations were a rousing success. Since no one had to rush off to school or work, we had a nice leisurely breakfast. Cake was still the main course, but since we had more time this year, we also added a scrambled egg casserole as a low-carb option. We'll keep sneaking in healthy options every year until no one even remembers the chocolate cake. Let's see if that evil plan works.
Last year Bailey was in BC for Valentines Day, so we were happy to have her here this year. She's getting married this summer so I don't know what that means for next year. I'm not sure how her future husband will feel about her spending Valentines Day with us instead of him. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. And kidnap her if we have to. Or go the less complicated route and invite him too (of course he's more than welcome!).

This year's treats brought some matching gear.

T-shirts that say Kornelsentines

Matching socks from Auntie Sabrina & Uncle Jim

My highlight was getting a chocolate orange from Tia. I've never had one before but have always wanted one. When there's a box of chocolates, I always pick the chocolate orange one first. I remember seeing them in the Sears catalogue as a kid and have been curious ever since. I hinted strongly at Christmas time that I'd like one, but Santa didn't come through for me. I thought I'd have to wait until next Christmas but then Tia got me one! And it's delicious. It totally lived up to my expectations. It's pretty rich so I thought I'd have one piece a day and it would last me weeks, but I've already eaten half of it. It was a good day.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Day 25

Okay, here I am, getting back on track for the last five days of my 30 day challenge that took 40 days.

As I said, it was a busy week at work. Besides my regular work, I have four trips in the works at various stages right now. I had an information session for the India & Dubai trip on Tuesday evening. We had a decent turn out and got a few bookings that night. There's been good interest, for good reason. The price is really good at $3340 per person, which includes almost everything: airfare, hotels, taxes, fees, sightseeing, and some meals. If you've ever thought of going to India or Dubai, you should come! Or if you're like me and India isn't necessarily at the top of your list, you should still come! I know someone who went on this tour a few months ago and she said India is exactly like you expect it to be: crowded, dirty, noisy, and smelly. But she said it was incredible and amazing to experience and she was so glad she went. The nice thing about this trip is that it's only 6 nights in India, so if the thought of India overwhelms you, this is perfect. We stay in nice hotels, see the best of India, eat at good restaurants, and have excellent guides who know their history and make it interesting. And you get to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise.

Then we head to Dubai, where the streets are basically made of marble and it looks like the city gets vacuumed every night. We spend three nights in Dubai, plus an optional extension of two nights in Abu Dhabi. Dubai is insane. You want to dive with sharks? Sure. Go up the tallest building in the world? Sure (the elevator travels 260 floors in 60 seconds). See the world's only 7 star hotel? Yup. (you can't go in unless you're a guest or have made reservations to go for coffee. The price: $150. It better be a good cup of coffee.) Play tennis on a heli-pad way above the ocean? Why not? Ski in an indoor ski slope? Of course. Here's a pretty fun link: I can't verify the accuracy of the photo captioned "A regular sight at the local dump" but you never know.

I have one huge concern about this trip. You're thinking maybe the long flights? Seeing the poverty of India and feeling helpless and hopeless? The possibility of getting sick from unfamiliar food? No. I wish those were my biggest issues. The thing that scares me most is that we could be aboard a flight with falcons. Maybe you've seen this picture going around the internet:

It's real. I checked Here's the story on CNN (Trump says CNN is fake news ... this is one time I'm hoping he's right).

To quote from the article: According to its website, Qatar Airways will allow a passenger to travel with one falcon as an economy class passenger and a maximum of six falcons are permitted within the entire cabin ... (other airlines allow falcons as well).

What the hell?!? And yes, swearing is justified in this situation. Can you imagine?! Even if you weren't scared of birds, I'd think this would be a little disconcerting. Would they fly around the cabin? Would they shit everywhere? If there are falcons on any of our flights, I'm going to have to abandon the group. And then I'll walk home.

Apparently Arabs love falcons. Falconry is huge there. I've never used the word "falconry" before. There's even a hospital dedicated strictly to falcons:

But if you're not scared of falcons, you should come! We're going to have a really good group and we're going to see some crazy shit!

Okay, I'm done with the swearing and the sales pitch.

Other happenings this week ... Neve is down to her last few months at her elementary school so we're now scouting out schools for next year. We went to LCS's open house this week and have another school to check out next week. She's pretty easy going and would be fine with either school.

I had three restaurant meals this week: one with the travel rep who came from Toronto to do the India & Dubai presentation (Clay Oven), one with my friend Claudine's mom who was visiting from Nova Scotia (Boun's on Marion), and last night we went to Peasant Cookery with some friends. We had a lot of fun ... good food, good friends, lots of laughing.

Tonight is Kornelsentine Eve. My nieces are over for a sleepover in anticipation of our chocolate cake breakfast tomorrow. I always try to do it on Feb. 14, but Chloe and Tia have early classes so we're doing it tomorrow instead.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Not sure if this even counts as a day

Siobhan called me out on dropping the ball with the daily blogging so I need to pull myself together. Once one day slips by, it gets easier and easier to let the next one slip by.

I started writing a nice long post but then I ran out of steam. I was up at 5:20 for another early morning yoga class, super busy all day long, got home at 9:00, and now finishing up some work before bed.

The whole week has been a blur and I feel overwhelmed with stuff I still need to get done in the next few days. So I'm basically writing this to say I'm too tired to write anything. Nice.

But I'll be back! Probably not tomorrow, but one of these days. And I'll pick up where I left off and finish those 30 days. I'm nothing if not persistent. That's actually not true, but I try.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Day 24

I'm not ready for the weekend to end. I always think I'll accomplish way more than I actually do. You'd think by my age, I'd know what's realistic and what's just crazy talk. But no. Or maybe my goals are realistic but I'm just older and slower and have less energy than I think I do. I like to think I have the same energy I did when I was 25, but maybe ... just maybe ... that's not true. Nah, that can't be it. I will continue to make unrealistic goals every weekend and be slightly disappointed in myself every Sunday night. It's gotten me this far.

Today was kind of exciting around here ... Spencer got his first cell phone. He's been totally anti-cell phone until recently, when he confided that not having a phone might be hindering his social life since that's how kids communicate and make plans with each other. I'm not one to push a cell phone on my kid but if he's at the point where he's ready to be more social, I'm not going to lie and say that doesn't make me a tiny bit relieved. Plus it will come in very handy to be able to communicate with him and vice versa. There have been too many occasions in the last couple of years where he's had to walk MILES to get home when his plans changed unexpectedly and he had no way to phone us to let us know. I know you're thinking, "Why didn't he call from a pay phone?" or "Couldn't he borrow someone's phone to call you?" Trust me, we asked those same questions and are still waiting for answers.

I'm not sure how much he'll actually use his phone though. When most people get a new phone, they are excited to set it up and download apps and play around with new features. Not Spencer. After he got home, he left it on the counter and went upstairs to read. He says he doesn't want to bother taking it to school either. It's going to be like his glasses all over again. He got a pair in fall to help him see the board at school but he has yet to bring them to school because he thinks they'll get lost or broken in his backpack. That was money well spent.

I've got a bunch of things happening this week so I'm going to get to bed at a reasonable hour and savour the last hour or so of my weekend. Hope yours was good and I wish you all a happy, healthy week.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Day 23

If you look closely, you can see the Canadian flag reflected in the second window on the left. It was a lot clearer and closer in real and gave me patriotic chills (not to be dramatic or anything).
Today marked my introduction to activism. I missed the women's walk a couple of weeks ago (the day after Trump was elected) because I didn't know about it in time, so when I heard there was a Walk for Human Rights at the Forks today, I jumped right on that bandwagon. It would have been even more exciting if we were angrily protesting something, but walking together for human rights, inclusivity, and love seemed like a cool thing to do. I was going to go alone but in the end Dale came with me and he was glad he did. We listened to a couple of speeches that made us proud to be Winnipeggers/Canadians and then did a little jaunt around the outside of the Human Rights Museum. It was fun to see all the people and hang out and be part of a movement that accepts and welcomes  people instead of turning them away. We met a few people we knew and it was a really warm atmosphere. "Warm" is probably the wrong word; my toes were pretty cold by the end, even in my good winter boots. But my hands were toasty in my awesome furry bright turquoise mitts. I even made a sign that said "All you need is love ... and maybe warm mitts." It was probably unclear to people whether I was declaring my love for people or love of my mitts. I actually love both about equally.
So yeah, if you have a cause you need protesters or supporters for, I'm in. I'll even bring my sign. And my mitts, of course.

Look at these girls. This is our neighbor/friend/third daughter and Neve. They're the same age, same size, with similar-coloured hair. You can't see it at this distance, but they both have freckles too. What are the chances of two almost identical girls, born eleven days apart, living just meters away from each other? Or maybe they look alike because they live so close. Insert mailman joke here. However it happened, it's pretty sweet having an almost-twin living just down the street. These two do gymnastics together, plus they've done baby groups, soccer, ballet, hip hop, and camps together their entire lives. They go to different schools though, which is probably okay. Sometimes it's nice having a friend apart from your school life. She's a super sweet kid and we're pretty fond of her.

Day 22

It was a Good Friday. The two younger kids were off school today. I didn't wake up until 9:15 this morning. I didn't hear Dale leave for work, nor Chloe leave for school. It was blissful.

Neve and I went to Oh Doughnuts. She had a salted caramel popcorn doughnut and I had a ginger lime filled one. And then we split a chocolate glazed one. So much for watching my carbs. Totally worth it though.

We did some other errands and running-around, and then my neighbor came over for happy hour. Right after that, Dale and I went to La Roca and had a delightful dinner with Stephen & Sheri-Lee. Good food, good company and a super-loud dude at the next table.

It's late so I'm hoping this will post before midnight. Gotta get my day in!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Day 21

I made it to yoga this morning. I'm the opposite of a morning person but I like to make myself get up early every now and then just to see if I can do it. It wasn't even that hard. I was expecting the yoga teacher to gush about how incredible it was that I was there so early and how awesome I was. I'd never met her before, but still. I was expecting some accolades or an award. But apparently I'm not that special because there were a LOT of people at yoga at that hour. And that's just at one little(ish) yoga studio. Imagine how many people in this city are regularly working out that early. Never mind in this country, or even this continent. In fact, if you're NOT working out that early, you're probably in the minority. Well, maybe not. There are a lot of children and seniors and people in the hospital that aren't out the door by 5:30. You (and usually me) are in excellent company.

I made soup for dinner today. My neighbour gave me this "soup mix tube" in the photo above and it was delicious. I still had to add onions, carrots, and celery. It also called for chicken, but I substituted black beans and mushrooms. So it was nice and hearty and even a bit zippy. I also went for a brisk little walk to Stephen & Andrews and picked up a loaf of olive bread. I don't normally love olives but this bread was so good.

Since I went to yoga in the morning, I didn't go this evening. I kind of missed it and was almost tempted to go again. But the extra time at home allowed for a triple-episode night of Gilmore Girls. Winter's not that bad. Did I just say that out loud?