Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Travels....

I have so much to post about re: Christmas.... but I'm afraid those posts will be slipping into January.

We travelled to my husband's family in Northern Saskatchewan for Christmas.

While I enjoy the visiting with all of them, I could totally do without the headache of travelling at Christmas.

I mean can you think of anything more fun that packing up everything a family of five might possibly need PLUS everything that Christmas entails and hauling it along on a 10 hour drive with three kids?

I can but there's not enough room on this blog.

Delivering Christmas

Friday Dec 18th. My company volunteered to spend a day working for the Christmas Cheer Board. I think we had 26 people show up to donate their time for the day. When the email came out asking for workers, I was eager to jump on the band wagon - outside of donating toys with the kids, I'd never had any experience with the Cheer Board before.

And what an experience it was.

As I was getting ready that morning, my husband walked back through the door. He'd left for work less than an hour prior and I was surprised to see him.... but it turns out it was quiet at work and he'd casually mentioned to his boss that he should be out delivering hampers with me for the day instead - and, being huge community supporters, he boss agreed! Bonus!

So now we were a team.... and how great to have a former courier driver on board with the backlog of deliveries the Cheer Board had.

We had no idea what to expect or what we would be doing for the day, but for the entire 24 hours prior every second commercial on the local radio stations was a call for volunteers to come out and deliver hampers.... so many to go out still and so little time left. We were fairly certain that we could get ourselves assigned to deliveries with no trouble whatsoever.

And we were right. The warehouse was jammed with hampers waiting to go out.... and with the back of the van empty of seats and my personal courier driver knowing where we were going and organizing the loads, we managed to take 25 hampers out to the people waiting anxiously for them to arrive.

It was an eye-opener. And it was an emotional journey.

I was fine with the inner-city deliveries to single people - sad at the condition of some of the rooming houses and the like that we visited and such, but OK.... it just felt nice to be doing something good in someone's day.

But the afternoon deliveries that we did to the homes - especially the ones with kids, really hit me. I should have expected that.

The one home we visited had 4 boxes coming to them; 3 jammed with food and 1 huge one just filled with a present for each child. They were all there when we knocked on the door.... the kids peeking around to see who was there.... and the littlest one, a girl not much older than my own, was so excited to see the box of presents.

"Oh PRESENTS!!" was her excited, happy little squeal.

That just did me in. Turning and walking back to the car I was crying. I couldn't even put a name on everything I was feeling but it was overwhelming. I was feeling horribly guilty for everything our family had.... I was feeling incredibly sad for the lives those children must regularly live.... I was feeling good that they would have something, however small to grace their Christmas day.... I was feeling too much to label.

Another, older gentleman we delivered to was so gracious in his thanks that I was again moved. He told us his story of the sudden heart attack that had put in out of work a few months earlier.... and how awful he felt about how hard this Christmas was going to be for his wife.... and what a difference this Christmas hamper was going to make for them. It was humbling. But for the grace of God and all....

I walked out of there thinking "here's a man who's probably worked and scraped his whole life and never asked for a hand up before.... and anyone of us could find ourselves in his shoes".


We spent 6 hours on the road that day.... and it was the best 6 hours I spent all year.

I appreciated this Christmas so much more and I was reminded, powerfully, that it's about so much more than what you get or what you can provide.

I think giving some of our time to the Cheer Board each year needs to become a new Christmas tradition in our family.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My life in the deep freeze

I am so over all this cold! I'm starting to question why people ever inhabited a place that can reach -45 in the winter.... or why over 700,000 of us choose to stay here now. I guess we're just sheep.... doing what those before us have done - I mean seriously, these are not human (or at least humane) temperatures!

Overnight I can handle - when we're all tucked up in our beds in our warm houses and you can sleep obliviously through those nasty temperatures.... but all day too? Wind chill warnings: "watch out, exposed skin can freeze in just a few minutes" - WTH is up with that? And when it stretches for days at a time it's just exhausting....

No one wants to go out and do anything - heading out to work and school, shopping.... anything that drags a person out of the comfy nest of home is just painful. Kids can't play outside - hell even my "outdoor" dog can't stay outside right now - insulated dog house or not!

Getting three kids dressed up to leave the house in the morning when "getting ready" includes full winter get-ups is more work than I'm usually prepared to handle on only one cup of coffee.

Three sets of ski pants, parkas, winter boots, toques & mitts.... add in one toddler who either insists on doing the entire process "Owl by MYSEFF!!!" (read: taking 3x as long) or not at all (and I'm not even going to get into a discussion on how fun it is to hog tie/hold down/wrestle a 'squirming-wet-noodle-raging-mad' 2 and a half year old into her snow suit is - at this point I think herding cats for a living would be less frustrating).... well right there we have a recipe for a shitty start to a day.

And long gone are the days when I could just "give up" on her tantrums and throw her over my shoulder to head out the door whether she had shoes or a jacket on or not. And there were a few days, not that far in the past, when we did leave the house with her half-dressed because I ran out of time to argue with or cajole her anymore.... but frostbite's just not an appropriate consequence of our little power struggles, know what I mean? So I've been running late now (thank you deep freeze) - which is another lovely way to kick off a day, don't you think?

God I miss summer right now.... and the "cold" days of winter are still ahead.... apparently it's going to be a long season.


All I want for Christmas is some livable winter weather....

(OK, and maybe a few other things I've been hinting on.... but the weather would be right up there right now)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bake Exchange

So my two friends and I participated in our first "bake exchange". And, while a little disappointed with the results, I still absolutely LOVE the concept. We're thinking of maybe organizing our own next year.

OK, maybe disappointed is a little understated.

I was invited to participate by an acquaintance and sat on the fence about joining for a while.... until my friend asked me if I wanted to spend a day Christmas baking with her and I mentioned the exchange invitation. She loved the idea.... sign up in a group of 10+ other bakers, spend a day baking 20 or so dozen (2 dozen per participant) of your favorite Christmas baking, square, dainty or specialty item.... and then swap! After the exchange you have 20+ dozen of various baked goods to use as teacher gifts, set out for guests during the holiday season, or just share and enjoy with family.


Or at least the concept is perfect. What we've learned, the hard way, is that the success of a bake exchange is entirely dependant on the quality of the items being baked - or more so, the effort being put forth or expected from the bakers involved.

Since my friend and I rooked a third friend into our day of mass baking, the three of us decided to put our name on the list twice - bake two items, take home twice the goodies to split between the three of us.


We spent 6 solid hours baking our two items: Chocolate/Coconut Macaroons and those Peanut-Buttery Marshmallow squares. That would have been 18 hours for any one of us.... and the ingredients alone cost us over $150.00. But, when we worked out the total cost at the end of the baking day, we figured it worked out to spending around $3.70/dozen on all the goodies we'd be bringing home in exchange. We could have used a cheaper recipe (the butterscotch chips in the marshmallow square recipe were a KILLER), but it still seemed a fair enough deal - and we had a great time baking together (which could be partially attributed to my wonderful husband supplying us with mixed drinks and the odd shooter all the while, lol).

(don't worry - there are no restrictions in place against drinking & baking - and our items all turned out perfectly!)

But after driving our beautiful and generously portioned dozens out the exchange, we were all little disappointed with what we received in return.

Don't get me wrong - there were a few good items: The organizer made this amazing pineapple cheese cake and obviously put lots of time and effort into the portioning and setting all the pieces into their own cupcake wrappers, the whipped shortbread from another participant is absolutely perfect, and someone else contributed some nice magic squares (Hello Dollys) - oh, and there were some really nice, big smarties cookies.

But so much of the rest left SO much to be desired.

One person contributed these awful "peanut butter squares" - seriously? They are clumps of oatmeal (?) with peanut putter smeared on top. And they're so bland and dry that you can't really produce enough saliva to actually swallow a bite - uggg.... my friend and I actually had to spit it into the garbage because we couldn't choke it down. If you're supplying your "baking" to others, don't you think it's at least fair to make it something edible? Obviously no taste testing went on here....

Another girl, we think, just basically took whatever was left-over in her cupboards and fashioned some "rice-crispy mixed squares". Interesting. Rice crispy squares with raisins, peanuts and the odd chocolate chip mixed in.... we think we saw some cheese in there too but can't be certain. The funnest part about this "baker" is that she chose to do these wonder-bars as only half of her '2 dozen per participant' share - the other half was even BETTER. She made Bacon and Eggs "candy".

I know, you're thinking: Bacon & Eggs candy? What on Earth is that?

Let me share: Bacon & Eggs "candy" is AWESOME.... if you're looking for a cute craft to do with your kindergarten class. It's three pretzel sticks with hard white sugar candy representing the whites of the egg holding them together at the middle and a smartie placed on top of the "whites" to represent the colored yolk.

Oh yeah. All that. Just what I was looking for to set out for guests or present as a gift.... jeez, even the kids wouldn't touch the stuff!

Right. Maybe I should just be thankful that she didn't force two dozen of either delight on us... but seriously, she probably didn't spend $30 on the entire mess - it was awful.

A couple of the other items we received included bits so small they wouldn't even be considered a single bite, or tiny snips of corners etc - just obviously being really cheap with portioning and doing the bare minimum to pass off as their two dozen requirement.

Shit, if we had know that we could have cut each of our dozens into three dozen too! Saved big money that way....

So while I feel a little sorry for my acquaintance, the organizer (who obviously put a ton effort into her selection as well and must also be disappointed), I think next year we're going to organize our own.... with a few parameters in place: like portion sizes - or maybe even recipe selections to choose from.... something to weed out parasitic bakers and make sure it's fair for all. Because the concept is great - and I would really love to try it again sometime.

Just not with Bacon & Eggs girl, or anyone like her, in the mix!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Giving Back

I love this time of year. It puts me in a such a good mood to see people doing good for each other.... and I always feel the spirit and want to give at this time of year.

In past years we've been in the habit of taking the kids out to buy an age-appropriate toy.... something that they would be happy to open on Christmas morning, and then we donate those toys to a local agency collecting for the less fortunate in our area. They get to place "their" toy in Santa's sleigh or drop it into the looming "tower of toys".... I hope it sinks in with them how important each little piece is.

I want my kids to know the joy of doing something nice for someone for no other reason than to know you have the ability to put a smile on someone Else's face.

This year, I am taking it a step further - I am donating a day of my time to work at the Christmas Cheerboard. Along with a crew of others from my company, I'll be working in their warehouse, putting together hampers and perhaps even delivering some.... whatever they need us to do. On top of that, we've adopted a family of 9 - and we're supplying Christmas. Food and clothing and toys and gifts.... I picked up some wish list items for the little ones in the house and it just made me feel so happy.

And do you know how easily happiness rubs off on people? I had a problem with my purchase for the hamper that day.... but it was Christmas and I was happy - and really, what's the big deal? Problems can be easily solved....

Well the customer service lady gave me $10 off my purchase just for smiling :)

Well, Merry Christmas to you too!!

So I'm going to continue to be happy.... and hope it keeps rubbing off!

There are so many reasons to love the holiday season - but seeing the good we can do together has to be at the top of it all.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Taking a breather...

So Parliament has closed until sometime in the New Year.... which means we get a 7 week break from the imminent threat of hostile take-over of the government while the three musketeers try to convince us that having a duly elected government with the authority to make things happen and a platform the people actually voted for is a bad thing - and having a group of three opposing parties with three different agendas acting in their own interests is better.... how fun.

Not letting it dampen the Christmas spirit though! I completed a baking marathon with 2 good friends on Saturday: 6 hours and 44 dozen goodies later, I feel like we really accomplished something! :)

Sunday was a day for hockey, a children's Christmas party and some holiday crafts for my friend's work.... busy weekend!

But we got the tree up yesterday and the kids had a blast with that - I've got shopping stashed away that needs to be wrapped and placed under it still.... but the feeling of Christmas is definitely in the house now!

My 9 year old still hasn't questioned the reality of the big guy. I keep waiting for that shoe to drop.... asking probing questions about whether his friends ever talk about Santa - and what do they say. He says most of them believe there is only one Santa (as opposed to the "numerous" Santa "helpers" I described to him when explaining his late Great-Grandfather's 45 year reign in the red suit). But not a whisper of the "no way, he's not real" that I was expecting by grade 4...

Ah well, maybe one last innocent Christmas then? :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's all falling apart...

Not so much falling apart as being deliberately undermined and attacked....

I'm so disappointed and angry right now. I've never seen an attempt at a coup before.... and certainly never expected to experience one.... I feel cheated - and I know I'm not alone.

The broken promises, all the wasted time and effort and money! How dare the three of them huddle and make plans and back-stab.... all in an effort to forward their own agenda(s). Their duplicity is nauseating.... what happened to the promise to make it all work? To not throw everything into turmoil so soon after things settled, however uneasily?

They're not thinking for a minute what's good for the rest of us or what we wanted. Last I checked, we still lived in a democracy - how can they blatantly ignore the common voice?

Where do they get off declaring themselves the lords of the realm? If you were wanted at the helm, you would already be there by rights.

Ganging up and turning on the one who had the integrity to at least try and do the right thing. They should be ashamed of themselves. And if you think that everyone will not tie the threat to your pocket-books with the unholiest pact in history, you're sadly mistaken.

They're stupid to be behaving this way.... all lies get found out at some point and the lost trust and goodwill will cost them down the line.... not many will forgive.

Anger and resentment are all that can come out of being hook-winked.... the masses never enjoy being made the fool.

I hope they get what's coming to them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Baby Girl Has a Name!

My cousin has named her newborn daughter for the birds that always rode on Odin's shoulder....

With a nod to the Norse Gods and the legend of their representation of thought and memory... and their ties to the present and past.

And her middle name is the feminine version of our late Grandfather's Icelandic name.

It's perfect.... It was a beautiful surprise (neither of two names we thought she was considering!)

Welcome to the family Baby R.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Waiting on a name....

So my toddler is not the most creative when it comes to picking names for her loveys. Her very favorite baby doll is lovingly referred to as "Baby", and her next favorite, but much smaller baby doll? "More Baby".

This is a pattern that repeats.

Her big fluffy stuffed puppy is known as "Puppy". And her little dog? Wait for it....

"More Puppy".

She cracks me up.

But it got me to thinking....

My cousin already has a daughter named M, 9th months older than my girl. So I suggested, just for ease of use, that "More M" might just work ;)

I dunno.... she didn't find it as uproariously funny as I did :P

Gaah. So we're still waiting on a name.

Another Little One!

The newest addition to our extended family made her presence in the wee hours of this morning... finally, someone else with a December birthday in our clan!! :)

My cousin has not named her new princess yet.... oh the suspense!! Will it be the original choice? Or the beautiful Icelandic name that she's been considering since our Grandfather's passing?

I guess we'll all just have to sit on the edge of our seats for now....

She has her mother's look and 10 fingers and 10 toes.... and weighed-in at 7lbs 14oz measuring 20.5" (or was that 20.75"?). Good size for a little princess either way - and tall!

Can't wait to meet her.... OMG I feel the need to shop!


Conquering the Castle...

That would be our castle.... the home that's felt more like a dungeon for so long because of the mess! We got so much accomplished around the house this weekend that it just feels great!

I think even the kids were impressed.... which is sad in it's own way, really.... that they would marvel at seeing the complete, uncluttered, expanse of floor. Or that they would realize, for the first time maybe, that there really is a black desk top supporting the computer underneath the mountain of mail and "I'll get to that later" piles of paper....

The kitchen was a pleasure to cook in last night.... every dish clean, all the cupboards organized, even the fridge cleaned out.... lovely, the whole thing.

And now, with a clean home and the flipping of the calendar page to that most anticipated month, we can look to put up decorations and a tree this week - maybe even tonight :)

There's still much to be done in advance of my mother-in-law's stay with us after Christmas.... but I feel much better about my home right now and can see everything will come together.

(now we just need to keep it this way!)

(which, btw, is what we always say... ;)

Saturday, November 29, 2008


My Grandfather's funeral service was yesterday.

The turnout was amazing - we had seating for 250 but the place was packed - standing room only. It was humbling to see how many people came out to honour his memory.... people lining the back and sidewalls, three rows deep in places. The whole production was beautiful.

At the request of my mother, I did read a slightly altered version of my 'tribute' blog post.... the one I typed on the night he died. Four of my cousins and my Uncle also said a few words.

They made me go first.... which, in hindsight, was perfect - because my speech really addressed how we all feel about Grandpa, and was very emotional. And my cousins followed that with some more specific, loving and humorous memories.... we couldn't have planned it better.... and I really think my talk would have been too "heavy" on the heals of their memories. It was good.

But Oh did my throat get tight! I've spoken in front of large groups many times before.... people always tell me I'm good at it, so I must mask my fear well - because I always get nervous and on edge before I have to do it! It's always hard, but this time was by far the most difficult time I've ever had. It was all I could do not to breakdown in front of everyone.... I still don't know how I made it through without doing it.

It sounded fine the couple of times I practiced what I was going to say.... and I was perfectly fine walking up there.... but when I got to the podium and turned to face the audience, I was completely overwhelmed by the crowd - not just the sheer size of it, but by the common purpose that brought them all out there and what it meant to my Grandmother and my family.

My throat just about clamped shut. I did make my way through it though.... fighting tears with every line. And as I gazed over the faces in the crowd, I was humbled again to see many of them losing that same battle.

This was my first funeral. Not the first one I've ever attended, but the first one where I had a deep emotional connection to the deceased.... my first loved one's funeral. And it's really a cleansing process. The tears and emotions and memories and laughs.... it actually brought a sense of closure to me in this whole affair.

Which I guess is the point after all....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lost a month.

So can anyone tell me where November went? Because I seem to have lost it.

The calendar says the end is nigh... but I don't remember actually accomplishing anything this month, so that can't be right.


NOTHING accomplished.

Nothing at home, nothing at work.... nothing anywhere. And now there's only one month left in the year.

Anyone placing bets on how fast December's going to go?


Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Measure of Greatness

We lost a great man today.

My Grandfather, the patriarch of our family, passed away this morning... peacefully, with family at his side.

It was the culmination of a 48 hour ordeal that resulted in the coming together of my family and a bedside vigil that was the true showing of just how great he was.

Because greatness is not something best measured by whether a life leaves a mark in a history text, but on how that life has touched those around him. And my Grandfather touched many lives. He was Santa Claus for 45 years. One by one we grandchildren discovered the truth about our Grandfather's ruse, but he brought smiles to thousands of children and seniors in that time.

And though he garnered the respect and thanks of many in our community over the years, the biggest impact he made in this world, hands down, was on all of us.

Just the fact that his family would race to be with him from all corners and never leave his side until the end is a testament to the man he was.

Children are who we raise them to be... and we are what we learned to be from our parents. The qualities that made my grandfather great are now filtering down to a fourth generation. I think loyalty and love, compassion and devotion, all tempered by the humor and strength that run deep in our family are admirable qualities... and they all trace back to him.

He was the father of our clan. And in the end, we were all there with him. 16 chairs surrounding his bed...quiet goodbyes, card games and conversations, laughter and tears... remembering with fondness all the wonderful memories he bestowed on three generations.

I have never lost anyone dear to me before.... but I can not imagine a more perfect way for a life to close. The coming together of our family, the closeness and sharing of strength, the chance to say goodbye and make peace with our imminent loss.... we made a cocoon of love in that room and, I at least, emerged with a truer understanding of what "family" truly means. And also what a great family my Grandfather made.

I'm filled with so many emotions right now. All swirling around inside... bright and sharp and fresh. Sadness, to be sure... but also peace. And high among my emotions is gratitude. Gratitude for the gift of my Grandfather and the family I was born into, I'm so proud to be one of his.

Thank you Grandpa, for who you were, for what you showed all of us to be, for everything. I'll love you always.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

85 Years

Husband for 58 years, Father for 57. Santa Claus for 45 years, Grandfather for 34.
Great-Grandfather for 10 years, beloved Ovi for 3....

While my heart breaks that my daughter will only know you from stories and pictures,
I'm so glad that you are my Grandfather.

I Love you Grandpa.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


That feels better! Even though it's old news already, I feel so much better having finally "caught up" and finished posting Halloween!

Now back to our regularly scheduled progamming.....

(I'm sure I must have some Hockey pics around here somewhere...)

THE Big Night

So Halloween. My kids' most highly anticipated night of the year (next to maybe Christmas) finally came. I got this one shot of the three of them together when we stepped out the door.... and then the boys ditched us! Apparently Mom & a toddler sister were just a little too slow... cramping their style, so to speak.

The girl and I had a terrific time though... she was adorable (in her much warmer white tiger costume) and quickly learned the routine:

"Tick O Teet!".... *big grin as more candy falls into her open bag*... "ankoo, Appy 'Oween!".... then two steps away from the door "here mommy - you carry!" (she was really playing up the "toooo heaveee....uggggg" part, lol ;)

We did cross paths with the hooligans once more that evening - going opposite directions.... and I held them up long enough to snap one more pick of the three of them together before they ran off with their friends once again.

Flash, No Flash

I loved the way she looked under this tree at a "spooky" house all decked out for Halloween...

Costumed crusaders

Ironman and his Dad (dressed, oh so appropriately, as the devil himself ;) .... and Ironman with his sweetheart - a girl who, at the tender age of 7, he insists he's going to marry one day.

And my older son - who, true to his costume, made like a ninja the entire night. We barely saw him the entire time we were there and this is one of the very few pics I managed to catch of him (thank God he had to stop for a drink at one point!)

Lady Bug at the Dance

My little ladybug was the belle of the ball... she loved all the big kids running around and had a blast trying to keep up with them. She spent a large part of the time playing with glow bracelets and munching on Halloween treats.... and was tickled when she found another "waydee bug" to play with. By the end of the night though, she was too pooped to party another step... and tried to nap on the gym floor in the middle of the chaos :)

Ooooosing Monster Mouths

I stole idea for these from a blog-link that a friend posted... she used green apples, peanut butter and mini-marshmallows for teeth. But, in deference to our school's "nut free" and "healthy choices" food policies, I substituted caramel and yogurt-covered raisins. The effect was still good ;)

Emerging from the shadows...

So after becoming completely disenchanted with my blog and inability to size my pictures to "fit" (which has been an automatic process up until I tried to blog Halloween) - I took a little break. What was the point? If I can't commemorate the daily grind with the pictures that make up such a huge part of it.... well, that was just frustrating to me.

I didn't intend to take this long of a break though....

I've now wasted exactly 20 consecutive days of my life being sick. Mind numbing, exhausting, never-been-this-sick-in-my-life-EVER sick.

And I so don't "do" sick. Rarely ever get sick - and if I do it's just the mundane colds or what-have-yous kicking around. Make you miserable for a day or two but never really slow you down crap.

I haven't felt like doing anything, let alone blogging. So here I am, actually feeling "on the mend" (for real, I hope) for the first time in a long time.... and there's catching up to do in spades - in all areas of my life....

Hold on while I try this picture crap again and attempt to get back on track.... ;)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

From start to finish...

The final results of our evening together.... Although the decorating was done after my girl was long in bed....

And even though my "bats" turned out looking more like mice, I was tickled with how the pumpkin and ghost cakes turned out. The staff and kids at the daycare LOVED the entire cake platter - well worth the effort ;)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Breaking Eggs

I spent my entire evening last night baking with my daughter. We were making cakes for her Halloween party.... and it was the best time we've spent together - ever.

After accepting the fact that there was no way I could manage to get done the amount of baking I needed to do if I waited until after the kids were bed, I just decided to devote the entire night to making the baking a "family" project.

I'm so glad I did.

Even though baking with a toddler means every step of the process is going to take longer, we had all the time in the world. After mixing the first cake and popping it in the oven, we had time to clean our tools, ever-so-slowly and carefully add all the ingredients for the next one and get it ready to go in. There was plenty of time to get it all done.

In fact, we had enough time to prepare the next cake and the 3 dozen cupecakes to go in.

Measuring, pouring in, mixing, coloring, stirring, scraping out the bowl into the pan.... I let her do it all.

She loved every minute of it.

Especially breaking the eggs. It took her until the 8th or 9th egg to really get the hang of opening an egg instead of just crushing it in her hand after cracking it. She never lost interest in our activities all night. The look of concentration on her face was priceless - and I was impressed with how well we did (with the exception of one.... but I'm pretty sure I got all the shells out from that early disaster!).

I put her to bed after probably the most satisfying evening with her that I can remember. Not once did she whine or stomp or cry for a thing. But why should she? She had my undivided attention all night... and we were doing something together. (Well isn't that a bit of a wake-up call?)

I loved every minute of it too.

It made me see my daughter in a different light - brought to the fore the fact that she's not a baby anymore, this little girl of mine. I've been underestimating her. She's smart. And capable of so much more than I've been offering her.

I can't wait for the evenings to come.....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Top 3 Things

... To love about having a little girl in our house:

#3 - Every thing is so much brighter. Little bits of pink have infiltrated pretty much every room in the house.... it's pretty and fun, and a daily reminder of the loveliness that just surrounds little girls.

#2 - I'm no longer the only one with painted toenails. Nor am I the only one who cares about their hair or whether my clothes look pretty. From the pig tails or hair clips down to her pretty little toes.... cute as a button!

And my #1 thing to love about having a little girl in the house? I have HELP! She likes doing laundry with me, shopping with me... and my newest personal favorite: She LIKES to change the toilet paper roll! Finally - I am not alone!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Spinning my wheels, spinning in circles.... constantly running and never seeming to keep up with it all is just my flavour of the day right now.... or maybe flavour of the month - or year.

God there just aren't enough hours in a day! It's scary how time is flying... we're whizzing through life... years go by in a blink.

I remember when time moved slow.

I remember as a little girl how the weekend was SO far off when I arrived at school on another Monday. I remember the eternity from one birthday to another.... or how it seemed like Halloween (or Christmas, or Easter) would never get here! Every time I hear my children making similar comments it takes me back.... and makes me think.

What I don't remember was when that changed.

At point point did the world start spinning faster on it's axis? At what age did days turn into months turn into years? Does it ever slow down again?

I'm fixated on this. I ask almost every older person I run into at some point or another.... and you know what they all say?


Apparently this is nothing. I guess time is relative and less you have left of it, the faster it continues to slip through your fingers .... until *poof*.... it runs out.

I'm trying to hang onto as much as I can of it.... through the whirlwind of our day to day lives I try to take a moment to appreciate something pretty or funny or enchanting. Get into a conversation with my kids, instead of just nodding and 'um-humming' while I make a mental list of where I'm going or what I need to do next. Laugh with them... go for a walk with no destination....

I take pictures.... I try to remember to snap the mundane along with the special occasions... the faces around the breakfast table... lounging on the couch watching TV - or wrestling in our bed. Because I know what I'll want to look back on is not just the special times but the way we were.... everyday.

I'm making the time to write this all down. I wonder what I'll think of myself when I look back. Will I laugh at my *young-ish* self one day - like I do when I think back to some of my thoughts/feelings/beliefs when I was in high school? Or am I done becoming "Me".... who I am, never to change now? I can't know. The only thing I can know is that if I don't take the time to document it, I won't even have the opportunity to reminisce. Memory is fickle.... I know some of my childhood memories have evolved over the years... and even though I "remember" them to be true, they may not resemble actual past happenings as much as I think they do (something that's been pointed out to me by older people in my family ;)

But this is real. Solid. Black & White. True.

So much time has past already... so many days that are only memories - with nothing to remind me of how I felt .... to take me back. And even with the desire to HOLD that my evolving realization of how time works brings me, I'm still letting days go by! I'll try to do better... more consistent... more memories.

For me and maybe for my children.... a way to remember these passing-ever-faster days.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Well now I've gone and done it.

With two boys in hockey, my husband has always taken an interest in helping out with the kids. Last year he held the position of trainer with our oldest son's team. It was a great group and they had a wonderful season.

But with our younger son, the involvement was limited to taking him to any games or practices that didn't conflict with the team he was trainer for.

What can you do... there's only one of him to go around and it's not possible to hold a roster position on more than team because, inevitably, we're going two different directions at the same time for their games - and he can't be two places at once.

So this year he was hoping to have more of an involvement with our younger son's team (even the odds, so to speak). Maybe an assistant coach position or something. He's already an on ice official for the initial program - working with the group our little man is in.

So I thought maybe I could have a little more involvement in our eldest's team.... to make up for my husband not being there all the time like he was for him last year.

I mentioned my desire to help out when the coach called around to introduce himself.... asked if he already had all his help in place and let him know that I'd be willing to lend a hand if he needed it or no one else volunteered. He said 'thanks' and said looking for volunteers was something we would be discussing at the up coming team meeting.

The team meeting that we took our son to on Thursday.... where they handed out a sheet with information for the team.

A sheet of paper that had my name on it.... listed as the team manager!


Apparently I missed the "talking about volunteers at the meeting" part and skipped directly to Management.

Not sure if it's as glorious as it sounds though. We'll see.

I am now the manager of a 9 year olds hockey team. I've never done anything like this before.... and maybe I've still got my rose-colored glasses on, but I'm actually looking forward to it.

Got my accounting spreadsheet done, collected money from the majority of the players already, made a few phone calls on behalf of the team - and built my email set.

Easy Peasy.


Monday, October 13, 2008

My Turkey

Or monkey.... or make that Panda Bear...

So they divide the kids at my daughter's daycare into animal themed groups... she just recently graduated up to the preschool room and joined the Panda Bear group. They even have a theme song.... she wanders around the house chanting this tune... and I can't quite catch the words through her version until she gets to the rising crescendo part of "panda bears, Panda Bears, PANDA BEARS!"

And she's really taken the identity to heart.

We were playing and she was being silly and as I was catching her to tickle I told her "you're such a monkey!"

"No mommy, I a Panda Bear!"

Oh, my mistake ;)

Saying Goodbye

For another season....

One last time to sit on our rocky shore and admire the reflections in the water.

The fall foliage is really starting to shine.

Sad to think we won't be back for probably seven months. God winter is long.... and cottage season too short. We actually enjoyed some time here this year... learning our way around the area and our new cottage community. It'll only get better as the kids get older.

I already can't wait for next year!

Bye Bye Lake.....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I never want to forget

How sombre and sincere my oldest is when he cracks his fortune cookie... how he pulls that little scrap of paper and slowly reads the words out loud as if they hold some deep mystic truth... how he asks what it means and then repeats the words to himself over and over in the van on the way home from Chinese Food.

He's charming. I love it.

It'll be a sad day when he gets a repeat or finally figures out that they're mass produced by the millions in some shabby factory overseas.... probably not even China, lol....

Ah well, no bursting that bubble for now, it's too much fun to watch :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Things I don't need to know about you

You ever have a stranger start an in depth conversation with you? One of those awkward "why the hell are you talking to me" conversations?

I don't mean those friendly smiles or "hello"s from a stranger in passing - I have no problem with those... nor do I have issues with random comments like "Oh, I love your bag, where did you find it?" - that's all just normal people being nice.

But creepy, too familiar commentary and rants from complete strangers are just a little to much for me. I could have happily done without on my trip to the store today.

Why on Earth the only noticeable wack-job in the store had to find a place in line behind me, I'll never know. I was just innocently trying to get my milk and juice out of the store so I could go pick up my kid and continue on with my daily grind. Then this kook stepped into line behind me...

He started by complaining about the lady at the front of the line using a credit card to make her purchase. Apparently he has issues with credit cards being used to buy food - "you know that just means they have no money - right?"

I guess my raised eyebrows and averted gaze wasn't a bold enough cue that I was NOT interested in a conversation with him... because he just moved on....

Ranting about people buying stuff on credit cards that they couldn't afford and all the problems in the world and yadda yadda yadda... and have you tried to buy a house lately? (Huh??)

I was trapped and he was a little off.... if you know what I mean.... I just kinda nodded and hummed and tried to ignore him and load my items onto the conveyor - I don't think my body language could have screamed "you're creeping me out man, back off!!" any louder.... but I guess the kind of folks who just start cornering innocent bystanders into unsolicited conversations are oblivious to such cues...

"They're going to jack interest rates on credit cards right away - then they'll all be in trouble. Not everyone has a low interest card - mine's only 7.5% and I've had it for years....they tell me that I have one of the only ones of those cards left" (why the heck couldn't that lady have been paying cash? And why the heck didn't I go to the freakin express lane today?)

"They're going to reassess everyone's house too and raise our taxes" (if you are getting absolutely NO response from the person you're yammering at, why the hell do you keep talking?)

"House prices are crazy.... I bought my house for $50,000 and it's worth $230,000 now.... jeez, unless you have a perfect credit score, like me - 950, you can't hardly buy a house now" (Seriously? Too much information. Probably bull-shit and even if it isn't, who the heck blathers their credit score to complete strangers?? Seriously off.)

"I've never had more than $395 owing on my credit card in my life." (This one I thought was kinda sad... but still ignored).

My escape from the pessimist with the perfect credit score, highly appreciated home and no life couldn't come fast enough.

I high-tailed it (paid with Debit!) and left the poor clerk next in the line of fire.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Season's Changing

Summer is officially done here. I've given up hope of seeing any more blissfully warm days. If we break 20 again I'll be surprised (take a breath my American friends, I'm talking Celsius - we're not that cold up here ;). And while the boys can get away with wearing shorts in these last few afternoons getting up to the high teens (as long as they stay in the sun, lol), it's really not warm enough. It's over. We hit -2 night before last... and there's no turning back once you've had that first frost or hit that first negative temperature.

Don't get me wrong, I really don't mind fall.... the cool crisp morning air and the comfortable afternoons.... the cold nights finally chasing the mosquitoes away so we can enjoy some last evening outdoors. Harvest and Thanksgiving and all things Autumn. The trees along the river on my drive to work are beautiful - it's a great time of year, really.

It's just hard to appreciate it because my mind keeps fast-forwarding... the unmistakable signs of fall mean winter is just around the corner.

My girl likes to play outside every day when we get home. We swing and slide and build castles in the sandbox - she especially loves playing in the sandbox. It's already getting cool by that time of day.... and I can't help thinking of how disappointed she'll be, one day soon, when the sandbox is frozen and our yard is blanketed with snow. I'm sure she doesn't even remember snow.

We've got hockey every weekend already... and it's just a countdown over the next two months until the outdoor ice can be ready enough for practices. Out Door Ice. As in real cold, all the time, enough for ice to stay frozen. Within the next two months.

I shouldn't be shocked, it's just that I'm not ready. I feel like we barely had a summer.

The kids already have their Halloween costumes, and we have snow on the ground for Halloween as often as not... can't kid myself anymore.

Might as well embrace it. Hopefully my husband will reinstate the ice slide in our back yard after last year's hiatus... my girl would love that - and we can keep some of those sand toys out for building snow castles instead!


My boy is dancing up a storm. He is absolutely loving dance class... and the toes just tap when he's got those shoes on - he can't help himself ;) I'm so glad I finally signed him up!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Flowers for me too!

My husband surprised me. He brought me flowers for our anniversary.

White roses, with a card referring to himself as "Mr. Right"

(well, at least he got bringing a girl flowers right ;)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A day for flowers...

No, the title has nothing to do with the fact that today is our 11th wedding anniversary - although that would be an OK reason for flowers too....

The title is reference to the fact that my boys are wearing their hearts on their sleeves today - along with the flowers they insisted on taking in their back packs. Calla Lilies to be specific, silk ones.

Apparently there are two little girls at the elementary school scheduled to receive their first flowers from a boy today.... I just hope that doesn't mean a son of mine is schedule to have his heart broken for the first time.

When I picked up the boys from daycare yesterday, my youngest, only seven, with a dreamy look on his face pronounced: "Ahhhh, I Love Isabella"

I couldn't help but smile. He's so dang cute.

"She's beautiful, I'm not going to break her up." (which is his mixed up way of saying break up with her - haha)

My older son jumped in to tell me that Isabella had actually kissed little brother on the cheek at recess (YIKES!), and take a moment to inform me that HE was in love with Amanda.

"Can I buy her a rose Mom? Just one like they do in the movies?"

Oh my.

"Oh Oh, Can I give one to Isabella too?!" (not to be outdone in the romance category by his older brother, I presume)

I had to bite my tongue. Stop myself from shouting NO WAY! You're way to young to have crushes on girls. You can give flowers to girls at your age.... what if they laugh at you? What if they break your heart? What if it scares you from being brave enough to share how you feel with other girls, or anyone for that matter, in the future? What the HELL do you mean you're kissing girls already??? GAAH.... I'm not ready for this!!

But I didn't crush the budding romantics in my little men. As much as I fear them growing up, as much as I don't want to see any girl hurt their precious egos or break those fragile hearts, what actually came out of my mouth was:

"Well, I suppose if you really want to you could get a flower to give a girl. But how about a Lily instead? I have some really pretty Calla Lilies at home left over from wrapping your Uncle and Aunt's wedding present.... and they're silk, so they'll last forever"

"Oh, so Lilies are for really special things?"

"They can be - they're really pretty flowers, girls like them"

"Perfect! And they'll last forever - that's cool."


I hoped they would forget about the conversation. Change their minds or chicken out.... but no. The last thing my older son asked before going to bed last night was whether I'd gotten the flowers ready yet. And the first thing he asked this morning was where the flowers were.

So that's how we walked out the door this morning... a mother with her three children - each armed with a Lily. The boys setting out to declare their love to the little girls in their life, and my daughter (not to be left out) with a flower of her own to show her friends.

Those girls better be nice to my boys.

I'm nervous for them. This is going to be a long day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Laying down

My baby girl has always been an independent sleeper. Almost from the day we brought her home. She was never one to sleep forever in your arms... she always rested better on her own.

And while I sometimes regretted putting her down and not being able to hold onto that wonderful bundle of love that my last baby was for just a little longer, it wasn't long before I recognized how lucky I was to have such a "good" baby. You can get so much more done when you can put your baby down - and bedtimes are so much smoother without the 1/2 hour (or longer!) of rocking, or even more elaborate tactics, some babies need.

(I payed my dues with my firstborn, by the way - in spades.... I figured this one must be a reward for all that suffering ;)

So I'm just having trouble understanding where we're at with her right now. Over the past few months, she's picked up the need for us to lay with her at bedtime. "Yay down Mommy, yay down!" It's really hard to get to her to go to bed these days without at least a few minutes of one of us (usually me) laying down with her.

Gone are the days of "nigh nigh" - when she would ASK us to go to bed... jammies, teeth, tuck her in with a kiss, then walk away. This laying down every night thing is for the birds! It's cramping my style.

By that time of day I'm tired, I'm looking forward to the few hours to relax after the kids are in bed.... or, more likely, I've got a list of things I still need to accomplish that I feel I can only tackle once they're down and out. I'm impatient to be done.... I've read the stories, we've done the routine and I just don't want to lay down - it's not MY bedtime!

But I do it. Pretty much every time.

I know it's an awful habit to get into but it's too late - that's routine for her now.... and it's really hard to break her of it.

I thought I was in a big rush to get her back to where she was too - to break her of this annoying new habit. But over the past few nights, my mind has be wavering. Now I'm not so sure. Is it really that big a deal? Do I really have anything so pressing that can't wait another 10 minutes?

She snuggles into me now.

She knows that I leave as soon as she falls asleep so she moves closer in the bed, rests a hand on my arm, or even better; rests her forehead next to mine. And that's when I see my baby in this little girl next to me... looking down at her eye-lashes resting on the soft curve of her cheek and catching the last lingering trace of baby scent that she still has.

My heart melts. She never needed me like this back then. I missed out on it. But she wants me now - and those extra 10 minutes mean so much more to her than they possibly can to me. She can have them.... and I can have a few stolen moments of babyhood before my last walks away from it forever.

I can't lose sight of the fact that there will come a day when she won't want me for anything any more - and I'll long for these days when I heard those sweet words "yay down mommy, yay down"

3rd time the charm?

So I'm onto my third very expensive retractable leash. I'm actually shocked at how much these things cost and I'm going through them nothing.... I've owned my dog for less than 4 months. She loves walking on the retractable and having that room to roam when I can let her - but really, $74 for a leash??

Leash #1 was a $14 Superstore special... they only had a medium (max dog weight 60lbs) and it was one of the ones with the narrow chord, rather than the wide ribbon. I knew nothing about leashes at the time. I did know that she would be bigger than "medium" at some point, but she was a 30lb puppy at the time so it did the job.

I bought leash #2 off the clearance table at our local pet store in July. It was regularly $59 but marked down to $34 and I got it for 50% of that.... so heluva bargain! I loved that leash - it was a large (up to 110lbs) and the ribbon type... save the chord burn on the legs or hands! But less than 2 months after purchase it stopped retracting. WTF? My, now 60lb, dog is no where near the maximum weight so her pulling on the end shouldn't have sprung it? I was so disappointed. But also too cheap to replace it when leash #1 was still around and serviceable.....

So leash #1 it's been for a while.

Until I figured out that one really does need to pay attention to pesky little details.... like "maximum weight" limits on things like retractable leashes. Maybe my dog actually weighs 62lbs now?

There I was, peacefully walking down the sidewalk, near dusk, with my happy-go-lucky chocolate puppy on the line... happily sniffing back and forth, exploring as far as the limits of the leash would allow...

And then came the squirrel.

Or maybe it was a cat.... or maybe just a wind-blown leaf - I really have no clue because I saw nothing before the STREAK of my dog bolting side-ways towards someone's back yard....

And felt nothing but the stinging pain of the lash as the chord snapped, whipped back and cut me across my ribcage.

I have new sympathy for all those people who've endured 40 lashes as punishment. Or 20. Or one. Hell, it's a really good thing we did away with the lash....

I squealed. Really loud. Or maybe it was more of a shriek. The pain took my breath away and almost made me cry.... and had it not been for the presence of my oldest boy pushing his sister in the stroller, I'm sure a few choice words would have passed my lips. (please forgive if some did, I have no recollection, I was in too much pain).


I will NEVER buy a chord retractable again.

The dog did not get to go for a walk for a couple of days after that.

And I couldn't put my arm down against my side for a day.

So, back to the leashes..... I took leash #2 back to the local pet store. They credited me towards a new RIBBON retractable. Made in Germany. Industrial strength. Maximum weight 130lbs. (who the hell would be brave enough to own a 130lb dog?? Yikes.) It was regularly $74 (and who the hell would pay $74 for a LEASH??), but it was on sale and with my credit for the defective leash #2, I got this bad-boy for $31. Sweet.

Here's hoping the third time's the charm.

(I almost typed "let's see the bitch break this one" but thought that would be tempting fate just a wee bit too much ;)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Holy Goats!

My cousin had her daughter's birthday at the local corn maze - the nice one... with the really nice petty zoo, horse-drawn carriage rides, bale pyramid and nice group pic nic areas in addition to the phenomenal maze. It was the most fun we had all weekend. The place was perfect for the little ones... especially the petting zoo :)

The Star of the Show

This baby calf was, hands down, the cutest animal at the petting zoo.... what a doll! I was totally understanding the Pioneer Woman's fascination :)

Gobble Gobble

Big ugly, hissing, nasty bird - but fascinating none the less.


Shootin the Breeze

Shades of what they'll look like in 10 years 'hangin' with their friends ;)

The Bale Pyramid

He scaled it in less time that it took his sister & I to walk over to it :)

Big Brother

My little guy doesn't have as many opportunities to play the "nice big brother" with his sister as my oldest does - mostly because she's so busy pushing his buttons and antagonizing him right now. But she really does look up to him and he was such a good big brother at the party .... racing back down to help her scale the pyramid for the first time too :)

(makes a Mom proud ;)

Llama yama

Lovin the Bunnies

My girl was just fascinated with the little bunnies... trying to gather them and get them interested in their food dish (which she kept moving closer to them and scaring them with ;) Must be something about how little and soft and harmless they are....
(and a much more flattering shot of my very pregnant cousin - to make up for the "distorted" water one.... there you go - you look like you've lost 60lbs in the past 2 mths! ;)

Cornered One!

5 Billy Goats Gruff?

Apparently I never knew what a manger was really for....

Climbing up

Flying solo this time - no holding this girl back!