Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Words to live by

"Trying to clean your house while your children are still growing is like trying to shovel the walk while it's still snowing"

And better still:

"From a wish list that includes children, sanity and order, you get to pick only two."

I heard that.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Life through his eyes

My oldest and I had a really cool meeting with the director of Paleontology at our provincial museum today. He had agreed to meet us and hopefully identify a fossilized bone we dug up from the temporarily exposed lake bed at our cottage a few years back; when we were moving exposed rocks out of our swimming path.

Very neat. Although my son was disappointed that it's not a dinosaur, I think this it's pretty cool that we have a bison tibia that could be up to 10,000 years old....


I had to stop in at my office on the way downtown for our meeting and left him sitting in the car while I ran up. I left it running for him (he knows to lock the doors and not communicate with anyone on the outside.... and my office is in a predominantly geriatric community - so no need to call CFS!). It's still pretty cold here and I didn't want to turn off the heat for the 10 minutes I would be gone....

But I was curious to find him with the window down when I returned. He was holding a small screw driver set from the glove compartment up to the side mirror of the van.... slowly pressing it closer and then drawing it back again - intently studying the reflection.

At the questioning look on my face he looked up at me and said "What? I'm just trying to see if objects in the mirror are really closer than they appear! And yeah, they are."

I couldn't help chuckling to myself as he raised the window and replaced the screwdrivers in the glove box.

He's so fun :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We Need a Rock Star!

I have to admit it: I'm jealous of my American friends.

It's not often that I notice the differences between the life I lead and those of my friends South of the 49th. Some negligent little things; like some stores we frequent or other mundane trivialities - the odd difference in laws and such.... but never anything Earth-shattering.

And rarely (if you exclude the weather at this time of year!) do I find myself wishing I could trade places with them - I usually love my life up here.

But I have to admit, after yesterday, I'm more than a little envious of where they're at.

I read the transcript of Obama's speech and all I can say is WOW.

He is so cool. And listen to the people! Check out those crowds!

You have a rock star for a President!

The masses cheering for a politician? Applauding and reveling at his every word? Whoa....

I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to have a visionary sitting in the most powerful seat in the land. What it would feel like to be governed by a person who inspired, who commanded faith and hope from everyone he touched....

What must it feel like to live in the most powerful country on Earth in a time that will, more likely than not, be looked back upon as a turning point in history....

We're so jaded about politics and leadership up here that people just don't even care anymore. Most Canadians *might* be able to tell you the name of our current Prime Minister and that's about it. Only half the population bothered to vote during our last election, and even then, only slightly over 30% of them voted for him.

Nice guy and all, but an Obama he ain't.

In fact, we're so hungry for something inspiring that we've paid more attention to your political scene than our own.

I'd bet money that 95% of the Canadian population couldn't even tell you when our Prime Minister may have been sworn in.... and even the 5% wouldn't remember where they were or what they were doing at the time.

But our News outlets were bombarded with Obama's inauguration yesterday: Live on the radio, taking time on every news station, filling my morning paper to the tune of 14 pages of coverage in a special "collectors edition".

Even the three clowns trying to overthrow our government last fall didn't get as much attention. How's that for jaded?

Obama taking the helm has probably, overnight, erased 90% of the Anti-American sentiment built up over the past 8 years, both here and in other countries abroad - it's amazing, really how quickly one man could do that.

I hear him talk about "rebuilding America" and remembering where you came from....and all the inspiring ideas and plans for the future...

And I'm thinking "I wanna do that!" .... and I'm not even American!

I wish he had a Canadian-born brother.

Seriously. We're long overdue for a rock star up here.

So congratulations to you all. And to Obama: Good Luck, there's more than America pinning their hopes on you....

Because really: "So goes America, so goes the world."

(pssst... does that kind of make him our president too?) ;)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Catching up....

My time is slipping through my fingers.... one day spins into the next and I feel like I've never accomplished enough - that there just aren't enough hours in a day to do everything with a pressing need to GET DONE.

So once again I have sadly neglected my blog - not making the time to preserve my day to day for future consumption, reflections and contemplation. Not that I haven't wanted to blog... but when laundry time is relegated to 1:00 am because sleep time is the only time you've got left to sacrifice, blogging just doesn't become a priority.

Even though lots of thoughts worthy of blogging filter through your head when the house is still and quiet. If I just had the energy to go with them....


So a catch-up on me & mine:

I did get that tire fixed on the van... and took the old girl on one last road trip. My oldest son and I travelled to an out-of-town tournament together. We stayed the night at a hotel with a pool and everyone had a blast - the kids in the pool & the parents on the deck. It was a fabulous bonding time for the group.... despite the decided A$$-whupping by those country teams - what is it about country hockey that just knocks the city kids on their butts?

Harumph.... I suppose if we had nothing else to do either.... ;)

But the weekend was great. It was a rare opportunity for my oldest and I to spend an extended period of time alone.... and not only was it nice to get a pulse on where he's at in his world, a time to connect a little deeper, it was also a welcome break from chasing all three!

(It's OK to pity my poor husband a little here.... stuck in the city with our younger son, in his own hockey tournament, as well as our toddler and his elderly mother.)



And I'm loving it! I'd post a picture but my blog & I have been in a long term disagreement over whether it will, or will not, on any given day, allow me to post pictures in a normal format or not - and I just don't feel like doing battle today.... so I'm not even going to try.


The weather finally broke! We're actually going through a (probably mercilessly short) period of unseasonably warm weather now.... things are thawing and melting.... a water bottle left in my car overnight didn't even freeze yesterday!

And people are out in droves.... there's only so much "cooping" a body can take - and the unrelenting weeks of -40 to -50 with the wind chills was just overkill for everyone around here.

We were certainly ready to roll when the heavens cooperated and gave us a break on the temperatures: We spent last Sunday up at my parents' home on the canals by the lake, and we took my husband's snowmobile with GT Snow Racers to pull behind for the kids. It was so much fun for them to be able to spend a few hours playing hard in the snow.... I got some fabulous pictures of the day.

Then that day of fun culminated in our adventure on the way home.

One brand new van, carefully pulling one very expensive toy on a trailer behind.... until a locking clip on the trailer hitch release came off (how is this even possible?).... and the brand new van went over a large bump in the road.... and the trailer came right off the vehicle.... and the safety chain broke: setting the trailer free in a shower of sparks (quite the show!) to careen off the road and firmly bury it's nose in the ditch packed with snow.... with enough force to snap the rear restraint on the very expensive toy and launch it off the trailer and further into the ditch.

Where, miraculously, it landed upright, completely unharmed, on top of the bank.


The whole thing took less than a minute. But what a minute!

When our heartbeats returned to a slightly more normal range, we jumped out of the vehicle to survey the damage to our new van.... only to find that there wasn't any. Not a dent, not a scratch.

Then we went to inspect the snowmobile - which also survived unscathed.

Wow again.

I can't believe our good fortune.... somebody was certainly looking out for us.... so many things could have gone wrong here: The trailer could have hit the back of the van.... or hung on by the safety chain and sent the van (filled with my 3 children, grandmother and MIL) into a spin-out crash. Or the entire contraption could have flipped - shattering my husbands beloved sled into a shower of debris on the highway.... or worse, taking us out with it!

But no. For some reason, my husband decided to load the single sled in the center of the trailer to go home (rather than the one side it has normally travelled on - whether our 2nd sled was on the trailer with it or not). If it had been on it's usual side, we're certain it would have flipped when it came off the van - destroying the sled, if not the trailer too. Instead, the trailer stayed upright when it came off the van and rolled off into the ditch.

We also normally have a metal restraint bar locked through the front of the skis on the sled.... but for the trip home my husband chose to pull the sled further up on the trailer and install the bar behind the struts (is that what the arms that come down from the machine and attach to the skis are called - or am I displaying my ignorance here?). Had it been installed "normally" the sled would have suffered huge damage: The skis would have been torn completely off, or the whole trailer may have upended when the nose hit the dirt under the snow.

As it was, the tie holding the rear of the sled snapped with the force of the impact and, with no metal bar inhibiting the skis, the sled slid harmlessly off the front of the trailer, resting easily on the snow.

Wow, Wow, Wow.

There was no hope of getting the trailer out and inspecting it in the dark though.

So with only 8 kilometers to go to the city, my husband drove the sled home and we followed in the van. Laughing with relief of our good fortune and enjoying the new game of "racing" and keeping sight of Dad as he zoomed through the fields and ditches alongside the highway.

When we went back, in daylight, the next morning to dig out the trailer, we found that it too had survived with no noticeable damage (outside of the shorn electrical chord - the end of which was still connected to the back of the van). Once we took the time to carve out the ice and dirt from the inside of the nose, we were able to tow it home with no trouble.

That was worth taking a few minutes to write about.


So that's me in a nutshell. Slogging through my busiest season at work, keeping up with two boys in hockey, chasing my toddler and entertaining my elderly mother-in-law during her extended stay in our home.

I hope to be back sooner than last time!

And my mantra until then?

"Sleep is for the weak!"

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Adventure Continues

So I got a lovely phone call from the tire place this morning.

My tire is not "fixable", there is a puncture on the sidewall and the tire needs to be replaced. $239.51 for a brand new tire, all because the city couldn't be bothered to plow a main thoroughfare.

I'm so pissed.

When I drove to work this morning I looked carefully at the stretch in question. Not only have they not bothered to send a plow down there, I counted no less than 9 places where other vehicles have either hit the ditch on the south side of the road or spun up over the boulevard like I did. All in a stretch only a couple of blocks long at most.


So I filed a claim with the city today. I will be submitting my bill for the new tire. I even took the time to take pictures of the ice wells and all the skid marks and blown out snow banks where other vehicles have suffered a fate similar to mine.

I also called their emergency line to report dangerous conditions and contacted the office of the city counsellor for this ward. Obviously complaints from the public aren't making anything happen, so maybe a call from him can get a plow on the road.

What a pain in the ass for a vehicle I'm only going to own for less than a week more.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Knight in Shining Armour

Or dirty work clothes, whatever works.

I'm interrupting my Christmas reminiscing posts to share my stellar day.

Well, that's not a totally sarcastic comment - my day started out pretty good.

I bought a new Van today. I couldn't help myself - they're practically GIVING new cars away right now! My "old" (read: current for a few more days) van is a 2003. A 2003 that we paid over $30,000 for 5 years ago.... and just rolled over 200,000 km on our trip to my husband's home for Christmas.

It's been a great vehicle for our family. It's a tricked out sport model and has some bells and whistles that I've loved, but I swear, since rolling over that "milestone" mileage, I can hear things starting to fall apart.... I know of two major outstanding repairs (the first ones ever that I didn't have fixed immediately - this van has had every single piece of scheduled maintenance done on it since the day we brought it home) and now the heater is making a really unhealthy noise.

Now they laughed at me in Florida (actually looked at me like I had two heads) when I told them I didn't care if they fixed the A/C in my old car (we were moving back to Canada that month and I could totally live without it). But I assure you, living here in winter, a heater is DEFINITELY something I can't live without.

And lately, with the auto industry being the the dire straits that it is, I've seen some very tempting car ads in the paper. If the prices I was seeing were legit, how could I not at least look? I'm not overly eager to get back into having a car payment again, but man I would love me a new warranty!

So I scouted and got quotes from a couple of dealerships. And found a deal I couldn't pass up. I returned to the dealership that I purchased my last 3 vehicles from, and the one that I've also referred a few other sales to over the years - and they appreciate me there :)

They're giving me my same van (that I love) but a 2008 instead of 2003 (with some shnazzy new upgrades!), throwing in the towing package I wanted for free, letting me keep the $1,000 tires I recently put on the old van, AND giving me almost double what the others offered for my, albeit long-in-the-tooth, 2003.

All for less than half of what I paid in 2003 for our old/current van. Wow.

So a new van is on it's way to me :) It should be here Friday, then they have to install the tow package - so by next week my family will be riding on new wheels.

Nice way to start a day.

Until I headed from the dealership to my office.

And had to drive down the snow dusted and deeply ice-rutted road along the way.... past a stretch where I'd seen another vehicle in the ditch yesterday and where the shoulders where marked with various tread marks from cars swerving to stay on the road.

Yesterday, when I spotted my unfortunate fellow driver half-buried in the 8 feet of snow in the ditch, I had moved to the left hand lane to give the "accident" more room. The left hand lane was clearer anyway.

But today, for whatever reason, I was driving in the right hand, deeply ice-rutted, lane. And just as I approached the spot where the other van had hit the ditch yesterday, a jag in the ice tossed my vehicle slightly to the side and my van went into a full on, out-of-control spin on the icy road.
Thank God there were no other vehicles near me at the time.

I went from cautiously driving in the right hand lane, to spinning right around facing on-coming traffic in the left hand lane, to the passenger side rear end of my vehicle slamming into, and hoping over, the boulevard curb (as the complete 360 spin continued) on to plowing a fair section of snow off said boulevard with the side of my van (as I careened about 10 feet along it) - until my front driver's tire hit the boulevard curb and knocked me down back into the left had driving lane. Facing the right direction.... and I was still in motion! So I just kept driving....

HOLY CRAP! My heart was pounding but there was no damage done. The entire 306 degree spin-out had taken less than 3 seconds and the result was just me being in the left hand lane instead of the right. Whoah. I'm so lucky there were no cars travelling alongside or closely behind me....

And you know, all I could think when I was spinning was "OMG - no, please no - I can't crash the van NOW - I just traded it!

But I was lucky.... made it to work and parked as usual, shaken but none the worse for wear.

And you know, when I called the city to complain about the dangerous ice-ruts on this main thoroughfare, all the woman had to say was "Oh yeah, we've received several complaints about that stretch".

Ya think??

but like I said, no harm no foul.

Or at least that's how I felt until I left for the day.... and only made it a few blocks before a suspicious howling-type noise made me pull over and look around the van.

That's when I saw the flat.

I guess my rear-end slamming into the boulevard curb (or maybe the plowing across it) had torn the rubber from the rim on my back passenger tire - it was flat as a pancake.

That's where my knight in shining armour came in ;)

I only had to wait about 30 minutes before my hubby, just off work, rescued me and put the mongo-size van donut on so I could take my broken tire the shop.

Dear dealership: I promise I'll have it put together just like new before next week (you'll never even know ;)

What a day.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A little slice of heaven

Nothing could make my youngest boy happier than the promise of a chance to ride at Uncle Jim's place. And his sister's not far off his heels!

My oldest can take or leave horseback riding (with the emphasis on the leave) but his younger siblings are gaga for the horses my brother in law has all over his place.

We took turns riding Clyde (a very gentle, if inaptly named percheron/quarter horse cross) and my girl was like a broken record whenever anyone else was riding: "my turn now? My turn, MY TURN!"

We let her have turns with several different people until she was too cold to stay out anymore. Happy day for her :)

The Aftermath:

And this is just what we took with us! My goodness the kids had stuff spread from one end of the house to the other! Some presents we opened with family before we left home, some waited until our return, but we still had enough along that the kids had a fabulous Christmas morning.

And it was so nice being in a rush to go no where.... having the time to un-package presents, put together toys for playing with right away - and even playing the games they received. I think it was one of the nicest Christmas mornings with just our little family that I can remember.

And as long as the kids don't expect Christmas gift opening to always be a week long affair, we're good ;)


We had the whole living room open to spread out sleeping bags to sit on and dig in to stockings. I think Santa stocking are the best part of Christmas morning.... and opening them can usually be stretched over a good hour. I have my own to get into but end up spending most of the time just watching the kids faces as they pull one thing after another out of theirs.

Love them Christmas smiles.... although the girl is looking a little more awed than joyous, lol...

How Santa visits when you have no tree:

While we spent all of our time visiting at the homes of various family members while at my husband's family home for Christmas, we slept at his mother's house. The house is for sale and has been emptied - she's not living there any more. So we enjoyed the peace and quiet of having our own little place to stay.... but missed the little things - like a tree for Christmas! But we made do and it was a wonderful morning regardless :)

Whoever said Santa needed a tree to drop presents under anyways?