Thursday, December 10, 2009

She does NOT like surprises!

I have two younger sisters. My youngest sister Jane does not like surprises. Every year at Christmas she turned our house upside-down finding all the presents hidden and on Christmas Day as you were about to open a present she would say things like, "you're going to really like this one!" It got to the point where before you opened anything you'd glance at Jane and she would give you a slight nod or a shake depending on whether she thought you'd like it or not.

Another of our Christmas traditions was to do a sister-sleepover on Christmas Eve and Jane would wake up hours before Erin or I and dump all the stockings out and to see what everyone got and to high-grade the candy and gifts that we all got slightly different versions of like watches or socks. In her later teen years Jane decided she was tired of always knowing what everyone got every year and she decided to shake things up and be surprised. She announced this one day at dinner to a stunned silence and so Mom went out of her way to surprise Jane that year, even going so far as to not hide a single gift at home, just in case! And wouldn't you know that was the year Jane happened to walk out of the library, which was kitty-corner to the office where my Mom worked, at the same time Mom happened to be taking Jane's gift inside her office to hide. Even when she wanted to be surprised she couldn't be. This might be genetic as apparently my Mom's brother, Cam, was always like that.

Now I'm the Mom and it's my job to do Christmas. This year, in the midst of all our holiday busyness Hugh and I are refinishing a hutch we bought off Kijiji. Cuz there's nothing like adding a bit of unnecessary stress to an already stressful season, right? Last weekend we went downstairs to prime it. (Our basement is unfinished.) Hugh went down a few minutes before me and I heard him say, "You guys get out of there! You know you're not allowed to play in there!" Which made me run down the stairs immediately because I knew the "there" Hugh was talking about was the furnace room which besides being off limits due to the potential for danger and destruction, is also where I hid the boys' Christmas presents. I could immediately tell from the looks on their faces that Tristan had no idea what was in the bags in the furnace room and Ava knew exactly what was in the bags. I took her upstairs for a little private convo where I used my best mom voice. You know the one right? It's the one guaranteed to get truthful answers because although quiet and controlled, it sounds like the wrath of God is about to fall and holds just a hint of the promise of the end of life as we know it.
"Ava what did you see in the bags?"
"Toys."
"What kind of toys?"
"Little People."
The Little People are just a little add-on gift in the spirit of keeping things even between all the kids. Can I just say right now that I wish kids this age understood evenness in terms of cost and not how many presents they have to open? Anyway, the point is the Little People were sitting on top of the boys' main gifts, Bounce Back Racers, which Tristan has asked for two years in a row.
"What else did you see?" I demanded.
"Ummm, ummm, ummmm," she said with quivering little lips. "I saw, um, I saw hot things and sharp things and dangerous things." And then she fell sobbing into my arms while I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief that I did not have to start my Christmas shopping over. When she calmed down I said, "Ava do you know you're not allowed in the furnace room?"
"Yes."
"Well then why did you go in there?"
"Because I wanted to see those toys again."
Again.
"How many times have you been in that room?"
"Um, maybe about like five times?"

Sometimes you just can't fight fate. Or genetics. I sure hope Ava can keep a secret.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Can you call cursing a talent?

I don't swear a lot. I don't swear never either but I try to save it for moments of extreme aggravation or humour. The only time I have ever come close to that moment where your child repeats something you said under your breath at a really inopportune time is when Ava said in a very irritated tone of voice, but also under her breath, something with the word "damn" in it. She was 3 and damn sounded very strange coming out of her mouth. Although it's nowhere near as strange as hearing your two-year-old take almost any word in the English language and turn it into the F-word.




He is talented, non? The newest addition is blanket, excuse me, f**kit, and I just about had a heart attack when I was putting him to bed two nights ago until I realized he was trying to pull the covers up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why I would like time to stop

Over the years I have noticed that each of my friends when their children approach school age ask themselves if they should homeschool. These same friends all went through public schools themselves and talked about public schools when their children were babies and backpacks and No. 10 pencils seemed like a star in another galaxy when daily life revolved around eating schedules, diaper changes and tantrums.

But as the star in that other galaxy drew closer these moms looked at the sweet, shining faces of their children, remembered some of their own not-so-great elementary school experiences, pictured the real world hitting like a large bucket of ice water dumped on their heads, and wondered if perhaps homeschooling wasn't such a bad idea after all.

I was a few years behind most of my close friends and I heard the agony of separation in those conversations without fully understanding. Well, now it's my turn. Our twins did not start Kindergarten this year. They could have, they turned five in the early Fall, and in fact most people assumed we would send them this year, but we chose not to. Firstly, our city only offers a full-day Kindergarten program and up until a couple of weeks ago they still napped for 2 or 3 hours everyday and in fact have fallen asleep on the couch while I write this. Secondly, the proverbial "They" recommend boys start school at the age of six. They recommend this for many reasons, one being "They" did a study and found that the language area in the brain of a five-year-old boy looks the same as a three-and-a-half-year-old girl. Boys brains develop at a different rate and trajectory and that extra year makes a big difference. And thirdly, I didn't think the kids were ready for school. They have a later birthday and waiting a year means they'll be that much bigger and that much more emotionally mature and I want them to have every advantage available to them to make it in the rough and sometimes cruel world of the playground. But mostly, I just wasn't ready to let them go.

This week I was a parent helper on a field trip the kids took with their playschool. One of the things we do as a family is clap every time we go underneath a bridge. Well, I was partners with my kids and another boy (who I will call X) and on the way there we clapped while X ducked his head, which is what his family does. An interesting thing happened on the way home. At the first bridge X, Ava and I clapped and Tristan ducked his head. At the second bridge, Ava and I clapped and X and Tristan ducked their heads. At the third bridge, I clapped alone while all three ducked their heads. As I looked at my head-ducking children sitting on bus seats twice as tall as them, legs stuck straight out and barely hitting the seat ahead, I felt inexpressibly sad.
This is why I'm not ready to let go yet.

How do you explain to a barely-five-year-old about peer pressure and knowing yourself and liking yourself well enough to not follow the crowd? How do you encourage your children to be who they are without fear or shame or apology? A day or so later we had a talk about how it's really neat that other families do special things too but that we don't have to change what we do just because someone else does it differently. Ava's response to that was, "But Mom, I don't like clapping anymore."

You know what? Maybe homeschooling isn't such a bad option after all...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Are you there God? It's me, Heather...

Typically Fall here is long and warm. Last year at this time we had just put in the sod for our front lawn. Last year at this time I was wondering if it was ever going to get cool enough for me to wear my new winter boots (they just don't go with capris). This year in the span of two weeks we've gone from t-shirt weather to snow so deep it required toques, Sorells and shovels and back to today which is supposed to be a high of 22.

I'll tell you what is the same as last year. My family is sick. Last year the entire month of October was spent indoors (excluding the time I spent going to the doctor), while a stomach flu, hand foot and mouth disease, and finally colds ran through our household. It was so awful I have become the mom that won't go places if I know anyone has been sick there and I won't let sick kids come over.

This October also reminds me of October two years ago. Two years ago after a brutal delivery where I lost half my blood, spent an hour being internally stitched and had a D&C to get rid of the placenta bits that had attached themselves to my internal C-section scar, Sebastian was born. Two years ago I left the hospital feeling knocked-down and dragged-out and unable to sit without a donut pillow. I got out of the hospital this year on October 6th, the day before Sebastian's second birthday feeling knocked-down, dragged-out and like I had entered a time warp.

It has been two weeks since my surgery and on Thursday, just two short, blissful days ago things were looking good. I was thinking with great satisfaction that no one had been sick in a while (excluding my appendix episode which was an isolated incident and not contagious), and I felt like I had turned a corner in my own recovery and was looking forward to a weekend with Hugh home and the kids playing outside and me not having to sleep all the time. And then Thursday night Hugh said his stomach felt off and immediately I began to hyperventilate. I went to bed with fear and trembling and sure enough was rudely woken up an hour later to the sound of retching. But it wasn't Hugh. Tristan was puking up lasagna all over our bedroom carpet. And then he proceeded to throw up about every 20 minutes from midnight until 5:00am. The next morning Hugh went to work and after finishing up the carpet cleaning from the night before and wiping down every conceivable surface in my house with vinegar we limped through the day from Treehouse show to Treehouse show. Hugh made it through the day feeling fine but bolted out of bed in the wee hours and spent the night hugging the cool porcelain. When I checked on him later this morning I asked if I could get him anything and he said, "I'd like my Saturday back."

Today Hugh was going to take advantage of this good weather, since who knows it might be blizzarding next week, and finish off the top pieces of our fence. This summer while he wasn't working would have been a great time to do that but it's hard to buy lumber when you're not getting a paycheck. We really need to finish the fence so we can paint it. It's starting to turn grey which from an aesthetic point of view I find pleasing but from a rotting wood perspective isn't good, and now that the sprinklers have been blown out it would be a good time. Were it not for the fact that Hugh is currently lying on the couch hoping to keep down his last two sips of water. I am living in such dread of the rest of us getting it that I can't tell if my stomach is off because of nerves or because I already have it.

Do you know what I want? I want October back.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The long and short of it

Hey. So. Got a stomach ache on Friday afternoon. Thought I was hungry. Ate 3 pieces of pizza, you know, to make sure I was really full and so my stomach really wouldn't hurt. Didn't work. Went to lay down. Writhed in agony on my bed for a while. Had a bath. Writhed in agony in the tub. Puked up my pizza. Drank some peppermint tea. Puked it up. Writhed in agony on the floor of my bedroom for a while. That was uncomfortable. Went back to writhing on bed. Went to hospital. Was immediately admitted and hooked up to IV combo of Gravol and Demerol. Spent the night in a hospital bed in Emerg. puking but doing slightly less writhing thanks to the Demerol and then no writhing when they switched me to morphine. Had a CT scan. Went to the OR. Had a nurse press my throat till I passed out. Woke up without an appendix. The End.

Except it's not really the end is it? Not when the doctors told me I'm not allowed to lift my children for 4 weeks and I have to sleep sitting up and take antibiotics that make me smell like a nursing home. At least the twins are at good ages and will be able to bring me breakfast in bed and feed me grapes all day long while I lounge on the couch. Sigh. And Sebastian? Good thing he loves his crib, cuz I can't lift him out of it!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Saga Continues

So the webs around the house have been better. I'm only having to brush down my front door every other day now instead of every day so that counts right? I don't know if it's guilty conscience, ghosts of blasted spiders, or just that the weather has turned cooler but I see spiders. Everywhere. Like, Haley Joel "I see dead people", kind of everywhere.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed I glanced up and saw an enormous spider just above my head. Thankfully the ceiling is too high for me to reach so Hugh had to get out of bed to get it. I wasn't even going to watch, I was going to stay in the bathroom and brush my teeth and resolutely not watch. But of course, I had to look. I call this the Britney Spears Syndrome; you know it's going to be bad but you JUST. CAN'T. LOOK. AWAY. So Hugh grabs some toilet paper and crushes it and throws it into the toilet. Right before I have to pee.

As I stare down at the inert form I am faced with a dilemma. Do I flush that spider away and waste the water of an extra flush? Or do I trust that it's dead and pee on it. I think of worldwide water shortage and I sit down. And start panicking. I can't even pee because I'm so afraid that spider is going to come back to life bite my bum. It's like when you're a kid and are convinced a snake is in the outhouse waiting to bite your bum because some you knew knew someone, who knew someone, who heard that it happened to someone, at some camp, somewhere. As I start yelling this Hugh says, while killing himself laughing I might add, "Heather, dead spiders don't resurrect themselves. They don't come back to life. It just doesn't happen!"
WELL IT HAPPENED TO JESUS!

Okay. In the interest of full confession I'll admit that I was being a bit melodramatic. I didn't really believe that the spider was going to come back to life, well not entirely anyway. I just had that outhouse/snake feeling and freaked myself out by yelling about it. Sometimes I can't resist the drama of a moment. I finally talk myself back down and am able to pee and as I stand up and turn to flush I glance into the bowl and THE SPIDER IS SWIMMING!!!!! ALL EIGHT LEGS ARE MOVING! I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING!

I know that's a lot of caps but MOTHER OF GOD THE SPIDER CAME BACK TO LIFE! You know how kids have that one scream that makes you drop everything and run with with all your adrenaline pumping. All of a sudden I was being held up by Hugh and he wasn't laughing. Well, not at first anyway. Hugh was hugging me and I was crying into his shoulder about the spider being alive, ALIVE! as in not dead! when I felt his body start to shake. I looked at him and he was laughing. I almost got eaten alive by a spider and he was laughing! As I glared at him he said, you are so going to blog about this aren't you. I SO AM.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'll get you next time, Gadget...

The Ant Bully was on TV the other day so we PVR'd it to save it for a day that feels like Fall and staying indoors and making soup. However, since it is the 25th of September and at 34.6 degrees we are breaking 125 year old temperature records, I don't know how soon that day will come. So the kids watched it the other day during Sebastian's naptime and I caught bits and pieces of it while doing some puttering around the kitchen. Somehow a boy becomes a mini boy and has to find his inner ant as punishment for crimes against antdom or something like that. And then he realizes ants aren't all that bad, they have feelings too, and he tries to call off the exterminator he ordered but of course was unable to dial the phone due to his extreme smallness. I don't know how it ended because we had to shut it off just as the exterminator was firing up his Husqvarna, ant-sucker thing and going through his stash of poisons while laughing maniacally, but I imagine, since this is Disney or Pixar or something, that mini boy heroically saved the ant kingdom, gained a new respect for his teeny friends, regained his height and lived happily ever after grateful he discovered his inner ant. But I'm just guessing.

Movies about bugs don't really thrill me. I detest insects. I'm not even really much of an animal person. Little bitty kitties? Meh. Baby chicks and bunnies? Nice from a distance. Also, I don't care how much the dog in the window is; you know, the one with the waggly tail? And I certainly won't be bringing it home with me. Some of you are thinking right now that I obviously don't have a soul. I just really can't imagine adding another animal to the ravening pack already living in my house. And I don't just mean my kids.

We have been inundated by spiders this Fall. I mean, everyone is abandoning the sinking ship and we're dry ground, kind of inundated. It started a few weeks ago when I opened my front door and noticed the top half of the open doorway was covered in web. Yuck. I grabbed some paper towel and brushed it away. The next day it was back and I brushed it down again. And then it was back the day after that. So I Googled spider webs and read through how it's important not to disturb their webs because of the integral part they play in the delicate balance of nature. Do what you want when they're covering your front door, I grabbed a bottle of Windex to poison them away. I sprayed down my front entry from top to bottom including the siding. Satisfied I won this round I twirled the bottle around my index finger and watched tumbleweed roll down the street against a backdrop of prairie sunset fire.

Two days later the webs were back. And I developed a small tic in my right hand which caused me to involuntarily squeeze a trigger every time I opened my front door. And then the webs were everywhere. Walking up the steps to my front door the iron railings were strung with garlands of web. Sitting on the back deck sipping cold tea while the kids played I saw glistening webs everywhere I looked in the railings. They were even in the house. I found webs hanging from light fixtures, hanging from the ceiling attached to our TV, and on a random wall in the kitchen. I went upstairs to do laundry and found a single perfectly formed web in my upper staircase railings. The small tic in my hand turned into a bulging vein in my forehead.

Spiders. They mock me with their never-ending web spinning. Every time I see a web I destroy it but they just keep reappearing. Checking the front porch for spiders has become an obsession. I started by going out every morning with a shoe and whacking all the spiders I could find. The first few days were fruitful, lots of kills, but then the spiders started hiding out so I had to switch up my routine and go out hunting just after the kids went to bed. That worked for a while but they've disappeared again so I'm keeping my patterns random to throw them off guard.

It came to a head yesterday when I went to fill up the kiddy pool; I put my hand on the tap and right into the centre of a sticky web. I actually yelled ARGGGHHH! like I'm some sort of cartoon character. Looking at the siding around the tap while the pool was filling I saw hundreds of dead insects wrapped in little web cocoons. THEY HAD TAKEN OVER! And that's when I completely snapped. I finished filling up the pool and put the spray attachment onto our hose; I fired up my own version of a Husqvarna and I blasted those suckers till every cocoon on that side of the house was gone. Then I did the garage, the back of the house, the other side, and my front entryway. Oh the power beneath my fingertips! I laughed wildly, exultantly as I watched those cocoons fly off the siding. I saw spiders scurrying away from me and I chased them with the spraying water. It was glorious! GLORIOUS!

Whoa, did you just hear that? That evil maniacal laughter? I think I just became the bad guy, the exterminator. I did think of Charlotte's Web while blasting cocoons yesterday and yay for Wilbur and all that but guess what? It's a story! It's not real! Also? I have no inner spider! Also? I WILL WIN THIS ROUND! I have to. Because seriously, this vein in my forehead? It's going to start designing a clothing line soon.

I opened my front door just before bed last night. No webs. Can I actually declare a victory in this epic battle of man vs. insect, me vs. the spiders? I think so. Time will tell. On the other hand I'm scared to open my front door this morning so who is really winning?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not much for me to wish for

We got the Sears Wish Book the other day. Man, I loved that book as a kid. I remember my sisters and I going through it, ticking the pages and putting our initials beside all the gloriously wonderful things we wanted Santa to bring. That book was thrills and enchantment and sugar plum fairy dust all printed out on glossy pages. On Saturday I made myself a sparkling lemonade with fresh mint and sat out on my front porch to flip through the book. It is very strange to be looking at Christmas things when it's 34 degrees in the shade and it's September! Whatever, I'm not complaining.

Sadly, this was a case where the wonder that touches your eyes as a child doesn't quite survive into adulthood. There is just so much crap in the Wish Book! Ordinary beer glasses not quite special enough? You want a glass boot to drink your beer out of? Done. Check the Gifts Under $15 pages. Also on those pages a Country Cats Kitchen Collection which consists of trivet, salt and pepper shaker, napkin holder and spoon rest all done as ceramic cats. It's luuurvely. I think I'll get a set for all the special spinsters in my life. Also on that spinster list? Flip a couple of pages to the Gifts Under $20 and you'll find a throw with wolves on it that also has handy snaps to convert it into a wrap. So great for those cold nights when you're ALL ALONE! Cause trust me if you wear that thing everyone's gonna run screaming. At least you'll have fleece wolves for company.

And for the AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones fans you could get some pretty sweet old-man slippers for under $20. Is that the definition of ironic? When I see these slippers I picture a stained wife-beater, hole-y sweats, longish frizzled hair and a scraggly beard shot with grey. The rocker got old dudes, so old he needs slippers to keep his feet warm, but hey, let's not forget he's a rocker. Et Voila, Pink Floyd slippers.

Two of my favourites are in the Gifts Under $10 pages. There are some monogrammed notepads that are actually really cute and would be a good idea for teacher gifts or something like that. But only if you're one of the lucky ones whose name starts with A, B, C, D, E, J, K, L, M, S, T or R. I know those are good letters for the final Wheel of Fortune puzzle but last I time I checked I wasn't a contestant and I want an H!

My other favourite in those pages is the Kilt Beach Towel/Wrap. It's a velour towel printed to looks like a kilt, even including the change purse or flask holder or whatever that leather bag with tassles is that hangs around the waist. But the best part? It's reversible. Velour for going out, terrycloth for staying in. Ooh, and can someone please buy me the Canucks dart set or the mug that says, "Born to Bingo"? Are you there Santa? It's me, Heather....

And when did the gift sections get so expensive? The Gifts Under $5 section that I remember from my childhood is gone. I ordered my dad a Canucks towel from that section one year. I was expecting a bath towel. He got a hand towel. Oops! What else can you expect for $5, right? The highest price point I remember is Gifts Under $100 and those gifts were awesome; diamond rings and fancy electronics and things like that. This year I noticed a Gifts Under $500 section. Who buys something worth $500 from the Sears Catalogue? If I'm going to buy a floor-length, down-blend coat with genuine fur trim for $399.99 I want to try it on first, you know?

I wonder what my kids will think of it?

Monday, September 14, 2009

BIRTHDAY 2010! (and yes I realize it's actually only 2009)

Tristan and Ava turned 5 last week. Five. It feels like a milestone even though our kids are not starting Kindergarten until next year. To celebrate we did an Olympic-themed party in honour of Vancouver 2010. Since a picture is worth a thousand words...


Behind the kids are wrist bands which we gave out to each child when they arrived and travel mugs which we gave out at the end. The wrist bands have a red maple leaf on them and were cut from men's ankle socks I found at the dollar store. The travel mugs (also from the dollar store) have sleeves inside you can remove to colour your own picture on. We printed off the Olympic rings on one side and a maple leaf on the other for the kids to colour at home. And taped to the mugs is a pencil with Canadian flags all over it, in case you were wondering.


Hugh demonstrating parts of the obstacle course.


Ava in the obstacle course. Notice the costume change? Apparently this is much better attire for obstacle-ing.


Tristan in the obstacle course.


Sebastian is one month away from being 2!


My sister Erin was visiting from Vancouver.
Click on one of the pictures of Ava to see if you can see the bruise on her nose and the scrape on her forehead. That is thanks to being kicked in the head by Auntie. Hugh had finished building our little balance beam for the obstacle course and we were testing it out. Erin was a gymnast so she decided to try a cartwheel, can you see where this is going? Ava was standing too close, Erin's legs went up and THWACK! Ava dropped like a rock. We originally thought Ava's nose was broken. I'm going to get mileage out of that one for years!


The birthday kids!


Medal presentations. Every kid got a medal to take home. I found them at a garage sale for 10 cents each. Most were random sports medals but there were a couple of medals that had music notes on them and one had a harp on it. Medals for harping, who knew?


The Olympic Rings (use your imagination, they're pretty neon.)

A final thought:
I think the worst part of any party of these younger ages is trying to control the mayhem surrounding opening presents. We tried the spin-the-bottle-to-pick-whose-present-to-open trick but it was so not successful. Half of the kids were trying to open the presents they brought, the other half were shoving them in the birthday kids faces and no one was capable of sitting still after being jacked-up on punch and cupcakes. Plus I was trying to monitor 2 kids opening presents at the same time and making sure they expressed appropriate thanks. How do you spell chaos?

And so ends another party. We had perfect weather, the obstacle course and medals were a huge hit and the party was relaxed enough (minus the present opening) that even the adults had fun. Overall, I will call this one a success.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Drum roll please....

Hugh is officially employed!

We got a call the other day and our call display read GOC Dept Natl Def. My flight or fight gear immediately kicked in while I frantically tried to think of some sort of offense we may have committed for the Department of National Defence to be calling. Then I remembered that Hugh was expecting a call back from the Army Base where he had interviewed a few days earlier. Right. Army Base, DND...got it. Why is my immediate response to authority to freak out? I can't remember ever being called to the principals office because I was in trouble so it's not like I have a response based on my history. The same thing happens to me when I'm out driving and see a police car; I immediately slam on my brakes whether I need to or not. I can't control it, it's become a reflex. I know I'm not speeding (too many photo radar traps here) and yet I still slam on my brakes, I can't stop myself.

Anyway, Hugh has been hired by the British side of Base, and no he doesn't have to enlist. He's hired as a civilian to fix all sorts of big armoured vehicles. When he went out for the interview he was stopped while 3 big tanks went rumbling by and everywhere he looked he saw fatigues and soldiers saluting. He said it was like being on the set of a movie and that at the end of the interview he almost felt like he should salute though he managed to restrain himself. Thankfully.

So there you have it. Our golden summer has officially ended. It has been an incredible gift to get to spend an entire summer together. For the first time since our twins were born I feel like I have regained my equilibrium. I am physically rested, my emotional reserves are full and I am going into this Fall with high hopes for patience, creativity and spontaneity with the kids. Although I did just press my shoulder blades together and roll my neck while taking deep breaths because we just finished breakfast and Ava is already asking for a snack and I just want 5 uninterrupted minutes to write....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sometimes I even manage to surprise myself

I covered the chair today, the chair I fully expected to procrastinate on covering. I am still amazed.

I decided to do it while Sebastian was napping and the kids were playing happily downstairs. I asked Hugh to take out the screws holding down the seat and he had the nerve to say, "Oh great. I can see what's going to happen here, I'm going to end up doing everything." To which I very haughtily replied, "I helped Heidi do her dining room chairs so I've actually done this before and I will be just fine without you. Thank you very much."

After about an hour and a half of centering the pattern on the chair, stapling it in place, flipping it over to check it, pulling out the staples and re-centering it, I broke down and cried. And Hugh came and helped me without even saying "I told you so." Does he know how this marriage thing works or what?

Here is the finished result. I didn't have the presence of mind to take a before photo. Previously it had a pale cream, almost white fabric on it. It was very boring. Trust me.

This chair is in my front entryway and in addition to being a handy seat for putting on shoes, I use it to hang my purses. Pretty and functional, what could be happier? (The basket works better in real life than in this photo.)

I am very happy with how this fabric turned out, the chair has so much more presence. And it was a very inexpensive project, $5 for the chair and $6 for the fabric. Now if only the chair frame were white....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Photos as requested

This is the globe I found. It lights up so my plan is to use as a nightlight in the boys room.


This is the dresser I found. Obviously needs new hardware! I always want everything to be antique white but I do love how this has aged. Paint it. Leave it. I can't decide.


And finally, here is a bit of fabric that I got at 50% off to recover a chair I bought 3 years ago at a garage sale and have been meaning to recover ever since. That is serious procrastination. I wonder how long it'll take me to actually get the fabric on the chair.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Snowball Effect

Have you ever bought something you think is going to make your life so much easier only to have it turn out that you made it more complicated instead? Let me explain.

We moved into this house May 1, 2008. One of the last things to get carried in from the truck was an open backed ladder-type bookshelf. It was not the right aesthetic for the room but by then we had no more energy to negotiate boxes so we plunked it down on a small wall just to the left of our entryway with the intention of placing it elsewhere at a later date. We unpacked our boxes, mostly, but that shelf never got moved. Instead we put our stereo on one of the shelves, then some cd's above it, then a box of art supplies below it and then it was a random dumping spot for extra papers and mail and such, and here we are just over a year later.

We also have a small side table full of drawers that we call our diaper hutch that sits in the corner of our living room. It contains diapers, wipes and other baby paraphernalia as well more kids art supplies; mountains of crayons, dried markers, paints and colouring books. It is constantly too full and often the drawers don't close because a colouring book has fallen behind the drawer. In addition to this we have an antique-y cabinet in what is supposed to be for our bar area but which also houses puzzles, cards and other kid games.

Recently I decided rather than have all these kid things spread out what would make life easier is replacing that ladderish shelving unit with a 3-drawer dresser that could house it all. Then we get back our cabinet, then we get rid of the shelving unit that I've never liked in this room, then the drawers of our diaper hutch can hold cd's and actually close and then we can get our ugly stereo out of sight. This is the age old battle in our house: technology vs. design. Or, big huge ugly black TV versus pretty.

I measured the wall this answer-to-all-my-problems dresser would sit against and then checked out Kijiji. I emailed a couple of people but no one ever got back to me and so I sort of let it go. Wrapped into this story is the fact that Sebastian will be going into a big boy bed sooner rather than later, he's almost 2 if you can believe it! and when he does he'll take Ava's bed and share a room with Tristan, and Ava will get Sebastian's old room. The boys' room. My mouth feels strange shaping those words when for almost 5 years it has been "the babies' room" and then "the kids' room". And yes I know Sebastian is one of our kids too but we've never really referred to the other two as "the twins" so when Sebastian was born it became the Kids and Beesh (Which is what Ava nicknamed him days after coming home from the hospital.)

Anyway. Digress much? I've been slowly collecting things for when the kids are settled into their new sleeping arrangements and I can decorate accordingly. Awhile ago I had asked a couple of thrift-store savvy friends to keep an eye out for a vintage globe for the boys' room. Last week one of them facebooked me to say she had seen one at a local thrift shop called The Post. I went down to check it out and took my tape measure with me because you just never know what you'll find. The globe was fantastic and I also found the perfect with a capital "P" dresser. Needs new knobs and a bit of work so the drawers slide smoothly but has been authentically and fabulously aged. And everything in the store that day was 50% off because The Post was celebrating something. Can you say meant to be? The dresser fit perfectly in the back of my van and I nestled the globe into a carseat and drove home the happiest of all living creatures. Why does a good deal give me such a rush? It's like someone dumped a bucket of Pop Rocks candy over my head.

I got home and Hugh unloaded the dresser for me. When we got it through the front door we stopped and looked at each other. Since I wasn't expecting to go out for a globe and come back with a dresser the shelf, which hadn't been emptied and moved, was sitting in the spot the dresser was supposed to go. This is the exact moment I realized I had just made my life way more complicated.

In order for the dresser to have a home the shelf needed to be moved upstairs to our bedroom. In order to put the shelf in our bedroom I had to put in bins all the clothes the kids had grown out of over the last year that were piled on my floor. And in order to get to the bins so I could put the clothes in them the garage had to be cleaned out.

As a result of buying this dresser, the wood we've been meaning to take back since last summer that has been occupying one side of our garage has finally been returned, our garage is spotless and organized, the kids clothes are sorted and labeled, our bedroom is clutter free and our books are unpacked for the first time since we moved here nearly 4 years ago. Next project: clean out and fix the dresser so I can use it as originally intended and not as a clutter catcher.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 4 of 10-Minute Trainer

1. Have husband wake you up at 7:00am.

2. Have husband re-wake you up at 7:15am.

3. Whine and complain and "humph" like you're 4 not 31 while getting dressed and putting on your shoes.

4. Complete Day 4 (in a row. WHAT!) of 10-Minute Trainer workout.

5. Feel really good. Apologize to husband for being cranky.

6. Shower, not wash hair. rebel. Get dressed.

7. Cut up fruit and make waffles and bacon for brunch with a friend passing through.

8. Watch the bacon cook.

9. See the fat congealing on the edges of the grill.

10. Swear off bacon for life.

11. Eat 4 pieces at breakfast.

12. Swear off bacon starting tomorrow.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Diary of an exercise-hater

The other day my friend Simone asked me how my running was going. Internet, it's confession time. The first week we were in Smithers I ran twice, maybe three times I can't quite remember, which I thought was pretty good considering I was in holiday mode. And to top it all off I ate pretty well; except for the afternoon movie date with my friend Tanya where we ate an entire extra-large metal bowl of honey popcorn and half a bag of ripple chips with dip. Week one? Fairly successful all things considered.

Now week two. Week two was not quite so good. I didn't run a single time. I don't think I even thought about running. Instead, I was trying to erase from my mind the sound of Sebastian's crying which had been so constant for the first week that I wanted to pull my fingernails off with tweezers and run them up and down a chalkboard for relief. Even when he was sleeping I could still hear him crying. I started the second week with a cooler at noon. And then midweek Sebastian decided to spend a few days puking on the only carpet in Michelle's entire main floor. Word to the wise, vinegar really does get out the puke smell. So he was puking and miserable - still miserable - and I freely confess I medicated myself with lethal amounts of sugar. I started eating anything I could get my hands on and as Michelle is a domestic goddess I had plenty of options to choose from. And then we had our AOGG sleepover and redefined gluttony.

And then we drove home; 19 1/2 hours with two 4-year-olds and a 21-month-old all in one day. They were shockingly (considering we listened to Sebastian cry for 2 solid weeks) incredible, only 2 small spots of tears that were easily dealt with and that was it. Vive le DVD player! We pulled into Canmore at 11:30pm. After a day of eating road trip essentials like creamy dill chips and black licorice cigars we changed the kids into their jammies, picked up some Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers, Timbits and extra-large coffees courtesy the Tim Horton's/Wendy's combo place and headed off again. We got home at 3:30am and by the time we carried in our sleeping babes and all our luggage and got ourselves sorted it was 5:30am, the sun had risen and Hugh and I were crawling into bed. I couldn't fall asleep for the life of me and ran on adrenaline all the next day, went to bed early the next night, still couldn't sleep and finally at 1:00am took a Benadryl which completely knocked me out. I think the drive home messed with all of our sleep schedules because the first week we were home the kids, and therefore us, slept until 9:30am everyday. It was completely nuts! When you're used to starting your day before 7:00am, not having breakfast until 10:00am throws your whole day off kilter. Also, Sebastian popped four molars when we got home. No wonder the poor kid was so miserable.

Anyway, I tell you all that to help you understand why when I sat down to write about our AOGG sleepover and saw the previous entry about how I'd taken up running my first thought was, "Oh yeahhhhhhh, I'm a runner now." We've now been home from Smithers for a month and I have only run twice. Not really sure if I can still call myself a runner if I'm not, you know, running. I just have no motivation. The whole reason I started running was I didn't want to gain weight while gone. I did end up gaining 2 1/2 pounds but I lost them again when I got home so I'm still holding steady in the weight department. Steadily 15 pounds heavier than I was last summer that is. I guess rock bottom wasn't quite as deep as I thought it was. It's so maddening! Espcecially since as far as it goes, I actually like running. I don't necessarily mean I like it while I'm doing it but I like how I feel after and I like that I get out of the house and leave the cacophony of kid noises behind me. And yet, I still have not laced up those shoes. Until today.

Before you get excited for me all finding my motivation again or whatever let me tell you, I did not run today. In the Spring, as I was contemplating the arrival of swimsuit season I happened to be flicking channels and got caught by an infomercial about something called the 10-Minute Trainer. Amazing results! 10 minutes a day! Powerstacking moves to get the most out of your workouts! No equipment required except a resistance band they will send you if you order in the next 30 minutes! I am kind of a sucker for infomercials (something I discovered was genetic when I heard Tristan yell excitedly to Ava not too long ago, "Come quick, it's Shamwow!") but the before and after pictures were so real looking. Nobody went from schlumpadinka to body builder, they all just looked trim and fit and I liked that. Then I saw a lady, and I swear she has to have had at least one baby by c-section because I recognized that drooping apron of skin hanging over where her scar would be as my own stomach. When I saw her results I knew I had to have my very own 10-Minute Trainer.

Now, several years ago I ordered Windsor Pilates after watching an infomercial. They were actually good DVD's but I only did them a couple of times then I loaned them out, I forget to who, and never thought of them again. So many years later I am wise to the ways of infomercials and I know that the "but wait, if you buy in the next 30 minutes!" price will still be the same tomorrow or online all the time. So I took my time and did a little research on it and still decided it sounded like a good idea and ordered it. Well it took 6 weeks to come in and by then I had lost steam and it sat in the box under my bed and every so often Hugh would say hey we should do that exercise thing you ordered and I'd say, yeah, yeah, right after I finish this cup of tea and eat another lemon square.

Well this morning Hugh decided he was mad we had paid money for something we never used and opened it up. And I was all, I'm not doing that because I'm a runner. And he was all, well then you should run. And I was all, I will. And he was all, when? And then he put in the DVD and my competitive spirit kicked in and I had to do it too, which is why I laced up my running shoes this morning. So we did the 10-Minute Cardio and then the 10-Minute Lower Body workout and let me tell you, it totally kicked my butt! Just hours later and I can feel my butt and my quads when I bend down to pick up the kids toys. I am going to be so-oh-ore tomorrow. So good workout, short amount of time, and lots of different options. Good right? Except something you need to know about me is that I hate with a capital "H" "A" " T" "E", hate washing my hair.

I feel completely ripped off if I have to wash my hair before day 4 and can often stretch it to day 5. Today when I was done and the sweat was dripping off me I was completely pissy because I had only washed my hair 2 days ago and now had to do it again. All the endorphins I was high off were crushed in my pissy-ness. I thought the 10-Minute Trainer was going to be the answer to my battle with the bulge but the thought of having to wash my hair every time I do it is a major deterrent. Which sounds stupid, I know that. And it's not a vanity thing, I swear; it's a laziness thing. My hair is long and deceptively thick and washing it makes my arms hurt and it takes a long time to comb out and I can't just let it air dry because one side dries straight and the other side dries wavy, and blow-drying my hair from right out of the shower takes me a good 20-minutes and makes me really hot and also makes my arms hurt, so I normally like to let it half air-dry which takes an hour and then it feels like it took forever to get ready and I hate being in limbo and I hate taking that long to get ready. It's a good argument for cutting my hair short. Then I could be showered and ready in 120 seconds like Hugh, but, and this is a vanity issue, I look horrible with short hair. I had really short hair in Bible College, aka my ugly phase, and looking back on those pictures literally makes me shudder and cover my eyes. And then, because I can't help it, I look again from between my fingers. Sort of like how I watch anything to do with Britney Spears. No, short hair is not an option.

So, what am I supposed to do? Running didn't make my head sweat like the 10-Minute Trainer but I'm not currently motivated to run. I am motivated to compete with Hugh and I do really want to lose that extra 15 but I can't wash my hair everyday, it will make me insane. Internet, I need your advice. How can I make this work? How do you deal with the working out/sweaty hair conundrum?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Things I've learned at the pool

Has it really been two weeks already since my last blog? Where does the time go? People keep saying to me you think time goes fast now just wait till they start school. If time goes any faster my head will literally be spinning in circles.

We're almost finished with the second week of swimming lessons for our twins. It's their first time in lessons and I cannot believe the difference in my little fishes. Tristan has always been a daredevil in the water jumping off the ledges of the pool and the diving board with abandon pretty much since he figured out he could jump. The lessons have given him a whole new skill set and seeing your kids excel at something is thrilling. In keeping with his daredevilness (and yes I realize that's not technically a word) not too long ago Tristan decided he wanted to do the tunnel waterslide at our rec. centre by himself. The first time he asked I said an unequivocal no. Are you kidding me? Let my precious baby slide through a tunnel of water out of my sight for 20 long seconds hoping he makes it to the bottom without drowning? I don't think so. The second time he asked I said no. What part of not wanting to see you drown do you not understand? Many, many, many, many, many "can I's" later I relented. There is something to be said for perseverance.

However, like all moms, I couldn't let Tristan go without some instructions, "Don't lay down on your back. Don't lay down on your stomach. When you get to the bottom stand up right away and walk to the end of the recovery area and wait for me." And then I repeated them. And then since he had been looking longingly at the slide instead of at me I made Tristan repeat them. And then I might have repeated them one more time for good measure. And then I let him go.

I stood at the top of the tunnel and watched my son push off from the edge with my heart in my throat. As he went around the first corner he looked back and threw me a smile of such exhilaration and joy and mischief that I almost dove in after him, so strong was the urge to scoop him up and hold him tightly to my chest sheltering that smile and that heart for all times. Instead, with one hand across my stomach, though that doesn't really make the nausea go away, and one hand at my mouth, though that doesn't really stop the tears from sneaking out, I held my breath and waited for his little form to reappear at the bottom. That was the longest 25 seconds of my life.

At about 15 one-thousand, I almost went in after him. At 24 one-thousand I was sure he had drowned. And then, a little flash of red and a mop of hair and a sunrise exploded in my soul. He never even glanced up as he splashed his way to the end of the recovery zone but I could feel his grin and the joy radiating from his body from 3 stories up. I threw myself down that waterslide as fast as I could, paddling like a madwoman to go faster, faster; I needed to wrap my arms around his tiny frame and hold him tight and lay my cheek on the top of his head. Not for him, he was fine. More than fine, he was antsy to do it again; I needed to hold him for myself. Because with time going at the rate it is, who knows how long I'll have to hold him tight to me, he trembling with joy and pride, me trembling because I've realized yet again he does not truly belong to me, that he has his own path to carve, his own destiny to fulfill. And I'm excited for him and the journey ahead and I know this is just the beginning of a long line of smiles he'll throw back to me from over his shoulder, the beginning of a long list of accomplishments to be proud of, the beginning of greater and greater lengths of time where he will be out of my sight and out of my arms reach. But for now, for today, with my heart full and my throat burning to keep the tears at bay, I will hold him tight, while I still can.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

3 hours and counting

Really, it's only 10 to 5:00? This day is dragging. Hugh is sick, some sort of influenza thing that has made his throat hurt, his head ache and apparently made the back of his neck tender to the touch. According to google this could mean a) the flu or b) he's dying. Note to self: Never google medical symptoms they almost always add up to cancer or at the very least a life threatening illness. You might just have time to hug your kids and kiss your spouse before the end if you put down the computer RIGHT NOW!

Anyway, Hugh spent the night tossing and turning which meant I spent the night tossing and turning. Never has there been a better case for memory foam mattresses. I knew Hugh wasn't feeling well, he was shivering up a storm and burning to the touch but at about 3:30 in the morning I lost all compassion and just wanted to kick him.

And now today I'm dragging around feeling like every movement is happening in slow motion except for when I'm yelling at the kids for you know, existing. And asking for things. Like lunch. Tristan wanted to play a game this morning but I had to say sorry honey, mommy is just too tired and cranky today and doesn't want this day to come up in therapy in your 30's so let's just watch some more TV, mmmmkay?

I had a preplanned coffee date for today at naptime and almost cancelled because I really didn't want to get dressed. I did want to get out though so I compromised with Lulu's, a scarf, blush, eyebrows and no mascara. No mascara means I don't have to wash my face tonight and I am already anticipating how quick getting ready for bed will be tonight...

Starbucks and not having to wash my face. It's a good day. Just incredibly long. Is it really only 5 after 5:00?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The beauty of being kindred. Or, I apologize in advance for the length of this post...

My mom works at an assisted living home for seniors in Salmon Arm and they recently lost one of her favourite residents; Mary, born in 1919, my mom described her as one of the original earth mothers interested in all things natural and homeopathic. At the Lodge Mary became fast friends with a woman named Marie instantly recognizing in each other a kindred spirit. They would meet every morning in the dining hall for coffee laughing and talking and sharing as only women can. Last week Mary took a bad turn and had to be moved to the hospital. Just before the end Marie went to visit her. As she walked into the room Mary said, "Oh Marie, I was just laying here thinking of you and all the things I haven't told you yet."

These women had both lived in Salmon Arm, not a large community - the population is currently about 16,000, for 45 years and hadn't met until this last year when they both moved into the Lodge. My heart aches for all the years of friendship they missed out on, the memories they never got to make, the conversations they never got to finish. All the joys, all the heartaches... all of life is either more or less when you can share it with a kindred spirit. I have been incredibly blessed with kindred spirits. The first time I met Heidi after moving to Alberta I felt I'd known her all my life and I've written about her here, but the first kindred spirits to enter my life happened a lot earlier and weren't recognized quite as quickly.

Tanya I met in Grade 5, 1988. She was in Grade 6, the height of the elementary school social pyramid and therefore uber cool and I was the new kid just moved to Telkwa from Whitehorse. And I had just gotten a poodle perm that didn't really take except in my bangs. But our parents became friends; our dads met and bonded over pints in the Telkwa pub and our moms walked and bonded over faulty husbands and raising families. As a result we were often thrown together and sort of got to know each other becoming friends because of our parents. Then about 4 years later we both went to the same summer camp and afterward both started going to the same youth group. She had her license and she'd pick me up in her mom's rat-bagged silver Chevette and over our parents separations, our quest for spirituality and a missing muffler we became friends for ourselves.

I met Michelle in Grade 11, 1994. She had already graduated and moved with her mom and siblings from Winnipeg, population over 600,000 to Smithers, population about 5,000. She went from a city that had an NHL team, a renowned Ballet company and shopping malls to a town where movies "opening everywhere" arrived several months later, the mall consisted of Safeway, Zellers, a mom and pop diner and a silk screening shop, and where a fun thing to do on a Friday night was burn pallets or drive through the huge puddle in the Safeway parking lot. She came with bad orange hair, bad black lipstick, and a bad attitude. But she also came out of an absolute nightmare family situation and over fries at A&W and late night hangouts that became sleepovers I discovered an incredibly resilient spirit, an amazing sense of humour, and a true heart connection.

I can't actually remember the first time I met Laura. She was someone I knew because of youth group but she was a year younger than me and more innocent than me and we didn't connect right away. Her parents were still married for one thing and her dad seemed too perfect to be real but one May long weekend at a youth convention in Kamloops, BC she asked me and another girl to make her over. While trying on boot cut jeans, belts, and various shades of blush I found her to possess an endearing sweetness, a deep, quiet passion, and a very similar list of best-loved books.

We have so many memories together, the four of us. Memories of road trips, late nights, and lots of laughter. Memories of secrets shared, souls revealed, tears, and whispers. And through it all, the fights over boys, the coffees at Java's, the times where one or more were away for school or travel, the ebbs and flows of friendship; threaded throughout our memories is our Anne Of Green Gables sleepovers.

At some point we discovered a mutual love of the Anne of Green Gables movie and decided to get together to watch all 8 hours of it. We bought every kind of junk food imaginable, brought pillows and hair ties and wore the rattiest, comfiest sweats we owned and got down to business. We loved Matthew who bore an uncanny resemblance to my dad and when he convinced Anne to apologize to Rachel Lynde so she could stay at Green Gables and when he bought Anne the dress with puffed sleeves that she'd always dreamed of and when he was dying and Anne lamented she wasn't the boy they'd originally wanted and he said he never wanted a boy he'd only ever wanted her, all of us, excepting Laura who has an amazing father, wished he could be our dad. And we loved how tough and unyeilding Marilla was in the beginning and how much life and colour and laughter and tenderness Anne had brought into her world by the end. We all knew Anne and Gilbert ended up together but we grew anxious at her stubbornness not to have him anyway and then elated by her final revelation that she loved him. 8 hours just to get to the kiss at the end! But it was so worth it. By the end of the movies our stomachs hurt from the sheer amount of junk we had forced into them. Half asleep already and surrounded by food wrappers we sprawled out wherever we had sat down on the floor or couch, agreed the night had been awesome and closed our eyes as the sun began to rise. It was only a few hours later our alarm went off and we got up to get ready for church. And that was how it all began. We pretty much stuck to the same format over the next few years. Sometimes one of us would be away, sometimes we'd add other people but it was always us four at the heart of it.

Laura, Michelle, me, Tanya circa 1998

The last AOGG sleepover we did was the summer before Michelle and I went backpacking in Europe. In the fall we flew to Amsterdam. Michelle ran out of money and came home a couple of months later and I stayed and traveled with whoever I met and liked. Laura got married while I was away but I came back for Michelle's wedding a few months later, my lack of money perfectly coinciding with her wedding date. A year and a half later I got married and Tanya 6 months after me. And then it was babies for Michelle and Laura. We moved away. Tanya and her husband moved away. More babies were born. 10 between the four of us. I came to Smithers to help Michelle for a week when her third baby was born. Tanya came from Russia to have her first baby back home. When we discovered our first baby was actually babies Michelle booked a flight to be there the week after my mom left. And the years passed. 12 to be precise but we all kept in touch throughout and managed to see each other off and on. Michelle became our grounding source so even if Tanya, Laura and I hadn't spoken much to each other we were caught up because we all talked to Michelle.

For the past two weeks, My family and I were in Smithers for a kind of AOGG reunion. We barbequed, we coffee'd, we laughed, we cried, we watched our kids play together and we watched Anne of Green Gables and had our first AOGG sleepover in 12 years. And apparently we aren't as young as we once were. I was in my teens during our last sleepover; I am now in my thirties and have been sleep deprived for the last 5 years while I've been pregnant and having babies. This makes a difference in one's ability to sleep on the floor. And one's ability to stay up late.

We started out with grand plans, an extremely oversized bowl of Tanya's honey popcorn and other necessary items like wine gums and chocolate chip cookies and the fixings for Reece's Pieces blizzards at intermission. We all crowded onto the couch facing the TV as the entire living room floor was being occupied by a queen-sized air mattress and two twins. But let's face it, they were not the obstacle. I simply do not like to sit on the floor to watch movies anymore. We gorged on junk and my stomach started to hurt about hour 2. Which was when Michelle fell asleep. It was 10:30. I think Laura lasted till hour 3 and Tanya and I made it to the end with only a tiny catnap somewhere between hour 3 and 4. It was now 12:30 and technically only intermission as we had another 4 hours of movies to watch. Ha! Who were we kidding? That was so not happening. Instead we decided to have the blizzards for breakfast, picked up all the food wrappers because we're moms now and we know things don't get picked up by themselves, and took our bowls and glasses to the kitchen. We rinsed out our glasses and got water to put beside our beds because I don't know about you but I hate waking up in the night and not having water beside my bed in case I'm thirsty. Then we washed our faces, brushed our teeth and put on our anti-aging moisturizers and crawled into blankets on our air mattresses, making sure the pathway to the bathroom was cleared of any potential tripping hazards for those late night, post-baby-bladder trips.

Just before closing my eyes I got out my ear plugs because I can't sleep without them (which is a whole other story and yes I can still hear my babies if they cry out at night) and made sure my special neck pillow was in exactly the right spot so I didn't wake up with a headache. We didn't even pretend we were going to stay up late whispering and giggling like the old days we all just rolled over and crashed. Or tried to. It was a very uncomfortable sleep for me, partly because an air mattress seriously sucks to sleep on, they're cold and hard to roll over on and just aren't beds no matter how hard they try; and partly because my stomach was churning which I thought was the result of all the junk food and turned out to be the result of a stomach flu which my smallest son had had 5 days previous but which I didn't find out I had until the next morning when I was back at Michelle's.

We left Laura's the next morning, sans breakfast blizzards, still full from the night before, exhausted and wondering how we used to be able to get up after 3 hours of sleep and function and so glad we managed to do an AOGG sleepover. We were disappointed we hadn't made it all the way through to the kiss at the end but it was so much fun we've decided to try again the next time we're all together. Who knows when that will be but we're no fools, if we're going to see that kiss we're going to start with the last movie!

me, Tanya, Laura, Michelle, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A reason to celebrate?

Edited to add:
I had to pull this blog because I was surprising a friend who was having a party to celebrate completing her A.R.C.T. piano exam which she has been working towards for 10 years and she reads this blog.
And also, I have now run 5 whole times. I think it may be official. I've taken up running.

I've taken up running. Sort of. I mean I ran yesterday and the day before out of sheer panic. And I plan on running tomorrow and everyday until we leave on Thursday for our trip to Smithers. So that counts right?

Here's the thing. I'm about 15 lbs heavier than I was at the beginning of last summer. I gained 5 lbs while my friend Michelle and her girls were visiting. One night we went to a great little restaurant patio for a drink and to split a dessert but the desserts all looked so good and there were so many options we decided to each get a dessert to share. And then to split a third. I really don't know why I gained weight during those 3 weeks! Then I gained 5 lbs at Christmas. Baking. Indulging. Enough said.

And then somehow I managed to gain another 5 between Christmas and now which leads me to a grand total of 15 lbs of heaviness and too tight pants that I did not have last summer. If I gain 5 more lbs I will be the heaviest I have ever weighed while not having another human being (or 2) inside of me. And I am so paranoid about gaining more weight while we're gone that it propelled me out of bed at 6:15am on Friday morning to run. And I didn't set an alarm. And my kids weren't awake yet. And then I did it again the next morning.

I think I may have finally hit rock bottom.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Happy Birthay indeed

Hugh turned 35 yesterday. It's a significant milestone. He is now eligible to play in the 35 and older mens baseball league. Hoo-wah.

For the last few months Hugh has been saving for a new acoustic guitar and last week at church a man pulled me aside to say he wanted to contribute X amount of dollars to the fund and with the contribution of some cash birthday presents from our parents it was exactly enough. Acoustic guitar, many dollars. The stress of keeping the secret for an entire week, new wrinkles on my forehead. The look on Hugh's face....priceless.

Ava also got her dad a present. At one point during the evening yesterday Ava yelled from the bathroom, "Can youuuuuuu wiiipe my bummmmmm?" I called "not it" (it's his birthday, his legs haven't been amputated!) so Hugh got up and walked into the bathroom and from the living room we heard Ava sing, "Happy birthday to youuuuuuu...."

I think he preferred the guitar!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tell me that face doesn't break your heart just a little...

Tristan has very toothpick-like limbs:


But Tristan got a mosquito bite that got infected:


And now let's look at them side by side:


The doctor thinks Tristan was scratching a bite and broke the skin and then while playing outside picked up a staph or strep infection. He's on some pretty killer antibiotics and I am grateful because the swelling is starting to blister and is just scary to look at. That horrible preview for "Drag me to Hell" (or whatever it's called) is all over right now and even though I try to turn it because just the preview creeps me out I've seen enough that I keep thinking something is going to burst through the skin of Tristan's arm and eat us all for breakfast.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It just never occurred to me to look first

So the other day Hugh and I were taking the kids for a bike ride. When they bike they are just fast enough to for us to get a really good power walk in while pushing Sebastian in the stroller and anytime I don't have to get on a bike thereby ensuring the womanly parts stay pain-free is a-okay with me.

Anyway, on the day in question, a beautiful, gloriously sunshine-y day I thought, you know what would be great? To come home all hot and jello-legged from this walk and pour myself a tall glass of cold Almond Iced Tea. I had this thought while Hugh was already outside helping the kids into bike helmets so I knew I didn't have much time but the kettle was still hot from my morning cuppa and I decided to throw caution to the wind. I flipped the kettle on for a fresh boil, grabbed the lemon juice from the fridge, the pitcher from the cupboard beside the fridge, and dropped them on the island. I went quickly to the pantry to get the tea, sugar, almond and vanilla extracts and threw them on the island. The kettle was just starting to rumble so I hurriedly measured out my ingredients, dumping them into the pitcher, finishing exactly as the kettle reached it's peak boil only moments after starting the whole process.

Perfect timing, I thought as I grabbed the wooden spoon to stir my concoction, noticing as I did, that the sugar hadn't dissolved at all in the boiling water. Weird. I stuck the spoon in to break it up and hit something hard. Weirder. I fished it out and came up with a ramekin (those things that you make creme brulee in ) and a small candle. Cuz those are normal things to keep inside a pitcher right? Now where did I put that candle? In my water pitcher, of course! Which was very similar to the time I lost the sugar bowl that makes its permanent residence on our counter. After a good ten minutes of searching I gave up and went to take some meat out of the freezer for supper and found my sugar bowl nicely chilling.

Despite candle and ramekin, I was optimistic my dream of cold tea could still be salvaged until bits and globs of wax came floating to the top while I stirred. Sadly, the entire thing went down the kitchen sink and I went outside no further ahead than when I started. When I got to the garage I said to Hugh, "you'll never believe what I just did."
He said, "Oh, I'm sure I will...."

To make your own Almond Tea:
In a large pitcher, which you've checked beforehand to make sure there are no surprises inside:
2 tsp - 2 Tbsp instant tea, depending on how strong you like your tea
3/4 - 1/4 C sugar
1/2 - 3/4 C lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp Almond extract
Pour 2 cups of boiling water over all, stirring until dissolved. Fill to the top with cold water.
Enjoy wax free!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The best laid plans

Hello? Hello? Anybody still out there?

Why does blogging make me feel like an alcoholic back on the bandwagon? Here I am. Again. Saying sorry. Again. For the lack of blogging and recommitting myself. Again. To be more consistent in my posting. Again.

I don't blame you if you read this and don't believe me, I'm not even sure if I believe myself. But as usually seems to happen I go for weeks (ahem. months.) with nothing, no material and no energy to make my boring glory into material and now here I am with about 3 blogs in my head and not sure where to start.

I was going to start with something inspired by a facebook conversation I am currently having with an old friend but then something kind of came up and hijacked the fun and games so I guess I'll start with that.

Hugh got laid off last Friday.

It started off as an ordinary Friday. Hugh left for work at 7:30, I left for a Mothers Day Tea at Preschool at 8:15 and then Sebastian had to have his 18 month shots at 9:40. When I think back on that morning I am amazed at how ordinary it was, amazed that there was no intuition or premonition of what was coming. But I suppose there never is. It's only after that you look back and think you should have been able to see it coming. It's only after that those moments become meaningful for the very fact of their ordinariness and being the last time you felt such things were ordinary.

The Tea was done at 9:00 and Tristan had a fever and we were out of childrens Tylenol so I stopped at Pharmasave. Driving toward the Public Health Unit I looked at the clock. I was early. Not as early as I had hoped because of our pit stop, but still early. I wondered if I'd have time to hit the Starbucks drive-through before our appointment but I turned left intstead of right deciding to save Starbucks for after. We pulled into the parking lot and the kids asked to listen to the rest of Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid which was playing in our cd player. And that's where Hugh found me.

It didn't register at first that he was wearing street clothes and that I had seen him off this morning in his ratty grease-stained work clothes. I was just pleasantly surprised to see him and opened the van door saying, "Hey! What are you doing here?" Which is when he leaned in and said, "I got laid off." And I sat there waiting for the punch line, truly not suspecting he was serious.

He stayed with the big kids while I took Sebastian in for his shots. I was definitely in shock. That stage of shock where you feel somehow removed from your body. I heard myself calmly talking about Sebastian's head circumference and weight and development. I saw myself undress him and hold his arms steady for the needles. I felt his weight as I held him to me "shhh, shhh, shhh'ing" him after it was over but it was like I was floating beside myself separated from my body by wisps of cloud and swirling mist that I couldn't brush away.

We went to Costco to pick up a few things and while the kids were waiting for some samples I texted Michelle the news. She texted back the F-word and I laughed out loud. Sometimes, there are just no other words. We went home, had lunch, put the kids down for a nap and then I cried. I cried for the sod that won't be coming for our backyard after all. I cried for the vacation in August we have to cancel that the kids are so excited about. I cried for no Starbucks. I cried for no Winners. I cried for Hugh's guitar being put on hold. I cried for a changing time.

But here's the thing. As sad as I am about all these things, as uncertain as I am about our future (do we stay? will we have to move? can we survive on EI making less than half what we made? will I have to get a job?) I actually feel a supernatural peace about it all. And I have learned how much I have grown and how much I truly trust God.

I've written very little about faith on this blog, choosing instead for it to be mostly light and silly but I have a deep faith and relationship with God. And I believe the Bible when it says that all things work for the good and that God has come to give us life to the full and that He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us and though we go through deep waters and great trouble we will not drown, and when we walk through the fires we will not be consumed because He is with us.

And so we have determined that we will be positive and enjoy this time together. If our kids remember this time they will not remember parents who sat all day in pj's on the couch depressed and anxious and yelling at each other and at them. No. They will remember hours spent together walking and going to the park and playing games and laughing because truly, no matter if we stay or go, or I get a job, or however all those questions get answered, we have a very unique opportunity to spend time together as a family and we will not waste it.

It's easy to be cynical in this world. It's easy to live cautious of your happiness while waiting for the proverbial axe to fall. And it's easy to say, "Why God? Why do you hate me?" when it has fallen. And while it's true that the times where everything is going right all at the same time don't last forever, the same is also true of the opposite. The hard times don't last forever either. This is all part of the cycle of life and I don't believe that God loves me even though this happened. I believe He loves me. Period. And life happened. And I am strangely, divinely at peace and strangely, divinely excited about what's to come. At the very least I should have more time and energy (not to mention material) for blogging now that Hugh will be home everyday! No more excuses! No more falling off the bandwagon. I hope.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

At least it's something new to read...

I wasn't going to do this. It was all over Facebook and bloggerland and I wasn't going to do it. But then I had no material. So I started this post over a week ago but didn't finish it (I am astonishingly uninteresting.) I pulled up my blog today determined to write a new post and realized the post I want to write is too much emotional energy for me to invest on a Saturday so here it is...

25 Random Things about me: (So much for being a resister...)

1. My 2nd and 3rd toes on my left foot are melted together creating a "webbed" effect. They were melted by a motorcycle wheel when I was two.

2. In Grade 1 I took my toes to show & tell and when I started taking my shoes and socks off my teacher said, "whoa, is she going to strip?" Slightly inappropriate to say to a six-year-old wouldn't you say? But that's the Yukon for you I guess. They're all a little punch-drunk up there.

3. If Sebastian had been a girl he would have been named Mia Faith. I still love that name.

4. I love playing games and Hugh hates them (unless it starts with x and ends in box.) I have actually cried that he won't play Pictionary with me.

5. I love Damask.

6. I'm a wanna-be painter.

7. I think my nose is getting too big for my face. When I smile I look like a 90-year-old man with my huge spreading bulbous nose.

8. I love Indian food.

9. I want to wallpaper my front entryway and my powder room.

10. When I was tired or sick or double-cross as a teenager my mom would always recommend a nice hot bath and a nice cup of tea, both of which I hated. Now whenever I or anyone I know is tired or sick or double-cross I recommend a nice hot bath and a nice cup of tea, both of which I love.

11. I hate telling people coming over that I'm an interior designer. My budget has yet to live up to the rooms I have designed in my head!

12. My Grade 4 teacher went on maternity leave halfway through the year and my mom sent along a gift for me to give her. I was mortified beyond mortified when she opened up some ruffle bum underwear to go over a baby's diaper (Why can't I think of the proper name for them?) in front of the whole class and then thanked me by name!

13. I am fiercely competitive. Today Hugh and I played a Max and Ruby version of the game Sorry! with our kids and I just about had a fit because I was the first one to have all my yellow guys lined up waiting to go home and all I popped were purples for about 50 turns and EVERYONE ELSE beat me! I had to remind myself not to kick Hugh under the table because we were having F.U.N.

14. I would love, love, love to learn the Flamenco.

15. I love chippy-peely furniture. Also known as Shabby Chic.

16. I go through fan decks of paint samples for fun.

17. I want a cottage on the beach and an apartment in Paris.

18. I have been to 14 or 15 different countries but never been further east in Canada than where I currently live. SAD.

19. I want to do a road trip across Canada sometime when our kids are older.

20. I have only ever been to one concert. It was a Blue Rodeo concert and it was SO BORING!

21. I love musicals but I prefer ones that have some dialogue in them.

22. I have a dream of a really beautiful garden. There would be profusions of colour, flagstone pathways, tall grasses. I'd have an herb garden and planters around my back deck with flowers that only open in the evening. The only problem is I absoluely despise gardening.

23. I love being in my 30's. I feel more at peace with who I am than I have ever felt and I have learned the awesomeness of saying NO!

24. My favourite Starbucks drink is a grande 2-pump white mocha americano misto. It's half the cost and half the sweetness of a regular white mocha. (Thank you Michelle!)

25. My current favourite rainy-day, sad-day, sick-day movie is Penelope. It was You've Got Mail for years followed by Bewitched and then Pride and Prejudice (BBC Version).

GOOD GRIEF! That just took me an entire nap-time! What a waste for something so boring to read. This is why I don't do these things! I was going to be a resister, remember?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sorry kid, there are just some things that can't be helped.

I was in Value Village a couple of months ago going through the kids books when suddenly I spied a thin blue hard-covered book. "Miss Mopp's Lucky Day" it said on the cover. Could it be? My heart began to beat faster. I opened it up and there were little yellow cupcakes with pink icing and a strawberry on top all over the inside cover and facing page. I flipped eagerly past the printing info and dedication pages and there on page one was a picture of Miss Mopp in her kitchen with cakes cooling on the counters. Once upon a time I had owned this story. I'm not sure when it disappeared out of my life but it was one of my favourites as a child. An incredible find! I loved looking at that page of cakes cooling on the counters waiting to be packaged up and taken to town to be sold in Miss Mopp's cake shop. I thought they were the most beautiful cakes I had ever seen and I spent an inordinate amount of time carefully inspecting each one imaging they would taste as wonderful as they looked. Side note: adult eyes are not nearly as full of wonder as a child's.

Losing this Christmas huskiness would be alot easier if I didn't love food so much, if I wasn't, in fact, all about the food. I wish I was one of those people who thought about food in terms of fueling their bodies and in terms of health and strength. Instead, my thoughts about food tend more to the entertainment, comfort, reward side of the scale. Baby and bridal shower invites spur thoughts of "well at least there will be food." I specifically designate things as my "nap-time indulgences" even going so far as to time cookies and such to beep about five minutes after all the kids have gone down for naps. I am the kind of person who goes to bed looking forward to getting up the next day so I can have breakfast. Then even as I am eating breakfast I am dreaming up lovely combinations for lunch. Reading cookbooks is enjoyable, even anticipated, as I do my menu plans. As soon as the blessed hour of bedtime arrives and I kiss the kids goodnight I head straight to the pantry to reward myself for yet another hard days work molding the future of our country. In the back of my mind is a constant cataloguing and inventory of the holy trinity, fridge/freezer/pantry, and contemplation of all the separate and combined delights they have to yield. All this wouldn't necessarily be so bad if I could at least make up for it at the other end. You know if I liked to exercise - or just plain did some. Hello, Burpee Fiasco anyone? I just really, really hate exercising and I really, really love food.

And so what is to be the fate of my muffin top? Daily I decide I'm getting back on the wagon and I determine to make a true attempt to exercise the muffin top away. But at the end of the day all I've done is ice it with buttercream frosting. This is depressing but in the spirit of full disclosure I'm not even sure if I want to change. As previously mentioned I really, really like food and I'm just not ready to take such drastic measures as *gasp* limiting my daily sugar intake. I think it's safe to say I haven't reached rock bottom yet. Or swimsuit season.

I do not want my kids to have my food issues and I have tried to be very careful to help them cultivate a healthy relationship with food. I never use food as bribes for behaviour or rewards and I never talk about my weight or body issues around them. Last Sunday at church Ava was out of sorts. She spent the first part of church crying because she wanted it to be time for kids church and then when it was time for kids church we stood outside the door while she cried that she didn't want to go in. "Ava look at all your little friends in there waiting for you. Don't you want to go play with them?"
"No-ohhhhhhhhh. I want to stay with you-uuuuuu."
"But honey you've been looking forward to playing with your friends all morning. Why don't you go in? I know you'll have fun."
"Wellllllll....What snack is it today?"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Torture thy name is Burpee

The Burpee as described by Dictionary.com:

1. Start in a push up position.
2. Do one push up.
3. Quickly jump feet forward to a squatting position.
4. Jump high into the air, bringing up your knees to your chest and raising your hands above your head.
5. Land with feet together on the balls of your feet.
6. Drop back to a squat.
7. Jump feet back to a push up position.
8. Repeat many times.

The Burpee according to Heather:

1.
2.
3.
4. Repeat many times.


And since I've fallen off the wagon anyway, I might as well make it worth my while before I get any more brilliant excercise ideas.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The one where I feel guilty (and husky) about all the calories consumed during Christmas.

So it's a new year. I don't think I have come down off my month-long sugar binge yet. Seriously, I start to get the shakes if I go too many minutes between bites of shortbread or buttertarts, or chocolate, or gingerbread or soft, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth, homemade toffee....oh the toffee...

Focus.
New Year.

Right. It's a new year so it's time to renew my commitment to eat less and move more. Less cookies, less chocolate, less full-fat Starbucks, less late-night snacks, less nap-time indulgences, less bed-time rewards. More discipline, more fitness, more running up and down my second story stairs. Sigh. I'm going through withdrawls just thinking about it. But I have to do something. If not for the sake of my heart and being heart-healthy at least for the sake of my muffin top. Skinny jeans and muffin top? Oh no you di-in't.

I have considered various ways to get the "move more" part incorporated into my life. But being slothful and lazy is surprisingly not conducive with moving more. Talking to Hugh about this dilemma he suggested a gym pass. Yeah. I'm not going to lie. That is 100% not going to happen. I'm not even going to pretend I'm motivated enough to get up and be at a gym at 6am. What I'm really looking for is something that will make me healthy (and thin) with little or no apparent effort. Any suggestions?

I have a good friend who is the queen of the cleanse. I mean she could probably write a book about the pros, cons and results of 4o or 50 different cleanses and I am feeling so sugar-puffy right now that I actually considered doing one. For about a minute. But let's get real here. I did not obtain this muffin-top by denying myself.

Then of course there is the whole cross-fitness movement where the theory is you don't need a gym to get in shape you just use what is in your environment. Example. You take your kids to the park and you run while they bike or you do lunges while you walk there then you do tricep dips off the bench and pull-ups on the monkey bars and burpees on the grass, etc. Which is great in theory. Except A) Do you realize how stupid you feel struggling to use muscles that have not existed since Grade 10 gym class and do a pull-up on shoulder-height monkey bars while the other moms are chatting and sipping lattes? And B) How do you have time to do more than one dip at a time between the nose-wiping, the swing-pushing, the slide-catching, the owie-kissing, the fight-refereeing and the peeing on of the trees? And C) Have you done a burpee recently? I don't think I've done one since Grade 1o gym class (thank you Mrs. Howard for those wonderful memories). Until today that is. Because I have a new get fit strategy.

Heidi told me about this guy in our town who runs a Cross-fit program of some kind and who has issued something he calls The Burpee Challenge. Day 1 - do one burpee. Day 2 - do two burpees. Day 3 - three burpees and so on and so forth, you start slow, you ease into all that fitness and healthiness. This works for me. I can still indulge in my slothful ways but I can justify it because I'm slowly building up the number of burpees I'm doing in a day and therefore building up to being fit. Although somehow I can't really imagine the three month mark. I wonder if there's a "start over" after a certain number of days?

Anyway, today was Day 1. I popped a piece of toffee in my mouth - What? The bag was open on the counter and I had to close it - dropped and did a burpee. It was pretty awesome. I didn't even pee my pants like I thought I would. (It's a lot of things to keep tense so you don't fall on your face, you know?) Then I got myself a glass of water because it's important to stay hydrated, and now I'm sitting on the couch feeling pretty darn good about myself. Fitness and thinness are within my grasp. Yep. This could be it. This could be the answer I've been looking for.

I'll let you know in three months.