Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Christmas House Tour

Welcome! 

Come in!  Come in!

I'll take your coat while you turn to your immediate left and step into my living room:

Feel free to wander.
These berry sprays were used on our wedding cake almost 11 years ago.

This is my attempt to make our built-ins more festive:

Feel free to touch the shells.  There's a few already being held together with tape.
  This TV is getting moved downstairs, probably tomorrow, once Hugh finishes building our basement entertainment unit.  What to fill this big huge gaping hole with...?
(The swoopy thing is strands of Capiz Shells, just in case you were dying to know.)

 If you look to the left of our mantle you'll see our family.  The pictures were taken two years ago by my friend Simone but they're my favourite pictures ever so we haven't had new ones taken.  Oh, and the white ball lights up. It's so pretty at night.

 Directly opposite this dresser is our tree:
We've had the same strands of lights for 10 years and last week one of our strands burnt out. If Christmas were perfect we'd be in the movies.  I'm just sayin'...

Come closer: 
Seeing the kids handiwork beside my glass balls and grown up ornaments makes me smile.
 

Really close:
The glass waterfalls are new to my tree this year, a gift from a friend.
  

 We got this Santa as a housewarming gift in our first house.  He's come a long way with us.

Come into the kitchen for some tea.  You'll notice we hang our stockings on our staircase:
We've never hung them on our mantel because Hugh hasn't wanted me to put nail holes in it and we've never had room for stocking hanger things with the tv et al.  I'm thinking I'd like to try to knit some stockings for us next year.

As you take a seat at the island look behind you.  This is me keeping it real. 
My tins of baking are thrown haphazardly on the top of our hutch from getting the teacher gifts ready last night and I haven't touched them since.   The lamp base has been sitting there for months.  I'll get to it eventually.


Alright now come sip your tea while it's hot and let me tell you about Tristan and Ava's first school Christmas Concert.  It was adorable and out of tune and hot in the gym.  The grande finale at the end was The Hallelujah Chorus.  Let me just say it was fitting....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wallpaper Sneak Peak

Hey do you know what's a good idea?  Take on a major reno right before Christmas!  It's super fun! Thank God the end is in sight.  Well minus the tub/shower.  Hugh was going to install the tub surround yesterday but when he opened the box the corners were broken and when he took it back they didn't have any more.  He's actually relieved because now he's off the hook for getting it done. 

On the plus side our wallpaper is going in right now.  It looks fantastic!  In the end we decided not to attempt putting it up ourselves.  We've never put up wallpaper before and we didn't think five days before our company arrives for Christmas was a good time to learn.  Between the pattern repeat and walls that aren't straight the ladies installing it, who are professionals, are having a difficult time and seeing their frustration makes me so glad we decided not to tackle it.

Here's a sneak peak:

I love it!  (Sorry for the picture quality.  I ran downstairs with my camera while they went for a smoke break so I had to be quick.) The only potential hiccup is they said they may need one more roll of the paper.  It takes two to three weeks to come in...  While I'm making more Christmas cookies (Chocolate Mint Truffle Cookies!) and washing bedding and towels and getting the kids' teacher gifts ready for tomorrow and making sure the kids school concert clothes are clean for tonight, I will also be praying we have enough paper.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This is how I cope

I am so overwhelmed this morning.

It's coming down to the wire in terms of having our reno finished in time for our company.  Painting is finished and the redo colour I picked (called Wintry Sky, by Cloverdale) for the bedroom/bathroom is fantastic.  It's the exact grey-blue I was hoping for and I'm so glad we repainted it.  Flooring and baseboards were installed Tuesday and wallpaper is going in on Monday.  I ran downstairs to get some meat out of the freezer last night and it was so weird to step off our carpeted steps onto more carpet instead of a cement floor.  It feels like a real living space now and it's exciting to see it coming along.  Hugh still has a huge check list of lighting/plumbing fixtures/building cabinets etc to get the bathroom done.  Plus we have an entertainment unit to build, pictures to hang, and all of our stuff in the garage - like the spare bed - has to get brought back in at some point before everyone arrives.  Not to mention the whole basements needs a good cleaning.

Last night after doing my holiday grocery list I wrote a list of all the things I have to do between now and Christmas.  Every moment of every day, including Christmas Eve, is accounted for.  And I don't have anything basement related on my list.  I am feeling very overwhelmed.  And whenever I feel this way I crave tea and shortbread.

I have a pretty large, pretty eclectic collection of Christmas mugs.  Hugh and I have been married for almost 11 years and every year for Christmas and sometimes for my birthday too he has bought me a Christmas mug.  This year when I was unpacking them I realized they all have dates on the bottom so I lined them up on my counter according to year, a sort of Christmas mug timeline of our marriage.  Each mug has a memory or feeling attached to it and one mug in particular I use whenever the busyness of the season threatens to consume me.

The Christmas I got this particular mug my twins were 4 months old and Hugh was still youth pastoring.  That Fall had been difficult for us both.  I had always been a very active part of Hugh's ministry and literally overnight I was cut-off and thrown into the confusing, emotional, exhausting role of new mother.  And I had twins.  Meanwhile Hugh was trying to find a way to cut down all the nights out (before babies he was literally out 4 or 5 nights each week) and still be effective while also being exhausted.  When you're just learning how to nurse and then you're nursing two babies at once, everybody gets up at 5am to help!

I think we were very naive about the toll having two babies was going to take and so we didn't plan for it.  We tried to do all the same things we had done in previous years which meant by the time we got to Boxing Day I was so beyond tired all I could do was cry.  To be fair by the time Boxing Day came each year we youth pastored I pretty much felt done with Christmas and just needed some time to decompress - which we never got because we had to be gearing up for our New Year's Eve event and there was always a church service or two between Christmas and New Years and it was people, people, people, event after event after event with no room to breathe. 

The Christmas the babies were 4 months old I stayed home from church the first Sunday after Christmas Day.  I hadn't yet figured out how to nurse two babies in public without being arrested for public nudity and the babies had recently changed their feeding schedules so I stayed home.  I stayed in my cozy Christmas flannels, made a cup of tea in my new Christmas mug put a few shortbread cookies on a plate and curled up under a blanket on the couch with my book.  Miraculously the babies napped all morning.  I still remember every detail of that morning six years ago.  It is so crystal clear how quiet and still my house felt.  I remember the feel of the warm cup cradled in my hands, the sounds of the pages of my book turning.  I even still remember the book I was reading - Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  I didn't move all morning except to make a fresh cup of tea.  It was the most glorious day of the entire Christmas season.

When I hold this mug, which fits so perfectly in my hands, I feel like I hold the peace of that morning six years ago.  Today, as I look at my list and think of all the things I need to do/make/get ready, I really need that peace.  And also a shortbread cookie. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Smiling is Buddy's favourite

It was my birthday yesterday.  I turned 33.  It was a lovely day.  I came downstairs to a perfectly prepared, steaming hot cup of tea and a gift bag on the table.  Hugh bought me a great pair of heeled black ankle boots.  I thought I might want to try the next size up so in the afternoon I went shopping with a friend.  Once we got to to the shoe store (there were a few diversions along the way) just for fun I thought I'd try on a few different styles of boots.  That was a really bad idea.  Or good, depending on how you look at it.  I left the store with the boots Hugh bought me in their original size. And two more pairs of boots. I don't usually like to spend my birthday money the day I get it. There is something so delicious about having that money to spend on whatever I might care to spend it on and I usually like to savour the feeling but I was standing in the store wearing one flat black boot and one flat brown boot and agonizing about which one to get when I decided that birthday money meant it didn't have to be either/or.  It could be the genius of the and!  Thank you Mom and Jay.

We got home from shopping just in time for me to brush my teeth, change into my new ankle boots and head out for dinner with Hugh. We walked into the restaurant and I stopped dead and took a step back.  In the middle of the room was a huge long table full of people.  And I recognized....all of them?  In fact I was going to be at a Christmas party with most of them the next night and I wondered if I had gotten my dates confused.  As my mind was occupied trying to decide, my eyes were unconsciously taking in the chair draped with a white feather boa and a cluster of balloons and a pile of presents in the middle of the table.  My mind felt very slow as it raced around trying to figure out what was going on and then the table full of people I recognized starting singing.  To me.  And I realized I had walked right into my own surprise party and all those people were there for me.  And then I burst into tears. 

December birthdays can be hard.  How do you ask people to add one more thing to their to-do list at an incredibly busy time of year?  How do you even find a date to get together?  I think the the last birthday party I had was the year I turned 16.  Or maybe it was 14 or 15?  I can't remember exactly.  What I do remember is Disney's "Beauty and The Beast" had just come out on VHS and it was a really big deal that we could rent it for my birthday.  Before watching the movie we went sledding at the elementary school and one of my friends wrapped herself around the steel base of the swings and ended up with a broken tailbone though it wasn't discovered until the next day.  Can you believe she managed to walk back to my house and sit through the movie?  I'm telling you Beauty and The Beast was a big deal!  That was definitely a memorable birthday.  As was my 30th when we met up with my best friend and her husband in Calgary for the weekend.  Such a perfect way to celebrate that milestone.  And now I can add another one to the list of memorable birthdays.  Walking into that restaurant last night, seeing everyone sitting there, knowing they had all shown up for me (my friend Tabitha actually switched a nursing shift so she could be there) at this crazy, busy, expensive time of year?  I will never forget that feeling as long as I live.

Now before you go and give Hugh a pat on the back for his awesomeness, and I know you want to, I need to give credit where credit is due.  The surprise party wasn't actually Hugh's idea, it was my friend Rebecca's, who I did all my Christmas baking with.  During the course of that weekend my birthday plans came up and I told her Hugh and I would probably just go for dinner, that December birthdays were tricky which was why I hadn't had a party in so many years.  She told me last night she decided that was just not okay so she got on the phone to another friend then asked Hugh what he had planned and then told him about the surprise party idea which, again, giving credit where credit is due, Hugh was all for.  Rebecca's husband said at dinner, "You knew right?  You had to have known."  Are you kidding?  Once I stopped crying it took me a good hour to stop shaking from the shock!  My friend, Mir, who I had been shoe shopping with that afternoon and who had dropped me off at home on her way to a friend's for dinner said, "I told everyone if you cry when you come in you didn't know."  Rebecca said, "You looked like you didn't recognize anybody when you walked in the door."  I absolutely did.  I just couldn't figure out why they were all there! 

When you don't live near your family you have to create one.  There were 18 of us around the table last night and as I looked at each face I felt so grateful to God for giving me this amazing family.  If you were there last night and you read this, thank you, thank you, thank you.  After dinner most of us went back to Marc and Rebecca's and at the end of the night my cheeks were aching from laughing and I had laugh/cried all my make-up off.  I fell asleep last night with a very full heart, waking up every few hours to pinch myself and make sure I hadn't dreamed it all.  I can now say with good authority, SURPRISE PARTIES ARE MY FAVOURITE

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The best laid plans

We chose two paint colours for the basement.  The green - #7824 that I have since discovered is called Garden Promenade - which I severely agonized over before choosing and is going in the living room/playroom.  The other colour we chose is called Rainwater by Martha Stewart and it's going in the spare room/bathroom and I did not agonize over it for one second.  There was nothing to agonize over, it's a lovely grey-blue and it's perfect.

Or not.

Or maybe it was painted today and ended up not being grey-blue at all but more like green-blue.  And by green-blue I mean more like green.  I hate it.  HATE it.  Being more green than blue means it's going to severely clash with the green I did agonize over.  Which, by the way, is doing nothing for my confidence levels about #7824.  Rainwater is going to have to be re-painted.  Painted what, I don't know but looking at that hideous colour downstairs I don't feel like I can trust myself to fix it.

On another note, I've decided to replace the logs in our fireplace with money.  I think it'll do more for us in the long run.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The difference a year makes Part 1

On Friday night I went to my second annual Purse Party.  It's a party that is now in it's fourth year and began with a circle of girls who wanted to buy Christmas presents for each other without breaking the bank buying a gift for each girl.  Instead everyone brings a purse - limit $30 - and the purses are exchanged via Chinese gift exchange.   Both years I've attended I've been amazed at the purses everyone has found for $30.

Last year was my first year and I was feeling very anxious while I was getting ready for the party.  I was only on a surface acquaintanceship with most of the girls in the room and I just felt like I didn't belong, that I didn't fit.  At the party I chatted and laughed along with the others but I wasn't quite able to shake that lonely feeling of being separate from the crowd.  I did however go home with a fantastic purse!  It was this one, which just so happened to be the one I brought:


The beginning of 2010 was a bit of a starting over for me as two of my go-to girlfriends with kids moved away.  I have always thought the hardest part of starting over is the amount of time it takes to build relationships.  Strong friendships are built over time and shared experiences, neither of which can be shortcut.   This year, after a year of coffees, girls nights out and dinners at my house, as I sat in the circle of girls waiting for the game to begin, I felt like I was home.  Over the last year these girls have become my people, my family since I have none here, and I felt exactly as if I belonged.  The other difference this year is I didn't take home the purse I brought.  I took home this one:


Isn't she purty?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snippets







I found a small black chandelier with black crystals to hang over the kids play area in the basement.  I tried to find a link for it but apparently it doesn't exist anywhere except in the box in my house. 


  





We got our tree on Tuesday night and now our house smells like Christmas.  Tonight we're going to decorate and I'm going to try to contain my control-freakishness in the midst of three very excited children.













I heard our front door open and close the other night and Sebastian came to me smelling of winter and carrying the cold from outside.  “Mom!” he said.  “It’s winter!  I just checked!” 



 

Ava has a thing with her wrists and ankles.  She rolls up her pants when we’re at home because she doesn’t like feeling her pants brushing against her heels or ankles   She constantly looks like she’s about to go wading.  She also doesn’t like to feel the sleeves of her shirt on her wrists so she rolls those up too.  This has made the process of putting on snow gear rather unbearable.  Every time she’s put on her winter coat she’s cried.  Literally.  And snowpants? When the pants she’s wearing ride up inside and she can feel the elasticized lining on her ankle?  Whoa.


Tristan recently learned how to snap.  The End.
Of my sanity that is.  He worked so hard to learn that he created an unconscious habit.  He gets up from the table after a meal, he snaps.  He heads upstairs to get dressed, he snaps.  He walks towards the bathroom, he snaps.  He reaches for another Ninja Turtle, he snaps.  You ask him a question and while he's thinking about the answer, he snaps.  You tell him something exciting, he snaps.  I sat beside him at dinner the other night and it was a constant snap! snap! snap! in my ear. Oh. my. lord.  This Mama is about to snap!
When we did our baking, Rebecca and I split a quadrupled batch of butter tarts.  Yesterday I realized that in 5 days we’ve gone through half of our double batch and that means I won’t have enough tarts to have one for breakfast everyday between now and New Years.  I already know that I will be starting 2011 like I started 2009.  Just, instead of Burpees you can insert Curves. Today I got an email from Rebecca asking for the recipe.  The butter tarts are disappearing at an alarming rate in her house too.  And she’s not sharing with any kids! Well, I’m not really either.  I keep offering my kids the almond crescents trying to sell them as “moustache cookies”.  It’s not working. I would call those the flop of 2010.  I won’t be making them again.  Today I actually broke down and let my kids each have their own butter tart.  I know.  The generosity is killing me too.  Literally. It’s killing me to share.  Maybe it won’t hurt so much if I have a quadruple batch on hand. 



And this is what my kids are doing right now while I'm writing this.  At their behest I zipped two sleeping bags together so they could make the biggest bed ever, Mom! I wonder how long it will be before someone goes exploring and gets stuck at the bottom.  Did you ever do that as a kid?  It's terrifying.  I'm pretty sure I can trace my adult claustrophobia back to a childhood sleeping bag incident.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Neither Hibiscus nor Mimosa

Remember how I had definitely decided on the paint colour Mimosa?  Well....

As you know I've been looking for a yellowy-green.  I found Mimosa.  Hugh has never been a fan of it.  He refers to it as "that yellow one" whereas the other samples on the wall are called by their names: hibiscus, lime twist, pear etc.  Whenever I'm looking at our paint chips fanned across our island or taped up on the wall, my eye is always drawn to the Mimosa.  But it is a bold colour so one night we decide to paint a few test samples of a few colours on the wall downstairs. When we finish and the paint is dry I decide against it.  In the dark with our room lights on it's almost neon.  Like 80's yellow neon.  We try switching out our lights from soft white to bright white which actually makes it worse.  No question, Mimosa is not what I'm looking for.  I'm definitely decided against it.

And then I wake up the next morning and go back downstairs to reassess the other colours on the wall in the natural light.  And then I love the Mimosa.  It's an acid yellow-y green and perfect.  So I decide that's the one I really want.  Then Hugh comes home from work and I tell him I've definitely decided on Mimosa and we go downstairs to look at it and the sun has gone down and we flip on our lights and...we're back to fluorescent.  And this goes on for a few days and every time I decide yes, Mimosa, Hugh says, I trust you, which somehow makes me feel less confident rather than more.  On Friday I email our contractor and give him our paint colours and Mimosa makes the final cut.  Then on Sunday I email him again to say I'm having a mild panic attack about Mimosa and can we have a bit more time.  Then last night it's back to the paint store for more samples. We get another sample on the wall and decide finally 100% against Mimosa.  Hugh is relieved.  Now he feels free to tell me how much he dislikes that colour.  Although on Sunday when he didn't know that I was late because of sheer klutz and he had convinced himself I was late because I had rolled the van and wasn't coming at all, ever, he did decide he would paint the basement Mimosa for me, since that's the one I had really wanted. 

The point to this entire post is after many paint chips, several paint samples and much debate I'd like to announce we have finally decided on a colour.  Drum roll please.... We picked #7824! That's kind of anti-climactic isn't it?  I can't remember the name on the paint chip and I'm too lazy to get up to check.  It's from Cloverdale. The colour is a bit less yellow than I was originally looking for but I'm exercising my womanly prerogative and changing my mind.


It reads a bit darker on the wall sample but I'm happy with it.  I am.  I've even made it official by emailing it to our contractor.  It's just...I'm kind of wondering if I should have gone with the one that was one lighter on the strip.  I can't go back and get another paint sample because technically Cloverdale doesn't do samples anymore and they only gave me this sample as a one time deal.  It's okay.  I'm sure this one will be fine.  I like it.  I really do.  Do I love it?  At this point, I've lost all perspective.  I have never been this indecisive about a paint colour before but I've also never paid someone to paint so the pressure not to screw it up is enormous.  If I paint and don't like it I'm only out the cost of the paint.  If they paint it and I don't like it it's a way more costly mistake.  I really hope I haven't screwed it up. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Christmas baking this weekend was a success!  We started Friday night and made Parmesan Bread Knots and Butter Tarts.  I've always used my mom's filling recipe for butter tarts but I've used pre-made tart shells because in our first year of marriage I tried to make a pumpkin pie and a "never fail" pastry recipe failed dismally.  Last year when my parents came out for Christmas my mom brought her butter tarts with homemade pastry.  I bit into the slightly sugar-crystallized top and flaky pastry arms into a gooey centre -  it was almost a spiritual experience.

This year I baked with my friend Rebecca.  She is a newlywed and a self-proclaimed disaster in the kitchen.  (She lied, she's fantastic.)  We got together one night and sipped candy cane tea and sorted through recipes to come up with our final baking list and split the ingredients list. One of the recipes I was responsible for was butter tarts and I bought pre-made tart shells.  And then I got to thinking about last Christmas and my mom's butter tarts and I went out the night before our baking extravaganza began and bought Tenderflake.  When I was going through the till the cashier exclaimed, "Oh this is the absolute best for making pastry.  It's no fail.  Seriously you can't mess this up."  I didn't have the heart to tell her I was the one person in history who already had.

I made the pastry the day of and put it in the fridge to let the gluten (or whatever) settle.  And I put the tart shells into the fridge to defrost.  Just in case.  Later that night we rolled out the pastry and it seemed to be okay.  We popped our first test batch in the oven.  My mom's instructions are to bake until the insides are bubbling and the pastry is browned, 12-15 min.  The insides bubbled at about the 15 min mark but the pastry took forever to brown.  By the time the pastry was brown the insides where very dark.  Darker than I remember my mom's being.  But by the last of our four trays we had got the timing figured out and they were perfect.  We called it a night at 11:30pm.


We were back at it 9:30am Saturday morning.  Well I was.  Rebecca slept in (the joys of no kids) and came at 10:30 but she came bearing Starbucks and Spiced Rum so who's complaining? The coffee got our morning off to a great start and the rum, which we added to eggnog, helped us get through the end of the night when we felt "all done" but weren't. We broke for sandwiches at noon and I helpfully cut Rebecca's into fourths.  Having kids changes you.  I'm just saying.  At one point in the afternoon the combination of an endless amount of two double batches of shortbread and Sarah Mclachlan's Christmas CD were lulling us into a kind of dull autopilot.  Talking had ceased altogether and I felt like I was asleep on my feet. A few bars (and several sips of Pepsi) into Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You and we were revived!  Caffeine + Mimi = Magic.

Hugh had to work Saturday and Rebecca's husband had other things on the go but our men arrived in time for dinner and hoping for some samples of our hard work.  It's always good to hope, isn't it?  After dinner Rebecca and I were back at it.  By 10:00pm we had finished:
4 pans of Cherry Slice,
3 pans of Toblerone Mousse Squares,
2 pans of Orange Chocolate Biscotti,
4 loaves of Eggnog Bread,
2 double batches of Shortbread Cookies,
2 trays of Peppermint Bark,
2 pans of Pecan Bars,
6 sheets of Almond Crescents,
2 batches of Porcini Mushroom Phyllo filling,
2 batches of Spinach Feta Phyllo filling.
We were exhausted.  Our feet were killing us but all we had left to do was assemble our two different kinds of phyllo.  We poured ourselves a rum and eggnog and invited our men to help but they had both fallen asleep on the couch already.  I would have said they were pretending if it weren't for the snoring.  By the time we finished and everything was packed up and washed up it was 12:30am. Which just happened to be when the guys woke up from their naps.  Aren't coincidences crazy?

Hugh had to be at church early on Sunday morning because he was doing sound so he took the big kids with him and Beesh crawled in bed bedside me and let me sleep in.  I dragged my tired self out of bed around 9:00am and drifted into the shower where my arms felt like they each weighed a tonne when I was lifting them to wash my hair.  I felt like I was moving in slow motion all morning and then finally I looked at the clock and realized I was going to be very late if I didn't get a move on.  Church starts at 10:30 and at 10:29 I was running out the door with a cup of tea I hadn't had time to drink and a butter tart since I didn't have time for breakfast.  My foot hit the first of our front steps and then I was launched into the air, tea and butter tart going in two different directions, and landed two steps below.  I sat in the snow for a while to assess the damage.  Tea?  A few sips left.  Me?  Okay I think.  Butter tart? I looked around and saw it lying in three pieces upside down in the snow.  I had grabbed that butter tart off the top of my tin so it was one of the really good ones from the last tray when we finally figured out the right baking time.  I was not letting it go to waste! And you know what?  Even covered in snow it was amazing.  I think I'm going to have a butter tart for breakfast every day.
 

Friday, November 26, 2010

A season of...receiving?

We're going to do it.  We're going to paint our basement Mimosa.  I am 90% confident and 10% crippling anxiety.  Good thing I'm Christmas baking this weekend.  If it ends up horrible at least I'll have a lot of sugar on hand to cushion the blow.

Also in the spirit of Christmas our downtown had it's annual midnight madness.  So. Much. Fun.  I didn't get home until almost 1:00am.  That's late for an old girl! Best deal of the night was at our fancy name brand store.  Every year they turn their upstairs warehouse into deal central.  Most things were 75% off the original price which sounds great but when a skirt is $275 to begin with it's still pricey.  They did however have one wall of things that were between $1 and $10.  That's the wall I shopped. Here's what I walked away with:

Basic cardigan.  Retailed for $79.  I paid $1. I'm not even kidding.

French Connection top.  Retailed for $108.  I paid $3.

Black top with ruching down the side.  Retailed at $160.  I paid $2.

Grey pencil skirt.  Retailed at $95.  I paid $2.

Lastly, a black pleated crepe skirt. Retailed at $109. Again, I paid $2.
Total original retail price of five item? $546.00. 
Total price I paid: $10. 

Merry Christmas to me.  Or Happy Birthday.  Or Happy Anniversary.  Take your pick. They're all within a month of each other.  I don't even know how many percent off that is.  What I do know is that the other stores who were offering 10% off or even 30% just didn't seem like deals after that!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mimosa or Hibiscus?

We had our first report cards and parent teacher interviews this week.  Everything was good and I'm so proud of how well the kids have settled into school.  The only little blip was Tristan: "Tristan sometimes has trouble focusing in small and large group activities.  He can do the work but he likes to socialize."  Welcome to every report card I ever had!

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about today is how picking paint colours for the basement is stressing me out.  Remember how I said I wanted a citron-y green?  For the first time ever Benjamin Moore has let me down.  But I did find one, it's called Mimosa and it's by Martha Stewart for Home Depot.  It's shocking.  It's vibrant.  It's bold.  It's exactly what I want.  I think.  I don't know if I'm gutsy enough to take the plunge.  I think with all the black and white it will look amazing but what if I hate it?  What if I only think it will be great but really it will be a big hot yellow mess and make our whole basement will look a flu-sick version of itself?  It's all well and good to say it's just paint you can always repaint it but the whole point of having someone paint our basement is SO I DON'T HAVE TO DO IT! I am not one of those people who finds their bliss in a paint roller.  My painting bliss only goes as far as opening the can of paint and pouring out the liquid loveliness.  What if I hate it???

I think with a colour like Mimosa painting a test strip still isn't enough to get a good idea of how it will look overall.  I tried to take a picture of it so you could weigh in but, bah, that was a waste of time. I can't get it to translate well from chip to camera.  So. What should I do? Risky and possibly what I really want and equally possibly a total mess? or safe and "fine"? (Can I just say that being chronically indecisive is really not an asset?)

What would you do?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

There's a hole in my pocket

We bought a couch yesterday.  A great big sectional for the basement.  It's not leather and therefore super cozy.  Wait, let me qualify that.  We have leather couches in our main floor living room and I love them.  They're comfortable and every time one of my children has vomited on our couches I have been thankful for our long ago, before we had kids, decision to buy leather.  It's just that in the winter when it's -32 plus prairie windchill which is more like -50 (literally) leather takes a while to warm up.  Our basement is cold.  At least it is right now.  It's hard to tell how cold it will be once we have walls and carpet but I still figured a soft, cushy, cozy fabric sofa was better than cold leather and if anyone is sick they can lie on the upstairs couches that wipe down easily.  We - and by we I mean I - even managed to like one that was not $7 million dollars and get this, it's even in stock!  Here's the picture off the store's website.

The toss cushions are dead ugly but it's nothing a little black and white fabric and my seldom used sewing machine can't fix!  Don't you want to curl up on that chaise with a cozy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa?  And if the cocoa just happens to have Bailey's in it? Well it's very warming I'll have you know! 

We also thought we got our carpet sorted yesterday.  Turns out...not so much.  We're trying to match the carpet that the builders installed to the bottom of the stairs in the basement.  It takes two to three weeks for carpet to come in once it's ordered so we really needed to get it done as the clock to Christmas company is ticking.  After hitting multiple (4) carpet places we picked the best match at the best price with the store who could guarantee an install before Christmas.  We then went to Starbucks very relieved and much poorer than when we woke up that morning.

We got home several hours and multiple errands later to this message: "So the carpet you wanted is on back-order at the manufacturer's and won't arrive until December 23rd at the earliest."  Did I mention we have a pretty small window of time to complete this reno?  December 23rd is when Hugh's brother and sister-in-law arrive. We had just taken our coats off when we had to put them back on and head out into the cold again. 

We went to one of the other carpet places that also had a great match but was a bit more expensive to see about their carpet availability and likelihood of a pre-Christmas install.  Seriously, I'm not sure if the guy who helped us had ever talked to a customer before in his life.  He looked at us from out of the corner of his eyes and often talked to the ceiling while brushing his hands over his receding hairline.  This flooring place priced their carpet by the square yard with the price including underlay and install.  Our guy didn't know how to tell how much just the carpet price was.  (Divide it by 9, he said.  I didn't want to know the price per square foot but um, thanks?) He didn't know how much they charged for underlay.  He didn't know how much they charged for install.  (Ummm, I think it's maybe about 7....ish...I think.) He didn't know where the carpet got ordered from or how long it would take to get here and he didn't know how to find out.  During his fifth absence to ask another associate one of our extremely complex questions Hugh looked at me and said, "I bet his kill score for Call of Duty is insane."  I hope his mom doesn't charge too much rent because I'd be willing to bet being a salesman isn't exactly making him the big bucks. 

We left taking their carpet sample with us and called our original flooring place to see if they carried this same carpet.  They did.  And at a better price.  Hello!  It will officially be here December 7th and installed shortly after that.  And now I can go back to breathing a sigh of relief.  We will have floors, and walls and a couch by Christmas.  This is a very good start!

Here's what I have left to do:
1. Find a great light fixture for over the kids play area.
2. Nail down exactly what colour we're painting our walls.  I want a kind of citron-y green but it can't be too yellow and it can't be too blue.
3. Buy fabric for toss cushions.
4. Sew fabric for toss cushions.
5. Get a sink and vanity and faucet for basement bathroom.
6. Shelving unit of some kind for towels.
7. Buy towels.
8. Find and purchase TV stand and surrounding storage units.
9. Buy a kids table and chairs that can also be used upstairs so we have enough places for everyone to sit during mealtimes over the Holidays.

Hugh and I already agreed we weren't going to buy Christmas gifts for each other this year because of the basement but it looks like we won't be buying anniversary gifts, mother's day gifts or father's day gifts this year either!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Snow, Snow and More Snow. And some pictures.

On Monday we had green grass.  And brown trees.  And blue skies.  And then it started to snow in the wee hours betwixt and between Monday night and Tuesday morning and it hasn't stopped snowing since.  Our town has been officially bleached.  The kids are thrilled and they've been outside multiple times everyday to play in the snow.  This was their first play in the snow.  I didn't actually want to go outside to take these pictures (Hello! It was snowing!) so I took most of them through my kitchen window.  The quality isn't that great.  Because of the window.  It has nothing to do with the fact that I don't know how to use my stupid camera at all.  Simone! Help!


So what do you do on the first snow play of the season?  Teach your little brother the ropes.

Lesson #1: How to make a snow angel.  Ava first because she's bossiest.

Then Tristan.

Did you see how we did that Sebastian?

Good form.  Good form.

Lesson #2: In a snowball fight it's always boys against girls.

Lesson #3: Mom always has hot chocolate ready when we come inside


The kids want me to take them sledding today but I'm waiting to hear from the carpet people about coming to measure up our basement so, darn!  I can't.  I'm really disappointed.  Sigh.  I guess I'll just have to drink endless cups of tea by the fire as compensation.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hello Winter

Two years ago Hugh wired half of our unfinished basement.  Then he got laid off for four months and then we never got back to it.  Until this September when the already-extended-once building permit was suddenly only 6 months away from expiring and causing us to be hugely fined.  We also wanted to get it done before Christmas and all Hugh's family arrived for the holidays.  Hugh finished the wiring, installed whatever we needed for central vac, and learned enough about plumbing that he was able to successfully plumb the bathroom.  At which point Hugh ran out of energy and time as Christmas is suddenly just around the corner.  Christmas busyness + learning new trades (drywalling and finishing) + having a full-time day job + a tight deadline = !!!!! We decided to give ourselves the gift of sanity this Christmas and contracted out the drywall, finishing and even painting so it will be done for when the troops arrive.

Which brings me to the fun stuff. Wallpaper! Paint! Furniture!  The main part of our basement is going to be a combined kids play area and Hugh's media mecca.  This has been a challenge from a design perspective that I've solved by going black and white.  In the kids area there will be a small white table and black chairs and I've picked a playful black and white damask to go along the toy storage wall.  The toy storage is white with multi-coloured bins for some colour.  Opposite the play area will be tv and components and extra storage which will all be black and white and then I'll get some pops of colour on the couch - which we haven't found yet - with pillows.

Since everything else from a building perspective is now going to go so much faster we need to get our wallpaper and carpet ordered and line up some painters.  Oh and find some furniture we can sit on. Today is Tuesday.  My one morning a week when all the kids are in school.  The one morning a week I get to be gloriously alone.  This particular Tuesday is the day I planned to get the wallpaper ordered and hit a few carpet places for price quotes.

And it's a snow day.

The schools in town are still open but I kept the kids home today.  Hugh made me.  Something about the roads being super icy? and not having our winter tires on yet?  They're All Seasons! And I am a Northern girl!  I learned to drive in the dead of winter.  I can handle ice and snow that comes down sideways!  What's that?  You just want us to be safe because you can't imagine living life without us?  Well when you put it that way, wallpaper can wait.

Winter tires, however, cannot.  I thought I could at least get that done today.  Turns out everyone else in the city had the same thought.  Walmart had three vehicles outside when I called and their tire place hadn't even opened yet.  A local tire shop that's slightly out of town had 20 people waiting by 9:30am. 

Instead we stayed in and made cookies and watched the snow fall sideways.  Kids are now napping and I'm about to enjoy an eggnog steamer and some peace and quiet.  Well, comparative quiet.  There's a whole lot of banging and drilling going on under my feet right now while my basement is getting sheeted.  They're going to do it in one day.  Our entire basement will be sheeted.  Today!  Mudding will start tomorrow.  That, my friends, is what keeping my sanity sounds like!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is why the English language is so hard to learn

Last night I told Hugh I wanted a Dutch Oven for Christmas. 

Yeah... 

Not going to live that one down for a while.

This is what I meant.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I err on the side of justice.

Not strange.

Saw a lady coming out of the grocery store today.

Strange. 

She was wearing shorts.

Also strange? 

That the temperature gauge in my van said 21 degrees today.  Global warming?  Or compensation for last May?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I wrote a story about today. But now it's after midnight so technically I wrote about yesterday. But I haven't gone to sleep yet so it's still my today. Time is weird.

I spent two hour hours in the grocery store today.  Oh yes, you did indeed hear me right.  I said two hours.  In a grocery store.  Through lunchtime.  With my two six-year-olds and my three-year-old.  How do you define fun? 

I really dislike grocery shopping at the best of times.  If I was given the choice between grocery shopping or cleaning up my child's vomit.  I would choose the vomit.  For one thing it doesn't happen very often and for another thing I only have to touch the puke once as opposed to the four times I have to handle each grocery item (into the cart, onto the belt, into a bag, out of the bag).  I try to spend as little time as possible in a grocery store so when I go I am super organized. I menu plan two weeks of meals and then write out my grocery list in the order I will hit the aisles at the grocery store to streamline the whole experience.  Our big President's Choice store is undergoing a massive renovation and they're staying open for the duration. What this means is that my list is basically worthless because nothing is in the same place from one week to the next.  I spent half my time today back-tracking because the olives this week are in the same aisle as the bleach.  And the spaghetti noodles are with the Indian spices which is not where I found the Japanese bread crumbs.  And why did I not check the chocolate and popcorn aisle for toilet paper?  What was I thinking???

Normally grocery shopping takes me an hour and a half, 40 minutes of that is driving to and from the store.  I knew when I left at 10:30am this morning I was pushing it, that we would probably run into lunch, so I was prepared.  I had water bottles filled in a bag for the inevitable, I'm SOOO thirsty.  The kids had each just had a piece of fruit and I let them take a mini bag of chips out of their Halloween stash to eat in the car along the way avoiding the inevitable, I'm SOOO hungry.  Plus I was keeping the free bakery cookie in my back pocket in case I got desperate.  I was SOOO ready.

I made two quick stops before hitting the grocery store so we didn't actually get inside until 11:30am.  It was 1:30pm when I was pulling out of the parking lot to head home.  Near the end I finally had to ask where the toilet paper was and the lady I asked ended up being an absolute Godsend.  Seriously.  In a place that is not exactly known for their costumer service she was a downright miracle.  She stayed with me and helped me find the last six items on my list, held my kids' hands down the aisles, played games with them to find the things we were looking for and then rewarded them with cinnamon hearts when we found them.  Chips, cookies and then cinnamon hearts... I was past the point of caring about sugar and just grateful my kids were getting lunch!  She leaned over at one point and asked in a whisper if I knew about their free cookie program.  "Oh yeah," I said. "It's just that we've been wandering these aisles for so long we've already been there and eaten that!" While I was putting my groceries on the belt at the checkout she took my kids to get one more cookie and then... And then? you say. I know. You're thinking how could this woman get any more awesome?  Well... and then she kept them corralled and entertained while I was bagging. 

!!!!!   

I swear I heard the angels singing in sweet sweet relief.  It sounded an awful lot like the Hallelujah Chorus actually.  I don't know if you shop somewhere where you have to bag your own groceries but this is always where my kids get possessed by the spirit of wild animals and they start climbing up things and throwing candy on the floor and pushing each other. I end up taking three times longer to bag my groceries because I'm trying to yell at my kids quietly, but firmly enough to make them listen, out of one corner of my mouth, while seeming charming and gracious under pressure out of the other side, and feeling so agitated I can't think straight and sweating so much I could swim down my own back.  How do you define fun?

I had actually planned to grocery shop yesterday while everyone was in school but the big kids really like it when I help out in their class so I did that instead.  Groceries were getting dire.  We were completely out of bread and didn't even have enough milk left for cereal never mind my morning cuppa.  So not only did I spend two solid hours inside the hated grocery store, I DID IT WITHOUT CAFFEINE.  Mama stopped at Starbucks on the way home to get her own treat!

Well, that's another grocery shopping trip down.  I'm done.  At least till next week when I'll have to get more bread and milk and fruit.  I did have a little revelation today at the grocery store but that's a post for another day.  For today, please tell me, am I alone?  Do you hate grocery shopping too?   Or do you love it because shopping is shopping no matter what kind? 

(That last line sounds very Suessical don't you think? A Who is a Who no matter how small? ... Someone? ...  Anyone?)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Something new for me to obsess about.

My sister recommended a website to me the other day saying there was a killer French Onion Soup recipe posted.  I am starting to feel very soup-y and stew-y as the Fall progresses.  Although when the sun is shining and it's 16 degrees and you can go outside without your coat on and it's NOVEMBER! I'm feeling a bit more for tzatziki and grilled chicken.  

The point is, I wandered over to The Pioneer Woman to look up this killer soup recipe and ended up spending every spare minute I had over the weekend reading through archives.  She is a city girl who ended up a cattle rancher's wife.  She has photos of her kids, one of them around Tristan and Ava's age, on horses, wearing mini wranglers and hanging onto calves legs.  The legs and hoofs.  Of real live baby cows!  I look at these photos and I look at my kids playing Power Rangers or Justice League or whatever is the current obsession and just cannot imagine them sitting in a cattle pen using their whole bodies to hold onto a calf's legs.  I can't even imagine them wearing cowboy boots unless it was for a costume.  So, of course, I'm totally obsessed. 

Go check it out.  And then come back and tell me if you think I'm nuts or if you're just as fascinated as I am.  Also, I'm totally making her French Onion Soup.  It looks divine! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Effort is effort. And should be appreciated. That's all I'm saying.

Hugh was away for most of last week on a course for work.  Something to do with engines.  He lost me right after the part where I heard the words combustion and cylinder in the same sentence.  

Did you miss me? he said when he walked in the front door.

I thought back to the three movies I let my kids watch.  In a row.  I heard myself yelling.  Alot.  I remembered sleeping in the middle just so the bed wouldn't feel so empty.

 I'm so happy you're home I washed my hair and put on mascara!

Wow,  he said.  You realize that's your equivalent of saying you put on your good sweats, right?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My mom didn't teach me that kind of behaviour. Also, Happy Birthday Sebastian!

On the docket while my sister, Erin, was visiting was to get ready for Sebastian's third birthday party.  Being an October baby means that there is always a plethora (Heffy.  Do you know what a plethora is?  Am I the only one who thinks about the The Three Amigos every time she hears the word plethora?) of pumpkin and or Halloween paraphernalia.  What better time of year for a pumpkin party for my little pumpkin?

One of the mornings Tristan and Ava were in school Erin and I dedicated to getting everything I needed for pumpkin-themed goody bags and pumpkin shaped cupcakes.  First stop, Starbucks.  Second stop, dollar store right across from Starbucks.  Wasn't that convenient?  What better way to browse through overwhelming amounts of things made in China than with coffee in hand?  We even got Sebastian a hot chocolate hoping it would keep him happy and occupied while he sat in the cart.  We walked into the dollar store with our drinks and an employee came over to us and told us they had a no food or drinks policy in their store and that we would have to take our coffees outside.  What???  No food or drinks in a dollar store?  I can understand it in a clothing store but even Winners lets you shop with your coffee.  Come on! I was very indignant and I must admit a little rude when I said, "Are you serious?  We can't bring our coffees in here?  Why?  Most stores let you bring drinks in."  And then, just to really get my point across and really make them sorry they had that stupid policy, I said very coldly, "Well. I guess we'll be taking our business elsewhere then."

Which is the exact moment Sebastian dropped his hot chocolate.  While I watched the dark liquid ooze into an ever-widening puddle on the floor I had a revelation.  It is impossible to maintain any kind of self-righteous indignation when you are completely mortified.  Heh heh. Ummm. Right. So, I guess that's why you don't allow drinks. Right. Okay. We'll just go then.

The next dollar store we tried didn't have that same policy so we shopped and sipped and picked up everything I needed for the party.  Somehow, though, it wasn't quite as satisfying as I thought it would be.  Humble pie anyone? 

Here's a picture of the jack o' lantern cakes I made for the party. In theory they're dead easy - just two cupcakes stuck together with icing and then iced all over - but I've never really mastered the art of icing a cake.  The perfectionist in me is cringing that I'm about to show you these but they were made with love and that has to count for something.


Happy Third Birthday Beesh!  There is nothing that makes me smile wider than watching the way you run when you're excited.  It's somewhere between a run and a skip and ends up looking like a prance. It is truly delightful to behold - as are you.  Your joy makes our home a brighter, happier place to be. I feel so blessed that God entrusted you to us.

Monday, October 18, 2010

6 Degrees of Separation, sort of.

Hi everyone!  Sorry for the little blog hiatus.  My sister, Erin came for a week and then I was rereading Harry Potter.  Need I say more?  I can barely get dressed and feed my children when I'm reading nevermind trying to pull my brain away from Hogwarts long enough to string coherent sentences together.  I do have a few posts up my sleeve though so stick around.

As I said my sister, Erin came to visit for a week.  While she was here we went to go see The Town.  (This is not a movie review.  We enjoyed it.)  If you've seen the movie, or even the previews, you will know it's a movie about a group of bank robbers and how the bank robber falls for the girl they use as a hostage.  At one point during the movie I found myself harking back to Beverly Hills, 90210.

Huh? you say. 
I know.  Stay with me.  

In the good old days of 90210 - not the dismal 90210 of today which I've only seen five minutes of- Donna got herself a stalker or something.  I can't really remember the details, just that there was a guy and he was bad.  This bad guy was at Donna's and he was going to rape her then David knocked on the door.  David and Donna had gotten into a fight earlier in the episode and he had come back to apologize but she wouldn't let him in and just kept telling "Dave" to go away.  He, who was only ever called David, thought the Dave thing was weird so he stormed in with a baseball bat (of course), knocked the guy out and saved Donna.

This episode prompted my 17-year old self and my 15- and 13-year old sisters to come up with our own "danger names".  We couldn't use nicknames we actually called each other by so Jane's, Janie became Jan-ey (rhymes with fanny), Erin was Wren - or as she later became jokingly known, L'il Wren Wren, and I was Helga - something only my Mom ever called me, who knows why.  If we were ever in a situation where say one of us had a stalker who came over to rape us we were supposed to use our danger names.  This would then cue the other sister(s) to GET HELP NOW!  Or at least a baseball bat. Not surprisingly - our small hometown being somewhat low on stalkers - life did not reflect art and we never needed to use our danger names.

I hadn't thought about these names in many years and then Erin and I went to see The Town and, ready for it?  I'm about to finally make the connection between Ben Affleck and David Silver.  We're watching away and (Spoiler alert): we're at a part where it looks like the FBI are finally going to get the robbers and the main girl in the story is on the phone with Ben Affleck's character and she uses a phrase that means something other than what she's saying and it tips him off and he escapes.  Which is when I thought of 90210 and Donna Martin and "Dave" Silver.  It's a totally unrelated, random connection, I know.  That episode of 90210 aired in 1995 and I can't really remember ever thinking about it since.  I was lost in the randomness of my brain processes thinking Erin would get a kick out of it on the car ride home when she leaned over and asked if Helga could pass her some more Nibs.

Would I have made the same connection if I had watched that movie with anyone other than my sister?  Who knows.  What I do know is no one else (with the exception of my other sister) would have taken the same path with me down the rabbit hole.  And isn't that what makes family so special, so unique?  I may be somewhat random, but I'm not alone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jane Austen would have been horrified

This morning while Tristan and Ava were at school and Sebastian was at preschool I was attending the school of life.  Today's lesson took place in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  It actually began inside at the vitamin aisle where I had gone to pick up some more Vitamin C.  We are all struggling with colds and had eaten the last one yesterday.  This had to be remedied immediately.  As Ava told me last night after she had eaten her daily dose, "Mom I think my sore throat feels better.  The Vitamin C must have kicked in."  If she thinks Vitamin C kicks in, if this causes her not to whine incessantly about her so-oh-ore thro-oh-oat, who am I to argue? 

Anyway standing in the Vitamin C aisle I noticed I could get 500 Equate tablets for the same price as 120 Jamieson tablets.  No brainer right?  I learned that lesson ages ago. Walking to my car,  I happily swung my bag. The next stop on my agenda for my glorious morning alone was Starbucks where I had a date with a 2-pump white mocha americano misto and my book.  Since I'm trying to get on top of this cold I thought I would take two Vitamin C's now and then two before bed.  I opened them up popped them in my mouth and started chewing and that is when I learned today's life lesson: tablets aren't chewable unless they actually say the word "chewable" on the bottle.  I had already swallowed a bit when I started to gag.  There I was standing beside my van, doubled over, heaving and gagging and praying so hard that I wasn't going to throw up in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  That's classy right?  Equally classy was finding the dregs of some stale water in an old water bottle and swishing it in my mouth before spitting it and the powdered tablets out on the ground.  In my defense I crouched down really low to try to spit under my van. 

A spectacle you say?  Me? 
Never. 

Thankfully all's well that ends well and I ended up in a squashy oversized chair sipping a perfectly made coffee reading a perfectly delicious book.  Next stop, Costco.  For an extremely oversized bottle of chewable Vitamin C.  By the way does anyone know anyone who wants 498 Vitamin C tablets?  I should warn you, they're not chewable.

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Friday. Who can think of a witty title on a Friday?

This week it finally happened.  The things I've been dreading about sending my kids to school.  Ava came home Wednesday crying because nobody wanted to play with her at recess.  My heart absolutely sank to my toes.  I may have even been stepping on it, it hurt so much when Ava first told me while crying her heart out.  Of course the tired didn't help the crying (She is SO my daughter!) and boy are my kids T-I-double ERRED these days.  After a lot of hugs and a bit of gentle digging it turned out to be not exactly the case.  It was more a mix-up that became a misunderstanding that turned itself into hurt feelings and a case of amnesia about the kids she did play with (Oh, yeaaaahhh I forgot I played with them!).

Once we got to the bottom of it all she felt better, I felt better, Tristan suggested we make Ava her favourite lunch and told her she could play with him anytime she wants and then we talked about being proactive.  What?  That's a big word for a Kindergartener you say?  I thought so too until they came home using it! Their school teaches the students Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the first principle the kids learn is to be proactive.  I am a very firm believer in being proactive and we teach our kids about making good choices with our attitudes and not falling apart when things don't go our way because it doesn't solve anything etc, etc. Are you remembering how I completely fell apart over my washing machine right now?  I told you, the tired doesn't help the crying!  Obviously I'm not perfect at being proactive but it is something I strive for and something I've been teaching my kids about.  I hadn't actually used the word proactive before because Hugh always accuses me of using words that are too big when I talk to the kids but how else do you describe "fundamentally opposed to your course of action and if you persist you will reap the consequences"?  Kidding!

Anyway, during Ava's favourite lunch (KD that particular day) we did some "what could you do next time?" scenario conversations.  I asked her what kinds of proactive things she could do and together we brainstormed a few different action plans.  "Because," I said, "it's better to be proactive right?  Sitting on the playground crying doesn't fix anything does it?"
"No, Mom," Tristan said with the tone I use when I'm trying to patiently explain something I think they should already know.  "That's being very REactive."
Well thanks for clearing that up for me Stephen Covey Jr.

Today we had another thing I've dreaded about school.  Crazy Hair Day.  Okay it's not crazy hair day I've dreaded exactly, more what it brought up and what it brought up was a boy who only wanted to have normal hair.  The unspoken part being, he didn't want to look different, didn't want kids to laugh at him.  Honestly as a parent I had to struggle with it too.  What if no one else does their kids hair crazy?  What if I'm setting them up to get teased?  I came to the conclusion that now was as good a time as any to encourage my kids not to care what people think, not to just blindly follow the pack and be suffocated, repressed by fear.  God hasn't given us a spirit of fear!  Ava, of course, was totally into it but at the last minute Tristan changed his mind and my kids went to school looking likes 80's punk rockers.  I told the kids if anyone says, "Whoa. That is crazy hair." they were to respond, "THAT'S CUZ IT'S CRAZY HAIR DAY!"  We got to the kids class and almost all the girls had crazy hair but only one other little boy.  One kid looked at Tristan and said, "Oh my god! Look at your hair! My mom wanted to put mine in ponytails but I said NO WAY!  I didn't want to be laughed at."  At which point Tristan looked at me and said, "Mom, don't leave me.  Please don't leave me."  This from the boy who has yet to say good-bye to me in the mornings because he's so excited to get to the welcome circle.  My heart sank but I smiled big and said, "Crazy hair day is going to be awesome!  Why don't you go sit by the boy with bright green hair?  You guys can be crazy hair buds today."  Thankfully Tristan thought that was a great idea and perked up but honestly?  I wish it were already 3:00.  I just want to know he's okay.  I guess if he's not I can remind him not to be so reactive.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It is possible to change a first impression. Just not always for the better!

Guess what I did yesterday?  I sat on the floor of my laundry room and watched the very first load of my brand-new, front-loading washing machine wash my clothes.  CAN YOU STAND THE EXCITEMENT?  I kept watching one particular pair of jeans.  The denim is a light wash and about 10 minutes into the wash cycle still wasn't completely wet.  I was very dubious.  I kept watching.  I didn't believe they would get clean.  It took yet another 10 minutes for them to get fully wet.  Do you realize that I sat for 20 minutes on the floor looking through the glass of a washing machine?  And they say stay-at-home moms have no life!

I'm not sure if you remember from a couple of weeks ago when I had the day from hell, well maybe not hell, maybe more like middle school, which could have also been named hell for all the hell I went through and some of the hell I caused.  But I digress. My point is I had a bad day.  Which probably, in hindsight, wouldn't have been quite such a bad day except I was tired.  So. Very. Tired. I was anxious about the kids starting school, had a major checklist of things to do, hadn't slept in about four days and hadn't washed my hair since I last slept.  And I was PMS'ing.  I felt gross, I looked gross and I had pretty much wiped out my emotional reserves.  And then my washing machine broke.  In the middle of washing a duvet cover and sheets while the tub was full of dirty soapy water.  I completely broke down.  Like fell to the floor crying hysterically broke down.  I called Hugh at work and cried/yelled, "Just tell me what to do!  JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DOOOO!"  That day was the day I had set aside to do my 5 loads of clothes laundry and then had the added surprise of an extra three loads of bedding thanks to an accident in the night that was attempting to be covered up.  I hadn't even got to the clothes yet and school was starting the next day.  We needed clean underwear!

I got off the phone with Hugh, calmed down, and before starting to bail the water out of the machine went to check on the kids, who were playing outside. They were standing on the trampoline eating cookies I hadn't given them talking to the neighbour girl over the fence.  Wearily and with a very irritated tone in my voice I asked them what they were eating.  The neighbour girls mom answered from her back deck, "uh...cookies?"  I then realized her daughter was probably eating cookies and the kids either asked or she offered to share and the mom was just trying to be nice.  "Should I not have given them cookies?" she asked.   I broke down again.  Standing on my deck still wearing pajamas at almost noon with my greasy hair scraped roughly into a ponytail I broke down.  Like couldn't talk, ragged-gasping-for-breath-between-sobs, kind of broke down. It took me several minutes to get myself together enough to explain all the while my neighbour was asking if I was okay, if I needed help.  I was finally able to tell her about my washing machine and she so kindly offered to let me rinse the duvet cover and sheets in her washing machine.  "In fact," she said. "I'm going out this afternoon, I'll just leave the door unlocked and you can come and go as you need and do all your laundry here." Thank you God. Talk about a saving grace! 

She has only been my neighbour for about six weeks and that's twice she has rescued me now.  Between the hysterical crying over the laundry on Thursday and locking my keys in my house and having to take her car to get the kids to their first day of school on Friday I'm sure she thinks I'm completely stable! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is it just so I'll have something to write about?

Guess what I did yesterday?  I bought myself two brand-spanking-new hide-a-keys.  Contrary to what you might be thinking right now I did not go and get them as a result of last Friday's key debacle.  I should have.  I meant to.  I thought about it several times.  But I didn't.  Which meant that yesterday when I was sitting with Sebastian on the front steps of my porch waiting for Hugh to come home from work to unlock the door for me for the second time in under a week I was seriously kicking myself.

Since last Friday I have been very aware of where my keys are, paranoid about getting locked out again.  Yesterday after dropping the kids off at school I came home to get Sebastian (for the record he was home with Hugh not alone making martini's) and headed out to do some errands.  Before leaving the house I made sure I had my keys.  I took them out of my purse and held them in my hands so I could know with absolute certainty that I had them before locking the door.  Just as we were about to cross the threshold I noticed Sebastian wasn't wearing any shoes, that I had forgot to put some on him.  I put my stuff down, put his shoes on, grabbed my purse and walked out the front door locking it behind me. 

In one of those slow-motion moments you are powerless to stop, the front door slammed shut as I realized the keys I had been holding in my hands, the keys I was determined to be aware of at all times, weren't actually in my hands.  Of course not.  I had put them down with my purse to get Sebastian's shoes on and only picked the purse back up because, as mentioned yesterday, my keys are always in my purse.

Except for when they're not.

The first thing I did after Hugh came home and unlocked the door was drive to a key-cutting place and get myself two keys.  One is hidden outside the house and the other is in the change purse of my wallet.  My keys may not always be in my purse but at least my wallet will be!  On the plus side, as of today we are the proud-ish owners of a new front loading washer and dryer (which is a whole other story I will tell you about) and my firstborns turned six and each got a free birthday drink today at Starbucks.  Things are looking up!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It Started Off So Well

I always keep my keys in my purse.  I mean always.  When I come in my front door I hang my purse on my entryway chair and slip my keys into the inside pocket.  I've tried a few other systems for keeping track of my keys but I could never remember what new system I was working on (vintage mailbox in the back entryway or dish on the console?) and was always looking for my keys.  This is the system I developed that works.  And it does work.  I never have to look for my keys.  I mean never.  They are always in the inside pocket of my purse. 

Always.  Always.  Always.  Always.  Always.

Except for last Friday.  When they weren't. 

Do you remember last Friday?  Tristan and Ava's first day of school?  It was such a great morning.  It was calm, it was smooth.  We were dressed and ready in plenty of time for me to torture my kids by taking tons of pictures.  And when we were done that we still had time to kill!  So I wrote a blog about how the day had finally arrived and I was finally ready for it.  Then we calmly got our coats and shoes on, I calmly locked the door behind us and I sauntered to the van, kids skipping beside me chattering away.  Approaching our van I reached into the inside pocket of my purse for my keys and discovered my morning really had been going too smoothly.    

I didn't panic.  Not then.  I knew my keys had to be in my purse somewhere.  My keys are always in my purse.  They probably just fell into the main compartment.  Do you ever feel like your life is like a sitcom?  After a few minutes of calmly searching I looked at the time on my phone and panicked.  I dumped the entire contents of my purse on the sidewalk and frantically started rifling through it.  No van keys.  No van keys.  NO VAN KEYS!  I shoved everything back in my purse and ran to the front door just in case I hadn't locked it properly.  I had.  I raced around to the back door because that door is almost never locked.  It was.  Have I mentioned that Hugh and I have been meaning to get a hide-a-key for the house?

I called Hugh's work and while I was on hold for him I kept thinking, are you kidding me?  Is this seriously happening?  This is not happening.  It's the first day of school.  This is not happening!
"Yes I am still holding for Hugh.  Hold again?  Sure."  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  As I was holding for the second time my next door neighbour drove up.  She had just finished dropping her son off at the same school I was trying to get my kids to and she knew it was Tristan and Ava's first day.  "What are you still doing here?" she asked.  By this point I was hot and agitated and sweating waterfalls.  My purse was laying on the ground and I was pacing our sidewalk with only one arm in my coat holding a phone to my ear in one hand and holding my hair up off my neck with the other.  I explained and she offered me her car and said she'd watch Sebastian so I could run Tristan and Ava to school.  Which is when Hugh finally came to the phone and I had to explain everything all over again.

While I was taking the kids to school in my neighbour's car Hugh came home from work and unlocked the house door.  We ended up being fifteen minutes late and the kids had to get late slips their very first day of school ever.  That's one way to start the year!  The plus side is by the time I dropped them off I was so relieved to finally be there that I didn't have any room left to feel sad.  Four days later and I'm still not sure what is more shocking to me; that my keys weren't in my purse (I found them randomly in our junk drawer.  WHAAAT?) or that I didn't cry when I dropped the kids off.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's All Over But The Crying. And I'm not talking about the kids.

This is it.  Today is the day.  After a week of no sleep the first day of school has finally, thankfully, arrived.  I woke up at 5am today.  I had an alarm set for 6:45am and then at 6:00 thought who am I kidding? I'm not falling back to sleep.  I got up, got ready and came downstairs for a cup of tea and asked Hugh how I looked for my first day of school. 

There has been much anxiety, many tears cried, and many prayers said over my kids as this new chapter of our lives has approached.  Now that we are here, and their backpacks are loaded up and the kids are dressed and ready, I'm ready too.  And though I may cry - will probably cry - after I drop them off today, they will be happy tears for the grand adventure ahead.