Thursday, May 26, 2011


I have decided, now that I am working, I need a new, bigger kitchen. No, there are no major reno plans in process, I have just decided that this kitchen (really my counter) is too small to hold all my dirty dishes that don't get done nearly as often now. I laugh that I literally have to clear a tiny corner of left out breakfast things at 5pm to give myself exactly 1 square foot of work space. (Actually, if we're being honest here, I'm not laughing, it's irritating and I've wished for a cleaner more than once!)

I'm thinking we may need to take advantage of the nearby Kifk for supper more often.

We've never had terrible kitchens. Even when we lived in our various apartments along the way, we always lucked out (as far as apartment kitchens go) - I've seen way worse.

When I was a young, naive, tiny bit stupid newlywed, my kitchen was pristine! I anally counted each of my dishes & pieces of flatware as I lovingly hand washed each and every one. If one was missing from my count, I would go searching for the wayward piece. (I think I included anal in there?)

Every week, my counters were bleached (only the power of bleach would suffice). I think my floors & bathrooms got the same treatment.

I wouldn't go to bed until my kitchen was spotless.

And then I had kids.


I found my dream kitchen in a flyer recently. I can't realistically see that ever coming to fruition though as I'm sure that kitchen would require about the same square footage as my whole main floor. Who needs a bedroom really, we could each have our own pantry space!

There are sadly no kitchen plans coming - mostly, while we know our house needs work, we lack the eye to envision & create. The grunt? We can do that (or more so my hubby can), but the ability to pick it out of air? Moving walls & building a space that is not currently there? Not our specialty.

If you are gifted like that and within travel distance, give me a shout out! We should talk!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Fish

This is what happens when I hand him MY rod. Standing on the shore, 10 minutes from our house (pre-move).

Monday, May 23, 2011

That Crazy House

As promised, this is a continuation / elaboration on the house we lived in across from the cows.

We picked this house up during a transitional point of our lives. We were between direction and this house needed lots of work. We figured it would keep us busy until we figured out the next step.

When we first went and looked at it, there were many wow moments. It was all a little scary really. This house was old. I don't think the oldest we've lived in - there was a house that was older and was almost as crazy. Maybe a future post.

This house was built in the early part of 1900 and had actually been moved to this location many years later (the details of time are hazy - sorry). The original plans of the house existed and fell into our possession though and the design options included "Insulation - if you should choose". Living in southern MB, I can't imagine someone choosing not, but whatever. The insulation we actually had was sawdust.

As I had mentioned, the neighbours (who actually were the original owners of this house) had a dog. A massive border collie (I'm not sure if there are different breeds, but this boy was huge). He was also trouble. Toby liked to hang out in our yard, he was friendly so I'd be leaving for work and he'd be jumping all over me. He found that our garage door didn't click shut properly and we'd wake up to junk pulled out all over the yard. Trouble!

This house needed mega renos. We were pulling out carpet, flooring (full of asbestos I'm sure - oops) paneling etc etc and dumping it out on the deck. Toby would take to following his owners up their drive (their house was at the back of the lot) and hanging out on our deck (where he could watch the road). That pile of rubbish was pretty comfy.

At one point I looked out the window and saw Toby eating from a bag of dog food. My first reaction was annoyance at my hubby "You're feeding the stupid dog now?". Nope! Apparently Toby brought a snack. Border Collie's are pretty smart.

We complained to the owner who said "Shoot him with a 22 - that'll sting and he won't wanna come by". Umm, not going to shoot the dog thank you. Even if he is a pain in the butt. I did get a boat fog horn though, just the little canister type, and I did chase him out of the yard with that a couple times.

The neighbours themselves were a piece of work. Apparently when they had the house moved to this spot, it actually sat on it's side for a week as the truck moving it broke an axle. The truck owner told our neighbour he'd better pay to have it fixed if he wanted his house put proper! Our neighbour complied.

We beautified that house so much! Put in new flooring, moved walls, new woodstove & surround, new kitchen, new bathroom & a new roof & exterior!!! It looked fantastic compared to the state it was in. We had zero reno experience prior to this place, but it was in such awful shape when we got it, our them was "We can only make it look better!"

The neighbour liked to pop by for coffee occasionally. After we had just done all this amazing work and the house looked wonderful, he comes by, shrugs his shoulders & says "Well, we did it up how we like, you do it up how you like".

Well, to each their own. We bought that rickety old farmhouse with mice for hardly more than a song (that price would be unreal to consider in today's market - especially with 10 acres attached). We turned around and sold it for about double that.

And moved into the Malibu Barbie house.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Neighbourhood Sprawl: My Cell Phone

Neighbourhood Sprawl: My Cell Phone: "The cell phone I've been carrying the last 3 years has still had a number from our previous province attached to it. These phone companies d..."

Friday, May 20, 2011


Tomorrow, I am going for my very first acupuncture treatment and I am SO excited!! I have wanted to try it for years!! Stick a pin into those sore muscles please, show 'em who the boss is and poke'em into relaxation!!

I am achy. Constantly.

Generally my back hurts, my neck hurts & my feet hurt.

Hmmm, who can I blame. I'd say kids, but I know the neck problems started years before they came along. Getting rear ended was a pain in so many ways - I'm sure many can relate!!

I know I can blame my kids for parts though. The yo-yo of weight gain & muscle stress during pregnancy can't be good. 60lbs up & down times 3. No good. My feet now require very expensive shoes - not good for a thrifty bargain hunter!!

I love my chiropractor!! She is way more effective than tylenol or advil for kicking a migraine. It took me a few months in our new locale to find one. It is hard to just trust any new person to give you a crunk without fear of ending paralyzed. I recall being very scared the first time I ever went to a chiro, but my hubby had insisted it would help with the headaches. He was right. Now I'm hooked!!

The one I have found here is big into the gadgetry. She goes with stretches & interesting little tools that sound like a woodpecker on my neck way more often than the traditional crunk. I'm amused that every time I go she is again surprised that my hip has gone out effectively making one leg shorter - until she adjusts it and sets me straight - my previous chiro in our last town had the same observation each session. Did I already blame stuff on my kids this post - hmmm, maybe I should lay off on them, but really, I do think the hip thing is a result of them too.

So I mentioned an interest in acupuncture last time I was there and my chiro said she is actually certified! Tomorrow at noon I get to be a pin cushion!

I'm thrilled!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Supper is a continual frustration for me.

It needs to be made, served, cleaned up after etc. AND, it needs to be creative. With a family of 5, it's going to be hit & miss for someone nearly every night. And the biggest problem is that I need to do the same thing the next day.

I am totally one of those people who will get caught up in my day and be hit with the 4:30 Crap! moment of "What are we having for supper". Then I'm stuck trying to defrost, see what I have in the fridge etc.

I have had sections of time in my life that I've successfully planned ahead. I've combined planning, shopping & preparation and felt really good about myself. The problem is that I get all caught up with that feeling of "with-it'ness" for a few days and then BAM! I'm hit at 4:30 a few days later because all my careful plans have run out.

A friend took me to a morning session by The Big Cook way back in the fall. I bought in fully because I was one of THOSE mothers who could never figure it all out - organizationally.

I made meals galore and at one point had nearly 50 in my freezer I think!! That managed to get me through a few months (WHEN I'd manage to remember to take something out of the freezer in time!)

I need to stock up again!!

Being back at work, everything is going to the wayside. Including meal planning.

I felt so good this week though, I had it all set up and it was going well until today. I remembered about an hour before I was to leave work, that I had forgotten to put my nicely thawed pork roast INTO the crockpot. Getting home at 5pm, I knew I wasn't going to recover from that one.

On the drive home, at a red light, my middle man - always a helpful one - said "Mom, why don't we have Kifk for supper". He lost me there. "Kifk??" I asked. I turned to look at him and saw he was so sincere. I saw he was looking out his window at the restaurant nearest the intersection. KFC.

Always one with a back up plan (and an amazing ability to recover from a set back), we had hotdogs.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - The Artist

An oldie favourite of my big man after some serious kitchen table art work.

Damn Lion

I'm sorry for all of you with sensitive eyes/ears, but there's a point to this post, really.

We've all been there with young children & language development. Some of the things that come out of their sincere mouths could make the rest of us blush. Between the language & the lost nuances, sometimes we wish they would keep some of that sincerity to themselves. Oops! Usually its worth a laugh.

My daughter is a girlie girl. I'm not entirely sure how that happened - maybe she'll grow out of it. I haven't helped much and will continue to be fairly unsupportive (mostly because I'm clued out in that dept. I'm a second daughter - ie, the "wish it was a son" daughter).

No, in honesty, I never got the impression either parent of mine would have appreciated a son (they did get one later on anyways) - but all the photos of me as a little girl show me with a very short bowl type hair cut and ratty jeans & tees. I'm sure that was not for lack of my mom handing me skirts, but oh well. I can blame the hair on her though, she was trying to "thicken it up". I recall being rude to more than a few older people who would comment to my parents about their "fine looking chap". Anyhow, that's digression!

Spring has agreed with my daughter. Dandelions are her favourite and she picks them for me with gusto! She brings them to me to put in water. "Those Damn Lions are soooo beeeeautiful!" Says she. I'm just glad she pulls them out of the yard before they turn into those white grenade balls of puffy yard destruction. I tell her they can stay in the cup on the counter until they close or turn white. Then they are all done.

Walking or driving down the street keeps her head whip lashing back & forth between "FLOWERS!" & "DAMN LIONS". She used to call them daisies, but her brothers corrected her "They are DANDY LIONS" So, now we hear all day about damn lions.

I noticed some new ones as I pulled up to the house this afternoon. I think after supper we'll go do some more picking!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Flippin' Kids

I had a friend for years that would raise her eyebrows at my kids. Choices I made in different areas, reasons behind our decisions etc. One such area was that I think she thought our child would magically behave if we just bent him over our knee more. Wasn't going to happen - and I'm sorry, that doesn't ever magically solve anything.

She's a parent now and actually we've not talked in a couple years. She is likely too busy doing all the things that parents must do. It is really not such a simple task. I wonder if it was a bit of a shock to her!

Now, quick disclaimer - this post is NOT about those who have struggled and at this point in their journey are not able to have children of their own. We have a few such friends and our heart breaks with them as they walk the road of infertility. This post is more for taking a moment to chuckle at life. Laugh alongside others who have experienced the superior parenting advice from those with no children by choice, not by what circumstances have chosen for them.

Kids certainly flip your world. I think my favourite part of being on facebook is seeing friends from years gone by as parents. Seeing their beautiful children and hearing about the quips from their day.

Our day is full of amusement, fatigue, frustration and wonder. They all go together. Those and a myriad of other emotions I can't even describe.

Parenting is about body fluids. Now now, don't think anything exciting here, I'm thinking puke, pee, snot. You know, the scientific, bodily cleansing type that seem to land all over you at the least convenient times (like 2am).

Did you ever think (pre-kids) that YOUR children would not drip snot, would be potty trained before age 2 and remember all their manners? Did reality shake it up for you? It did for me!

My oldest gave me a sweet certificate for Mother's day. It said "I promise to keep my room clean for 1 week". So, the next day when he was bored, I suggested he work on his gift and go pick up his room a bit. I was told "Oh mom, that doesn't mean this week" (Apparently as a week has now passed, it doesn't mean THIS week either).

I was on the phone with a girlfriend I've known forever (I think we're at about 32 years of friendship). She has a strong career, lives with the love of her life in a dream house that they have mutually decided will nurture cats, not children. As we were talking, I was managing my 3 kids (parents with kids, please answer me the mystery of the phenomena of needing mom when she's on the phone). My friend suddenly said "Wow! You've really gotten into doing that mothering thing." (Umm, yeah, they're kinda hard to ignore and since they're here, I might as well take care of them - feed & clothe them a bit - you know, that mothering thing.)

Balancing work has been a challenge and the other day I was trying to do some from home due to a childcare glitch. I had my work nicely spread on the kitchen table and had left the room for a moment. I come back to see an empty banana peel sitting right on the middle of my open books. Nice.

Today I rushed home from work to mop my floors before going to get the kids from care (yes, I know it gets dirty again quick, but this just cleans off 1 layer before they start on the next). Not even an hour after getting home with them, my big boy trails through the kitchen in his socked feet - right from the garden where he had been playing with water in the mud. Sigh.

I'm told its a phase. My parents house apparently never gets messy. Who is there to mess it up? Will I miss that some day? Some parts I think I won't (like the bodily fluids mentioned above), but special snuggles, nose rubs and school made Mother's day cards will be a thing of the past way too soon.

So, while I'm paid in sleepless nights, never ending laundry, bathrooms that look like I have 10 kids, not 3, I can honestly say I'm content with my lot and I'm pretty certain I'd never trade it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I bought myself a pretty important piece of jewelery today.

We were visiting a church and during a time of coffee & visiting after the service, I noticed a lady pulling all this fantastic jewelery out of a basket & spreading it on a table. My biggest boy was instantly intrigued and finally I had to go check it out too. The colours were too hard to resist!

There were necklaces, earrings, bracelets & chokers all made from bits of paper, rolled up super tight to create beads which were then dipped in varnish & strung on wire. Beautiful!!

What was more pleasing to me though, was that these pieces were all made by hand by a group of women in Northern Uganda who are currently living in a camp for displaced refugees.

By working with scraps of paper & minimal supplies, these women are crafting this jewelery in order to generate some sort of income to support their families.

Anyone who has read my other blog at all knows my heart beats strong for social justice issues. Africa is a country torn apart by so much conflict. I won't get into the grips of that here - this is my light & fluffy blog to step away from the seriousness and laugh at life a bit because reality is sometimes a little hard to face.

I just wanted to share my beautiful necklace & what about it makes it so special.

While it was so hard to choose, I finally picked one that was filled with colour. I love that there is not one other necklace like it anywhere. I love that it was made by someone working hard to help make things better for her family.

I hope we're a bit alike that way.

P.S. For what it's worth, yes that is the actual necklace on my actual neck in the photo above. I shot below the face because as a self portrait, I couldn't come up with anything that didn't make me look entirely goofy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cows, Critters & Bears!

Oh my!!

I mentioned a previous bit of land we once owned in my backyard post. As we continued to talk through our yard ideas and finally just decided to cram the trampoline in the back, on top of an old garden plot (ooooh, I hope it is a dry summer now, that will get muddy!), I commented to my hubby that the 2 acre yard would have been fab about now! Even the 10 acre yard! (Yes, 10 is more than 2, but the 2 was all field & the 10 was mostly bush - only a half acre to mow).

BUT the 10 acres had ponds & frogs and wood ticks by the hundreds. That yard had mice, which meant my house also had mice. At first I was all about the live & let live. I envisioned Cinderella'isk birdies chirping & butterflies fluttering about me as I released mice from the traps back into the wild.

Novelty wore off as they just kept coming back in. I turned into the terminator "Hasta la vista - mousy".

Between the ticks & the mice, we actually had a pest control issue with cows. Yes, the very large creatures that moo.

Back track a bit - we had a bear run through the yard. I was a tad concerned and asked a student of mine if bears were common (he lived a half mile up the road). He gave me a typical 14 year old know it all look and said. "Ah yes, Mrs. S, but that's what your dogs are for". My response? "Ummm, we don't have a dog". Cheeky response back "Mrs. S, you need a dog".

So, I went home and said to my husband, "We need a dog".

A week later, we had found a gorgeous little farmyard oops! We named her Darby and she was a big puppy! Half boxer, half lab. We never saw another bear after that, but she became very helpful with cows.

Being on 10 acres, we were 10 miles out of town. It was dark at night and the frogs in April were deafening when they were waking up out from the mud after winter. Our neighbours to the west were an interesting sort (perhaps worth their very own post!), to the other side was crown land (ie, more bush) and across the street was a mile section given to cows.

They were supposed to stay in their yard. I kept my kid in MY yard after all. It's only fair.

One morning we woke up and while still in bed, I commented to hubby "Those cows sound closer than across the street". He went downstairs and opened the door. In bolts a terrified 10 week, 25lb Darby. Hubby goes out and sure enough, there is a herd on our front lawn.

Know the damage hoofs can do to grass?? Those things have BIG feet!!! And they weigh a lot!

Hubby picks up some patio furniture pieces and starts banging them - effectively herding the cows out of our yard.

Darby watches for a moment and then it was like a light bulb went on! She caught up to hubby & started bolting around those cows. Herding them like she's always done it. She got them out of the yard and to the road.

Once at the road, she sat down at the end of our driveway. Just sat. It was like she really didn't care what the cows did from there, but they were NOT coming back into our yard.

Darby did good. She kept the cows out after that!!

That old house was such a bizarre place. The neighbours were the original owners and I really do think a whole future post should come of it! Stay tuned - I'll start with THEIR crazy dog!

We've had bears in our yard in other properties, but no more cows. Sadly Darby did not move with us when we left that house. She contracted a virus at 6 months and passed away. She was 50 lbs! I wonder how big she would have gotten over all. She was wonderful!

When our kids talk about our dog, they talk about Darby. She died the week I learned I was expecting my middle man - yet he's the one that will start crying while telling people about her. I will receive condolences as if she died last week. It was actually nearly 7 years ago.

But, we've not had another dog. No more cows, so no need for one really.

Our Backyard

As previously mentioned, our family made a big cross-provincial move last summer. Looking for houses was a pain - especially in our reasonable to consider price bracket (which would have bought a mansion in our last town - not joking!) Since this was the largest city we've lived in and most definitely the most expensive place we've ever looked to purchase a house, many concessions had to be made.


Buh-bye third bathroom, buh-bye newer kitchen, buh-bye money in the bank to do any upgrades for a very long time (except for the necessary furnace and electrical upgrades, everything else will remain as is for awhile).

The biggest thing we are feeling right now though is the yard. This by far is our smallest backyard with kids.

Our first house was on 2 acres - and our son was a baby, so he never really got the most out of that (a pain to mow though as it was all lawn!) Our second was 10 acres (mostly forest - so mowing wasn't as bad!) The next was in a small town and our backyard was huge! Loved that yard!!!! We were fixing & flipping at that stage of life though, so lots of moves. Later a yard backed onto a forest so anytime we felt the need to stretch (or look for blueberries) we had that flex space. I'm tired of moving!!

This is the house we want to stay put in! But as we moved into the big city after so many more rural settings, our yard (although average) feels teeny tiny.

Trampoline? In pieces still after the move, we can't figure where to put it. Swing set is assembled and gets soooo much daily use, but is showing its age & is definitely too small for the big boys that lift it off the ground when they swing (the idea is to dig the posts down - but if we did that, they'd be swinging on their butts).

I LOVE those shows where they create a backyard living room space. I love being outdoors & while I love being back in a bigger city, I miss my breathing room.

We've brainstormed & tried to discuss strategies to make the most of our space. I wonder if we'd qualify for one of those shows that would do it for us?? That would be nice!

How do you maximize your yard space? We've been spoiled in the past and I'm not at all complaining about the house we worked hard to get (house hunting post in the future!) Do you have the ability to find creative spatial solutions? We have the ability to do work/renos, but the brain to think through options does not reside in my head. I wish it did!!

Friday, May 13, 2011


In 13 years of marriage, my hubby & I have only both ever been working at the same time for about 6 months. Due to schooling, illness, babies & just life, one of us has generally always been unemployed. This is starting to change.

Our baby is almost 4 and the others are 6 & 8. I've had it good - supply teaching off & on the last couple years, but mostly being home.

This week, I've been working.

I was offered to cover a mat leave and considering the state of unemployed teachers these days, I felt I could not turn it down - plus, I'm actually excited to be back at work! I enjoy it!

I have found the worst to be childcare. Our 3 kids are currently farmed to 3 different locations. So pickups, juggling & correct information distribution is the challenge. We have planned ahead for next year though. A school switch will keep all 3 under the same roof for schooling as well as out of school care.

I realized I forgot about library day for my boys. Oh well, they'll keep the same books another week then.

My middle son was apparently confused about the new daycare situation and during circle time in kindergarten a couple days ago, he raised his hand in tears. He said "this is my last day at this school. I am starting a new school & new daycare tomorrow". He was crying, the teacher said the other kids started crying, the EA was crying and she said SHE was almost crying. Sigh. Obviously I didn't explain that one well enough. Oops!

I have a new respect for working parents. It is Friday night & all I could do was order pizza for my kids & stick on a movie. They thought that new aspect to their week was fantastic! Sigh.

I miss my kids! What are some things you do to make it all easier? How do you juggle while keeping sane & keeping things balanced for your kids?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Youngest

The youngest child! Every family has one, every one of us WAS one at one point or another. What is it about this role in the birth order that makes people offer a knowing nod, a roll of the eyes an insiders joke it seems. (Maybe that's just me actually, someone mention please if this joke is really just on me!)

These flat headed fighters come out ready to go! They seem either bent on taking over the world - entirely frustrated at the forever game of catch up to older siblings or else they are along for the ride. Coddled and babied; because whose baby ever grows up, really?

I was the youngest for 5.5 years. Then my brother came and I was bumped to middle. I hear it's middle children who are really messed up actually. Oh well. Both my parents were middle kids too so at least I was part of the majority in my family.

After 2 boys, hubby & I had a girl. She's our baby. Don't call her that though, she'd give you an earful. She definitely fits the bill of being born ready to fight. She's small, but don't let that fool you. She'd just as soon dress as a princess as wield the light saber of a Jedi (she'll often do both). Her princesses ride dinosaurs and barbie hangs out with spider man.

She is proud as anything and refers to her brothers as HER boys. They are best friends, the 3 of them, and I love it! Mind you, them being boys and a bit older, she is still often playing catch up. Always trying to impress them, one of our favourite things is to hear is her call to them "HEY BOYS! LOOK AT ME!!!"

I don't think she knows about dainty or quiet or any of the stereotypes I dumbly expected when she popped out a girl nearly 4 years ago. My sigh of relief quickly turned to WOW! Did THAT come out of her??

The volume of 1 girl (I'm not sure if it is a girl thing or a youngest thing) is greater than, NOT equal to, the volume of 2 boys.

I've learned a thing or 2 about the youngest. If you keep them a baby, they'll stay a baby, but if you let them fly, they'll soar! (LOUDLY!)

ETA: That's the cheesiest finishing sentence ever! Truly, my daughter's got lots of spunk and will definitely go places (soar if you will), but more so, I think if I tried to keep her a baby, she'd stomp on my foot.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Perfect Kids

We all know how it goes; there's no such thing as perfect parents, only perfect children. Actually, I'm wondering if it goes the other way around - feel free to set me straight. But I really do think some parents believe this.

We all know the type! Their child is accelerated, well behaved, way ahead of any milestone schedule - you know, Perfect!

I have met many such children and their parents and I'm amazed every time. I guess I should just really be in awe & wonder and oh so humbled for the chance to spend time with them.

I'm always torn - b/c I do not put my kids on a pedestal. Perhaps I should? I mean, they are great and I have a blast with them and enjoy them so much for the people they are, BUT; they are not perfect. And neither am I.
They have their moments of tantrum & not playing fair & I'm sure each of them have decked some other unsuspecting person along the way. Sorry about that! Work in progress (I think I've done each of those things at times too).

What really gets me though is when my child is having a moment of imperfection and lo & behold, it is around (or directed to) a perfect child. *Gasp*. Now, it has at times happened that I may have actually seen what took place and *a deep intake of breath* the perfect child was involved! Oh, the horror!

How do you respond when 2 kids are equally involved in an issue, but 1 is perfect while the other is not? I found I would struggle with play dates with certain playmates when I knew my child would carry an unfair load of anything that went down. I was tired of it always being my child's fault and I didn't want them to carry that pressure. If it got me down, it must affect my kids at some level, right?

What type of person does a perfect child grow into? Do they eventually learn responsibility for their actions? Does it at some point come around as a rude awakening?

Do you know some perfect children?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Coffee Mugs!

My father used to say; "Coffee is the staff of life" or another; "Coffee is the official drink of heaven". All in jest, of course, but he does like his java.

I think I started way young. When I was little, when my dad would come home from work, I'd snag his lunch kit thermos and sneak to the kitchen to drink whatever dribbles of sweet, cold coffee I could get out. It was generally pretty empty - so maybe that's why no one stopped me, but I treasured those few drops (This was in the day - pre coffee makers in the teacher's lounge - my dad fixed his coffee in the morning at home, sugar & creamed it and took it to school in a bright orange thermos). So different now!

For me, it is the holistic image of coffee. It is warm, it is comforting and it tastes so nice with a dab of french vanilla flavouring (just a touch - that stuff is sweet & I don't like it sweet). Coffee is my comfort food.

I enjoy it in the morning, afternoon for a pick me up & evening as a relaxer. The only thing I require if I am drinking at home, is that it be in a nice mug.

I am eclectic for the most part with my style. My poor husband would never trust me to go pick out a sofa or other room decor b/c I think he'd fear he'd step into a time warp whenever he walked into a room. He raises the odd eyebrow at my wardrobe, but that's his problem, not mine, right?

I digress.

My mugs must reflect calm, serenity and happiness for me. Nothing tacky, nothing advertising a bank or insurance company or real estate agent. Ones with my name? Also tacky, not my style. I like matching. Sets come in 2, 4 or 6 and I can pull out the suitable number when we are entertaining and its time for coffee. Hmm, this might be one area I may be somewhat stodgy.

I know where each of my mugs came from and thankfully I am not clumsy so I can say my 3 favourite sets are 13-15 years old and complete. (Now that I've typed this, I may break one, thankfully I'm not superstitious.)

My newest fave (photo'd here) is slightly touristy, but full of meaning. A good friend from my previous town has a fine arts degree - specialty being pottery! She purchased this for me when I was leaving and with it she gave a promise that the next mug from her would be a handmade original. (I'm going to send her this link as a wee little reminder).

It is my big mug (I can have 1.5 cups of coffee for every 1 my hubby gets in the morning!) But I try not to let it encourage me to be greedy.

The comforts of life for me are simple. But I do value the importance of a good mug. I have more to say on coffee, but the mug beside me needs a top up so perhaps another day.

Tell me about your favourite mug! I'd love to hear what makes it so special!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fashion Cuffs

My first inclination was to do a post on how people suck. Not all people, of course, but the ones who come along and with no provocation or real motive, work to cause destruction for other people. Like I said, I don't want to make this my focal point today (too depressing), but I'll tell you where I'm coming from so you understand my frustration.

I was in Walmart last night (and from that visit, I'll share with you something else that will cheer you up after this depressing bit). As I was walking out of the store, there were 2 boys - maybe 11 or 12- leaning over their bikes that had been locked outside the store. They looked a little confused so I asked if there was a problem they needed help with. (I'm a teacher & a mom, I'm not going to walk by a kid in distress).

One boy showed me that on both the bikes, someone had come along and yanked the wires out of the brakes - essentially cutting the line. These kids had no brakes! How dangerous! What if they hadn't noticed the loose wires before hopping on and riding home?

I asked if they needed to use a phone, if they had an adult they could call. They said an older brother was in at customer service using the phone and telling the store what happened.

So sad. What a dumb, random thing by some hateful person. I didn't leave until the older brother was back and I knew they had someone older looking out for them. Before I left though, one kid says to me; "First I lost a quarter in the gumball machine, now this. What a bad night". Poor kid, I think his parents will be more miffed over the repair bill to his bike than the gum, but his perspective was cute.

Onto happier things!!

Ever heard of fashion cuffs?
I was wandering up the cleaner aisle near the food section of Walmart & I came across them (near some ladies discussing which mouse trap would be best - they wanted the sticky tape kind - again I digress). Anyway, I noticed these things and had to do a backtrack, then I had to whip out my phone to take a picture (sorry for the not so great image). It's a rubber glove with a cutesy cuff.

Have you seen the show (I don't even know if it's on anymore) about those cleaning ladies that wear rubber gloves with fur cuffs? I don't know, is it to make scrubbing toilets that much more glamorous? I think they come in and find all the gross things in someone's house. I hope they pay the person lots of money to be humiliated on tv like that!!

I've read parts of their book(my mom has it) and it is hard core overwhelming. The to do list for cleaning each room was depressing. I didn't like their style.

I'm much more of a fly lady (not that I follow that perfectly either), but it is less bruising to the ego when I fail. Bite size pieces help me feel good about the little accomplishments I've made. I wash a dish? I've blessed my home - see? I can feel good. At this point, the fly lady encourages you to sit back with a cup of tea. You've earned it. I SO like their philosophy!

Have you seen any crazy looking things out there that are supposed to make mundane chores suddenly more fun? For all the fancy things, I don't notice my house getting cleaner. That fancy thing would have to be living & breathing and pull up in a "Molly Maid" car! THEN I'd be impressed!

For the rest of it, cleaning is cleaning. Toilets are toilets. Fashion cuffs or not, sorry, I don't enjoy it any more than if I'm in my pj's with my sleeves rolled up.

Scrubbing bubbles has this gel you put on the inside of your toilet. I tried this and my daughter freaked, calling it poison jello and she totally regressed all her potty skills b/c she was so afraid of it! Finally I had to wipe it all off so she'd use the toilet again.

Know what I like best? Vinegar & water! Cleans, is CHEAP and if my child decides to dip a finger in, it won't strip the skin (NOT that I leave things around for them - just clarifying that point). I also like baking soda.

What are your favourite chores? Do you have any? What makes them more fun? Any secrets you'd be willing to share??

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Child Leashes

Whoa, bring on the controversy! Or maybe not! =)

This was the topic of discussion on our local radio station yesterday during the drive home show here in Edmonton. The 2 hosts were inviting people to call in with their views in support for or against the practice of using restraining harnesses on a child.

Have you seen them? The little thingy that looks like your child is on a leash so they don't run off. Sometimes the child is hooked up in a nifty looking little backpack type harness, and other times, it really does look like a leash, the child has something around their wrist which is attached to your wrist.

Have you used one?

I did have one in my possession with my oldest child. I never did actually use it, but at times I was tempted. I don't think I ever had it on my person when I was thinking about it though. My big boy was a wanderer. He'd just bolt without warning - Fast! Didn't matter when, didn't matter where, he was just so busy & full of energy that the details weren't concerning, but WE were concerned!! At times it was scary!

The male host of the show made a few statements which I thought were very ignorant. As follows; "What happened to good old fashioned parenting? When I was little, my parents taught me not to run off, so I didn't." and later; "Why don't parents just teach their children to stick close?" and then; "This is for those parents who choose easy methods."

Unenlightened man with no kids of his own!! Sounds like I did before I had children.

Of course he had many people call in and comment how right he was and how utterly ridiculous parents looked and that truly it was some form of deranged child abuse.

And then a few moms called & told the host a) you're not a parent, so shut-up on something you know nothing about and b) don't knock it until you have multiples of the same age or even multi aged children who are young and take off. It is a safety concern.

I think I understand both sides of the fence. On the one hand, the fellow was out of line with some of his statements. Totally from a perspective of never having walked in the shoes. I don't like how radio hosts will start a discussion, then totally knock down anyone who doesn't agree with them. That's not called discussion.

On the other hand, I have seen people use it like a leash. Like they are leading their child, giving it a yank if the kid doesn't move fast enough. Might as well be a puppy.

Have you seen these? What do you think?

American Idol

Do you think you can sing? I mean, really! Would you be in a line up among thousands of others and truly believe you are THE ONE?

American Idol is interesting. It seems to bring out that yearning in so many people's gut that THEY LONG to be known somehow. LONG to be famous and live the illusion they think comes along with that.

Again, I say really? Do you SEE the garbage truly famous people have to deal with in their lives? No thank you!!

I have known people who think they can sing. What do you say to a friend who belts it all out totally off key and likely belongs on the bad audition AI reels? Are you someone who is honest?

I am amazed at all the people who are so disillusioned by thinking they can hold a tune, let alone sing at star quality. I'm sorry I'm such a meanie, but self-awareness can go a long way in terms of getting you places. Be realistic about where your skills & giftings lie. If you're not really sure, ask someone who loves you what you are good at. I'll bet they'll know!!

In terms of this season. There have been a few surprises and a few times I've shaken my head and in honesty, I've not yet even watched last weeks episodes because I was getting a little irritated.

WHY oh wise judges OH WHY did you use the save at round 11 on Casey Abrams? He is a reasonable musician and will likely be successful at making a career of it, but at NO point would most people have thought he would even make it to the finals.

Sure, I thought a few others would go before him; I had gauged a mid-season exit for him, saving the finals for those like Lauren, Pia & James.

So you waste your save, way too early in the season and what have you left when Pia is asked to go? Nothing but regret. I'm so glad that the exposure was enough and her career is already starting. WTG Pia!!

Like I said, I've not watched last weeks show, but I heard Casey is now officially gone. Voted out at 11 and again at 6. That says something judges; America did not see what you apparently saw. I doubt HE had a contract within 24 hours of being voted off.

Have you been watching? Know any stars or wanna be stars? Do YOU have star potential?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Stranger Danger

Would you leave your kid with a stranger? I don't mean a stranger in the sense of a care provider or teacher, but someone you literally don't know.

Tonight, I dropped my biggest boy off at his Cubs group and went to drive my middle man to his Beaver group only to find the group wasn't there. There's been slight communication issues at times and that's a whole other gripe, but beyond that location, I didn't know where to look for them.

I voted. The school where the Beavers group usually meets was hosting a polling station (likely why the Beavers were not there). I hadn't known where I was supposed to vote so I checked & sure enough this was the place. I figured since I was there...

My middle man was sad. There he was in his green sweat pants, his blue beaver shirt, his beaver vest with his decorated beaver tail pinned on the back. Add some little coke-bottle glasses and I think my son is adorable. But when he realized voting was the only thing happening at this place and his group was nowhere to be found, he wrenched up his face and cried.

So, the classic pick-me up for a 5 year old - I said let's go to McDonalds and you can play on the play thing while we wait to pick up your brother. Instant smile - of course. I had an ice coffee so instant smile for me too!

While there, he started playing with a cutie little blond named "Tatie" (Katie, I believe). She was there with 2 teens (16 maybe?).

After awhile, the teens started to walk out and the guy asks me "Excuse me, do you mind watching my baby sister for a few minutes?" I'm surprised, but what do you say except "Sure, not a problem".

5 minutes later they return. I assumed perhaps they had a smoke break just outside the restaurant.

A few minutes later they are at the door again. This time they don't say anything to me, they just tell Katie they are going to check on the kitty and did she want to come or stay. She wanted to stay so they left. I check my watch 7:45.

5 minutes pass, then 10 and at 15 minutes, I'm now standing up, scanning the parking lot thinking how furious I'd be if my teen left my baby with an absolute stranger. Of course I was there reading my book on human trafficking in Canada. Not a fantastic image.

My parking lot scan finally saw the couple making their way back from wayyyyy across the lot (McD's shares with a few big box stores). They return and it's time for us to go.

Wow! All I can say was they lucked out. I could have been anyone really. I could have escorted that cute little blond to my van and driven away.

How trusting would you be? Do you trust yourself to judge a book by its cover? Me being the figurative book here. Do you think you could trust someone based on their appearance? What would you have done in my shoes?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Apple Trees

A big move loomed for us last summer. My hubby took a job 2 provinces over and so house hunting & other mega details consumed us!

We did a house hunting marathon trip mid-July and saw 26 houses in 2 days. Exhausting! More on that in another post.

The house we fell in love with (or moreso I fell in love, my hubby settled, but whatever) had a beautiful apple tree in the backyard.

Where I grew up, apple trees are prone to all sorts of ugly diseases & pesty insect infestations. It is hard to get a tree so big & beautiful & so impressively covered in the small green apples we saw forming.

Come fall, after we made our big move and the tree was ours, our impression was broadened.

On the one hand, we were impressed that this tree was covered, literally covered in apples. Some red, some green, some were large and some were small. The previous homeowner (who had lived in the house 50 years) had done grafting of several of the branches, thus producing a multi-variety fruit tree!!

My apple crazed son was in heaven! He climbed this tree and sat in his perch happily munching & tossing the cores into the yard (hmmm not so appreciated). He figured he had the monopoly since he was the only kid tall enough to climb, so he would ration out the choicy apples from the top of the tree to those he deemed worthy. That his siblings actually allowed him to claim this role is beyond me.

The downside; We had SO many apples!!! Hundreds! I am not kidding that these branches were bent from the weight! As fall progressed & we were doing the necessary upgrades to the house before winter set in, the tree was ignored & we did not pick all the hundreds of apples before the first frost.

Ever smell eau de rotton apple? It is a bit of a cidery smell that reminds you of yucky fermentation. That was our backyard for the rest of fall. The rains came and the apples that fell were mushy & gross and I'd put on rubber gloves & go collecting occasionally. I thought - well, the birds will peck at the rest over winter. (Thinking back to my berry bushes at our old house - birds would swarm them for 3 days straight mid-January - pick them clean, then move to the next yard - I thought that was a great system).

But no birds came. Even though there is a cute feeder that was left in the tree. I keep smacking my head on that feeder. No birds means no need for the feeder. Buh-bye feeder.

It is now spring and I have a tree that is FULL of shrunken, shriveled, brown, dehydrated apples that seem reluctant to fall on their own.

Lesson learned. And I am spending my all too important time whacking the branches with the end of a rake to knock them down, rake them up and start over. There are still lots to go!

My children find this hilarious and I had to put a quick stop to a swinging broom & swinging baseball bat. I value my head.

We're not as fond of the apple tree now. They seem to do well here & all our neighbours have them and everyone has way more apples than they know what to do with. Various foodbank groups will come pick ripe apples for payment in apples to supply their hampers! Wonderful - but so many people call, you can't even get on the list.

I think the apple tree's days are numbered.

Buh-bye apple tree.

Sweet Tooth

Parenting will likely take up many posts. Having 3 kids means I have lots of opportunity to have opinions - both on my strategies & perhaps those of others.

Many years ago, when I was pre-kid, pre-husband, living life fancy & free, I worked in a retail store for an NHL team that is no longer in existence (although rumour suggests they are returning - we'll see).

We were in a mall and had a front store window facing the corridor. The window was separated into its own space by a row of lockers & we had a lovely lady come and "do the window" for us once a month.

It was likely this season we are currently in - I recall jelly beans & chocolate being part of our display. It was a delightful mixture of candy & hockey - I see the natural blend, don't you?

In comes a man quite suddenly one day, on the heals of his very young (maybe 4?) very husky (at least 20/30lbs+ over what a 4yo girl should be). She was focused & very determined to enter our display and eat those candies.

The other staff & I stood with eyebrows raised as this dad tried to calm his hysterical daughter who by then was screaming & fighting against his hold "BUT WHO IS GOING TO EAT THEM?????"


I think the dad finally got her out of the store and I recall thinking of course MY child will NEVER be like that.

Fast forward 15 years.

I have a 3 year old daughter with an insane sweet tooth. Suddenly the table has turned & I am the parent who must be the bad guy, laying down the law for the sake of my daughter's health.

I have 2 boys who will sneak into the fridge for apples & pears. A veggie tray left on our table will be doomed without fail. Then I had a girl.

This girl will climb, will sneak, will lie, will steal all to get her sweet fix!!!

I am the mom with child locks on my UPPER cabinets.

I have found in her closet; yogurt, margarine, honey, brown sugar and then anytime a brother gets a goodie bag (which they tend to forget about the treats in lieu of any toy within), she will lay low, bide her time until they are at school. At this point, I'll find her under a bed or in a closet, a pile of wrappers around her.

I suddenly can sympathize with that father. My daughter is not overweight, but we definitely worry about this obsession that would quickly lead her to poor health choices. We offer her healthy food and an occasional treat and really hope that this is something that will pass.

How do you respond to your sweet toothed child?