Friday, January 31, 2014

In Which I Find My Cheery Side Again

First of all, thank you so much for bearing with me in my winter discouragement yesterday and not just telling me to get over myself :) I was hesitant to publish that post because I felt pretty negative, and, while I want this blog to be about my real life, I don't want negativity to steal the show. I thought maybe if I put my frustration out to the internet, it might help. And I don't know if it was publishing that post or if things would have changed anyways, but yesterday was a much better day. If the past few weeks have been murk and mire, yesterday was cheerful tulips. So why are things looking up?

I always tell people that I'm a "really bad stay-at-home, stay-at-home parent." I am an extrovert. I like to be out doing things with my kids and I thrive when I have that kind of schedule. For me, a day at home needs to be a rare treat and not something I do for days on end. Yesterday, despite the fact that Rachel did not go to preschool again, she and I did some errands in the afternoon. (She coughed so hard she threw up in the morning but was back to her normal self after that -- eating, energetic, and happy. I didn't want to send her to preschool but I figured she was well enough to do errands with me.)
Before we left, Rachel declared "Big Elephant crying" 
and proceeded to feed him some tuna!
It was so nice to just get out again. I even treated myself to some Starbucks. Yum yum yum! Rachel enjoyed her free cookie at the grocery store. I will be so sad when my kids are too old for the cookies. They make grocery shopping so much more peaceful.
After school it had warmed up enough that I finally gave in to Sam's request to play on the playground for a bit and I stood around talking for about twenty minutes with some other moms. We all rejoiced in the fact that we weren't freezing (much!).

In the evening we went to LOGOS. I table parent the Jr Youth and we had a great, funny conversation. And then after supper, Sam vacuumed, I drank two cups of tea and talked, and Rachel played. And to top it off, Dave and Tim were twinsies :) It was so great to be at church and visiting with some of my favourite people again. We've all missed our LOGOS nights. And I got enough leftovers that I don't have to cook supper tonight! Double yay!!!
And today I'm getting my hair cut and some highlights added. Triple yay!!! Unfortunately I have to take Rachel with me and it's a two and a half hour appointment. My hairdresser cuts hair out of her basement and has a playroom so it's not as scary as it sounds, but it might still be interesting times.

After that, it's the weekend! And it's supposed to be above 0C on Saturday. Hallelujah!!! Can you tell that this extrovert just needed a HUGE infusion of people time and that I got it? :) Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Well Winter, It's Offical...

view to our backyard
And I seriously thought about hanging laundry out all Winter.
I laugh at my ignorance :)

I am completely done with this winter. Often lately I feel like a big whiny poo, complaining about the cold and the snow. This winter has really been dragging me down and the other day I sat down and tried to figure out why. I'm done with dealing with illness. Between Sam, Rachel, and me we have had very few healthy days since mid-November. I'm so over shoveling and trying to figure out where to put all the snow. I'm completely fed up with the extreme cold. I'm starting to launch a serious campaign of "Let's move somewhere without Winter."

And when I read the blogs of other people, it seems that I'm not the only one feeling a little down from the effects of this cold spell we've all been experiencing. Misery loves company, I guess :)
our former front steps
We only use our back entrance and, 
until this becomes a shoveling priority, our guests will too.

So on Tuesday I went out and took some pictures (in the -32 windchill) of the snow that surrounds our house. I feel a little more justified complaining when I look at these pictures. A little. That's a lot of snow.

And let me be clear, if it was just Dave and I, this weather would be annoying but easier. (This is not to say  it wouldn't be hard, but I don't think I would be so discouraged by it.) I find this winter, with a lot of snow and cold weather, way more frustrating because I have to get Sam to school and back twice a day, and normally Rachel comes along on that trek. I feel like I am constantly bundling and unbundling them, trying to convince them to keep their mittens on (Rachel way more so than Sam) and trying to navigate sidewalks (which usually aren't cleared enough for a stroller to get through but often cleared too much for a toboggan) with them.
Can you even tell our car is in this picture???
And those ornaments are staying on the tree until Spring!

Thankfully the weather seems to be taking a turn for the "slightly warmer" and being outside will be just a little more pleasant for the next while. Also, earlier this week, I had a brainwave and asked my friend who lives three doors down if she could watch Rachel when it's below -30C with windchill and I need to get Sam to, or from, school. That's worked out well so far and Rachel isn't spending half an hour at a time outside when it's so frigidly cold.

I promise that tomorrow I will be a lot cheerier, but today I just needed to get this out there. Have I mentioned that I am just really ready for Spring? Until then I going to be working a little harder on that "Let's move South" campaign...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Things I Learned Yesterday...

1) My passport expires in May. And we're going to New Zealand in April. Yikes :() Good thing Rachel was playing with our passports which led me to this discovery.

2) We still have 53 days left until Spring. I. May. Not. Make. It.

3) In theory, sitting down together as a family at 7:30am for breakfast is a good idea. In reality, I am still not a morning person. Nor is my stomach.

4) You should definitely read, "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple. You should not start reading it at 11 at night if you need to function the next day.

5) I have the best husband in the world. When he got home yesterday, knowing that I had had a rough day, he sent me off by myself for the evening. To do whatever I wanted to do. By myself. Did I mention Best. Husband. Ever.

6) Old Navy sells jewelry. Like necklaces! Why has no one shared this with me before???

7) Rachel will eventually learn how to have quiet time in her room. She stayed in there for an hour and a half on Monday. (This has been a struggle for me because, when Sam gave up his nap, he still had a couple of hours of "quiet time" in his room. He loved it and so did I. It was a good transition between napping and not napping for both of us. Rachel has been struggling with it more. To me, ten minutes does not constitute a good quiet time.)

and last, but not least,

8) If a cucumber tastes like it might be off, maybe it actually is, and I shouldn't keep eating it.

If any of these were revelations for you too, I'm glad I discovered them first and was able to share them with you, because they weren't all such pleasant discoveries. Especially the cucumber.

Also, my grandma turns 90 today. She is my last living grandparent and I wish I could go to Saskatchewan and celebrate with her. Happy Birthday Grandma!!! (Because she'll totally appreciate a blog shout-out. Ha!)
Grandma laughing at her crazy great-grandchildren.
July 2013

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review: The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, And The Power Of Family

The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family
image from here

I really don't remember who alerted me to the fact of this book's existence but I want to track them down and thank them. I'm pretty sure it was one of you, so if you've blogged about this book, please remind me. I actually searched through the blogs of some of the likely suspects (Tiffany? Kelly-Belly? Shoshanah?) but couldn't find any mention of it. This book is a must read for anyone who loves libraries, books or interesting memoirs.

It brought home to me the reality of living with Tourette's. I thought people with Tourette's just swore involuntarily at inconvenient times. Josh Hanagarne leads the reader through his daily, hourly, minute by minute struggles of dealing with, not only inconvenient, but often painful tics.

I also loved the stories Hanagarne related of working in the Salt Lake City Public Library System. I'm pretty sure the employees at my local library don't deal with the range of people Hanagarne encounters in his daily routine. And I loved how each chapter was categorized by the Dewey Decimal System.

Just because someone has an interesting story, doesn't mean they are a good storyteller, or a good writer. I think Hanagarne is able to do both. This isn't always an easy read, but it is definitely worth it.

And again, if you are the blogger who first wrote of this, let me know so I can re-read your comments and add my affirmations of this book's awesomeness to your post :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Crafting A "Plan B"

So as you may remember from Friday's post, I was whining about being sick and having to miss our church's annual Winter Retreat. I was hoping we could somehow salvage the weekend. Let me just put you out of your suspense by saying that our weekend was a success, despite our change in plans.

One thing that helped was that by late Friday afternoon a bunch of roads heading up to the retreat were closed and so we were getting e-mails from people who were planning to leave on Saturday morning instead. When we woke up on Saturday there was a ton of snow, roads were still closed, and so most people couldn't make it to the retreat anyways. I think maybe a third of the people were able to go. I was glad that we had realized earlier in the week that we weren't going rather than having to decide that the morning of.

Another thing that helped was that Sam and Rachel played for a long time in the play room and I got to sleep in. Yay! Dave claims that Rachel didn't actually throw the camera at him right after he took the picture below but I'm not sure I believe him :)
In the Fall we decided to subscribe to Chirp magazine for Sam and, in the last issue, it had a craft about making a Box Bed for your stuffed animal. Sam has been asking to do this craft for ages so we decided that Saturday was a good day to do it. The first step was finding boxes and painting them.
Both Sam and Rachel really enjoyed painting.
While the boxes were drying, Sam and Rachel played a game with their cars. I loved how carefully Sam had his emergency vehicles lined up on his ukelele for transporting. (Also Dave pointed out that of the 7 million pictures we took on Saturday, Sam rarely had a normal face.)
Then I noticed that on Sam's monthly classroom calendar one of his "Home Fun Ideas... (Not Homework!)" was to practice cutting paper snowflakes. So my imagination ran ahead of my energy and I decided that, since the kids had enjoyed painting so much, we should first paint paper to make our snowflakes out of. Because cutting snowflakes out of plain white paper is not enough, for some reason??? So out came the painting supplies again.
We even did one with all of our family's fingerprints on them. While the papers dried we all took baths/had showers and got clean. Since Rachel had accidentally painted a pink streak in Sam's hair, as well as various other mishaps, this was a very necessary step in the process :)
As if we hadn't already embarked on enough homemade adventures, we also decided Saturday night would be a good night to start a "Make Our Own Pizzas" tradition. So I attempted to make pizza crust for the first time and we gathered our toppings.
Sam loved putting his own toppings on, the crust worked out pretty well, and this Saturday night tradition will continue. Yay! Meanwhile, in the "Snowflake Factory" as Sam and Rachel called it (quite appropriately I might mention!), we were hard at work cutting out our snowflakes. Rachel was in charge of "cleaning up and not getting in the way of the scissors" and she did an excellent job :)
And a gazillion hours later we had 32 snowflakes strung on our Snowflake Garland and it was hanging in the playroom. Dave commented that a) it made our playroom look like a Kindergarten classroom and b) that it was ironic we decided to create even more snowflakes on a day which had so many outside already!
Sam immediately determined we should make a Heart Garland for Valentine's Day and Dave and I rejected the idea out of hand. However, I have to admit, I'm thinking one of Spring flowers could be really festive in a few months... (Note to self: STOP THE MADNESS!!!) After all, maybe by then we'll have recovered from the Snowflake Factory of 2014.

Yesterday we had a lower-key day. I think we were all worn out. Ha!

And that is how we salvaged our weekend. It was actually a lot of fun. And today Rachel is feeling better, I am feeling better, and we are back to normal life. I think.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Project 364: Days 19 Through 25

January 19, 2014 -- There was a Vespa near the washrooms at the place where we celebrated Dave's birthday with his family. This is not the greatest picture but I love Sam's expression as he "rides the Vespa to my bed!"
January 20, 2014 -- I drank Earl Grey tea from Janice in my new mug from Jen on this cold day. Since both kids were at home all day, tea was a necessity.
January 21, 2014 -- Sam and Rachel both stayed home this day. Rachel was sick and Sam was "too tired" for school. Since it was brutal windchill (-30C), I was happy to just be inside. They took a break from watching Franklin videos to have some tea.
January 22, 2014 -- Rachel coughed pretty much All. Day. Long. so I was busy holding her or trying to help her feel better but I did notice that my previously pure white tulips were showing streaks of red. Weird.
January 23, 2014 -- I got Rachel's cold so I spent most of the day in bed. Throughout the day my nightstand acquired nasal sprays, a Kleenex box, the phone, some New Zealand trip planning aids, and a "special drink" made for me by Sam.
January 24, 2014 -- Even though I spent a lot of the day in bed, or on the couch, Dave celebrated Shabbat with the kids, in the midst of chaos! I took this picture after eating a small supper and before going back to bed.
January 25, 2014 -- Just a small sample of our snowflake garland, Sam's "Home Fun Ideas... (Not Homework)," which took on a life of its own.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Winning At Whining

This is not the blog post I was going to write for today. (I'm writing this at 9pm on Thursday evening, by the way.) I was going to write a post telling you how excited I was about this coming weekend and maybe telling you about the cool date experience Dave and I had on Wednesday night. Instead you get this...

Rachel has been sick since Sunday night. The first two days were okay. It was super-cold out, and Sam was tired, so I kept him home from school and the kids played and I did laundry and tried to help Rachel feel better as much as possible. She had what I thought was a cold. A bad one with lots of coughing, but a cold nonetheless.

Then she coughed through most of Tuesday night and pretty much ALL DAY on Wednesday. Except for the two hours where she napped (which she hasn't done in about a month), and even then she woke up in the middle of it with a coughing fit. And a couple of times she coughed until she threw up which was pleasant.

Wednesday night Dave and I were supposed to go on a date. We'd been invited to the symphony's New Subscribers Event because we bought an entire series of concert tickets for the first time ever this year. We were going to get a tour of backstage and then get treated to a small concert while we were Sitting. On. The. Stage. It sounded amazing. And there was going to be food.

However with Rachel coughing so much I didn't want to leave her with a babysitter. So we cancelled. But I was really disappointed to miss this once in a lifetime experience.

And then on Wednesday night I got sick. And Rachel was up about every two hours coughing and crying. So yesterday I was talking to Janice and she suggested we might want to get Rachel checked out because it sounded more serious than a bad cold. So Dave took Rachel to the doctor and she was diagnosed with a "mild case of the flu." I'm glad it's not something really serious but it just sucks. And I'm praying that my current cold doesn't turn into the flu but given how many times Rachel has coughed on me, I wouldn't be surprised if it did.

So instead of getting ready for our church's weekend retreat, planning on a fun family weekend getaway in the snow and great conversations with other people from church, I'm trying to muster the energy to get out of bed. And I'm lamenting the fact that we had less than a month of our whole family being healthy, and I'm really hoping Rachel gets some good sleep (because then Dave and I will get some sleep) and I'm thankful that Dave is healthy so he can take care of us. And I'm hoping I'll be able to leave the house today. I haven't gone anywhere since Sunday night and I'm starting to feel A LOT housebound.

To end this really whiny post I'm going to leave you with something Rachel has been saying to Dave lately that I find really funny. "I'm the king of the castle, you're the dirty rascal. Take a bath, Daddy!" At least there's always usually something to laugh about.

So come back on Monday when you will find a blog post about the awesome ways we managed to salvage this weekend and have a ton of fun, despite half of us being sick. (And if you have any ideas about how we can do that, please let me know. Between trying to breathe and blowing my nose I'm a little preoccupied right now to come up with good ideas.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I'm a big fan of traditions. I love creating them and I love keeping them. My tradition of having bouquets of spring flowers in the house during one of the coldest months of the year helps me get through winter. They are the promise that Spring IS coming, even if I can't feel it yet.
And thus, every January that I have been blogging, I do one post completely (except 2012 had other stuff too!) dedicated to my spring bouquet. This year's might be my favourite one yet!
You can check out my past January bouquets (and the evolution of my blogging and photography skills) here, here, and here. (And I like how my blue vase is featured heavily! It was a birthday present from Dave's aunt, uncle and Grandpa about four years ago. It was filled with multi-coloured tulips.) Did I mention that it's a tradition!?!?
 Happy January!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

All About Rachel, The First Edition

When I did this quiz with Sam last week, I realized that Rachel was close to the age Sam was when I first started it with him. So I decided to try. Again, her answers are only edited for clarity.
What is your name? Um... Rachel
How old are you? Um... two
What is your favourite colour? yellow
Who is your best friend? Tracey (her preschool teacher), Sam, Tessa
What is your favourite animal? Turtle (This one really surprised me because I think it's actually an owl.)
What is your favourite movie? Clifford (A video we have with eight short features.)
What is your favourite book? "Bunny!" (I Am A Bunny by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry)
What is your favourite food? Ketchup
What is your favourite song? B-C-D-F-G (The Alphabet Song)
What makes you happy? Hiding Funny Bunny
What makes you sad? When I fall down
What is your favourite game? Hide and Seek
Can you write your name for me?
rlrtttt (She typed this herself!)

And that is everything you ever wanted to know about Rachel :)

PS. If you could say some prayers on Rachel's behalf, I would really appreciate it. She has a horrible cold right now and she's already coughed so hard this morning that she's thrown up twice :( I just want her to feel better. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

100000 Is A Big Deal

On Saturday the birthday celebrations continued as we hosted a party for Dave with 23 people. I always suck at taking pictures during parties, and while I tried to rectify that this past weekend, most of my pictures were blurry. Boo. (Or they contained pictures of people who don't want to appear on this blog.) However I did get this good picture of Tessa and Funny Bunny.
I really wish I could have gotten a picture of Willem and Rachel playing catch with Funny Bunny and laughing hysterically because that was a really awesome memory.

So if you're not married to math nerd (or aren't one yourself), you may not know that "32" in binary is "100000." Thus, when we invited people to Dave's birthday, we labeled the e-mail "Dave Is Turning 100000!" and encouraged guests, if they wished, to bring a small token for a 100000th birthday.
I love this card which Tim, Janice, Tessa and Willem made for Dave. The message is in binary and Dave has been working hard to de-code it!
Another set of friends of ours brought Dave (approximately) 100000 grains of rice! Our friend explained his reasoning that he counted out 1 Tablespoon of rice (684 grains) and then figured out how many tablespoons he would need to get 100000 grains. It was hilarious!!!

Dave's friend Isaac brought him Genesis and Messiah Beer from the He'Brew Beer Company in New York, which is what Dave is holding in the picture above. I don't think it has anything to do with either turning 100000 or 32. Isaac just likes to give Dave this beer since Dave is Jewish! Isaac also read to Sam from The Brick Bible and Sam was entranced.
On Sunday we went out to Del Dente, an amazing pasta place, with Dave's family. Del Dente even provided Dave with his very own slice of cheesecake. Dave was in heaven as he LOVES cheesecake. (And we didn't ask the restaurant to do this, they just asked what the occasion was when Dave made the reservation and provided this dessert. Thankfully they didn't sing which Dave would have hated!)
Del Dente, like any good pasta restaurant, serves complementary bread. They bake it in terracotta flower pots and it is delicious. Yum!
Sam and Rachel enjoyed some Grandma and Grandpa time. Rachel helped Grandpa take pictures and Sam just watched TV from the comfort of Grandma's lap. (One of the things about not having a TV at home is that Sam is absolutely mesmerized when we go to a restaurant with a TV. Since they are usually showing sports I don't really care that he's watching it.)
Rachel really got into her chocolate ice cream. And I was so full from my supper, I could only eat a few bits of the espresso creme brulee I shared with Dave's parents. Sadness.
And that is how Dave's birthday was well celebrated this year. Now we'll get back to some regularly scheduled blogging. (Until March that is, when Sam turns FIVE! Gulp. I'm not ready for that yet...)