Saturday, 31 March 2007

It was our doggie's 1st birthday on Friday. We celebrated it late this afternoon with two other families who bought puppies from the same litter.

I made party hats for each of the birthday pets. Obviously they weren't really going to wear them, the hats were really just a party favor for the other families, but I did manage to get a picture of Flex balancing one on his head. He's a very treat motivated dog, and I used that to my advantage.

Flex, Casey, and Toby in our back yard

When my sister in law (Toby's owner) saw the cups she said, "Of course Barb would do this!"

Each of the 15 kids at the puppy party took home a doggie bag. Actually, the grown-ups got one, too.

We waited until our company had gone (except one niece, bottom right) to give Flex his present. The kids opened it for him, doggie style - with their teeth.

Flex and his new Kong toy.

This was our 3rd of 4 nights of celebrating in a row. I didn't blog about Thursday, but we had two families over for dinner to celebrate the end of figure skating lessons. Friday was our report card buffet, and today the puppy party. Three down, one to go. Tomorrow we'll celebrate Ken's birthday (a couple of days early) with his parents.

I have a question for bloggers and non-bloggers. What is the etiquette for posting pictures of people on my blog? In this post I have my nephew's legs and the back of my niece's head. I did this without their parents' permission, but I don't think they can be identified, so it seems alright to me. Non-bloggers: How do you feel about you or your family's picture being posted on someone else's blog? Bloggers: Same question, plus, what are your parameters for posting people other than your own family on your blog? I've seen ward members, friends, and extended family on other people's blogs. Did they give permission first? Did they know the person who was taking their picture has a blog? I want advice!

Friday, 30 March 2007

One thing that makes parenting easy in this house is good report cards. Our kids make a good effort at school on a consistent basis, and we are happy to celebrate it. After the last report cards came home, Ken told the kids that we would make a special dinner for them - anything they wanted. Naturally, they all wanted different things. There was a heated discussion among the kids about seafood chowder and biscuits - someone really wanted it, and someone really didn't. Chloe came up with the idea of doing a buffet of all the ideas, and that's what we did tonight.

Chloe chose hot dogs and chips.

Carmen chose sushi.

Steven chose steak.

Jaclyn was pretty happy with steak and sushi, so she rounded out the meal by asking for steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes with the skins mashed in.

Chloe was very in to the whole buffet idea. She decided we needed sculptures for the buffet, so she made a few with empty pop bottles, and we also placed our bust of Mozart on the kitchen island. When we were done cooking, Chloe pronounced the buffet open on her toy microphone.

A side benefit of our buffet dinner tonight was that Ken got to resolve his question: Does he like sushi or steak better? He's never had them together in the same meal before, but now he knows - sushi is the winner. He also discovered that he likes broccoli dipped in wasabi soy sauce. It got a little weird after that: hot dog dipped in wasabi is exactly the reason that an all you can eat buffet can be a bad idea.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Oh yeah, spring fever. Makes me want to take the top down on my VW convertible bug and go cruising with the wind blowing through my hair . . . wait, that's not my car. That's Barbi's car. And look at her cute new front licence plate that Lelly sent!

On to my own spring fever. Actually, around here we don't get spring fever so much as hot flashes. Mother Nature (my sister in law sent her a letter yesterday) is menopausal, and we suffer for it. Here's what I'm talking about:

The first day of spring.

Before school Steven wouldn't let me back out of the driveway till he'd shovelled. He didn't want my tires packing the snow down, leaving tread marks that are difficult to shovel away. (Like father, like son)

Two days later, no kidding. March 23rd. Steven at bat and Carmen in outfield for a little street baseball (tennis ball style).

Monday March 26th: Fun at the park after school with the 3 younger kids while Jaclyn was at a school play rehearsal.

I can't forget the self portrait part of this post. O.K. so it's a self-cropped portrait. Carmen or Steven took the picture (not sure who, they both took a few pictures for me to choose from), but I edited it.

And by the end of today we're forecast for 6 inches of snow.

Monday, 26 March 2007


1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the a sea side.

2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

5 Some fell upon a stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

I really enjoy the parables with their layers and symbols. I've read and studied this one many times, but it made a greater impression on me in Sunday school yesterday than it has before. Instead of looking at the parable from the perspective of examining what kind of ground we each are we looked at the sower.
The sower in this parable sows without discrimination. He sows by the wayside, in stony places, among thorns, and in good ground. And it made me think, I don't need to know what kind of ground others have in their hearts, and I should sow good seeds to everyone I meet. Seeds of the gospel, yes, but more. Seeds of friendship, kindness, understanding, fun, and sharing. This new look at the parable of the sower brought me back to my favorite scripture: Matthew 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?
I think the reward of sowing good seeds without discrimination is the happy surprise of having a seedling spring up where you least expect it.
Sunday thoughts are such a great part of the journalling aspect of blogging. Thanks for the inspiration, Jill.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Just when I didn't have anything to blog about:

So I was out running around today, and one of my errands was to gas up my van and get a car wash. Just as I swiped my card for express pay Dan, Claudia, and Jenn (got that off their name tags), walked up to me and offered to pay for my gas. They explained they were out representing a new radio station in Calgary, that I hadn't heard of, and were willing to spend up to $90. I cancelled my transaction, and let them do their thing. I didn't need that much gas, so they helped me spend money other ways: I got more window washer fluid, a deluxe car wash, and I still had money to spend. We went inside the gas station and I bought milk and some Cadbury mini eggs for the kids. I wish I'd had my camera with me, just for my blog!

Needless to say, when I got back into my car I tuned my radio to 101.5 FM.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

When I added Goody to my link list the other day I got a friendly comment from someone at Goody telling me how awesome I am and thanking me for putting them on my sidebar. I thought, cool, wonder how they knew.

My husband had a more interesting computer tracking experience at work around the same time. Recently he was sitting in the office of the VP of Information Systems and the guy was showing Ken a new monitoring system that tracks all internet usage in the office by individual employee. The VPIS could view each person's internet hits by category. One category was adult/explicit, and when Ken asked to see his own summary, he was surprised to see 2 or 3 hits of adult/explicit sites. Ken was confident that couldn't be right, so he and the VPIS broke it down site by site and realized it was my blog!

It turns out all blogs are lumped together into this category. My G-rated blog? Seriously?

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

The rainbow connection

Attn: If you're not a doting grandparent, feel free to scroll down to these arrows 8

We had science fair this week. Jaclyn did an experiment on candles to determine if color influences how quickly a candle burns. She tied for 1st place in the physical sciences category at her school, and next week she'll go to regionals.

She used tar paper to black out her display board (told you that stuff is versatile) and then to go along with the colorful experiment she'd done, she used rainbow letters and rainbow bulletin board trim to decorate. The colors were repeated in her graphs, so the whole thing looked great.

8 Here's where this post gets more interesting for non-grandparents. Jaclyn had 2 strips of rainbow bulletin board trim left over after she was done putting together her science fair display. They were just laying around, getting in my way yesterday, this close to hitting the recycling bin. Carmen and Chloe were both home (sick) or I might not have come up with a fun way to use up the last two strips. Rainbow crowns! How obvious. How I wish I'd thought of this earlier in my birthday party hats / school class party crowns stage of life, like 10 years ago.

two sick little girls trying to smile for a picture

The possibilities are as big as the bulletin board section of your nearest teacher store.

1 week too late.

I like the wavy tops.

Swimming pool party.
My next birthday party.
So pretty.
Who doesn't love a zebra stripe?

I'm just not superstitious, so no rabbit's foot here.

I wouldn't even call myself lucky - but I do consider myself to be fortunate. I think so many of the good things I have in my life now can be traced back to my happy childhood. I had security, love, comfort, fun, faith, family, friends, food, shelter, and celebrations. It's hard for me to separate the smart adult decisions I make today from the solid foundation of my childhood.

My portrait is my 6th birthday party - just a snapshot of one of a million moments of my happy life as a child. With an October birthday I had more than one Halloween party growing up. The cake that year was a ghost with 2 egg shell halves for eyes and a candle in each shell to make the eyes glow. It was the coolest cake ever.

This is a good chance for me to thank RGLHM for scanning all of my parents' albums and saving the pictures to a disc. What a great gift that was. I had so much fun today flipping through my childhood photographs. And bonus! It is so awesome that you scanned the covers of the albums, too.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Thrift craft

My craft style would definitely be classified as thrift craft. I'm really not a big crafter, and it's not a financial priority for me. I like doing crafts with the kids, but generally we do inexpensive crafts or kits they've received as gifts. Well things are a-changing. I have bought more craft supplies in the last month than in the last year, easily. The craft blogs are just too amazing, and they're having an affect on me and my spending habits.

My creative project this week, however, was a thrift craft. I found my inspiration for it on Bek's blog that sent me here. I had these little wooden boxes that were the packaging for the pewter letters I bought of Carmen's initials. One box broke, which left me with two intact boxes. I just loved the decoupage projects I saw online, so I used some paper scraps and here's what I came up with:

First I tried a bird. I'm fairly happy with it, but I really tilted the lower wing at a funny angle because I felt like I needed to cover the little holes from where the pewter letters were wired into the box, and I wish I would have just left the holes exposed and put the wing at a more natural position. Looking at the picture now, I think this box needs a little something more. Still, it will be a cute gift box for the next birthday party Carmen goes to. I'll have to make sure I buy a very small gift.
March 21, 2007: I bought earrings for a birthday party coming up on Friday. The earring box was significantly smaller than the wooden box, so I took the rest of the coordinating papers left from making the bird and put them through our paper shredder to fill up the extra space in the wood box. So much cuter than I expected. The inside of the wood box looks like a nest feathered by the bird on the lid with the earring box as the egg. It's adorable, and so not going to be appreciated by an 8 year old.

I think my second box worked out much better. I tried several patterns and layers of paper, and ultimately I was happiest with solid colored shoes patterned on the inside.

I learned from my first box, and didn't try to cover all the holes. Instead I worked with the holes to tie on a tag. I'll probably save this box for a baby present. Maybe I'll give shoes, or maybe I'll fill it with as many pairs of baby socks as it can hold.

My Great Grandma Antoinette made this quilt from fabric scraps leftover from sewing. For me the biggest challenge of thrift craft is saving scraps for future crafts. I'm not a saver, but I try to keep things if I can think of a future plan for them.

I have a sister in law that makes these great picnic blankets from old blue jeans. I got her original picnic blanket as a gift, and since then she's made one for herself and her denim blankets have become the anticipated bridal shower gift in the extended family. Ah, the advantages of being a saver.

I'm trying to save up some materials for a blanket I want to make. A woman in my ward lost a young adult son to cancer and she took all his t-shirts and made them into a scrappy blanket that they keep as a throw in their family room. Have you seen the baby blankets made from flannel that are like this?

All the unfinished edges of the fabric are sewn to the front and then the blanket is washed to give a fuzzy border around each patch. That's basically the idea with the t-shirt throw. I'm now saving all of Steven's t-shirts with funny pictures and sayings on them for a scrappy thrift blanket.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Some people think they're so funny

I have a brother in grad school. It's gonna be awhile till his thesis is published, so it appears his interim goal is to be published in his sister's blog. He sent my husband some good mail: a magazine. (I'm assuming Milly decorated the envelope for him - I have to say a hand painted good mail envelope is an inspiring touch for any of you artistic bloggers)

So, bro, would you like a blogging nickname? How about Sharky or Welby or Aurelius?

Chloe knows boys in her kindergarten class who are just like this uncle. She comes home from school and tells me, "Matthew and Noah think they are sooooooooooo funny."

Got a rainbow in my pocket

I got good mail from Kristi today! What a creative holiday greeting. I'm going to put the cute little shamrock on a bobbi pin for my hair, and I can't think of a more cheerful bookmark than a rainbow. That is, if I ever take them out of my pocket.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Portrait of a city

Calgary hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1988. I didn't live in Calgary at the time, but the Olympic torch came through my hometown on its way to Calgary. Throughout the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, a flame burned at the top of the Calgary Tower, making it the World's Largest Olympic Torch. The torch is still lit for special occasions, like Canada Day and during the Calgary Flames race for the Stanley Cup.

The stories I remember best from the Olympics that year aren't of the gold medalists, but rather of Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican bobsled team. Eddie the Eagle was the only applicant for the British ski jump team. His geekiness and and poor ability endeared him to the public, but many athletes and Olympics officials felt he made a mockery of the event. Following the '88 Olympics a new rule (the Eddie the Eagle rule, as it's referred to) was made requiring all Olympic athletes to have placed in the top half of an international event before participating in the Olympics.

The Jamaican Bobsled team also got a lot of attention as a human interest story. Their story was later made into the Disney movie Cool Runnings starring Canadian John Candy.

My self portrait today is taken at Canada Olympic Park (C.O.P.). It is in the middle of Calgary, just north west of the city center. Behind me are the ski jumps from the Olympics. The '88 Winter Olympics turned a profit and left Calgary with infrastructure that my family enjoys regularly (as I learned from Wikipedia):

Olympic Oval - for speed skating, which was the first time in Olympic history where the event took place indoors under climate controlled conditions - I've skated there with my kids as a field trip every year for 9 years
Olympic Saddledome - Indoor arena for figure skating and ice hockey competitions (construction had already begun prior to the Games being awarded to Calgary) It's now the home ice for the Calgary Flames (NHL)
Canada Olympic Park - Ski jumping, bobsleigh, luge, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing (aerials and ballet), disabled alpine skiing
Canmore Nordic Centre - Cross-country skiing, biathlon, Nordic combined, blind cross-country skiing
Max Bell Centre - Curling and short-track speed skating
McMahon Stadium - opening and closing ceremonies - now our football stadium
Nakiska - Alpine skiing, freestyle moguls skiing
Stampede Corral - Figure skating and ice hockey (secondary venue)
Father David Bauer Olympic Arena - Ice hockey (secondary venue)

I didn't consider myself to be athletic or sporty growing up, but I sure like being active with my kids and I enjoy the legacy facilities from the Olympics regularly. Last night we finished up a month of night shift ski lessons at C.O.P. How great is it that we can go skiing for the evening?

The only way to get a clear picture of Jaclyn at a ski hill is to catch her on the chair lift. She's so fast that I don't see her coming soon enough to place myself well for a picture, like to get the sun behind me, and then she just whizzes past. I get one shot, good or not.

Chloe got her first experience skiing this year at her C.O.P. lessons. She's having so much fun! Spring skiing may be the time to learn, because the soft warm snow is slowing her down, and letting her control her turns.

Carmen is one of the youngest kids in her class. She's now working on parallel skiing - giving up the 'pizza' shape beginners make by pointing their ski tips together at the front.

Steven is a good skier, and really wanted to try snowboarding, so he took beginner snowboarding lessons this month. He says he likes it better than skiing, but I'm sure that's influenced by the fact that all of his friends board rather than ski. I don't know if I'll ever see him on skis again.

End of the evening - time to go home.

That was a seriously long post for me. Calgarians are very loyal to and proud of their city. I just discovered I'm a naturalized citizen of Calgary as evidenced by my enthusiasm for this self portrait challenge.