Tuesday, 31 July 2007

While mom's away the girls will fundraise

Yesterday while I was out the girls took matters into their own hands and had their Take a Stand lemonade sale. I was sorry they did it while I wasn't home (no pictures) but it's probably a good thing they went ahead, because realistically it might not have happened if they'd waited for me. So here's what I came home to:

The lemonade stand all put away in the garage.

A pitcher with a wedge of lemon sitting in the bottom. (Thanks for the clean up, Jaclyn)

And $6.50 waiting to be donated to The Calgary Humane Society. When we filled out our online request for a Sunkist lemonade stand we committed to put the proceeds of our first sale towards a charity, and the kids had recently visited the Humane Society so that was the charity we chose.

Today we went back to the Humane Society and dropped our coins into the donation box in the lobby. An employee saw us and came over and thanked the girls and gave them each a coloring book.

But for Carmen and Chloe the real reward was getting to visit the animals while we were there.

They want to do it again, and next time donate the money to the children's hospital. I guess I'll have to go out for lunch again and get out of their way so that they can go ahead with their plan.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Good Mail

For a very long time the kids have had a regular squabble in the car over who gets to use the key to get the mail as we drive by our community mailbox. Once in a while, when each the kids is sure that it is their turn to get the mail I settle the argument by telling them that I'll take the turn that day. Now that there is always a possibility of good mail in the mailbox I'm a little more interested in a regular turn with the mail key.

Michelle sent me a package this week which I thought I knew the contents of without even opening it, so I let my little girls open it. Ha! It was a complete surprise to me - I've really never been a very good guesser of gifts on birthdays or Christmas. So here's what she sent me: 2 tins of her lip balm, a lavender pincushion kit from Mt. Vernon, some Belgian dark chocolate, and a very crafty card. I feel so craft humbled looking this card over. Thank you!

Jill sent me some beautiful note cards to feed my new love of stationery. Look how they match my header! They are beautiful and just my style. Jill's note card has a photograph she took at The Louvre on her Paris trip. If I ever go on a cool holiday like that I am copying this idea. I love that she has found a unique way to use and share her holiday pictures.

My visiting teacher was telling me that she has a friend who is on a holiday in England right now, and that this friend was going to bring back the new Harry Potter stamps released by Royal Mail in celebration of the publishing of the final Harry Potter book. Well, I don't have a friend vacationing in England, but luckily for me the stamps were available to order online. I ordered 2 sets of stamps with the U.K./Canadian editions of the covers of the series of Harry Potter books and one set of stamps with the Hogwarts Crest along with the crests of each of the four houses.

It was worth ordering something from Britain just to get an envelope sent by 'Royal Mail'.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

The Talk

On the weekend Carmen said to me, "Today I saw dragonflies that looked like they were Siamese twins. They were stuck together and they were flying, but then they came apart so I knew that they weren't Siamese twins."

I'd been meaning to have "The Talk" with Carmen, but I needed this little comment from her to kick me out of procrastination mode. So on Monday during our alone time I got down one of our children's books that helps the conversation along and went through it with Carmen. I like this children's book, Ken prefers this one. The timing for a "first talk" was just right for Carmen. She handled the information maturely and with interest, and I was so happy to find out that she hadn't had any spoilers from friends.

Carmen had some good questions, which I answered to her satisfaction. Then she said to me, "I don't think that's what those dragonflies were doing, Mom." She'd totally figured out why we were having the talk.

She swims with the fishes

The best way I know to cool down in the summer heat is WATER!
On Monday it was 31 degrees Celsius, which is about 88 F. Jaclyn and Steven had to bear the heat on the golf course during their golf camp today and Chloe had a play date, which left just Carmen and I to find a way to cool down together. It seems like Carmen is craving one-on-one mom time these days, and what's great is that she's getting it!

So Carmen and I hit the old swimming hole that's about a 10 minute walk away from our house. Today Carmen was a crocodile.

She tried to catch some tadpoles, but that's tough to do with bare hands. We'll try again soon with a bucket and a net.

I am a much more outdoorsy person than I would be if I weren't a mother. If I weren't a mother I'd fight the heat in an air conditioned office and an air conditioned mall and an air conditioned movie theatre.
It is really a different feeling to swim in a creek with tadpoles bumping into your legs the whole time. Nothing like the chlorinated YMCA swim we all had later Monday evening.
I guess swimming with the fishes is better than sleeping with the fishes.

Monday, 23 July 2007

A Game of Tag

I was tagged by Jill !

4 Jobs I've had:

Newspaper carrier: It was back in the days of after school routes, not an early morning route. My first paper route was in a residential area, covering a couple of streets. My second route was inside 2 neighboring apartment buildings, so I just had to leave the stack of papers outside the elevator on each floor, and walk down the hallways dropping papers outside the apartment doors.

Cleaner: I cleaned the public areas of one of the apartement buildings where I delivered newspapers. Laundry rooms, rec-rooms, hallways, exterior glass doors, and one bathroom (ick).

Receptionist: At my dad's office during the summer. Whenever a secretary went on holidays, the receptionist would take her position and I'd work in reception. This was a major upgrade from cleaner.

Dental Hygienist: I'm back to being a cleaner again. I work 1 day per week, and I enjoy it, although I did have the most discusting patient of my 16 year career just last week (ick).

4 Places I've lived: Ha! I've only lived in 3 cities!

Edmonton, Alberta: I was born here, stayed till I was 2 1/2.

Calgary, Alberta: I spent my preschool years here.

Lethbridge, Alberta: Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Edmonton, Alberta: For college. Met my husband there.

Calgary, Alberta: My home for the last 15 years.

4 Favorite TV shows: Very difficult to answer during the off season. Hmmmm . . .

The Office



30 Rock, maybe

4 Favorite foods:

Fish Tacos: Amy's recipe from the bloggers summer cookbook.

Granola with yogurt and berries

Milano cookies: I have to import these - not sold in Canada.

Sugar snap peas

4 Websites I frequent: (besides all your blogs)



The Weather Network

Buy/Sell Classifieds

4 Places I'd rather be right now:

Heading to Utah: in time for the blogger's reunion.

In a clean house: so where I actually am, only better.

Down in Fish Creek Park: It's cooler than my street even though it's only a few blocks away.

Writing-on-stone: if I'm gonna be hot, might as well be having fun.

4 Movies I love: I do like movies, but I dont' dwell on them. Another tough one for me.


Cast Away

Phantom of the Opera

Tuck Everlasting

4 Bloggers I tag next:





Friday, 20 July 2007

Invention has a sister

Necessity is the mother of Invention . . . and Creativity. Somehow all three of them are related to Desperation, whom I've met more than once.

At the end of June, right in the thick of everything going on with the end of school, Carmen was invited to a birthday party for twin girls in her grade. I bought the webkinz gifts in advance, but they didn't get wrapped until 5 minutes before it was time to go out the door to pick up Carmen from school and take her straight to the party. I opened my under bed storage box where I keep wrapping supplies, stuffed the gift bags, grabbed a pen, but no! Not a gift tag left in the wrapping supplies, and no time to make up any tags. I just about ran out the door with the gifts unlabeled, ready to tell Carmen that she'd just have to identify which gifts were from her verbally, when I spotted some stray birthday balloons in the wrapping supplies. I wrote the to and from on the backs of the balloons and attached them to the gift bags and invented my favorite new gift wrapping accessory: Balloon gift tags.

The balloons may get tossed with all the other wrappings, but maybe there is some nice mom out there who doesn't throw things away and would let these balloons be blown up. The hand written message fades when the balloon expands, but it's still legible.

Saskatoon Berry Pie

We had a cool night last night, and when I woke up today and went down to the kitchen the tile floor was actually cold from the windows being open all night. To celebrate the cool kitchen I baked Saskatoon Berry Pie early this morning. We went over to a friend's house for lunch and took the pie with us, which in hindsight was risky considering I've never eaten let alone made a Saskatoon Berry Pie before. Even worse, when I brought it in with me to my friend's house she said, "Yumm, we love Saskatoon Berry Pie!"
Well, the pie was delicious, and very unique. The berries stayed firm and held their shape in the pie, and there was a distinct taste of almond flavoring, which, since the filling was just berries, flour, sugar, cornstarch, and butter, must have come from the berries! Interesting, because I didn't pick up any almond extract flavor in the raw berries at all.
I'm going to have to head back to the Saskatoon farm and load up on my new favorite fruit. Lucy commented in my Divide and Conquer post that Saskatoons might make a good syrop, and I'm going to follow through on that idea. I'm going to need buckets and buckets.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Divide and Conquer

Yesterday Jaclyn got a job babysitting one of Chloe's friends for the day, so she brought Chloe along - fun for Chloe, easier for Jaclyn. That left me with just 2 kids at home, which felt like a real opportunity for me to parent on a smaller scale. I spent a little bit of time with both Carmen and Steven going through their Faith in God booklets. Carmen set a goal in Living and Learning the Gospel to read the entire August issue of the Friend Magazine. Steven is done working on all the goals he can until after he turns 11 and can begin the last goal section of the booklet so he and I worked on memorizing The Articles of Faith. I showed Steven the scripture memorization tool on Jill's blog, and I think it will be a good help to finish off the memorizing requirement for the Faith in God Award.

Later in the afternoon the three of us headed out to The Saskatoon Farm. I've always been curious to check it out, and then I missed out on a chance to go there with some ladies in June which made me want to see it all the more.

I cracked up when I saw the sign at the entrance to the farm. Why would they want a berry farm to look like it's in the badlands?

We grabbed our buckets and started picking. Carmen gave a running monologue of her observations on the berries as she picked them.

Steven was a very picky picker. He wanted only the best, most juicy, and perfectly ripe berries possible.

Have you ever tasted a Saskatoon berry? They're just a little smaller and firmer than a blueberry and not quite as sweet.

But they turn your hands purple just like blueberries!

I now know that my arms aren't long enough for a 3 person self portrait. I kind of wish I'd caught Carmen's full facial expression on this one, though. The sunlight was distressingly bright.

Carmen and I did another SPT for just the 2 of us.

The kids were DONE at just a half a bucket, but luckily the farm only charged us half instead of making us pay for a full bucket. I think this is enough berries for a pie.

We headed in to the Saskatoon Saloon to find something to cool us off.

We totally scored with the Saskatoon ripple ice cream - it was as good as Carmen was trying to make it look.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

SPT Computer Geek

I've been a very content computer geek with my blog, but the SPT Challenge this week motivated me to learn something new. I decided to try out a mini website that I could embed into my blog by Leafletter.

So check out the family reunion pictures organized by Leafletter in my post below, and then come back here to comment. If you double click on one of the small squares in the first page it will take you to a new page of pictures except for the last square which will only take you to an empty grid. I tried a couple of times to fix that last page, but I couldn't get it.

Guess I'm not enough of a computer geek yet.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Leafletter Attempt

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Sunday Best

In the summertime I am struck by difference between the way the young men in my ward (congregation) and the young women in my ward dress. The young men are administering the sacrament so they have on dress pants, a white shirt, and a tie. On any given Sunday there will be a young woman there in a denim skirt, a t-shirt and flip flops. I don't like to talk about the casual dress of some of the young women in our meetings on Sunday, because I don't want to embarrass anyone. Even when I do say something it doesn't seem to have an impact the next week in how the young women are dressed. Just to be clear: I am not talking about young women who have no other clothing option or who's 'Sunday best' really is a graphic T.

This Tuesday we went to a lake for our mutual activity, so I took the opportunity to talk to the young women about their footwear at church. I asked them what they would do if they were going on a date and had dressed casually, but the boy came to pick them up and he was all dressed up. They agreed that they would ask him to wait while they changed into something more dressy. I then pointed out how the young men are totally out dressing the young women at our Sunday meetings. I think they got the connection. Then I told them that the flip flops they were wearing to go the lake were great for going to the lake, but not for going to church.

I handed out flip flop keychains with a quote from the November 2005 general conference:

"We used to speak of 'best dress' or 'Sunday dress,' and maybe we should do so again. In any case, from ancient times to modern we have always been invited to present our best selves inside and out when entering the house of the Lord—and a dedicated LDS chapel is a “house of the Lord.” Our clothing or footwear need never be expensive, indeed should not be expensive, but neither should it appear that we are on our way to the beach."

Jeffrey R. Holland

I'm waiting to see if I made an impact at all when I go to church this afternoon!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Six for Saturday

I will online photo book most of what's gone on with me over the past 2 weeks with our family vacation and YW's camp and everything, but I want to make sure that I journal about a few specific events:

1. I couldn't stay for the entire family week at the cabin because I had to come home for YW's camp, so I left Carmen and Chloe with RGLHM and it sounds like I missed the funniest part of the week in Montana. On the 4th of July everyone who was still at the cabin went down to the lake to watch the fireworks. There was a band that Chloe particularly enjoyed - keep in mind that School of Rock (edited version) is her favorite movie. Actually, RGLHM tells it better since she was there:
We arrived at the fireworks and the band was just finishing up a set. Chloe was a little disappointed. When they started again 1/2 hour later, she begged me to go right up front and dance with the other kids. So we did. We watched the band for two very long songs and then forced her to come sit down in time for the fireworks. After the fireworks were done and we started to leave, we walked by the band. She slowed down and paused and being a music junky myself, I knew what she wanted to do. I asked her if she would like to meet the band members. Yes she did. I told her to go right ahead. I was TOTALLY surprised when she went straight for them, no fear in her heart, walked up to the lead singer and had a chat (RGLHM took video I didn't upload for your viewing, but the lead singer put his hand over his heart at one point when he was telling Chloe how much it meant to him that she liked their music) He really was touched. The other band members thought it was so great that they asked her if she wanted a picture with all of them and that is how we got the picture. I should have taken Chloe with me all those years ago when I wanted to meet the Osmond boys:-)

2. I have a tan. It was 100 degrees at YW's camp and despite my efforts to sunscreen and stay in the shade I managed to get more tan in 4 days than I have had in years. People are noticing and commenting and complimenting me on my tan. I'm starting to feel a little self conscious about it, but mixed in with a little bit of enjoyment. Will I stay the sun-safety girl after this or will I get a case of vanity sun-stroke?

3. Ken and Steven participated in the 24hours of Adrenaline race in Canmore on July 7th. It turned out the kids' race was all on pavement, which was disappointing for Steven. We thought his race would be cross country like the adult race, but no. Steven still had a good time with his dad.

4. On Wednesday my friend Mary (on my sidebar) hosted a favorite things lunch at her mom's house since she was in town visiting from B.C. That girl has a serious talent for bringing people together. While I was there it came out that another of Mary's friends at the lunch is a serious Everything is Pink lurker!

5. Wednesday night was a hot one. We don't have air conditioning - it seems pretty extravagant to get it for just a few weeks per year. I'm not saying we'll never get it, just filling you in that at this point we suffer on hot evenings. So, Ken had gone for an evening bike ride, taking advantage of our sunlight, and when he got home I asked him to leave the front door open to let some cool air in. While he was in the shower a moth flew in our front door with a bat chasing it. I flipped out, but there was no one to deal with it but me. Our house has a staircase right in the centre of it, and it is possible to walk (or fly) circles around our main floor. I could not believe how fast that tiny little bat could fly. It was like a rocket zooming laps around our main floor. I got a hoody and held it over my head to try and block the bat as it came around so that it would veer away from me and fly back out the front door. Eventually it did, but just tonight when I went outside to photograph my foot tan as I walked out the front door I scared the bat that had been hanging just under our covered porch. I think he thinks he lives here - how do I go about evicting a bat?

6. For the last 2 nights the kids have all slept downstairs in our unfinished basement to beat the heat. I'm not so sure that the sleep lost over trying to all settle down together is equal to the sleep gained by not being too hot. And it doesn't help when dad decides to go in the back yard and scare the kids by banging on the basement window.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Chloe's Stampede Birthday Party

Chloe had an obvious birthday party this year: Calgary dollar stores are more than ready to support a cowboy birthday party during Stampede week. I always choose a theme (in consultation with the birthday child) when I'm planning a birthday party. It helps me to decorate, plan games and crafts, and of course do the cake.

I generated the WANTED sign here , secured it on wooden skewers and stabbed it into a small bale of hay. I'm always looking for new uses for wooden skewers: Jane knows why (scroll down to March 19th to read about it). My brother-in-law, Craig, made the horseshoe cowboy.
We made western vests with paper grocery bags by cutting up the middle, creating a v-neck and then cutting a neck hole and arm holes. The kids fringed the bottoms of the vests with scissors and decorated the vests with glitter glue. Every party I do starts with a craft because it gives the kids who come early something to do while we wait for the kids who come late.

Now, during the Stampede, Calgarians dress cowboy style for work, but Ken left his boots home on Tuesday so that we could play 'boot toss' with hacky sacks.

Chloe's competitive nature could have been a party-killer during the stick horse races, but Carmen ran the last leg on her team for me and made sure the teams tied every time.

We lassoed our rocking horse with a hula hoop.
Panning for gold (pennies) in the gravel on the side of the house was the best game ever because it gave me time to make the hot dogs. Local friends and family: the sprinkler ran all day on that side of the house to make sure this game was good clean fun.

Carmen eating her licorice lasso - the activity center to make these was a *bottomless* activity that the kids could wander over to and do any time they wanted during the party. A bottomless activity is essential to a birthday party as far as I'm concerned because there is always someone that doesn't want to do play some game, and this gives the kid who is temporarily opting out of the party something else to do.

The treat bags were bandanas filled with horses, a sheriff's badge, wagon wheel cookies, candy, and cowboy band aids.

Chloe wanted cupcakes rather than the horse cake I offered to make, so I decorated the cupcakes with flags I made myself from cowboy printed paper. I was trying to mirror the stampede flags that are on all the light poles here during Stampede.
I always scribble all the games and the order I plan on playing them in down on an index card. I didn't write down 'take pictures' to remember to take pictures in general. I took a picture of each guest as they arrived so that I could send them home with their own WANTED poster.
I like a birthday party to end right after the presents are opened because I don't like the gifts to get played with by the guests - this seems to make the birthday kid cry - but just in case I've miscalculated I always have one last game to fill the time at the end of the party if I need it. We didn't have time for Sheriff & Outlaws (Hide & Seek) and Chloe was a little unhappy not to get to play the last game. I shouldn't have told her about that one; she never would have known we'd skipped something on the card. I forgot to hand out the party hats and noise makers when we sang happy birthday, so I'm going to bring them to the Stampede Pancake Breakfast we're hitting tomorrow morning.