Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Monday, 25 February 2008

Happy 9th Birthday Carmen!

Because there was no way Carmen was waiting any later than 9am today to open her birthday presents!
Notice Steven under the blanket on the couch as Carmen opened her new Webkinz. He wanted to sleep longer on the last day of our school break.
A sign along the driveway up to our stable.

Carmen's birthday present from Ken and I was a bonus private riding lesson today before her usual group lesson. She was thrilled with the extra lesson, and I was thrilled to give an experience rather than a product, especially with my recent clean-out-the-house rampage!

The birthday fun continues this Friday at the wave pool. We used a photo from our summer vacation for the invitations :

Emma, ya wanna come?

Sunday, 24 February 2008

52 Blessings

Would it be lame to be grateful for gratitude? This project is increasing my gratitude for everything, and that is a true blessing.
All week I kept an eye out for something I was especially grateful for. I was grateful for Ken using humor to deal with Chloe's itchy foot in her ski boot when the only other option would have been frustration. He made up an on the spot poem, which she recited repeatedly the rest of the day:

(the key is to say itchy, itchay)

My foot is itchy,
Deep down in my shoe!
My foot is itchy,
I don't know what I'll do!
My foot is itchy,
I think it's turning blue!
Another one is I"m happy to have matured as a mother. There have been times when I haven't enjoyed school breaks and the havoc they wreak with my daily mojo, but we had last week off and I loved every moment of having my kids around, mojo be darned.
I've really enjoyed my most recent manic episode. I undergo minor manic/depressive periods, I think that's normal. Lately I've been manic and loving it! I've reorganized and de-cluttered every room in the house but the den (and its day is coming soon) in the last couple of weeks. What a feeling!
My *to-do* list is growing faster than I can cross things off, but in a good way, because so many ideas are seeming achievable right now.
Really, this week hasn't been so out of the ordinary, but this weekly search for blessings has improved my outlook. I have far more than 52 blessings.
[The return of blogger spell check - another blessing!]

Copied off Marie: Our Mom

She turned 59 this Friday, and we had a family supper to celebrate. It would be hard to give you a full picture of the woman my mother is in a single post, but here are a few things about Sheila.*I can say with 100% certainty, I have never heard her say anything bad about someone. Ever.*Not only that, but if she hears someone say something about another person she interjects with, "Well, I don't know about that, but I have always found....." and says something nice about them.*It is because of her I feel I must sew homemade costumes, do all the haircuts myself, bake homemade bread, can peaches, have themed birthday parties, and keep a very, very clean house.*She is truly a supermom.*She always made sure I knew I was smart.*She loves my father with her whole heart.*She feels deeply for other people.*She is the first one to bring someone cinnamon buns when something sad or something happy happens to them.*She has always been very aware of maintaining her figure. But her diets are hilarious. Sometimes she won't eat supper, just dessert. The calories even out, so what is the difference?*She is a master baker.*She had brain surgery when I was 10 that left her with significant physical challenges. This year is the 17th anniversary of that surgery.*She loves being a grandma, and dotes on her grandchildren. P-R-O-U-D!*She smiles every time she sees me.*She should have named me Barb-I-Mean-Marie, rather than just Marie, since that is what she always calls me.*She is willing to go the second mile (and the third, and the fourth...) for someone she loves.*She laughs at her own mistakes.*She works hard at everything she does.*If she can't sleep at night, she gets up and does laundry, or mops the floor, or something else productive until she is tired enough to sleep. If I can't sleep, I watch a movie.*She used to do aerobics every morning when I was young. I totally can see her jumping around the living room in my mind.*She makes jello salad every Sunday.*She is strong willed.*She has tender feelings that get hurt easily.*She wants nothing more than for her family to be happy and whole.*She is enthusiastic about life.*She made small occasions feel big while I was growing up.*She looked for ways to make us happy as children.*She loved to smell my hair after I had washed it.*She loves to watch Jeopardy. In our home, supper was at 6pm because that was when Jeopardy was over.*She is truly shocked when she hears about bad things that people have done.*She is a very attentive daughter to my Grandma.*She hasn't missed a month of visiting teaching in at least a decade.*She is a lady.*I never worry about her not loving me.Sometimes when I say or do something, Dirk will look at me and say, "Oh, Hello Sheila." He is trying to tease me, I know, but what could be a better compliment?

Friday, 22 February 2008

Good Mail and a Birthday

Lelly, I got your Valentine card! It is so cute. I've seen it posted by some other bloggers but I didn't read the message till I got my own. So sweet and creative!

Carlo, I got yours too! It's hanging on my good mail wreath along with the envelope because the color combination is so perfect.

Michelle A. saw this vintage horse stamp and thought of me out here in the wild west. Carmen loves, loves, loves it. I'll share. Really, the lip smackers are for my girls, and this time around I did share the chocolate. Thanks!

Today is my mom's birthday. A few weeks ago we celebrated along with my niece who turned 5 and Carmen who is turning 9 this month. How creative was my sister in law with the cupcakes?

Milly next to Carmen = Grandma!

Happy Birthday, Mom!
(Even though you don't read my blog, what is with that?)

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

We got a great view of the lunar eclipse in Calgary tonight.
The timing couldn't have been better: Steven just finished a poster presentation project for school on this very subject.

I caught this picture with my little old point and shoot camera! I was so surprised and happy with how well this picture turned out when I uploaded it to my computer. Too bad my total eclipse photo didn't work out - the blood moon was beautiful. Orange. It looked like I could have reached up and plucked it out of the sky.

We went to the UofC RAO (observatory) to watch the eclipse. It was interesting to see the big telescope (we didn't stay late enough to look in the telescope, Chloe was tired and losing it). Jaclyn talked to the astronomer operating the telescope and learned that it has a special lens that will divide the light spectrum of a star, which gives information about the nature of the star. I'm sure Jaclyn will comment if I didn't get that quite right.

The little telescope (Chloe climbing up to take a look) was originally meant to watch out for spy satellites. It is one of ten telescopes built as a direct result of the launching of Sputnik. Armed forces now use radar to track satellites, so when the original telescopes were decommissioned the Uof C picked one up at the thrift store. Or something like that.
Chloe opted to watch much of the eclipse from indoors through the window while her more interested siblings watched the eclipse outside.
In retrospect, we could have watched from home. The light pollution of the city would have dulled the brightness of the orange moon, but not completely. The advantage of going to the observatory was that we made a family event out of it and spent the evening together.
An evening of me calling the kids every 15 minutes, from the far corners of the house, to come look at the moon now would have been less fun. Plus I finally got to see the observatory up close.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I caught a literal (ski) lift today with my family.
Heading outdoors is a definite mood lifter for me. I wasn't needing that kind of boost today, but I enjoyed the benefits nevertheless.
I did snowboard in the morning, but it felt sooo good to put skis on again this afternoon! (I could not have boarded and self portraited at the same time!)

Monday, 18 February 2008

52 Blessings

Friends with Skills
Man, the main floor of our house felt cold on Saturday morning, but the kids were up first, and maybe they left the patio door open when they let the dog out. As the day went on the house warmed up; all seemed well. Then we took the kids out for the evening to a Hitmen game. When we got home the main floor was once again freezing! It turns out the warmth in the afternoon was all solar generated from our south facing windows - one of our furnaces was not working.
It was late Saturday night when we realized the problem. We have a friend in the furnace business, but it was not that cold, so we decided to wait to phone him in the morning. Ken called our friend's business number around 8:30 am Sunday morning and left a message. We hated to bother him on the weekend, so we didn't call him at home. Well, Ken ran into him at church and the guy came over right away - what a hero! I was going to post his business website at this point, but he doesn't really have one - and anything coming up on Google gives out his home address, too much personal information for my famous blog (wink). I'll just tell you his name is Eric. Eric fixed our furnace before I was even home from my church council meeting, how awesome is that? And he did invoice us, so we don't feel guilty about the favor, just grateful.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Valentine's Day Wrap-up

From youngest to oldest:
. .

. Wednesday night Chloe requested waffles with whip cream and strawberries for Valentine's breakfast. Good thing I was ahead of her on that one! She was so funny in the morning, though, with her separate dipping spots for strawberries and whip cream.

Carmen baked cherry chip cupcakes with pink frosting and marshmallow hearts for her class party all by herself. I helped her carry them into the school in the morning, and her classroom could not have looked less festive with nearly the whole room packed up to move to our new campus next week, but the moving boxes didn't seem to dampen Carmen's holiday spirit. After school Carmen came home so pleased with her friends' reaction to the cupcakes, everyone thought they were delicious and no one could believe she did it all by herself. They didn't even believe she was allowed to turn on the oven, but we do a lot of baking and Carmen is a pro. Carmen was also very pleased with all of the Valentines cards she recieved and all evening on Thursday kept bringing me another one that was so cute. She loves cute.

Steven wore a red t-shirt to school, which made me think he was somewhat in the spirit of the holiday, but he didn't bring any Valentine cards home: he threw them all away at school after he'd harvested the candy. He's not very sentimental - a couple of weeks ago I found a bunch of ribbons and medals in his garbage can!

Valentine's Day is a busy holiday if you are a jr. high student. Our school sponsors Box Lunch Socials on both the 13th and 14th. The first day the boys make and bring a lunch for two, and the girls bid on them. Then the second day the girls bring the lunches and the boys bid. The school hires a professional auctioneer, and the students get carried away donating lots of money to the school. They don't know who made the lunch until it is bought, so they are bidding purely on the contents. Jaclyn bought an amazing lunch this year from a boy in 7th grade, and what is great is how everyone is such a good sport and happy to eat lunch with whomever that day, and the positive culture just continues to be passed down to the new 7th graders each year. So Jaclyn's lunch that she bought came with pink roses, sparkling cranberry apple juice, strawberries and a can of whipped cream, lots of chocolate, and a deli tray of wraps and california rolls. The lunch Jaclyn brought to school on the 14th was a Surf and Turf lunch with steak sandwiches and sushi. She also brought Haagen-dazs chocolate icecream, pop and chips, and an i-tunes gift card attached to her Valentine ballooon. These kids go all out and really know how to get a high bid on their lunch. The highest selling lunch this year included a pair of Flames tickets and it sold for $250. I don't know who is letting their 14 year old bring $250 to school! (The money all goes right back into extra programs for the students.)

Last year Jaclyn did a spicy theme with Jamaican patties and Mexican brownies flavored with cinnamon.

In 7th grade Jaclyn did a Jack & Jill lunch in paint pails.
As for Ken and I we went out for dinner tonight, but yesterday I gave him:

If it's good enough for Christmas, it's good enough for Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

My love does not conform to social norms.
Happy Feb 13.
Love Ken


Tuesday, 12 February 2008

SPT: Love, Me!

I sent out a few Valentine's Cards this year. I found press-out Valentines by Golden Books, and it seems that I am a sucker for anything that takes me back to my childhood, so I bought the press-out Valentines for myself. Well, for you. But I did keep back one for me:
Front: "Quick as a wink"
Back: "I would be your Valentine"
{Now if I'd been a little more dedicated I would have slept in sponge rollers last night, and put a bow in my hair!}

I've been getting some love in the form of good mail in the last couple of weeks. My good mail wreath is really filling out!

Monday, 11 February 2008


This is the wrong day to post about my snowboarding lessons. I should have had my teacher take pictures during the first couple of weeks when I was elated with my progress and having a good time. This morning I wasn't so thrilled.
I missed the last two weeks of lessons due to weather and sickness. Client services gave me today as a make-up lesson for the one that they cancelled because of extreme cold weather, but they threw me in with a different teacher who didn't know where I was at, which wasted half an hour. And then the couple of weeks I've had off along with my lingering head cold (and the loopy state of my brain on cold medication) made today's lesson more frustrating.
Three weeks ago I was turning from my toes to my heels fairly well. Today I couldn't do it at all. Strangely I had all kinds of success turning from my heels to my toes, which I couldn't do at my last lesson. What gives? I acquired the second half of 'knowing' how to snowboard today, but I simultaneously lost the first half? Argh!
I made good use of my helmet today, and my butt is hurting from all the falling.
I'm not miserable enough to quit, it's more like I'm annoyed enough to keep trying. Lessons are over, but there is plenty of winter left. Next week the kids are off school and we're going to ski at Nakiska for two of those days. I'll rent a snowboard for one of them. And I'm going to continue to set aside one day a week to practise at C.O.P. on my own. I'll see where I'm at when the snow melts. I'm not buying my own board yet.

52 Blessings

Things that last.
I find it very frustrating when I have to go out and buy something I already have. I wish everything, or at least everything I like, would last forever. I don't want to buy a new blender, I already have a blender. Like that. It was part of my issue with buying a new minivan. "But I already have a minivan!"
I am grateful when something lasts beyond my expectations. We have these sheets, they were a wedding gift. I've never loved the color, pattern, or style (I don't like the ruffles) but have they lasted! And after 17 years they are so soft.
We now usually sleep on non ruffled chocolate brown sheets that 'go' with the rest of the room, but when I wash our new sheets and forget them in the dryer until bedtime and the sheets are freezing cold from the outside air coming in through the dryer vent I am very happy to sleep on our old long lasting sheet set.
I'm considering writing the Milne's a second thank you card.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

So what's Jaclyn into?

A couple of weeks ago I went to lunch with a friend of mine who lives on the other side of the city. She told me she's been enjoying my blog, which I didn't know because um, no comments. It was fun as we chatted and I told her that Chloe didn't like ballet (she interjected: "Much to Ken's relief") and so on. Then she asked, "So what's Jaclyn into, or are 14 year old's into anything?" And I realized I haven't blogged about Jaclyn much. She doesn't do things that are *cute* or if she does, I'm certainly not going to blog about it. She's one of my most faithful lurkers.
For the most part Jaclyn continues to press forward exactly as those who know her can imagine. Once in awhile she surprises someone like her uncle who returned one of Ken's books, Titan, which Jaclyn immediately picked up to read. That surprised her uncle a little, even knowing the way she reads. The way I explain her appetite for learning is that she has her dad's breadth and my depth. Ken has broad interests - he knows a little about a lot of things. Jaclyn has his curiosity. I know a lot about just a few things. Jaclyn has my desire for mastery. Not that I'm completely uninterested in the world around me, or that Ken is Jack of all trades/master of none. But Jaclyn has Ken's breadth and my depth.
So besides continuing to consume information and file it away efficiently for retrieval, what is Jaclyn into?
Jaclyn is into piano. She is both studying it herself and teaching it. She's preparing for the Kiwanis Music Festival in March. She will play in a recital class (3 pieces of music): Nocturne in e- Opus post. 72 #1 by Chopin, the first arabesque of Deux Arabesques by Debussy, and Sonata Pathetique by Beethoven. She's not writing a piano exam this year, but she is writing a music history exam with the RCM. I recently ordered an official copy of her RCM transcript so that next year when she is in high school she will be awarded 15 credits in music without taking any high school music classes. Not taking band in high school has been a difficult decision for her because she loves playing the flute and the piccolo. But academically, she isn't challenged at her grade level - she finished 12th grade music theory through the RCM a year ago. Ken and Jaclyn simultaneously and separately came up with the solution: buy a flute, continue to play it, enjoy, but give up band.
Giving up band is a good choice because it frees Jaclyn up to take two languages in high school. Jaclyn has been studying French for 5 years. She wants to continue to take French in high school, but she is also interested in studying Spanish. No band, no problem. It will also be easier to fit in two languages since she is going to go straight to French 30 (12th grade level). Her teacher is confident Jaclyn can handle it. Most students from our jr. high skip 10th grade French, Jaclyn will just skip 10th and 11th grade. That's the plan for now, anyhow.
So planning for high school has been a big thing lately.
Currently at school Jaclyn is taking Outdoor Ed. They're doing rock climbing and she's really enjoying it. She wants to register in some rock climbing classes privately when she's done climbing at school.
Tonight was teen night at the YMCA, and Jaclyn went with her locker mate, Maddie. They met up with 3 boys from school (I was diligent in ensuring it was not boy/girl group date even numbers before she left). They swam, played games in the rec. room, shot hoops, walked across the street to Tim Hortons. Jaclyn is into having a social life, but I am still into her babysitting on Friday nights. We'll have to work out some kind of balance.
Jaclyn is into hair, makeup, clothes. I'm sure she wishes I was more into that stuff too, because she might have more of it if I shared the passion (and my money to feed the passion).
She finally learned how to peel a banana :-)
She's very into her ipod. It's loaded up with Mika, Green Day, The Fray, 'random' songs. Random is her word.
I almost forgot. Jaclyn is in the school play again, but something more lighthearted than last year, thank goodness. If you can call The Legend of Sleepy Hollow lighthearted. I think you can.

Friday, 8 February 2008

I am blogger hear me roar

{Alright, I coached myself for this: stand up straight, smile, don't roll your eyes. Say thank-you. Resist the urge to bow down and cry out "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"}
Thank you, Kelly A, for sending a *roar* my way. I'm happy to be recognized for keeping it real, and I'm grateful to be accepted for who I am. Awhile ago I mentioned my blog to someone, and she said, "Oh, you're one of those." Proudly, yes I am. Lucy nominated several of the same bloggers that I want to nominate in the spirit of keeping it real:
Kelly - you have the best blogging material in your real life.
Marie - you are almost too good to be true, but since you really are that good your blog is real.
Jane - you are the voice of reason.
April - I appreciate your campaign for real beauty in individual words.
Kathryn - okay you're a professional and you don't need another award, but I'm proud to have had you babysit my children back in the day, and I especially appreciated your real post on being positive.
No acceptance speech required, but let out a roar if you like.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Valentines for Boys

Valentine's Day is a sissy holiday - the only proof I need is in Steven's lack of enthusiasm.
Our school system groups kindergarten - 6th grade into elementary school. Our junior high takes in 7th-9th grades, and high school is 10th-12th grade. We don't have freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. We just number the grades.

Anyhow, Steven is in 6th grade. This is the last year of elementary school, and the last year he will have to give a Valentine's Day card to everyone in his class. It's a good thing because for the last couple of years even the *boy* cards haven't appealed to Steven. Shrek, Spiderman, Superheros - he's too old for it all. He doesn't want to put his name on Valentines that don't represent him (you know, "My name is Steven and I approved this message").
So here's what we do:

Hockey cards. He still packs them up in vellum heart envelopes - they are after all, Valentines. But no juvenile characters to be embarrassed by, just athletes at the top of their sport.
These Valentines are so great! Steven got them done today, and his sisters haven't even started making their Valentines!

I'm sure if we lived a little farther south Steven would probably give away baseball cards, or even better, NFL cards! (Do they make these? I need to find out - Steven would be so happy with me if I tracked down some football trading cards)

Flickr has a trading card generator for something more personal.
There's also a Yugioh card generator.

Chloe (who has traded in ballet for karate) would be so proud to give these to her classmates as Valentine's cards. They're even red. On the other hand, as a girl she should be completely happy to go with classic Valentine's Day cards.


Fill in the blank:
The other day, I was in my family room, and I noticed this head cold. My only thought was, "why do I still have this hanging around my house?!?"

Sunday, 3 February 2008

52 Blessings

Kleenex is a blessing. What would Carmen and I have done this week without facial tissue?
Here's Carmen posing with her giant garbage bag of used Kleenex from just this week. I kept emptying her bedroom garbage into this bag, which I just left outside her door until the next time her little garbage can needed emptying. She had a very sore nose after that much wiping, and I should know because I'm living with her cold now.
My dad always carried a hanky with him. The soft cotton fabric of a hanky is easy on the nose, but imagine if that black garbage bag was a double load of handkerchief laundry!
Every time I sneeze I say 'bless you' to myself and my box of tissue.