Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Note: I took down the photo from this year after 24 hours as there were other kids besides mine in the shot...

Here is a little bit of Halloween past just for fun.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Musings - More Like Random Thoughts

Lately I have been filled with random thoughts. Some of them are scary, some are weird, some are productive and some are just strange.

Like how I realized I clap in one direction. Are you clapping yet? I always clap with my left hand lower than my right and I use my left hand to clap against my right.

I sometimes wonder about my future kids, not the ones that are unborn, the ones here now. I wonder if I will recognize them in their future incarnations. I see glimpses of the people they are becoming and I am both in awe and scared silly to know that these are probably the only two people who will be able to call my bluff. The people who have watched me, silently at first, do all kinds of things I would never do in front of others.

You know what I mean. When it is just you and a baby in the house you can pretty much get away with anything, they can't rat you out and tell your spouse you were blogging all day or spent an hour examining your face in the mirror. Bigger kids though they can and do let your secrets out. My girls think I am working on my laptop, I have never actually said what I was doing mind you- they just assumed this. It is when I forget to turn the sound down that they usually bust me and rush over to find out what I am doing. Typing however, never causes them to rush over.

I have been thinking of trying to get my act together in the kitchen, how I am going to do this however, is another matter. I get the idea that if you prep everything ahead then the actual cooking is a breeze. I just never seem to know just how much prepping is required and when are you supposed to do this, I mean if I spend all morning prepping the food and all evening cooking it how is anything else supposed to get done?

The idea of menu planning and shopping lists is like an aphrodisiac to me, but still I don't do it well. Every now and then I vow to set a menu plan for the week, shop once and make lovely homemade meals every night. In reality I wake up most mornings with no clue of what the girls and I will eat for dinner and I end up at Longo's most days for something. We eat out far too much and I really want to change that. It doesn't help that the girls are picky eaters either. Lately we are making strides to change that and be a bit more forceful in the trying new foods department, but sometimes I just want to eat in peace.

I bought the new book from Jessica Seinfeld, Deceptively Delicious and I am still reading through it. I love the idea of hiding adding in extra vegetables into the girls diets, but I wonder why it has to be that way. Why do I need to shell out money to figure out how to get my kids to eat better? Why are they not better eaters because I want them to be?

After my recent tumble, I have been taking back every random thought I have had about secretly wishing I could break something just so everyone would take care of me for a while. Truth was I could barely keep my swollen ankle on the couch while Hubby attended to the girls all evening. I am a lousy patient, and kept straining my neck to see exactly what he was putting in their lunch bags.

So as promised a post made up of entirely random thoughts. Right now my random thought is that the girls will need their bangs trimmed before their Christmas photos at Sears in two weeks, and yes I booked the appointment at the end of August. Damn type A's getting all the good appointments! I often cut the girls bangs myself and must admit I am getting pretty good, but for photos I differ to the professionals.

Had enough? Me too. What kind of random thoughts are keeping you up?

WAIT! I have one more to share. I got the girls grilled cheese Happy Meals from that evil place on the way home from dance class tonight, please don't judge me too harshly. The whole box, meal thing was all about The Bee Movie which incidentally I really want to take the girls to see - I still love Jerry. Anyhoo, we ordered milk and got with our meals these Sipahh Straws, has anyone heard of these? The one we got was Honeycomb flavour to tie in with the movie I suppose and while Papoosie Girl gamely put it in her milk and used it, Rosebud promptly asked for her regerler straw. It smells really strong and while I get they use these meals mainly as a marketing vehicle for the latest thing we should be watching/buying/renting these straws are taking it to a whole new level. That really stings. What would Jessica say?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fall Down - Go Boom

Yup. That is what happened yesterday as I was leaving the house to pick up Rosebud from school. I locked the front door, turned around, took a step and the next thing I remember is hitting the patio stones of our walkway. I know I turned my left ankle so I think I stepped off with my left foot, it twisted under me and I fell forward and landed with a great thud.

I was so stunned I just sat up and cried on the walkway. In a moment of, I could be seriously hurt and no one would know, kind of way. At first I really could not stand, I am not a slight girl and the weight of falling from a step coupled with my weight knocked the wind out of me.

About a minute later I realized that I need to get up and by now both my shins were throbbing and so is my left ankle and it is now six minutes until I need to pick up Rosebud. A quick mental scramble reveals that all of my close by backup people are not home, so that leaves me to hobble to the van and get Rosebud.

Did I mention that I had promised Papoosie Girl she could come home for lunch? She asked me everyday last year, but because that would mean Rosebud would have to to miss her nap it never worked. Now that Rosebud has her ballet class on Thursday afternoons and doesn't nap anyway, it seemed like a good idea.

As I was driving to get Rosebud I called Hubby in what I would call a controlled panic. I blubbered through my fall and told him he would have to come home on time or please, please, please a bit early. As a certified klutz I am sure he was not too freaked out, though for the record he has stepped off that same step and twisted his ankle twice...this was my first time! Note to self: Is there a problem with the step or just the users? Look into.

Rosebud's teacher took one look at me and gasped. I guess I looked a little messed up. I managed to get both girls home and feed them lunch which thankfully I had prepared before I left the house and I even managed to get Papoosie Girl back to school on time, which basically meant I pulled up in the front of the school, called the secretary and told Papoosie Girl to buzz herself in.

Hubby made it home to take Rosebud to dance class and I lounged on the couch all afternoon alternatively feeling really stupid and really sorry for myself. Falling for me is a big deal because I have the worst legs in the world. I have huge, ugly veins on the surface of my skin so the slightest bump results in a huge lump where the vein bursts. I then need to wrap it in a tensor for a few days and the resulting bruise will last for weeks. I have looked into surgery, but they advise against it unless you are done having children. Since I am not willing to make that call as of yet, I have the crappiest, most sensitive veins ever. My legs will probably be bruised and sore for weeks now. Blech.

The only upside was how sweet and caring the girls were as I tried to wash my legs off and wrap them while they ate. Papoosie Girl got the Polysporin and band aids and kept telling me, "it's OK Mama it is the kids one so it won't sting" all the while I am trying to be brave and not cry in front of them. Rosebud kept telling me to sit down and they both insisted they were going to be the best listeners ever and not give me a, "bit of trouble" all day.

I have the sweetest girls and best husband who took over all house duties, made me the best supper, took care of the girls and made me tea while we watched Survivor and 30 Rock. How do people do this alone? What if I had no one to call? Those thoughts make me realize that while it is easy to say how lucky you are sometimes, I really am lucky.

Since I am not supposed to be on my feet today I have a free pass to blog and read all morning. Maybe it is not that bad after all.

That photo is of Papoosie Girl falling into the hay on our apple picking trip in September. I was not looking nearly as happy after my fall.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Life Imitates Art

The weather here in southern Ontario just keeps getting stranger. The temperature Sunday was around 26 degrees and sunny. We visited the McMichael art gallery today mainly to see the Robert Bateman exhibition which closes on - oh according to the website it has been extended an extra week until November 4, 2007. Today on the other hand was a wet and chilly morning.

I have wanted to bring the girls to the gallery for quite awhile, but was weary of the priceless works of art and you know my KIDS in the same room. Papoosie Girl had a science project recently on birds and she choose the Blue Jay. In my excitement of her first project, I love me a project! During our her research I wanted to show her some paintings of Blue Jays and we ended up on the Bateman website. I had forgotten how much I love his work. Then I heard about the Bateman exhibit and decided that we should visit the gallery. For good measure and an extra set of adults Nana and Papa (my Mom and her husband) came along for the visit.

I am fortunate enough that my step mom has several original Bateman prints that were my Dad's. I also bought my Mom a very tiny Bateman print of a chipmunk from an art sale when I was a cool office dweller working downtown. They had an art sale nearby and I could not resist the small framed print and wanted to surprise my Mom with a real grown-up gift. She still has it and it is up in her bedroom.

The Robert Bateman exhibit did not disappoint. The paintings were so amazing, his talent is really like no other in capturing nature. Many of the paintings were accompanied by his own words, why he did what he did or how he did it and that was so fascinating. His attention to detail and his vast knowledge of plants and wildlife is beyond compare. There was a painting titled Pacific that was so real I studied and studied it and declared it wet.

There is a quote on his website and appeared in the gallery literature that is worth sharing:

"I can't conceive of anything being more varied and rich and handsome than the planet Earth. And its crowning beauty is the natural world. I want to soak it up, to understand it as well as I can, and express it in my painting. This is the way I want to dedicate my life."

Despite my hotel tendencies and general lack of enthusiasm towards any kinds of roughing it, I feel a pull towards nature, towards trees and rocks and blue skies. If I am in the city for too long without any nature time I crave it as much as food. Visiting the gallery and seeing all the people marvelling over Bateman's work confirmed that I am not alone. We have advanced so far away from our natural roots as modern, twenty-first century people; yet we pay money and line-up to see paintings of the natural world. It is like we can somehow absorb life through these paintings.

I have not visited the gallery in ages and had forgotten how much I love the Group of Seven artists. I felt like I was taking a walk down memory lane as I meandered the gallery taking in the works of A. Y. Jackson, Tom Thomson and Lawren Harris. Images so familiar to me, I guess in part because my school used to make at least one trip a year to the gallery, but also because I am seeing my country in these images, through my adult eyes.

The gallery was pretty busy and we waited about 5-10 minutes to get down the driveway to pay ($5) for parking. The grounds are actually just as nice as the gallery itself, there are several paths to walk and artwork throughout the grounds, the girls loved the Inukshuk. It was so pretty with the gorgeous views of the Humber Valley and we got some great shots of the girls romping along the paths.

The gallery is mostly stroller friendly for those of you thinking of visiting with the munchkins. Rosebud was tired and insisted we go back to the van for the stroller before we even started which actually was better since having her loose near the paintings was making me sweat. The paintings are not roped off in any way and I saw many toddlers get too close only to be told by the many staff to not go any closer than the lights on the ceiling. Um, yeah like a three year old is going to understand that. I did see many frazzled parents trying to keep curious hands off the artwork which is definitely within reach of little hands.

All the bathrooms had change tables and the lobby sold drinks, snacks and sandwiches. There was a restaurant downstairs (I never saw an elevator so you might have to carry your stroller down) but the buffet was $16 dollars so we opted for a few snacks and water before heading out for a walk. There is a small Discovery Area for the kids at the end of the gallery tour and the girls loved it, but it is pretty small, not more than two families would fit comfortably. I would definitely take Papoosie Girl back and since we got a membership that seems likely, but I might not take Rosebud if I was alone. It is hard for them to understand that there is no touching when we have taken them to so many kid-friendly museums and such.

Papoosie Girl was fascinated with the First Nations and Inuit art and loved the totem poles - just like on Little Einstein's! There were artists on hand and an art sale and one of the artists let her roll clay and spent a lot of time explaining to her what she was doing. I was grateful for an extra set of hands so she could spend some time with the artist. She was definitely in her element.

Even if this wasn't the most leisurely visit, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We got off to a late start and didn't arrive until 12pm, I usually prefer an early start for day trips, but this was a pancake morning - with our new Halloween shapes thanks to our evening visit to Yorkdale last night (quick trip to the Apple store for Hubby) and our visit to Williams & Sonoma. By the way, I don't make pancakes, well hardly ever. Daddy is the master pancake maker and loves his shapes, this is the second set we have bought and have had the first set for over a year now.

Just so you don't think we have piles of money lying around for such important things like pancake molds. For those of you kitchen obsessed, Yorkdale is getting a Crate & Barrel in 2008! Yes American friends we are still missing several of your wonderful stores, including Victoria's Secret (best underwear on the planet), Bath and Body Works, Target, and let's not forget Olive Garden -which we had and lost. Hence, why I need to make my frequent visits to my favourite stores family in New York.

I love when we introduce the girls to something new, it feels like such an accomplishment. Art and nature and history are so important to me and I want to share that and those feelings with my girls. Imagine my pride when Papoosie Girl would surprise us with some little gem of knowledge throughout the day, see I am doing a good job I would think! As I glance at my fridge covered in artwork I understand, how indeed, life imitates art.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I was working on a post this evening and accidentally hit publish. What an idiot you are thinking. I was trying to switch windows to check something and hit publish instead.

I am sure Goggle Reader picked it up even though I immediately took it will be back, in its completed form when it is done I promise.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Circle of Life or something like that

I have had a busy and exhausting week. Someone died and was born a day apart in our family this weekend. My Mom's husband's (stay with me) Aunt passed away Friday after battling lung cancer for about two years. How she hung on this long is in itself some kind of miracle. Then on Saturday my BFF (for real) had her third child, a boy.

While I didn't know this Aunt well my Mom had been spending a lot of time taking care of this woman these past few weeks, in fact I have not seen my Mom in two weeks which is pretty unheard of. This woman never uttered a single complaint, never asked why me and spent much of her time thanking my Mom while she buzzed around her trying to help. This woman was able to stay at home until her dying day when she lost consciousness in her chair never to wake up. She passed away peacefully it seems. She leaves behind a twenty-something son.

The next day another son was born to my friend, her second boy. Her husband and I were in the delivery room and it was everything a birth should be; happy, exciting, and ended with a healthy baby. This is the fifth baby between us to be born at this hospital so we are pros at navigating the Labour & Delivery floor. We practically took over and spent much of her labour laughing, talking and watching movies like The Wedding Singer and Runaway Bride on W Network...well some of us anyway. The baby was healthy and strong and they let him lie on her chest for over 45 minutes before they took him for his vitamin K shot and eye drops. He was 6lbs 5ozs of pure joy beaming at us.

It is hard for my brain to wrap my head around the series of events of that twenty-four hours. A son lost his mother, a young man not quite ready to be alone in the world and a mother I love and care about gave birth to a son.

I am not usually a maudlin person, but this is hard for me to sort out and rationalize and every crappy platitude about the Circle of Life has me bristling.

I will attend the funeral tomorrow of a woman that while I didn't know well, I will go for her son, he deserves that. Then I will go visit my friend and her new baby boy and rock and cradle and kiss his head that is smaller than an orange. I have seen him every day from the day he was born. He is helpless and demanding and cute as a bug, he peed on me and pooped into his fresh diaper and I didn't even mind.

I hope this son grows up to know his mother - that he doesn't have to say goodbye to her before he is ready. It really is the hope of most people I would think to never have to say goodbye before we are ready. This makes no sense I realize as I reread these words, we are never ready for death. When someone who is 99 and has lived a good long life passes we think, they were ready, but you know what? There is always someone left behind that was NOT ready.

The Circle of Life is making me a bit dizzy today.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

One Year Later

My first blog post and the creation of my blog was on October 5, 2006. It is a sad little post that I won't even bother linking to, it is just too pathetic...something like Blog Post #1. I have many times said that I didn't even know what blog was before frantically searching and trying to find a website for Catherine Newman after she left Baby Center. Of course what I did find was her blog and my very first click away from her blog took me to Bub & Pie - do I know how to pick them, and the rest is well, bloggy history. I found some kindred spirits and even though they are halfway across the country they inspired me.

My blog has definitely been a huge part of my life for the past year and if you told me that a year ago I would have scoffed at the idea. My high hopes of posting thought-provoking and riveting pieces filled with literary wit have given way to me spewing out posts sporadically at best. It seems I am greedy or lazy or both and often prefer reading blogs to actually posting on mine. I do love to write posts, to have a great idea, stew on it and write something wonderful. More often than not though it is something I need to get off my chest or some moment I want to preserve, that actually makes it into a post.

I still want to learn how to change my wallpaper. When given twenty minutes though I will always pick reading blogs over figuring out code.

I don't want to sound too naive or anything, but I have learned LEARNED so much from the blogs I read regularly. New books to read, parenting tips, recipes to try, causes to embrace, movies to watch, places to visit, and so many more I can't even type them all. I have friends and family, yet this is the place I go to for answers a lot of the time. This is the place where I feel my shoulders relax and a sigh escaping my body as I travel around my online neighbourhood. I feel joy when something goes well for a friend, anger when something doesn't, sympathy when a friend is hurting and empathy for a friend struggling with something. I say "friend" purposefully because anyone I think about on a daily basis, whether I have met in person or not, is a friend.

When I start to feel bad, like I am not contributing enough to this place, I feel myself retreating. I worry about keeping up. I WANT to keep up and post and comment and comment and post, but sometimes real life gets in the way. I am amazed at how people with busier households than mine find the time, I wonder how they do it.

All that doesn't really matter though because I refuse to stop doing something I love and brings so much into my life.

So one year later I am still blogging. This was a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, we went apple picking, ate lots of turkey, visited Chapters and bought so many great books (with gift cards!) and spent time together as a family.

I have a lot of blog posts percolating so hopefully I will get the words out more often and if I don't that is OK too. I might still be at the kids table of the blogging world, but hey I am at the party and that is what matters.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday Musings - Getting the job done

I thank those of you in advance who do read my blog regularly for STILL reading my blog despite the fact that it is far from regular lately.

I think I may have talked about this before, oh look I did! We all complain (well I sure do) that we have too much to do and so little time and I really do! For real, in real life as Rosebud would say. I am a compulsive list maker, without lists I feel very lost and unhappy. No matter how long the list might be, it is better than no list. Keeping lists is my way of freeing up my mind, once transferred to the list the problem seems more manageable.

I have a list on the side of the fridge with our big projects, house projects that we need to complete or start as the case may be. Here is a sample of that list.

House Jobs
-Put down laminate floors on our main floor (the last place we have carpet)
-Organize the basement (more on that later)
-Clean the fridge and freezer in the basement
-Fix the caulking around the tub, I also have always never been crazy about our upstairs bathroom floor, so add that to the list too
-Empty and go through our cupboards, wash them down and put everything back

Then there is MY list the list of stuff I want to do, the jobs that keep our house humming and from drowning in our own crap.

Jen's List
-Finish putting our Florida pictures in the album, put away our travel stuff (brochures, pressed pennies, menus, miscellaneous vacation schlock)
-Print our recent digital photos and put them into albums, I have not printed since May. Since Papoosie Girl has been born I have been vigilant about putting our photos into albums with white paper dividers on the pages for me to record dates, add captions, etc. My girls love to look at these albums and if I have done nothing else this is my crowning achievement of home organization.
-Sort and put away Papoosie Girl's Grade One work into her keepsake tote
-Craft alert: help the girls glue the damn shells on the wooden frames my Mom bought after we got back from Florida (last summer)
-Put all our extra photos, remember what it was like before digital? You got the photos back from developing and used maybe half of them for albums and family and tossed the rest somewhere? I bought some cute photo boxes with dividers so I can get rid of all those envelopes.
-Figure out what to do with all those greeting cards. I love cards and give them freely and in turn we receive cards. I like to keep them, but this creates a lot of cards in our home. I have two hat boxes full and while I did let the girls use some of our old Christmas cards for crafts we still have many, many cards. They are special to me and I hate the idea of getting rid of them. I think I could purge them though and only keep the really special ones.

The basement is another story all together. I have made attempts in the past to organize our basement. Keep the Christmas stuff together, keep our high school and university stuff in one spot, our Royal Doulton dishes we have never used in one spot, you get the idea. The problem is that when you move into a house you have less stuff than you do say ten years later. As time goes on you stuff your newly acquired crap in every nook and cranny you can find. It is random as long as it is put somewhere. Now ten years and two kids later we need to take a step back and give this basement some thought.

Our basement is not finished and we basically use it for storage. There is a small area we have carpeted for the girls and we have some of those funky IKEA toy storage shelves with bins. The girls can come down and play and get their dress-up clothes any time they want. This area is generally organized and I won't include it in my disdain for the rest of basement.

The basement also has about 25 Rubbermaid totes (no joke) with kids clothes. I keep all of Papoosie Girl's clothes for Rosebud and I keep what Rosebud is outgrowing for my goddaughter. It is a non-stop merry-go-round of clothes shuffling, winter in, summer out, too small in, too big out, next summer, boots for next NEVER ends.

So between the wall of totes, our holiday boxes, keepsake stuff, photos, dishes we have no room for upstairs, and a husband who keeps the box from every single thing he buys; our basement is getting kind of stuffed around the edges.

How do you keep everything in order? How often do you clean everything out? It has been several years since we did a big clean out, taking everything off of every shelf, purging and putting it all back nicely. When the basement gets too crowded I feel claustrophobic every time I go down to the basement. The rest of the house is fine, peek in my linen closet, open my medicine chest, the pantry is pretty good; but the basement is annoying.

Why I let it annoy me is another story. With all the day-to-day things on my plate the basement hardly seems important, but looky here is a whole blog post devoted to it! Here is the thing, what I have noticed is that when my mind is cluttered I look to my home and what is around me to see where the problem lies, but this time it is my mind that is cluttered. I am wrestling with some stuff that I shouldn't* really blog about and it is weighing heavily on me. Nothing life threatening or earth shattering, just stuff I am not really ready to talk about here yet. Do I stay on the school Council? Do I put up a fight so my daughter can participate in her First Communion with the rest of her class? Do I have another baby? How do I get myself healthier and carve out a bit of time for myself that doesn't involve sitting on my arse reading blogs? How on earth do you get dinner on the table every single night?*

*So maybe I am ready to talk about them a little. Just a little though.

My mind and my basement need a dusting and airing out. These things on my mind are preventing me from being able to concentrate and I hate that the constant narrative that is normally harmless and even enjoyable is now bothering me. I want to be fun and happy and carefree and my big dumb old brain won't let me. There will always be things on my mind, it is my ability to park stuff in the back of the lot that I need to work on. Everyone worries about their house, work and family; it is human nature. I just hate when it gets too near the front and it starts bubbling over in that frothy way.

Getting the job done in my case may involve a lobotomy.