Work, Hockey, Nanny, etc.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm having trouble keeping up with life, let alone my blog. Here's a summary of what happened since I last posted.

On Thursday, I followed up a lead I got from one of the school moms about another mother who was looking to share her live-in nanny 2 or 3 days a week. The nanny would live with the other family and just come over to our house on the days that we shared her. We set up an interview for Saturday.

Friday, Precious was really sick with an ear infection and she cried and screamed like a banshee and was generally hard to get along with. I sent an email reminder to the basement designer that she owed us the design before the end of the day. It had been two weeks since our inital meeting. After school, Corey came over and he and Mr. Boy had a great time. The girls were fighting over who would get to sit beside Corey. He is a really sweet boy. After supper, our teenage babysitter came over at 6:00 and DH and I went to a 40th birthday party. We left the party around 9:15 and headed to Friday night hockey. We usually alternate who goes, but since we had a babysitter and there weren't many people going to hockey, we both went. It's fun playing hockey with DH! When we got home, after beer and wings, we found an email from the designer with the proposed design for our basement. We were down $50 for the babysitter, but we really needed a night out.

Saturday morning, we interviewed Jenny, the nanny. We loved her right away and she liked us enough to choose us over another family that had interviewed her the night before. Now we are in the final negotiation over the wage. The host family's father will drive her to our house for 8 a.m. and pick her up around 5:00 or 5:30 every day. She will walk the kids to and from school, take them to the park, read to them and keep the house neat and the laundry done. I'm quite pleased by the arrangement and the kids liked her. Around lunchtime, I did a bit of tidying up of the garden. I trimmed one of the hedges, cut back a big pine that was blocking the path around the side of the house, and edged the lawn. Saturday afternoon, we hosted a party for all of the children in Sweet Pea's kindergarten class. All of the parents and siblings came too, and there were 59 people here, including us! It was a bit on the crazy side, but both DH and I had such a good time, we're both thinking of hosting a New Year's Eve party and inviting around that many people! Saturday night was movie night and the kids were exhausted so they only watched half before going to bed and falling right to sleep.

I can't even remember what we did on Sunday. We were supposed to go to the fair, but it was raining and we just didn't feel like it. I do know that we kept running up and down the stairs to the basement to see if our revisions to the designer's plan would work. We wrote all over her plan and sent it back to her and we're waiting for her to get back to us.

Today was the first day of a hockey tournament I am participating in with Christine. If we make it to the finals, I'll get to play 5 days in a row. While I was playing hockey, we had 8 yards of topsoil and 5 yards of shredded pine mulch delivered. DH is taking tomorrow off to top up the flower beds and topdress the lawn. I can't wait to see the piles shrinking and the lawn looking better and better. This evening, I went to see a new naturopath. The one I was seeing reduced her hours and I couldn't find a time that would work. I like the new naturopath and she suggested a lot of changes to my supplements, as well as suggested that I try reducing inflammatory things from my diet. This includes wheat, dairy, oranges, grapefruit, bell peppers, tomatoes, white potatoes, red meat, refined sugar, and a bunch of other stuff I enjoy. She also suggested compresses with castor oil in them, invigorating showers alternating between hot and cold, and deep breathing. The grossest part is that I will be taking capsules of cow adrenal glands. Ew!


For me?!?!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The other night at supper time, the doorbell rang. DH went to check who was there, and I was putting the food on the table when he called me over and told me I should answer the door.

Me: Why should I answer the door? (said with annoyance. I was busying putting supper on the table!)

When I got there, there was a flower delivery guy with a dozen red roses. It's never a bad thing to get flowers! And it's not our anniversary or my birthday or anything!

DH gets a kick out of my blog and has started referring to himself as DH. BTW, this is the actual card he sent me, not a sanitized blog version. The part about carrying his jacket is a reference to right before we started dating. It involves a really old, worn jean jacket, a game of ultimate frisbee and a cooler that needed carrying. I'll save the rest for another post. Many bloggers refer to these stories as "How I met the Mister", but I need to come up with a better title before I write about that here.


Getting Closer

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm getting closer and closer to going back to work part-time. I've worked out the pay and compensation stuff, so the last two hurdles are daycare for the kids and the job itself. I sent an email to some neighbourhood parents asking for help in finding daycare, and we are trying to think creatively. DH is quite willing to adjust his schedule to accommodate me going back to work as he knows it will be good for my sanity. This will work itself out but for now, it seems a little complicated due to the kids each having a different schedule, and because I've never had to find care for three children before.

As for the work I'll do, I'm pretty sure I can find something rewarding, even if I am working only two days a week. It will just take a little time to go through the channels. That means I give my director first dibs on getting me something, and if she can't find something good for me, I'll speak to some of the other directors. After that, I'll call someone I used to work with who offered to find me something working for her in another department. DH is encouraging me to change departments, but I'm trying to keep all of my options open. I'm really excited by the idea of trying something new, and I can't wait to see how this unfolds.


Exciting Opportunity

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yesterday was the Grade One Welcome Party we hosted for Mr. Boy's classmates, their parents, and siblings. Only about half of the class was able to make it, but it was plenty of people anyway, and I got a chance to talk to everyone, which was nice. I sat down with one of the moms, and out of the blue, she brought up the fact that her son is a year older than all the other children in the class because she had him held back a year. She had had him assessed by a psychologist to see if he was mature enough to start grade one at the 'normal' age. It seems that he was of average intelligence, and his doctor also wrote a letter saying that his was slightly smaller than average.

The mother brought this information to the current principal at our local school and asked that he be held back a year. The principal denied the request, so this boy's mother went to the school board who overruled the principal, and she was able to have him held back. As I listened to the mother, I felt like I was being handed a gift!

I've been thinking a lot about what Precious will do next September. She's due to start junior kindergarten in 11 months because she was born in 2005. She would be 3 years old, and one of the youngest children in the class. She's already at a bit of a disadvantage with her gross motor and speech delays. She is currently making two, three of four word sentences, doesn't yet know the alphabet and just started counting to 10. She started mainstream preschool a few weeks ago and she has trouble focusing on tasks for long periods of time and she definitely doesn't like waiting! Maybe I'm babying my 'baby' a little bit too, but I really can't see her going to JK next year.
Part of the reason for my concern about having Precious properly integrated into the school was stories I had heard about our school only accepting the most talented and homogeneous students. As a French immersion school, the administration is in the habit of kicking children out of the school for poor academic performance. All along, I was wondering if Precious would outgrow her delays, or if they could be accommodated at our current school. I just want what's best for her, and I was willing to look into other school boards or private schools but it would be nice if all three kids went to the same school, and if she was able to keep up with her classmates without a lot of extra intervention.

We were running out of time to decide what to do. We need to assess Precious' development. We are due to see a psychologist who will be willing to give a prognosis (first doctor ever who will do so, BTW) but s/he won't even see her until around 4 years old, but Precious was to be partially done JK at that point!

While it's not a sure thing that we can have her enrolled in JK a year late, at least it is a possibility. Two more years in preschool and at home are just was Precious needs. If she's still behind developmentally, the extra year will make it less noticeable. The thing that really bothers me is that I was following the rules so strictly that I never even thought to question Precious starting school later. I assumed she could start later but would have to start senior kindergarten instead. This is where thinking creatively would be a blessing!


Brimming with Pride!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I am so proud of my friend Christine for winning a creative challenge over at Creative Inspiration.
What a great layout she made. Check it out!



Family History

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A while back, I interviewed my cousin Herb, who is an honest-to-goodness dairy farmer. His answers were not exactly on the long side, so I wondered if there was enough material for a blog entry. I wondered if I should bother him with another email to get more info from him, then I decided I could combine the history of his farm with his interview.

I set about doing some research about my dad's mom's father, who was the original owner of the farm, and the original Herbert. He was the current Herb's grandfather, making the current Herb my second cousin.

My research consisted of asking my dad and his brother, the keeper of the family history, for some information about the farm and the family. Between the two of them, I got some information, some of it corroborating, and some of it conflicting. Here's what I learned.

My great-grandfather, Herbert, was born in England in May 1879. At some point, he was sent to the Marchmont Home, but it is unclear if it was because he was orphaned or because of extreme poverty. He may have lived with a minister and his family north of London for a while after that, before sailing to Canada in the spring of 1894, at the age of 14. This is where the story gets a bit fuzzy. He settled in this area, possibly working for the Hanlan family. There was a story of working so hard that he went to bed in his work clothes, and also a story about working on a paving crew and making a lot of money. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but Herbert did manage to buy a 100 acre farm in the area. He sold it in 1920, at which point he purchased the current family farm. This is the farm Herb farms now, which was farmed by his father (Lloyd) and his grandfather (Herbert) for many years.
I asked the current Herb about living on the farm.

What is your favourite part about being a farmer?
My favourite part about being a farmer is that I have a huge variety of work (not to mention a huge amount as well). I enjoy the showing, judging, field work etc.

What hobbies do you have?
The only hobby I have now is Broomball in the winter. I still play (but only once a week now and tournaments on the odd weekend).

What change do you most want to make on the farm?
I'd like to make more money!!!!!

What is your greatest wish?
To continue to be healthy.


Olivia Bee

Monday, September 15, 2008

I stumbled across Olivia Bee through a blog that I read. Sorry, I can't remember which one. I was reading an interview about her and they asked her about her typical day, and she said that she will wake up late because it's the summer, and ride her bike over to her best friend's house, and take some pictures. I thought "man, this person is such a good photographer that she doesn't really have to work outside her photography". Eventually it was revealed that she was 12 or 14, or something like that. I was stunned, having already seen a few of her unbelievable photos.

I am so humbled by her genius. On her Flickr photostream, she refers to babysitting, and what she wants to be when she grows up; a fashion photographer no less. She could teach me a thing or two (million!).

If you don't believe me, go and see for yourself!


All Day Chat

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What a hot and steamy weekend. The windows were fogging up on the OUTSIDE today. We didn't really have anything to do today, except head to the grocery store. We went en famille, bought some groceries, and forgot the photos I had ordered over the internet. DH obliged and headed back to the store in the afternoon to get them for me as I needed them for today.

I had printed out invitations for the welcome parties for the kids' classes. I had fun using Photoshop to make custom invitations that I printed out on 4X6 photo paper. They should be going out today to each child in the classroom and the first party is this weekend. Last year, we had Mr. Boy and Sweet Pea's parties on the same day and it got so confusing, and even me, who is good with names, had trouble keeping the names of all of the parents, kids and siblings straight. Sometimes I couldn't even remember which child was in which class.

Saturday was an all-day chat at Designer Digitals. They were giving freebies every hour, and I was hell-bent on getting them all. The only chat I couldn't attend at all was the photography chat that I wish I hadn't missed. Some of the other chats were just idle chatter, but this one was like an interactive tutorial. At 4 p.m., there was a 30 minute masterpiece chat where the freebie popped up, and we had 30 minutes to make a page with the freebie supplies and post it to the challenge site. Below is the page I made. It was made all the more challenging because I had never posted anything to the site before, and I had to figure that part out within the 30 minutes! I didn't end up posting it to the right location, so I wasn't eligible for the prize, but I did get it in the gallery, and Christine commented on it right away, which was much appreciated. Then Mindy commented too! I'm batting a thousand.

After I finished and posted my page, I started looking at the other pages people had made with the same supplies and I particularly liked one, so I scraplifted it, below.
Since I was at the computer a lot, I also tried out a freebie layered template that I had downloaded. I don't love the results, but I love the fact that the page is done, and the journaling too since it is amazing how quickly we forget the feeling of a certain time and journaling it is such a good way to capture what is going on in life. Dare I say it, it's just as important as the photos? I am often surprised when I read old scrapbook pages because there is information and emotions on there that I had forgotten. So I have been inspired to scrap a bit more. I loved making the invitations, and updating my blog header. I will whip up a few more layered templates and I've been trolling the Designer Digitals site for inspiration. I can't wait to start scrapping again!


Taking the Plunge

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Well, you may be wondering why you haven't heard anything about the basement reno in a while. Maybe you're glad you haven't! I think this is one of those topics that is exciting only to me. Since this is my blog, I get to write about the reno. In glorious detail. Whenever I feel like it.

So to bring you up to date, we had met with a couple of contractors, and I was smitten with the philosophy of Tosh and the green reno company he represents. We got a quote from him, and went to his storefront to go over the details and see some of the products, specifically the cork flooring he recommended. We thought about it for a week or two, then asked for his references. It was another week before we could connect with them. We could have asked Tosh for his references when we were in to see him, but we were really taking our time because we were feeling really cautious.

The references were no less than glowing, and it confirmed everything we had felt about Tosh and the company to this point. So we decided to dive in. We agreed to hire him to do our reno. It was scary and exciting all at once. Exciting because we'll get our basement done, but scary because it costs money!

Aside from all the wonderful living space we'll get, we're also getting the basement properly insulated, which will save us a lot of money in heating costs. At the top of the basement, where it meets the walls of the first floor, you can see right outside, which isn't exactly energy-efficient. It will take about 968 years to re-coup the cost of the insulation, but that's beside the point.

This week, we met with the designer who spent an hour taking measurements after looking at magazine clippings DH and I both liked. We looked at samples of cork flooring and at paint colours. Since we're using recycled paint, there are only 18 colours to choose from, which is kind of a relief. It is much easier to choose when there are less choices!

In about a week, we'll get back a couple of possible layouts for the basement, then we'll choose one and then we'll get a second, more detailed design, then a third design with finishes (cabinetry, lighting, faucets, etc.) chosen, the budget and schedule finalized, too.

I'm really looking forward to the reno process, but especially the finished product. Furnishing it will be another story best saved for another day!



Thursday, September 11, 2008

I wanted to try Wordle and just never got around to it.  I
finally cut and paste a paragraph from my blog into it and
this is what I got.

I can really see myself writing something cool, making a
Wordle, printing it and hanging it in my house. I'm
just not sure what yet.


Ready, Set, Go!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In preparation for a scrapbooking weekend I'm attending in a few weeks, I need to load up my laptop with Photoshop, photos to scrap and my digital scrapbook supplies. I figured it would be easier to move everything if it was well organized, so I also decided to buy ACDSee Photo Manager. Before that, I was using Windows to organize my supplies. It was so annoying and slow. After I got ACDSee installed, I had to create categories and assign all my supplies to one or more categories. So pink paper with dots is assigned 'pink', 'paper', and sub-category 'dots'. While I was assigning categories, I discovered some supplies I don't really need or like, and also some misfiled supplies. It was a great, if time consuming exercise. I finally know what supplies I have and where to find them. ACDSee makes it a snap to get at the supplies I want, and I don't have to scroll through everything I own every time.

Going through my supplies reminded me a bit of my home. I go about my business, day-to-day and sometimes I don't finish jobs or things get a little messy around here. From time to time, usually right before someone is coming over, I look around and notice that things aren't quite as neat and tidy as I had imagined. A few things left on the 'to do' list for too long. Kids playing all over. Stacks of newsletters, forms and notes from school. I tidy up, get to that pile of paper that I needed to organize, or go through the kids clothes looking for things they've outgrown. It feels good to tidy up, and all I need is a little motivation here and there.

Same goes for scrapbooking stuff. Going out in 'publi'c with my scrapbooking stuff has made me take stock. I'll be spending what I hope will be a nice, relaxing weekend with Mindy, and a bunch of ladies I haven't met yet, and I'll be scrapping my heart out. Most of the ladies will be paper scrappers, and I imagine some of them will be curious about digital scrapbooking. I wouldn't want to show them a messy workstation, would I?


Favourite Household Tip#2

Monday, September 8, 2008

I have this weird quirk that I don't like to have more than 30 emails in my inbox. Since I only get about 30 emails a day, it isn't all that hard. I do this at home and at work. Right now I have 13 in my inbox, but often it gets up to 30, 32, even up to 35 and then I have to do something about it.

Usually emails in my inbox represent things I have to do, or an email I don't want to throw away. So to get rid of the emails in my inbox, I either have to handle the issue or figure out where to store this important-but-I-don't-want-it-in-my-inbox-but-I-need-to-keep-it email.

How many emails are in your inbox? Go handle some of them and tell me if you don't feel better after. See if you can get under 30, or even under 13.


Kingston Overnighter

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A few weeks ago, DH commented that we needed a night away from the kids. Last fall we had gone away overnight, with my mom and brother babysitting. It was 11 months since we had done it and we needed a break. Thankfully, Mom and Tyler agreed to babysit again, and we found a nice hotel in Kingston, so we were set to go!

Friday morning, we left for Kingston, but not before we stopped at the Nissan dealer to get an oil consumption test before we hit the road. We have to go in frequently to have the oil checked because the car seems to be burning oil. Maybe they will get us a replacement engine at some point. While the dealer was checking the car, we walked over to a breakfast place and a had the breakfast special. We finally got on the road to Kingston around 11:00 a.m. We took the slow way and went through a bunch of small towns and did a bit of shopping. It was really relaxing.

Once in Kingston, we parked at our hotel, the Frontenac Club Inn, built in 1845 and originally a Bank of Montreal, and headed out for lunch at the Kingston Brewing Company. We were both excited to try their beer. We had 'dragon wings' for lunch, then headed out to the stores. We were surprised at all of the selection of shops and we had a great time trying on clothes, window shopping and people-watching.

We headed back to our hotel for a nap and to freshen up for dinner. We ate at Chez Piggy, a Kingston institution. We were delighted at the size and luxury of our room, with its two leather club chairs, fireplace, gigantic windows, flat-screen t.v., king-sized bed, claw foot tub, and 12-foot ceilings!

The Frontenac Club InnAn old calendar from when the Inn was a bank.

After dinner, we criss-crossed the city on foot again, and I was amazed at how little vehicular traffic there was and how calm and pretty the town was, even though there were people everywhere. Eventually, we had enough room in our stomachs for a nightcap, and we enjoyed a beer on a patio right across from the Harbour.

The next morning, I was giddy with excitement over the breakfast we were served. Not only were we in a delightfully charming room with mismatched chairs, and 12-foot ceilings, 8 foot tall french doors opening on a pea-gravel courtyard, but the service was great and the food was impressive. I felt I had to pinch myself to see if it was real. DH and I both commented that this was definitely a lifestyle we could get used to. After our satisfying breakfast, we packed up, checked out, then went to the common room, and read the paper. It was so relaxing, and we spent a few hours, until we started getting hungry for lunch.
The common room was the former bank lobby.
Lunch was the piece de resistance, at a place called Wooden Heads. Everything was top-notch, from the service, to the appetizers, to the pizza, to the dessert. The pizza we had had pesto, tomatoes, feta and honey! It was SO good.

After lunch, we walked around and saw these classic cars outside the outdoor market. We did a bit more shopping and then headed home, refreshed and relaxed.

Cars near the market

This trip is becoming an annual event and I had such a good time. I'm just sorry it'll be another year before we can get away again!


Mundane Dreams

Friday, September 5, 2008

When I was a child, I had a recurring dream that I was being chased by a panther. No matter how fast I ran, it always seemed like my feet were stuck in concrete. When I finally got moving, I would climb a tree and then realize that panthers can climb trees, and my dream would end. I had that dream over and over for many years.

My dreams have been lacking imagination for the last while. I blame it on the fact that I spend my days doing the same thing over and over. My dreams have become the same. Repetitive, mundane, boring. Last night, I dreamed I was waiting at a bus stop while one of the other people waiting sang "Pollywog in a Bog" by the Barenaked Ladies. We've been listening to that song a lot lately. I've had dreams where the toaster broke, and when I woke up, I wasn't sure if it had really happened. I dream about walking the kids to school, and talking to a repairman, and paying bills, among other things. The dreams are paced like real life and are so realistic that I often feel like they really happened.

Is my imagination numbed by my lifestyle? Is my life so easy, safe and secure that my dreams don't need to be wild and scary and exciting? Is it the lack of exposure to things that makes my dreams this way? I do lead a sheltered life.

Before my dreams became so mundane, I used to dream about some element of my day, whether it be a scary news story about a car crash, or something that happened in the X-Files. So maybe my dreams are a bit dull because my life is a bit dull. I guess it is better than dreaming about being chased by a panther.


What's wrong with SOOC?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dear fellow bloggers,

I haven't been able to help noticing that many of you are really good at photography. And you're creative. And you have a background in design, or writing, or both. Well, stop it. You're making the rest of us look bad!

I read things on your blog like "I would never post a photo without touching it up or running two or more actions on it, actions that I wrote myself in my free time."

Whatever happened to snapshots? Do you have any? Do all of your posted photos have to be super close-ups of your children with all of their blemishes removed, their skin glowing, their eyes sparkling, and the entire background blurred?

Whatever happened to shots like this?
This is me (in the front) in 1974, when my brother turned 2. I was 3 1/2. I love seeing the mismatched tile floor, the dining set my dad still owns, and the 'stubby' beer bottle in my little brother's hand. I don't think he drank the whole thing by himself, BTW.

Ever since I got my new Canon Xti, I'll admit, I've been a bit of a sucker for the short depth of field photos with no flash, but as DH reminded me the other day, it doesn't matter if there are harsh shadows or the background is cluttered, it is nice to have a few snapshots along with all of the 'glamour' shots.

I refuse to be paralyzed by fear anymore. Just because I don't have an hour to retouch my photos before I post them, I will still post. I don't care if my blog isn't as slick as yours. I'm just glad to get some photos up here. I will still retouch some of my photos to get the 'ooh, aah' from my loyal readers, but every once in a while, when Photoshop (Elements, and 5.0, no less) and I are in a tiff, I will post things straight out of the camera! Yes, that's right. No retouching. No colour correcting. No actions. Nothing. Bare and naked, well, the photo anyway. Just to prove my point, fellow bloggers, here is an adorable shot of my kids from yesterday when Precious was squeezing Mr. Boy's cheeks. Sure it was darn sunny. Sure, I was too far away. I don't care. There. I've said it. I am posting straight out of the camera today.
And I just may do it again. Just watch me.

Beth's Favourite Things


Keeping up with the Jonses'

Monday, September 1, 2008

Precious really wants to do everything her big brother and sister do. Today, we went for a hike at the beaver pond, with no stroller for Precious. DH knew Precious would probably need to be carried at some point, but he didn't mind. Our walk started off with Mr. Boy and Sweet Pea up ahead. Note Sweet Pea's knee socks, runners, leopard skirt, Kim Possible sequined shirt, and corduroy hat! She picks all of her own outfits. Enough said.

I was so excited to have my camera with us today and I couldn't wait for some wildlife sightings. We saw a dead mouse, a dead turtle, ducks, a garter snake, bees, mosquitoes, and other bugs.
Much earlier than expected, Precious wanted to be carried. DH finally agreed, then she refused to go to him because I was there. She wanted me to carry her, but my back just can't take it. She's over 35 pounds! DH decided to head back to the car with Precious after she started running home on her own (see photo below). I was to take the other two around the rest of the trail and meet them back at the car.
A few minutes later, DH and Precious caught up as she had finally agreed to be piggybacked by Daddy and we continued our loop around the beaver pond. At the end of our hike, right before we headed for the car, DH reminded me to step out from behind the camera, and he snapped this while I was still corralling the kids for picture time.We spent the afternoon in the backyard except when I snuck out for a 14 km rollerblade, and DH did a 5K run, not at the same time. This morning DH spent 1/2 hour sharpening pencils for Mr. Boy's first day of school tomorrow. They've asked for 24 'sharpened' HB pencils. How he'll use 24 pencils, or 6 white erasers or 5 glue sticks in one year is beyond me. I do know one thing; the supplies were about $70! Ridonk.


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