December 30, 2009

December 29- in which we are lazy by the pool and Jen gets to eat Mexican

It was a gorgeous day yesterday. It was warm and sunny and a perfect day to just sit by the pool and soak up the sun.

So that is what we did. The kids played. Scott and I lounged. Norma and Dave bought me a birthday cake so we all enjoyed some sugary goodness at the side of the pool.

At about 3pm Scott, Tam and I went shopping for a short while. Norma offered for Scott and I to have an evening to ourselves to celebrate my birthday so went drove out to The Cheesecake Factory but found that it was too busy. So we got some cheesecake to go and headed out for some Mexican!

You know you have a good place in the world when you have a cold margarita in hand, hot salsa and a piece of cheesecake.

One more full day and then we start our trip home. So far the plan is to go to ihop for breakfast and sit by the pool if it warm.

December 28- in which we visit the ocean, Sears and the zoo

Today's plan was to drive to San Diego. We had a planned stop at La Jolla to see the ocean and pick some shells and then we were going to the San Diego Zoo for the day.

Well, we did all of those things but we had a bit of a side trip.

La Jolla is a beautiful seaside town just outside of San Diego and right on the ocean. We watched surfers, chased seagulls and collected seashells. When it was time to leave we discovered that Dave's back tire was flat.

Dave called CAA and the kids were off to play on a play structure while we waited. The spare tire was stuck under the van so a quick tow to the nearest tire service station was required. This brought us to Sears and a short stop over at a mall for lunch while we waited.

The tire was fixed and then we were off to the zoo. It was the Diego Zoo as far as Finn was concerned. We saw snakes, birds, a tiger, two hippos, many warthogs, 5 elephants, gazelles, a few giraffes and various other animals. It is a really cool zoo and a place that you could spend many days discovering instead of just a few hours. It was dark through most of our tour so I didn't get many pictures but it is a very neat place.

Again, it was a very quiet ride home as it was our second very busy day in three days. We enjoyed the freeways and the ease of transportation in getting from one place to another.

And, oh yeah, it was my birthday today too. I had a good day.

December 27- In which Jen visits the happiest place on earth

I have four words for you: Cabazon Premium Outlet Mall! I was wrong. Disney is not the happiest place of earth.

Although several hundred other people had the same idea as we did coming shopping. Norma, Tammy and I took the 20 minute drive out to Cabazon. We shopped in retail bliss for about 4 hours and then headed home with our treasures.

I had been satisfied with our shopping excursion until Dave asked if I would go back with him and did Scott want to come too?! Hmmm, let me think... Yes Please! So I got to go back!

The kids had a quiet day at home. It was too cool to go to the pool so they had a quiet day of playing with their toys and watching SpongeBob Squarepants.

December 27, 2009

December 26- In which we visit Disneyland

Today is the day! Dave and Tammy set the route and Scott and I rented our own vehicle (a Nissan Rouge) and we just followed along.

The kids, specifically the girls, were so excited about the whole thing. Before we'd been in Anaheim 30 minutes we had spent $500 (entrance fees, parking, stroller rental, breakfast). Yep, we're certainly in Disneyland!

A walk down Main Street USA was near to over whelming and we were just inside the gates. First priority was breakfast... and that started us on the same path that we would follow for the rest of the day- standing in line for everything.

After breakfast Tam, Dave and Norma went off to do a few adult rides- Indiana Jones and Haunted Mansion (done in the style of the Nightmare before Christmas.) Scott, the kids and I went to Princess Fantasy Land. We started on Snow White's Scary Castle, the Carousel and the tea cups. Yes, Mr-I-get-sick-on-spinny-rides sat out the tea cups! He said that he needed to guard the stroller. Hehehe. No one was fooled. The joke was on me... I understand why these rides last no longer than 2 minutes. I came off only being able to walk left.

We met up with the rest of the Abels and went on It's a Small World. That was a really good ride and well worth the long wait in line. I had totally underestimated the appeal of that attraction and was really glad that we did it as a family. The kids were mesmerized by the many moving parts and the songs. The kids just sat in quiet amazement through the entire ride.

We went to Mickey's Toontown for lunch. We saw the two Rosebowl teams coming through on their way to being interviewed somewhere on site. (The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Oregon State Ducks.) Tam took the kids and waited to see Mickey and I went and stood in line for the girls to see the Princesses. I waited for over an hour so that the girls (and Tammy) could meet Ariel, Belle and Jasmine with Aladdin. We got pictures and autographs. Tammy was almost as excited as Georgia. What was really astounding was how these were the three Princesses that the girls like the most so it was great fortune that we saw them.

Before we got into the lines to see characters the kids all got their faces painted. I promise I'll insert pictures of this because it was too cute for words!

We caught the tail end of the main Christmas parade that comes through the entire park but we didn't have good seats so only the kids on our shoulders could see. We then separated for an hour. Dave, Norma and Tammy went shopping. Scott, the kids and I visited Frontiertown and caught Disney's newest princess show "Tiana's showboat jubilee." (The Princess and the Frog.) We had great seats for this one and had a great view.

We got great seats for the final parade of the day. The girls were very excited to see the princesses again, this time up close. After the parade we left the park- after 11 hours of Disney goodness.

Disney bills itself as the happiest place on earth- I don't know about that but I certainly know that they know how to put on a show! The ride home was very quiet as all of the kids slept. Americans may get a few things backwards but there is nothing wrong with their freeway system.

December 25, 2009

December 24 and 25- In which we get ready for Christmas

The day is warm and sunny. Meals are being planned for Christmas and by the pool. The kids are pumped that Santa is coming. They've written letters and planned snacks.

Our plans for Christmas eve are to walk around downtown and go to the normal Thursday night street fair. However, seeing that it was Christmas eve we should not have been surprised that it was cancelled for the night.

We went for a walk-about and stopped for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. We had a marvelous meal. Olivia kept raving about their Cheese Pizza. I can't imagine how she will do when she finally discovers that other things on pizza taste good too. I was pretty keen on my mushroom ravioli too!

It was early to bed for everyone on Christmas eve knowing that Christmas would likely be an early morning.

It's Christmas! Santa found us and the kids loved all their gifts from the Fatman. Grandma and Grandpa had broken protocol and bought the kids a few things so all of us adults were occupied for an hour or so opening packages with twist ties and invisible elastics!

We feasted for breakfast and then went our separate ways for a few hours of quiet. As of right now everyone except me is at the pool. I am doing laundry and getting caught up on the blog and getting ready to make our Christmas meal.

To everyone at home- we hope you have a safe and happy holiday. We love you and are thinking of you. Although we wish you were here instead of the other way around!

WE are picking up our rental car tonight and tomorrow we are heading off to Disneyland! Mickey Mouse here we come!

Merry Christmas everyone!

December 24, 2009

December 21, 22 and 23- In which we get used to the warm and go golfing

The next few days are filled with short trips to Targets, Walmarts and grocery stores. We are getting the lay of the land, so to speak. We have tucked in and trying to get used to the time change. The Scott and the kids are awake before 6am each morning. Ugg!

Scott and I took off for a quick shopping trip to a book store and to an alleged comic book store (of course)at locations that Scott has found in the phonebook. But when we arrive at the address for the comic book store Scott is disappointed to find that it is now a gun store. They were having a 2-for-1 sale on handguns...Right...Good to know. Scott did not buy a handgun. He muttered all the way home.

The weather has been overcast for the first few days and down right windy on the 21rst. Sand storms were coming off the mountains and blowing sand across the interstate highways as we drove. It is very mindful of the weather at home, sort of. We've been watching the weather channel (this seems to be Norma's hobby) and we see what is happening weather wise at home and we are glad that we are here. Glad to hear that Mom & Dad made it to Heather's place safely BEFORE the storm.

Tammy arrived safely on the 22nd and the kids were very excited to have another play mate. We've had many pool parties and BBQ at pool side each day in the afternoon. The kids are well tired each night when it is bed time. Scott and I are not too far behind them! Well, you know that Scott and I have always been well known party-types but we are subduing our normal party animal selves for the sake of the kids. Um, yeah... for the sake of the kids.

On the 23rd Dave, Scott and I went golfing in the afternoon. We played at Dave's favourite course, Desert Dunes. I cannot even describe the happiness of that afternoon. (DEEP sand traps and flubbed shots aside. ) I doubt I taught Dave any new words but think I may have shocked him at the depth and creative breadth of my swearing ability. The sun was high. The wind was calm. The temperature was (I'm guessing) 24C. The course was, of course, challenging. There were undulating hills, copious sand traps (it is the desert I was reminded several times). Skill was required to land on the greens and to stay there! I had little skill but we all played well- especially on the back 9.

Dave and I were equally jealous at Scott's natural golfing ability. Having only golfed twice this past year he still managed to beat the pants off both of us at golf. BTW: Anyone looking for an idea for Scott for a birthday gift- he'd like a Clevland 4 hybrid (24 degree)!

After each hole I would look at my surroundings and remind myself that I was not in Virden- or even Manitoba and that life was good. I can really understand why Norma and Dave have enjoyed it here for some many years in the winter time. It is sunny and warm without being too hot. Life here is as fast as you want it to be.

Although I do have some observations about Palm Springs in general. I haven't travelled enough to say if it applies all over the South or if it just applies here but everything is... empty. We've been to new mall areas and the parking lots are empty- days before Christmas! They have huge box malls and Super Targets and they all seem to have more staff than customers. You'd never know it is Christmas in days from now.

The golf course was the same thing. We booked on-line for an afternoon tee-time and got on for $28/ person. That was a round of 18 AND a cart! This is a course that has hosted PGA tournaments and there was no one there!

We bought a skinny Charlie Brown Christmas tree for the kids. It is an ugly thing but it will do the trick.

I will post pictures when I get home. I thought that I had packed all of the cords but apparently I didn't. Pictures will follow when we get home.

December 22, 2009

December 20- In which we arrive in Palm Springs and Jen visits the hospital again

We are all packed up and ready to head to the airport. I have another bout of rash on my arms and stomach but it was decided that 2 Benadryl would suffice and that I wasn't swelling fast enough to require medical attention.

The kids are so excited about this last leg of the trip. The airport is busy, of course, so we are mindful that everyone has to be carrying their suitcases and following along. We look like a cat herders gathering the kids and directing them towards the gates.

Georgia had some minor problems stepping onto the escalator. Scott just propped her forward and set his attention to the next kids. Three steps up Georgia lost her footing and fell backwards- now she was laying down and heading up the escalator feet first shouting "Daddy! Daddy!" Bags and bears everywhere. Scott hot-footed it up the stairs and righted her. He then had to run down the up escalator to get back to the rest of us. Apparently the kids are not as skilled on escalators as we had thought. We used the stairs after this.

The plane boarded on time but took off late after de-icing. Finn was asleep before the plane even took off! (Thanks to half a tablet of Gravol! Bad mother, Bad mother!) The kids did really well on the plane. We were in the very back row of the plane and the flight attendants were very generous with drinks and snacks. We read, played cards, watched and listened to ipods, coloured and wrote stories.

We arrived in Palm Springs to warm but over cast weather. The Abels were there waiting for us and so was all of our luggage. The Abels drove us a short while to the condo. Our condo is gorgeous! It is a very chic ~1200 sqft two bedroom condo. We have an amazing view of the mountains and the pool area. The kids are so excited to get to the pool after all of the events of the past few days.

We settled in at our condo and then popped over to the Abel's condo for a quick boo there too. It was at this point that I settled in for a nap (my meds were making me very tired.) I was not keen to swim in chlorinated water with my rash. So every one went down to the pool and I settled into a big and comfy chair.

Fast forward a little while later I wake and grab a handful of nuts and bolts to munch on while walking to the pool to meet up with the family. I guess in that small handful of snacks there was a small nut and by the time I got to the pool and our condo I was all swollen and hive-y again. I was not sure what to do- take more meds? Wait it out with Benadryl? So I panicked my mother with a quick phone call for Uncle Jim's phone number and then hung up on her. (bad daughter, bad daughter!)

And soon enough I was off to hospital #2 for yet another shot in the ass of meds that will make me tired! Odd thing is that the diagnosis from this hospital is almost 100% different than what I was told previously in Minneapolis and they told me to stop taking those meds and gave me new ones. Deep sigh- I don't know what to do but be careful of what I am eating from here on out.

NOTE TO SELF: make appointment for allergy testing when I get home.

December 19- Part 2- In which Jen visits the hospital

So we all went back to the hotel for some quiet time... okay, Scott and I needed a nap! So we put on a movie and all laid down. Scott and I fell alseep almost instantly.

After an hour or so I woke up with a very itchy neck. It started with absent minded scratching and quickly started feeling like it was hot and burning. I finally clued in that this was not a normal amount of itching so I got up and looked in the mirror. My neck was covered in big red hives!

I lifted my shirt and found that my body was covered in violent red blotches and budding hives. It was getting worse, quickly. We decided that I needed to get to a hospital quickly. Scott stayed in the room with the kids and I got myself a taxi.

Short version of a long story: the doctor I saw could not pin point the cause of my reaction. I got a dose of prednizone and a shot of epinephrine and my hives went away fairly quickly. He figured it was my prescription for my sinus infection- even though I have taken the same meds many times before with no reaction. This doctor said that it is possible to develop sudden allergies to things I've had before. I left with a new prescription and several warnings.

The best lesson I learned today was how quickly you get attention in the ER when you say you are having an allergic reaction! I was very impressed with the hospital and the care that they gave me. I haven't seen the bill so I expect that I'll be paying for the attention.

Scott figures it was my salad at lunch- it contained nuts. I have never been allergic to nuts but neither have I ever had an issue with my prescriptions.

By the time I got home from the hospital it was too late to take the kids to the water slide. I felt like a jerk for having us stay at a hotel with an awesome water slide and then none of us being able to go. Daughter-in-law of Rash Man in the house!

We all went to bed early tired from the stress and the activities of the day. We also had an early flight to catch the next day. Hopefully tomorrow goes better.

December 21, 2009

December 19- Part 1 Minneapolis and Mall of America

The day started early for all of us since we arrived in Minneapolis just before 7am. All of our luggage arrived too. (Yeah!) We grabbed a taxi and headed off to the randomly selected hotel near the Mall of America (MOA) that I had booked for us.

We were booked at the Radisson. As we were pulling up we saw that the Water Slide park of America was also attached to the hotel. A huge complex of large waterslides that wove in and out of the building. The kids were so excited! I congratulated myself on having booked such a lucky location. Georgia kept thanking us over and over again for taking her on this trip.She was having so much fun already. When she saw the hotel she started all over again. The kids were even excited about taking their first taxi ride.

We had breakfast at the hotel and caught a shuttle to the MOA. The kids were excited all over again when they saw Nickelodeon Land. (I would start a rant here about how it was MUCH better when it was Camp Snoopy but I suspect that I would be alone in that sentiment.) The kids were anxious to go there. Scott and I made them walk two full full floors before we caved and went to the amusement park.

We had just bought some tickets for the rides and were debating where to start a woman came up to us and asked if we needed tickets for the rides. We said that we had just bought some. I asked if she had some to sell. She said no- she had some to give. She then proceeded to give us three all access passes for the kids! She said that she worked at a radio station and had them to give. I was astounded at her generosity! Merry Christmas indeed! We thanked her profusely and then went on all the rides we could stomach.

A word about the rides: Scott and I took turns chaperoning the kids on the rides- as Finn needed to be accompanied by someone taller than 49" on most of the rides. Scott did not throw up although he said it was close on "Diego's Rescue Adventure". I was starting to feel a little green on the second time around on the big swings.

I took the kids on the log chute. I had showed them all the route but apparently Olivia hadn't been paying attention because she completely freaked out after the first 90 degree free fall drop. The look of terror on her face didn't diminish the look of excitement of her two siblings. We continued the rest of the ride and Olivia was very brave.

I think the best quote of the afternoon was from Georgia after she rode the roller coaster with Scott. Yes, Scott rode the roller coaster. Twice! Once with each girl. Once more and he said he would have been sick. She came off the roller coaster and holding her hands in fists above her head turned to Scott and shouted "THAT WAS AWESOME!"

To repay the kindness that was given to us we gave our $50 worth of ride tickets away to others too.

We ate a quick bite at the mall, burgers and chicken and fries for the kids, Chinese for Scott and a green salad for me. (More on that later.) We caught the shuttle back to the hotel and all crashed for some quiet time and a desperately needed nap.

December 18- Leaving

The day has finally come... the day that we leave for Palm Springs on our first Christmas away from home. We will be meeting up with Scott's family in Palm Springs. We have a pretty convoluted trip planned on how to get there:

Step One: drive to Minot. ( Dec 18)

Step Two: get on the Amtrak to Minneapolis. (Dec 19)

Step Three: a full day in Minneapolis (Mall of America is calling!)

Step Four: flight to Palm Springs (Dec 20)

We had packed the night before so all we had to do was set out Margaret's food and water (Thanks again Barb, Will and Wayne!), turn off the water and get us and all of our stuff out into the van.

The kids really do not have much of a sense of distance as it relates to our trip. Our first leg was heading down Minot to catch the Amtrak train. The kids were asking if we were there yet by the time we were near Pipestone. Um, sorry kids we're not even close.

The US border guards gave us a strange look when we described our travel plans. His question was "why aren't you just driving to Minneapolis?"

The Amtrak station in Minot was very easy to find and we arrived in time for our train. We packed light although you'd never know it to see us hauling out 5 suitcases, 2 carry-ons, 3 teddy bears, and 3 car seats to the train. Mommy and Daddy pack mules in the house! The kids had assured us that they would be able to pull their own suitcases but apparently they meant only part of the time. And not now.

We got on the train and found seats mostly together. Scott was with Finn and the girls and I were further back in the same car. The kids all fell asleep once the train started but I was too paranoid that someone would try to steal my kids so I stayed awake. Yes, I do understand how riduculous I am when it comes to that but I can't help it. I have issues about sleeping in public and this was not going to be the place where I would break my internal rules.

The train was okay but I am glad it was a night train and that the kids would sleep most of the trip. The seats are large and comfortable although we were in the last seats next to the door to the next car, which also happened to be the dining car. There was lots of traffic back and forth. The kids slept well and were excited when we pulled into Minneapolis early on Saturday morning.

We all made it to Minneapolis, luggage and all car seats. Step one: check!

November 5, 2009

A New Spark and Brownie

The girls has their formal enrollment into Sparks and Brownies this week.
WE are all very proud of you.

Halloween Picture

This was us on Halloween.

October 27, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Sorry, I haven't posted since last week. We've been quite busy around the house with activities and parties hosted by us.

I had a jewelery party last week too. Thanks to everyone who ordered. I closed the party yesterday and our product should be here late this week.

The girls finally got their friend birthday party. We went to the Costume Closet and had a great dress up party! We had about 12 kids there and they all had a great time. I will post pictures but just not today. Then everyone came back to our house for a brief play and cupcakes. The girls enjoyed themselves. The house, however, looked like a cyclone went through.

This week the only changes from the normal is that both Georgia and Finn will get their H1N1 vaccines. (Only they qualify this go around.) And the kids have several Halloween parties through activities and school during the week. This year our family will be dressed as The Incredibles. All 5 of us. I have made us t-shirts and we all have black masks. Don;t worry- there will be a photo record of this.

It is Halloween later this week! My high holiday. Check your local listings for the standard Charles Schulz classic "The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Of course you could always go with any of the horror classics if you are feeling brave. (Halloween, Saw 1-5, Hellraiser etc.)

Scott is also very excited that this week is the Winnipeg Comic Convention (or ComicCon for those who speak geek). Scott and Wayne have been planning on going since last year. Both were quite upset when they found that the Wpg ComicCon was at the same time as our trip to Vegas. There was pouting. But they are keen to go this year. Will and I are happy to let them go alone.

Funny Story: Scott was at home yesterday with the kids as Julie needed the day off for personal reasons. He was laying on the couch reading a BOOK.

Georgia came up to him and exclaimed "Daddy! You are reading a book. I didn't know that you could read. I am so proud of you!"

Two minutes later Olivia came into the room and saw the same thing. "Daddy, you 're reading a chapter book! You know those books don't have any pictures, right?"

October 17, 2009

Tooth Fairy

We had a visit from the Tooth Fairy last night. Olivia lost another tooth.

It was a particularly gruesome sight yesterday afternoon as she had this tooth dangling by a little thread of skin or a nerve. There had been some minor drama at school during lunch but it was resolved.

She didn't want to pull it out. But she did and felt better afterwards.

Olivia wants everyone to know that she is finding things out about the Tooth Fairy. Olivia left a note under her pillow last night asking the Tooth Fairy if s/he was big or small. The return note said "I am small." Olivia is determined to find out more by pulling out more teeth if needed.

Revelations about the Tooth Fairy aside, I am just relieved we can got back to her brushing her teeth normally.

October 15, 2009


We had an awesome Thanksgiving. We had all of the Abels and the Friesens for a big feast on Saturday. The Abels stayed through the weekend- so we did another feast on Sunday. Mom and Dad stayed home so that Dad could recuperate from his recent knee surgery. We all thought his recovery would go much faster without 3 little "helpers" jumping on him. (He is doing well.)

On Monday we went to the Pumpkin Patch in Oak Lake with the James family. We all had a great time until it started snowing! (I've got some pictures that I will post tonight.)

We had a great weekend! It was filled with family, friends, too much food and a house that was way too hot.

Obviously, we all have a lot to be thankful for as we are all very fortunate. We have healthy and safe families and friends. We are in no risk of going hungry or un-sheltered. We have warm seasonal clothes. We have good jobs and even if those jobs went away we'd still have good earning potential and marketable skills. There is so much more that I could add to this list!

I just wanted you all to know that we are grateful for all that we have. And that most certainly includes you- whatever family or friend who happens to be reading along.

October 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Olivia!

Olivia is 7 years old today! She is 7 going on 13!

Scott drove into Winnipeg on Monday night after work and was bemoaning the fact that he was missing Monday Night Football while he was driving- just like he missed MNF 7 years ago on the night Olivia was born. Somehow the things he remembers most about the night of Monday October 7, 2002- of course aside from becoming a father for the first time- is that Minnesota was playing the Bears. And that he was so occupied that he forgot to get his free pizza from Dominos for fathers in waiting.

I remember the night very clearly. My main moment was the moment just after she was born and I was waiting for the doctor (or Scott) to tell me about the baby. I think that moment goes in sort of slow motion for mothers delivering vaginally. The moment the baby is out is such a huge physical relief but there is a different kind of anxiousness that builds in those scant seconds between the delivery and the announcement.

I remember the doctor telling me it was a girl. And my main thought was "I know." Followed shortly by "Just give her to me already."

Olivia's in-vitro name was Mabel. We had called her a "she" from the very start. It could have gone either way- and I would have loved the baby all the same- but I was so very glad that she was a girl! And that she was healthy and intact and most importantly... alive. I stressed about that and I knew the only way that I could put that feeling to rest was to hold her in my arms and see her with my own eyes.

And finally there she was. Her little skinny body and her enormous head. In all her red headed glory. (Genetics are a weird and random thing.) Ten perfect little fingers and ten perfect little toes. And both Scott and I knew that our lives would never be the same again- in the best possible way. Our hearts grew exponentially that day. The night she was born we though that our hearts could not possibly grow any bigger with love and pride for our new baby girl. What did we know?! We were very new at the parent thing.

And that bring us today... today Olivia is still a red head and has thankfully grown into the size of her head. But she is also infuriatingly smart, funny, caring, brave, self assured, affectionate, polite, a good big sister, a good friend, a talented artist and budding musician, a dedicated student, an enthusiastic reader, a great swimmer and an exceptional daughter. We could not be more proud of that little girl.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

(I'll post some pictures of her a little bit later today.)

October 1, 2009

Uncle Bobby's Wedding

I read Neil Gaiman's blog everyday. He is easily one of my favourite authors.

He included this link for an excellent letter written from a librarian to a concerned parent regarding a book that he did not plan on removing from the shelves.

This is an excellent read!

September 30, 2009

Part 2: Fried Rice- The long version

Okay, this happened last night and I had to tell you part 1 to explain part 2. (Jen-story, remember?)

It took a while but I finally managed to get past the tuna/ cod incident. I can laugh about it now. Kinda. I am not unlike most mothers- I have the stunning ability to completely forget the most absolute pain. I learned only enough from the incident to stroke fish off any potential menu list but little else.

Okay, it’s Tuesday night and we need to be at Girl Guides in 30 minutes. I’m the first to point that I am not Rachel Ray and if we want to eat something other than grilled cheese or pancakes I’ll have to put on my thinking cap.

I need a meal that is vaguely healthy and quick. Healthy is hereby defined as having at least 3 real food groups. I’m not saying I made good decisions but here was my thought process:
1. I have left over pork roast but do not want to repeat last night’s meal.
2. Kids eat the pork better if I chop it up small, put it in something and tell them it is chicken. Ask any parent- they know this as truth!
3. Vegetables in the fridge: broccoli, onions, red peppers, carrots and frozen corn. They like everything except onions. Note to self: chop onions to no larger than nanoparticle and I’m set.
4. My kids will always eat rice. (NB: The tuna/cod incident was the rare exception.)

In my brain, last night, 1+2+3+4 = fried rice! I really should have known better.

Dinner is ready and we have 20 minutes until it is time to leave. I explain that everyone needs to eat their dinner before they can go out this evening. I place a bowl of rice in front of everyone. Georgia is whimpering already.

Olivia: (tone of disgust) WHAT is this?
Finn: It’s rice. (Starts flicking rice at his sisters- digging to see Batman at the bottom of his bowl.)
Georgia: I don’t like rice with sauce.

(Side note- my kids don’t like sauce. Whether real or perceived. A mere implication of sauce offends them. Deeply.)

Jen: There is no sauce. You have 20 minutes please eat your dinner or you cannot go to Girl Guides.
Georgia: (digs out nanoparticle sized onion, points to it) There are onions in here.
Jen: (lying) No there isn’t. That’s rice. (Make a mental note to look up what is smaller than a nanoparticle.)
Finn: Me no like rice. (Flicking rice on floor this time.)
Olivia: Why did you make THIS for dinner? This isn’t fair! Daddy would have made something good!
Jen: You like rice. You like chicken. (Again with the lying!) You like broccoli and corn. That’s what this is.
Olivia: NO! This is rice, chicken and broccoli all mixed up. It is NOT the same!

The next 17 minutes were occupied with Olivia’s very logical monologue about how if I just made things that they liked for dinner that it would be easier for everyone. And the unfairness of having to eat what I had made when I KNEW that they wouldn’t like it because it was all smashed together. (She is a smart kid. I really should have known that.)

Georgia just sobbed continually about having to eat onions (Seriously, does that kid have microscopes for eyes?!) and Finn just flicked rice until there was more on his shirt and the floor than in his bowl. Everyone was excused to go to their room. Me included. Scott came home late to find the girls crying and a disturbing trail of rice going down the hall. No one went to Girl Guides.

I'm not sure I can laugh about this one yet. Check me in a couple of months- I’ll have forgotten by then.

The short version: I made fried rice for dinner and it went over just about as well as the tuna/cod and asparagus. There was just as much shouting involved. No one went to Girl Guides.

Oh yeah, we’re eating f***ing pancakes all week again.

Part 1: The Tuna-Cod Conundrum

WARNING: this is a patented Jen-Type story (aka the long version of a short story.)

A while ago I decided that I needed to broaden our horizons when it comes to what we eat for dinner. I decided, for reasons that I have since forgotten, that it was time that we all try to eat fish as a meal. Most of you know this already but neither Scott nor I particularly enjoy fish. In the wise words of Scott’s late grandfather “it doesn’t appeal to me.” Scott and I will on occasion eat canned tuna or salmon but the kids have always opted out.

I was reading a magazine that presented a lovely baked cod as a family favourite. The cod was plated artfully with a spiced risotto, broiled asparagus and sprigs of parsley or dill or something. It was gorgeous. I foolishly decided that this would be the meal to introduce fish to the family.

Gagging while getting the fish out of the package and into the oven seems like a rough start but I am committed to healthy eating! I can do this! I am just plain tired of eating pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. It also seemed like a good idea at the time to substitute plain white rice for the colourful risotto. I knew the kids liked white rice and this would give them something familiar on the plate.

Hindsight being what it is plating this meal was also a mistake. White fish on white rice with shriveled asparagus crossing it doesn’t look as lovely as I had imagined. The kids flip out that their food is touching each other. They all declare that they don’t like it just by the smell alone. (I am not totally disagreeing with them but I am committed to this and must follow through.) We all sit down and look at our plates.

Scott: Okay, kids let’s eat our dinner now.
Finn: What is this? (Pointing to the cod)
Jen: It’s cod.
(Puzzled look from all kids.)
Jen: It’s a type of fish. It’s yummy. Let’s all try it. (I put on a happy face and swallow some fish. Smile falters while chewing.)
Georgia: (touching nothing) I don’t like tuna.
Jen: It is not tuna. It is cod and you need to try it before you decide if you don’t like it.
Olivia: No. I don’t. I don’t like tuna.
Finn: What is this? (Pointing to asparagus)
Scott: It’s asparagus. It’s a vegetable and it makes your pee smell funny.
Georgia: I don’t like smelly pee. (I glare at Scott and motion for him to eat his fish to show them. He does so, slowly.)
Finn: Me no like aspar-gus. (Points to rice) What is that?
Jen: Rice. All of you like rice. Please eat your dinner.

Fast-forward 3 minutes and we all have cold plates and we are still no further than…
Finn: (Shouting like we are all hearing impaired while frantically pointing to his plate) Me NO like aspar-gus AND tuna!
Jen: (I yell.) It’s not tuna! It’s cod! Eat your bloody…
Georgia: I don’t like smelly tuna pee.

By this point everyone except me is howling laughing. I excuse everyone- immediately! They sensibly run for their lives.

None of us ate our dinner. Scott could only choke down half of the cod. I vowed that they would all eat pancakes until they all turned into a flipping pancake!

Family favourite my ass!

September 29, 2009

Calgary last week

Calgary was fine. The course was well worth my time- other than Wednesday morning when I felt slow and stupid trying to solve steps 2 through 10 in the revered Buckly Leverett method for water flood analysis. Right. Apparently I do not do nearly enough calculus-derivative type math anymore. I think that is why my employers have given me a computer and a calculator and access to a reservoir modeling program that will make both Buckly and Leverett it’s bitch.

I did not have Internet access in my room and was unable to blog while away. That makes this the 4th time I have taken my computer with me on a business trip to not be able to use it. You'd think that I would learn! I used it as a really heavy portable DVD player. Yes, I do know they have smaller and certainly lighter versions. I will look into it next business trip.

I had a great visit with Kelly and her adorable children Rachel and Kyle. They came to the hotel for a swim and a visit. Kelly and I also got an adult evening when we went out for dinner and dessert ourselves the following night. It was so nice to catch up face to face with someone I see so rarely and whose life is so much parallel to my own. I, of course, give myself too much credit in that statement. She is short, cute, brilliant and has 2 children instead of 3 but other than those tiny things were are quite similar.

Scott and the kids had a great week too- as expected. Although it is noteworthy to say that I don't know how we would function as well without Julie. Thank you Julie! This week were are all back to our regular schedule. Scott in trial, me in the office, and the kids in school and activities. We have one more week until dance starts for the girls. Gym for Finn and yoga for me will start mid-October so we have a few weeks to wait for that.

Olivia's 7th birthday is next week (OMG!) and we are considering the unthinkable.... a group friend birthday party for both Olivia and Georgia. We had the family party for G on the September long weekend and left off her friend party thinking she should go to school and make some new friends. Now September has practically disappeared and I don't have many choices left. Hopefully it doesn't prove too difficult. Wish me luck!

September 27, 2009

Minty Girl Guide cookies for sale!

The girls officially have their boxes of minty Girl Guide cookies for sale now. They are $4 a box.

Let me know if you need some of these gems!

September 20, 2009

Off to Calgary...

I'm trying hard to not feel giddy- I mean guilty- as I am just about to leave for a week long course in Calgary. I am leaving Scott here to be a single-parent for the week.

Calgary will be fun. The course I'm taking will be good and I am well overdue for some professional training. I will get to visit with my girlfriend Kelly Ann and her family. I might also do some shopping in my downtime. Yeah, I'll definitely do some shopping! I will try hard to not fester in the silence of my hotel room for the week- but I make no promises.

I expect that my room will have Internet connection so that I can stay up to date. But if I don't then I'll talk to you all next week when I get home!

September 18, 2009

Goulter Fundraiser- Potatoes and Carrots

Hey everyone.

If you have the need of potatoes and carrots in large amounts I have a great oppotunity for you. Goulter School is running a Fall fundraiser with Peters Market Garden (locally grown produce). This is the school the kids attend and we are fundraising for a new playstructure.

Potatoes and carrots will be ready for winter storage and use. Produce will be sold in the following quantities and prices:

Potatoes (Red Norland & White Russet) – 50 lbs -- $22.00 25 lbs -- $12.00 10 lbs -- $6.00

Carrots - 8 lbs -- $10.00 4 lbs -- $5.00

If you'd like to order any of these items please let me know before Friday, September 25th. Pick up will be October 2 at Goulter school.

September 16, 2009

The badges we wear.

I have joined the gym here in town and I have been working out at lunchtime. This system apparently hits a perfect balance for me as I have not been successfully consistent at working out before work. And I am generally too lazy to do it after the kids go to bed.

Anyways, I am in Abs class with one other woman and the P.Y.T. instructor assured us that we can do another 30 of these particularly difficult pilates torture moves. Um... sure we can. To prevent myself from hating the instructor I silently remind myself that I am here voluntarily and had I not such a fondness for KitKats and cheeseburgers I maybe wouldn't have to work so hard to get my torso off the floor another 30 times. I mentally counted by fives while I do my 30.

The P.Y.T. instructor is telling us that she is so proud of us and is amazed at how far we have come in 4 short weeks. She tells us that she had been bragging us up to her mother. My comrade in pain makes the observation that I have it so much easier than she does. Huh?! She says "I've asked about you. You are a marathoner." WTF? I stifle a giggle at this statement but mostly because it hurts to laugh.

My comrade in pain is a gym friend- you know the ones- where you know her first name and the names of her kids but you really don't know anything else about her other than she is a member at the same gym. I have no idea where she works. I certainly don't know who she might have asked who would have described me as a marathoner within the first 5 adjectives or at least in the present tense. I have marathoned- singular and past tense. In fact the last time I was running seriously I was pregnant with Finn.

In my mind there are certain badges of honour that we should get to wear proudly forever such as "parent" or "veteran" but I think the rest should stay relatively current. A 26.2 mile race is not something that everyone can do and generally is not done lightly or without training. It is an accomplishment. All of that being said I am still not entirely certain that "marathoner" should be a life long descriptor. I believe my statute of limitations for that title has expired.

I do think that the statute of limitation is variable based on achievement. The bigger the accomplishment the longer you can ride on the coat tails of the title. For example a good friend of mine's sister finished an Ironman race in Penticton this year. A Frickin' Ironman! (2.4 mile swim + 112 mile bike + 26.2 mile run) As far as I am concerned she can brag that up and even add it to her into name if she wants for a solid decade- maybe even more.

But if we do wear labels for life for any of our past acts and accomplishments then in that same light could I not proudly proclaim myself a stilt enthusiast, water skier and a hunter? Each is more absurd than the next! I haven't done any of those things in at least 2 decades (or longer) and was only mildly good at one of them. But isn't that the same as accepting myself as a marathoner now?

Back to class: I struggle to sit upright, catch my breath and then turn to my comrade in pain. I mumble something like "yeah, this is sooo easy for me." I suppose sometimes it is easier to just wear the badge that is given, especially when it was meant as a compliment, than to explain that you may have lost your credentials.

That is unless you have been given the title as the flabby girl who can't lift her torso off the floor.

Girl Guides

Girl Guides started last night. Olivia is returning as a Brownie. Georgia is starting her first year as a Spark! Both are excited by the program.

Stay tuned for when we have those awful... I mean fabulous... cookies for sale. We sold the mint ones last fall and the chocolate and vanilla ones in April . I expect we'll have the same schedule this year.

September 15, 2009

Impressively Random Accomplishments

I like to read. Don't shake your head. Yes, it is true.

I've broadened my reading repertoire in the recent past. In my teen years I read horror books almost exclusively. In high school I used to keep a list in my backpack of all of the different ways people died in these books; it was a long and creative list. Had my list been found then it might have been looked at strangely. However, in a post-Columbine world this list would now likely get me some quality time with the RCMP.

My reading tastes have expanded as I have matured. Yes, I still have a sweet spot for vampire stories and most things supernatural but now I have range beyond horror. For example I now read non-fiction- a genre previous foreign to me and my tiny brain. I now read literature, biographies, self-help books (I really should kick this habit), philosophy (well, i tried- it hurts my head), business and management books, the Harvard Business Review, Star magazine and really whatever crosses my path that sparks a tiny bit if interest. I am not picky and certainly not exclusive to one genre anymore. I even enjoy some of my husband's more cerebral comic books. Sorry Love, Legion of Superheros and any and all of the Final Crisis titles will never make the list!

I'll read pretty much anything these days. However, I have noticed an interesting trend in my book choices of late. I am reading books about normal people looking for purpose in their life or trying to improve themselves. These people have chosen to set rather random, but impressively challenging, goals for themselves and then write a blog and a book about it. Say for example cooking ALL of the recipes from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1" in a year or reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.

I can't tell if I am drawn to these books as a way to improve myself by proxy or if it is something else entirely. I get all of their satisfaction for their impressively random accomplishments but I have to do none of the work- except read their books I suppose. Based on the success of at least one of these books (now a major motion picture- as the cover tells me) I see a trend of these types of books coming in the future. I am trying to figure out if I am going to live vicariously through these future books or find my own impressively random accomplishment to do and then write about it. (A side note: these people did live regular lives while doing their tasks- so this is not a passive cry for help before I quit my job, abandon my family and decide to groom cows for a year in India.)

This ties-in nicely to a catalogue that fortuitously (and randomly) ended up in my mail box last week. I have been carrying it around in my purse. This is a catalogue for specialized university-type courses distributed on DVD or down loadable audio. They are not for credit but purely for interest. Their titles include things like "A Brief History of the World" ( 36- 30 minute lectures) "The Joy of Mathematics" ( 24- 30 minute lectures) and "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition" ( 48- 45 minute lectures). These are not necessarily the ones that are triggering my interest but you get the idea.

Now, my sister will be quick to suggest that my parents OBVIOUSLY dropped me on my head a lot when I was a child for me to consider such a task. But you know what- this is exactly how these other books started. Someone doubting the random accomplishment or even questioning why- thus spurring on the task.

I am on the precipice my friends. I don't know which way this will go. But if you find me on the streets chatting with unusual aplomb about the main differences between the Old and New Testaments or casually dropping mathematical references into conversation you can safely assume that I've taken the jump.

And then I'll write a book about it.

September 13, 2009

School Time!

Back to school time. Or starting school time for two out of the three kids in our family. I thought that I would post some pictures of the glorious event.

Olivia: Grade 2- Mrs. Lifeso
Olivia was glad to be getting back to school and returning to normal routine. This year she'll be a Brownie and taking dance and piano lessons.

Georgia: Kindergarten- Mrs. P
Georgie is excited to start school! She got to ride the bus on her own for the frist time. This year she'll be a Spark and will be taking dance lessons.

Finn: Pre-school- Mrs. Lansing
Finn is estatic to actually be allowed to go to school with the girls. This is his first year of pre-school. His most used statement last week was " I'm so excited that school is open for me now!"

Ahem... Hello...

I had an ephipany today. We were out at Clear Lake for the Western Bar Weekend and Bob Perry, owner of Thunderbird Cabins, was talking about putting pictures of the kids on his company webpage and how his daughter maintains a blog for family updates. And it hit me... I could do that too.

Can't I? Well, I guess we'll see.

Yes, I know. I do have a few things to be doing otherwise and they do seem to occupy my time quite fully. But I thought that this might be an excellent idea to accomplish a few things at once: (Mrs. Multi-Taskers in-da house!)

  1. I can keep family and friends updated with news and pictures without having to spend my evenings emailing pictures to those with small email capacity and dial-up. (You know who you are.)

  2. I have not been doing much writing of lately, so this gets me back into practice.

  3. I've always been a person who journals but I've never done a blog before- so I can learn something new.

So away we go.

As you all know I am a proud wife and mother who has more than a few opinions about life, the universe and everything. You'll find more than a few of these opinions posted here as time moves along.

Thanks for reading.