November 21, 2013

Halloween 2013

The Abel Family, Halloween 2013
  Happy Halloween Everyone!
We hope your evening was appropriately frightening. This is a little late but here is our annual Halloween picture. Our costumes were celebrating Day of the Dead. The kids were skeletons and Scott and I were their Keepers. Or Grim Reapers, your choice.

Finn's face glowed in the dark and deeply resembled that face that flashes- for a split second- in the movie "The Exorcist". It was very simple yet disturbingly scary and he really didn't even know why.

This was the first version- which he found unacceptable.
He told me to redo the make-up and to, this time, not make it so shabby.
Everyone is a critic.

Georgia, the kindest and gentlest of our kids, always seems to have the best evil faces. That is a scary thought unto itself.

This was G's version the night before at a Halloween party.

Olivia had a day look AND a night look. (Beacuse we had nothing else to do on Halloween aside from re-doing perfectly good make-up.) The full makeup was her day look for school.

The day look.

We hope you had a great Halloween!

November 17, 2013

New York, New York

Scott and I checked off one more thing on our Someday List: visit New York City. Check! We travelled with our good friends and frequent partners in crime Will and Wayne. We were helping Will celebrate a landmark birthday and celebrating our own anniversary. Hilarity ensued!

The Fantastic Four acting like weirdos in an elevator
Clockwise from the top: Lumberjack, Honey Chac, Busy and Scooter

We walked miles trying not to look like tourists (fail). We saw Times Square. We were at the top of the Empire State (day) and Rockefeller Buildings (night). We walked the Brooklyn Bridge. We visited Grand Central Station and the NYC Library. We visited the 9/11 memorial. We ate every 2-3 hours- partly in an effort to replenish energy and partly so that we could sample all the city had to offer.  We saw a few shows. We bolted through some museums and art exhibitions. We rode the subway and walked though Central Park. We did a little shopping.

I actually overheard someone with a deep New York accent ask "How you doing?",  say "Forgetaboutit" and exclaim with affection "Oy, bubbe, that baby is adorable!" I honestly thought that those were stereotypes that only existed on film or TV. I was wrong.

New Yorkers were very friendly. That shouldn't have surprised me but it did. We had several offers of directions when we were clearly not sure where we were going.

But mostly we laughed until our stomachs hurt and admired, what is arguably, one of the most impressive cities in the world. I get it now. New York was awesome!

Looking downtown from the top of the Empire State Building.
9/11 Memorial, South Pool
The Brooklyn Bridge, looking towards Brooklyn
The colours of Central Park.
(I think this is the prettiest pictures I have EVER taken.)

View into the park from the Upper West Side.
Rockefeller Plaza, getting ready for Christmas
There may have a been a few yarn and comic stores visited. :)
LH Mitten admiring the view.
Hold on tight, it was a long way down!

From all of us: Thanks for the good time, New York. Until we meet again...

October 19, 2013

An Open Letter to Daddy

I alluded to our dress up event recently... Scott had a reception in Brandon as the incoming president of the Manitoba Bar Association.

Looking good, Mr. President!

Hi Daddy.

Firstly, we love you. You are a great dad! You are fun. You always make time for us, play with us and have taught all of us how to draw really well.  You take good care of us and let us eat in the living room when mom says no. That's cool.

We know that you are a lawyer even if we don't fully understand what that means. To us it means that you go to work and help people. We know that sometimes that means going to court and sometimes you do it in your office. We think it involves a telephone, a computer and a lot of paper. It also seems to involve a lot of driving. We know that you work hard for us and for your clients.

We know that you are more than just our Daddy and a lawyer. We know you also volunteer with the MBA, a group for lawyers. With the MBA you talk about how lawyers can help more people and that seems like a really good thing to spend your time on. We know that this is work that is important to you and we wanted you to know that we are proud of you.

Thank you for being a good dad and helper for others. We love you very much.

Love always,
Olivia, Georgia and Finn

Love from 3 of your biggest fans!

September 27, 2013

I love the way kids think

I took the kids shopping yesterday to buy some dress clothes. We have an event next week and, apparently, it has been a while since we have last had to dress up as a family.

Georgia was the only one who didn't get to choose her own outfit while in the store. She was at gym, so I picked for her. We all got home and I showed her the outfit and asked her to try it on. I returned to find her doing this in the mirror...

Er, she is poofing.  Right. Who knew that crinolines could be so fun?

She said that this was an "old fashioned dress that needed to be poofed up". And, maybe, in her mind this was the only way. It is certainly the most amusing way.

Finn is just being weird.

I thought he looked sharp. He thinks he looks like a cowboy because I couldn't find him a full suit in his size at the mall. He definitely will NOT be wearing the cowboy hat to our event next week.

September 14, 2013

Back to routine! Back to school!

We're back to school now and that means back to routine. Thank goodness!

The traditional first day of school picture
on the steps of the house.
Who is this good looking crew?
Olivia, grade 6. Georgia, grade 4.
Finn, grade 2.
We had a great summer but it is time to get back to work. We have a busy year ahead!

Ready, set, GO!

September 6, 2013

Of course I did.

So last weekend was all about cleaning the house. I'll expand in to the whys another time but sufficed to say the house was thoroughly cleaned- stem to stern!

I have been reading some books about style lately. The main thesis of each of these books is essentially the same but can be boiled down to few really simple ideas:
  1. Fashion can be learned but style is your own; and
  2. You need to TRY to look put together- all of the time. Every time you leave the house. No exceptions.
So we are moving beds and vacuuming under things that, clearly, haven't been moved in a long while. I look at the clock and it is time to go the store and pick up the Rug Doctor (deep cleaning vacuum) that I had reserved.

I quickly look at myself in the mirror. My hair is a mess. I am wearing slubby and filthy clothes (hey, I'm working here people). My face is bare and sweat covered. I decide that I need to take a few minutes to TRY to pull myself together before leaving the house. I argue with myself that I'll only be gone a few minutes and that I am coming back home again to work.  However, I stand firm and head to clean up.

I put on some clean clothes: a t-shirt and dressier black shorts. I find a hat- there is no help for my hair. I wash my face and put on make up, well, powder and eyeliner but that is lots for me. I even put on earrings. I look in the mirror and congratulate myself for following through.

I get to the store. I talk to several people about the machine and how it works. I sign the paperwork- holding up the line now forming behind me. I load the machine in the van and unload it again at home before I notice that the fly of my shorts is fully and completely wide open!

Of course it is.

TRYING, now, officially, requires me to look at myself fully in the mirror before leaving home. 

On the positive side at least I had put on earrings to bring the eye upward and to distract from the full view of my bright pink panties covered in little owls with glasses declaring that I was wearing my "Smarty Pants".


Note to self: invest in some solid coloured underpants without ironic sayings!

August 4, 2013

Starting Tomorrow

I ate at the Chinese place at the mall recently and had the following fortune in my cookie.
Someone at the cookie factory has a sense of humour.

I read it and immediately burst out laughing. Well, I actually sprayed Pepsi out of my nose while snorting uncontrollably but we'll just tidy that up to be "laughing". The nice couple to my immediate right were at first concerned for my health.  (No, I am not choking Mr. and Mrs. Good Samaritan but thank you for checking on me.)  But transitioned quickly to being concerned for my sanity when the spluttering and guffawing did not die down right away and kept coming back in random fits and starts over the next two minutes. (Nothing to see here folks, move along.)

I took the fortune home and tacked it to my inspiration/mood board in my bedroom for further contemplation and amusement.

The irony of receiving this quote- right now- is not lost on me. Lately I seem to be all about the "starting tomorrow I will... insert goal here". Some I have followed through on but, honestly, most I have not.

When the universe is trying to get my attention I should at least have the courtesy of trying to understand what it is trying to say. Sometimes the universe tries hard to tell you important stuff in small and subtle ways other times it can be as obvious as a three year old holding their crotch while crossing their legs and squirming while assuring you that they do NOT need to pee.

Thank you, Universe for the reminder. Message received. And, no, I do not need to pee.

For those who are interested
here is the rest of my inspiration/mood board.
Like me, it is an eclectic mix of items.

June 28, 2013

Knock, Knock Mother......

With thanks to my sister I am now the proud owner of a large metal cock.

Knock, Knock Mother Fucker

Baby Beyonce: I wonder if anyone is home?
Baby Beyonce: Hi! I'm new in town. Can we be friends?
Sally the Gargoyle: What are you? I can't even look at you; you're horrible.

Well played Right Handed Mitten. Well played.

Explaination for those who do not speak fluent Jen: 
#1) Immediately goto your favourite bookseller and purchase the totally awesome book: "Let's pretend this never happened. (A Mostly True Memoir)" by Jenny Lawson
#2) Read the book. Right now! No, I'll wait.
#3) Now goto her blog page: 
#4) Read this: Learn to pick your battles. This should bring you up to speed.
#5) You are now equipped to deal with all of the information above.

You're welcome.

May 26, 2013

Sun's Out! Guns Out! 2013

Black Friday Shopping Crew, Cali style.
(left to right: Lana, Corinna, Me, Hez, Stacey)

Corrina: Don't take a picture now! It's going to look like we are eating guacamole and cheesecake for dinner.  Oh right, that IS what we are eating for dinner. BEST. DAY.EVER!
 The Sun's Out, Guns Out pose.
Arms made super strong from hours and hours of shopping.
Like, marathon-long shopping.
Gratuitous bathing suit shot

Disney Girls

Here`s to 5 grown women playing by the pool; to the cannon ball contest, which had nothing whatsoever to do with the mudslides we were drinking at 9:30am; to wrestling with the floaty in the pool and to laughing so hard my face hurt.

Thanks for the fun trip.

April 7, 2013

How to make the world and your mother smile

Georgia started yesterday by saying that she wanted to wear a moustache.  I said that I could help with that. So we did this.

But it wasn't quite right yet...


Georgia:  I look, how do you say, French!
Olivia:  No.You look, how do you say, weird.

And off we went to Brandon for lunch, shopping, gymnastics, bowling and dinner.  Georgia told me at bedtime "that wearing a moustache was the right thing to do today, Mom." And, indeed, it was.

You make my heart smile Georgia. Thank you for that.

April 6, 2013

Finn, The Brave

I have been reminded, by more than one person, that I haven't composed a birthday blog for Finn.  It wasn't intentional. In my mind it was December just yesterday. My calendar stubbornly insists that it is now April.  In my defence the view out the window agrees with my mind. Time seems to be passing at warp speed.  I digress...

Instead of a birthday blog I want to tell you about Finn. He is a strong and funny and kind little boy. He is a caring brother. He is a good friend.  He has a wickedly sarcastic sense of humour that both Scott and I love.  He is sensitive and thoughtful. He says nightly poems and reads with his Mom and plays creative and imaginative Lego with his Dad. But you, dear reader, knew this already.

Today I want to tell you about Finn's bravery.

Finn was very brave today. He fell - on his face- at school during recess. On some kind of metal bar. The call I got at work was from a teacher telling me that there had been a fall and that Finn had fallen, cut  his lip and maybe hurt his teeth.  Would I come to the school to have a look?

I got to the school 2 minutes later to find him in the lobby of the school, surrounded by teachers, bleeding from the mouth and crying. Not a reassuring sight for any parent. I get the story of what happened from a few sources and get down to see the damage first hand.

What I saw made me feel like I had suddenly swallowed a hive of angry bees and rendered me momentarily speechless, to the absolute shock of many teachers who knew me already.  I saw a cut lip, inside and out. I saw a bottom tooth missing and another hanging by a thread. When I lifted his top lip I saw his top 4 front teeth all pointing in different directions and very bloody gums. I was nearly sick but choked it down thinking that if Finn could deal with this so could I.  My mind was racing with conflicting thoughts of dentist or doctor. doctor or dentist?

The doctor won. The emergency room said he was not in need of stitching but he did need to see a dentist quickly.  We hadn't even got back to the van and he was pointing at the Ice Cream Island, across the street from the hospital, and reminding me that the doctor had said to eat soft food. And that ice cream was pretty soft, wasn't it mom? I agreed that it was but that we needed to focus right now get him to a dentist right away.

His next series of questions related to how old you have to be to be fitted with dentures (my answer: a lot older than 6) and whether  he was the first kid in our family to have his teeth knocked out. I agreed that he was.

I count us all as being exceptionally lucky that our local dentist saw Finn right away. thankyouthankyouthankyou! He reassured us both that no teeth needed to be pulled, right now, and then put all of his top teeth back into the correct position. He said they may come out very soon, as they are all now very loose, but seeing that these were all baby teeth that he was likely to lose them soon anyways. Soon, I agreed, not necessarily all simultaneously.

Did I mention that by the time we left the school he had stopped crying and was talking about driving into Winnipeg with his father to go to Comic-Con?  He told the doctor he was fine at the hospital when asked how he was. And only whimpered slightly when the dentist pulled and pushed his teeth back into position.  I felt sick to my stomach and excused myself with, what I hoped was, a reassuring smile to Finn so that I wouldn't vomit on the man who was helping my son.

Finn's biggest reaction was when he asked to see what had happened himself; so I took some pictures and showed him.  This is the view after the hospital but before the dentist. Be warned- these are not pretty.

 I guess Finn will be getting to know his tooth fairy pretty well over the next short while. And let's hope she is carrying a lot of cash with her.

We were extra proud of  Finn for making it through all of this with a calm demeanour and a sharp sense of humour.  Good job Baby we love you!

March 30, 2013

The Rule of Three Fifths

I have a theory, in respect of my immediate family's health, I call it the "Rule of 3/5".  This theory goes something like "if there is a common cold/virus/plague to be had one of us will inevitably get it and share it with a minimum of 3 out of 5 members of the family."   I base this theory on experience. This has been the story of our winters for the past couple of years and, quite frankly, I am sick of it! (Pun intended.)

I think we are a normal active family.  The kids are in public school and participate in a couple of extra curricular activities each.   Scott and I both work outside of the home. We are all active and social without being obsessive about either. We know about the Canadian Food Guide and eat pretty healthfully.  We take vitamins. We have access to good and free healthcare and visit the doctor and dentist when required and for regular check-ups.  We have good hygiene. We sneeze into our elbows and all wash our hands, with soap, often. (I may be a little militant about those points.) And still we have been perpetually plagued with colds and viruses all winter. It is so frustrating.

I've always joked about home school or sending the kids to school in Hazmat suits. All it takes is for me to have a week where someone has been feeling sick, for Scott or I to have missed some work and to watch one tv show or movie about a superbug that kills the majority of the world population or turns us  all into flesh eating zombies.  I start doing the mental math and see US, or at least 3/5 of us, as the family of flesh eating zombies. I don't know about you but that gives me a frowny face.   I would like to think that I am the type of mother who would prevent, if she could, Georgia being known as Patient Zero of the start of the zombie apocalypse.

Albert Camus` book The Plague, admittedly not an actual medical reference source, suggests (I paraphrase, of course) that the return of cold weather will kill a plague*. Well, we live in Manitoba and it has been winter and FFS it has been plenty cold.  Yes, we've had a rough winter but I border on hyperbole when I describe our health as a plague.

I cannot help but think about our environment and what is unique to the 5 of us... our house.  I will be on a campaign this spring to clean out our ducts, the HRV unit, deep clean the carpets and furniture, vacuum the cats, install a purifier, or whatever else needs to be done to try keep us healthy. I am even contemplating an air test. Am I cray-cray?  (Sorry, that is Finn's new favourite word.)

I had complained to a friend about our family's lack of immunity this winter and she gave me a recipe for a vitamin packed smoothie that she feeds to her family.

Leigh's Green Smoothie
1 cup coconut milk (Coconut Dream- original)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 handful of fresh spinach
fresh pineapple
frozen mango
banana  (or 1/4 avocado*) 

Put this all in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

The only substitution I have made on Leigh's original recipe is to leave out the banana (yucky!) and to sometimes use an avocado instead.  This add a creaminess to the smoothie and is super tasty. I've been drinking these for breakfast and can attest that it is delicious.  Does it work?  Well, since I have been drinking them I have been in the 2/5 group  so I suppose that does say something.

I know the season is changing albeit slowly.  Soon we will all be outside more and getting more vitamin D from the sun. I hope that helps. I hope that we can go more than 2 continuous weeks without someone being sick.  And it would be quite refreshing to take a road trip or visit a restaurant without having someone vomiting. I'm just saying...

Happy Easter. We hope the Easter Pig finds YOU in good health.

* Yes, I do understand that I should not be looking for actual medical advice from fictional literature. And, if i am being honest, I should also acknowledge that this was the one book from high school english class that I never finished in full. I may have skimmed a few, or a hundred, pages there. So, if this book book really does have the solution to solving health pandemics could someone please send me a text or an email. And, if you could, maybe let the WHO  or the U.N. know too.  Don't be selfish, dude.

January 11, 2013

Random bits of AWESOME in 2012

So, Jen, I ask you ,what was so AWESOME about 2012? 
Well, I am so glad you asked me that. Our family had a pretty great year. It went fast but here are some of the very random highlights...

We ended the year healthy believe it or not. All of us. We even managed to go on vacation without one (or all) of us catching the plague, a rash and getting a major UTI or ear infection before we left. This has to be a record of some sort.  2012 was a rough year on our health. We've had casts, concussions, reconstructive surgery, pneumonia, emergency dentistry work, every infectious disease that came through our public school,  double pneumonia and a probably a few things I have managed to successfully block from my memory.  Some would say we are just a normal active family but last January I was advocating for home schooling for the kids and mandatory Hazmat suits for anyone visiting the house.

We took some pretty amazing trips this year. We visited our home away from home in Palm  Springs, CA twice this year as a family.  We went tubing at Assissippi Ski hill in the winter and visited Grand Beach and Clear Lake in the summer. Scott and Finn went to Scout Camp and Georgia and Olivia each went to Girl Guide camp on their own. Scott and I travelled to Vancouver (CBA Conference), San Diego (Comic Con) and Las Vegas (to see Madonna in concert).

There were some pretty important milestone birthdays in our family. Scott and I each turned 40. Olivia is now 10. Our nephew Quentin turned 18! My Dad, Bob,  turned 60 and Scott's mom, Norma, turned 65. And my parents celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary. Yeah all of us!

As above: Quentin turned 18 but more importantly he graduated high school! Congratulations Quentin! We are so proud of you!
Who is that smart looking young man
in the great looking Chucks!
We had some great times with good friends.

Playing in the snow with the Duecks.
The Fantastic Four
at Comic-Con 2012.
Note: no costumes!
Segway tour through  the San Diego Habour!

The most unlikely thing we saw this year occurred this past Christmas when our family, my parents, Scott's parents and Tammy all visited California Adventure Park in Anaheim, CA. (First time visit for Mom, Dad, Norma and Dave! First visit to one of the Disney parks EVER for my Mom.) Everyone except Scott and Olivia rode the California Screamer Roller Coaster! REALLY!! Georgia and Finn were both tall enough and were eager to ride. Both Grandfathers were game too. The unlikely and really quite wonderful part was that BOTH grandmothers went on the coaster.  It was a first and we were assured, by both, that it was also going to be the LAST time that would ever occur. So we had better have enjoyed the moment.
Finn was quoted after the ride as saying "I wasn't scared. I didn't even scream once." Norma quipped "Well, good for you. I sure as hell did!".
The Grandmas, in solidarity,
 singing their version of Taylor Swift's
"We are never ever, EVER, getting back together"
to the California Screamer Roller Coast.
We had lot so fun and travel but we also had a lot of business as usual. Both Scott and I had a good year at work. (Insert appropriate lawyer/engineer jokes here.) All kids are working hard at school. In their spare time they were busy with piano, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, gymnastics, dance and soccer.  Olivia performed in her first play. She was a munchkin in a local production of "The Wizard of Oz". 
Better watch out for this tough munchkin!
Halloween was pretty good but those of you with a keen eye will notice that our daddy monster was not present in our traditional holiday shots. He was busy getting over double pneumonia and was unavailable at photo time. We gave him a pass from Trick or Treating but mostly because his doctor wouldn't let him out the hospital!
If we did anything else, well, I can't recall. Cheers to a great year!
This is a few days late but Happy New Year! We hope that your 2013 is filled with all things good: food, friends and fortune!
Drop me a comment to say Hi! Thank for reading!
Love: Jen