Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
So, here are the highlights of our crazy Christmas. I doubt there will be any heartwarming made-for-tv movies based on it next holiday season, but it was all ours and we liked it just fine.
The kids let us sleep in until 8 yesterday, and they were still pretty excited about the moderate number of gifts under the tree this year (we pared back all-round in an attempt to not set a precedent of shameful excess for future holidays). Firstborn's favourite stocking stuffer, the lowly whoopie cushion (a name he was simply unable to grasp, preferring the more obvious "fart bag") only lasted an hour before someone sat on it with a touch too much enthusiasm and split the seam. Frankly, no one was that disappointed.
Firstborn did his Christmas shopping at a kids' Christmas party at our local MFRC, where volunteers had raided the thrift store. The Captain was thrilled with his "I Love Bingo" mug (I'm pretty sure the Captain has never actually PLAYED Bingo) and I'm looking forward to a quiet evening watching my VHS copy of "Save the Last Dance" starring the lovely and talented Julia Stiles. I think this hilarity may have been the highlight of my Christmas.
The turkey was delicious (dark meat, anyone?!), but it became apparent 5 minutes before dinner was served that we had no more jars of my homemade cranberry chutney in the pantry, and no fresh or frozen cranberries to even whip up a quick batch of homemade sauce, so we had to make do with extra gravy. The Captain sarcastically thanked me for ruining Christmas and life went on, sans canneberge. A search through the fridge later turned up 3 tbsp in the bottom of an old jar. Note to self: clean out fridge more regularly.
After our early Christmas dinner, we all waddled back to the living room, stuffed to the gills, and flopped onto the couch. I enjoyed a pleasant read of my new knitting magazines (thanks Mom!), the Captain faded in and out of consciousness, and the kids plotted world domination. Or something.
By the time Rosemary's Baby's bedtime rolled around, we were all ready to put this Christmas behind us. I've never seen Firstborn so lippy. Both kids, in gorgeous new fleece pyjamas from Sister #1, went to bed crying, completely overstimulated and without dessert, not that any of us had room for it anyway.
And this is where the fun began. We poured ourselves a drink, flopped back onto the couch (I'm hitting the treadmill today. Seriously.) and watched some of the new TV the Captain brought back from his course with him. I was already enamoured with Alton Brown, so it was fun to be reacquainted with him, and to learn how to make a decadent 4-layer coconut cake. Then I was introduced to someone new to love, and his name is House. I'm not sure what took me so long to see this show. I've also for many years loved Hugh Laurie. The English, silly, funny Hugh Laurie (fun fact: Hugh Laurie and I were born in the same city). But this is a whole new Hugh Laurie. Brash, arrogant, American. You'd think that might be a turn-off, but I found myself completely besotted. Who knew?!
And now the celebration continues. We have almost a week of working up to the big par-tay, which will include a fake countdown to midnight at 7PM for the benefit of the children, and then several hours of the Captain and me desperately trying to stay awake in front of the TV to ring in the new year properly. We have failed 2 years in a row now, so despite the mounds of food and drink I have planned, we'll need something really good to keep us up that late.
I'm putting my money on House.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
So, he'll undoubtedly want to give me a lecture after I share this exciting piece of news, but it's no big deal. When he starts up, I will mentally retreat to a place he likes to call "Cut-And-Paste Land", where cards and beaded jewelry designs dance through my head until I become aware that he's stopped talking, and take the cue to nod solemnly and agree with whatever it was he was just telling me.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Nothing says "I Love You" like a homemade gift from the heart!
I never leave the house without these.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Of course, what I couldn't do is give everyone thousands of dollars worth of my favourite things to take home. So I guess we'll say Oprah and I are even. For now.
I've gotten to a point in life where I don't actually ask for Christmas presents anymore. The Captain likes to come up with his own stuff for me, and I have various agreements with various family members on what our gift exchange should look like. Sadly, none of those agreements result in me getting to ask anyone for expensive booty. I think that's called being a grown-up.
Anyway, as I may have mentioned, I'm all about the lists. So, without further adieu, here is a list of items Santa would leave under my tree if I wasn't on his Naughty list:
The Grey Handbag: A few days back, I came across a picture of my latest dream purse. Like Alice after the White Rabbit, I followed it through cyberspace until I came to its present abode. A little place called Nordstrom. And that says it all. I can't, nor will I ever be able to, afford a $950 bag. But the good news is that I'm not snobby about these things! I like the fashion magazines, and one thing I find fun about them is that I can find something I love for a horrendous, wasteful amount of money, and then recreate the look (more or less) with a quick trip to GT Boutique, the Superstore and Wal Mart. I like to think of it as ingenuity.
The Cuttlebug: I go back and forth on this. Every time I walk down the paper craft aisle at Wal Mart, I ask myself "Should I?" Thus far, the answer has been no. I'm not doing enough cardmaking at present to justify spending the money. Between Christmas, kids, dogs and life, I haven't had a lot of time for crafts. That will change at some point, and eventually I'll get my Cuttlebug. But for now, I'm like the kid with his nose pressed up against the store window, dreaming about some toy and how it'll transform his life.
The Long Sweater: Those who know me say I'm tall. I'm no Amazon, but I do have a little trouble finding tops that reach low enough not to show off my flabby belly and stretch marks if I need to raise my arms upwards or lift a toddler onto my hip. So, when my beloved fashion magazines started featuring women in dress-length sweaters, I was overjoyed. I hit the Superstore to find one just chunky enough to look chunky but without all that added bulk that a woman my age simply doesn't need. Sadly, that sweater was nowhere to be found 50 feet away from the cabbages and slabs of cream cheese. I fear I'll have to venture into the mall to find what I'm looking for, perhaps during the January sales.
Nigella Christmas: Don't you love Nigella? I swear by her baking book. It's literally my baking bible. Everything in it is what food tastes like in heaven. Or so I imagine. So when I saw this new book being advertised, then heard that Sister #1 has actually bought it, my inner foodie started jumping up and down, yelling "Can I have it? Can I have it?" Then my inner mom snapped back irritably "No. You can wait for a scratch-and-dent!"The Cluster Ring: Ever since I saw Sleepless in Seattle, I've wanted one of these rings. They're big(ish), sparkly and look-what's-on-my-finger pretty. Let me reiterate here that I'm no snob. Sterling silver and some cubic zirconias will do me fine. I can pull off fake. I'm just that fabulous.
So now I either need to trick the Captain into thinking he came up with these ideas on his own, or find a way to justify buying them myself. Or, I could find myself a wealthy benefactor who wants to shower me with gifts, just for being me.
C'mon Oprah, whadda ya say?
Monday, December 1, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Don't get me wrong. We like the place, and the privacy. There's nothing quite like heading out back to hang laundry on a hot July afternoon, wearing a dirty old t-shirt and your fat pants and belting out the entire score of Grease, secure in the certainty that no one will ever know.
But the driving force behind purchasing such a property, with its hours and hours of lawn-cutting, pipes that freeze every winter, and garden that needs constant attention all summer long, was having a place where our dogs could run free.
After 3 years of moving from military base to military base, and living in married quarters with nothing more than an unfenced postage stamp for a backyard, Rusty and Jerome were getting a little on the portly side. Letting them off-leash was a bit of an iffy enterprise because they were never what you'd call well-behaved around other people or animals. So when we drove up the driveway for the first time and saw the side field, the enormous yard and the complete lack of visible neighbours, we knew we'd found the perfect doghouse.
It sounds ridiculous, I know, and before owning animals, I'd have rolled my eyes at such a prospect. But despite the fact that they sneak food from the kids' plates, they embarrass us everywhere we go with their naughtiness, and we have to toss them out back or into the garage anytime we have guests over because of the barking and jumping, to me they're worth every penny we owe on the place and every hassle that comes with it.
While I never took the dogs in with the idea that I'd need them for protection, they provide just that. With the Captain gone as much as he is, having two large, noisy dogs pretty much guarantees that no one could break in here while we're sleeping. By the time the axe-murderer got one leg through the window, there'd be a snarling Rottweiler waiting for him on the other side. Having Rusty and Jerome wandering around the place allows me to sleep peacefully at night.
But it's more than just that, even. We rescued our dogs. Jerome was a tiny puppy when he was found in a sewer grate. The runt of the litter, he was unable to keep up with his mother and littermates when they ran for it after being discovered by some hikers, and he was scooped up and taken in by a rescue foundation. That same foundation helped us to add Rusty to our little family a year later. Her story was more heartbreaking. She was rescued from a local SPCA shelter after being picked up as a starving 6 month-old stray and was never claimed. At some point in those first 6 months of her life, some monster shot her in the face with a pellet gun. The plastic pellet remains lodged in her head to this day. And I guess when you look at the luxuries they enjoy--the enormous yard, free run of the house, daily tooth brushing and grooming (yes, it's true), expensive shots, checkups and parasite prevention treatments every spring without fail, and treats galore--you might get the idea that they won the canine jackpot. And in a sense, you might be right.
But in reality, they rescued us. We were a childless couple running on a pointless treadmill before they came along. We were too exhausted to get any exercise, and too focussed on our jobs, our place and our money worries to realize there was so much more out there. And then one day this little black Border Collie moved in, dropped his hair everywhere, peed on the carpet, barked like a maniac and ran and ran and ran, never getting tired, until we finally had to drag him, and ourselves, home. We never realized there was that much love in the world, let alone inside us. Our dogs prepared us for the chaos, the mess and the exhaustion of having kids. They taught us that it's better not to live a perfect, hermetically-sealed existence, to stop and smell the roses (or someone else's crotch, if that's more your thing), and that life always looks a little better after a good, long nap.
Rusty and Jerome are now both seven years old. I know they won't be with us forever, but what they've taught us will. And for that, I am thankful.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
As a kid, I didn't really start trick-or treating until I was about 11. Before that, we lived in England, where that sort of thing just isn't done. But it didn't take long to figure out that it was the greatest candy-grab anyone could've ever come up with, and for the couple of years I was still young enough to participate, I looked forward to it, eagerly planning my costume from the first day of school in September. These days, I can't help but see it as one more thing to get through. It's a hassle having to put kids into costumes and strap them into the car (because we can't walk anywhere from here), then walk them all over some little neighbourhood, all the while having to rein-in Rosemary's Baby as he attempts to wander into the street, or dig up the dirt under someone's rose bushes. And after that, it's finding a nice quiet place to toss the dogs so they don't scare someone's kid to death while I hand out candy on the front steps until all hours. Not to sound like a Halloween grinch, but I'd rather make myself a cup of decaf and spend a quiet evening in front of the TV, further acquainting myself with Tony Soprano.
However, making the most of this short period in my life is all about embracing motherhood, and all the little inconveniences that come with it. So instead of focussing on the annoyance that is Halloween, I will choose to rewind a few years and concentrate on the stuff that made me look forward to it way back when I could never have imagined it being anything but plain old good fun. So, without further adieu, I present to you my list of why Halloween rocks.
1. Candy. Well, duh! This is obviously the reason every kid in North America looks forward to All Hallows' Eve. I think it's probably also the reason Weight Watchers continues to be so successful throughout the fall (followed closely, of course, by the ultimate season of overindulgence, Christmas). I, myself, have a box of 75 chocolate bars. Last year, we got 4 trick-or-treaters. You do the math.
2. Costumes. Okay, okay. So, I admit that I hate having to dress my kids up, but how cute are they when they get into their costumes? And, I must confess, seeing a baby dressed up as an animal creates certain gurgling in my reproductive system.
3. Pumpkins. My favourite fruit/vegetable is the gorgeous orange gourd we call the pumpkin. There's just something about it that ushers in fall for me. And once fall is here, there's the neverending possibility of new fashion choices...scarves, jackets, boots (and boots, and more boots!). In conjunction with the gorgeous colours on the trees, the pumpkin screams "AUTUMN" for me. And I haven't even gotten to the cheesecakes, pies, muffins, soups and pastas you can turn the pumpkin into. We grew 4 pumpkins in our garden this year, so I'll be eating lots of it come November. And what could be more comforting when the snow starts falling?
4. TV and the Movies. Okay, I don't go in for any of that blood-and-gore stuff and I think, looking at some of the junk being churned out today, it's safe to say that moviemakers of yesteryear were far more adept at striking terror into our hearts (see Rosemary's Baby, of course, The Exorcist, The Shining and The Omen, just to name a few of the best, and never underestimate the brilliance of the late greats, Vincent Price and Alfred Hitchcock). TV, on the other hand, seems to get better with time. If you have cable (and, sadly, I don't), you can watch all manner of creepy true-to-life stories of ghosts and hauntings. Of course, with the Captain gone, and me living in the middle of nowhere, there's no way I'd actually sit by myself and watch any of this stuff, but I can dream of an autumn in the future when the Captain and I can flop onto the couch with a bowl of popcorn after the kids are asleep and scare ourselves silly.
5. The Halloween Tree. I'm talking about the most excellent novel by Ray Bradbury, not to be confused with the fairly lame cartoon adaptation. The Captain introduced me to this book during my last year of teaching grade 6, when I wanted to find an age-appropriate story that dealt with Halloween but also touched on another area we were studying, Ancient Civilizations. And this book was no disappointment. Through this novel, my students learned that Halloween is so much more than trick-or-treating. There are cultures around the world that honour their dead in the most meaningful and interesting ways. We, as North Americans, have taken these traditions and manipulated them into an opportunity to hit up our neighbours for candy, then toilet paper their trees if they refuse to comply. Meh. It's what we do. But there's no reason we can't educate ourselves, and this book is one entertaining, eye-opening way to do it. I can't recommend it highly enough.
And there you have it. While I do look forward to getting the excitement of the day over and easing into a nice, relaxing weekend at home, I guess Halloween isn't all bad. Maybe I'll even whip us up a spooky dessert tonight and find a big bowl to keep the leftover candy in. And then I guess it'll be time to give Weight Watchers a call.