Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolutions

I tell you people, 2010 is my year. I can feel it!

2010 is the year the Captain comes home safely from Afghanistan. 2010 is the year I take my very first warm-weather winter vacation. 2010 is the year that Rosemary's Baby and I have our first back-and-forth conversation. I am already counting down the minutes to midnight. I am entering the new year ROARING!

My resolutions are the most unimaginitive things ever. Like everyone else on the planet, I need to step up the exercise a notch. For a long while there, I was a runner. In fact, after losing my baby weight when Firstborn was a wee one, I went on to lose another 30 lbs and three dress sizes. It was exhilarating. But last year when I started having a little knee pain (due entirely to my half-assed stretching regime), I took the workout down a little. And then a little more. Now, I take the treadmill at a leisurely senior-citizen's pace, sometimes while eating chocolate. Even the music on my ipod has taken a downturn. FYI, REO Speedwagon can really not be considered motivational workout music. So, back to running--and stretching properly--it is.

My next resolution is to be the best advocate for my kids that I can be. To be truthful, Firstborn doesn't need me to do a lot of advocating for him. But when he does need me, for any reason, I will of course be just as dedicated to him as I am to Rosemary's Baby. Because I have two kids, and when one child has special needs, that's a very important thing to remember. For now, the majority of advocating has to be done on behalf of my little one. I won't get into a full-fledged rant here, but I will say this. My child has a neurological disorder. That is a MEDICAL condition, and the fact that the expert who diagnosed him promptly handed us off to a social worker and washed her hands of us is a freaking TRAVESTY. In 2010, my child's disorder will be treated both with traditional therapy, and with proper biomedical interventions. Because if this was epilepsy, or MS, there'd be no question that the doctors would want to do something. I will not accept a lesser standard of care for my child just because they don't know enough about his disorder. End of rant.

And finally, my most fun resolution! I've been reading a lot of Trinny and Susannah because their books have been discounted at Bookcloseouts.com the last few times I've placed orders there. I cannot tell you how much I have learned about my body shape and the clothes that flatter me! So, in 2010, I'm going to dedicate myself to dressing well. I will follow the rules of dressing for my shape, which for me means no more high-necked tops, no hip-hugger jeans and nothing baggy and mom-like. I plan to pare down my wardrobe and love what I have instead of always wanting more. I did really well for the last 1/3 of this year in my quest not to make any more impulse purchases, and I hope to continue that trend, now having a better understanding of what makes me look curvy and cute, and what makes me look like an overstuffed schoolbus barrelling out of control towards the scrap yard.

And I think my resolutions need to stop there. Having too many is just setting myself up for failure. New Year's Eve is my favourite holiday of the entire year, hands down. I love looking forward to a new year and a new beginning, and I love hearing other people's plans to change their lives, so do let me in on your resolutions as well.

Next year is going to kick 2009's sorry butt. Bring it on, 2010!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Recap

I know you've all been on the edge of your seats wondering if I pulled off the big Doggie caper. Well, wonder no more! Firstborn found Doggie under the tree on Christmas morning and was impressed enough with Santa's magical search-and-rescue powers that he informed me over breakfast "Doggie was the best Christmas present of all!"


This is pretty good, considering ALL I have heard about for the last month is how desperately Firstborn wants "Lego Indiana Jones: Ambush in Cairo", which, for those of you not familiar with these things, is a piddly little $13 set that there was never any question he'd be getting in his stocking. By Christmas morning, I'd heard it over and over so many times, it had become our family's version of the "official Red Rider carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time."


So, I think it's safe to say that Firstborn had a very Merry Christmas. Rosemary's Baby's haul was first-rate too. Because they're both still young, I didn't spend money until my credit card melted. But, judging from the way Rosemary's Baby reacted to his Slinky, I'm pretty sure I didn't need to.

And if your memory is really good, you might recall my plan to resurrect our Christmas Eve tradition of getting a Chinese takeout. It was pretty close there (the restaurant ran into a glitch with their ventilation system and only opened the doors 5 days before Christmas), but I drove through the unplowed streets of town after a rather large snowfall, almost got stuck twice, got my takeout, and it was delicious. The kids weren't impressed, but that just means more leftovers for me.

I hope you're all having as nice a Christmas season as we are! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Christmas Miracle, By Design

Firstborn has, since the time he could crawl, been dragging around this stuffed dog that Sister #3 gave him. We call him "Doggie". We're not very creative around here.

In the beginning, Doggie was soft and fluffy and cute. But over the years he's taken a bit of a beating. Here's a recent shot Firstborn took of him with my camera.


That's a computer cord he's wrapped up in. And notice he's had eye surgery. Doggie has definitely seen better days.

But, like a good friend or beloved family member, it doesn't matter what he looks like. Firstborn still loves him more than any of his other stuffed animals. He comes in the car with us. He sleeps on Firstborn's pillow. He can often be found sitting all floppy-eared on the dining table watching us eat. Doggie is no less a member of this family than the real dogs. He just sheds a lot less.

So when Doggie goes missing, it's quite a frantic affair. We're turning over couch cushions and reluctantly reaching under the furniture, wondering what on earth we're going to find in those dark recesses of our house (whatever we do find is usually covered completely with dog hair), and we rarely give up until Firstborn is reunited with his best pal. But this week I made an exception.

Doggie went missing on Sunday, and I did have a good search around the living room and over most of the main floor. When he didn't immediately appear, I made a mental note to have another look, but never got around to it, despite being reminded 86 times by my increasingly concerned 6 year-old. With Christmas coming, things have just been busy. I know you all know how it is.

Tonight, I was reaching up to a top shelf for something when my hand rested on a soft, familiar item. I grabbed Doggie and took 3 triumphant steps towards Firstborn's room, when something stopped me in my tracks. It occurred to me just at that moment that this was an opportunity to add a little magic back to my kid's Christmas. His dad's not going to be here to celebrate with him for the first time ever, and that's enough for a 6 year-old to deal with for one Christmas. The jerks at school have already been blabbing about there being no Santa, and I've successfully made it clear to him that that's the craziest thing I've ever heard, but I'm thinking a little extra proof can't hurt. So I stuffed Doggie into the bag of stocking stuffers I have hidden in my closet, and tomorrow night, I'm going to place Doggie under the tree with a note from Santa saying he'd found him in a secret hiding place.

Firstborn has actually made a "Lost Dog" sign to put up at the post office, so I'll have to find a creative way to forget that at home tomorrow. And the poor kid has already yelled from his room once tonight asking if I've found him yet. I admit, I do feel a little guilty secretly holding Doggie for more than another 24 hours when he misses him so much. But the end will justify the means, right? When Firstborn sees Doggie under the tree on Christmas morning and reads his note from Santa, that extra little bit of holiday magic will be worth the wait.
Now, I'm off to practice disguising my handwriting...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's Just Not Christmas Until the Pee Starts Flying

Rosemary's Baby likes to clean the toilet for me. Only, his version of "cleaning" really just involves taking the toilet brush, or plunger--it doesn't matter which--and splashing toilet water all over the bathroom. It's delightful. Really.

So, this afternoon I was busying myself with all kinds of important Christmas preparations. Or, I was browsing Zappos for sale-priced open-toed shoes with a four-inch heel that I can't afford, or ever possibly use. I don't remember which. But anyway, it occured to me that Rosemary's Baby was giggling in the bathroom with the door closed. And that could only mean one thing. So, I hot-footed it in there to find him in his favourite toilet-cleaning position, grinning at me from ear to ear. There was water absolutely everywhere.

And then the smell hit me. Someone hadn't flushed.

Rosemary's Baby is still not partial to peeing in the toilet, so it wasn't him. I don't subscribe to the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" philosophy, partly because my dogs like to drink in there and they're just not that discriminating, and also because I like to at least live in a house where there isn't pee in the toilet at all times. I don't think it's that much to ask. So anyhow, this means it was Firstborn. I can't really yell at him though, because he learned it from his father.

So, I spent the next half hour scrubbing down the bathroom with the freshest-smelling household cleaner I could find and hoping I hadn't missed a spot. And now my bathroom smells faintly of pee and orange Lysol.

I'd put coal in his stocking, but I'm pretty sure he'd find a way to turn it against me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Floored!

I'm not doing too well with posting OR commenting lately, so forgive me. I feel like I'm running out of creative steam for the year. But rest assured, my mojo will return. Firstborn's last day of school is tomorrow, and for two weeks, I will have the alarm turned off and I'll be enjoying that extra cup of coffee in my pyjamas in the morning. Unless Rosemary's Baby has other plans. And he probably does.

So, in lieu of a proper post, here's a glimpse at what I've been up to this week. Any longtime follower of my blog knows that Rosemary's Baby has a history of poo incidents. And by history, I mean dating up until this past Tuesday. But it's gotten a lot better.

Back in the summer, I lost my temper and decided it was just more hygienic to remove the carpet from his basement bedroom. For the next 4 months or so, his room looked like this:



Well, okay, not exactly like this. I forgot to take a "before" picture until I was a couple of rows of tile into the flooring project. But you get the idea.

Anyway, I finally rolled up my sleeves and decided to do the job. I had to clean the floors and prime the concrete, and then I put down vinyl plank flooring, which is exactly like the sticky vinyl tile (the only flooring I have the skills to attempt on my own), except that it comes in strips to give the illusion of hardwood. Brilliant! I had few problems getting this job done in one afternoon while Rosemary's Baby was babysat by Scooby Doo (worst mother EVER!).

Here's the final result:



I'm very pleased, and Rosemary's Baby has not yet pulled it all up, which is a good sign. Disasters usually strike within the first 24 hours, so we may be safe!

And now that I've accomplished this, I'm feeling motivated to tackle the eleventy million other jobs that need doing around here, starting with the dining room walls. So if you don't hear from me for a while, you'll know I'm in my sweats trying to peel green and gold wallpaper from 1967.

Either that, or I'm watching Scooby Doo.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Christmas Wishlist. Aaaaayyyyyyyy...


I am now less than two weeks away from the night when Santa squeezes himself down my chimney and rewards me for being good all year! My only major transgressions this year were betraying the Captain by buying a fake tree, and occasionally forgetting to water his plants (RIP aucuba japonica). So naturally, I'm expecting a serious haul when I wake up on the 25th. Here's my wishlist:


Adobe Photoshop Elements 8: I decided to take my (VERY amateur) photography to a new level this year by learning to use the manual settings on my camera. It really changed the way my photos came out, and while I will never be someone who cares about the technical information associated with each and every photo, I do like to fool around with my pictures after the fact. Something a little less basic than the program that came with my camera would really kick things up a notch.


Dyson DC25 Vacuum: Last year around this time, the Captain went to do a little light vacuuming in the living room. But when he turned the upright on, there was a big poof and a sound that was a little like screaming. We figured it was an old vacuum, shrugged our shoulders and grabbed the ShopVac instead. He plugged it into the same outlet and...the exact same thing happened. Turns out during the kitchen renovation, someone hooked up one of the outlets to WAY too much power, and now both of our vacuum cleaners were toast. We blocked off the faulty wall outlet, got another ShopVac, and things have been fine since. But after a year of lugging that giant thing all over the house to clean up after Rosemary's Baby, I've had enough. I need something easier to haul, and this baby is the one!


LG Ultra-Capacity SteamWasher: Am I starting to sound like a 50's housewife yet?! I am, but I SO need a new washer. Our LG is about 8 years old now, and every cycle requires me to go in there at least once with a hammer and hit it in just the right place to get it going again. I'm the Fonz of the front-loader. It's humiliating. This one is not only even more environmentally friendly than our old one, but it comes in red. SOLD! To the lady in curlers and an apron...


Tassimo Coffee Machine: The Captain has this restaurant-quality espresso machine that he understands like Mr. Miyagi understands karate. Sadly, I am no coffee sage, so I can't figure out how to get the thing working without heating it up for half a day. In short, it's a pain in my butt and I never use it. I love coffee and hate hassle, so I'm the person for whom the Tassimo was created. The Captain would divorce me if he came home and found it sitting on the kitchen counter. I'm still debating whether or not this is a fair trade-off.

And that's my list! What do you guys want for Christmas?

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Heart Edward

I've been a little remiss in keeping up with my blog lately. I could blame it on being alone here with kids, the snow, Christmas etc etc etc. But the real reason is this:


Yes, it's true. I've finally given in and joined the cult.

So far, I'm about ten chapters in. I haven't seen the movies, and I'm not sure I will. All those teenagers, and me being closer to 40 than 30? I dunno, it seems a little creepy. But ask me again when I've finished the book. Because, make no mistake, what this author lacks in her writing, she makes up for in plot. And smouldering. Lots of smouldering.

In any case, I'll be back with my Christmas wishlist and all kinds of festive chatter soon. In the meantime, Firstborn doesn't have to be gotten up for school for another eleven minutes. And that can only mean one thing.

I have a date with Edward.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Little Love for My Siblings

Blah. We are well and truly into December. We now have six inches of snow on the ground and the temperature out there makes me wish the Captain had chosen a job that allowed us to live somewhere a little less frigid. Is it so much to ask my 38 year-old husband to switch to professional surfing?

At this time of year, I naturally start thinking about family. I saw an Anne Taintor inspired card in Paper Crafts magazine a while back and vowed that when I came across the right vintage picture, I was going to make it for my sister. Recently, I came into some old children's books from the 60's and because I so love to repurpose old junk, my one card turned into one-after-another. So, today I would like to send out some heartfelt greetings and a little holiday cheer to my six (yes, I said six) younger siblings.
*
Sister #1 is adjusting to life with 3 kids and trying to get Christmas organized just like the rest of us:

The sentiment was lifted straight from that Paper Crafts project.

Sister #2 also has 3 kids under the age of 6, a new job in the spring, and is continuing her education in her "spare" time:

I'm going to be honest here. The expressions on these kids' faces made me lose bladder control.

Brother #1 shouldn't take this personally at all:



I don't actually hate Brother #1, but this picture could honestly have been lifted out of our childhood on any given day.


Brother #2 is working on his PhD in Chemistry:


This card illustrates perfectly my understanding of what someone with a PhD in Chemistry does.
Sister #3 hates her job:


This is how I felt in my early 20's when I was broke and overworked. It does get better.

And finally, Sister #4 has recently become a mom to 2 dogs:

Please note that no dogs were actually harmed in the making of this card. But the minute I saw this picture, I imagined the guy in the hat swinging by the farm to apologize for accidentally shooting a dog. It's just the way my brain works.

I still have about a dozen more of these hysterical old pictures. I'm kind of on a roll, and contemplating hitting the thrift stores this weekend to see if I can find any more. You know, if the snow melts.
TGIF! Enjoy your weekend, my loyal subjects!

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm A Wreckerator!

Those who know me know that when I screw up, I like to screw up BIG. So there's nothing more comforting for me than to go lurking at Cake Wrecks to laugh loudly at the screw-ups of others.

One Sunday last spring, some stupid remarks by an idiot named Kanye West prompted a post over there with a children's book theme (to see this post, click here. You'll be glad you did.). When I saw my kid's favourite book featured in cupcake-cake form, I knew I had my cake theme for his next birthday. All I had to do was wait about six months.

Well, the 4-year anniversary of the day that joy and evil converged and came screaming out of my uterus has arrived! Yes! Rosemary's Baby is 4! And, just as I promised myself, the Very Hungry Caterpillar cake was the main attraction at dinner tonight!

So, for reference, here is the cake I aspired to copy:


And here is the cake I made:


This, of course, leaves me in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, I could keep finding gorgeous cakes to replicate and then scratch my head when I end up inadvertently creating the wax-museum-in-a-heatwave version. Or, I could hire a pro to finally get the job done with a bit of skill and expertise. An easy decision, right? There's just one problem.
I follow Cake Wrecks...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

150

My 150th post should be something more than a hodgepodge of chatter...but it won't be. So, without further ado, I give you post #150!!

Firstly, our tree-trimming party. Firstborn enjoyed trimming the tree:



Rosemary's Baby was more into the hot chocolate.


And, don't most highly-anticipated family events end like this?


Or this?



********

I've decided I need a new apron. The last one I made about a year ago in a very light fabric, and has ended up looking like this:



Gross. My plan this holiday season is to go through my fabric stash and find a nice DARK one for my next apron.

********
Speaking of crafts, I finally got around to making myself a beaded wreath for my front door.
It's a little thin for my liking, so I'll work on the design and try again...someday. It'll do for now.
*******
And, I have been remiss in thanking Tater Tot Mom for this award:



A fabulous award from a fabulous blogger! Thanks!!
********
Finally, despite my strict adherence to my no-impulse-purchases rule, I have decided that it's okay to buy myself a Christmas present. As much as I'd love to be one of those moms in the magazines who refuse to give up who they are and resort to (horrors!) wearing non-designer clothes while they cart their trendy little toddlers on bi-annual trips to New York and Paris, it's just not do-able for me. Until grubby little boys stop smearing maple syrup on my jeans, I couldn't relax in anything I paid an arm and a leg for. That said, my $7 down parka from Steve and Barry's that leaves me covered in feathers every time I take it off has got to go. It's time for a proper, high-quality, grown-up, nice winter coat that will hopefully last me a few years. So, this is what I've ordered for myself online:


It took me about a week to actually go through with the purchase. When I did, my mouse hovered for a moment over the "white" option in the drop-down menu. The idea was just so wintery and bright. But then my brain conjured up an image of me putting it on for the first time, two muddy dogs immediately jumping on my back, Rosemary's Baby projectile-vomiting tomato soup on my front, and a frustrated dry-cleaner screaming at me "What do I look like? A miracle worker?!!" Then I contemplated going with charcoal because it would show less dog hair. But in the end, I had to admit that my love-at-first-sight moment had been when I saw the black one. So I ordered that. Between the Chinese restaurant opening next week, and this coat coming in the mail, I have a lot to look forward to this December!
Enjoy your weekend, everyone!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Christmas Miracle Comes With Soy Sauce

First, I'd like to thank everyone for their really lovely comments. There's no denying that this Christmas will be more of a struggle than usual, but knowing there are so many people out there pulling for me really makes me want to kick some Christmas butt and have the best damned holiday possible. And today, something has happened that is going to surely make that more likely.

Before we had kids, the Captain and I established a holiday tradition of our own. Like many Canadians, we started ordering Chinese takeout on Christmas Eve. We loved this tradition, and once the kids came along, it made a very hectic night just that little bit less stressful, because I didn't have to have a meal on the table on top of stuffing stockings and frantically wrapping gifts. Unfortunately, the last time we observed this tradition was 3 weeks after Rosemary's Baby was born, on Christmas Eve 2005.

By the following Christmas, we'd moved to the place we live now. It didn't take long for us to realize that the convenience we'd always taken for granted of ordering a pizza or running out for fast food was no longer at our disposal. The nearest Chinese restaurant was now a 30-minute drive down the highway if driving conditions were good. On a snowy Christmas Eve, it might be an hour each way. Our Christmas Eve tradition was dead.

We halfheartedly attempted a tourtiere tradition for a couple of years, but it just wasn't the same. No one was quite as excited about eating pie (though it was still delicious), and anyone who knows my patience for rolling out piecrust can see that there was absolutely no way this was going to fly on the busiest night of the year. Last year, I dejectedly heated us all up a plate of leftovers from the fridge. Halle-freakin'-lujah.

Today I picked up my local weekly newspaper. When I opened it up, I nearly dropped it again. For there, on page 3, was a full-page story about a new couple in town, originally from Hong Kong, but long established here in Canada, who had bought up one of the many abandoned commercial properties in our tiny town, and were establishing a business. And I know I don't need to tell you the nature of that business. They're opening a CHINESE RESTAURANT right on the main strip! Opening day will be in early December! Our Christmas Eve dinner is back on!

Rosemary's Baby was caught somewhere between amusement and confusion when I started jumping up and down in my kitchen and screaming. My mother called after I'd posted on Facebook that I'd just heard amazing news, thinking the Captain was miraculously coming home for the holidays, or perhaps that I'd won the lottery. When I told her my actual thrilling news, she sounded puzzled at my excitement. To be honest, I was even a little thrown off at how my pulse raced when I read the news, and how close I was to crying real tears of joy over the prospect of a plate of chop suey and fried rice.

But I am someone who feels that things are not random, and that there are powers at work in our universe that transcend our little lives. I believe in looking for a higher reason for ordinary things. And now, after a year filled with tribulation, this one Christmas where the Captain won't be with me, that tradition we established all those years ago--before kids and pets and mortgage payments--has been handed back to me. I can't help but think that all those prayers and thoughts and all that positive energy that was sent in my direction was received in the form of this small sign. So I thank you all for this gift. I feel now that my Christmas will be merry after all.

And if it isn't, at least there'll be egg rolls.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Cheer

The last week has been a little insane.

First my close friend emailed me to say her husband was in the ICU on a respirator with H1N1. Things got bad enough early last week that he had to be put on kidney dialysis. His kidney and liver function was so weak, it was looking very, very bad there for a few days. The good news is that he has now turned a corner and, while he has a very long way to go, he is most definitely on the road to recovery. He is a great guy, and for this good news I am so very thankful.

Then came Friday. I got a phone call in the afternoon from the Captain's uncle. I could hear in his voice that something wasn't right. He didn't beat about the bush. The Captain's father had had another heart attack, but this time he hadn't survived it. It took me about 8 hours to get in contact with the Captain, and because he was so far from base, the satellite communications were terrible. He could hear me, but all I could hear was a dead line. I yelled down the phone that he needed to call me until he got a better line, but four calls later, the situation hadn't improved and I had to just start yelling "YOUR FATHER HAS DIED!" down the line. This was HARDLY the way I had envisioned breaking the news to him.

The Captain is no wimp, and he's doing just fine, choosing to continue on as normal and get the job done...whatever "the job" actually is. I'm not really allowed to know much. But, rest assured, he hasn't gone off the deep end and run into enemy fire with his rifle, or collapsed in a heap on the ground, sobbing. And we are doing fine here too, though I can't help but feel now that I'd really just like to get 2009 behind me. Between Rosemary's Baby's autism diagnosis, the deployment, and now this, I can't help but think 2010 can only be better.

I'm working hard to get into the Christmas spirit here. The tree, as I've mentioned before, is up. Or down, depending on Rosemary's Baby's moods. But it's on display either way. And I have the 24/7 Christmas music station going. The traditional one, not the modern one. I managed about 15 minutes of the latter before Donnie Wahlberg stated "this is a very serious message..." and I had to resist the urge to punch something. When faced with the choice, I'll take Dean Martin over that junk any day.

But it's not completely working yet. I can see that this year, with the Captain missing from the festivities, I'm going to have to work extra hard to feel festive. So I've made some decisions.

Firstly, I am going to fill my own stocking with stuff. I was going to leave it empty, but I realize now that filling it will give me maybe just the slightest lift on Christmas morning. Even though none of it will be a surprise, and certainly none of it will be expensive, I figure the little bit of joy those few new little bits and pieces will give me is well worth the effort. And I also won't have to explain to the kids why Santa skipped me. Bonus!

Secondly, I'm celebrating American Thanksgiving. I'm not actually American, but my parents and most of my siblings are. And I have lived in the U.S. and I love the U.S. and all my bloggy American friends. So why wouldn't I celebrate with you all? I still have much to be thankful for, and it'll be helpful to have an official kickoff to the holiday season. I may have to have roast beef or ham instead of turkey at this late stage, but it'll be a celebration and a chance to give thanks for my many blessings, and that's what counts.

And lastly, I will embrace my inner Grinch. This isn't to say that I'll walk around scowling and making the holidays miserable for everyone else, but I'm also not going to pretend that things are ideal either. I did that after we had Rosemary's Baby diagnosed, before I felt like things were really going to be okay. I was like a supermodel, roughed up by her drug-addicted glam-rock boyfriend, pretending to the world that "Women's Shelter Victim" was the hot new look for young girls. Pathetic. The constant putting on a happy voice and telling everyone how positive I was feeling and how much hope I had for the future was bloody exhausting. I'm not adding that job to my already overwhelming holiday season, thank you very much! Besides, I'm pretty sure the miserable side of being alone (but with kids) at Christmas could make for some pretty funny blogging. Time will tell.

So, I'm not beat yet. This holiday just won't be the same without my husband here, but I think I can still probably salvage a little Christmas cheer. In the meantime...

BAH HUMBUG!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh, Christmas Tree

I have just spent the last hour unwinding the lights on my pre-lit tree. I spent the hour before that trying (unsuccessfully) to find the loose connection that was stopping the big section of lights in the middle from working. At this point, my nice, fake, low-maintenance tree has taken about twice the work of a real one. And it isn't even decorated yet.

The tree arrived yesterday. I know I should've just taken it back, but once I had it together, the idea of taking it apart, packing it up again and lugging it back to the store with kids in tow was just too much to bear. Also, there is the slight possibility that the lighting malfunction may have had something to do with the fact that Rosemary's Baby, seeing a full-sized TREE in our living room, couldn't believe his luck and tried to climb it. Both he and the tree ended up in a horizontal position on the floor. So this one time, it may not be the fault of Sears. Though they still have a lot to answer for in the women's underwear department.

All of this would be less galling if I wasn't still feeling a bit under-the-weather. This cold has gone on long enough. But I've promised Firstborn a tree-trimming party tonight, complete with hot chocolate and marshmallows. I'm going to rest up today, and hopefully I'll be in the mood for it by then.

In the meantime, I can't believe it, but I have pine needles to sweep up.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things...

When we moved to this house, it was largely to get our dogs to stop barking. Living on base or in the city, they'd sit by the window watching for bikes, or scooters, or passing children. And when they saw those things, they'd go bananas, barking and jumping at the window. I guess in the absence of any real threat to their turf, they had to find alternatives.

We moved out here where there was nothing outside the window but a highway and a big farmer's field, and we heaved a HUGE sigh of relief that there was nothing left for the dogs to bark at. So, you can imagine our irritation when, in the first five minutes of living here, they switched from bikes and kids to local wildlife. A squirrel scampers past, and they bark. A few birds drop in looking for crumbs, and they bark. A fox or deer stops on the front lawn and practically poses for my camera, and Rusty and Jerome make like they're going to bust right through the front window, scaring our guest off before I can even get a shot. It's very annoying.

Then came haying season. You could look out into that far-off field and see the teeniest, tiniest distant piece of farm equipment chugging along, cutting or rolling or picking up the hay--whatever it is the farm equipment does (hey, I'm a city girl!). It was almost invisible to the naked eye, it was so far away. But guess who, with their limited canine vision, still managed to make it out and identify it as a threat? ALL SUMMER LONG!

So I got myself into a very bad habit. When the dogs started barking, I stopped bothering to check if there was an axe murderer on the lawn, and just started yelling "SHADDAP!!"

I'm not sure why I continued doing it because it has never, in fact, shut them up. But I did continue and it became a bit of a pattern. Which brings me to today.

Rosemary's Baby, as you may know, has autism. He has some very limited language but is fairly non-verbal. To help him with this (among other things), I send him to a couple of different preschool morning programs. Today, upon picking him up, I was told that he'd had a great day, and had made some new progress in that he'd started shaking his head when he didn't want something. I agreed that this was great progress for him and thanked his aide for letting me know. She replied cheerily with, "No problem. Oh, and he also told me to shut up."

My mouth literally dropped open in horror. I was mortified, and as I spluttered out my apologies, I knew I had no one but myself to blame. Because he doesn't talk or consistently respond to my directions, he seems younger than he is. Because of that, I treat him like a baby and I assume he doesn't understand things that he obviously does. Under all that funny behaviour and lack of verbal communication is a regular little 4 year-old taking it all in. And apparently, letting it all out as well.

I can only, at this point, accept it as a learning experience. No more yelling at the dogs, no spilling my drink and thoughtlessly saying "oh, #*%@!!" and assuming no one is listening from the other room. And if I want to put a positive spin on this, I could note that he did express something verbally, which is definitely a step in the right direction. But in future, even if there's a circus of wildlife parading around our driveway, and the dogs are pulling down the curtains in a frenzy of barking, I'm going to have to completely keep my cool. As it turns out, Rosemary's Baby is looking to me to set an example.

And if today's events are anything to go by, I should be scared to death.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And Now I'm a Grammar Nazi

The Suburban Princess has posted a grammar lesson today on when to use "I" and "me" in a sentence. It has inspired me to offer up a lesson on my own grammatical pet peeve.

Rest assured, I am not reading all your blogs and even noticing errors, let alone mentally correcting them with my imaginary red pen. I don't expect bloggers to follow the rules of grammar, and I'd rather enjoy the blogs I love sans judgement. But if you're interested, I figure I'll (finally) make minimal use of the English degree I got 15 years ago and share this little tidbit.

The one grammar error I see more than any other in my local newspaper looks something like this:

"The people that cause the problems in our community don't want to fix them."

or this:

"Mr. Brown is the person that people should see if they want gardening information."

So here's a very basic, very simple rule to remember: if you're writing about a person, you want to use the word "who" (ie. "The people who cause the problems in our community..."). For anything else, use "that"( ie. "Bobby has a toy car that runs on batteries.").

The only area where this could possibly be confusing is if you're writing about a group or a team of people, in which case you'd go with "that" (ie. "The Greendale Jets were the basketball team that our school needed to beat this weekend.").

Basic? Absolutely. But I think it must be one of the most frequently ignored grammar rules in our language. I could get into essential and nonessential clauses next, but I think you've all been punished enough.

NOW, the first person who can read through this post and find a spelling or grammar error wins a Ferrari*! Go!

*Disclaimer: Ferrari is figment of blog author's feverish imagination. She has flu.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Drabby Pic and Recap

First, here's a drabby pic of me breathing a sigh of relief that my children have gone to bed:





'Nuff said!


Now, onto my Remembrance Day recap.


I fought with myself for a few days about whether or not I'd go to our small town's annual ceremony. As the only military family in town with someone currently serving overseas, it'd look good for me and the kids to show our faces. And there was about an 8% chance of us getting through it quietly and without incident. On the other hand, that meant that there was a 92% chance of Rosemary's Baby ruining everyone's moment of silence by breaking free and noisily climbing the town war memorial while I frantically stage-whispered at him to get down. So in the end, I decided it was just safer to stay home. Small townsfolk remember these things and talk about them for years.


But I wasn't going to sit around the house in my pyjamas, acting like it was just another day off. Firstborn and I had talked about the meaning of Remembrance Day, and I'd told him we'd be watching the big ceremony from Ottawa on TV and having a moment of silence at home to remember those who had fought to protect our freedom. So, at 10:00, I turned on the TV.


We don't have cable, and our local CBC station was recently shut down, so we are now down to one channel, CTV. I'd assumed all along that CTV would have the common decency to be recognizing this solemn occasion and would broadcast the ceremony happening in Ottawa, or at least one from the capital of our own province. I was wrong. CTV had apparently decided that they had a choice. They could take ONE LOUSY HOUR to recognize and remember the many selfless people who have sacrificed their lives and served our country in the last 110 years, or they could continue their proud legacy of crap and run today's episode of The View. I don't think I need to tell you which one they picked.


So, first I got up on my soapbox and lectured a bewildered Firstborn and Rosemary's Baby about the complete lack of respect for our veterans. Then, I stomped over to the computer, muttering something about Elizabeth Hasselbeck and her incessant chatter under my breath, and found the CBC website, where there was a live feed of the ceremony available for us to watch. 5 minutes of chopped-up internet viewing later, Firstborn declared the whole thing boring and wandered off to play lego. Rosemary's Baby had long since left the room to go press buttons on the washing machine, and I was left to try to pick Charles and Camilla out of the pixellated mess that was the video.


I watched the whole thing on principle, only stepping away a couple of times to make sure Rosemary's Baby hadn't gotten trapped in the dryer. The highlight for me was when the reporter talked to a 90 year-old World War II veteran in a wheelchair. He told her this would likely be his last time coming to Ottawa for the ceremony because he'd decided to sell his house and move into a retirement home. Adorable! I wanted to reach through the screen and give him a hug, and I spent the remainder of my morning blubbering.


Next year, I think braving the town Remembrance Day ceremony with my wicked children might actually be less infuriating!

War Stories

With apologies to old hippies everywhere...

When I was a kid, we did a Remembrance Day assembly at school every November 11th. It was always the same. Our well-meaning teachers, who had come of age right at the time when Woodstock, love-ins and LSD were in vogue, yanked out the sheet music to such hippie-tastic numbers as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and put us to work celebrating the relative peace and freedom we continue to enjoy to this day.

I understand what they were trying to do, and I don't blame them for it. But I think those assemblies may have glossed over something very important. Remembrance Day is not about promoting peace. It's about remembering war.

On May 24, 1941, the HMS Hood was destroyed by the Bismarck at the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Some 1428 crew were killed, including my grandmother's little brother, a 21 year-old kid who, like so many others, had left the family farm to fight the good fight.

Every family has at least one story, from one point in history or another, that ends like this. So very many young lives were cut short to protect our freedom on this planet, and so very many others came home forever changed by what they'd experienced. The least we can do is to focus for one day a year on their sacrifices--ugly and unpleasant as those sacrifices were--and remember that they did that for us, and for our children and grandchildren.

Ten years ago, when I taught grade 3, I had my students ask their parents to tell them their family stories, and we made a wreath for Remembrance Day with the names of all our family members who had served in a war and what they did. I ended up hearing many stories. Every child had at least one name to put on that wreath, and I suspect some of them would never have had the stories passed down to them had it not been a homework project. I like to believe that in some way that that Remembrance Day project helped to keep those stories alive for one more generation.

This Remembrance Day, with his dad being overseas, Firstborn is showing some interest. My plan is to keep the frightening details of the Captain's work to myself for now. But I will also not be putting a daisy chain in my hair, donning a broomstick skirt, and hugging a rainbow as I croon "Blowin' In the Wind" either. Instead, I plan to tell my child the family story of my great uncle and the war in which he made the ultimate sacrifice. And I hope that one day, Firstborn will want to tell that same story to his own children.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Moderation

Well kids, the time has come. Because I'm now so popular--or possibly because my profile picture is so sad and creepy--I'm starting to get a fair bit of spam offering to improve my sex life with Viagra and/or enlarge my penis. For the record, I'm happy with my penis just the way it is.

So, just so you don't think something's wrong when your comment doesn't immediately pop up, I'm enabling comment moderation. Bear with me here. This constitutes new and confusing technology for me and it may take a day or so to figure out. As long as you're not offering me sex toys, being blatantly abusive, or threatening terrorism, your comment will (eventually) appear.
William Shatner, this is your cue.

Comment Moderation...The Final Frontier...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Real vs Fake

The Captain has only been gone 2 weeks. Already I've committed the ultimate marital sin.

You hear stories about the things wives get up to while the husbands are serving overseas. The wife who moves a new guy in the minute her husband's gone. The wife who clears out the bank account and does a runner. The one who takes all his extra tour money and spends it on new shoes. I never thought I'd become one of those nuts who does something crazy while he's away. But I have.

Yesterday, I bought one of these:


Okay, fine. For the average marriage, this is not the ultimate sin. But when the Captain finds out, things may get a little heated.

You see, the Captain grew up with a real Christmas tree in his living room every year. It's a tradition that is important to him, and one on which he will not compromise. I grew up with a fake one, so the idea of a real tree doesn't bother me too much. I admit, I like the gorgeous, fresh pine smell that fills the room when you bring it in. But since I'm on my own this year, listening to Firstborn whine every waking minute he's not allowed to be on the computer, chasing Rosemary's Baby out of every forbidden cupboard in the house, and yelling at Rusty and Jerome every time they bark at a passing squirrel, that lovely smell is not worth the extra stress of having to go out, pick a tree, lug it home, saw off the bottom, set up the stand, water it daily, watch for fire hazards, untangle strings of lights, and lug it back out when we're done with it. Ordering a fake, pre-lit tree online that will end up costing about the equivalent of 2 real trees, and that comes with its own stand and no need for watering is well worth a lecture from my husband this time around.

The other advantage of a fake tree is that I can put it up as early as I like. I'm thinking I need as much extra Christmas cheer around here as I can get this year, and having my tree up and the carols going before November is over may be a good way to get me into the Christmas spirit. I figure it's worth a try.

And if it doesn't get me tap-dancing around the house singing White Christmas at the top of my lungs, at least I'm not sweeping up pine needles.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Debt

Stephanie's Group Blog Thursday today is about freebies. I actually have very little advice to give on getting stuff for free. I do go to save.ca and print up coupons, and I do enter contests and giveaways when I can, but that's about the extent of me finding things for free. What actually made me want to post when I saw Stephanie's blog today was that she talked about her credit card rewards. And I have some very strong opinions (who ME?!) on credit cards.

When the Captain and I graduated from university and headed cross-country to find our fortunes, we were in some debt. Certainly not the kind of debt a lot of people come out of school with these days, but for two out-of-work kids with rent to pay, the $30,000 or so we did owe was overwhelming and caused us huge amounts of worry. So, when we both got good jobs that paid better than anything we'd ever had before, we set about the task of paying off that debt and acquiring some savings for the future. It was the best thing we could've done.

We lived like college students on his income, and used mine to pay down the debt and build up that nest egg. And when the credit cards and student loans were paid off, it was like a huge weight had been lifted. We rarely argued about money, and we rarely do now, and I think that is probably the biggest gift in all of this. So many marriages are bogged down with that extra stress, and frankly, marriage can be hard enough without it.

So if I was to be asked for advice on this (because giving out unwanted advice is not something anyone should get in the habit of, and I've also never dealt with $200,000 in student loans like many of you out there have, so I'm no expert on serious crippling debt), I'd tell anyone coming out of school to keep living poor, and pay down those debts as best you can. In the end, you'll appreciate the inner peace more than you would the fancy car or the leather furniture that credit card can get you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I've Got This Theory About Muppets...

Today being the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, I've decided to share with you an insane little theory I've been working on for years. Let's see if you can figure out what it is.

When I was a wee thing, I loved Bert. Bert was my favourite of all the muppets. His bottle cap collection was so awesome. And all those paper clips! WHO has that many paper clips? The answer, some 30 years later, is ME! I'm an organization nerd. I like order, and I cannot relax in my own living room if it's a mess. I'm anal. I'm bossy. I'm cranky. I'm...Bert.

Sister #1 is just a year younger than me. When we were little, she liked the Count. She ended up being the more academically inclined of the two of us, and she grew up to become an actuary, which means she has a very intricate understanding of the world of finance. She doesn't live in a creepy castle with bats (though that would be cool), and she doesn't wear a black cape, but she might have a widow's peak if I pulled her hair back (hmmm...note to self: yank sister's hair back during next visit). But she's great with numbers, and that's got to count for something. Har-dee-har-har.

Do you see what I'm getting at? There seems to be a corelation between the muppets we liked and the people we became. Did the muppets we identified with as children shape who we are now? Or were we already those people even way back then, and that's why we liked who we did? Or, is it just a coincidence?

Did anyone else out there like a muppet they ended up emulating in adult life? I think I may have finally found my perfect PhD thesis here...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Recap

Well, the monkey-children are in bed and we got exactly ZERO trick-or-treaters. Halloween is done for another year. What a relief!

After we got home from our own trick-or-treating fun, this little interchange occurred:

Firstborn: I love you.
Me: I love you too!
Firstborn: I was talking to my candy.

Sigh...here's a shot from before the sugar high kicked in.


Tomorrow, I bludgeon the jack-o-lanterns and make a pie. Happy Halloween!

A True Halloween Fright

As I've mentioned, my parents were down for a short visit recently. They really are stars, showing up here with all kinds of fun stuff for me. Among many other things, my mom saves me all her magazines and brings me a stack so I have something to read during my downtime. This is a real treat for me, since I don't often buy magazines myself.

This morning, I was having a leisurely browse through Woman's Day over coffee when I suddenly found myself recoiling in horror at this:


OH MY LORD!!! I'd like to thank the wizards at the Ashton-Drake Galleries for coming up with something new for me to have nightmares about.
Here's hoping YOUR halloween is just as frightening, my loyal blog buddies!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Gift From My Neighbour

I love the way a kid's brain works.

Tonight, my next-door neighbour called, as he sometimes does, and said he'd been cleaning out the garage and found some of his (grown) kids' old books, and would my kids be interested in them? As both my boys are avid readers, and knowing he'd have some classic English fare there (his late wife was a British expat), I told him to bring them on over.

After I hung up, I told Firstborn that Mr. Brown* was coming by with some new books for him. He looked up at me, all excited, and said:

"Will he be in costume?!!"

I had to try hard not to laugh out loud at the thought of the sixty-something farmer from next door, who had been erecting snow fence in his fields all day in the cold and rain, putting on a clown suit before swinging by our place to drop something off. Firstborn seemed pretty disappointed when I told him no.

But look at what was amongst the piles of Beano annuals!


The first full-length novel featuring Peter, Janet and the gang, along with their (probably snooty) dog, Scamper! It's The Secret Seven, by Enid Blyton (Rah-ther!). One look at this old-timey copy told me we'd stumbled across something with a bit of history to it. So I opened it up and had a look at the inside cover.


A heartfelt message from someone's Auntie, and what looks like some sort of library marking system. Did they not have the old cards and pockets, with the Dewey Decimal System numbers back then?! In any case, this book was borrowed from somewhere on July 3rd, 1959 and was due back a week later. By my calculations, that makes it 50 years, 3 months and 10 days past due!

What do you suppose the late charges would be on that?!
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Routine

Oh boy, what a month! The Captain has now deployed to places unpleasant and dangerous, and I'm coping with the fear by pretending he's on course and refusing to watch or read any news. I have to say, denial is working well for me!

The Captain had nearly a month off before he left, and right after he deployed my parents came out for a visit. You know parents. I suspect they wanted to see for themselves that, between Rosemary's Baby's diagnosis and the Captain's departure all within a 6-week period, I was not about to have a complete nervous breakdown. They stayed a few days and headed off down the highway for home this morning. So presumably, they figure I'm doing alright.

We had such a great visit, and it came at the perfect time, but necessity dictates that we need to be getting back into routine now. We have had pretty much 6 straight weeks of uproar around here. Both Firstborn and Rosemary's Baby are quite out-of-sorts. As it turns out, we ALL need our routines!

In other news, a VERY belated thank you to Stephanie from Steph In the City , who gave me this award:




For those of you who don't know Stephanie, getting an award from her is like a singer getting a Grammy from Tina Turner, or an actor getting an Oscar from Al Pacino, or a dog getting "Best in Show" from Scooby Doo. It's a serious honour!!
*Stephanie is just a few votes away from becoming the next big name in romantic fiction, so if you have a minute, please, please, please go vote for her here, and tell all your friends to do the same!

A big thank you as well to Allison, AKA Tater Tot Mom, for this:


A wonderful award from a wonderful mom and blogger! I'm sending all my positive energy in Allison's direction, as she would love to have another little pair of feet running her ragged. So everyone do me a favour and send your positive energy, prayers and good karma her way too! And if you karaoke, a little Elvis Costello wouldn't hurt either! Man, why don't people write songs like that about Wendy?!

Also, a HUGE thank you to Tamara at Mad Boastings of a Cheapskate Mom for this:



Yes, it's true! My unlucky streak has been broken! I won the last Drabby to Fabby! I urge you all to start fabbing yourselves up and entering. You too could win awesome booty like this! I'm at a point now where everything seems like a good Drabby-to-Fabby entry. I'm currently contemplating polishing up my nasty, rusty, hard-water stained coffee mugs and posting pictures. It's that addictive, people!

Okay, so give me a few days to slide back into life around here, and I'll be back to reading all your blogs, commenting, and posting a couple of times a week myself. Routine is so comforting!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Autism Isn't Everything

Rosemary's Baby is autistic.

I wasn't sure I wanted to ever mention this. Firstly, it's one thing for me to relay his naughty adventures from the perspective of the frazzled mom that we can all relate to, but it's quite another for me to blab his very personal issues to the world willy-nilly. I have a responsibility to protect his privacy. As well, this sort of thing is SO not what I wanted my blog to be about. I was always just hoping to find the fun in a life that can be mundane, frustrating and exhausting. Turning this into Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, or worse yet, Super Army Wife's Autism Blog Of Heroes kind of makes me want to puke in my mouth a little.

But I'm outing my kid now because I know realistically that if I want to tell these stories properly, it's going to come up from time to time. Rosemary's Baby continues to do outrageous and hilarious things that I simply must share, and it's about embracing him for who he is. Besides, when he grows up and writes his Mommy-Dearest-style tell-all about me, we'll totally be even.

I'm relatively new to this autism business, and I admit the first ten days post-diagnosis were about as bad as it gets emotionally. But having processed what it all means to him and to us, I know really that this is one of those situations where perspective is everything. So I choose to do all that I can to help my boy reach his maximum potential and to live a happy life. I choose to take this seriously and come at it from every possible angle. But I will not let him grow up thinking he needs to be "fixed". I will not raise my little guy to think that his disorder was the ruin of us. I will not choose to be miserable when I can choose to be happy.

Here's a recent shot of us goofing around:




As you can see, we're still finding the fun.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Checking Out

Soooo...I promised a new post this past weekend...and now it's Tuesday. Sounds about right!

I once again found myself avoiding the impulse purchase at Wal Mart today. It's actually getting easy now. I guess practice really does make perfect! But the more I avoid picking things up on impulse, the more attention I find myself paying to the way stores market their wares. Today, for example, I was really intrigued by the stuff at the checkout.

You know the things I'm talking about. The array of reading material, with candy underneath, and across the way, the racks of...everything. Those odds and ends that just sort of end up being the things we'd maybe grab on our way out, thinking they'll come in handy. There are lighters, dangly air fresheners for the car, glue sticks. That kind of thing. I can remember once buying a keychain that doubled as a miniature tire pressure gauge. The thing was too small to handle, let alone uncap and stick in my tire (handy really, since I rarely check the pressure of my tires!). But for some reason, standing at that checkout stand waiting for the guy in front of me to write the girl a cheque (does anyone actually write cheques anymore?!), I got it into my head that I really needed one of these things, and the outrageous $10 they were asking for it was a great deal!

And then there's the magazines. It used to be entertaining to read the covers. It was even more entertaining to find something that looked so good, I just had to spend the $7 to bring it home with me. A week later, it'd be in the recycle box waiting for someone else to take it off my hands. And the headlines. My God! Seriously, when Cosmo claims to have the inside scoop on what men really want in bed, they actually just walked out to the front of the building and found a bunch of idiots who were willing to blab their sexual fantasies to a complete stranger! "Steve, Investment Banker, 29" is probably someone they found peeing behind the dumpster.

The candy issue should really be a no-brainer. But, that too, I had to learn the hard way. Before I had kids, I'd hit the grocery store after work, tired and hungry. On my way through the checkout, which was always interminably slow, I'd convince myself one chocolate bar wouldn't hurt. Back then, I was 30 lbs heavier than I am now.

The moral of the story here is that when you're in line waiting to pay for something, you need to stare straight ahead and do everything you can not to look at all that crap they're trying to trick you into buying. Actually, stare at the cashier. It'll probably scare her into moving faster.

And thank you to Jen at the wonderful blog I'm Just Jen. Take it or Leave it for this fantastic award!

I'm loving all this award action lately (it's true. I'm an attention junkie), but I'm not finding a lot of time to pass them on, so one day I'm going to write a massive post awarding all kinds of blogs with all kinds of awards. Just not today!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

These Eyes

My blogging is slipping lately, and I promise to remedy that as soon as I figure out how to clone myself.

For now, here's another Drabby to Fabby before and after! Yes, it's true. I'm slowly turning into one of those people who enters contests for a living. This one is all about smoky eyes. The Captain thought I did it for him. Sweet, silly Captain.

Before


Check out the wrinkles, the paleness and the pores. Yuck! Also, look at those dull, dead eyes. Most people have to have a lobotomy to get that look. I have Rosemary's Baby.
After

The smoky look! Okay fine, the makeover did nothing for my wrinkles or my pores. And "smoky" might be a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe "foggy" is a better descriptor. Either way, I must've been happy with the look because my eyes seem to have gained some life in the transformation.

Proper post this weekend, I promise. Happy Thursday, everyone! The weekend is almost at hand!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Letter to Wendy 1988

I'm really late at jumping on this bandwagon, but a week or two back Diggestive at Writing about Everything and a Few Lists (among many others, but this is where I first saw it, so he gets the credit) wrote a letter to himself at a different time in his life. I love this idea. We all know that hindsight's 20/20, but it's fun to think what might be different if we'd known back then what we know now.

Dear Wendy 1988,

For the love of God, get rid of that curling iron AND the hairspray. Your hair should not look like it was pulled into a tornado and then laquered so it'd stay that way forever. Also, acid-wash jeans and rainbow suspenders might look cool while you're bouncing around to MC Hammer at the high school dance, but the pictures will not stand the test of time. You look ridiculous.

The following items will end up in a landfill, and you should NOT spend your (dad's) hard-earned money on them:
  • George Michael-style fedora
  • Cassette tapes
  • Fluorescent pink walkman
  • Polka-dot mini skirt
  • Teen magazines
  • New Kids on the Block concert tickets, posters and related paraphernalia
And now that we've pretty much established that you're clueless, there are a couple of things you should know in order to plan your future.

The world, God, and your parents owe you nothing. You, and you alone, are responsible for how happy you end up. Life is not supposed to be easy or fair, so get right out of that mindset and prepare to start learning and becoming a better person for it. Perspective is everything, and when life gets tough, you have the choice to lay down and die or get up, soldier on and adjust your way of thinking. When faced with the option to laugh or cry, laughter is infinitely more fun.

It's hard to believe, when teachers, friends and parents are telling you how much potential you have, to think that one day you'll know that being smart is a whole lot less important than being nice. The world is full of people who want to show everyone how smart they are, and actually have no idea that they're being an obnoxious ass in the process. At the end of the day, being a kind person (not to be confused with being a doormat) will make the world a little bit nicer. And for the sake of our kids, we need a nicer world.

Step outside your comfort zone from time to time, don't apply for credit cards, and always judge men by what they do, not by what they say.

See you on the flippity flip-flop! Try not to scream when you see how grey your hair has gotten...

Hearts and Flowers,

Futuristic Wendy of the New Millennium

*********
Incidentally, Diggestive also bestowed this lovely award on me last week.




I'm in award heaven!! Thank you!!

*****************
Post Script (my first one ever!):

It has just come to my attention that the "letter" actually originated (at least amongst the blogs I follow) as a Group Blog Thursday over at Steph in the City. My apologies--my brain hasn't been working quite right lately. I was likely catching up on my blogs in reverse order!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Just a Quickie

Things are nutty around here! But I wanted to show off my new skirt before Drabby to Fabby was over and it was too late to show it to you and call it a makeover!

Here is my (out-of-focus) drabby shot:


It's me in my PJ's, with Rosemary's Baby bouncing around behind me (because it's really too much to ask to be left alone for 5 minutes on my bed in the morning, right?!). I think Bert's expression pretty much says it all.

But look at how much better I look a short time later (try to ignore all that clutter on my kitchen counter)!


My hair is brushed, I'm wearing a little lip gloss. And do you like my new skirt? No, I didn't go back on my no-impulse-shopping plan. I used up some (rather loud) fabric from my stash and made myself a very simple A-line skirt! It's like shopping, but without the guilt!

The moral of the story is, if you're going to go all minimalist and anti-consumer, you should do it after a series of really big shopping sprees...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'd Like to Thank Everyone I've Ever Met

Just a quick thanks to Theresa at The Fultons for this very nice award!


As you all know, I'm terrible at following instructions, and things are so crazy here right now that the idea of picking 15 of you and then commenting ALL of you makes my head spin! So, I'd like to break the rules a little and pass this award on to all of you out there who are reading and blogging. If you've never won an award before (or even if you've won 100), this one's for you, from me! Post it on your own blog if you like, and feel free to say that I gave it to you! And, of course, don't forget to include a lengthy acceptance speech, thanking your third grade teacher, throwing in a few references to your most extreme political views, and posting a picture of yourself in your most glittery evening attire. Then if you're feeling up to it, you can throw yourself an after-party. If the paparazzi show up, we'll need links to the tabloid pics.

Have a fantastic weekend, my loyal subjects!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Books of My Youth

I've been getting further and further behind in my blog-reading lately, so I'm playing catch-up tonight. Stephanie at Steph in the City has a weekly feature called Group Blog Thursday, which I always mean to participate in, but never find the time to. So this week, I risk getting even more behind in the laundry, losing ten extra minutes of sleep, and missing the Leafs scoring the winning goal (snort!) to answer the question "What book(s) did you love growing up?"

1. Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You Book: I got this book when I was 6, and I took it with me on the ship when my family moved from Canada back to England for a few years. Sailing across the ocean made me sick for the full ten days, but I'll never forget how jealous I was that Pig Will got to eat ice cream after helping his dad at work. When I met the Captain, I discovered that he'd loved this book as well, and not long afterwards, he bought me a copy (the cover is STILL the same!) to replace my long-lost one. Firstborn and I have read it together many times.

2. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret: I'm betting every woman who came of age after 1970 would list this one. It helped that Margaret had just moved to a new town. I could relate. We'd moved to Detroit from England when I discovered this book at the age of 11. The idea of someone writing about (gasp!) a girl my age wanting to get her period was shocking after a childhood of the very different (but equally wonderful) Enid Blyton, and I've loved Judy Blume ever since.

3. Rebecca: I read this at about 14 or 15 in English class and it had everything. Romance, mystery, and a shocking twist at the end. Seeing the movie afterwards began my obsession with the films of Alfred Hitchcock. And you know, anything that gets you watching Hitchcock has got to be good.

In all honesty, I could go on and on and on about this topic. Almost every one of my memories from my childhood involves me with a Beano annual or my Girl Guides handbook or the Famous Five (rah-ther!!) in hand. But those were the three that came to mind first, and from three different points in my childhood.

If there's one thing I hope my kids inherit from us, it's a love of reading. And when I check in on one or the other of them and find them oblivious to my presence, engrossed in a book, I know they're already halfway there.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Drabby to Fabby Feet

Tamara over at Mad Boastings of a Cheapskate Mom has a new feature called Drabby to Fabby Friday. And yes, I know it's almost Tuesday. But cut me some slack here. Frankly, I'm lucky I made it to within a week!
Having had a distracting last couple of weeks, I didn't read the instructions quite right and thought I had to fab up my feet. It turns out I didn't, but I figure it was still a good start. This week, I'll do my feet, next week maybe I'll move upwards and shave my legs. And before you know it, I'll be showing off my rock hard abs! Why do I hear hysterical laughter coming from somewhere...

Anyway, Drabby to Fabby Friday served as a timely reminder that if I want to be the best I can be for my family, I have to take care of myself first. We moms always say that, but then our needs are the first to hit the road when time is at a premium. So I got strict and forced myself to toss the piles of laundry aside last night and get working on my gross, crypt-keeper feet. Here's the before pic (try not to cringe!):

Note the peeling nail polish, dry skin, broken nail, and the dirt from the daily trek through the vegetable patch under and around every single nail. Disgusting! Be thankful you can't see that my heels are so dry and dead and callused that I could walk over hot coals and not feel a thing. My feet have been ignored for too long!

I like to make do with what I have around the house, so nothing special was used in prettying things up down there. I filled a plastic tub with warm water and added some bath oil that was given to me in, I think, 2002, and never used until now. I soaked my feet for about 15 minutes, and then went to work on those nasty heels with a pumice stone. It really did the trick.

Next, I dried off my feet, and rubbed in some vaseline and then some cheap apricot facial scrub (this is my cheap version of the Mary Kay Satin Hands set--I'm too cheap to buy the real thing!). Then I used some bath gel to wash that off and then dealt with all that dirt using more bath gel and a nail brush. When that was done, I dried off again and moisturized with some Bath and Body Works Orange Ginger lotion the Captain brought home from a recent hotel stay. Then I clipped and filed my nails, removed the old nail polish and re-painted my toes (for the last time this year, I'm sure).

Here are my new-and-improved feet:



I know, I know. Can you even see a difference?! But they feel so much better!
One tip I should share is something I learned from Sister #2 a couple of years ago. If, like me, you find in the winter that the bottoms of your feet get so dry, you can walk across a carpet and stick to it like velcro, go to the dollar store and buy a cheap 3-pack of lip gloss (the stuff that you roll up like ChapStick) and rub that all over the bottoms of your feet before bed. It keeps them surprisingly moisturized. Just make sure not to mix them up with your regular lip gloss...

And there you have it. My feet look, or at least feel better, and I didn't have to spend a dime!

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Year!

Today is my one-year blog-iversary! What does this mean? That I'm a nerd who celebrates made-up holidays... But it's an excuse to eat cake--or at least those dried-up old donuts that have been sitting in my fridge for a few days now. And since it falls on a Friday, it means that after the kids go to bed, I'll make some cheesy popcorn and the Captain and I (and possibly my new purse which, I admit, I've been cuddling and stroking like a small dog) will have a glass of wine and watch a movie. Date night! Woo hoo!
In the past year, life has changed a lot, and stayed the same as well. I've made some great friends in the blog community, and found so many awesome blogs that make me laugh, or drool, or feel inspired. I've also spent way too much time online. Some of my worries have been resolved, but they've made way for new, sometimes bigger worries. But I guess when it comes down to it, no matter how brutal life gets, if no one dies, you'll probably be alright in the end. And even if you aren't, it's the people you connect with who lift you back up and dust you off and remind you that you are not alone.
So I thank you, my blog buddies, for floating around out here in cyberspace with me. Here's to 365 more days of insanity, purses, messy children, absent husbands, stinky dogs, garden adventures (I still hear growling...) and friendship in the 21st century!

And tomorrow is another (blogging) day...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Glimmer of Light in the Dark

I'm not really up to blogging at the moment, so bear with me here. But I thought I should confess that my plan to not buy anything unnecessary has hit a sort of grey area. The Captain has aided and abetted my shopping habit by buying me this:


Now, here's the dilemma. The Captain bought it. I didn't. BUT, we have a joint bank account. And I did not, in any way, need a new purse. So, did I cheat? Or is it all his fault?

Either way, I'm not too bothered if I cheated right now. This bag has been the very best part of what has, without doubt, been the worst week of my life. It is also absolutely the most beautiful, buttery-soft, high-quality purse I have ever owned.

I always wondered if having a really nice purse would turn me off the allure of something cheap-and-cheerful forever.

The verdict's in. Cheapness will never beat out quality again!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Military Life 101

6 years ago this week, I began my journey as a military wife.

The Captain and I had already been married for 6 years, and we had never, during that entire time, spent a night apart. But when the Captain decided he needed to make a career change and try something he had always wanted to do, like the devoted wife I am, I shrugged my shoulders and said "okay".



Our timing was terrible.



My sister was getting married at the other end of the country when Firstborn was due, so family members were simply not available to come down for the birth. Most of my friends were teachers who had just started the new school year and couldn't possibly take any time off. In the end, I had one awesome friend, a stay-at-home mom who kept her phone on night and day for me, and a doula we hired just to ensure I had a ride to the hospital. I owe these two a debt of eternal gratitude.


On the morning of September 19th, a week after the Captain had flown across the country to begin his new career, Firstborn started to cause me some pain. He did, of course, wait until I was pushing a cart through Safeway. So, as I was walking around the frozen foods aisle, and having to stop every 10 minutes or so to double over in pain, it occurred to me that this must be it. Finally, the gargantuan alien in my stomach was ready to come out! But, remembering the tales of 50-hour first labours in my (almost completely useless) birthing classes, I decided to finish shopping, so there would at least be milk in the house when I got home from the hospital.


After an uncomfortable drive home (ladies, do NOT try to drive while in labour!), I went about the business of timing the contractions. To make a long story short (because isn't it the most tiresome thing in the world to hear a person tell their whole nightmare birth story in detail?!), my labour ended up lasting about 26 hours, with 4 horrific hours of pushing. The labour, and the three months of single parenting that followed were, shall we say, a bit of a learning experience. Here are some highlights:

  • The first 8 hours of labour were spent alone at home, timing contractions and wondering why no one had warned me it was so painful (little did I know what was to come!). At about hour four, Father-In-Law called and asked me how I was. I told him my contractions were 4 minutes apart and I was trying to time them, thinking it'd get him off the phone faster. Father-In-Law's response? "Oh great!" and then fifteen minutes of non-stop talking about himself. This kind of thing is why we prefer to live far, far away from them...

  • During hour three of the pushing stage, the doula, who was used to being hired because someone wanted a natural birth experience, decided it was time to start doing things the hippie-dippy-crunchy-granola way. I'd have preferred to stay on my back, but I'm wimpy so I really didn't want to argue, and before I knew it, I found myself (prepare for WAY too much information here, people!) on my hands and knees, buck naked (no idea where my backless gown had gone by this point, but it was gone) with my giant butt in the air. When that proved unsuccessful, she then had me hanging on what they called a "squatting bar" trying to push my giant-headed baby out using the birthing-in-the-potato-field method. In the end, I flopped back down on my back and waited for a doctor to become available to retrieve what turned out to be an almost ten-pound baby, using something that looked like a toilet plunger. That's when the doula pulled out the camera...
    I won't horrify you with those pictures, but seriously, check out this noggin!



  • After Firstborn spent 5 days in NICU (fetal distress from being stuck in my birth canal for FOUR HOURS! Go figure!), we then spent a few days sleeping in my friend's guest room, until I insisted that I needed to get myself home and figure out how to do this on my own. It wasn't easy, but I didn't end up jumping off a bridge either. My mom came out twice to help, and was wonderful. My in-laws came out once to be served cups of tea and meals prepared by me between breastfeedings, and almost put me over the edge. Monster-In-Law (who is the Captain's stepmother and never actually raised any kids of her own) was the first to run back to Ontario and viciously tell any family member who would listen what a terrible job I was doing. I look forward to one day "helping" her down a flight of stairs.

  • And three months later, just before Christmas, Firstborn met his dad in a crowded airport. A lady standing nearby was driven to tears at the sight of a man in uniform meeting his baby for the first time, and kindly took a family photo for us.


A lot of people have heard me tell of this experience and asked how I survived, saying they couldn't possibly do it. And my answer to them is always the same. When you have no choice, you do whatever you have to. This was my introduction to military life--and what an introduction! But it taught me that I'm capable and independent, and that if I should someday have to handle life on my own, I can.

And in the end, whatever our loved ones do for a living, that's something we should all be able to say.