Thursday, December 27, 2007

A day of rest.

I did it! Christmas robots were assembled enough to be given on Christmas. A Christmas email replaced Christmas cards (sorry, anonymous, but you're fated for another cardless year. do what you must to console your wife for me). Andrew loves his robot and the weird Ikea night light Lisa sent him made him decide to spend his first night sleeping in his own room. Post-Christmas dinner was brillant and delicious, and my visiting friends decided to stay an exta night. My present, a laptop, is on its way in the mail, and despite my thwarted attempt to shop locally (if only local merchants would co-operate with my attempts to buy things from them) I still got it for a good price. Dave took Andrew sledding today while Aaron and I hung out and read "The Very Busy Spider" about a thousand times and folded laundry/played peek-a-boo, and otherwise I mostly just hung around the house today. All in all, a successful holday was had by all in the family. Hooray!

Now I just have several crafty things to finish up and mail and give away, and then I will have lots of lovely things to post for your viewing enjoyment (I just don't want to spoil anyone's surprise by posting it here before they get it in real life).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Only when you are making dolls is a bag of miscellaneous limbs a good thing. I can't reall post anything, but I have many half-finished stuffed creatures around the house right now. I'm working on the boys' robots by night and some dolls by day. I don't think I'll get the robots totally finished, but if I can get them stuffed and put faces on them by Christmas I'll be happy. I can then do the control panels later -- if I can manage to convince Andrew to give the robot back to me for a few days. He has coveted every robot I've made so far and I promised he could have one for Christmas, so he's pretty excited about the possibility of getting one.

I was super stressed out about finishing everyone's toys by Christmas, but then Dave reminded me that I'm doing this for fun. So I decided to try to finish the toys of the people who live here, and then send out the others late when I get them done.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Funny, funny boys!

I have lots of pre-Christmas goodness to post, but I don't have time to download and then upload the photos right now, so suffice it to say its beginning to look a lot like Christmas (or as much as it ever does) around here.

For now, though, just had to tell everyone in cyberland what Andrew said in the middle of dinner tonight: "Excuse me, but I have to go put out a fire. Oh, but I guess I'd better finish my dinner first."

Also, the other day he said he didn't want to eat anything because it wasn't dark yet, and I asked him if he was celebrating Ramadan (Dave was there, so someone did get the actual joke). Andrew replied, "I'm not a Dromedon, I'm a boy!"

Also, Aaron is starting to walk. He's hilarious, though, because he stands up somewhere, then waits until everyone / anyone in the room is looking at him (usually), then he sticks his arms out with limp wrists, like a zombie, and with great concentrations takes about four steps, then sits down. His other new trick is giving "five" which he will do for as long as you keep holding your hand out. I guess I know how I'm keeping him amused next time we go to Saskatoon . . .

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How do these things always happen to us?

Well, I am in Nipawin. I was supposed to be here for three days while Dave went on his secret cross-border shopping mission. However, something came loose in our car engine and rattled around in there enough to trash the thing. So dave is hanging around in a town in North Dakota until it gets fixed, and I am here, as I have no car if I go home, and am not really into trying to grocery shop, etc, with the boys on the sled, and this keeps my boys occupied playing with other kids so they don't have enough time to constantly fight with each other. And I have other adults to talk to.

So here I am, until whenever the car gets fixed and Dave gets back. It is getting kind of surreal now. Today I felt like I was in some sort of strange dream all day, becuase yesterday I drove back home to feed the cat and then drove back here. Ever since I was in my house i've felt like I accidentally drove back into some parallell dimension. Very strange.

Fortunately I had decided to bring some of my craft stuff with me to do, so I finished a quilt and have got quite a lot of future fun fabric goodness cut. But I still have a ton of sewing and stuffing and embroidering to do when I get home, not to mention getting a Christmas tree, decorating, wrapping presents, sending Christmas cards, baking . . . we might be a bit short on time this year. Ah well, no one really expects to get their card from the Chapmans before New Years anyway.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sickness guilt.

This always happens to me. After two or three days of haraunging Andrew for being unreasonable / failing to eat / waking up at strange times / complaining about obscure things (such as hurting bones) / wanting to be held and carried all day / not being able to walk fast, he invitably starts throwing up, wakes up with a fever, or suddenly has a runny nose. Upon analyzing the data from the last few days I then say "Oh, you were sick. Sorry for being so exasperated. That must have been terrible." I am then wracked with guilt as I remember dragging him through the snow on the way home from playgroup calling "its cold! hurry up! no, I can't carry you!".

Then a few days later, when I get struck by the first, hidden symptoms of the same sickness (a terrible headache, chills and a low grade fever, or hurting bones), I feel even more guilty. I am an adult and I wish someone would snuggle on the couch all day with me. Fortunately, Andrew is usually up to the all day snuggle job, as long as I read him the same book a hundred and fourteen times while we are snuggling. The only problem is that then when I need to get something done he is insensed and unreasonable that I expect him to find something independent to do for 5 minutes while I change the baby's diaper or peel carrots.

So yeah, we're all sick around here. I'm in the stuffy head / sinus infection stage and the boys are in the rattly chest cough, if only we could get this phlegm up we'd be happy stage of a really nasty cold. Fortunately, since I didn't feel I could foist my very sick self off on any of my friends for three days, Dave decided to pospone his secret mission for a week. Whew.

Making a Thorough Examination

Aaron is at that stage now where he is pulling everything out of everywhere -- all my cupboards, bookshelves and toy boxes are emptied daily. His examination routine has become more elaborate over time. Before it used to be pretty simple: Can I pick it up? Can I shake it? Can I eat it? Can I drop it? After a "yes" or "no" answer was added to these boxes (generally ending with either eating or dropping said object, or as a variation, carrying it around in his mouth like a dog) he would carry on. Now we are getting into more complex evaluation. Added to the list are such questions as: Can I spin around in a circle on my bum while shaking / holding it? Will it fit inside my Weebles farm? Will it go down the slide of my Weebles farm? Can I push it around on the floor? Can I push other things with it as I push it around on the floor? This has led to the discovery that Andrew's sippy cup will fit into the Weebles farm (we tried about 10 times just to prove the theseis), but will not go down the slide, while Andrew's toothbrush will go down the slide.
Of course the ultimately entertaining question is, "Will it elicit a scream from big brother if I touch it?". The joy of having multiple children.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Time to get a new sled.

Well, trip #2 in the sled was another disaster. I only put Andrew in the sled this time, because Aaron fell asleep as I was nursing him just before we left, so I decided it would be kinder to carry him. Andrew sat in the sled, and becuase there's this little ergonomically designed bump about 6 in down, he's usually uncomfortable, so made him sit in front of the bump, with my diaper bag behind the bump for him to lean on. Then I bundled him up in a blanket and we took off the Extra Foods.

Little did I realize that it was really cold. Although the thermometer said -15, I'm sure it must have been at least -22 or more with the wind chill. So there I am, half way to extra foods, thinking "Well, it can't get any colder. As long as we're quick and get out before it starts getting dark, we'll be fine."

We got to Extra foods about 2:30, but since the sun goes down early these days, its starts to cool off even more by 4 or 5, so I rushed through our groceries, carrying a grumpy, awake, too hot baby who was trying to roll himself backwards out of the mei tai to get away from my body heat, and a preschooler who kept protesting "You're going too fast! Too fast, mom!" because he hasn't figured out how to walk well in winter boots yet. After a rushed shopping trip, we tuck the groceries around and on top of Andrew -- milk, soy milk, cheerios, juice, fruit cocktail. I bundle Andrew and the groceries up and we start towards home.

Two older women stop their cars on the way and ask us if we need a ride, because we look so cold. Plus Andrew kicks the blanket off and I have to go back and get it (reminder to self: do not use baby's newly made blanket on the sled again in case it gets lost/damaged). So we rush home, which was great excersise for me, through the wind and cold. Aaron fell back asleep (or was just stunned into a coma by the cold, I'm not sure which) and Andrew peeked out miserably from underneath the blanket until we got home at 3. I take both boys into the house, and come back out to get the groceries only to discover . . . that I have one can of fruit cocktail in the sled. Fortunately the milk was in the driveway and the Cheerios were just down the road. Unfortuantely, the soy milk and apple juice were never recovered. I consider them casualties to the cause.

You Should Live Each Day As If. . .

A plumber was about to come and turn off the hot water. Seriously. I was so productive this morning because I knew that I had to get things done before the plumbers came to replace the hot water tank. I should always do things right when they need to be done (um, instead of writing on my blog while my supper dishes sit in the sink . . . ).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Madness! Madness!


You may well wonder where I've been lately. Well, I've been wading through the madness of having a mobile baby and a posessive preschooler. Suddenly, every time I have Andrew alone, he asks, "Why did you want another boy, mommy?" or comments about how "Aaron gets into all my stuff". Consequently, as well as doing a lot of protecting the baby from being pushed / redirected / dragged around by his brother (as well as burried under blankets, duvets, sleds and couch cushions), we have moved all Andrew's favorite imagination play toys into what will be his room once we re-arrange everything and clear out a room in the basement to be the guest room.


I have also been making little people birthday gifts. Here is one of the sets of beanbags I made for some of Andrew's local friends.

And this is Sam Lukin's robot. It is slightly less ornate than Edmund's because it is for a one year old (no choking hazards, please), but I did mail some buttons to be added for eyes at a later date.

I also made a cute little red courdoroy purse for my god daughter, Marie, but I forgot to take a picture (I'll have to get one later). I love the size and shape of it so much that I am going to have to make myself one with a longer strap. Its a perfect wallet / keys / novel or notebook and pen size.

Then there has been the snow. I bought a sled so I could trek through the snow with the boys. Our first trip was not a qualified success. It took us 40 min. to get to the library (it usually takes 15 in the stroller) because I had to readjust everyone, Aaron was laying on Andrew and "hurting his bones", Aaron was falling out, Andrew was pushing Aaron, Andrew wanted to pull the sled, the rope came loose and parts of the sidewalk had been cleared and I had to drag the sled across them. There were some points where Aaron was just in the sled. It was a very silly trip, we were 20 min late for library story time and there were some points on the way home when no one was in the sled except the library books. Ah well, we'll try again this week.

I have also been fiendishly working on baby Jeremy's quilt, which is two seams away from being ready to sandwich and quilt (hooray!). For some reason Andrew loves to drive over the pieces of this quilt every time I lay it on the floor, so its a bit wobbly because I just couldn't keep ironing the big pieces as I was putting all the blocks together, but I needed to lay it out so I put them together properly.

Then I also hosted a Chineese food night at youth group where 22 teenagers and me and another parent made stir-fry, spring rolls and fortune cookies. And I baked two cakes, one for a potluck and one for marie's birthday. and then there have been all the christmas present deliberations . . .

And Dave has been hogging all the computer time for the last few weeks, working on his latest secret mission (which I am not allowed to disclose to the public -- but ask him and he'll tell you all about it).

I have a lot of really interesting idea posts I want to write, but no breathing room to write them. All I want for Christmas is a laptop . . . sigh.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Whew!

I survived! Four days with my in-laws with no blow outs or arguments or drama and I'm still somewhat sane. Andrew is sad that his grandma and grandpa are gone, but I think Aaron is glad no one is picking him up off the floor (which was apparently too dirty for him to crawl on) and taking everything away from him and putting everything away as soon as he took it out. I am richer by 4 lbs of organic brown rice and 6 lbs or organic raisins (both of which are in my freezer) and several packages of organic grapes. Now I just have to find all my dishes and figure out what all those mysterious odds and ends wrapped in wax paper in my fridge are . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So much catching up to do . . .

that I don't even know where to start. I'm in that zone where I have been so busy living irl that I haven't had time to keep up with my internet commitments. So I am now about 5 events behind on my blog, and don't feel right posting about present events because I need to play catch up. So, with apologies to Sharon (who said I'd better write a good post about my birthday) here is a breif summary of what we've been up to in the last few weeks.

The second annual Jill/Edmund birthday party. Edmund and I share the same birth date. So Sharon threw a dinner for our two families the weekend after it. It was fabulous, and contained much roast beef, a delicious cake, and many small children refusing to eat a proper meal becuase they knew there was going to be cake at some point in the evening. And I gave Edmund his robot, and received some fun magazines which gave me good cause to mock and rail against the fashion industry on and off through the evening.


This is Edmund preparing to blow out our candles
This is just a funny picture of Dave and Richard that I had to post.
This is Pumpkin Day, which I think we're going to do every year because it was fun. We had the pumpkin you see above (or pumpnin, as Andrew insists on calling them) and a smaller pie pumkin on hand the week before Halloween. During the day Andrew and I baked pumpkin pie, and then that evening after supper we carved our jack-o-lantern and ate the pie. In true form, Andrew doesn't actually like pumpkin pie, but he insisted we make it. We had enough pumpkin left over for pancakes the next morning, so it was pretty good. Here is Andrew's little pie.
Halloween, of course. We had tons of dress up clothes, including a full suit of armour for Andrew, but he remember that he was a cow last year, so it was a safe choice for him.
The men at the church also built us a garage the week of halloween, and Andrew rushed around under Dave's supervision randomly banging things and dragging old pieces of our fence around the front yard. I would have got lots done around the house if Aaron hadn't had a miserable cold.


Dave also took his last motorcycle ride of the season before he put his baby away in the new garage for the winter. This is some reserve land about 30 min. north of here where he likes to bomb around. The sad thing is that I didn't get to go on it once this year. Maybe next year.

We also had an actress from Saskatoon and her husband come through town as they did a few bookings of her performance of the book of James (as in the entire book of the Bible) which was really thought provoking. And I went to a discovery toys party (probably a rant about that coming to you in the near future). And I went to a double two year old birthday party, for which I decided to make two sets of beanbags in little matching fabric bags. And Sharon and I went to Saskatoon (which is definitely another post, and sadly one for which I foolishly have no photographic evidence), and now my in-laws are here. I'll let you know how that goes when its all over. So now we're caught up. Sorry I'm lacking in my usual charming anecdotes, but I must sleep sometime.

Okay, now I feel like I can go back to my regularly scheduled posts.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Status: Nov. 11

What I've Been Doing: tending to sick kids, making birthday presents, hosting visitors, plus all the usual kids, youth group, playgroup, etc.

What I've Been Reading: Unplugged Play, Quilts and More (Winter 2007), PopCo, Lisa's emails

What I've Been Making: Robots, beanbags, Jeremy's quilt (honestly Kris, I'm still working on it), bread, supper,

What I've Been Thinking About: is ethical consumerism even possible?, how to control my temper, my in-laws upcoming visit, temperments: my own and Andrew's, introversion and extroversion, being an oddball

What's Making Me Angry: Repeated, endless requests for candy, sherbert, television, juice, chips, and more candy, Sweat shops, the deteriorating standards of North American goods, Wal Mart, people who can't just let their children relax and enjoy themselves, my son's anxiety level, my temper (circular, I know, but there you have it), my son's inability to be kind to his baby brother . . . um, okay, just my son in general.

What's Making Me Happy: watching my sons play happily together, watching Aaron crawl, making toys, laughing at Andrew's funny, wise statements, going to Saskatoon with Sharon, my birthday party, Lisa getting a laptop, late night lane swimming.

What I'm Planning: world domination, the exploration and colonisation of space and what I'm going to buy in Saskatoon tomorrow

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Yes, I'm still here!

Sorry for the scanty posts! We've all had terrible colds, and Aaron will not pull all the books off the shelf if left on the floor in the study, while Andrew will demand endless Strongbad cartoons and then be really obnoxious all day. This, my friends, is a sign that I need a laptop.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Robot 1-E is ready to launch


I whipped up this adorable creature in two nights this week. I call him robot 1-E because he's my first robot, and he's for Edmund, who shares my birthday. I plan to make quite a few of these in the future, including one for Andrew, who loves this one, and one for myself named Doris, who will preside over either my kitchen or my sewing corner.


He was really fun, and made me realize the value of having a fabric stash. Most of the fabric I have on hand is already designated for some quilt or project I'm thinking of. This makes it hard to put together little things like this when I want to, becuase my fabric choices are somewhat limited. But if I had more of a stash, just a bunch or random fabrics I thought were cool and cute, I could pull two or three that I liked for robots or stuffed toys or bags or baby balls or whatever whenever I felt the need to make some. Not that I'm saying I don't have a lot of fabric, I just also have a lot of ideas.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I don't know if you've noticed, but I've been trying to go through and label my posts. I think I'm done now, because some of the remaining ones either defy description or are not really important, and also because I'm tired of it now. If you look to your left you will find that many of my posts are about children, while I also apparently do many things I consider to be adventures and spend a lot of time talking about the weather. I was impressed with myself because I had to add a category for "thoughts". I apparently do have a few these days. I was surprised at how many "adventures" I have had, but considering my definition of adventure as anything that is unusual or that doesn't exactly go as planned, that category should really encompass most of my life. I also realized that having lots of posts about the weather just showed that I am a typical Canadian, while the fact that I even have a label for "hair" shows that I am a typical woman.

Visitors!

I love having visitors. ANY of you can come and stay at my house any time you want. It gets pretty boring around here, and although I do have my children and my sewing to keep me company, I do like to have my friends around, too.
That said, we had visitors this week! Steve, Amanda and Kaylee drove up from Cambridge, ON to see us for a few days. They spent a lot of time driving because Kaylee is 11 mos, and so they could only do a few hours a day, but they were here from Tuesday until Saturday morning, so it was a nice visit.

Andrew had a blast playing with his uncle Steve. He wanted to do whatever Steve was doing and spent a lot of time tackling Steve and attacking him with blankets. Kaylee, who is very pretty and almost walking, had fun exploring a new, baby proofed house. She and Aaron took turns poking and pulling hair. We enjoyed hearing all the news from Cambridge and being regaled with a new batch of "Private Steve" stories. Steve loves his job and he loves to tell us about all the crazy things he sees as a police officer with the Kitchener Police Department. The cousins all enjoyed playing together, too.

Steve and Amanda took Andrew to the park and then shopping one day and got him this cool air-driven motorcycle. Its great, and works perfectly as long as you push the little piston button to the forward position and then pump the little air pump exactly 25 times . . . . I just told him I don't know how to work it and he has to ask Daddy or Uncle Steve to play with the motorcycle.


Aaron really started bum scootching and belly crawling this week, too. He will scootch over to a convenient pull-upable object, pull himself up to standing, and stand there singing "dadagabadabaga" forever. He especially loves to do this on the tupperware cupboard knob in the kitchen, or on the open cupboard door -- then he can throw all the plastic containers across the kitchen while bouncing and talking. Its pretty funny to watch.

Finally Finished Aaron's quilt!


Well, he is only 9 months old, and his baby quilt is finally finished. I thought it might be nice to snuggle him in his very own quilt as winter sets in and he starts to get too big for little baby blankets.

This quilt matches the one I made for his cousin Kaylee. I made all the blocks for both quilts simultaneously in February and March, then finished her quilt in April. Then I was tired of it, so I went on to make all the blocks for baby Jeremy's quilt in May. Then I was doing retreats and art camp and summer vacation and getting back into the swing of things and then I messed around with Jeremy's quilt and got about half of it put together, but then decided I didn't like the backing I had for it and ordered something else online, so I decided to finish Aaron's quilt.


I really like how it turned out. Its kind of frustrating that it is one of my tamer quilts so far, but that was becuase I decied to match it with Kaylee's quilt, and I knew Steve and Amanda were a bit more traditional in their thoughts of what would be a proper "baby" quilt. It is super soft and cute, though, so I can't complain, even though its not as cool as Sam's quilt or as flashy as Morwyn's quilt or as funky and retro as Jeremy's quilt will be.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Socks!

Socks are presently our favorite toy. I had a basket full of socks to be sorted, and they have spent the day being thrown on me, piled on the baby, bulldozed around the living room. They are everywhere, in the study, the kitchen, the living room, the hallway. Of course, this happens the day before Steve, Amanda and Kaylee come to visit when I already have to clean the spare room, the extra bathroom, wash sheets, cook food and vacuum and sweep and mop and . . . well, lets just say I shouldn't be sitting at the keyboard typing about socks.

Aaron actually crawled more than 2 ft today. He made it all the way out of our room and down the hallway today before he realized that he wasn't wearing any pants and had some serious rug burn on his knees. He was sort of shreiking with excitement and crying in agony at the same time. It was pretty funny. But cute because Andrew and I were both cheering and clapping for him while he did the worm crawl down the hallway, and Aaron was super proud, but also sort of saying "Don't just stand there clapping -- pick me up already!"

Monday, October 08, 2007

Regained my Equilibrium

One bath, one early night, one quilt top completed and one sleep in later, I am feeling much more sane. I get frustrated with my son for pushing himself to the end of his limits -- waking up early, pushing through naps even when he's tired, insisting we go out even when he's obviously too overstimulated to manage behaving well, refusing to eat enough good food to properly fuel his body . . . but I do all the same things. I need to learn what I want to teach him and put us both on a schedule of good sleep and healthy meals and laid back activities in between bouts of working.

I have resolved that although being organized and having a decently well running house is important, so is my sanity and peace. I just need to find a way to keep both up better.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

That's It, I Give Up.

Once more, as Dave predicted, I have managed to overload myself. I somehow find myself teaching sunday school every second week, running the city playgroup, running the eccumenical youth group, writing for a new website, and trying to keep up with the general madness that is taking care of a difficult three year old and an eight month old who has decided he must walk. Now. Oh yeah, and then there's trying to keep the house in order and organized, lose weight, get back in shape, do something with my hair, look presentable every day, and support my husband as a minister's wife. And do all this on a very tight budget, with no family nearby and no break from my children. Did I mention winter is coming, too, and kicking Andrew outside to play when he starts plowing through my piles of freshly folded laundry or trying to grab food off the cutting board while I cut it is not going to be an option for more than a few more weeks?

So the question is, what can I drop? Who should I disapoint? Which activities are the least essential to my family?

To be fair, though, Dave was gone on clergy retreat all week, and I have been single parenting with no releif other than at bedtime last night since Tuesday morning, and my older son was completely uncooperative and screaming at me all day and then almost drowned in the bath tonight, and my younger son kept biting me to try to get my attention because, well, he knew there was no way he could be more dramatic than his brother. So this might not be the right time to make any major life decisions. In fact, this might be the time to ignore the ghastly state of the house and go take a bath.

Friday, October 05, 2007

If I Were A Pioneer I Would Be . . .

Dead. Seriously, my gardening and food processing skills are atrocious. Take away my grocery store and refrigerator and I would starve. Many of my friends have been blogging about their wonderful back yard harvests lately. The tomatos, the lettuce, the peas and beans and the squash -- the endless, endless squash that has been produced by a perfect mix of sun, rain and their loving labour. In my last three years of gardening I have utterly failed to have one sunflower bloom. Last year my six zucchini plants conspired against me to only create two zucchinis. This year the rhubarb I planted in June is still only six inches high. I simply lack the discipline or mysterious skills required to keep up a garden.

Aside from this, there is my apple tree. Due to Dave's passion for pruning, we have a huge crop of beautiful apples every August. Which I utterly fail to use. I pick large buckets of apples and leave them on my deck to "deal with later". This is code for "to toss in the compost a month from now when I realize they are too yukky to do anything with". Despite my admirable intentions this time around, I managed to make 6 jars of apple sauce, which were instantly devoured by my son, and 6 jars of apple butter. Oh, and I made 6 jars of peach "jam" from some organic peaches I bought at the store. So my ability to can / preserve / freeze for the winter is virtually non-existent.

If I were living in pioneer times, my family would die of scurvy by November. They would be warm from all the quilts I would make them. Very warm. But still very dead.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Daylight Savings Time

Saskatchewan does not have day light savings time. I think this has something to do with the big sky. Saskatchewonians feel no need to have a time change because there are no hills or mountains in the way to block the sunlight in the winter. Unfortunately, no one bothered to mention this to Andrew's biological clock. He has developed his own little internal time change and has begun waking up between 4:30 and 5 am, eating supper at 4 pm and wanting to go to sleep around 7pm. Its madness, I tell you. Sheer madness.

I tried giving him a nap yesterday, hoping that he would go to sleep later and thus wake up later. No luck. He went to sleep around 9pm, but still woke up, bright, bushy tailed and LOUD at 4:15. I made him stay in bed while I got the baby back to sleep (who was NOT bright eyed and bushy tailed). He came to find me at about 5:45, raring to go and insisting that he needed breakfast.

I think that 4:14ish must be right at the end of everyone except Dave's sleep cycle, however, becuase I actually feel more awake if I wake up at 4:30 than if I wake up at 5:30.

I just try to remind myself that one day I will be shaking him awake and trying to get him out the door in time for school. One day.

Canada Writes?

Hello, my faithful readers. CBC just opened this contest: http://www.cbc.ca/canadawrites/categories.html

Its for bloggers, ad copy, humour writing, etc.

The limit is 200 words.

So, in your opinions, what are some of my more memorable, clever blog entries?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ah, That Feels Better



I am on a home organization tare (tear?) right now due to Dave and I's agreement that one of our goals for the year should be to get ourselves organized. I am happy to say that I finally got all the stuff we needed and Dave finally got out his drill and now our entry way needs only curtains and a mirror. Its nothing spectacular, but it does mean I have somewhere to hang my bag and I can teach the boys to hang up their own coats as they come in the door.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Do I Give Into Peer Pressure?

Our library has two programs this year. One is a 3 - 4 year old story time, where the kids go into the story room and listen to stories by themselves. The second is 2 - 3 year old mom and tots time. I think they read mostly the same books, but the moms are there to monitor / corall their children. This last week I brought Andrew to the 3 - 4 group and went in with him, and he seemed pretty happy. I think by next week I could even leave him there and he would enjoy himself. This would be a nice little step towards independence for him, and it is what I was planning to do this fall.

The problem is this: all my friends have younger 2ish year old children. They have all decided to go to the Toddler Time morning together instead of getting together for coffee on Tuesday mornings. So by taking Andrew to the older group on Thursday mornings, which he is just on the edge of being old enough for (since he turned three last month) I lose my social time with my friends. Plus they are thinking of having another day as a coffee day, and if they choose Thursday I will be totally out of the loop.

So the question is: Do I stick with my initial decision that Andrew can probably handle the seperation and would enjoy the slightly older group (since he mostly hangs out with kids almost a full year younger than himself), and get some time by myself in the library or should I go with the borg and attend the toddler time storytime so that I get to hang out with my friends? You all know that my natural instinct is to go to the Thursday one just to be a rebel. But I really desperately need friends around here and I don't want to lose touch with all my friends just because I'm being obstinate. Opinions, thoughts, comments? What would you do?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Seriously, isn't it a little early for this?


In case you're not getting a clear picture, yep, its frost. On Sept. 14. And I've had to start putting hats on the boys if we go on walks before 11 am. Pretty sad, isn't it?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Here , Kitty, Kitty

You will all remember (except my newer readers) that Andrew loves to pretend he is a little kitty. It all started last fall when Dave's parents came to visit and gave him a shirt that formerly belonged to Dave. Andrew took to calling it his "kitty fur shirt" and pretended to be a little (very annoying) kitty while he was wearing it. Unfortunately, wearing the same shirt 2 or 3 times a week and occasionally to bed is hard on a textile, even such a fine piece of 1970's polyester velour as the kitty fur. So when the seams started to burst, and the softness started to rub off of parts of the shirt, I decided it was time to remove the kitty fur from Little Kitty Andrew. But since I knew this was such a precious shirt, I decided to make something wonderful out of this shirt. Here is "Buttons" who is permanently wearing the kitty fur shirt.

Status: Sept 9

What I've Been Doing: running Youth Group Campfires, hosting Birthday Parties, setting up a New Sunday School Room, re-making myself with the "Total Mom Makeover", stitching the Kitty Fur shirt into a Little Kitty, making apple butter, and putting together a fantastic day planner binder, dealing with feverish children.

What I've Been Reading: Adorn and Blueprint fall editions, Mom Makeover book, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, the Discipline Book.

What I've Been Making: a stuffed kitten out of Andrew's favorite shirt, a little corduroy bag for Beatrice, and a birthday cake for Andrew.

What I've Been Thinking About: the collective unconcious: does it exist?, quilts, the collapse of early fundamentalist feminist ideals, how to cut milk, cheese, penut butter, chocolate and tomatos out of our diet, how to clean our basement carpet, what to do with all the apples on our tree, wether mangoes will make good jam, how Sharon and I can sneak away to Saskatoon, do I have time to write some creative non-fiction to win the CBC literary awards so I can go to Edmonton and bring home half of Ikea and why am I always so absurdly confident in my own ability to keep up with my latest and greatest schemes?

What's Making Me Angry: the lack of accurate, helpful information and advice available to beginning breastfeeding moms, Saskatchewan parking, my apples all going from not ripe to over ripe in two days, apathy, the imposibility of buying anything in this town that was not made in China, having to drive an hour to find a decent coffee grinder, and the imposibility of waking up before my children.

What's Making Me Happy: fields of wheat, clever things I said this month, getting Richard hooked on StrongBad emails, watching Andrew try to feed Aaron bananas, realizing that my first baby is a little boy and my second baby is trying to walk, seeing my friends after a summer away, my back yard, the Northern lights, the fabric I bought while I was on vacation, the future, my one yellow wall, and the feeling of crawling under my down duvet at night knowing I'll wake up to a clean kitchen and a tidy living room.

What I'm Planning: quilts, youth group, playgroup, house painting and decorating, and a new website for moms. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What I Did on my Summer Vacation: Parts One and Two

I"m just going to summarize, becuase this is taking too long and I'm getting behind, and I like to blog about NOW, not last month.



Our first week of vactation we went to Winnipeg and stayed with Kym and Jeff, like I did in April. It was a great week. They are super relaxing and wonderful hosts. They have a lovely little house in Winnipeg. We got to see my brother and his family a couple of times, which was good. Dave played with Andrew one day while Kym and I and the babies went fabric shopping. Dave and Jeff looked after the boys so Kym and I could go out for the evening alone (we kept feeling like we were fogetting something . . . . oh yeah, no babies, no diaper bags, no car seats . . . ). We ate some fantastic meals, drank some good wine, and had many great conversations.

It seems to get rarer, as I get older, that I can find people who are really good conversationalists. Or maybe its as Kym says, its harder to find like minded people. I think its partially to do with not being in university anymore, and partially because people just get involved in their own lives and don't have that much to say about the world in general . . . I don't know. I just know that I will drive a long way and make all kinds of changes in my schedule just to meet with someone I can enjoy conversing with (thus my habit of driving to Nipawin in the middle of snowstorms in unreliable cars . . . ). It really is important to me. So it was refreshing for me to hang out with Kym, becuase we had a lot to say between diaper changes and "Andrew, leave the vacuum alone" times. We had months of conversation to catch up on. Its amazing how much time there is to think when you're a mom, and how little time there is to actually express any of the things you're thinking about (since you can't really discuss the feasability of various parenting styles or the implications of ethical buying with your baby).



One thing we discovered is that Andrew has a daily behavioral meltdown (not necessarily tears, but some sort of terrible behavior) if he doesn't have a change of scenery or supervisor by 10am. Every day around 10 am if Dave didn't take him to the park he would begin tearing the house apart, throwing things, bowling over the babies or trying to swing them around in the jolly jumper . . . it was madness. I jokingly said "Release the Chapmans" one day when Aaron was biting Sam's foot and throwing up on the floor while Andrew was banging the vacuum into the wall and trying to flip the standing mirror around and around. It totally stuck. I was thinking of it like "release the hounds" during a hunt, but Kym said it made her think of a gladiator event where the cage opens to reveal . . . Andrew and Aaron, ready to wreack havok on the world.

This week was also good because it was one of the first times Dave and I had to really talk about how life was going and what we wanted to change. We had been so busy and stressed out for a few months previous to this that we had a lot of things that had just been pushed to the side until we had time to deal with them. Its always fun when the time comes to actually deal with months worth of relational backlog . .. but it has to be done. It was also good because our friend Kym is a good listener and great at reflecting your thoughts and ideas back at you. So she helped both of us to think about some of the things we needed to think about in our relationship. Basically this was the week when we sort of sorted out what our actual problems were, even though we didn't have any solutions yet.

Another cool thing that happened this week was that I got to see the beginning of my nefew Don's new life. He just moved to Winnipeg, bought a house, and is starting university this fall. When we were there he was busy tearing apart walls and pulling up floors and discovering leaks in his new house that he bought for a song, while living in a trailer in his back yard. It was great because we got together with Don and Beck (his wife) the day after they moved to Winnipeg. And my very longsuffering friends Kym and Jeff let us invite them over for dinner and hosted a sort of impromptu welcome to winnipeg party. It was great becuase Kym and Jeff live in the same neighbourhood as Don and Beck, so I got to introduce them to their first authentic winnipeggers. It was really fun to see them and share the excitement of their new adventure.

After this we split up. Dave took his motorcycle off to Yellowstone National Park and surrounding area in the US. He had a blast, did a lot of driving and a bit of the reading he was supposed to do. He had a lot of time for reflection, which was good, met lots of interesting people, which he enjoyed, and generally had a fantastic time.

I took an airplane to Thunder Bay and spent a week visiting my parents, checking in with my nieces and running into old friends. We stayed at my sister's inlaws, who live a block away from my old highschool, so it was fun to be living in my old stomping grounds. We went to the park by ourselves or with my mom in the morning, visited my parents in the afternoons and evenings, and then after I put the boys to bed I had a few hours to hang out with whoever could stop by the Morrison's house. The boys had a great chance to play with their granparents. I had a nice time reconnecting with people, and there was no carnage or bloodshed, so it was all good. The craziest thing that happened while I was there was that my friend John, who I've run into twice since highschool, also happened to be in town. We had reconnected on Facebook just before I left on holidays, and I sent him a "hi, how are you" message. It just happened that I checked my Facebook in Thunder Bay to get my friend Carla's phone number, and wouldn't you know it, John was in Thunder Bay! He was out at his parents' camp (cottage for you non-NorthernOntarians) and we got to visit for a few hours the night before he left to go back to New York, which was very cool. I also got to see my friend Carla, who lives in Thunder Bay and who I hadn't seen in a long time.

It was kind of crazy, because I think we change less than we think we do as we get older. With both Carla and John it felt more like I'd seen them a few days ago rather than 5 or 10 years ago (well, except for the "so what have you been up to in the last 15 years since highschool?" part). And it was interesting how like minded people sometimes stay like minded. In both cases there were ideas we held in common now that neither of us had been interested in when we were in highschool. For example, Carla and I are both practicing attatchment style parenting, and John and I both have luddite leanings (although he creates cell phone programs and I blog and buy everything online, so we're both kind of hypocrites about it), and my niece Kathryn and I have so much in common its weird.

This week was good. I had a lot of positive visits and I was glad that I went to Thunder Bay, even though it is always a bit of a risk. I think I planned out the visit so that I was mostly in charge of what happened when, which meant I could work around the boys' moods, rather than having to push them beyond their limits. This made the week as low stress as it could be, considering that I was by myself with a baby and a toddler outside of my home for a week.

On Wednesday morning I had all my stuff packed and ready to go, and I brought it all downstairs to get into my parents' van. Then had let me take the van to the Morrisons and then drive it to their house so I could just pack the stuff into it. I realized that I didn't know where I had put the key. It wasn't in my room that I could see. It wasn't on the key ring. It wasn't in my pocket. After about 10 min. I started taking everything out of my bags. The pants I was wearing the day before, the toiletries bag, my purse, my backpack . . . everything got taken apart and sorted through looking for the key. The Morrisons scowered their house and John even pulled out his collection of old keys to see if he happened to still have a key for the van (which used to belong to him). Finally, I decided to go up to my room to look around one more time before I left the van and got the Morrisons to drive me to the airport. Andrew had been playing pretty happily, but he was starting to get bored and destructive, so I grudgingly took him with me. On the way up the stairs he asked why we were going upstairs. I said "To find the key for Nana and Papa's van." Then I suddenly thought of something. "You didn't touch the key, did you, Andrew?" "No, mommy, but the fireman did." Ah ha. As we get upstairs I say, "Can the fireman help find the key?" Andrew walks up to the dresser in our room and pulls the key out of one of the drawer pulls where he had, I suppose, been using it to drive the dresser/fire engine around. "Here it is, mommy". I didn't know wether to cheer or throttle my child. I decided to cheer, and laud him as the key-finding hero of the day.

Then we got to the airport and discovered that I had got the day wrong. I was supposed to be on the plane the day before. Fortunately (yay, Westjet!) the woman snuck me on. So I flew back to Winnipeg, managed to get our stuff repacked into the car, had one final meal with my dear friends Kym and Jeff, and trekked off to Portage to visit my sister Donna. I went late enough that the boys fell asleep on the way there, so I actually got to visit rather than just spending all night trying to put them to sleep. We had a lovely visit and some great cheesecake. I got to see all my other Moman nieces and nefews and hear about what they have been up to this summer, and I got to meet Mel's dog Honey's new puppies, which was cool. The next morning we got up and had breakfast with Donna and got an early start to Regina.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sorry for the Confustion

You see, its like this. When I post things, they show up last post first on the blog. So if I want to write in a episodic manner about my vacation, you are going to get the details in reverse order. Unfortunatley, I don't seem to have time to write all four segments at once, so here is the fourth one. The third one is half done and will probably appear tomorrow, and so on. If it makes you feel better, imagine it is some sort of postmodern statement about the book/story machine(s) and the malliability of (meta)narrative.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Part Three -- Folk Festival

Although it was only three days long, I think the Regina Folk Festival deserves its own post. It was a really good festival. It was small enough to be accessible and have very few line ups (think 10 min. wait for food or the bathroom instead of 30 - 50 mins like at the Edmonton), a good mix of music, a great kids area, and a pretty laid back audience.



The boys and I arrived in Regina late Thursday afternoon and we started to organize everything and get our campsite set up. The car was a disaster after I unpacked things to go to Thunder Bay, repacked them to drive to Regina, unpacked and repacked again in Portage and then drove the four hours to Regina by myself with a teething baby and a grumpy, disoriented, constipated toddler. So what I ended up doing to reorgaize my stuff was just set the big bags on the ground, and slowly sort through everything else that was in the car and put it back in its respective proper place. While I did this and dealt with the baby, Dave set up the tent and Andrew ran around all excited, playing with sticks and bungee cords and the wood from our improvised roof rack. After this Dave put Andrew to sleep, then we finished organizing everything in our giant, palatial 8 man tent that Dave bought. It was huge, but afforded us room for all the stuff we had brought, plus two air mattresses and enough room to walk and sit and play a little bit in between. So it was really about the size of a small hotel room. By the time we had all that done, we had had the door of the tent open for a few hours. As we were going to bed we noticed that there were a few spiders in the tent, and Dave killed three or four.



The next morning I woke up with a series of nasty bites up my leg and realized that actully, our tent was infested with spiders. I guess there are two kinds of ground spiders around the area where we were camping. One was just daddy long legs types, which were not too bad because I know thery're harmless. But the other kind was about the same size, but with thicker, nastier legs and it looked like it would bite. So Friday morning I went on a spider killing rampage and masscred about 15 spiders in the course of a half an hour. For the next few days I was routinely killing a spider almost every time I went to get something out of our stuff. It was kind of gross, and I'm sorry to confess that by the end of the week Andrew could be heard saying, "There's another stupid spider, mommy!".



Anyway, so after a visit to Chapters and the grocery store and lots of time getting ourselves organized and arguing about whose fault it was that we weren't organized (which was silly, becuase of course it was mine) we finally got to the line up for the festival. It was quite fast, and it only took us about 20 min. to get in to the festival site, so we were pretty happy. As we went looking for a place to put our blanket, though, we noticed something that I have also observed when it comes to line ups and parking on the prairies.



In B.C., at the Mission folk festival, people generally abutt their tarps so that you get a kind of tarp patchwork quilt that is spread out for about a square kilometer. Then around the edges of this things disperse a little more into groups of people with lawn chairs or those who go there late. Same thing at Salmon Arm and at Edmonton. If you need to get to your tarp, you just sort of walk over the edges of the tarps around you and no one really blinks. In Regina people leave little spaces all around their tarps. Each tarp is its own little island with tidy, distinct pieces of grass on all sides. Not only that, but people tend to sit in rows, with natural aisles in between them so that you can get in and out of any section without disrupting anyone else. I think this has something to do with internal landscapes of people in different parts of the country. In B.C., if you are in a parking lot, about half the spaces are "small car" spaces becuase land is so expensive and so sparse. In a lineup you stand directly behind the person in front of you, just on the edge of their bubble. It has to do with living in between mountains. Space is limited. But in Saskatchewan, most of the land is parcelled up into neat quarter sections, and people are used to having order and space. In the winter people tend to sort of randomly park their cars in one and a half spaces each (you can't actually see the lines), so you can get about half the amount of cars that there are spaces in a parking lot. And if you were to stand closer than about two or three feet away from the person in front of you in line you would get looks ( I learned this when I first moved here). Its a matter of that quarter section, big sky mindset making its way into every day life.



So anyway, by the time we got there we had to sit on the edges, even though they could have fit twice as many people in the space as they did. Then we realized that we were right by the speakers, and Andrew is very sensitive to noise, so we had to move in the middle of the second act, because he was on the verge of crying after the first act, which was just a woman singing and a piano, and the second act was a full scale Mexican band with trombone, trumpet, drums, bongos, etc, etc. So we ended up way in a back corner by the sound tent, just on the edge of the smoking section.



There was some really good music that night. SArah Sleen, who had the misfortune of kicking off the festival (but who we saw at several workshops on Saturday and Sunday) was really good. She is about our age, and very tiny, but she has a phenomenal voice -- great range, very big sound and a nice tone. She writes really intelligent, beautiful music, and we enjoyed listening to her. At first her stag presence put me off a bit, becuase she tells stories and random facts about herself in between songs in a sort of overdramatic, larger than life manner which was a bit odd. But she was really great to listen to anyway, and I enjoyed her songs. Next was the Mexican band, and then this weird, postmodern experimental instumental band that was headed by a vibraphone player (yay, percussion!). I was checking out the artisans' booths (always one of my favorite things to do at Folk Festivals), while they were playing and it was very weird and etherial and made me feel like I had just stepped into a Neil Gaiman novel.

Then just as Buck65 came on, the spiders took their revenge and it started to rain. He was really good. He's a white guy from New Brunswick in his 30's with this gravelly voice who does ironic rap. He's very good and clever and funny. During his act it started to rain. And I thought "maybe we should go before this gets bad". But he was really good, so we decided to stay. And then it started to really rain, so we picked up our tarp and tucked ourselves and the stroller under it and stayed to watch. Then is REALLY STARTED TO POUR and we huddled under the tarp until it was over, thinking that it couldn't really get any worse and we were all going to be wet anyway so we might as well finish watching the show. So at the end, we ended up picking up all our belongings (two beach chairs, a stroller, a baby, a cooler, a backpack, and hard frame backpack carrier, a blanket and our two boys) and dashing through the rain the 5 blocks back to our car. We were seriously in water half way up our calves in some places. It was crazy. The boys were really good, though. Andrew just held on to the sides of the stroller and Aaron clung to me for dear life (he was in the sling in a polar fleece sleeper, so he was okay) and they all freaked out when we got to the car and then fell asleep.

Amazingly, our tent was completely dry (which Dave must have mentioned about a dozen times in the next day or so), but everything we had at the folk festival was wet. So we spent much of the next morning and afternoon (and about $10.00 at the campsite dryer) drying all our stuff out.

Saturday was good, too. We caught a few workshops, and enjoyed the mainstage acts. There was an interesting cross-genre band called Mother Mother with very clever, edgy songs and great harmony, and a woman from New Zealand who created entire sound scapes with a loop pedal and her own voice. The perfect layers of harmonics in her work was great, and it was very dancable, too. Bruce Cockburn was the big name act, and he was really good, too. We went home before the final group, a ragae band. Not becuase we don't like ragae, but because Andrew wasn't sleeping and we wanted him to catch up on some of his rest. The one downside was that there was a group of people smoking a lot of pot right behind us (and getting away with it by sharing it with security) which was kind of annoying when I had small children with me.

Sunday we got to more workshops, and we were especially impressed by Sarah Sleen's vocals and by Mother Mother. The later band had a lot of songs on topics most musicians wouldn't think about singing about -- one about a miscarriage called "Little Hands" and one about being a fat kid with the chorus "I was a fat kid, he was a fat kid, she was a fat kid too. When you are a fat kid, only other fat kids ever give you half a chance". There was also a dance workshop for kids that I tried to take Andrew to, but he didn't want to participate. I was kind of disapointed, but I realized that most of the excersises they were teaching were basic creative movement ones that I've done before, so I didn't feel too gyped.

Sunday night was really good. I was tired and I don't remember a lot of the acts. But the boys fell asleep well and Blue Rodeo, the headline act that night, was really good. Dave went up to the front during their performance and it was really good.

One workshop that really stood out for me was one that had singer/songwriters from all across the country. I really enjoyed all the artists, but for me what was more interesting was observing the regional cultural differences. The artist from Montreal was really aggressive and kind of insulting (in a light-hearted way) to the person in charge of the session ("So, are you leading this session or not? If you're not I'll take over. Seriously, someone take charge of this workshop"). The artist from southern Ontario was very stand offish and perfectionistic. The group from Vancouver sang songs with themes that none of the other artists would have dared to touch on (Vancouver people are much smoother and less ascerbic than those from other parts of the country, but also completely comfortable expressing their thoughts on any topic, no matter how "hot"), and the Saskatchewan artist tried to get everyone to sing along together for a rousing communnal finale, but none of the other artists knew the words or would cooperate. It was pretty classic.

The other thing that really amused me was that all the artists felt the need to make Regina jokes (becuase we all know what Regina rhymes with) and NO ONE laughed. Touchy? Perhaps.

All in all the folk festival was all we had expected it to be. We enjoyed it, and the kids enjoyed it (after Andrew got used to the idea). The food was descent. There were a lot of amazing artisans. There was a lot of good music. We had fun.

Friday, August 24, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation -- Part Four -- Regina

After the folk festival, our time in Regina was pretty laid back. One of us would wake up at the crack of dawn with the boys (nothing like waking up in a freezing cold tent by being steamrolled by a preschooler), and take them to somewhere until a sane hour of the day. Then we would eat breakfast, go to Chapters, a park, and some stores. We found that Regina was a pretty easy city to get around, and it has just enough of everything to make it satisfying to visit. There are a few nice parks. A few nice resteraunts. A few interesting, funky shops. A few shops specializing in whatever you're interested in. And few enough people that there isn't really a rush hour (I don't know, maybe more than 10 cars in a line is rush hour in Saskatchewan, but I certainly never felt like I was sitting in traffic).



For the first few days after the Folk Festival we were feeling a bit let down. It was cold and grey. We were eating just bread and cheese and fruit and carrots to be super cheap. We weren't really sure what we were going to do with ourselves for the rest of the week. But then we decided to go out for a few meals, and after that we remembered that we had brought the Coleman stove. Once we had some hot meals in our stomachs it made all the difference in our attitudes. I felt like we were feasting on rabbit stew after weeks of elvish bread (did Frodo and Sam ever get to eat that stew? I don't remember).



I'm glad we took the time and stuck around in Regina, because it made for a good last week. I got to go out for coffee by myself a few nights after the boys were asleep, and I slept in a couple of times, too. We both got to wander around and shop in places we wanted to go to. And most importantly we actually had time to just hang out as a family without a lot of other stuff going on.



One of the highlights was our day trip to Moose Jaw. We went to one of the Tunnels of Moose Jaw tours, and it was really cool. There are all these brick and stone tunnels under the old downtown of Moose Jaw which used to be used for bootlegging liquor in the '20s. Because the rail line ran from Chicago up to Moose Jaw, a lot of people beleive it was all connected to Al Capone. They've set up a couple of tours where the tour guides are in character as various people from the 1920's. In the tour we went on there was Fanny, the woman who runs the secret saloon, and George, the goon who is making his own liquor on the side while working for Al Capone. The actors did a good job, and Andrew was only minorly traumatized, so it was all good. There is also a really nice quilt shop in Moose Jaw which I perused and at which I picked up some nice fabrics for my polkadot quilt.

We also got to be in Regina during a Roughriders game, which is quite the experience. Since the CFL is the only major national sport that has a team in Saskatchewan, naitives of the province take their football quite seriously. It was the fourth or so game of the season, and everywhere you went there were Roughrider flags on cars, people wearing their jerseys or just green (in resteraunts, at work, at Starbucks . . . everywhere). At about 3 pm on Saturday you could watch the out of towners pouring in to see the game. Our campground was full that night, and the tent next to ours had a rough riders flag hanging across the entrance to the tent. The other people who were tenting were actually working in Alberta, but they had driven into Regina for the game. Its quite the phenomenon.

This part of the trip was also realy good for Dave and I. We had time to talk about what we want to be different this year and discuss how we are going to make those things happen. I actually had time by myself to think about the last year and think about what we had talked about and process it all.

It seems to me that we tend to get in this downward spiral where I don't think Dave cares about things, so I stop trying to keep the house and myself up. But then I know that really he is getting annoyed about the fact that everything is chaotic. But then he doesn't say anything. So I start panicing and get discouraged and frustrated and things get worse. And he gest more annoyed and I know he is annoyed and I get more frustrated and feel overwhelmed and things get worse . . . and I give up. And he gives up. And everything is a disaster.


But I think part of it stems from one of those strange assertions of the feminist movement that sort of sounds like it is empowering, but it really just stupid. I don't know how many times I have heard women say to me (especially women of a certain age) . . .its your body, do what you want to, don't do what makes your husband happy. Wear the clothes you want to wear, it doesn't matter what your husband thinks. Set your own priorities, don't let pleasing your husband be your priority. etc, etc, etc. And I understand where they're coming from. Of course I shouldn't just be a slave to my husband's whims, or a mindless pleaser who does whatever my husband wants. But on the other hand, what is so wrong with doing things that make my husband happy? Isn't that just going to come right back at me and make me happy? A husband who is happy with the way I look and the way I run the house and keep the children in line is going to be more likely to give me positive feedback. He is more likely to want to spend time at home instead of wandering elsewhere. He is more likely to be satisfied with his life in general. So a lot of things that I had given up on doing becuase I would think, "Well, no one really cares what I look like anyway" or "No one ever comes to our house anyway, so it doesn't matter what it looks like" were not true. I care what I look like and Dave cares what I look like and one day my kids will care too. We can all enjoy our life a lot more if the house is organized enough that we can find things right away, so we don't have to have 15 min. of hassle every time we are trying to go somewhere becuase someone's jacket or diaper or shoe is missing. So what I do is actually really important becuase it is improving the quality of life of the people who I care about the most. And while that is not earth shattering, it is worthwhile. And think of how much happier my kids lives will be if they are raised knowing how to organize their lives, so they don't have to spend years figuring it out.

So we basically wandered around the city for a week, and left on Sunday night. We spent Sunday afternoon packing up, and left after supper so the boys would sleep for at least a couple of hours of the trip. The plan worked, the boys slept for two of the three hours of the trip, and we only had to stop to nurse Aaron once. It was definitely the most hassle free of all the drives.

And that was our trip. We the next two days unpacking and doing laundry, and on Wed. Dave went back to work and I started trying to keep things organized.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Sojourn Is Over

We arrived home at about 10 pm last night, and I have spent all day trying to put our stuff away, finish the laundry and clean out our coolers. Unfortunately Aaron is JUST about to crawl and also getting his fourth tooth this month, so he is a total monkey. He doesn't want to be down, he just wants me to hold him standing up and shake him around and bounce him, and he's frustrated on the floor because he wants to GO. Oh well, soon I'll be complaining that he's getting into everything, won't I?

The trip was great. Very relaxing and probably life changing. More later. Please leave a comment or email me to show that you still care . . . my inbox is so lonely. I got about 35 messages while I was gone and only one was from a friend. The rest were all "newsletters" from various e-stores or freecycle related.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

HI, You've Reached

Life and Times of Jill. No one is here to write a blog entry right now. Please leave a comment, or check back at the end of August when I get back from our summer holiday. Have a great month!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I think this is a sign of Ultimate Laziness

We had a lovely visit with our friends Arden and Judith and their son (Dave's godson) Nate last weekend. But before they came, I had to tidy our thoroughly disastrous house. So I decided to try a piece of cleaning advice I had read in a book when I was in my "researching how to keep house" phase a few years ago.

Apparently, a quick way to clean clutter is to carry a box with you. You throw everything in the box that does not belong in the room you are presently tidying in. Then, theoretically, you put all the stuff away as you get it to the room you need it in.

Well, let me tell you, it is a relatively quick and painless way to remove misplaced items from, say, your spare room in order to make it guest ready. But what do you do about the fact that the items in said basket actually belong mostly in rooms you have ALREADY tidied in? Are you actually expecting me to go BACK to the linen closet, my room and the bathroom after I have already cleaned them and put more stuff away when it is so conveniently coralled in a laundry basket? Especially when I have supper to make and my baby is getting teeth and having a growth spurt? Of course not.

What this advice leads to in my house is a number of random boxes and baskets full of out of place stuff. So when you really need the Saline Drops that were in the spare room because that's where you used them on your infant so that they wouldn't wake your sleeping toddler when you invaded their nasal passages you will no longer know where to find them. Instead of being able to think, "Oh yeah, I was in the spare room" and get them from there, you have to think "Oh yeah, they're somewhere in that basket wrapped up in a dusty blanket that is squished under five library books."

Um, maybe I should just learn to put things away after I use them. I think that will happen about when I actually start putting clean folded laundry in drawers rather than back in the basket.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

1000g of Fimo + 15 children + 1 frazzled instructor + 2 hrs of baking =

What more can I really say about this year's "Art Camp" VBS? We were understaffed and I am exhausted. I was reminded of why I don't teach elementry school. The kids loved it, the parents were happy and there is always the chance that someone will show up for Sunday School in the fall.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Help Me Out Here, People!

Art Camp (our VBS) starts tomorrow, and I am up for everything this year (singing, art sessions, stories, etc). I want to teach the kids one of my favorite songs from childhood, but I can't remember all the words. Who can fill in the blanks of this song:

If I were butterfly, I'd thank the Lord that I could fly
and if I were a fish in the sea I'd wiggle and I'd giggle and I'd squiggle with glee
and if I were a kangaroo, I'd hop right over and da da da
but I just thank you Lord for making me, me

For you gave me a heart
you gave me a smile
you gave me Jesus and
you made me his child
so I just thank you Lord for making me me

If I were . . . . da da da da I know there's a second verse somewhere
I know there's a worm and couple other things that I can't remember and they do some stuff
I know there's one more line right here but I don't know just what it is
but I just thank you Lord for making me, me

I know my second verse scans, but I don't think it would go over that well, so I'd really love it if someone could give me the rest of the words.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The perils of being lazy

Most of you know that I use cloth diapers on my boys. A little explanation: when you are using prefold diapers, you basically have a big square of fabric that you fold (don't ask me why they're called prefolds) into a diaper, attach with a snappi or some pins, and then cover with a comfy PUL waterproof cover. In most cases, if you don't feel like using a snappi, you can just put the cover on and you're good to go because the velcro on the cover holds everything together.

Yesterday, I was being an excellent parent and left both my sons watching tv while I checked the internet to find out why my Sculpey rabbit's leg fell off. I returned to find this:

Monday, July 09, 2007

Finally getting there . . .

I am finally feeling like I am a proficient quilter! I finished the blocks for baby Jeremy's quilt tonight (I can't find any nice backing fabric in town so it won't be finished until after we get back from Winnipeg and Regina where I will find something). It looks AMAZING! I'm not going to post an in progress picture becuase Jeremy's mommy reads my blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise, but it is the first quilt top that I've laid out and said "wow, I think I'm finally getting the hang of this". I felt the same way when I was cutting and piecing and pressing the blocks. I've finally got the feel for the rotary cutter so I can cut straight and for pressing open the blocks so that they don't warp and for sewing a straight quarter inch seam. I've learned what corners I can cut and what things I must do even if the are tedious in order to get a nice end product. I feel like this is the first quilt where I can really say I'm proud of my workmanship so far.

Now lets hope my machine doesn't get hungry and eat it while I'm sewing the top together or quilting it . . .

What My Son Played with Today

the broom
a bunch of flyers
a laundry basket
a stool
a toy cash register and a bunch of fabric bits
a small screwdriver for my sewing machine
a large box
my folded laundry (much to my dismay and anger)
a large umberella
his brother
two toy cars
his hard hat

This is why he's getting a box of dress up clothes that I'm buying at a thrift store and a few playsilks for his birthday.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Thoughts on Luxury . . .

I was at Nutter's the other day (a health food / bulk goods store) and I saw that they had some fair trade organic tea in pretty, recyclable tins. For $7.50 I could buy 22 tea bags in a reusable or recyclable tin and give the workers who grew and harvested the tea in India and Shri Lanka a fair working wage. At the grocery store I could get about 100 Tetley tea bags for the same price. I bought the fair trade tea, and it is delicious.

I found, however, that I suddenly felt the need to use my tea pot and brew the tea rather than dunking a tea bag in a mug and a sugar cube and sloshing water over it. After all, I had paid a higher price for this tea, so I decided I should make it properly and fully enjoy it. If I let my pot of tea go cold during the day, I felt the need to reheat the tea and drink it rather than just dumping it out and making a new pot.

I began to wonder why this was. Certainly, the tea was a bit more expensive, but it was far cheaper than 22 cups of Starbucks coffee. Then I realized that I was treating this tea like a luxury product rather than something I was entitled to, simply because it was beautifully packaged and thoughtfully produced.

This set my mind turning about the entire way we think and act in modern North American culture. We assume that we are entitled to a lot of things. Strawberries in February. Coffee and tea all year round. Chocolate bars whenever we want them for under a dollar. Meat at dinner time. A nicely decorated house. Flattering clothes in the latest styles. A good haircut (well, that might just be me). The list goes on and on and includes stuff, stuff and more stuff. And it had all better be reasonably priced so that we can have all our "needs" met within our budget.

My head began to spin as I considered the world wide implications of our consumer culture; the factories in China belching out smoke and pollution, the forests of the world being decimated to grow coffee, tea, and cattle, the poorly paid workers in India spending their days cranking out cheap t-shirts and cargo pants in the latest colour and length, the refrigerator trucks barrelling full tilt across the Americas carrying mangoes from Mexico to Northern Saskatchewan, the landfills stuffed with cheap plastic toys and polyester clothes that will still be there when my great great grandchildren are born.

And I began to wonder if part of the problem isn't that everything is manufactured so cheaply that it is difficult to treat it as a luxury. If I can buy a cheap t-shirt that fits for 9.99, why pay the luxury price of 30.00 to get a well tailored t-shirt made from organic cotton that will last for years? I can buy three 9.99 t-shirts for that next year. Why buy and savour one bar of belgian chocloate over a few weeks when I can pick up a Kit Kat bar at the corner store every day? Why buy one pair of well made, comfortable shoes that will last me for years when I can pick up five pairs of cool shoes for the same price and throw them out next year?

But if we were paying a fair price for a product, a price that took into consideration the value of the workers who made it and the true cost to the skies and soil of the materials in the product itself, we might treat it more carefully. We might savour and enjoy our food and treat our possesions with pride and care. If we did this, we would need to buy less because the enjoyment would not come from purchasing and having items, but from appreciating the things we consumed. And because the food would be healthy and well prepared, it would fill us up sooner. Because our clothes and furniture and houses would be well built, they would last longer. Over time, we would not have as much stuff, but the stuff we owned would be worth having. These simple things would then become luxuries.

Think of the overall, world wide impact that could be created if this mindset could become common place. Perhaps we could actually find a way of living that was sustainable for the planet and just for the people of the earth. We could learn to honour the labour of our neighbours across the world and appreciate the foods that can grown in our back yards. We could brew a pot of tea, and sit and drink it with a sense of appreciation for all that went into the making of the tea, becuase we paid a fair price for a good product.

Some days its amazing what can happen when you just open a tin of tea . . .

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

If Roberto Had Known . . .


that thousands of small children would be idolizing him and pretending to be him, would he have still been okay with the Mighty Machines film crew taping him tearing down a brick building with his sheer tractor? The obsession with "The Demolition Site" continues. We take it out of the library every third week (the other week some other obsessed child must have it because its often not there), and now when we watch it, Andrew says "I was watching myself in that movie, mommy. I was tearing down the building."

Here is the sheer (shear?) tractor Andrew was driving in our back yard the other day. Note the levers and construction boots.

For Anna

One of Andrew's current favorite things to do in the bathroom is spit on the mirror, so its a bit blurry, but here is the haircut. This picture kind of freaks me out, though, because I look SO much like my sister Kim in it. I think its just my expression. Anyway, its not terrible, its kind of cute, but well, is cute really what I want out of my hair? I have spent so many years being cute, can't I be something else now?

In other news, Aaron suddenly began sitting really well on his own. It was really hot today, that's why he's just in a prefold with no cover. He was thrilled to be able to play cars with the boys today.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

We had a glorious, hot Canada day around here, and since there was an eccumenical service in the park and Dave didn't have to preach it was pretty laid back. We went to the service, ate our snacks and some burgers we bought from the Boy Scouts, and watched Andrew play in the bleachers while we hung out in the shade with friends. Then there was a performance by Saskatchewan Express, I think, a troupe of young performers. They were really good, and Andrew was fascinated. He was sitting in Okert's little fold up lawn chair, with his sippy cup tucked in the side pocket, abseloutely rapt for about half and hour. It was hilarious. Aaron was happy to have so much Daddy time (he's becoming quite the daddy's boy -- he cries when Dave leaves for work, or if he sees Dave and daddy doens't pick him up or say hi) and I was happy to have free arms for a while and a chance to wear my new tiered skirt I bought last summer (which finally looks kind of okay on me). So all in all it was a great day. Andrew fell asleep in the car on the way home and miraculously, woke up HAPPY from a nap, then went to the park with Dad, and I got to play some baby games with Aaron without having another boy plunked on my lap insisting that I should read books. It was very relaxing.

Happy birthday, Canada!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Now I've Done It!

I went and got my hair cut again. I loved my other hairstyle -- it was very cool and funky. But terribly impractical. My hair was EVERYWHERE -- in the vaccum, on our clothes, down the drains, in the way every time that I went to put on the baby sling, impossible to put up or leave down . . . so it had to be cut.

But the problem is that I only specified a length, not a style when I went to see the hairdresser. I thought that since she'd given me such a cool hairstyle last time, she would have some brilliant insight again this time. Unfortuantely she was running behind and since I didn't really know what I want she just gave me the default hairstyle.

You all know what the default hairstyle is. It is the style that any hairstylist in the known multiverse would cut your hair into if not given instrucitons to do otherwise. For me, the default hairstyle is a bob. So now I have a slightly above-shoulder length bob. It has a few layers in the bottom, but that's it. It looks pretty good and is easy to take care of. But its the default haircut. The one I've always been given since I was 4 and had enough hair to bob. Sigh.

So now I've done it. I'm going to have to either grow my hair out or keep getting it cut. And we both know which one of those options is more fun. Stay tuned to the continuing saga of Jill's hair.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Bitter with the Sweet


Last weekend I took my kids on a youth group camping trip. The teenagers had a great time, thanks to the two other competent adults I asked to come and help me. They both love camping and know all the tricks and have all the tools to have a really great camping trip.

Then there was me. I did pretty well. I set up the tent. I had the mosquito repellant and the sunscreen and the warm, long sleeved clothes and everything we needed. I did not, however, have the plug to my air matress, which made for miserable sleeping conditions.

As some of you know, Andrew is not a prize winning sleeper. Getting him to sleep has always been a chore, and he did not accomplish the feat of staying asleep all the way through the night until he was almost two. We still have our sleepless nights, and the two nights on the campout were among them.

Since he is a very high needs child, we have had many frustrating days, as well. I wish sometimes that I could go to the bathroom without him, or do a load of laundry without hearing "Where are you, mommy?" from somewhere in the house. When I was at the retreat, I was wishing I could unpack food for the campout or go and get my flashlight or nurse the baby without having to wait for him to walk with me from the main campsite to the site where our tent was pitched. I was wishing he would stay with some of the other people while I trekked to the bathroom or went and spent time with the youth kids. Or even that I might have been able to drip him off with someone for the weekend, like many of my friends do, and go by myself.

This got me thinking about the comment older women with grown up children always make. "Enjoy these years. They go so fast." I always think, "How can I enjoy them? I spend the entire time cleaning bodily fluids off myself, my children and the carpet. I am losing the upper range of my hearing from all the shreiking I have heard in the last two years. Have maybe had 30 days when I have slept 8 hours straight in the last 3 years. I am constantly harried, distracted, screamed at, clinged to, spit up on, tired, sore and numb from answering a thousand questions every day. Motherhood sometimes feels long and bitter. I can see why many women never seem to recover themselves at the end of it.

But then we went to the beach in Waskesiu. After a trying time getting into the car to get there, a long tiring walk with one boy in the stroller and one baby in the backpack, and having to repeat the mantra "we will go to the beach AFTER mommy finishes her coffee, Andrew!" a thousand times, we actually had this beautiful moment on the beach. Some of the girls were amusing the baby, and Andrew and I took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our pants and waded in the water. We looked at the boats and the birds. We laughed at the cold water on our feet. We squelched our way up and down a good portion of the beach. We saw hordes of butterflies and dragon flies. It was a perfect moment. One that you want to breathe in and hold onto and never let go.


I realized that these moments are not hard to come by when you are parenting young chilren, if you stop and take them. I realized that this is the sweetness and joy I longed for when I chose to have children. And I realized that it is the bitter times, the angry, frustrating times that make these quiet, beautiful moments even more precious. I love happy little moments with Andrew because I can hold them close and remember them when I am way past the end of my rope. I can enjoy my time with my children when I let go of all the frustrations, give in to the reality that I will not be at my best for the next ten years or so, and take time to experience the simple wonders that surround me.

When I am in the bitter moments, I try to find a little morsel of sweetness to help them go down a bit easier. Instead of complaining about the frustrations of my day, I'm learning to ask myself what we can do to let go of the day's tensions and enjoy a little moment together. A few moments walking on the beach, digging in the sand, or eating pretend food out of a book together is usually all it takes. I just have to remember to stop and find the sweetness and savour it when it comes my way.

Warning . . Juggling Unicyclists Ahead.


What, precisely, is this sign supposed to communicate to me? That the circus is coming to town?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Just Wanted to Boast a little . .

and let you know that Aaron did his first longish unassisted sit yesterday. Yes, my super strong baby sat up on his own for a minute or two at 5 mos.

I have much more to post about but no time. For the first time in a month Andrew is having a nap and guess who just woke up from a 3 hr long nap? As usual, no rest for the mommy. Sigh.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What Was I Thinking?

I am taking 8 teenagers (possibly 9) on a camp out this weekend with two other adults and my 2 small children. Of course because we are going camping this week, Aaron is cutting his two bottom teeth and Andrew has decided that he is not going to eat anything but yogurt and fruit and ice cream and juice, and that he is not going to listen to me or do anything I ask him to do, and go around whining and complaining all day and pull apart and destroy everything in my house. This is also the week I have to have a nagging beginning of a head cold complete with headaches, sore throat and spaceyness. Which means I will get the full blown cold sometime while we are camping, which will exaserbate my asthma. And that i can't seem to think or get myself together enough to get anything done.

So I still have to do all the laundry I need for the trip, pack, grocery shop, and get our house in a reasonable state for Dave to stay home for the weekend and have something in the house to eat. By 3:30 tomorrow. Right now I don't even know how I am going to make it through the afternoon, never mind the entire weekend.

But, my history with this youth group has been that everything comes together at the last minute, my children behave well, and the kids are great and have fun anyway. So I should just relax and get the laundry done and get to bed early, and worry about everything else tomorrow.

The annoying thing is that I wasn't even anxious until everyone kept telling me how crazy I was. I'm tired of people saying "You're doing ______? I would never try that. You're so brave." When they say this, I start thinking "maybe I can't do this after all" and its all down hill from there. So I'm going to ignore all those people who think I'm crazy, slather my children in bug repellant and sunscreen, let the teenage boys light big fires and the girls lie on the beach and enjoy the great outdoors, secure in the knowledge that we will all survive and my children will be fine, if a big mosquito-eaten at the end of the trip, and the youth kids will more or less take care of themselves (or the other adults will take care of them) and all will be well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Taking a Tiny Break from Quilts

I felt the need to take a break from quilts, so I made this bag. Also, I needed a larger bag now that I have two children's stuff to lug around, and since Andrew usually rides in the stroller while I carry Aaron, a backpack just wasn't working. So, this is my un-diaper bag.
Here is a close up of the fabulous fabric that is inside the pockets, lining and inner strap:


This will give you a good idea of the shape of the bag when empty:

This last photo is a close up of the very cute charm fabric I appliqued onto the front pocket, just for a dash of extra panache.

When I make another one of these (one of my friends has already hinted that she would really like one for a shower gift), I think I will put inside pockets into it, too. This one just has the small pocket at the front and a large medium sized book pocket on the back (7 x 11, I think).

The funny thing about this bag was that when I looked at the bag I made it off of, it seemed like a simple and elegant pattern that I couldn't possibly mess up. In reality, I took the sides off this bag twice (once becuase I messed up the sewing, and once because the strap was twisted) and had to cut the lining apart and re-stitch it because I should have sewn it into the bag earlier than I did. Oh well. Now I know for next time. And I'm very happy with the resulting bag. It is cute and slouchy and funky, but just the right size for a diaper bag. And if I ever go back to teaching or school, it will be big enough to carry all my stuff for that, too.