Gingerbread people

I cheated. I feel a tad guilty. I really am a good baker. I have no time anymore. This sucks. I must confess to using (gulp)pre-made gingerbread dough to make gingerbread people and other Christmas decorations.

I can make the stuff, honest! My excuse is two-fold. I've been busy trying to keep two children fed, happy and entertained. I've also been busy prepping the house for renovations (which started today...YAH...super should see the mess...aaagh...renos are for another post...don't have time here...MUST FOCUS!).

Anyway I bought some Pillsbury cookie dough in roll. To be honest it worked fine for my purposes. The kids adore baking but we needed some instant results tonight, especially considering we didn't get home until 5:45pm and our supper of left-overs didn't fully reach our bellies until 6:30 pm. We rolled and cut the dough. We even found a few pieces of raw dough making it to our mouths (always a secret pleasure of mine). The cookies took minutes to bake and kept their shape. When we went to decorate them, I realized I was out of icing sugar (used it all for the icing of my mocha frosted drops that I took to a cookie exchange on Friday...again here is another blog worthy topic...I need more time!!). I remembered I had some leftover tubes of icing from a birthday a year or so ago (good thing these bought products have a shelf life that seems to last an eternity). We decorated and devoured the cookies. The event worked but in hindsight it was too rushed and caused too much anxiety. I will have to amend future weekday events to easier projects or activities.

The worst part was that I think the joy of baking was lost tonight, especially when you factor in monkey boy's tears and my anger. Monkey boy decided he didn't like gingerbread cookies and wanted a candy cane instead. I told him I didn't think that was a great idea. He melted down and started crying, moaning and whining. He filled his mind with worry and anxiety over the thought he would have to eat a cookie he didn't like. I told him he could have some candy cane but not much. In his desire to please he said he wouldn't have anything. I became exasperated. I started moaning and whining too. It made him laugh (which is good) but I was done in (perhaps I should also get more than 4 hours of sleep the night before I take on baking, even in its abbreviated form). After what seemed like hours (but in reality was only 5 minutes), we compromised. He decided to decorate a cookie but have some candy cane if he didn't like it. Well he liked the did my girl. In the end, they enjoyed rolling and cutting out cookies as well as decorating their one cookie. I hope to have more time to create a better cookie decorating experience in the near future. Usually it is a fun affair but I think I need to be in a better frame of mind and with more than a half an hour to complete the task.

Crafts are a fan favorite in our household. We can't seem to get enough of them. Today's advent event was naturally a hit. We made paper snowflakes, both blue and white. It was fun watching my boy figure out how patterns were being made and duplicated when you cut a folded piece of paper. Lil bug even had fun with the project but required a little assistance getting her scissors through the thick paper.

My plan is to hang them from ribbon around the house. Haven't actually done that yet but the intention is good.

After an early and chaotic supper, we piled into the car to make our way over to OC Transpo's Park and Ride. We hopped onto the 95 route. Several stops later and in a bus crammed full of other families and regular passengers, we arrived downtown. We pushed our stroller (much easier to put lil bug in this contraption versus carrying her 36 pounds and snowsuit clad body around on my hip) down Bay St to Wellington. We conveniently parked ourselves on the North side of the street in front of Library and Archives Canada. Then we waited and waited. Finally we heard the sounds and saw the lights of the Santa Claus Parade.

Monkey boy loved looking at the floats. His favorites were antique fire trucks, and anything with lots of Christmas lights. Both kids thought it was fun to receive candy canes (which they were giving out in copious amounts). Monkey covets candy canes so it was interesting to overhear him say no thanks to one of the firefighters. He told me that he was only suppose to get one so that there were enough for other kids. Cool kid!!!

Unfortunately I neglected to haul the charity gifts we had picked up for the occasion. The kids handle the disappointment well though. We decided it would be okay to just take the toys to toy mountain next time we were at a mall. I did give them some money to put in a stocking that all the firefighters were carrying. It was fun to observe a couple of families approach to the charity aspect of the event. One mother had provided her son with a sock full of change. He seemed to enjoy being able to give to as many firefighters as he could.

The highlight of the parade was Santa of course. Both kids seem to really get the idea this year. Monkey is full of questions about the whole concept. I'm trying to create a mystical feel for him and the girl. Monkey decided that Santa had brought his real sleigh with him and put it on the float. He was a little disappointed that the reindeer weren't there but thankfully a young girl (of about 8 years) had already filled him in on the fact that they were home napping to get ready for Christmas eve. Aaah the falsehoods we tell our children. For some odd reason I can live with this one.

We filled our home with different renditions of traditional and not so traditional Christmas music. We have a limited selection of Christmas music. Here is the list of titles we own on CD:

»Barenaked Ladies. Barenaked for the Holidays.
»"A Charlie Brown Christmas" featuring the famous PEANUTS characters. Original sound track Vince Guaraldi.
»Bruce Cockburn. Christmas.
»The Edge of Christmas. (compilation including Pretenders Pat Benatar, Queen, Kate Bush, Pogues, Ramones)
»David Francey. Carols for a Christmas Eve.
»How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
»Loreena McKennitt. To Drive the Cold Winter Away.
»Sarah McLachlan. Wintersong
»The Promise of Ages : a Christmas Collection. Andrew Parrott, Taverner Consort & Choir.

David Francey, Barenaked Ladies, and Bruce Cockburn get the most air time in our home. The kids tend to favour tunes like jingle bells. Jingle Bells can be an annoying little tune when you hear your children repetitively singing it.

We enjoyed listening, singing, dancing and rocking to the music. It definitely put us in the Christmas mood. Though I think we need to invest in acquiring a broader selection of tunes.

Letter to Santa

We worked on letters to Santa tonight. They started by decorating a card. My bug who is quite prolific when it comes to crafts, was on card number three by the time I encouraged her to tell me what to write.

Monkey boy on the other hand has become quite thoughtful in his craft design. He even decorated the inside margins. He chose to write his own letter this year. I said the words, he attempted to figure out the spelling and when stuck I gave him the letters. I wrote one word as I needed to speed up the process as the clock was striking 8:15pm.

Both the kids and I are enjoying our Christmas countdown though I am finding it hard to work in activities during the short period of time we have in the evenings. Oh well, it gives our evenings a little more focus and before you know it we are off to bed.


Today's event was to buy a Christmas gift that we could donate to a child in need.

I want to instill in my children a sense of responsibility, respect and understanding towards the needs of others. I've explained to them that we share and give to others because it shows we care. Sometimes I wonder if they are grasping the concept. They are only 5 and 3 years old.

When I presented the event to them tonight, they accepted the mission with gusto. They each began to talk about what they wanted to give. Monkey boy's response was quite interesting. He talked about how it is good to give to people who don't have as much as us. In our conversation he even explained to me that sometimes families had to buy their kids had clothes and food first and didn't have enough money for toys. My young man chatted away about what he wanted to give a child. I was paying attention but also trying to figure out the logistics of getting everything done until a comment of his stopped me in my tracks. Monkey boy asked how we were going to pay for the gift. Before I could explain how it would work, he said, I have money momma. I can use my money from my piggy bank. My heart burst with joy. My boy was willing to forego his own cash for another. A part of me almost said don't worry momma can handle it but I thought no this is a learning opportunity. My curtailed response was that I thought that was a good idea and perhaps we could share the cost of the toy. Fine by him.

We went to the mall and they choose their toys. Monkey boy picked out a miniature transport truck packaged with other cars and my bug chose a playmobil horse with rider. We could have put the items in the toy mountain right at the mall but the kids wanted to give the firefighters the toys during Ottawa's Santa Claus Toy Parade this weekend.

Parenting does have some good moments. It looks like our countdown to Christmas is starting off with a bang.

Advent Calendars 2009

Last year Karen introduced me to an idea for a new family tradition originating from Andrea at A peek inside the fishbowl. Last year I chose not to create an elaborate calendar but focused on finding a unique and/or necessary activity to celebrate the days leading up to Christmas. I had so much fun, see my posts with the tag 25 days to Christmas that I knew I had to delve into this activity again.

This year I decided to create a visual display of my activities by adopting the envelope idea. Initially I wanted to make my own envelopes but in reality I work 35 hours a week, take care of two kids, barely get supper on the table and tend to walk around on a sticky kitchen floor because I just don't have time to dig out the mop. So I compromised. I found some cute little cards at Michael's and decorated the accompanying envelopes. The result was pretty sweet as you can see if you check out Karen's blog. I originally hung the envelopes from our mantle but changed my mind once I found the stockings and realized they looked better on the mantle.

Our activity today was to decorate the house. The kids and I pilfered through the contents of a couple of Rubbermaid containers. We managed to decorate the house with the small collection of items I own. Through this process I've realized that I need to start collecting some quality Christmas decorations.

Watching my children discover items from Christmas past, I was reminded of how special my mom made our Christmases. I remember rifling through the Christmas tins and boxes filled with ornaments, linens and decor items. It always seemed like a mini-treasure chest that held delight, sparkly items and memories. Mom often had a story to tell about where an ornament came from along with a plate of cookies at the ready for us.

Mom not only created a vast world of memories I can draw from but she continues to make Christmas special. Among the few good Christmas items I have is a nativity scene. Mom gave my sis and I the main set and then added onto it for us. It is a nice treasure to share with my kids and forces me to remember the meaning behind Christmas.

Keep posted for more Advent Calendar updates. Hopefully I can find time to post before midnight on a work night (then maybe I could add some pics as well)

What's Up?!

I've been laying low lately. I have lots of reasonable excuses for not posting, check them out:
*managed to have a two week cold at the end of September; my throat was so bloody sore and the hacking cough was annoying (to say the least)
*my uncle passed away; cancer...nasty disease; went home to Alberta for the funeral; sad days (though always nice to be with family...missing my sis and her kids big time)
*thanksgiving feast done solo (missed having my mom or mom-in-law to "help" prepare the meal)

*work was crazy busy, learning a new job and yet not feeling it is yours because other people are currently doing the work is truly overrated (but it is improving as the contract person has left now)
*working 5 days a week versus 4 is a huge adjustment especially combined with a lengthier compute when picking up the kids without a bike cuz the weather is too chilly
*annual trip to Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau for fall colours

*annual pumpkin patch outing to Miller's Farm & Market (included a fresh batch of apple cider)

*a walk around a bog at Mer Bleue

*spending an evening with friends...a certain delightful layer of chaos (courtesy of four children all 5 and under) mixed with good food and conversation
*Halloween (definitely a favourite holiday for me...especially jack o'lantern carving; we carved 5 this year)

*my lil bug's birthday (see future post for more details)

You Capture : Happiness

This week's You Capture photo challenge was happiness.

Happiness is universal and yet personal. My son came home with a project from school today. It was a piece of paper with a star at the top and a "poem" underneath it. The star had the phrase "I Wish" written on it. The poem read

Star Light, Star Bright
I Wish I May
I Wish I Might
Have the Wish
I wish tonight

Many of us have looked upon the vast night sky and recited this phrase, sending up a wish to the universe. My son's wish was "I wish I had presents all the time". A purely materialistic wish but it clearly spells out when he feels happiness.

For myself, my star wishes are simply for the feeling of happiness (honest). I experience happiness when I look upon the smiles (impish or pure) of my family. I'm filled with happy contentment when my husband's arms are wrapped around me. I delight in watching people letting loose and being a little silly. I'm giddy when delving into chocolate...cake, cookies, bars, beverages (you get the idea). I feel happy when I am close to nature.

This week I captured the smiles of my family.

But today on my bike ride to work, I felt happy. The air was crisp and smelled of fall. The trees are starting to display their glorious fall colours. The sun shone upon the earth making the dew twinkle and my heart rejoice. This picture captures the morning for me. My bike and nature.

Camera Play

SORRY if I sent you on a wild goose to find this week's Happiness photos, please go here

I want to take my photography one step further. My goal is to truly understand and utilize apertures, shutter speeds, ISO, etc. Thankfully I have a very adept husband who is willing to share his passion (and camera lenses) with me.

My desire to make some changes in my photography have been further peaked from all the information I find on different blogs. I specifically like some of the challenges out there. So I've decided to take the plunge and I will be attempting to keep up with the weekly challenges from


This week's challenge: Macro. Get up close to the object.

This is a close up of a spider web attached to our peony and lily plants in the front yard. I tweaked the pic in lightroom with a preset titled Velvia and played around with the brightness. I love playing with effects. Lightroom along with photoshop are becoming my new favourite tools. Hope you like my macro picture. I do.

Late summer memory

The weather this summer has been downright crappy. More rain in July than normal and cooler temperatures for August except for one horrendous week that forced everyone into air conditioned buildings. September is upon us already and with the last rays of sunshine basking our land we embarked on a trip to a beach on Saturday afternoon. We piled the kids into the car and drove a mere 30 minutes to Rideau River Provincial Park. We dragged our friends into the adventure and found that we practically had the beach to ourselves. It was warm but not overly. The water was still and inviting. The kids and J plunged themselves into the water. They floated, swam, played, chased gulls, and tried catching minnows in the shallow waters. An elaborate moat system was created on the beach and overflowed from the buckets of water. We capped the afternoon off with a picnic supper. It truly was a wonderful homage to summer.

New job - 1st day

Spent most of the day orientating myself. First there was a session with human resources where I signed my name on the dotted line too many times to count. Next I meandered into the library and what may be the locale for the next chunk of my working life. I'm not sure what to make of my decision now that I have taken the plunge. I was so excited to remove myself from an insane situation and take on a new challenge that I forgot how taxing it is to try to absorb new material and figure out your place in a new place. I met with my new boss, received a brief run-down of library, took a library tour, and spent time with another person getting an overview of one aspect of position. Then the day was done. It was weird not actually doing specific work. I felt a bit out of my element.

It was also odd to be constantly introduced to people as Pam, the new reference services administrator, she use to work in interlibrary loans, do you remember her (egad that was 10 years ago and at the time I holed up in the ILL office). Makes you wonder if they were trying to justify my hire and make me an instant part of the climate. I think that may have been part of the case since there are two contract people on staff who applied for my new job, currently work in my new job but didn't get it. The reason is that they do not possess the Lib tech diploma, while I do. Talk about a potentially awkward situation, especially since I will be trained by one of them. Oh well, one day done and a few hundred more to go before I can retire.

I think the stress of the day was compounded by my lil bug having a nasty cold and fever. It was hard to leave her all day and not be there to comfort her. Thanks to J, she was in good hands though and managed to have a 4 hour nap...yep she must be sick cuz this girl does not normally nap. Ah, the joys of parenting while working. Not always the most ideal but a decision I have made for my sanity.

New job

Attention, I would like to have your attention. You are now reading the blog of a Reference Services Administrator at a university library. I am no longer a federal government employee reduced to losing her job for a business model of shared services. I no longer need to worry about becoming bilingual. I am no longer stuck in a job with no room for upward mobility.

I'm a little anxious about adapting to a busy work schedule versus a laid back one. I'm quite worried that I may become overwhelmed with juggling work and home. But really I'm just plain EXCITED. I'm moving up in the world. I'm going to be in a interesting position dealing with reference staff and a learning disability centre. My salary has increased and the benefits are decent. Okay, maybe not as sweet as the government but hey I reaped those rewards already.

Wish me luck! I start on Sept 14th.


I've been desperately seeking out time. Time for household chores, time for me, time for the kids, time for hubby, time for friends, time for projects, time to breathe. Returning to work has been good for me. I thrive on routine. Work forces me to better manage my time. Yet I begrudge how little time is left for moments of pleasure.

I've had some good times:
*family trips to museums: Pinhey's Point Historic Site, Canada Science and Technology Museum, Canada Aviation Museum, Cumberland Heritage Village Museum (for Classic Car Show)
*strawberry picking on July 1st in the Ottawa Valley countryside
*weekend at a real Ontario cottage with some dear and amazing friends, which included a visit to Santa's Village, ice cream, Gaymer cider, wine, and two nights of playing Carcassonne
*brunch at the Chateau Laurier with 3 fun friends
*beach moments: Lac Philippe, Mooney's Bay, Britannia Beach (all within easy driving distance)
*day at Saunder's Farm
*morning bike rides to work
*Friday's off from work and parenting
*movie at a theatre with a friend to see the latest Harry Potter

I've had bad times:
*work as I know it is to come to an end due to a shift to a new "business model" of "partnerships"
*mounting sleep-deficit (mostly due to a young lady who is possessed and requires momma)
*feeling depressed, overwhelmed, angry or something or other and having hard time handling this emotion

I will continue to hunt for the elusive element of time and remember to enjoy the moments of fun.


I often think I want to live in a hip urban neighbourhood. It would be great to walk out your front door and mosey on down to the local bakery, farmer’s market, coffee shop and quaint stores. Perhaps we could live more environmentally such as both of us cycling to work, walking to nearby parks or simply just reducing the size of our footprint. However, an urban neighbourhood in Ottawa is out of our price range.

We live in a old suburb. Our house was built in 1966. It is in dire need of some updates. The street is busier than we would like but we remain within the green belt. We have a kick ass sized lot with old trees. There is a mix of ages and a small mix of ethnic groups in the neighbourhood. The neighbours are super nice, friendly, observant and protective. We can let the kids play in the front drive-way (under parental observation of course) and enjoy waving and talking with people, their dogs and kids. I guess it isn’t so bad.

Owning a sizeable lot in the burbs means we must partake in some significant yard maintenance. Our front lawn consists mostly of weeds. There is clover, dandelions, crab grass, plantain, mallow, chickweed, wild strawberries, etc. J thinks it can be kind-of pretty as there are purple, white and yellow flowers. I, on the other hand, am slightly embarrassed by the composition of our lawn. Thankfully our surrounding neighbours seem to sport the same type of lawn. So I’ve come to embrace the nature of our lawn.

I am a vigilante when it comes to mowing the lawn. I LOVE a freshly mown lawn. It causes anxiety and frustration to see the lawn to grow for more than 7-10 days. I especially love hauling the gas powered lawn mower from our rotting shed (even with the knowledge that I will be polluting the environment). I delight in quickly starting the mower and hearing the engine roar into life. I revel in the idea of making a pattern in the front lawn. I tend to alternate between mowing the lawn vertically, horizontally and diagonally. This pattern change is a technique I learned from my dad.

My dad is a zealous lawn guru. He would not put up with the number of weeds I have. I’m sure he would be sporting his lawn weeder daily and would not hesitate to use chemical means to eliminate them. Nor would he baulk at the idea of re-sodding the lawn or at least adding topsoil and fresh grass seed to the lawn (a project that I am too lazy and cheap to undertake). I did learn from him to take great pleasure in mowing the lawn. I remember standing back with him and just enjoying the view of the lines cutting through the lawn. To this day, I admire my handiwork at mastering nature. The accomplishment and satisfaction of mowing a lawn pulses through me and I can’t help but feel a smile spread across my face and a desire to jump for joy.

My desire for a mown lawn must irk the neighbours. After I am done, the sense of obligation to keep up infuses the neigbourhood. It always makes me secretly giggle to see neighbours hauling out their mowers within a few hours or a day after I tackle my yard. It is funny to think that I am promoting a suburban ideal and forcing others to conform. Too bad they don’t seem to revel in the chore.


I swear that my 2 1/2 year old daughter is possessed at times. Generally, my lil bug is athletic, bright, funny and well-spoken though shy around adults. She has almost mastered using the toilet on her own. She loves horses and Thomas the train. She is a charming "big" girl who likes to give hugs and sweet kisses.
Unfortunately, the charm can be fleeting. She is a raving lunatic when she is tired, hungry or not getting her way. We try to insure the kid is well fed and rested. We even try to be one step ahead of her and offer her food, quiet times or distractions prior to the typical melt-down times. Yet what can you do when your stubborn, independent child REFUSES to sleep or eat or listen? What do you do when all rationale flies out the window and you are presented with a raging, indecisive, MAD child? Practical solutions, at best, are only temporarily accepted before being rejected with fierce unrelenting anger.

The best tantrums of late happen to arrive at the very start of a day. It is 6:30am or if we are lucky maybe the clock reads 6:50am. We are stirred awake by a wee voice calling out "I need momma". We both know that it is I who has to go into the room. If J even tries, our quiet home will be filled with piercing screams and cries intermingled with phrases that demand he goes away and that she needs momma. So I enter lil bug's room and am greeted with a request, I comply with a voice hushed and groggy with sleep. As I either gather up the desired blanket or move something else, anger enters her body. She no longer wants me to get her the blanket. She wants me to snuggle. No she doesn't want me to snuggle. I need to go away. No don't leave. Now I'm suppose to take all her blankets off the bed. But she is cold, put the blankets back on. She's hungry. She doesn't want to eat...and on it goes for at least 20-30 minutes. Needless to say I'm exhausted and my day has literally just begun.

I try to keep a lid on my temper. It is hard sometimes when a raving lunatic won't leave you alone or let you help her. There are times I wish I could take back the things I have said or quell the anger that shoots through my very being. I wish there was a sure fire way to work through her moments. I love the kid. I'm trying to raise her to be happy, conscientious of others, and capable of working through her frustration but some days I can't wait for my responsibility to end. I absolutely look forward to hearing her heavy snores echoing in the hallway outside her room. I dread our teenage years. I hope we survive.

Jet lag and good times

The plane ride to Ottawa was great. The ride to the airport was tough. My lil bug cried, yelled and was hysterical for over 40 minutes. She demanded that we turn around NOW. She did not want to go to the airport. She wanted to stay with grammy. My mom finally managed to have her fall asleep in her arms while she paced outside the airport terminal in the arrivals drop off zone. I bet alot of people were hoping that the screaming child was not going to be on their flight. Well, no need to worry. She had a nap and life was rosy again. She finally picked up on monkey boy's excitement and loved the plane ride. The excitement even caused the two munchkins to stay awake the whole time (arriving at midnight or 10pm their time). Yet, they were perfect! They were ideal travellers! I'm not just tooting my own horn as I received multiple compliments from passengers and staff.

We arrived to a house in a state of disarray though relatively clean. J had slaved over the house, wiping down walls and counters, cleaning bathrooms, setting up bedrooms, etc. We had our floors refinished before the kids and I returned. It looks great though it created quite a dusty mess. The floors look so much better that we have voted not to return our hand-me down futons (which are now close to 20 years old) and IKEA chairs to the living room. They shall remain downstairs, amongst the boxes, piles of stuff and kid's toys. Now the task is to find replacement furniture. Our friends are placing bets on us. They think we will not have real furniture for 6 months. They recognize how slow we (i.e. J) can be in purchasing large ticket items. I desperately hope we can prove them wrong.

On top of the disarray caused by refinishing floors, we have also had to deal with a carpenter ant infestation and now mice. Frack! I hate pests!

BTW I've discovered that packing is fun compared to unpacking. I absolutely hate unpacking. What a huge annoying chore. An almost impossible chore to complete if you have two kids hanging around and demanding attention. Geez, can't they feed themselves :)

On a happy note, we've already reconnected with a couple of great friends. First, we were invited to monkey boy's gal pal's birthday party at a local hobby farm. It was a hoot. Monkey boy held hands and played with his friend the whole time. It was like they hadn't been apart for 9 months. Secondly, we had a picnic supper at our friend's house, Karen and John. The supper was great even though we had to transfer ourselves from a park to their house due to rain. Again monkey boy reconnected with his bud, E. They got along famously and the two little sister's enjoyed each other and tagged along after the older ones. It was such a pleasure for us to be in the company of friend's.

I will miss our families in Alberta, immensely. However it is nice to be home...even if there is more chaos than sanity.


Westjet cancelled my flight this morning. I'm now stuck riding on a crowded airplane, leaving Calgary at 6pm arriving 11:48pm in Ottawa with two already overtired kids. What joy! What luck! I guess the stress of spending yesterday packing, finishing off some photo albums for the parents, sending letters and pictures to family and shipping 3 more boxes to Ottawa was misguided. At least I'm all set to go so today is a "free" day.

I think the zoo is calling our names...that should kill at least 3 hours of what is going to be a VERY long day.

Memory making

The countdown to our return to Ottawa is in full swing.  We celebrated monkey boy's 5th birthday, my dad's 65th birthday, and J's 39th birthday during the first half of this month.  Yup, there are way too many Taurus males in my life.  

The kids, my dad and I went to Day Out with Thomas : the Hero of the Rails Tour hosted at Heritage Park.  This event was a HUGE hit, we rode the train, merry go round, had faces painted, etc.  My daughter now insists her name is either Thomas or horsey everyday and cries whenever I tell her that her Thomas shirt is in the laundry.

We also squeezed in a trip to Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump as well as Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park while visiting my in-laws mid month.  The trips to these sites require posts of their own...someday.

J left on the 20th.  He drove our RAV4 approximately 3500 "klicks" across the country.  The RAV4 showed its true worth by capably hauling a crap load of books, files, toys, clothes, etc.   Oh and I guess hats off to J for once again driving the highway routes from Calgary to Ottawa and then unloading our stuff into the house.   No easy feat considering the vastness of northern Ontario and the load of boxes in the back of the vehicle.

J went home early in order to attend a conference. Once again I was a conference widow but this time I was living with my parents.  Amazing how two extra adults, one who is officially the energizer super-grammy, makes handling two kids immensely easier.  I'm going to miss the help...big time.

From the moment J left, I've been cramming the days with activity.  We've been to Heritage Park and Banff.   We've walked some trails in Nose Hill Park.  We've checked out the community centre's splash park and huge sandbox.  The kids had their hair cut.  We walked and rolled over to the local Mac's convenience store to indulge in one of our last Alberta made slurpees (or as Mac's calls them, frosters).  I've even squeezed in some shopping on my own for clothes for my upcoming return to work.  I saw my son say good-bye to his preschool teachers and friends.  I packed and shipped ten boxes of toys, clothes and other paraphernalia.  I'm starting to wonder if the packing will ever end...probably not until I reach Ottawa and have the joy of unpacking all our stuff combined with cleaning and purging our house of outdated toys and clothes.  Egad perhaps I should just stay in Calgary...Nay!

We have been biking and scootering around the ponds in my parent's neighbourhood.  Lil bug is a great tricycle rider but her focus needs some work.  My girl is so easily distracted and loves to gawk.  It can be pure agony making it to the corner of the street.  I'm not sure what is so fascinating about riding with one foot or watching the ground move beneath your bike.  Where lil bug lacks in speed, her brother more than sufficiently covers the gap.  He just flies on the scooter.  He loves his mobility so much that he managed to wear out the scooter his grammy had at her house for the kids to use.  The brake and handle broke right off.  

Now I sit in the comfort of my in-laws office space after a fun afternoon in their company.  I'm always amazed at how much we can cram into a mere day when children are part of the picture.  For instance, today we started the gong show at 7am (after a restless night for lil bug and ME).  We left Calgary at 9:10am to go to Claresholm (this is all after packing, eating, dressing and having the kids entertained by grammy).  By 10:30am, we decided to make a pit stop in Nanton.  We stopped to view the air museum, the model car show and vintage car show.  Finally we made it to Claresholm by 11:55am.  Ate lunch.  The kids then proceeded to play in the sprinkler, wading pool, drink milkshakes, paint pictures, work with playdough, play horsey (yup, pillows can magically transform into bucking, galloping and show jumping horses), fight, have forced quiet time, wash dump trucks, watch computer videos with grandpa, make cinnamon buns with grandma, play, eat supper, put on a horsey show and have a bath.  No wonder I am so flipping tired by the end of the day.  

Yet, the day was great.  The temperature reached a scorching 30 degrees celsius.  Unlike Ottawa, the evening spells relief here in Alberta.  A delightful cool breeze blows away the heat in order to leave a comfortable though sometimes chilly atmosphere to sleep in.  In Alberta, you may wear shorts and a tank top during the day but you always have a hoodie and socks around for the evening.

I'm ready to return to Ottawa but I am sad to leave family and the breath-taking natural beauty in Alberta.

One step closer to Ottawa

We've moved. We enjoyed our time at our Ranchlands townhouse rental. It was sad to leave the house with the beautiful view and easy access to our favourite haunts. It was also sad to see how much stuff we had accumulated since moving to Calgary. We arrived with approximately 10 boxes and 4 suitcases of household items. We left with significantly more despite donating 2 large bags of clothing.

The move to my parent's house went fairly well. We managed to move everything in 3 loads (1 in the back of my parents Chevy truck and 2 in our RAV4). We spent an excessive amount of time cleaning but at the end of the day we left the place better than we received it. My folks were great by not only helping us move items but taking care of the kids for a night and half day.

Currently we reside in my parent's basement. A pretty sweet deal considering they just moved into a gorgeous brand new bungalow, they are not charging us rent or utilities, they provide child care, cook some of the meals and have cable (woohoo). Yes, Jim and I have to sleep in the common area but that is only because our two munchkins cannot sleep in the same room. Monkey boy is a light sleeper and lil bug snores and wakes frequently with crys and nightmares. I am sure we will have some "testy" days, as my mom would say, since my dad and I tend to butt heads and everyone is use to doing their own thing. However it is a nice way to end our sabbatical in Alberta. The kids love their grandparents and we will know that they have a special bond with them when we leave.

As the last days in Alberta tick away, I still hope to visit the Royal Tyrell museum in Drumheller, Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Southern Alberta (about a 45 min drive from the in-laws in Claresholm) and see those Rocky Moutains up close one last time.

My husband is a wise shopper. He spends countless hours researching the details on big ticket purchases. We talked, test drove and agonized over a car for at least 5-7 months. It took well over a year for him to buy his latest camera. Yet when a sale sign is displayed in a store his meticulous shopping sense can go out the window. He has been very successful at times with his sale obsession. I will give him credit for those trendy $8 jeans he found. However some of his bulk sized purchases of food have been wasted on us.

Now if you keep in mind his weakness for sale items, it is no surprise that a contest may pique his interest. Last month, he responded to a U of C alumni contest and won tickets for a dance production at the University of Calgary theatre. On the surface it sounded like a great opportunity. Unfortunately, I, his grumpy wife who does not handle surprises well, was not so thrilled by the "win" as it meant going to the show that night. Well, J convinced me it was a good idea by rounding up my mom to babysit and bribing me with a promise of dessert.

We barely made it there in time but we managed to sneak in during a brief pause in the dance production. The avant garde multi-media performance featured a dancer, artwork, a clarinetist and film-making. Icarus Fried was ... bizaare. We sat through the whole production. We sort-of liked aspects of it. We admired the talent of the performers. Yet we left shaking our heads, saying "what the hell?" and feeling that sometimes avant garde goes too far. We agreed that the performance would have made more sense "if only we had smoked some dope."

In the future, I am sure J will be a little more selective when entering contests. Yet we will always have this event to make us chuckle. We had a nice time together even if I never received my promised dessert.


Music captures and captivates. Add a beautiful stop motion video to the song and I'm wrapped into a dream blanket of peace and awe.

TV star sighting made at Aggie Days

The Calgary Stampede sponsored Aggie Days at the beginning of the month. We took the C-train down to the Stampede grounds. A ride which thrilled the wee people to no end. We met J's folks to take in the event. The kids experienced a Stampede-style pancake breakfast, watched farriers compete to shoe horses, saw some animals up close and sat on small tractors. Lil bug delighted in watching the 4-H rabbits hop through an obstacle course. Monkey boy was out of sorts so he mostly moped and meandered through the event. In hindsight, it was not the best family event for us. It was unbelievable crowded. Our viewing of the animals came at the cost of pushing our way through throngs of people and their strollers.

We finally ended our visit in the Rural Routes and Acreage Lifestyle exhibition. This section of the event featured exhibitors selling farm equipment, decor and goods as well as highlighted tourist regions surrounding Calgary. The kids found themselves running from tractor to tractor to try them out. Grandma had a blast taking pictures of them.

The highlight for J and I was getting a glimpse of our favourite TV star...Terry Grant. Yep, you read that correctly, the one and only Terry Grant who is the star of Mantracker was at the High River exhibit. Very cool. J took a picture but neither of us felt like showing our crazed fan behaviour so we bypassed the line to receive a signed autograph. Hmmm, perhaps I will regret that move. At least we have pictorial evidence.


The television and I have a bit of a love affair. I truly bask in the brain-numbing glow that emits from the boob tube. I often find my thumb rapidly pulsing on the remote as I desperately seek out enertainment. I know that my mental and physical well-being would be better served if I sought out exercise, activity, hobbies or reading. Yet I'm drawn to the pleasure that courses through my body when I switch on the television and switch off my tendency to control and be ultra responsible mom and housekeeper.

Ironically, I still only have access to peasant vision. My dh and I have consciously chosen to use rabbit ears. I righteously proclaim to telemarketers that we do not subscribe to their competitors cable package nor do we intend to acquire satellite access to x number of channels. One would think that this take on television would translate into a conscious desire to eliminate television from our lives. No siree bob, that is not the case in my world. My evenings, especially during the winter months, are consumed by televsion viewing. I am a sucker for new programs, reality shows, documentaries, etc, etc.

I generally do not have a discriminating tastes when it comes to my program choices though I do have my favourites. Some current favourites are Lost and House . I also enjoy watching Mantracker, Survivorman, Amazing Race, Kenny and Spenny and America's Next Top Model with J. I often tune into Mentalist, Hell's Kitchen, Medium, The Office, Castle, CSI and Law and Order (though the formula used by these last two series is starting to render the programs boring). I'm sure I would enjoy delving into Heroes again but our rabbit years have caused such fuzzy reception at the beginning of this season that I am so lost regarding the characters and plot. To my credit (I hope) I am not a talk show or soap opera lover. Occassionally I have gone through periods of tuning into Coronation Street but honestly that is the extent of my foray into that genre.

Unfortunately, not all of my favourites are available on peasant vision. So how do I hear about these different programs? Either dear friends point me in the direction, lend me their copies or J comes across a review in his never-ending internet surfing. When I discover a series that is intriguing, I become a slave to the series. I patrol Rogers and Blockbuster Video weekly or biweekly in my insane desire to get my hands on the next episodes. A couple of favourites over the years have been Six Feet Deep, Carnivale, Deadwood and Big Love.

My ultimate favourite tv series has to be Battlestar Galactica. After reading a girlfriend of mine's blog, Virtually There, and her entry regarding watching the final episode of Battlestar Galactica, I again find myself wanting to rush to every nearby video store to get my hands on season 4.5. I finally finished season 4.0 but had to wait an infinitely long time for season 4.5 to become available. So far the blasted store near me hasn't had a copy on the shelf. Until I can get the dvd into my clutches, I will have to continue satisfying my insatiable entertainment needs with our peasant vision selection. As well as take quizzes like the one below:

Which Battlestar Galactica Character Are You?

More on Battlestar Galactica. Created by BuddyTV

March break

The kids and I invaded my sister's house for 4 1/2 days. My sis lives in Red Deer, a small city located more or less right in between Edmonton and Calgary. Besides taking advantage of the March break to spend time with my sister and her family, we also managed to see more of J. My hubby is madly trying to spend his research funds before March 31st. This has meant he has been on a series of research trips and conferences in the last couple of months. He spent 11 days out of the country in February. He was in Winnipeg for 4 days. His final trip was to be spent in Edmonton for a week. Both he and I were feeling the effects of his being away. Therefore we arranged to plunk ourselves in Red Deer so J could research in Edmonton and then travel 90+ minutes to spend the night with us. It worked out well on so many levels.

My kids had a fantastic time with their cousins. They all played well together. We entertained ourselves with crafts, colouring, a trip to the nearby park and a visit to the swimming pool (equipped with a lazy river, wave pool, fountain pool, large water slide, and kids water park/pool).

As my parents grew up on farms just east of the city of Red Deer, there happens to be some family in the city. This trip I made some time to visit my grandma W. My granddad passed away almost 2 years ago and it was good to touch base with her again.

My sis, J and I took all of our kids to visit our favourite aunt and uncle on Friday. My uncle has recently been diagnosed with non-small cell cancer. It was important for me to see him and to let him and my aunt know that we are thinking of them. They have given us so many treasured memories and have always been at the periphery of our lives. It is hard to see them struggling with a life threatening illness but they are fighters and will hopefully see this disease in remission soon.

Finally monkey boy, lil bug and I went on a day adventure to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin ( a mere hour north of Red Deer). The museum was terrific. The little bit I read on the story boards was both informative and interesting. The museum was filled with restored vehicles. There were cars, trucks, and farm equipment. We also caught the tail end of the Model T exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Ford car. We ended our tour with lunch at the museum cafe (which was quite good compared to some museum food I've had). Before we left, we popped over to the Aviation Hall of Fame museum and looked at the airplanes on display there. If I had more time and no kids tagging along, it would have been interesting to read about some of the aviators inducted into the hall.

The kids loved the museum. This was probably due to two factors. One, they both love vehicles, and I mean LOVE vehicles. Monkey boy has been playing with cars since he was a toddler and lil bug's favourite shirt is a hand-me down featuring a dune buggy. Secondly they both had a hoot taking pictures. Lil bug was using monkey boy's v-tech camera. Monkey boy had his hands on my Canon point and click while I was hauling around J's old Canon 20D. It was so much fun watching them take pictures and experience the museum in a more hands on way. I think we may have some photographers in the making, which would please both J and I as well as J's parents (photographers themselves). Photography may be an excellent way for our family to explore our surroundings and feel connected especially as the kids move towards their tween and teen years.

Saturday family outing

Weather, bad moods and quick changes to plans thwarted a potentially good family day.

J and I planned to take the kids to Banff to ride the gondola up Sulfur mountain. We woke up to a day of sunshine and blue skies but we could see clouds shrouding the mountains from our balcony. J jumped onto the internet to see the current view from on top of Sulfur mountain via the web cam and indeed it was a cloudy grey day in Banff. However, the weather forecast indicated it would be clearing later. We decided to plunge ahead with our plan since we wanted to get out of the city. I madly ran around the house packing winter gear, rain gear, lunch plus the necessary entertainment for the car ride, DVD player, movies, leapster and Nev's camera.

When we told the kids our plans, the idea was met with trepidation. Lil bug's response was "I don't like the mountains." Monkey boy balked at the idea with some hums and haws. We ignored lil bug's commentary as she dislikes everything these days and always wants the status quo of play or activity to remain unchanged. We convinced monkey boy that it would be fun and he managed to muster some enthusiasm.

The ride was nice, despite the occassional complaint from the backseat. The view was lovely though the clouds seem to be settling into the mountains rather than dispersing. Ten minutes outside of the Banff National Park gates, J inquired what we should do since spending money to travel up a gondola to see clouds was not desirable. He asked if I brought swimsuits. Monkey boy perked up hearing this comment and thought it would be a great idea to go swimming in the hot springs again. Well, my disappointment over the weather forcing plans to change and the guilt over not remembering to pack the swimsuits, just in case, resulted in a lovely rant and my silly resolve that we should just go home.

We turned around at the gates but stopped in Canmore for lunch as our tummies were a rumblin'. The tourist information centre only had outside picnic tables. An option that was not all that appealing since it was breezy, chilly and starting to snow. The staff fortunately were able to recommend a place to eat a packed lunch and pointed us towards some casual activities to do with kids in Canmore. We made our way to the Canmore Nordic Centre, ate lunch and enjoyed watching the cross country skiers out the windows. We all perked up after filling our stomachs. Our family day looked like it might be salvaged.

J and I decided to take the kids for a short walk to see the hidden falls. Once again our idea was greeted with dismay. We forged ahead and endured a brief walk along a snow and ice packed path. Neither child liked the short trip up to the benches and viewpoint. We listened to a litany of it is too cold, too icy, I'm falling, carry me, etc, etc. We reached our destination in 15 minutes. Although the shade of a hill made it difficult to see, the falls were nice and covered with lots of ice. The kids finally snapped out of their moods and enjoyed themselves, climbing on the benches, throwing snow and looking at the view of the falls and the town of Canmore.

Upon returning to our vehicle, we headed towards a coffee shop for some sustenance and a caffeine induction for the adults. It was a little dicey again at the shop as lil bug was not satisfied with sharing the large apple juice with her brother. We finished our snack and piled into the car to return home. By this time, the sun was bathing Canmore in a wonderful warm light and the clouds were steadily disappearing. The weather improved but a little too late for us.

Lil bug fell asleep in the car and monkey boy relaxed in his seat occasionally taking pictures of the view out our window or playing his leapster. It was not an ideal outing but we muddled through and accomplished the goal of spending time together as a family. Next time, I will take the swimsuits (can never pack too much) or we will read the signs (bad weather and lack of enthusiasm from kids) a little more closely and alter plans before we leave the city. Why does knowledge often come with experience and hindsight? Where is that crystal ball I ordered?

Mother Bear

Can 4 and 5 year old children be bullies? My answer is a resounding yes.

Monkey boy has been taking gymnastics since January. Despite his physical awkwardness and lack of strength, he tries everything. He listens to his coach (who unfortunately seems to lack the natural ability to guide or instruct, an apparent flaw that is seen by other parents). He has fun and his abilities are improving. In his attempts to execute a move, he usually succeeds or fumbles through but occasionally a mishap arises. To date he has hurt himself on the apparatus four times. As a sensitive, pleasing and slightly overwhelmed kid, he has reacted with tears and loud cries. In all cases, we have dealt with the hurt and re-joined the class. I've been proud of him and glad for the opportunity to teach him not to give up.

Today, my parenting philosophy towards monkey boy was challenged by two four year old boys. As we entered the gymnasium, one boy loudly called out "there is the baby boy" and another boy takes up the taunt and teasing attitude by also saying "he's the baby boy." My son was walking ahead of me and stopped. I was unable see his reaction or determine if he realized these words were being directed towards him. Yet I knew exactly what these little boys were saying. I was livid. Their parents did not speak out or correct these boys but rather just looked in our direction. The mother bear in me was incensed. I quickly and loudly blurted out to my son that those boys were being rude. This stopped the two boys and I think caught the attention of one parent, a dad. I directed my kid towards the boot removal area and clearly said to him not to listen to those boys but to go have fun and sit with some of the girls.

My son did not seem to question me or to display any hurt feelings. I decided not to pursue the issue. This was our second last class and I did not have the energy or resources to confront the parents and question their parenting style. I'm guessing they tell their boys not to be cry babies as where else would these young children develop a negative attitude towards tears resulting from pain. If this situation presents itself again, I will delve further into the issue especially if my son has to co-exist with mean children for any length of time. It is not acceptable to name call. Parents and children need to know this fact and check the tendency if we want to reduce bullying. I want to teach my children to not bully. I also want them to learn that it is just as harmful to join in the action by either copying the bullies or letting the bullies get away with their hurtful actions.

I know this is just the start of our many years in dealing with difficult situations. I hope that J and I have the ability to recognize problems quickly. I hope we find ways to teach our children to cope with the harshness of a tough, competitive and materialistic society and still be compassionate and caring individuals.

Canmore and friends

How can a mere 24 hours be so remarkable and rejuvenating? Well, take some very dear friends I met during my two years at Augustana University College, add mountains (magic in itself) and toss in cross country skiing, good food and a whirlpool and presto you have created a recipe for a good time.

We converged at my place on Saturday and took two vehicles to Canmore, Alberta. The day was perfect. The weather was warm with clear, beautiful blue skies. In a mere hour we had exited the hustle and bustle of Calgary, traversed the foothills and were greeted by the mountains. We weaved our way through the town to Canmore Nordic Centre Provinical Park. After renting skis for me (this was the first time I have ever officially skiied in my life), we donned our gear and hit the trails. I did my best to keep up with the ladies. I was a sorry display of athleticism but there was no way you could remove the stupid smile on my face or the determination in my heart. I wiped out twice. Once out of stupidity. I wanted to turn around to take a picture of the landscape but neglected to remember I had trees tied to my feet. The second time I lost my balance heading down a hill trying to get my skis into the groomed tracks. At the end of a few fantastic hours in the mountain air exercising, we all left with a little bit of sun on our face, aches in our legs and shoulders and words still streaming from our mouths.

We rounded out the day with a dip in our hotel's hot whirlpool to ease the aches away. Then enjoyed a fantastic Spanish and Mexican food at Tapas restaurant and begoda. The meal was divine.

It has been a long time since I have spent time with these 3 great friends and we had a lot of catching up to do. It was interesting to hear about the paths everyone's life has taken. It was enlightening to find out what each person does to motivate themselves, cope with upheavals and participate in the world around them. I was inspired. I also felt such peace and contentment being present and in the moment with these friends.

Once again I am finding friendship the key to good living. I cherish these moments and hope to create more.

Our time in Alberta is quickly approaching its end. Only 3 more months and so many "tourist" items left on my list. Thankfully February has provided enough days with decent weather that we have managed to squeeze in some Calgary attractions.

J and I took the kids to the zoo at the beginning of the month. We had a great time. The weather was perfect, the animals were alert, and the kids well-behaved. J managed to take some wonderful animal pictures while the kids and I delighted in watching

hippos sleep,
red pandas race around their enclosure,
giraffes saunter,
tigers roll on their backs or pace through their home,
rays skim through water,
and a baby gorilla play in the straw.

The zoo was a great way to spend time as a family. So great that we invested in a membership. All we have to do is attend at least 3 more times and we will have paid it off.

For Valentine's day we combined family time with visiting the Calgary Tower. After traveling downtown via the C-Train (which the kids still rave about to this day), my mom-in-law and I took the kids to the top of the tower while J and his dad went to some photo exhibits. It was a hoot watching the kids walk on the glass floor and observe the world in miniature below them. They thought it was neat "sitting" on the buildings and watching the cars and C-Train travel by. The glass floor initially freaked me out. It is amazing how your sense of sight strongly affects your body's reaction. I actually had the sensation of falling when I was stepping on the floor. We spent about an hour cruising through the Calgary Tower and enjoyed attempting to see the sights through the clouds and snow surrounding the tower. We capped our day off with lunch at a restaurant and then supper with my family (sis, her kids and my folks). Two free meals, a tourist attraction, and well-behaved kids created a special day to remember. Check out the train yard, Saddledome, and Stampede grounds as seen looking east and slightly south from the Calgary Tower.

Four days in Dublin meant
hanging in pubs
poking through shops
absorbing the charm of old buildings and bleak weather
being with dear friends

I have more words and commentary but I still feel unable to concisely capture my thoughts and experience. I cannot decide if I want to review my trip chronologically or in moments. Or if I want to reveal how it has opened my eyes regarding my likes and dislikes.

All I know is that it was a good trip. It was a necessary break from being a parent and partner. It made me a little more aware of myself. It enabled me to understand who I am as a traveler and what I like to do on a holiday. It reminded me that my friends accept me for who I am and I need not worry about being perfect. It also reinforced how important my friends are in my life. I need them and should always remember to have fun with them. The four friends I spent time with are charismatic, thoughtful, funny and frickin' gorgeous.

Dublin calling

Although I've been plagued by mice and run into by cars, I've been able to keep smiling. Why? I'm going on a holiday. Four girlfriends and I are traveling to Dublin for 4 days. Why? Because we deserve it of course.

Also we are celebrating our collective birthdays. Four of us met at Algonquin College's Library and Information Technician program. We soon discovered a similarity. We were all close in age and had January and February birthdays. We have tried to get together to celebrate our birthdays over the years (I've known these friends for 13 years now). This year we are taking it one step further and traveling abroad. Dublin may seem like a strange choice for a winter get-away but it will suit all of our personalities.

So three cheers for holidays...hip, hip, hooray!


I'm not sure how I want to describe yesterday's events. Generally I'm not feeling shaken or scared but I am sort-of ill at ease with the situation. Right now I feel very removed from the incident. So this post might come off as cold, factual and objective.

I was rear-ended yesterday while stopped at a red light. Lil bug was in the back in her car seat and I was on my way to retrieve monkey boy from preschool. Lil bug and I are fine. Our lovely new RAV4 has bumper damage but it is completely drivable. My main concern was making sure someone was able to pick up monkey boy. I just didn't want him to be left waiting. The problem was that J had the cell phone. Thankfully the man who hit me let me use his phone. I called my folks at home and on their cell (my thought was they had a car and could get to monkey boy the fastest). Problem was there was no answer. I left a desperate message with them requesting they pick up monkey boy. I then called J. He was there and said he would handle things with monkey boy by calling the school and arranging a taxi ride over to the facility. Relief reigned supreme. It wasn't until later did I realize that I neglected to let my loved ones know I was okay and so was lil bug. I feel strange that I was more concerned about the child waiting for me and not the one who was in the accident with me. I guess because I knew she was okay and babbling about what happened I put my worries aside for her.

After exchanging information (while listening to my daughter hysterically cry because a strange man was in our car and I refused to let her out of her seat because we were still in traffice), we finally reached the police by phone. We found out that we needed to go to a police station to file a report as the police would not send out a car to an accident where the parties were not injured and the vehicles did not require towing. I insisted we go together to the station and file right away. Ironically enough the police station is a mere 5 minute walk from monkey boy's preschool. After putting the paper work into motion, I used the station's phone and reached my folks. They were on their way to meet J and monkey boy at the preschool with a car and car seat. I told them to drop by the station to see if I was still there before they left the area. As we wrapped things up with the police, my whole family arrived and my daughter declared "Daddy, I'm at a police station." Hmmm, not something I think either J or I hoped to ever hear from her especially when she is only 2 years old.

Well there is my tale.

We are still plagued with mice. We've caught two more since my last report and we think there may be more. They are pretty sneaky creatures. They can lick the peanut butter right off the trap without triggering it sometimes. Frustration reigns supreme and my kitchen floors and cupboards are littered with sealed food products, They think they are winning but we too can be persistent and patient.

Mouse taunts tenants part two

The scoreboard reads:

Mice 4
Humans 1

Yes you read that correctly. It is no longer one mouse we are combating. We have been invaded by mice. My theory for this takeover is warm weather seduced the mice out of their houses, roofing work on our townhouse condo unit created an opportunity for the mice to explore homes, the cold weather and some shingles returned, and the mice were "trapped".

No sooner did the sweet kitchen mouse meet her demise when another one emerged from hiding. I'm referring to it as the living room mouse. When kitchen mouse was "caught", J kindly took care of the remains and inquired whether or not we needed to keep the trap. I dismissed his worry of another mouse and returned my attention to the boob tube. As he dressed to take the mouse remains to the garbage dump, I heard a scratching scamper coming from the play area. I turned my head, peered into the dark and spotted it. The living room mouse.

She is a crafty and bold one. She walked over to the table area to locate the crumbs on the floor by first traipsing through monkey boy's toy cars, then the fisher price farm set and under the little tikes semi-trucks. As long as there is no movement, she happily explores. When J and I approach, she scampers away in a flurry. We've set more traps but so far she evades them. I guess kitchen mouse wasn't as bright. She seemed to walk right into our trap a mere two minutes after it was set with peanut butter.

I hope we catch living room mouse tonight. I'm getting miffed, royally. I hate mouse turds and worrying about our food. I dislike the idea of scouring this house to rid it of mouse droppings.

I truly hope only two took up residence. I'm not sure if I could handle a full scale assault.

My girlie screams have finally stopped re-vibrating off the walls. The wee gray mouse that now resides in our house has successfully scored 3 points on this human. Our first encounter was last night during a commercial break for LOST. I shrieked and quickly place my feet on the couch while the mouse found a place behind the mass of wires near the computer. In hindsight, I'm sure I missed a few scurries across the floor due to being fully engrossed with the season premiere of my favourite mainstream TV series.

Our second encounter almost lead to the demise of the mouse. I had her cornered in the lazy susan cupboard at 8:15am. I discovered the mouse after opening the bottom cupboard to locate monkey boy's oatmeal and there she was in all her sweet tiny gray glory. I started pulling out cereal boxes and baking supplies with the long handled BBQ flipper. For the record I really don't think I am scared of a mouse. I'm just a little FREAKED about touching mouse turd or having a mouse travel across my arm to a new location. I swear "freaked" is absolutely different than "scared." Anyway, I digress.

I had removed almost all items from the cupboard placing them a safe distance away to clean later. It was at this time monkey boy and lil bug thought they should inquire as to what happened to their breakfast. I turned my hibby jibby feelings off and excitedly showed them the mouse. The mouse scurried about the top shelf unphased by the rapt attention she was receiving. I put monkey boy in charge of watching the mouse while I armed myself with a tupperware container (aka the trap) and the metal BBQ flipper. I sent the wee people out of the kitchen to find my spouse (who lay dozing in bed) as I knew help may be required and I didn't want them to see me battling a mouse.

The mouse made an offensive move and jumped to under the lazy susan making simple capture remote. I quickly responded by kneeling and prodding underneath with the flipper. My plan of attack was to corner her and urge her into the container. My crafty foe evaded my moves. She even taunted me by calming scratching herself while I waggled my rump in the air. I was enraged. I thrusted the flipper in an attempt to urge her to one side. She scampered right past me. The fastest piece of gray literally flew in a race around the edge of the kitchen. My plan was foiled. My spouse and kids arrived to see me scrambling on all fours searching for my adversary.

I decided that the humane way was not going to work. I was ill-equipped and pissed about all the mouse droppings littering the inside of my cupboard. I hatched a new plan...traps. After a trip to Rona for supplies, the mouse provided the proverbial final straw that broke the camel's back. She brazenly scurried past me when I opened the garbage and cleaner cupboard causing me to pierce the air again with girlie shrieks. Little does she know that there will be two traps enticing her into a way out of our house.

I feel a tad guilty about having to kill her. We reside near a field which is probably her home. I'm sure our house merely looked like it had a nice cozy welcome sign. In the midst of winter, who wouldn't want to reside in a warm house with a free buffet. Unfortunately my guilt is not overriding my desire to rid the house of the mouse. I just hope we can quickly catch her and dispose of her before the wee people want a in depth look and explanation.

Elbow Falls

Kananaskis Country beckoned us into its midst with the promise of beautiful views, fresh air and sunshine. We took a short drive from the city into the wilderness of the foothills. Our destination was Elbow Falls. The roads were quiet and clear until we arrived at the falls. Lining the road before the closed park gates were cars filled with backcountry hikers and snowshoers. I guess we weren't the only ones hearing the call of good weather and the countryside.

The parking lot for the falls was deserted. We donned some warm clothes (the wind was still chilly) and ventured onto the hard-packed trail. We quickly found ourselves at a viewing point (not much of a hiking trail) but the river was lovely. We wandered at a snail's pace to the last viewing point and discovered the following scene.

The picture doesn't quite capture the reality of the moment but add extra blue to the sky, the sound of a river rushing over rocks, crisp air and warm sunshine and you can get a pretty good idea of the peace we felt at being near nature. We took our time at Elbow Falls to allow the wee people to play in the snow (eating it and throwing some into the river). A few other people viewed the falls but none seemed to relish the moment as much as us (perhaps the guy wearing shorts and sandals didn't realize it wasn't even spring yet).

The day was capped off with lunch in the hamlet of Bragg Creek. The kids behaved themselves very well (even if lil bug thought she might have a starvation meltdown when we first arrived until I pulled out snacks to tide her over until lunch was served). We took a few minutes to wander around the local shops and hopped into the car to return to the city.

Getting out of the city was a much needed break from the everyday. Three cheers to sunny days and local attractions.

Sunny Alberta

Sunny days, sweepin' the clouds away, on my way to where the air is sweet ...

Ahh, that lovely Sesame Street theme song is spinning around in my head as I sit here bathed in glorious warm sunshine pouring through our west facing balcony doors. Unlike the rest of the country, Alberta is experiencing a reprieve from the chill and snow of winter. Our current temperature is a balmy 7ºC, tomorrow's forecast high is 10ºC and (hold onto your hats) Sunday's temperature is suppose to reach 13ºC. Yep, this is one reason I love Alberta weather. Winter can be nice. Warm winter temperatures almost cancel out the effect of the ferocious winds. It is without a doubt that warmer temperatures seduce you into wanting to be outdoors trying different sports.

Coincidentally, monkey boy's preschool held its winter play day this morning. Teachers, students, parents and siblings delighted in sliding down hills, skating, and hot chocolate on this warm day. Unfortunately, monkey boy's cautious nature meant we risked collision with other tobogganers in order to let him sled from half way down the hill instead of the top. His hesitancy also meant that we quit a little earlier than the rest. Yet I found a positive in his unwillingness to participate in activities like the others kids. I re-discovered that he is perfectly capable of being independent. He has a remarkable ability to occupy himself. He and his sister entertained themselves with some spray bottles filled with coloured water. He did not hesitate to enjoy an ice rink just because he lacked skates or helmet (or because his folks refuse to purchase more winter paraphernalia that they would have to ship to Ottawa in June). Although I missed the opportunity to have more social contact with adults, I did enjoy spending the morning outside with my two favourite wee people. Plus I did manage to have some adult contact once we went inside for hot chocolate and goodies. I'm stepping outside of myself and just pursuing conversation whenever the opportunity arises. It is fun getting to know people and what they do.

My next project is to figure out how to enjoy the weather this weekend...trip to the mountains, road trip to a nearby attraction. Finally the opportunities seem endless instead of prohibited by bad roads and bad tempers.

Mood swings

Birthdays seem to lay a mixed bag of emotions into my lap. I like celebrating other people's birthdays. I love celebrating monkey boy's and lil bug's birthdays. I am always pleased to have a birthday. Counting down my years in this life does not bother or perplex me. I am always flattered, thrilled and delighted to hear from family and friends.

I just always find myself a wee bit melancholy. Sometimes I chalk up my mood to winter weather or being far from family on my birthday but I don't think that is all of it. This year I find myself basking in sunshine and warmer temperatures along with the company of family nearby and yet I feel grumpy, irritable, and sad. Perhaps I allow myself too much time to reminisce and over-analyze my current state of affairs.

Don't get me wrong, I have a good life. I love my spouse, children, family and friends. My job (which is on hold for me until my return from this sabbatical) may not always be fulfilling but it satisfies my need to work and bring in some money. Yet I fret and think I desire other things (unnamed and unknown).

Thankfully I know this funk will eventually fade. Hopefully I will come to terms with some of my short-comings and build up some plans to inspire and motivate me. I usually do. I just hate meandering through the swamp of melancholy in order to find a sense of peace. I dislike how my mood effects others. Today, my birthday, I will remind myself to enjoy the sunshine rather than wallow in the muddy slush it creates.

Lost in space

I'm here.

I exist.

I just lost my creativity somewhere. Sending out a search party right now. Will report in on results soon.

In meantime, here is a brief utilitarian update:

Christmas was great. Had fun with family. The kids were spoiled. Tired of driving Alberta highways in the winter.

New Year's was quiet. J and I played on the computer (our separate computers). Managed to steal a new year's kiss though. Main goal for 2009 is to make time for myself and time for J a priority.

I love returning to the routine of life, i.e. preschool, errands, groceries, library visits, gymnastics for kids and occasional museum trips (Telus World of Science keeps the kids busy but it just does not live up to the expectations I have created based on frequenting museums in the Nation's Capital).

Excited about my trip to Ottawa Jan 26 to 28. And even more excited about my trip with some girlfriends to Dublin Jan 28 to Feb 2. Very, very excited.

The kids are both endearing and infuriating.

Experienced a stark realization, our time in Alberta is quickly vanishing. There are so many projects I want to work on and finish (knitting, photo albums, memory books), so many places I want to visit with the kids (Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, Kananaskis country, Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Fort Calgary, Reynolds Alberta Museum) and so many experiences I hope to fit in (cross country skiing, hiking near Canmore, horseback riding, etc).