Friday, October 31, 2008

Twas the night before

This was us last night: the boys were doing up our pumpkins, I was trying out a caramel corn recipe (which did not turn out well, but I will keep searching and find one that does), and Mallory, who has been having a love affair with the DVD player lately, was watching the opening credits to each of the kids' DVDs before swapping it out and moving on to the next. She doesn't even wait to see the movie; the credits are enough for her. Freak.
Do my photos look a little different to you than normal? I was also testing out my new wide angle lens that finally arrived yesterday. A 50mm lens on a regular camera is essentially the same field of vision that you have with the naked eye, but on most DSLR camera's there's a 1.6 crop factor - meaning my 50mm lens reads more like an 85mm lens, essentially making it a short telephoto. My new lens is a 20mm fixed lens which reads like a 32 on a normal camera (funny, why do I keep saying 'normal' - digital cameras are the NEW normal). So it's a wide angle for me, and would be ultra wide if I were using it on a full frame camera.

Photography lecture over.

I still can't get over how you can see my entire house in each shot, though. I'll have to be more vigilant about baskets full of dirty laundry and other incriminating background clutter in future pictures. Mallory wandered in and was intrigued by the Mr. Potato Head pieces that we are using for the second year running to speed up the pumpkin-decorating process. Then she found the candy corn, and was much more smitten with that. I am standing much closer to her than it would appear in this photo, making sure she did not fall off the counter. The wide angle can be deceiving. Liam quite enjoyed the pumpkin carving process until Chad told him to scoop out the seeds from inside. He was pretty grossed out by the prospect, and said mom could do it, but I deferred, and Chad did all the dirty work in the end. If I remember correctly, this is Liam instructing Chad on how big to make the mouth. I'm glad Mallory didn't wake up with nightmares last night because this is Chad giving her a big "BLARGHHH!" with the finished scary-faced pumpkin. If she'd woken up, I would have given Chad a kick to go in and settle her down again. Cause and effect.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sad clown

This week is shaping up as one of those weeks when you wish you had about three more hours in the day. Work is nuts, home is nuts, and everything is nuts in between. My cell phone has been dead since Monday and I haven't had the time, energy, or capacity to remember to recharge it for four days - pathetic, right?My watch is still broken two weeks later, the cat is almost out of food... I could go on and on. I've had working lunches for the past few days which has infringed on the time I usually take to get these things done. Worse, we had our landscaping done earlier this week, in two installments, and not only did I not get to zip home at lunch to watch the progress - I didn't even get home either night until well past dark to get a chance to admire it. (Not that there is a lot to admire; the trees are mostly leafless... landscaping in October is NOT for those who want immediate gratification!) Good thing Chad was around because we had to ask them to relocate two of the trees. But I digress.Yesterday, after leaving the house early for work, doing lunch with clients to discuss my big project for 2009, fighting fires on my 2008 project which is going live this week, zipping over to Cindy's to pick up the kids only to find Mallory still snoring away (having gone down late for a nap and not feeling well, Cindy didn't want to disturb her), having dinner provided by my fabulous in-laws (did I remember to say thank you? - thank you! - it was time for Liam's skating lesson, and it was just a few days earlier that I'd read the skating club handbook and saw that the skating club was having a Halloween party. You could wear your costume skating, with the stipulation that it had to be safe to skate in. Which makes sense, but most Halloween costumes aren't safe to skate in. And neither is Liam's. So we had some frantic last-minute what-can-he-be? moments going on. Finally we found him a clown shirt and a clown wig that I (mistakenly) thought would fit over his helmet, and then because the wig was a no-go, there was an even-more-last-minute trip to the store for some face paint, and some rather rudimentary application of said paint. Which was OK by Liam; he thought he looked like a million bucks.Wouldn't you know it... we get to the skating lesson, and out of 10 kids in the class, there is only ONE other kid dressed up. And he's the son of a friend of mine who I convinced to dress him up in the first place. The two of us should just have made a pact to forget it altogether and we would have been further ahead.

At least Liam got a kick out of it... and really, he did. He looks rather sad and grumpy in most of the photos I took last night, but I think that's because I drew such a terrible clown mouth on him. Really he was quite pleased with himself.After the skating lesson, Chad took the kids home and I headed out to a retirement party for a colleague. Go, go, go. Luckily, there is nothing on the agenda for tonight except for a quiet dinner at home and some pumpkin carving. (Oh, crap - I just remembered the groceries for tonight that I forgot to pick up at lunch. Arrrgh!!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


So I had a bit of a story to share today, but I am swamped again, and it's been a long day, and the story is only coming to me now in dribs and drabs. It had something to do with how I still find myself ogling Liam's little skinny legs whenever my face is in their general vicinity, finding it hilarious how knock-kneed he is and how much his build looks like Chad's at the same age, and still marvelling at the fact that his knees are so flat-topped and completely square when bent (how did I not know before that kids don't grow kneecaps til later in life?) So I was completely shocked, when faced with what appears to be delicacy and spindliness every day, to have grabbed his calf the other night in a bout of wrestling and to have found it to be a rock-solid piece of muscle. I mean, it put my poor, flabby, nowhere-near-its-former-glory body to shame. I was totally surprised by just how ripped the little dude is. I know his constant walks down to feed the ducks and bike loops around the basement and so forth all contribute, but it was still a shock.

Or something like that. It's late in the day. I can't really think straight anymore.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pictoral weekend recap

Busy again... what can I say? Our weekend consisted of a typical Friday night: doing puzzles, playing with Mr. Potato Head and Mallory's newest obsession, Lego (Duplo)... Chad made Liam a jack-o-lantern waffle for breakfast on Saturday morning (my sleep-in morning) and Liam insisted that I come downstairs to see it before he dug in.That was OK since I'd signed him up for a Halloween party at the library that we had to get out the door for anyway. The library do was merely OK; I don't know that I would kill myself to reserve him a spot again next year. (Ages 3+, so Mal had to stay at home.)Later that afternoon though, we took both kids to the Halloween Festival at Kinsmen Auditorium. The place was packed and 'sold out' signs went up on the doors about 1/2 hour after we arrived, so it's good that we got there when we did. Here are the kids painting and decorating pumpkins. Whoever was there before us left glue all over the table, so we were a sticky mess by the time we finished.The 'hay rides' didn't have any hay involved after all, but it was still a fun horse-drawn wagon ride that the kids got a big kick out of.Liam makes a new BFF.How we are going to spend many an hour this winter: watching Liam zip around in the unfinished basement on his bicycle. He is an old pro at riding his bike now and the novelty of riding it indoors has not worn off yet.

Back to work...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Forgetting what season it is, almost

Like I said, I placed a few holiday-related orders earlier this week, and last night I got a huge shipment in the mail from Grand River Toys. It was a ton of fun tearing into it after the kids went to bed, even if some of the stuff was a friend's order. It got me all festive and happy, and I even dragged out the wrapping paper bin and wrapped most of it up last night, thinking there is no time like the present.

Last weekend Chad helped me drag the kids out to get a shot for the Christmas card, and even though Liam complained of being cold the entire time, and the Smarties I used to try to bribe them into cooperating only meant that Mallory does indeed look like she is eating in almost every last shot, I did manage to get one cute picture. So I saved it to my external hard drive, and put together a prototype card from an idea I had in my head, and now I just have to upload it for printing before something goes wrong with the XHD and I lose it all (I was lucky to get the shot in the first place and I'd like to avoid putting the fam through that again!)

Also this week I've been making plans for a fun little Christmas-related something for the kids, but that's all I'll say about that until there is more of a story to tell.

This weekend, though, I am going to switch back from the future to the present, and enjoy this gorgeous view before the leaves drop and it's gone.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Even I can recognize that this is a more exciting video than the one I just posted


Come on in

We're still finishing up a few - OK, a lot of - loose ends around the house, and I am also still waiting on my new wide-angle lens which seems to be stuck somewhere in the bowels of customs and/or Canada Post. I had planned to wait for both those things to happen before taking some around-the-house pics to share, but what can I say - we had a reasonably neat and tidy place on the weekend, so I went to it. I couldn't fit a lot of any one room into a single shot, but that's the price you pay for the timeliness of the tour.The other issue is that I did this at night, and our fluorescent bulbs are throwing some funky colour casts in the photos. I'll have to repeat this experiment during daylight hours so you can see that our taste in paint colours is really not all that wretched. To give you the lay of the land - you can see the fridge in the prior photo, and then again in this one. This is looking from the back of the house (in the kitchen) to the dining room in the front. There's a pantry on the left of the hall, and a butler's pantry type area on the right. Still need to find something big to hang above the buffet, and figure out too how to hang all those frames in the dining room - they will not be on the floor like that forever. I hope.A closer-up of the dining room. I'm also planning to ditch those orchids on the side table, and move the side table to a different room completely. I love orchids for the 2-3 months of the year that they flower, but they are pretty heinous looking the rest of the time.Turning around in the same spot and looking back into the kitchen, into the depths of our spooky backyard - hey, I've seen a snake there with my own two eyes. No way am I walking around out there with bare feet when it's dark. This shot was basically taken when standing at the end of the island, but facing the family room rather than the kitchen. Still need to finesse the bookshelves a bit, do something above the fireplace, and maybe find a console table for the back of the sofa. The missing cabinet door has been reinstalled.
Standing in the breakfast nook now, looking across the family room and into the mudroom - you know, the Room With The Ugly Floor. (According to the flooring guy.)
The laundry room... complete with newly-hung door, which is lovely - do you know how noisy it is to dry a load of kids' clothes, with all the snaps and zippers they entail? The laundry room is right next door to our bedroom. Finally, we can sleep in peace.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Memory lane: not yet walking, but ready for the mosh pit


The holidays are fast approaching, and this year I really mean it when I say I refuse to set foot in a department store in December. I took advantage of a couple of sales this week to start my Christmas shopping. Mallory is pretty easy, since (a) she’s still too young to know much about the Christmas hullabaloo and (b) we still have a boy toys-dominated house, so it’s easy to pick out girlie stuff to fill in the blanks. Just the other day I ordered her a Fisher Price nursery set, and it's a good thing I did - it's backordered for a month. Sheesh.

Liam presents a little more of a challenge, because there is only one thing he points out when he flips through the Christmas Wish Book: one of those electric 4-wheelers. The kids who live next door to Cindy (she also cares for them) have multiple cars, and I see Liam turn green with envy when they go home and get the cars out of the garage and drive up and down the sidewalk in front of him.

I have never liked those cars, for a bunch of reasons. Number one, they're pricey. Some of the cars in the Wish Book are $800. And hello... we've just had the most expensive year of our lives. Number two, they strike me as a spoiled kid's toy. Well, never say never...

If Liam really wants one, then I would like to make it happen for him. So the other night I put an ad up on Kijiji requesting a gently used 4-wheeler, price to be negotiated. I didn't know how my request would be received but thought it was worth a shot.

Last night I logged on to see what happened, and I had three responses to my ad. The first one, from someone named Madman, said, and I quote, "Call Jerry I think he has some" and included a phone number. No mention of who Jerry is or how this guy knows him or any of that.

Number two was spam from a toy company trying to get me to buy new. And wanting me to buy the $800 model, no less! Thanks but no thanks.

The third message was from someone named Marci who said that Walmart has them on for $199 this week. Yet to be confirmed. (Does anyone have a Walmart flyer handy?)

I sent a message back to Madman to ask for more details and he wrote back saying that Jerry had 3 in his garage last time he was there, and was fixing one of them up for his grandson. It sounds pretty far fetched to think that this might actually work out, but I think I will give Jerry a call, just to see what happens. I will also run out to Walmart to see if there is something there. Even $200 is a lot of money, but... we'll see.

The kicker of it is that there was a new ad posted right above mine when I logged onto Kijiji last night, and it was someone selling a 4-wheeler for $20. The only problem is that it's a little-kid model (i.e. 12-36 months), and the only reason she was selling was because her son had outgrown it. Crap... if only Liam were a little smaller!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Still swamped & throwing Megan a bone.

A few weeks ago I took a day off work and played blissful hookey with the kids. We started out at the pumpkin patch, then picked up a snack at The Snack Store (aka Tim Hortons) and spent the remainder of the morning at the park. If only all days could be like this.

And now, because I am swamped, I'm going to leave my photos in backwards order rather than arranging them all for you. I'm sure you can follow along anyway.

(PS - if you are still looking for apple recipes to try - the Apple Dumplings over at Pioneer Woman are UNBELIEVEABLE. The ingredient list is about as white-trash as they come, but the things come out like manna from heaven. Don't say I didn't warn you!!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm swamped.

So the photos will have to do ya.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

As much as I enjoyed travelling and taking photos of funny X-rated signs... I was happy to come home and take a few pics of my two little most favouritest subjects again. I was amazed by how long Liam's hair suddenly seems. And how Mallory's little cheeks are skinnying down. (Not that you would know it from this shot.)I brought the kiddos a little treat back from my trip... chocolate alligator pops. Nothing says Louisiana like some 'gator. I stuffed myself with Gulf coast seafood while I was gone, but could never quite bring myself to order the Alligator Sausage I saw on several menus.This is the reason why I'm glad we built where we did... I have been waiting all summer for the trees out back to start to turn, and they do not disappoint - they are gorgeous, especially when the sun is low late in the day and the gold is intensified. Wowza. A nice change after all the palm trees I saw earlier in the week.
And then, a few bathtime portraits to end the day. Lately I've been feeling like my camera is a third arm - it's been getting quite a workout. I checked my purse in my luggage and kept my camera bag to carry on the plane; that should tell you where my loyalties lie. (I kept my wallet on me, for goodness sake, I'm not that dumb...)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This is a family-friendly site, right?

I made it home late last night (after almost ten hours of cabbing to the airport/checking in at the airport/waiting at the airport/flying home/taxiing to the terminal (good grief, the Detroit airport is huge!)/waiting for my bag to come through the baggage carousel/trying to find my car in the parking garage/driving home in rain, fog, and kick-ass detour-causing construction that caused me to completely lose my way and finally wind up at the tunnel instead of the bridge, but being that both roads lead back to Canada... I was not going to be picky about which I took.) Whew! Coming home is always the worst part of the trip. When you leave, there is the anticipation of the fun things to come, but when you come home all you have to look forward to is a long and tiring day of travel and dirty laundry. Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled to walk in the door and go right upstairs to peek in on my babies and smell the familiar, comforting scents of their stinky rooms (Liam's being the smell of sweaty little boy, Mallory's being eau de diaper pail). But then it was back to the drudgery of unpacking and getting organized, and looking forward to playing catch-up back in the office. Ugh.

New Orleans was a great trip, despite a heart-wrenching phone call home 
during which Liam was teary-eyed as he tried to go to bed without having his usual goodnight cuddle from me. The conference was actually very relevant to what I do, which was a huge plus (I don't often attend functions that are). But I also really enjoy travelling, and have done much less of it these past few years than I'd become accustomed to. If work was going to separate me from my family, then at least it was someplace interesting, and someplace I'd never been before, and before I left home I boned up on travel websites and maps and had a pretty clear idea in mind of what I was going to try to see and do in the 48 hours I had. I didn't accomplish the half of it, of course, but I did get a taste of the Crescent City, including:
  • Three of the best meals I've ever eaten - the shrimp and grits at NOLA (frankly, I hadn't even expected to like the grits), the fresh Gulf flounder and coconut cream pie at Mr. B's, and the crab cakes at Landry's
  • The French Quarter's narrow cobblestone streets jammed full of street cleaners and beer delivery trucks at 7 a.m.
  • Beignets from Cafe du Monde for breakfast (why eat at a hotel buffet when you can go out for something authentic instead?)
  • Steamboats paddling up and down the Mississippi

  • The meant-to-be-racy-but-actually-kind-of-funny signage in the French Quarter (see attached)
  • Driving through a cemetery full of mausoleums en route to the airport (they don't bury the dead in New Orleans because the dead don't stay underground)
  • Hearing When the Saints Go Marching In more times than I could count
  • Endless glasses of iced tea delivered with long iced tea spoons, since you need to sweeten it yourself
  • Vendors selling pralines and caramels on every street corner... yummy!

One thing I wish I had seen more of was evidence of the hurricane. My travels were pretty much limited to the CBD (central business district - Superdome, etc.) and French Quarter. The French Quarter was the original part of the city, built on the highest ground, and therefore didn't flood much. The CBD did flood quite a bit, but that's the area that had the resources to clean up and open for business again fairly quickly. The poorer suburbs and east end of the city got it the worst, and I didn't make it out there. I saw lots of Garden District tours and French Quarter tours and riverfront tours advertised (on buses, streetcars, horse-pulled carts, etc.) I think at one point shortly after the hurricane, a few entrepreneurial sorts got into giving Aftermath tours, but it's 3 years later - there may not be so much to show anymore.