Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What I've been up to

This week, I am working on a mind-numbing offsite project that involves being cooped up in a stuffy hotel conference room all day long, going over the intricacies of some of our IT applications (which I know absolutely nothing about) with a fine-toothed comb. It's been a real hoot.

On top of that, I have been:

- Scraping Mallory off her bedroom floor every night and returning her to her bed before I retire for the night
- Explaining to Liam over and over why he is not allowed to have dessert on those nights when he decides not to eat any dinner
- Turning the house upside down looking for my Northern Pikes CD, and succumbing to the lure of iTunes to buy a new copy when the search proves fruitless. Thanks to Chad for assisting with my wild goose chase.
- Missing my third book club meeting in a row after not having read this month's selection.
- Staying up way too late reading the final book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn. This might also explain why I didn't get the literary selection of the month finished!
- Skulking around the backyard on a daily basis, checking out the buds on my newly planted selections. Man, do I love to plant stuff.
- Doing my best to avoid anyone with the remotest sign of a cough or a sniffle. Swine flu, man. I'm taking it seriously.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boys vs girls

At this time of year, the creek behind our house is overrun with gaggles of little boys running amok with nets and fishing poles and buckets and all other manner of objects with which they attempt to trap frogs, fish, and snakes. Liam told me that he and Chad saw two snakes down by the creek on Friday night. He also told me that he caught one of them in his net, and let it go again. Chad was quick to refute that. I know that Liam's reflexes really are not good enough to catch any of these creatures, yet, but I do wonder whether Chad told me that just to help me sleep better at night. We spent a large part of the weekend down at the creek, hunting for these things and trying to trap them. Here Chad is firmly hanging onto Liam so he doesn't fall in when he lunges after a frog.No dice - another one that got away.For her part, Mallory was OK with spending some family time together. She and I tagged along after the boys. She picked about a thousand dandelions and never quite lost her excitement over seeing them, but really, she was not all that into poking around in the mud down at the creek. She was very glad to come home and find other ways to pass her time. She is all girl, this one.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Longtime no see. It's been one of those weeks, so pardon my absence. Work has been nuts and I've had my laptop home every night, trying to catch up on stuff. We had to make another trip to the funeral home this week, which was pretty sad. Is there something in the water around here or what? On Wednesday night, Chad took me out on a date. We went to see Earth. It was a really interesting movie with beautiful cinematography, but I wouldn't recommend it for little kids. Sad in parts. The circle of life and all that.

Add that on top of some major regrouping after the birthday party and... you can see why I have been quiet lately. This weekend is supposed to be lovely and I am hoping to spend lots of time outside. Now that it's spring, I am just itching to plant a bunch of stuff. I spend many hours gazing out the back windows, trying to plan things out and picture how it will look in 5 or 10 years time in my head. I don't want to be hauling the big things in and out of the ground too often so I am trying to get the placement right the first time. A few weeks ago, I went to a parking lot sale that one of the local nurseries puts on each spring. I beat out the 250 other people who were lined up outside the gate when they opened to grab a few things I was interested in, and have been making a list of other things I think I want, visiting other nurseries on my lunch hours and doing some research to see how big things eventually get. I think I have a good sense of what will go where except for this north wall of our house: what do I put here? It's shaded almost all day long and gets windy in the winter. I want to try holly but am wondering whether the wind will kick its pants. As a last resort I could plant some yews, but they are really kind of boring. And I would like to try a hydrangea out where there is a bit more sun, around the nook, but can't decide whether there's enough light there for it to do OK or whether it will struggle. Oh well... they're only plants, right? Might as well give it a try. I can always dig it up later if it doesn't work out.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Birthday weekend

I have abandoned some of my original scrapbooking efforts, but I still maintain a birthday album for each of the kids. I follow a set template for each one which makes putting these pages together really easy and low-pressure. It's nice to see Liam's starting to fill up. Mallory, of course, has a couple less years under her belt.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Weekend plans

Last night I was up until almost midnight, baking cakes. I never expected it to take that long - these are mixes I'm talking about, not from scratch - but there were three of them to do, and I had to run to the store for more eggs (damn Easter - if we hadn't hardboiled all the eggs in the house last weekend, I would have been fine), so it was a late night.

Tonight I have to cut them up and decorate them and, oh yes, clean the house. I am not even going to guess what time bedtime might be tonight. But on the bright side, with this party we are killing two birthday birds with one stone, and will be off the hook for a whole year before we have to do another one.

(Isn't that terrible of me? I don't mean to sound like I am wishing them away. I actually quite enjoy doing this.)

Anyway, I will leave you with this clip. I only watched it for the first time yesterday after seeing repeated news headlines about it, so I am kind of late to the party. By now I have seen it at least half a dozen times - it is really quite addictive. I can't embed the clip here so you'll have to follow the link to see it.

I've never seen Les Miserables but she kind of makes me want to.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A portrait of 4.

I don't take my kids to chain photography studios, but I still like to have 'official' age portraits for them. This is the one I got of Liam on his actual birthday. He's not very cooperative when it comes to taking pictures, but I definitely lucked out with this one. There are two things about it that make it totally authentic Liam to me. I love that he dressed himself that day (and chose something that I probably wouldn't have chosen for him to wear). And, I love that I took this photo when he was snuggled up next to Captain on Captain's favourite chair, enjoying a cartoon while I cleaned up the kitchen. The chair makes a great background for what he's wearing, and you can just make out a bit of Captain in the lower corner.

We put up a photo wall in the dining room a few months ago, and I filled most of the frames with photos, but there are a couple that still need to be done. This one will be going large (11x15) in the middle of the wall. It's just what I was waiting for.

Now... I just need to repeat the exercise with Mallory. As you may recall, she was a bit of a brute on her actual birthday, and the portrait never got taken. Saturday is supposed to be a gorgeous day... if she's not super cranky after the birthday party, I may have to take her outside and see what we can get.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Yesterday, while home enjoying Liam's birthday with both the kiddos, I got the bad news that a coworker died suddenly over the weekend. Not just any coworker... the one at the desk next to me. With three kids at home. And while he was a pretty quiet and private guy, and I didn't know him on a personal level all that well, it's still been a shock.

So I wasn't in the most festive mood ever yesterday, but I did try to make the most of the day, for Liam's sake. And I am very thankful that, number one, my kids have lived to see their second and fourth birthdays. Because I know that many don't. And number two, I am glad that I was here to see it happen. We gave Liam a choice between a sparkler and candles that he could blow out. He went for the candles.
Gramma and Grampa joined us for dinner, and they gave Liam a fishing rod for his birthday. There will be many happy hours spent with that this summer. I think Gramma and Grampa were thinking in terms of using it at the trailer, but Liam wanted to take it down to the creek after dinner last night. It was extremely cold and windy - luckily we were able to distract him...
...with a present from us. The Rollerblades were Chad's idea; my gift suggestion had been a Nintendo DS. I went along with Chad on this one, even though I wasn't sure of the outcome. There will be time for video games later, I get that.
I was definitely the one in the wrong in this case. Number one: Liam loves the Rollerblades. Number two: he is EXCELLENT at skating with them! I need to get his skating instructor to come see him whip around the basement on these puppies. That would earn him another check mark or two on his report card, I am sure.
Of course, we also had to get him a full set of safety gear to go along with the skates. I am thinking it's time to dust off my own Rollerblades and take some pointers from Liam. I think our skill levels are pretty well matched right now. I don't know... does that tell you how good he is, or how bad I am??

Monday, April 13, 2009

Four. Or as close as he can get to it, anyway.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Still at an age where a simple, single colour dye is all they need to keep them happy

Friday, April 10, 2009

Celebrating two (even if it is terrible)

As is my custom, I took the day off work on Thursday to spend it with Mallory and Liam. And it was a glorious day to take off - the stars were certainly aligned in my favour. We all slept in a bit, then spent some leisurely time hanging out in our bed, watching Treehouse and doing Search and Finds. We had breakfast. Then we went out to run some errands. There were a few things I needed to pick up, but I didn't really have any plans in mind for the rest of the day beyond that. I asked Mal what she wanted to do, and she said: playground! So after our shopping, we swung through a Tim Horton's drive through for a snack and took it to the fire truck park by our old house. We spent hours there, on the multiple playgrounds, taking a stroll down to the nearby creek to look for ducks, back up through the rear of the park, and up onto the huge hill that sits smack in the middle. All without a care in the world. It was lovely.Then, of course, we went home for lunch, and Mal dissolved into a blubbering tyrant. The tradeoff for a wonderful morning, I suppose.She did eventually get her way. We went to Gramma and Grampa's for a birthday dinner, complete with lemon cupcakes adorned with candles. Mallory walked in the door and immediately spied a Cinderella gift bag. "That's mine," she told us over and over as we ate. After dinner, she was allowed to open it - a cute new outfit, complete with candy-coloured Crocs for the summer. They will be put to good use!(Did anyone else hear that the Croc company filed Chapter 11 a couple weeks ago? Is that true or urban legend?)Our gift to Mal was a Disney princesses tricycle. As soon as she saw it, she dropped to all fours and crawled around it, checking out all the decals on it. She cracks me up. Needless to say, it was a hit.

Liam was concerned about the order of events on Mallory's birthday proper. "Where are all her friends?" he asked as we were en route to the park. I had to explain that yes, Mallory is having a party, but it's a joint party with his friends, and it is taking place next weekend. Easter is all the excitement we need for one week - we're trying to pace ourselves here.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Birthday girl

You know I need to write a birthday blurb to Mallory about what a gift she is... but not right now. Today, she spent two hours in her room when she should have been napping, kicking the door and screaming at me that she wanted to go to Gramma and Grampa's house (where I had made the mistake of telling her we'd be going for dinner as soon as she woke up).

<'sarcasm'>Welcome, Terrible Twos. I'm so glad you've found us. And your timing is impeccable. <'/sarcasm'>

(Here she is, pouting, before we actually did head out the door.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wish I was there.

I saw a clip of this on Anderson Cooper 360 last night, but the shortness of the clip didn't do it justice.Turns out it was for a commercial - but I still rather like the kamikaze aspect of it.

Check it!

So... I know we're about to celebrate Easter. But I finally just found a coupon code that works at Blurb, so I uploaded the book I created during the week after Christmas and placed my order stat. Blurb does a great job of printing books for a really reasonable price, in my opinion. The softcovers aren't bad, but the hardcovers are worth the upgrade. This 44-page hardcover book cost me $27 (US), shipping included. I have also published books with My Publisher and Shutterfly... My Publisher might have been a teensy, teensy, teensy bit better quality... but Blurb is a lot easier to use. And best of all, my book is now available for public purchase in their online bookstore. So if you are so inclined, you, too, can be the proud owner of a copy of Cook Family Christmas, 2008 edition. Happy reading. :)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What happens when you build your house with a circuit around the main floor

Yes, these photos were taken on four separate passes. And I have about a dozen more just like them.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The best laid plans

First things first: can you believe it's snowing? And not just snowing, this is snow with gale force winds. Insane. Though I do have to admit that the year Mallory was born (on Easter Monday), we spent Good Friday - which was also April 6 - at a local Easter Egg festival, and it snowed that day, too. When you work for a gas utility and you have cold weather late in the season, you see the executives high-fiving each other in the hall, because it drives up company revenue. My slightly-less-generous bonus plan does not tie so closely to those kind of results. I'd rather have better weather.

Anyway... I digress.

The weekend was good. We had a fabulous dinner at a new restaurant in town on Friday night for Chad's birthday. (For anyone local - we now highly recommend the Smoke House.) We spent some time working down in the basement. We picked out a couple of trees for the back yard (and yes, Mallory managed to face plant in the mud while at the nursery. Why is it that every time we go there, one of my children manage to do that?)

Unfortunately, last week our local school board voted to begin the new school year on September 1st - i.e. BEFORE Labour Day. Those vacation plans that we made nine months ago? They have us coming home on September 2nd. So during our very first year as the parents of school-aged kids, we will miss the first day of school.

It figures.

I am not too worried about it, because there is some sort of staggered start to the JK/K school year and at most I think Liam will miss one 20-minute session... not really enough to write home about. Still. What a kick in the pants.

(This is how we find Liam most weekends when he does elect to nap... he removes himself from the bottom bunk and chooses to conk out in the top bunk. He hasn't pulled this stunt at night... yet. It's supposed to be two more years before we allow him to sleep in the top bunk, but I am really not too worried about it. Liam is quite often like a 40 year old man trapped in a 4 year old's body. He's not the trouble-making kind... we have Mallory for that.)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Happy, happy birthday, Cookie. :)

Merry belated Christmas to me

Last night's concert had its ups and downs.

Up: It was Chantal.
Down: Of the four times (?) we've seen her, this one was definitely the worst. In her defense, she was sick, but she still sounded great. She didn't have to rush through the show like that.
Up: She played some stuff I like, like Feels Like Home, and Time, and Wonderful.
Down: She didn't play some stuff I like, like Far Away, and Before You, and Imaginary Friend. And Redemption Song. And Weight of the World.
Up: She played some new stuff and it was quite catchy.
Down: This was the best photo of the night. I am all embarrassed to have my camera out in public most of the time. Beforehand I always give myself a pep talk and tell myself to work it and own it and who cares. That I'm working on a year-long photography project that is pretty cool and that justifies it. Then the time comes, I get embarrassed, feel like a stalker, and I snap a shot as fast as possible like this just so I'll have a photo to mark April 2 - never mind the composition or the fact that she has droopy eyelids or whatever. If I'd only waited a few seconds for a better moment, it could have been, well, better.

I need a longer lens. Then I could pass for, I don't know, someone from the media who looks like they have the right to be taking pictures. Not a twelve year old girl snapping shots on her iPhone to text her friends.

I think the last time I had a camera at a concert, I was fourteen, and it was Depeche Mode. I don't think I ever took a camera to a concert in my twenties or thirties up until now.

I'm regressing.

It's someone's birthday today... cake to come tonight.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

That's a wrap

Skating is over, and none too soon for my taste. For the past several weeks the lessons have been stretching to 45 minutes apiece so the kids could practise for the show (which is tomorrow night, and which we are not attending). Last night when we got to the arena, there were several hockey teams shimmying around. Turns out there was a scheduling conflict and we didn't get on the ice for nearly half an hour. Add to that a long practise and, well, it was a late night by the time we got home.

We got report cards again last night, and this time Liam had four check marks (compared to just the one on his December card). He still didn't get the check for walking forwards, which I plain old don't understand. You've seen him skate... doesn't it look to you like he can walk forward??? What-evs.

He actually did the kung fu punch during the second to last run through of the routine last night. It only took him 4 weeks to decide to join in. (rolls eyes)Our next door neighbour is a very accomplished 12 year old figure skater, and her father lambasted me last night for saying we weren't coming to the carnival. She, of course, is one of the guest soloists, and he is skating a father/daughter routine with her as the show opener. That almost tempted me enough to buy a ticket... but not quite.

I was up late after Lost last night finishing up some work... it's been a busy week... and the next few days are going to be busy, too. Tonight we are going to see my girl Chantal Kreviazuk and I am pretty excited about it. Tomorrow, there's a big birthday in our house. Good thing I stocked up on baking supplies this week... there's going to be some cake-making involved.

(Speaking of Lost... any theories out there? I found last night's show to be pretty slow-paced, and am a bit disappointed that they established that Sawyer is remaining loyal to Juliet and that Kate didn't come back for Sawyer, she came back for Aaron. I was hoping for more cat-and-mouse will-she-go-for-Jack-or-will-she-go-for-Sawyer game play. Though I loved Hurley's dissection of the whole space-time continuum with Miles, and man, did I love that Back to the Future reference that was thrown in!)