Friday, January 29, 2010


I am having a (long-overdue) Zen moment. My presentation is finished, another project is nearly wrapped (should be able to polish it off this afternoon), and I've just come back from hanging out with Liam's class at the skating rink over my lunch hour. The request for parent volunteers went out some time ago and I knew it could be dicey saying I would go during my busiest season at work, but since it was over lunch - literally, the ice rental was from 12-1 - I thought it would be doable. Little did I know that out of the 40 or so kids in 2 kindergarten classes, there would be only 2 or 3 students without a parent there. Good grief - are there that many stay-at-home or shift-working parents in the world? I want to be at Liam's events whenever I possibly can be, but I know there will be times when I cannot make it. Seeing all the parents there today almost felt like a reminder of a failure that is yet to come.

Anyway, this weekend I intend to do absolutely nothing, work-wise, and be a bit self-indulgent. I just picked up a book I've been dying to read (The Help) and tonight all I intend to do is put the kids to bed and then dive into it. On Saturday night I'm going to attempt to get a cake made after the kids go to bed, and then enlist some help to distract them on Sunday afternoon so I can put the finishing touches on it before dinner. And a few more rounds of Candy Land are likely to be played before Monday morning, too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

JK schoolwork is so cute, I could freakin' scream

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Sick day

Somtimes, sick days can actually turn out to be a lot of fun. Of course this statement never applies when vomit is involved, but when it is just your common cold... it can be true.

Both Mallory and I were coughing, snivelling messes all day. But on the bright side, we got to drop Liam off at school itself rather than sending him to the Before program, and we got to pick him up early, too. (The B&A program is still not my favourite part of his school day, so I am glad to get him out of it when we can.) Mallory did a great job of keeping herself entertained for part of the day and sleeping for a good chunk of the day, which thankfully allowed me to get some work done. But in between working stints, you know we played a lot of this.And she wanted to play dress-up. Love that the dress is getting more use. Love that it fits even over top of a Faire Isle sweater! We watched some of this. (And some of Snow White, but I think we have a malfunctioning DVD player in the living room. So we had to revert to stuff we had on DVR.)I tried to encourage her to lie under a blanket on the couch and watch her movies, but that didn't last long. When she was up, she wanted to be up. She only stayed on the couch for a bit when Captain cuddled up with her.
All in all... it was a pretty good day indeed. I got a lot done, which just goes to show that an office environment, with all its disruptions, is not always the best work environment... sometimes the peace and quiet of home trumps it.

And if you can do your application testing on your laptop while watching Julie and Julia on OnDemand... so much the better.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And one more thing...

The Lost season 5 finale is on tonight, leading into the season 6 premiere next week... woot!

The missing photo

Today, I'm working from home. Mallory took a turn for the worse overnight, and so did I. I can work from home no problem (thank you, laptop and cell phone) and although I wasn't sure how much work I could get done with her being here... so far, so good. We kept Liam home from the Before program today and just dropped him off a few minutes before bell time. There were a group of boys in the school yard, kicking at the ice on a puddle. He made a beeline straight over to them, which warmed my heart. Then Mallory and I came home and she managed to entertain herself for more than an hour before I gave in to her requests and played a game of Candy Land with her (after emailing a draft of the presentation I'm working on - so the pressure is off for a few hours!) I hope to still get a few other tasks wrapped up today, but also get some rest... get over this bug before it has a chance to do any more damage.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My next project

Normally when I do my blog posting, I manage to upload a recent or relevant image or two the night before or morning of, mentally compose the post as I am driving to work or filing paperwork or am on hold with the computer help desk trying to get something on my laptop fixed, and then I take ten minutes at some point during the day to bang it out and post it. (Some people take smoke breaks, others take coffee breaks... I take blog breaks.)

Where this grand plan derails is when I forget to upload an image. I hate posting naked posts. There needs to be a little eye candy, you know? Anyway, Liam continued snivelling through the weekend and Mallory was sick enough that this morning we even debated sending her to Cindy's. (She was barking like crazy when she first woke up, but after being vertical again for 20 minutes or so, she seemed much better.) And this morning, I seem to have finally caught what the rest of the family already made rounds through. Except that I spent much of the weekend working and have a lot more left to do before the week is out - staying home is not an option. Anyway, that's my excuse for not getting my image posted. Bear with the naked post.

If I had gotten it posted, it would probably be a shot I took this weekend of my parents playing with Mallory on Saturday morning. You guessed it - they were playing Candyland. I think they got through 2 games and then we went to Chad's parents' for dinner last night and took the game there with us, too, and they played 2 or 3 more rounds. Like I said... Candyland is a big hit in our house.

Dawn knew this and sent me a link over the weekend... check it out. It's awesome.
For the uninitiated, that's a cake that replicates the Candyland game board, right down to the lollipop fields and gumdrop forests. My first reaction was: I love it! My second reaction was: we JUST decided on a birthday party theme for this year, and this doesn't fit it. Too bad. And my third reaction, which came sometime later, was... I don't care. I am making this cake.

I don't know when it's going to happen - certainly not this week, at least not before Friday. Not while I am under the weather and not while I am trying to get this project wrapped up. I am not entirely sure how or when I will be able to pull it off, because I want it to be a complete and total surprise for the kids. I don't want them involved in the assembly... I just want to unveil it after dinner one night and see their reaction.

It's going to require a bit of tinkering... this cake is huge... we don't need that much cake in our house! But I am not sure that scaling it down is an option, either, since the candies are of fixed sizes. And the candy canes... well, it would figure that we just tossed a bunch of candy canes a few weeks ago, wouldn't it? I'm not sure I'll be able to find any at this time of year.

Anyway... that's the plan. Something to look forward to when the office craziness subsides. Anyone want to come over for a piece of cake??

Friday, January 22, 2010


This week (and probably next) definitely goes down as a case of work interfering with real life. I haven't had much time for anything else and depending on how things go today... I could either be breathing a little easier next week, or staying up half the night worrying from now til next Friday, when I am due to give a big presentation.

Time will tell.

Before I got so sucked into the work vortex that I have little time left for my family, who really deserve my time the most, I spent roughly three weeks playing approximately 504,392 rounds of Candyland with the kids. Mallory received this gift for Christmas and I am glad that she did - it is the perfect first board game for little kids. It's enough to make any parent go batshit crazy after being asked to play round after round after round of it, mind you, but at least it's keeping the little ones entertained.

In all honesty, I really do like this game. It's easy enough for the kids to have gotten the hang of it after a single game. You draw cards to move around the board. There are a few squares you can land on that make you miss a turn or else take a shortcut to move ahead. And then there are the candy cards, which are wildcards really, and they can move you anywhere on the board. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which candy card you draw and how early or late in the game it is.

There is a stipulation in the rules of the game that you don't have to enforce backward-moving candy cards on young game players, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Sometimes your luck is good and sometimes it stinks. Welcome to real life, kids. We have had a few tears when someone is on the brink of winning and then draws the candy cane card, which sends you back to the very first leg of the board, but these days the kids are generally pretty good sports about moving backwards as well as forwards. I'm sure this is due in large part to a game in which Liam was poised to win when he drew the candy cane card, and on his very next turn drew the ice cream cone card, which is the candy card closest to the finish line. In other words, he wound up right back where he started and still managed to win the game. Now they can see that things can change on a dime and it ain't over til it's over.

If nothing else, this game will open up a whole big world of cliches for them. And that's a life lesson right there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Construction dust settling everywhere

Over the Christmas break I undertook two endeavours. Number one, I started overhauling my blog site. Number two, I started building a new photography website. Then I went back to work, we lost our home internet connection, I had a huge presentation dumped on me... and I haven't really managed to get either one fully up to speed yet.

Nonetheless... here is a peek at the new site. One day soon I'd like to get the link into a sidebar here. Baby steps... baby steps.

Carrie Cook Photography

ETA: OK, it was bugging me, so I put the link up in the sidebar. Now I just have to recover the other 30 links I used to have, and I will be set.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You're still allowed to wear Christmas jammies in January, right? Riiiiight??

(Work is even crazier now than it was last week when it was snowing in Orlando. I will be very, very thankful when January is over.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Just thankful that she got another chance to wear the dress

It's well above freezing here, and our backyard Shangri-La has been reduced to a slushy mess. So there was no sledding for us this past weekend. No matter though... a few weeks ago, Mallory was invited to her friend Meghan's princess-themed 3rd birthday party, which was held on Saturday afternoon. Telling her that she was invited was one thing, but showing her the invitation was quite another. She adored this invitation. She carried it around the house for weeks, even taking it to bed with her.She told me she was going to show Meghan the invitation, perhaps not quite understanding that Meghan was the one who sent the invitations out in the first place. No matter - Meghan was thrilled to receive it. "Look at the princess card Mallory gave me!" she said. I guess it was over both of their heads!The girls were invited to wear their favourite princess dresses to the party. When I made this dress for Mal, I envisioned it being a stunning Halloween costume and then something that would hit the dress-up box afterwards. To be honest, Mallory hasn't worn it once since Halloween, and that's probably due to the fact that since I washed it on November 1st it's been hanging on the rod in the laundry room. Yes, for that long!! It's back there now (since it definitely needed a wash after the party) but this is my public promise to get it into the dress-up box TODAY. I did not put all that time into it for it to sit unused.

Having said that... at least it was still in relatively good shape for the party (a few Halloween night-induced snags in the fabric notwithstanding).The girls kept busy by making magic wands and crowns, and decorating cookies, and eating tea sandwiches and cupcakes. And I hope Meghan doesn't mind doing essentially the exact same thing in 3 months' time when it's Mallory's birthday, because she has already requested a princess party, too! Only she wants a castle-shaped cake instead of cupcakes. (Aside to Megan: can I borrow your pan??)At this party we finally met "the other Mallory". There is another girl Mallory's age who goes to daycare with Meghan, and her name is Malarie. We're both miffed that someone else used our name. Would you believe that her dad's name is Chad, too? She may even wind up at our public school the same year Mal starts. I wouldn't have been surprised if there were multiple Liams in his class (though there aren't), but I never imagined that Mallory would have to go through school being known as Mallory C. No matter. A cupcake makes everything all better. Mallory was so excited to go home and show Liam her loot bag from the party, but she passed out shortly after we got in the car, and her show-and-tell session had to wait until after her nap.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Completely, totally, and irrefutably under construction

Now that our internet is back up and running, I'd like to get these formatting issues out of the way as soon as possible... but it's going to get worse before it gets better. Bear with me!

Vote for Chatham. Please!!!

Monopoly: Canada Edition

Heading into the weekend

Good news: the cable guy came this morning and fixed our internet connection. Turns out it was a faulty modem and not my fault for jacking the router stuff around. (Though the next question is, do I have to start over from scratch and do a router re-install now??)

Bad news: Liam was off this morning, and is home sick now. I think the only reason he headed out the door at all (because we could tell he seemed off, and kept asking him if he was sick, and he kept saying no) is because his class went skating today. He lasted all of ten minutes on the ice, poor guy. The upside to this is that he goes skating with his class again in two weeks. And I've volunteered to accompany them. Hopefully he is feeling OK for that one.

I also hope Mallory does not come down with whatever Liam has... we have a fun girls only outing planned for tomorrow that she has been talking about for weeks, and I do not want her to have to miss it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Everyone knows I'm not a fan of needles, anyway

Work's been busy and our home internet connection is down (I don't THINK it has anything to do with that router I just installed... but maybe I did mess something up??) Anyway, hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

One item of note... in yesterday's London Free Press, they declared the H1N1 pandemic to be over in this neck of the woods, with the last official case reported back in mid-December. Chad and I were talking about it over the Christmas break as it had seemed to just suddenly drop out of the news. I guess that's why. We never did get around to vaccinating anyone in our family - even though at one point I thought it might be a good idea, I was never more than borderline convinced. And now I'm glad that life got in the way and we never got it done. One less reason to lie awake at night worrying whether we made a mistake.

Seasonal flu, now, that's another matter entirely... Cindy's son and husband were both down sick earlier in the week. Ugh. Hoping that is another bullet we dodge.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wintertime Shangri-La

At this time of year, I sometimes need a reminder of why I work in a business that gets slammed so hard during the peak winter months. Ay yi yi. Last week was pretty intense - the fact that it is snowing in Florida has huge repercussions on us here. Couple that with a visit from a consultant to belatedly try to finish up a 2009 project, and the fact that I was returning from 2 weeks of vacation time and things had piled up while I was away - well, it was a loooong week.Luckily... it was also a short week, in that we had Friday off as part of our alternative work arrangement. And I was thrilled when we got our first good snow of the season on Thursday (since it does not snow here as much as you might expect). Cold weather + no snow = no fun. Cold weather + snow = fun.The kids got sleds for Christmas, and this was the first chance we've had this winter to put them to the test and pit them against a few older models. When all was said and done, it felt like we spent our entire weekend outside. It took a bit of time to get the snow packed down to a good fast track on Friday. But by Saturday, the kids were really into it. We didn't come in until it was dark and the smell of the neighbours barbecuing steaks was making us all ravenous. Then we went out again first thing Sunday morning, even though it was ten below and the wind had picked up. When you're running up and down a hill, that somehow doesn't seem to matter.Even Mallory (who refuses to wear the brown mitts that match her lovely snowsuit) loved it, which was a nice surprise, because last winter she most decidedly did not like the snow. I think she is coming around. While the snow was still fresh she took it upon herself to 'do her work', that is, clear the snow off off the rocks and fence in the yard. But she also turned into quite a good little sledder. I think there is hope for her yet. When we bought this property, I didn't give much thought to the fact that the back of the lot slopes down to the creek. But it is the perfect sledding hill for us, and when you live in a city that is almost completely flat, one where kids get carpooled into the two city parks that have hills in order to go sledding... it's a big deal to have it in your own back yard. (Plus, I only recently found out that that hill at Water Street Park? It's an old glass dump. Do I really want to be flying down that hill on my backside??)There is a flagstone path that leads from the house to the back of the property, and near the back it widens into a patio area with boulders for seating. The idea is to install a fire pit back there. This was meant to be a summer thing, so we can enjoy campfires in our own backyards. It didn't even occur to me that a campfire can be a good thing in the winter, too. I can picture us doing this again next winter except that by then we should be able to roast hot dogs and marshmallows while we are out there. Awesome!After all... this sledding obsession of mine, while it might seem sudden... it's no flash in the pan. I'm a seasoned pro. Here's the highlight reel.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

February 2, 2010

Unless that's when the State of the Union address is... sigh. I hope it pre-empts American Idol instead.

This is the last season, folks! It's answer time.

It's also moving to Tuesday night. Not sure how I feel about that one.

I'm thinking I need to spend the next few weeks catching up on either the Sci Fi channel or perhaps watching some DVDs... time to get all the facts straight, and put the puzzle pieces together for once and for all

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

All of us

ETA for SC: Great minds think alike! Here are the thank-you's we sent out after Christmas. :)

One day, as a result of our organizational frenzy that we undertook on New Year's Day, I found myself going through the kids' marker bin, testing them and throwing out any that were dried up (i.e. roughly 83% of them) as well as separating out and sharpening the pencil crayons. This led to Liam saying he wanted to draw something, which led to this.I darn near gave him a standing ovation when I saw it, I was so taken. I love the big round nose and the way he drew his mop of curly red hair. And the fact that he put himself in an orange shirt. I asked him did he think he would be able to draw his sister?This one made me laugh out loud at the square hair on the round head. Of course she is wearing a pink shirt. Priceless.

Then Liam decided to draw the rest of the family, and here is the result.I was honestly laughing my head off at this one. I'm not sure if it's because I am wearing my blue glasses (as I was that day) or because of Chad's spiky hair or because of the whiskers that only come out of one side of Captain's head, his white-tipped tail and the paunch that Liam has carefully drawn between his legs (yegads, that cat needs to lose some weight!) I just loved it all. I immediately scanned all three pieces of artwork for posterity... these are definitely keepers.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Welcome, 2010

So... a new year... a new decade, even... and I'm back. We just spent 2 weeks enjoying some R&R. We did some visiting, some hosting, some toy assembly - OK, a lot of toy assembly - and, OK, that mostly fell to Chad - some going out, some staying home. Some board games and card games and new things to entertain ourselves with. A few store returns. A lot of cleaning and purging and donating and reorganizing. A peek at work email now and then but mostly choosing to ignore it.
And I took a break from posting here, too, because I had several other projects I chose to work on with my 'computer time'. I got a new hard drive for Christmas, so there were files to be transferred, copied, burned to CD etc. and some installation to get that up and running. I finished up a small Christmas album I was working on (which can be seen here). I almost finished up my Project 365 from 2009 - I need to go back to a few crazy weeks in September, right when Liam started school/we came home from vacation/Grampa got sick... but it's nearing completion. I hooked up a new wireless router that had been sitting in a box for far, far, far too long. I started a new website, which I'll link to here when it is ready for visitors, and spent a few days tinkering with HTML (which I know nothing about, but which I can usually figure out by trial and error). I began an overhaul on this website, though (aside from a few broken links) that's not apparent yet.
So I'm back. This week is going to be brutal on the work front, what with the holiday I just took and the cold weather that blew in, and with it another visit from my consultant. Bear with me. By the end of the week I hope to have hit the ground running.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Old acquaintances who've not been forgot

New Year's Eve 2009. The more things change, the more they stay the same.