Friday, February 26, 2010

I am captivated by Enjoying the Small Things.

Start with this post to catch up. I've added it to the bookmarks on the right.

Test subject

This morning, I am home with a sick Liam. Well, he says he's sick. I'm not entirely sure that I am buying it (although he didn't eat any breakfast this morning, which is definitely unusual for him; and the last time I sent him to school when he didn't eat any breakfast was the day he came home sick from his class skating trip. So my intuition has not always proven to be correct.) I may take him in later today; we will see how it goes.

After Christmas, I picked up a background stand and some seamless, and though they stayed packed away for all of January, I've had them out a few times over the past few weeks. Enough with always being able to see piles of dirty dishes and stacks of laundry in the background of all my photos! Well, not really. It does require some assembly and is big enough to require shifting some furniture around, so this is not an everyday thing - but it will be great for the 3- and 5-year portrait sessions I have coming up. And it's a lot less 'ghetto' than the falling-apart garment rack I used to try to hang backdrops off of.

Mallory has been great at helping me get some practise in and being my little model. Obviously the pajama shot was for test purposes only and not meant to result in any keepers! She also helped me out last week when I did some shots of one willing 2-year-old and one unwilling 2-year-old who actually refused to get anywhere near the backdrop. (Here's Mallory on the right, trying to show how it's done for them!) I hadn't counted on it spooking like that... but as I said, as long as Liam and Mallory are willing to use it for birthday pictures then it will be worthwhile.

So far Mallory has enthusiastically agreed to some photo sessions when she turns 3... we'll see how she reacts when the time actually comes. I will keep a bag of M&Ms handy and hope for the best. Liam will likely give me a bit more trouble - I will have to scale back on the location and wardrobe changes with him - but if I have a bag of gummi bears available that day, I bet I can get a keeper then, too.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hockey night in Canada

Go team Canada!!Liam came home from skating last night declaring that he does not like to watch figure skating, curling, or hockey. I think Chad just about had a heart attack, since the Canada/Russia do-or-die game was just getting underway. Hopefully, he will one day decide that hockey isn't so bad, after all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Olympic spirit

We have really been enjoying the Olympics for the past few weeks. I'm sure that has a lot to do with our being the host country, but whatever the reason, we are tuned into the Olympics pretty much the entire time we are home (and it's often on at work, too). Coverage this year has been fantastic - we have 4 networks to choose from, so there is nearly always something we are interested in to watch.

(It helps that Canada has been doing well at some of our favourite winter sports - Snowboard Cross is by far my favourite. Though it's amazing how even the luge and bobsled become so enthralling when there is much at stake like this.)

Liam's class at school has been doing an Olympics-themed unit, and he has been learning about the mascots and the Inukshuk and the Olympic rings (seen here in plasticine, a little the worse for wear after a rough trip home in his backpack). He has also really been enjoying watching the sports on TV. His favourites seem to be speed skating (something he can identify with, perhaps?) and alpine skiing.

In fact, on Monday he was upset with me because I said skiing would be on that night (having thought the women's ski cross was running). I was off by a day and when we came home, all that was on was curling. "But you said there was skiing!" he kept protesting. Next time, I will double check the schedule before opening my mouth.

To us, watching all the events on TV is entertainment, but for Liam it has been really educational. He is getting good now at pointing out the flags of various countries. He especially likes events such as long track speed skating, when pairs set off together and the flags are on screen while they race (and as a bonus, they have that pace line moving around the track with the athletes, showing him whether they are winning or not). He and Chad have had the globe out a few times to figure out where some of these places are. Of course, his favourite events of all are any final heat that a Canadian team is in, where we all jump around screaming "GO GO GO!" at the TV. Sometimes we win and it's thrilling for him. Sometimes we lose (Chris del Bosco's fall right at the finish line, for example) and it's a bit puzzling and disappointing for him, but that's life.

In a few more days, it will all be over. We've been sending empty paper towel rolls into class for the past few weeks so the kids can make Olympic torches, something that surely must be happening when Liam is back at school on Friday, because if not then, then when? I have a few days left to get as much wear out of my Canada hoodie as possible. (It has shrunk something terrible in the wash, so maybe it's best to retire it, after all.) A few more days to pick up a few more medals... it sounds like we are serious contenders in several upcoming events, so that will be exciting to watch. And when it's all over, we'll still have K.D. Lang singing "Hallelujah" on the iPod to remind us of it all, and London 2012 to look forward to.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why don't they make them like this anymore?

My work week got mixed up a bit when I was pulled offsite to work on something that wasn't what I thought I was going to be working on this week.

Thus the lack of time.

Instead of a long rambly post, enjoy this 1956 Disney classic. I *LOVE* this cartoon. Chad is going to scoff when he reads that, because this song was on the sing-a-long channel ad nauseum when we were in Disney last summer, and I thought I would go crazy if I heard it one more time. But the kids borrowed a DVD of Disney shorts from the library over the weekend, and it included this little gem. I must have watched it twenty times. I love the mod 50s-era house, the gratuitous use of Indians as bad guys, the girl who must be saved, the works. And now I think the song is incredibly catchy and sweet. I went so far as to search for a still, but no such luck. Guess I'll have to stay glued to YouTube for the time being.

(I need to catch a video of Mal singing this before she moves onto something else!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Social butterflies

Another weekend... another birthday party! Another event that both Liam and Mallory were invited to. This time the birthday girl was Maggie, who is a friend of theirs from daycare. She is newly 4 so she is perfectly sandwiched between Liam and Mal.As it was last year, her party this year was at a local dance studio. Though this year it was at 'the other' local dance studio. I really appreciated them doing this because, through them, I have now had a chance to check out the two main dance studios in town, which will make deciding where to enroll Mallory in classes this fall that much easier.

At least in theory.The kids learned a routine to "We're All in This Together" from High School Musical which - I will go ahead and say it - is one of my favourite movies. Much like Grease. I can kind of take or leave the dialogue, but I'm a sucker for the dance sequences.This instructor - I think her name was Megan - has the patience of a saint. Because while it looks like they are all dancing in sync here, this was how they spent just a small portion of their time. In reality they spent a ton of time running around the room like banshees. Liam had a sweaty head at the end of it.And for some unknown reason, Mallory also spent a good portion of the party prone on the floor. And as soon as she got some attention for doing it the first time (the instructor trying to goad her into getting up, the other parents laughing, etc.), she kept going back to it. I have no idea what she thought she was doing, but it is definitely making me rethink the idea of spending $45 a month to send her to dance classes in the fall. If she wants to lie on the floor, she can do that at home for free.The kids came to the door of the studio to take a bow when the dance was over.This is Mallory with Nicholas. She absolutely, positively adores Nicholas. There is something about him that she finds irresistible. When we run into him at the park, she is calling from the top of the slide, "Nicholas! Look at me!" When she takes a special toy to Cindy's house, she tells us how excited she is to show it to Nicholas. When we went out on New Year's, we thought we might run into Nicholas and his family at the same party we attended, but they didn't show up until after we had left. When we told Mallory it was time to go home (because it was 10 p.m. and she was falling asleep on her feet) she almost started to cry: "But I haven't seen Nicholas yet!"

I don't know what he's doing in this picture. But I have no doubt that it is charming Mallory off her feet.This is Nicholas' older sister Sophie, hanging out with Liam at the other end of the table. They get along fine. He's not as over-the-top crazy about her as Mallory is for Nicholas, but you never know... he could be hiding it. He's more of the strong, silent type.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The story has nothing to do with the pictures. Just so you know.

Last night at about 11 pm (or sometime between the final round of the women's half pipe and the cutaway to the men's figure skating final, already in progress), the following came from Mallory's bedroom: "Daaaaaaaaddy! I have to go poo!"
Since Daddy was nowhere in the vicinity, I was the one who took care of things. It cracked me up, big time. I have had kids wake up in the middle of the night needing to pee, but I've never seen sleep interrupted for #2. Until now, of course.I think we are just about ready to ditch the overnight diapers for Mallory. She is generally waking up dry. There have been a few misses, but sometimes I think she goes just because she can. One wet bed should take care of that. We'll probably finish up the current pack and then see how she does without. It's been a nice change of pace to go from hauling stinky, soggy diapers out in the trash every morning, to dry diapers that can actually stay in the bathroom garbage for a couple of days without offending. But it will be better still to be done with them altogether.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why I most certainly WILL go back into a burning house to retrieve all my photo albums

Our kids are obsessed with colouring. This is both good and bad. Bad, because at one time or another, they have attempted colouring on the walls, trim, kitchen cupboards, themselves, etc. Good, because it sometimes keeps them busy for long stretches of time. Right now they are both in a phase where they like to race through the morning routine of getting dressed/breakfast/teeth brushed so that they have some time to colour while we finish getting ready, before we all head out the door. There is nothing quite like having your kids ready to go 20 minutes before it's time to. This is a welcome change for me, since I am more the type of person who leaves 10 minutes ahead of time to get somewhere that takes 15 minutes to go, certain that *this* time, I will find a shortcut/make good time and make it work.

On a not-quite-so-happy-go-lucky kind of note, Mallory trashed my hard drive earlier this week. It was my own fault for running a cord where she could have access to it. The drive took a tumble to the floor and friends, that is the kiss of death for a hard drive. This is not the new hard drive I got for Christmas but my old hard drive that had everything from 2004 through November 2009 on it. I *****THINK***** I have backed up most of it on CDs, which are currently in a fireproof safe in my closet. But to be quite honest, I have been too afraid to go look. Right now I am thankful that at the very least, I am really good about printing photos and keeping them in albums. I have not added anything to Flickr for some time but this may be the jolt I need to get me going again. There's nothing like having a backup of a backup of a backup when you need it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Day, Cook family style

Valentine's Day stretched into a nearly-weeklong affair this year. Liam's class exchanged their cards early, on February 9th, since they had 'conflicts' on the 11th and 12th which were also school days. I'm not sure what kind of conflicts they had or how they interfered the card exchange, but whatever. Liam did a great job addressing 18 cards to his classmates and teacher and I was amazed to see him bring out the class list provided by the teacher and read off the name of every single classmate.I took him out shopping to pick out his own valentines. (First I asked if he wanted me to make some little treat bags with the adorable photo I posted a few days ago... that got an emphatic NO.) I told him he could pick out anything he wanted: valentines with boxes of Smarties, valentines with pencils, valentines with suckers... but what he chose was a box of Toy Story valentines with stickers. Since he brought home his envelope of cards and treats - more than a week ago, now - he has really enjoyed taking out all the cards one by one, pretty much every day, and reading off who they came from. It's quite cute.I am not sure how this is really related to Valentine's day, but he also painted this sweet picture of his sister. And the colour palette matches the subject of this post, so there you go.

On Sunday morning (well, starting Saturday night), I made Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls, a recipe that can be found here. Chad has a weak spot for cinnamon rolls and since we have no local Cinnabon... it was the least I could do. They were every bit as good as I'd read. They're a heart attack waiting to happen, mind you, definitely not an everyday indulgence. I cut the recipe in half and it still made three pans of rolls. I only baked one and put the other two in the freezer. Chad spent some time Sunday afternoon and Monday morning sniffing around, asking when the others would go in the oven. I think we'll do one this weekend and one next weekend, and pace ourselves!
I was thoroughly spoiled for Valentine's day. Chad put my cinnamon rolls to shame by having the lyrics to 'our song' printed and mounted and they are now hanging above our bed. I guess, deep down, he really does have a sentimental bone in his body.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

She'll be giving Morgan Freeman a run for his money when they audition narrators for March of the Penguins: The Sequel

While I catch up on things at the office... which always takes a bit more time after a long weekend... enjoy the following hilarity from Mallory. Liam brought home this book from the school library on Thursday. We read it at bedtime on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and this is Mallory reading it by herself on Sunday. It took no time at all for her to memorize large parts of the book. She does miss some bits, but her accuracy with the rest of it is incredible. (And Liam was a sweetheart to deliberately choose a book he knew Mallory would enjoy!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sledding and snowballs

On Saturday we hosted a bit of an impromptu sledding event. We got some snow last week and knew we were heading out, and some friends came over to join us.
We had actually lost a lot of the snow that originally fell, but there was enough to get by on. We went out again the following day but that was really pushing it - by then we probably had just as much grass as snow.
For Saturday though, it was fine. The kids had a great time zipping down our (small) hill. The great part about a small hill though is that the climb back up isn't all that daunting.
Mallory is nowhere to be seen in these pictures because she decided she was better off doing her 'work' (clearing snow from the bushes and trees) than sledding. To each their own, I suppose.Toward the end, things dissolved into a bit of a snowball fight. Here's Mallory, who has suddenly gotten back into the action, about to launch one squarely at me. Note the arsenal of weapons that's been assembled in the lower right corner of the frame.When we'd had enough of the great outdoors, we headed inside for hot chocolate and treats which were kindly supplied by our friends. They might have noticed that I wasn't really expecting indoor guests, as evidenced by the kitchen floor and bathrooms, neither of which had been cleaned in a week. I know this sounds backwards because I did say we'd have hot chocolate afterwards. I guess I just didn't put 2+2 together and clean the house. (Or... maybe I did... and just didn't like that prospect!)
I'm glad they came in though - we warmed up in front of the Olympics, and Evelyn and Audrey played a round of Candy Land with Mallory, which gave us a bit of a break from it!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Welcoming the world

Panoramic view of Vancouver

Thanks to Bruce for the link.

Hard to believe

Back at the beginning of December, there was a terrible accident in our neck of the woods. A woman was driving a car along the river road with three children as passengers when the car left the road and plunged into the river. Only the driver and one of the kids made it out alive.

Prior to that, I had never given the water a second thought. But I was shaken up after hearing about the accident. We cross the Thames river each day on our way to work and there is always at least one of the kids in the car with us. Due to the placement of the stoplights in front of our office, traffic is always backed up on the Parry Bridge, especially after work. And as for the bridge itself, well, it's getting old. I know bridges don't usually fail but... nobody expected wheels to fly off of transport trucks traveling on the highway, either. Nobody expected chunks of concrete to fall off of overpasses. Things can and do happen.

It worried me enough - and again, I hope this is needless worry, but better safe than sorry - that I decided to get one of those emergency windshield hammers to keep in the car. And it turned out that Chad had received one at some point along the way, so he dug it out and put it in the glove compartment. Then I took it out of the glove compartment and put it in the center console so that it's more immediately at hand. And every time we drive over that bridge, I find myself giving a cursory glance down to make sure I know where it is should I need it.

Not to even mention how much mental energy I have wasted trying to figure out, if worst comes to worst, which child to unbuckle first. My own little version of Sophie's Choice.

Anyway. This morning, the police announced charges in the case of the children that drowned in December. The driver of the car has been charged in an apparent murder-suidcide plot. And while I know this should make me feel better in knowing that the car was (presumably) intentionally driven into the river and that it was not just some tragic, random event -- I think I am even more shaken up than before. How could anyone ever do that to vulnerable little kids??

Full story here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


In answer to the multiple questions I've been fielding about sledding this weekend: yes, we are heading out! Saturday afternoon, starting around 1. You are welcome to join us on Cook Mountain if you want. Hot chocolate to be provided. I warn you though (especially those with older kids - that means you Megan!) - Cook Mountain is really more like Cook Bunny Hill. Are you sure the girls wouldn't rather have you drive them out to Maple City Golf Course? At night? With a six-pack? Oh no, wait, that's what we used to do back in high school. :)

And as if that isn't enough to make for a fun-filled weekend, we are having pizza and watching the Olympics' opening ceremonies in our pajamas tomorrow night. Well, since the show starts later than I thought, I will probably eat pizza and THEN watch the opening ceremonies. And the kids will already be in bed. And I think Chad has his first soccer game. So, not much of a family activity.

But... we'll make up for it on Sunday morning. I'm going to try making Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. For my sweetie. And I'm sure that the kids will be in on the action.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The best internet posting about Lost that I have read in a long, long time

"My theory is that this show is like filling a cup with just a bit of each soda flavor from the fountain machine. In theory, a mix of all flavors would be excellent, but in reality, it tastes like sweet vomit. This show is like watching hamsters try to knit bicycles out of coat hanger wire."

- Dr. Common Sense

I'm so sad.

This goose had lived in our neighbourhood for 10 years. Now they are both gone. Liam and Mallory are going to miss 'the honky geese' like crazy.

Thursday morning musings

I know, I know, it's only Wednesday. I know this all too well, because I have a weekly Wednesday morning operations meeting and the early part of the day is always a flurry to prepare for it. But it feels like it should be Thursday and I blame that on Lost moving from the Wednesday night timeslot it held for 5 years back to Tuesdays.

I am really disappointed in this season so far. In fact I spent half of last night's show web surfing because it just wasn't grabbing me. I have always hoped that the show would go out with a bang, not a whimper, but I am not getting good vibes right now. The whole 'parallel universes' thing is not nearly as shocking and fun as the flash forwards were, the idea of the man in black possessing others' bodies (Claire? Christian Shephard?) is kind of odd and the further things go down this track, the more I fear all the great mysteries of years past will never be resolved. (Who is the real bad guy: Widmore or Ben? Why did the Others kidnap Walt off the raft at the end of season 1? And so on and so forth.)

I was able to web surf during the show because after many hours of troubleshooting, I finally resolved the router issues we were having (namely, that it was no longer recognizing our password, despite the fact that the password hadn't been changed from the default.) I was ready to call the Geek Squad or some such service in to fix things but I think we are back on track now. You know me - I don't like being without my technology!

Mallory's favourite new saying is "Oh my gosh!" It is so funny to hear her say that. I cannot believe she is almost 3. I have been thinking a lot about doing some birthday pictures for her this year, which I didn't really do last year, and I have some ideas up my sleeve that I am very excited to try out. Now I just have to wait 2 months to do them. I have been taking a bit of a break from my camera for the past few weeks (burnt out a bit by last year's P365 perhaps?) but am excited by the prospect of longer days and more light to start playing with it again.

Liam was inundated with valentines at school yesterday, and today the kids have a party at Cindy's house. No doubt more will be coming home with both of them tonight.

We got six inches of snow overnight and it's supposed to last through the weekend. I have a feeling our sledding hill will be getting a workout again come Saturday afternoon. That is, if I can tear myself away from the Olympics on TV. There's something about the Olympics that call me like a moth to a flame - suddenly turning the final run of the men's double luge into the most riveting event ever.

Dawn and my sister Steph are both in Florida right now and would you believe that they ran into each other at the Magic Kingdom yesterday? It's a small world after all.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Midwinter getaway

We went on a little midwinter getaway this past weekend, to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls. We had been there once before, so we knew what to expect this time around. We were not disappointed. Past the reservations he had on our first trip, Liam went on anything and everything he was old enough (tall enough) for. The Wooly Mammoth wound up being his favourite - go figure.Unfortunately, Mallory was ready to step right up and take his place. She refused to do pretty much everything. Even the tiny little water slides in Chipmunk Cove - she flat out refused, even after I tried bribing her ("Just go down the slide one time and Mommy will catch you and then take you back to our room for a treat!") Honestly, you cannot get her off the slides at the playground and these ones are no taller. If only she'd gone down once, I'm sure she would have loved it and spent the rest of the weekend doing it again and again.No matter. The tiny boxes of sugar-laden cereal that we brought along for breakfast in our hotel room were all she needed to have a good time. And thankfully, there were no requests for more Froot Loops at the grocery store last night. Those are for vacations only!!Right before our trip, Chad celebrated his 10th anniversary with the company and his selection from the anniversary gift catalogue was a point and shoot camera. Because, you know, we don't have enough pictures in this family. I have to admit that it is pretty cool - much less to lug around than my monster, and I wasn't fazed in the least to bring it into the steamy water park. It also does video (as I think most cameras do these days) so we got some cute clips to boot.

I messed up roughly half of the pictures from the weekend by attempting to override the auto controls and shoot some frames manually. They all suck. Lesson learned.We went down to the lobby for story time each night. Can you make out Mallory in this picture? She was freaked out by the animatronic animals, and wanted to hear the stories, but refused to face the front of the room where she could see them. Only Mallory.We had to pass this cafe on each trip to and from our hotel room. We did eventually cave and let the kids each pick out one thing from it. And I might have had one myself, too. Hey... we were on vacation.

After the weekend at the water park, we packed up, Liam shed a few tears because he was sad to leave, and we took the kids on the compulsory trip to see Niagara Falls before heading home. You can see the river (or the river gorge, anyway), from inside the water park, they are that close. It was a little less misty than last time, but not by much. The trees in the area were all beautifully covered with ice from the constant spray. On the plus side, the Niagara parks commission has constructed a new (well, new to us since our trip 2 years ago) visitor's centre including a walkway across the River Road that makes it a lot easier to get around on foot. On the minus side, we spent $9 on parking for a 5 minute view of the falls. I can only imagine what their summer rates are.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Poor little Mallory. She's had a rough go of things lately. Last week she was sick as a dog. Then her cheeks were bothering her, no doubt because of all the Kleenex scratchyness. So I put some gentle lotion on her cheeks, and the next morning she woke up with something akin to chemical burns. I felt awful for her and mad at myself for using the lotion (buh-bye, Burt's Bees), but then she made matters worse by proceeding to draw all over her own face with a magic marker. Which necessitated a good scrubbing to remove.

Liam must not have noticed this last bit because two days later, he came sauntering into the kitchen with an impish grin on his face. And magic marker scribbled all over the rest of it. Seems he thought what Mallory did was pretty funny and decided to try it himself, too.

Anyway... now that both kids know that writing on oneself with markers is not OK... hopefully they will both be staying clean for the foreseeable future. I have to head to Toronto tonight and have a long day on the road tomorrow too, but I hope to be back late tomorrow night. When I told the kids I would be leaving for 30 hours they seemed fine, but as I tucked Mallory into bed last night, she started to cry. "I want to see you," she wailed. Meaning, she doesn't want me to go. Here's hoping the weather stays clear and the traffic isn't bad... I will be trying to get home to her just as soon as I can.

PS - Cogeco somehow managed to delete my email account. All my saved folders, inbox, contacts - gone. If you emailed me sometime over the past 3 days, I am not ignoring you... your message has disappeared. Please try again!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sugar rush, indeed.

This is what we had for dessert last night... a very-much-slapdash version of the Candy Land cake. The 'official' cake sites recommend that you put two 9x13 cakes together for this cake. I have been trying (and doing a good job, thankyouverymuch) to cut down on sweets for the past few weeks, so I only made one 9x13 cake. I just didn't want that much cake in the house. But it meant that my game board got pretty squished up, and there was only so much I could do with the path, and there were a lot of extras that we had to do without. (There were also issues with finding some of the candy... for example, I searched several stores for those marshmallow peanuts, and never did find any.) If this were a big birthday party-scale cake, I might have been disappointed with it. But for Sunday night dinner, it was fine.

And you know what? The kids loved it. Of course. It took them a second to catch on to what it was. And then Mallory pulled the red lollipop out and started sucking away, and Liam plucked one of the marshmallow ice cream cones, and finally I scooped the whole thing up off the table and took it away to slice it up before they could pillage it any more.

I didn't sleep well last night. I think the sugar hit my system particularly hard. I'm into full-scale detox today.