Monday, May 31, 2010


What do you think when it's your birthday weekend and you find this in one fridge...
...and this in the other?(Yes, that is FOUR cheesecakes!)

You start to get suspicious, that's what. More to come...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yours til Niagara Falls

The long weekend was not particularly good around here, weather-wise, but that didn't matter much to us because we spent the weekend mostly indoors at Great Wolf Lodge.My parents' 40th wedding anniversary is just a couple of weeks away, and in lieu of a party or gifts they requested and treated us to a family weekend getaway. I did bring the P&S to use inside the water park, but didn't bring the charger, and sure enough - when we got to the hotel I discovered a dead battery (despite the fact that I'd checked it at home and it had been fine). Ah well. I have shots like that from just a few months ago - no big loss.We headed off-property on the Saturday night for dinner and a glimpse of the falls (seen here from the base of Clifton Hill - we didn't head further down the Parkway where the views are better because by then, the kids had pretty much had enough). I'd toyed with the idea of taking a ride on Maid of the Mist but in reality I think Mallory would still be scared by it at this point. We could not coax her onto a water slide, so the idea of sailing up almost under the falls with her didn't seem too enjoyable.(Here are the kids checking out an Elvis 'living statue' on Clifton Hill.)

The only downside of the trip? I didn't go out to get my annuals til we were home on Monday, and by then there were no red geraniums to be had. I caved after three nurseries, bought some white geraniums and blue lobelia, and called it a day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Inauguration (part 1)

Yesterday, we used the pool for the first time. I am not sure that I outright stated that we put in a pool last fall, but we did, and you have probably seen evidence of this in photos from time to time. Chad’s desire to cut down on the amount of grass he has to cut morphed into a new swimming pool – go figure.(Just kidding - it was part of the plan all along.) Anyway, we put it in in October. Last fall was warm and dry, and they got it in pretty quickly. We admired it for about a day, and then we came home to find it covered up and winterized. So much for getting any use out of it in 2009.After the pool went in, we had another month of warm dry weather, so in November we landscaped the yard. Well ... we had it landscaped. My involvement in the work amounted to driving over to the nursery to approve of plants and select this, not that. The trees went into the ground bare-branched and the plants went in hacked back to dry little stubs. We had to wait through the winter to see the overall effect.This spring has been a lot of fun as we’ve seen the plants come up/fill in (so that’s what that looks like!) and then the piece de resistance – last week, the cover came off the pool. We spent a day or two with a murky swamp in the back yard, and then it was cleaned up and restored to a crystal clear thing of beauty.We still thought that our first swim would be a ways off. We didn’t put in a heater, saying we would try a year without it, but after the cold summer we experienced last year, we kept second-guessing that decision. We do have a solar blanket, but it hasn’t come out of the box yet. The blanket comes with a roller and while that makes perfect sense for a nice symmetrical pool… ours is lagoon-shaped. We anticipate that the blanket application and removal are bound to be a pain, and we’re not sure how often it’s actually going to happen.We were pleasantly surprised to come home yesterday to find the water around 82F. We have a few things working in our favour: number one, the pool is in full sun all day. And number two, it’s not a diving pool; the deep end is 6 feet. Less water to heat makes it warmer overall. (And the lack of depth means no need for a floor drain – am I the only one who was traumatized a few years ago by the rash of kids drowning from getting suctioned down to the pool bottom?)Anyway, with the water in the 80s and the air temperature in the 90s, there was no question that we would be going in. Liam had his trunks and life jacket on before I even set my briefcase down, and as soon as we unlocked the gate, he cannonballed right in. He’d been waiting 8 months for the day to come… I can’t say I blame him.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sleepytime woes

A few weeks ago, Mallory gave up her daily hour-long nap. I have been growing increasingly tired of chasing her back to bed 20 times every night and finally concluded that maybe she is a little bit too well-rested. Then one day, Cindy had something going on, and Mallory missed her nap there. I talked to Cindy about it and told her that I was thinking of having her drop her nap anyway, and so we decided that that was the end.It hasn’t been all that successful. After a couple of days, Mallory came home from Cindy’s, tired and cranky, wailing, “Cindy says my mom won’t let me have a nap!” She has fallen asleep on the couch as I make dinner numerous times. Yesterday, she fell asleep in the car on the way home from Cindy’s. (The heat this week isn’t helping!) In fact, she is liable to pass out just about anywhere and at almost any time now. She can be a bear by the end of the day and to be honest, it hasn’t made bedtime much easier. She still gets out of bed numerous times, requesting a drink of water, insisting she has to go to the bathroom (the one request I will never, ever deny is a trip to the bathroom!) or just peeking in to see what we are up to after hours.As for me, I have been mourning the loss of that middle-of-the-day hour when I could get a few things done without having Mallory underfoot. Of course, now that she’s gotten a taste of the good life (i.e. no more going to bed while everyone else gets to stay up and have fun), there’s no going back. So I think we are stuck with little miss bear until she outgrows this phase.

Last night was the straw that broke the camel’s back: we were already having a rough bedtime, but yesterday was also the day I took her ‘white blanket’ (i.e. her duvet) away. (The duvet has been out of its cover for a couple of weeks because it was too hot for the additional layers; thus the reference to it being white.) It’s too hot for it now, period, but Mallory is livid. “Bring my white blanket back!” she cried. I tried to console her with her sheet and quilt, but she wasn’t having any of it. Unfortunately for her, she’s out of luck. The duvet is at the dry cleaner’s and then it’s being packed away until October. It’s supposed to hit 92 degrees today – I’m sure she’ll be warm enough without it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer (almost) lovin'

The past week or two has been a flurry of activity around here, and I am still trying to catch up. I had to laugh today when Chad said, "There's all this stuff going on in our lives, and all you have on your blog is Marilyn Manson Lost picture. What's going on?" Since I've already established that I loved the finale and I am not mourning in bed because it disappointed me... my excuse is just that things are hectic. We've spent the majority of our free time out of town lately. And the weekend that I came home from my business trip, I shot two sessions back to back, and editing them is consuming a lot of my time right now. (Note to self: in the future, space things out more!) I am even a few weeks behind in editing my own photos (including Liam's birthday pics that I finally fit in; hooray!) I used the proceeds of those jobs to finally buy my long-lusted-after full version of Photoshop, and all I have to say is: holy learning curve. I have given up the idea of using it to edit these two sessions (heck, I have given up the idea of using it to go back and re-edit some of my older stuff that I was originally keen to tinker with!) Just trying to keep up with the here and now.

We have been spending a lot of time outdoors lately, and not so much plugged into the computer... and it's a good thing. I will be back (with a big backlog!) soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My heart will go on

On Sunday night, I was glued to our TV to watch the series finale of Lost. So much build-up, so much hype over the past few months, and a relatively disappointing start to the season... it had a lot to live up to.

I had two predictions for the final scene. One: Jack and Locke sitting on the beach, as the new Jacob/MIB, and Locke turns to Jack and says, "Do you know how badly I want to kill you?" Two: Jack kills Locke on the island while simultaneously killing Locke on the operating table in the sideways world, which somehow meshes the two timelines back together.

Obviously, I was wrong. I didn't see that ending coming at all... at least, not until Jack walked into the church and saw the coffin there. I wasn't sure how to react to the ending as soon as the credits rolled. I had to sleep on it.

I've come to the realization that I loved the finale and think it was brilliant. I watched the last 20 minutes 3 more times today, bawling through it each time. (We had friends in to watch the finale when it aired live, and I couldn't let loose like that in public!) I love that it was a good old Jack-centric episode. I love the reunions between all the cast members. I think the musical score was outstanding and heart-wrenching. I love that it ended on a comforting note with everyone together as they should have been and ready to embark on a new adventure together. All of these things outweighed the lack of clear answers for me, and introduced an exciting new twist, and I am utterly satisfied. The final sequence of Jack in the bamboo, passing the shoe he passed in the pilot episode, with the dog next to him as he was in the beginning - oh, be still my heart. I loved it all. *tear*.

I am getting ready to start re-watching the entire series on DVD now... I am not ready to let it go! I think that was Chad groaning that you just heard. He thought that after six years, he was finally getting his wife back. Not so fast.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lost: The Finale

It's hard to believe that when I first started watching Lost, I was pregnant with Liam. Now it's six years later and it's coming to an end. I have really been enjoying all of the press out there as we build up to the finale... and reliving the good times...(Painting of Locke done by Marilyn Manson, of all people!)

Some of my favourite quotes from over the years:

Miles: Where the hell did they go, Tubby?
Hurley: Oh, awesome. The ship sent us another Sawyer.

Sawyer: Oh look. There’s my favorite leaf. How could I ever forget this place?

Sawyer: I got enough food here to open up a convenience store. Hey, think Sayid needs a job?

Lapidus: "We're not going to Guam, are we?"

Best moments:
The season 3 finale, "Through the Looking Glass" - absolutely the best thing on TV ever, when they revealed the flash-forward trick ("We have to go back, Kate!") That, plus Charlie's death with "Not Penny's boat" written on his palm - that was the best.
The season 1 finale, when the raft took off from the beach, only to be firebombed by the Others.
Sawyer jumping from the helicopter and then swimming up to the beach.
When Jack realized the dude in the hatch was Desmond ("See you in another life, brother!")
Desmond and Penny's phone call in "The Constant".
When Ben executed The Purge.
When it was revealed that Locke was in a wheelchair prior to the plane crash.
The opening of season 3 (?), at the book club at the Barracks.
When Jack radioed the freighter to be rescued.
When they found the looped recording of Rousseau in season 1, and realized it had been playing for 16 years.
When they revealed the map of the island that was drawn on the wall inside the hatch.
When the Oceanic Six came home. And again when they boarded the plane to go back.

Man, I am going to miss this show! Looking forward to a marathon night on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Henry turns 4

Last weekend, no sooner had I come home from my trip than we jumped in the car and headed to Toronto for Henry's birthday party. Our GPS broke on the way there - yes, the one I got for Chad for Christmas just 5 months ago. Luckily, we knew the whereabouts of the party and generally knew how to get there (though I think we could have found a faster way if we'd known better).
There was face-painting at this party, and although Mallory swore when she walked in the door that she didn't want her face painted, I reminded her that they could make her look like a puppy. She is still very much into playing 'puppy' nearly every day. She calls herself a dog named Chocolate (which goes very well with her doll she named Marshmallow, I might add). Well, when she heard she could be a dog, she was all over it. Still a little trepidatious of the girl doing the face-painting, but pleased with the results. Now she says that at Thomas' birthday party she will get her face painted like a cat and leave the paint on for Captain to see her.The party was at Kid Club, another run-around-and-play-with-their-toys kind of party place. This one included a big bouncy castle which was of course a major draw.
Henry's party was pirate-themed, and you know how much we like that at our house!Here's the puppy in action.Bouncy castle shots. I've never had these turn out very well before, but since this castle was set up in front of a wall of windows, it turned out well here.Full photo set is up on Flickr.

Monday, May 17, 2010

... travelled down the road and back again...

I'm back from Florida, and am glad to be here. Four days is long enough for me to revel in the luxury of hotel-and-restaurant life, without getting terribly homesick for Chad and the kids. You can only eat so many giant Gulf shrimp before you suspect that there is a petroleum tang to them. (No signs of the oil slick in this part of the Gulf yet, but the fear in the area is palpable.)

Coconut Point is nice, but it's not a place I would recommend that a friend go and visit. It really was mostly retirement communities all around us. On the flight home, they came over the loudspeaker as we taxied up to the gate to say it would take some time to deplane as there were 18 wheelchairs that needed to be removed. The flight was full of geriatrics, including a lovely couple with houses in Florida, Michigan and Boston who were travelling with a dog under the seat. Imagine spending three hours listening to this in an elderly Boston Rob Mariano voice: "I had to pay a hunnred and twennyfive dollahs for her to go under a seat!"The conference itself was great, but my one complaint was not having much time to myself for the entire week. This is what happens when you travel as a group. There were four of us who went down together plus another person from our office who we met there, and the group stuck together pretty tight. That is how I wound up on this bird-watching expedition when I would rather have been at the pool with my book.We wound up at the bird sanctuary past closing time and they wouldn't let us in, so we took a stroll down the country road instead. Wouldn't you know it... we ran into that harbinger of Florida wildlife, the alligator.There he is.This was all very cool and apropos until the guy in the blue shirt started throwing sticks at the alligator, and the alligator snapped its jaws at us. I was not amused. I mean, this thing was in a ditch at the side of the road - no electric fence or plexiglas between us. The guy in the blue shirt doesn't have kids at home he'd like to return to... maybe that's the difference between us. Or maybe I am just getting crotchety in my old age.The experience didn't stop me from buying Liam a real alligator head in the hotel gift shop. In fact, our entire group brought them back for our little boys. We had 5 of them in the van with us as we crossed the border into Canada. I can only imagine what customs would have thought of us had they searched the van. (We were pretty sure they were legal, but not 100%.) Mallory got a much prettier, much less expensive starfish that she is equally enamored with.Speaking of Mallory, she had a great time at home with her dad, as did Liam. Liam did not go through the same separation anxiety that he suffered when I was away last fall... thank goodness. Next year's conference is in Napa Valley, and I'm hoping to be able to attend again, with a clear conscience.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thank you for being a friend

Southern Florida is pretty much like you'd expect it to be. (Coconut Point is a bit south of Fort Myers. If you read Enjoying the Small Things, then the point of reference is that I am about a ten-minute drive from the Hamptons'.) It's hot and humid - currently in the 90s - so while the conference organizers had good intentions in having us eat lunch outside today, it was really not all that comfortable. Everyone here wears pastels and lots of loud jewelry. Except for the conference attendees, of course. The only things on the road leading to the resort are palm trees, swamps, golf courses, and gated retirement resorts. There is a lot of wicker furniture around. I feel like I could bump into Bea Arthur or Betty White at any moment (yes, I know that the former is dead. The latter did a smashing job on Saturday Night Live last week.)
This morning, I had some time before our session started, so I went out for a run. There were a lot of gray-haired people out for their morning walks and they all said hello as I passed. Half of them are probably from Canada, so I shouldn't be surprised. It's a good thing that I got out for that run. Not only to work off the slice of Key Lime Pie I ate last night (which seemed only fitting on my first day here), but because the lunch offering today was fried chicken with a choice of either buttermilk biscuits or cornbread. I would have expected that in Louisiana maybe, but not in Florida. And definitely not at a business lunch.

I picked up a little something for Liam at the hotel gift shop today. And I can't wait to give it to him.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Greetings from Coconut Point

I'm currently in Florida for a conference, a conference that actually sounds interesting and relevant to what I do. So I'm excited about that.

What I'm not excited about is a super long travel day that started with a 5:30 a.m. wakeup and the fact that I only got back to my hotel room 1/2 hour ago - in other words, no time to myself today.

The absolute worst part is leaving the kids behind to hopefully-not-miss-me, and leaving Chad behind with an absolute ton of work as he juggles the office with two dropoffs/two pickups/bedtime on his own/lunchmaking and bag packing/etc. No fun for him, either.

I called home tonight and luckily, there were no tears. Mallory kept insisting that she was going to hang up the phone that she was talking to me on so she could talk to me on her toy phone, and I had to keep explaining to her that her toy phone would not allow us to actually speak.

She asked me if I was going to come home tonight, and when I said no, she said, "But mom! You HAVE to!" But then she seemed OK with saying goodbye until I give her another call tomorrow night.

I missed Lost tonight. :( We didn't get back from dinner until about 9:45. I'm going to stay off any and all entertainment-related sites, and catch it online on Hulu tomorrow (I hope).

On the bright side, I picked up American Wife at the airport bookstore today on Jenna's advice, and my goodness, is it ever good so far.

Off to bed now - hoping to get up early tomorrow to give myself some time to think before the group reconvenes. I'll leave you with a few photos from a family get-together on the weekend... Amy is heading back to Afghanistan for the 4th time. We keep telling her it's a war zone, not an amusement park, but she doesn't listen to us.Family photo time. Yes, the wide angle lens gives those of us in the front row a head that's twice as big as the guys in the back row, but what else can you do when you need to get everyone in the shot?Amy and Adam came bearing a birthday gift for the kids - the Playmobil Roman Colosseum. This thing is almost 3 feet around. It's huge and has many teeny tiny pieces. Thaaaaaanks, guys!!
I had a hard time explaining to the kids exactly what the Colosseum is (and why there are lions and tigers involved - do I really want to tell them they are there to eat the Christians??) I thought about showing them the movie Gladiator to prove my point, but considering that I can't make it through that movie without covering my eyes for parts of it... I thought better of it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Another Mother's Day has come and gone, and once again I was treated pretty well. Would it be bad of me to say that sleeping in was my favourite part of the day? We've been pretty sleep-deprived around here lately, so the late snooze was definitely appreciated.

When I got up, this is what greeted me - presents from the kids. They each hand-painted a pot and planted a geranium for me at Cindy's house, and made cards to boot. I also received spa gift cards and some fruit plants for the back yard - I think Chad had something to do with that.We went for brunch at the local golf course, and although Mallory was disappointed that there were no waffles or pancakes, she made do quite well with the French toast. Liam ate so much I thought he would explode. I don't know where he puts it all.Chad then humoured me with my annual "Take Pictures of Me with the Kids" request. We got a few keepers of me with Liam and Mallory individually. The group shots didn't work out so well, though there were a few good outtakes from the bunch.

Friday, May 07, 2010


The number '5' I ordered from Etsy is taking its sweet time arriving, thus postponing the birthday photos. In the meantime, I took Liam down to a local street corner to get a few shots. (I took his friend there a few days before with great results.) Liam was not as cooperative but I still got a few keepers. This one may go up on the dining room wall.

My workplace Internet policy has changed and has blocked access to blogs and personal sites. I can still shop online, watch prior episodes of TV shows, and read just not my blog. This means a bit of restructuring of the day is in order. So much for my morning blog break.

This week, Mallory dropped her nap. The first day, it was her own idea, but I had been meaning to talk to Cindy about it for some time... finally realizing that the fact that she spends 90 minutes each night getting in and out of bed might mean that she is more-than-well-rested. The first day was great. The second day, she came home and said tearfully, "Cindy says my mom won't let me have a nap any more!" She is sleeping on the couch right now at 6:30 p.m., wiped out from the week. Liam is sleeping on the other couch. I am on a laptop in the corner, enjoying the view.There are several Mother's Day goodies tucked away in the house. Some, I have already been given. Liam was given a "My Mom is the best Mom because _____________" worksheet at school, and he filled it in with, "She makes the best cookies." Warms my heart. The others, the kids tried very hard to hide from me tonight even as I picked them up and helped load them into the car. They want me to wait until Sunday morning.

There is supposed to be a wicked fire-and-brimstone storm tonight. Well, make that hail-and-high-winds. It worries me some because our next door neighbour's house is being roofed and there are all sorts of ladders and contraptions up there, just waiting to blow down on us. We'll see what happens.

We had nachos for dinner on Cinco de Mayo, but they were veggie nachos made with baked chips, so that was OK to serve to the kids, right?? (Validation, please?) Right now, the kids are sleeping through Friday night pizza night. I guess that means leftovers for breakfast.

I will be out of town for four days next week, and I will miss the family like crazy. And also get a lot of sleep.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Who wants to get together for the finale?