Sunday, October 28, 2012

Getting Ready for Frankenstorm

Today we did the following:

  • All laundry
  • All dishes
  • Vacuumed whole house
  • Filled cars and generator tank with gas (at under $3/gal!)
  • Made sure we have lots of food
  • Made sure we have batteries and candles
All of this is in preparation for "Frankenstorm" - the combination of Hurricane Sandy and a winter storm coming down from Canada that will be here by Halloween. Since we always lose power during high winds we are preparing for it.

I hate that American Electric Power (AEP) still have above-ground power lines, cutting through big trees and winding through old neighbourhoods, and yet they keep raising the cost of electric. Makes me so mad. We were without power for a week after the dorecho in the summer and we still got stiffed by them with charges. That's what happens with monopolies I guess.

So DC and New York and other coastal towns are going to get slammed with rain and hurricane conditions but then it will come inland and by the time it gets here it'll probably result in high winds (no power) and several inches of snow. Ugh. I'm NOT ready for snow!! And it looks like trick or treat might get cancelled on Wednesday.

But really, the focus should be on the coast. Let's hope everyone over there gets through it ok.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

School Event & a Curry

My day started at 7am and I am worn out!  I helped out at Jack's elementary school craft fair and manned the silent auction and helped take it all down. Couple that with talking non-stop with parents and kids and I feel like I want to just be a big couch potato and not talk for the rest of the evening. That's hard to do with a 6-year old that wants to ask me 5 questions a minute.

As usual, I was blown away by how generous the local community and local friends were in supporting our school. It's a very special place and we have kids that are severely physically disabled and many of the kids come from low income families and everyone just rallies around and gets stuck in. Even my boys came and helped.

Not everyone did though. As I wearily walked into my house at 4pm with my feet aching and Danny whining for a drink, and finding a living room full of scattered trash (thanks Ben), I got a text from a woman from the school that I hang out with sometimes, asking if I wanted to get together tonight. She never lifted a finger to help with any of the event and she's got tons of personal time and money. So I sent back a "no". That's a lot more polite than I wanted to be.

This afternoon, Craig took Jack to see Ghostbusters at a local cinema. They were having a costume party too so he donned his Halloween outfit...

Count Jackula

Tonight we are all exhausted. Looks like it might be a good night to snuggle-up on the couch and watch the first Harry Potter film. Craig's bought a deep fryer so we are having curry and chips. Yum!

Four Tired Friends

Friday, October 26, 2012

Too Little, Too Much

I feel like all week I've spent a huge amount of time at my boys' school or dealing with school stuff. If it's like this at pre-k and 1st grade I can't imagine what it's like in middle or high school.

First off, a kid has been really mean to Jack this week and I sent an email to his teacher on Tuesday and have had no reply. So that's annoying. The kid wasn't just verbally mean but took his food and threw it in the trash. I know the kid's mum and I can say something to her if I have to but wanted the teacher to deal with it too.   I spent a long time researching "how to teach your child to be more assertive" this week to see how I can help him stick up for himself. Those of you that know Jack are probably laughing at this since he's so social but he's definitely impressionable and has a very sweet and sensitive side.  So we've been working on tactics, like not backing down, looking people in the eye, saying NO, calling out a bully by name etc. One thing we did was role-play and when I was playing the "meanie" it back-fired on me as Danny came up, defending his big brother,  and spat in my face. Nice.

Which leads me to Daniel and the spitting. This week he has used spitting as his anger/tantrum response. That has resulted in him being banned from electronics and going to bed early on his own (which he hates). So we've had tears and tantrums but obviously it's not something I'm going to relent on. So then I have also been researching "how to teach your child to deal with anger".

Look at that for a moment. One kid needs to be more assertive and one kid needs to be less assertive. I do wish they had just a iddy-biddy bit more of each other's DNA.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Day at the Park

It was such a gorgeous day today that we spent the lion's share of it at our local park. Craig went hunting (saw 13 deer but none within bow range) then joined us later this afternoon. This beautiful weather (in the 70's) is going to continue for the next few days!

Gorgeous fall colours

More fantastic colours

Jack puts on a show about zombies at the bandstand

Walking Coco

Playing at the sand park

Family bike ride.
Jack's bike was at his babysitters house so he had to ride shotgun for a while. Mostly though, he got out and ran 

We loved the bike ride, so we peddled for a few miles. Saw lots of deer too!   

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cleaning & Jumping Kind of Day

Last night we took the kids on a haunted train ride. It was good fun but a bit tame. I seem to remember that last time there were a few more volunteers scaring the kids by walking outside the trains with lights and stuff. It was raining and cold though, so maybe they didn't want to do it.  Nevertheless, we had a good time with good friends. Danny was a bit scared but he held his dad's hand tightly and was okay.

Superheros and a werewolf ride the train

Today we had a house appraiser come at 9 am to look over the house as part of our effort to re-finance. He was lovely but of course I chattered too much and both Craig and I followed him around. We only found out that he was coming at 6 pm last night and so we stayed up until 1am cleaning and de-cluttering. Then we didn't sleep (with worry) and got up at 8 am to get ready for his visit. So we both had about 4 hours sleep last night. I have no idea how he will rate our house and it's all down to his report. So fingers crossed.

At 10 am we went and got Nerf guns from a shop for the boys because we were invited to birthday party and it was suggested that we bring them. The party was at 1pm and it was a great party for boys - Nerf guns, exploding pop bottles, glow-sticks in a dark basement and cupcakes. There was an outdoor trampoline there and both boys jumped and jumped and jumped. When we left 3 hours later Danny broke his heart and just sobbed "I want to jump on the trampoline!" Then he was fast asleep before I even got to the freeway.  I think Santa might be bringing the boys a trampoline this year because I think it will be a great way to burn off some energy over the winter months and our basement is big enough to hold one.

At 11 am we went to our local community charity place to give food and join-in at their field day. It's a great place - they give food and clothes and services to families in need in our little neighbourhood. They also have a kids club and a senior transport service. It's amazing how kind people are in bad times isn't it? Makes you feel proud of the human race.

Pin the nose on a pumpkin,  after being spun around. Very entertaining!

Blue food dye on cupcakes. Why?

After the birthday party Jack was sick (too much sugar does that to him) so we had a quiet night at home watching Halloween stuff on Netflix. I did a quick run out to a shop to get Jack a Dracula medal and picked up some fun stuff for a Halloween party I'm going to. Zombie plates no less! I have a couple of fun and busy weeks coming up with school stuff and Halloween so I'll keep posting on here.

And November (NABLOPOMO) isn't too far off so I better start thinking about what I might blog about every day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Today's Musings

Questions I have asked myself today:

When there is the entire yard to go at, why does one dog always poop under the swing set and the other poop by the outdoor faucet?

When doing laundry, why do I almost never find anything in Jack's pockets but almost always find stuff in Danny's pockets? I actually washed five buckeyes (conkers) one day this week.

Trying to light a candle in a jar is impossible once it burns about half-way down. Why would they design the jars like that? Unless you have hands the size of an umpalumpa you just can't do it.

How on earth am I going to turn Jack's blond hair black for Halloween? Yes, he has decided that he doesn't want to be a werewolf now (mask is too itchy) and he wants to be the king of all vampires.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Health Drive FAIL

Day 4 of healthy living:

Went for lunch with a friend from work. He bought battered pickles for an appetiser and made me share them (it would have been rude to say no). Then I ate a fish sandwich and then the evil waitress insisted that we share bread and butter pudding afterwards.

Now I'm sipping on a glass of wine and pledging to start again tomorrow. Does it count that I'm sipping and not gulping?

Yeah thought not.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back on the Wagon (sort of)

Pre-Daniel, Summer 2008
The only thing worse than being the oldest mum when I drop off Daniel at pre-school is being one of the biggest.  Most mums that I meet are stay-at-home ladies that have obviously spent a good portion of their morning glamming it up for the drop-off.  Some are actually a bit too glam, with poofy hair and full make-up. There's one lady that wears thigh-length black leather boots!  Not me. I couldn't wear those if my life depended on it, and anyway I'm so tall I'd look like a drag queen.

Still, it's no fun looking like a farmers wife at drop-off when you are surrounded by these perfumed lovelies. I'm so flustered with kids and dogs on my way to work that I can't even remember if I had time to brush my teeth.  This morning I said to Daniel "let's put your cereal bowl here while we walk Jack to school, to make sure the dogs don't eat it",  then we got back and I had no idea where I'd put it and had to get another bowl for him! I probably put it in one of the cupboards. Hopefully it'll turn up before it attracts mice.

I don't want to look like one of those ladies. I just want to look like I did pre-Daniel in 2008. That's not too long ago is it? In fact I've still got that t-shirt and shorts, buried deep in the "one day soon" drawer. So I'm off wine again, since that is the biggest monkey on my back. Not for good though you understand, just keeping it low-key and on weekends.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our Spooky Weekend in Pictures

What another great weekend. Packed but fun. Sorry I don't have any stories but I'm so tired!

Friday PM: school parade

Sat. AM: Play with friends

Speed demon

Sat. PM: On our way to a Halloween event. One tired boy!

With dad

Tug o'war

Sunday milestone: swung on his own!

Sunday PM: More pumpkins!

LOVES Halloween!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Never Underestimate an Act of Kindness

I'm reading the biography of an American actor that has been putting on shows about Mark Twain for a half century. It's called Harold by Hal Holbrook.  I also listened to the author being interviewed yesterday when he talked about a certain passage in the book and it resulted in me sat in my car crying!

The beginning of the book is both fascinating and heartbreaking. His mum abandoned him when he was 2, his dad soon after. He was raised by a grandma who was cold and a grandad he adored but who died young. He was shipped off to a cruel boarding school at the age of 7 where they beat him and humiliated him. The headmaster was particularly brutal.

Here's the passage in the book that he talked about. It starts with him being called to the headmasters office for a routine beating (the kids were never told why)


When you entered his office, he would move about quietly in a familiar way. He was not an imposing figure. He was short and rotund and balding, and perhaps he thought of himself as benevolent, a twin version of the mother and father you didn't have.

"You know what to do Harold. Take down your pants." You unbuckled your pants and let them fall.
"Both of them." You pulled down your underpants.
"Assume the position."
You took hold of the arms of a chair that had been neatly placed for you and bent over. Meanwhile, he would be searching in the closet for something. It was a one-by-three flat stick from a packing crate. About three feet long. Probably pine. You waited while he got this stick and then you held your breath while he moved across the room towards you. Whack! Whack! Whack! Three. Whack! Four. Whack! Five. You tried not to cry out, because the boys waiting outside would hear that. Whack! Six. If you cried, he'd stop, but - Whack! Seven. Am I bleeding? Maybe he'll stop if I cry - Whack! Eight. A sob. Whack! Nine. Tears. Tears. Crying. It's over. He just wanted the sound of crying.
"All right Harold. You can go now. Pull up your pants."

Once, when I came out of the room, humiliation blinding me, the piano teacher was waiting down the hall past the line of boys. I'd forgotten about our lesson, and there she was in the doorway, searching my face with her eyes as I got close. Brown eyes, pools of softness. I could tell she had listened to my punishment. She held the door for me, and while I walked over to the piano and sat on the bench she closed it. Then she sat down beside me on a chair pulled up close. There was a pause, an emotional one, while she waited for me to balance myself on the brink of breaking down. I had been learning to play "America" two-handed, and I placed my hands on the keys and tried to remember the first note. Then I started to cry. The piano teacher put her arms around me and held me to her. It was an act of kindness I have remembered all my life.


Monday, October 08, 2012

Back Yard Renovations

I can barely move today. It's obviously been a looong time since I've done hard physical work! But first a couple of shots of the kids - they are so excited about Halloween. I think we'll be having a werewolf and Spiderman!

Superheroes chase bad guys on their dinosaur!

Cannot walk past Halloween stuff without trying it all on

And so back to the renovations. I love my back yard but the kids and dogs have destroyed it. Coco and Ben chase each other and they both dig holes and it's been depressing me for a while how bad to looks. Actually my main complaint is that when it's wet outside they traipse huge amount of mud into the house because there is so little grass cover. Sometimes I have time to wipe their paws and sometimes (i.e. mornings) I'm just too manic to do anything but watch as they come tear-arsing it into the house leaving muddy swaths of paw prints and clumps of sod with them. Remind me why I love dogs?

Before: Mud and small wobbly flags at back door
So on Saturday Craig built a boardwalk from the back door to the patio. It's now at the same level as the back door which is great but I freak out when I step outside and expect to step down. I can't believe he built it all in one day but he's been unbelievably sore the last two days. Could hardly move last night and I had to rub pain gel all over his legs and back!

On Sunday I laid sod and fixed up the borders next to the house. What a difference!

After: New boardwalk & sod

My new challenge is to stop the dogs digging in the turf. But I'll get to that right after I stop her peeing on our bed like she did again this morning. She's going to have to sleep in her crate at night - nothing else for it!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Baby in the House (well sort of)

On Wednesday Linda (babysitter) told me that she picked Jack up from school and he was talking 10-to-the-dozen, and Danny was crying through over-tiredness and when she walked in the door to our house  Coco had pooped everywhere and Ben was jumping up on her. And I said "Yep, that's my life". ha ha ha.  I'm not kidding.

Can you tell I'm ready for weekend?

Tonight our good friends came over. They are pregnant and I'm SO EXCITED for them. I could talk with another mom forever and never get bored. I remember that feeling of being pregnant for the first time. It seems to draaaaaaaag and you get so impatient, especially before you start to feel the baby moving.  But then it all seems to happen so quick. I'm trying really hard not to offer advice  because I didn't like that very much when I was pregnant, but I could tell my friend wanted to talk so it was great. The whole time we talked my boys were acting like complete chimpanzees but our friends have known both boys since the day they were born so they know they're good boys. I hope. God they were pretty of of control.  Oh I cannot wait for their baby to get here. It'll be my surrogate American nephew/niece!

So I'm taking tomorrow PM off work to go and get sod for my DESTROYED lawn. Thanks Coco.

But then hey it's Weekend!!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Canine Coffee Anyone?

My Monday mornings are so outrageous that it's becoming a joke.I really do feel like I'm on some bizarre reality show sometimes.

Take this morning for example, I wondered why Craig had left a cup sat on the kitchen side but thought oh well and poured myself a coffee. About half-way through the cup I realized it tasted awful but carried on as I was too busy getting the kids fed and dressed and the dogs fed. When I fed the dogs I realised the cup we use to scoop out the food was missing from the food tub. Then I realized that I asked Craig to feed the dogs before he went to work. Then I realized why my coffee tasted so bad.  Ack!