Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I made my goal of 100 blogs by the end of 2008, but did not have 2 blogs every week, having lapses of a few weeks when things were very busy.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Christmas eve highlights included the traditional meal, not suitable for low carb diets, of cheese fondue (with fresh sour dough bread) and chocolate fondue (with bananas and mandarin oranges). There was a certain amount of climbing on uncles. We were all happy just to be together
J Boy wanted my oversized to be the first opened, even before his own. He didn't even seem to mind that he had the fewest presents to open, the result of his own generousity in wanting to be the giver of so many gifts.
Husband thought an iPod shuffle might fill the bill for J in terms of giving him an outlet to mellow out. And, it seems, husband was right. Amid the lovely, loud and lively gathering at Husband's parents, he managed to find himself in the most comfortable chair and mellowed out with some tunes.
Friday, December 26, 2008
We've had a bit of a snow event as the meteorologists call it. Actually multiple events. We stuck close to home (as in either inside the home or outside shoveling the white stuff) on Sunday and half of Monday. We figured early in the week we might have to be flexible with our Christmas plans as another foot of snow was expected on December 24th. We had conversations on both sides of the family that the celebrations might have to be deferred to a less snowy day as another dump of snow was expected in the greater Vancouver area.
We woke up on the 24th to about 4 inches of snow on top of the 15 or so previously accumulated inches. And it was snowing hard and not expected to let up till sundown. We know our only hope of making it to West Vancouver, where both of our parents live, was to make a hasty exit once our road was plowed.
We doubted we would be able to make it home, so our plan was to pack up everything we'd need for 36 hours, which included one overnight, Christmas celebrations with both families plus our own Christmas. So in addition to bags and boxes of gifts, we packed an overnight bag with two "good" Christmas outfits for each of us, play clothes for the kids and enough snow gear to outfit the Olympic ski team. I packed up ingredients for food dishes we had committed to bring to both Christmas. Oh and we had to telegram Santa to let him know we were moving locations.
So Husband and I madly raced around the house packing up things and stuffing them into the van, taking care that certain items were hidden. We even managed to remember the Pillsbury cinnamon buns for our traditional Christmas breakfast and in a moment of divine intervention, I remembered my camera and battery charger.
We were about 80% of the way completed when Husband reported that our street had just been plowed. Husband thought that meant we were doomed not be meet this window of opportunity but I thought we were close enough we could work faster and get out the door. So Husband and I abandoned personal hygiene (no time for showers) and redoubled our efforts and were out the door in 20 minutes. Conditions were manageable with our pricey snow tires and we made our way across town. We knew, and were right, that once we got the 4 blocks, we're on major routes.
We who grew up driving on the prairies frequently make fun of Vancouver drivers as incompetent. We see them slowing down or stopping as they try to climb a hill, spinning their tires and shining up the ice or not applying brakes in time to stop at intersections. But Husband, who grew up driving in Vancouver, earned his Prairie Driving Badge as he negotiated hills, snowy roads and even incompetent Vancouver Drivers.
We had some additional drama as Brother 1 and Brother 2 had to negotiate further deteriorated road conditions in the afternoon. But despite warnings of highways closures and veritable gridlock both managed to get to the parental homestead (by which I mean suburban home). Brothers 1 and 2 of course had long held Prairie Driving Badge having both spent a couple decades driving in Alberta.
And so we survived the snowiest Christmas on record.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I was in my early 20's and didn't know many people with small children. But every night on the news there was a story that someone had heard from a friend of the aunt of a coworker who had overheard a loading dock worker from the Sears across town say that a load of Cabbage Patch dolls were due in. Within hours the parking lot was jammed and hundreds of parents, decidedly short on Christmas spirit, who pushed and shoved their way into the store to find only 10 dolls have arrived and had long been sold.
There were stories of tearful children, distraught parents and frazzled store managers. Heartbreaking stories of sick children who just wanted a cabbage patch doll under the tree that Christmas.
About a week after her birthday S informed me it wasn't the Mermaid that she wanted but the slide. J joined in her crusade. Every time the commercial came on I was summoned to the TV to see "what she really wanted for her birthday". S was willing to wait until she turned 6 but her brother was kind enough to point out that Christmas came a lot sooner than her next birthday.
The pair were steadfast in their requests and so in about early November I decided I better try to make this happen.
So a few google searches told me two things. First it is called the Barbie Mariposa Mermaid Bath Play Set. Second it is not available in Canada.
And so began my daily searches for the BMMBPS. I could find it listed at Target, Toys R Us in the US (but not in Canada) and a handful of other smaller sites. But it was "unavailable" "not in stock" or "sold out" everywhere. Who knew that Teletoon has such influence over the buying public?
I actually checked out a number of toys and department stores in person just in case they were secretly hoarding inventory but either I met a bunch of clerks with fabulous poker faces, or it really wasn't available.
Husband, who fully supported me in this endeavor, suggested I try eBay. And I did find a few of our precious commodity. But it was listed for $50, highly inflated over the list price of $15. And that was in U.S. dollars. Earlier in the year that would not have made much difference but those that watch the world currencies will know that the Canadian dollar sunk in November to the lowest in a long time. Add to that handling, shipping and potentially a $15 UPS Custom's broker fee, we were pushing $100 for a $15 toy. My in borne cheapness all but eliminated this option. But I did decide I would check the reviews to see if it just might be worth it.
The reviews universally came in at one star out of five. It is cheap, does not stick to the side of the bath tub as advertised (so Barbie can slide into the tub) and the consensus was it was not worth the $15. Certainly not $100.
And so I began my Christmas shopping in earnest. If I couldn't get the Girlie Goo what she wanted I had to get her something fantastic (not necessarily expensive) which would make her forget about the BMMBPS. And while I was at it, I'd better get the J Boy something great as well. Within days I had a list mapped out.
One morning, I was doing a routine search for something else and guess what popped up on the Toys R Us Canada site?? The BMMBPS!!! It showed "unavailable", but at least it was listed. I called the toll-free number and the attendant told me it was not available on line this Christmas. Hopes dashed.
"Are you near a Toys R Us location? We will be selling it in stores".
Oh happy day. As it happens, the Toys R Us I had just visited days ago, had the BMMBPS in stock. Seventeen of them to be exact. And one of them is already under our tree. (But I think S has entirely forgotten about it, which is another lesson to me for next year.)
Monday, December 22, 2008
My first photo essay
Looks like Christmas!
According to J, snow too "dusty" to make a snowman, so we got creative!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I am here to publicly stand up in favour of Christmas letters. As you might have guessed, we usually send one.
Objection #1: Demise of Letterwriting:
While I would love to write long handwritten (or even typed) letters to our 17 sets of aunts and uncles and and the two dozen or so friends we make a point of making contact with at Christmas we have other things we are doing in December: Christmas concerts, family get togethers, shopping, baking, celebrations, singing carols, church services, gift wrapping and let's not forget about the decorating and the related negotiations. The only available hours are the ones after the kids are in bed, which in December is about 10:00 p.m. And we do need to do some of that wrapping then.
If we did any kind of handwritten note, it would probably be something like "Merry Christmas, Best in 2009". I admit that I have stopped even signing our letters. It's December 21st and the next thing to do address Christmas envelopes so signing and personalizing 40 or so letters would mean these would be Easter cards.
Objection #2: Disdain for Bragging
I know that for all the mockery that goes on, there must be people that write letters that goes something like this:
We couldn't be prouder of Davey for earning 17 Cub Scouts badges this year, the most in the Province of Ontario. He also won the district science fair and the judges all told us personally that it was the best project they had ever seen and they fully expect Davey to win Nobel prize for Physics within the year. Of course you will all know about his painting that is hanging in the National Gallery. We are sure you all saw him interviewed by Peter Mansbridge on the national news. For those of you that missed it we enclose a DVD of it. He is also being Scouted by 3 NHL teams plus for the national swim and ski teams.Either the people we know are much less accomplished, less prone to exaggeration or more modest. Regardless, my heart jumps when I open a letter and see a 2 page single spaced letter with newsy tidbits about family vacations, children's activities, job changes, house changes and increasingly the illness of parents or family members. Call me crazy, I want to hear the news from people I care about but I no longer see or hear from during the year. I brashly assume that our circle want to hear simliarly from us.
Meanwhile Janey continues to excel at ballet. We had to decide on which of the 13 offers we should accept for her to play Clara in The Nutcracker, all from international ballet companies. She is also modeling on weekends and we expect her to be on the runways of Milan when the spring collections are released. She had 3 books published this year and we enclose a copy of one review that compares her to Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. At age 6 she has completed high school and her Bachelor of Arts with concurrent majors in history, sociology, english, economics and political science.
My Rules for Christmas Letters
1. I will write nothing that will embarrass anyone (except maybe my kids).
2. I send them to people we don't see regularly. So we don't hand them out to coworkers, neighbours or friends from church. The only people in town that get them are our immediate family and that is just so when an Aunt says "that is quite something in your daughter's letter" my parents won't have to pretend they have read it.
3. We don't send them to people we barely know, like someone I met in the Starbuck's lineup in 1996.
4. After a few years of not receiving a letter back, people are crossed off the list. But our list never gets any shorter as some in town friend will move away and they will be added to the list. Some friends I have been exchanging letter for 15 years and have not seen the whites of each others eyes in that time.
*** *** ***
With that great buildup, let me just warn anyone reading this that happens to be on our Chrismtas list. You already know our Christmas greetings are coming late. But I actually did not write a letter this year. It's a photo montage with captions. So this may actually be more bragging than our regular letter, but our kids are adorable and we want you all to know it.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
S: Daddy I told V she was my best friend.
D: That was nice of you.
S: And she said "same here".
D: That's nice honey.
S: What does "same here" mean?
Me: Canada, you know that honey.
S: Mommy, some kids don't have a Mommy and a Daddy, right?
Me: That's right honey.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thanfully, Husband was already finalizing (in his mind) the outdoor lighting plan so he and J were able to have some planning sessions. But one day after school J insisted that the lights go up. NOW. Not only was Husband at work but he had an after work dinner so would not be home until after bedtime.
And so we began protracted negotiations. I had my limits. I refused to get up on a ladder and hang lights and I refused to commit Husband to putting up all the lights when he got home that night. J Boy also had his limits and his starting position was that all the lights be hung up right now. I began to wonder if any middle east peace brokers might be available for a quick session to get us past our impasse.
One thing I have learned from more than one such negotiating session with J, patience is a virtue. He will eventually yield to a reasonable compromise. Eventually can be hours though. In the end I committed Husband to putting up one string of lights the next day after dinner. J boy agreed he would cease pestering me. Win win win. Husband obliged J (and me) and put up the obligatory string the next night and seized on mild weather the following weekend and executed his entire lighting plan.
The problem was when the pleading-for-tree started, neither J's birthday (November 23) nor his party (November 28) has occurred. I have a firm rule that I want J's party done before we start hauling out the Christmas rubbermaids.
We had another tense negotiating session that had J threatening NOT to go to bed unless we put up the tree (another night Husband was not home). He finally relented when I said we could put up the Christmas stockings if he would talk in a civil voice.
Friday, December 12, 2008
This tooth has been loose since February. In fact I took pictures the day I realized it was quite loose as I was sure it would dislodge very soon. I wanted to capture his last smiles with baby teeth. Little did I know I could have (theoretically) grown another human being in the time it took to get that took separated from the gum.
J is definitely in the dangler camp. Despite being the last in his class to lose a tooth in his class, which he saw as a source of low grade embarassment, he was not inclined to wiggle it much.
On Wednesday night, the poor tooth was literally dangling from one corner. I suggested J could probably suck it out (but told him not to swallow). He declined. He gave half-hearted effort at pulling it out. He finally relented and let me try and with the downward force of a feather, that puppy just came right out.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
And if you happened to be a fly on the wall at the kids haircut place this morning, you would have borne witnesses all my naked-unlaidbackness.
There are 2 hair cutters which I don't like because I cannot watch them both at the same time, which, portentously, turned out to be the problem.
"No, no, scissors for the rest" she says as she adds paradoxically a different blade to her clippers and buzzes some more.
Hair cutter #1 looked shocked.
Friday, December 5, 2008
And she wants to spend time with us. On the my mornings I am at home (half of them), she wants to cuddle and read a book, watch TV, play on computer or just have a chat.
But you know what she likes best??? And here I realize that I hit the Mommy jackpot. The girl LOVES Starbucks!! Most Friday's after we drop J boy off at school we head down the hill to our Starbucks. S gets us a table after securing my promise that I will order her the usual breakfast: banana chocolate chip loaf and a glass of water with no ice. I get a coffee and we chat and connect and I soak up every morsel of adorableness because I know from experience that we are at the peak of adorableness and it will fade as she enters grade 1 and spends 6 long hours under the influence of other people.
Today, she wanted to sit on my lap and cuddle while we had our Starbucks and I obliged. As we left I told her "Wow I got cuddles and coffee together, those are my 2 favourite things in the world."
S asked me which I liked more. Not even close, girlie goo, not even close.