Friday, November 28, 2008

For Comparison Purposes

Just to compare boy-lists with girl-list.

This is what Kelly compiled the other day. Then she formatted it, printed it out, and made sure I had it before it was time for me to go shopping this morning.

Kelly's Christmas List:

Black horse Webkinz
Manatee Webkinz
Clydesdale Webkinz
Pinto Webkinz
Big Horse stuffed animal
Shimmer Roll-on Fragrance(apple Blossom. Bath and body work)
Nintendogs (DS game)
Ipod(not HOT pink or Red)
Horse Models
A Little Black Pony(snicker snicker. I know this won't happen)
Animal Earrings
Garnet Earrings
Water Color Pencils
A Shirt With A Star On It
Blue Pom-Pom Jacket
Blue Fuzzy Slippers

And, just between you, me, and the lamp-post, I purchased NONE of those things, but she will be having a pretty Merry Christmas anyways. (Well, except for the Snow Globe that I bought her, and then dropped out of the back of my van onto the driveway while I was sneaking all the presents into the house tonight. Whoopsie. I now know what "a million pieces" actually looks like.

Christmas List Help

Ken finally lit a fire under the boys to type up Christmas lists.

Of course, it was after I had already gone shopping for the day. But the lists were waiting for me on Google Docs when I got home.

But I need a little help... Please!

Skip didn't want to write a list, so Ken started one off for him, reading along while he typed in the document...

"Things I want for Christmas, by Skip Parker... An orange computer. Orange pants. An orange shirt. An earring..."

At this point, Skip squealed like a girl, and wanted to take over the typing. There would be no earring requests.

But now I am at a loss. Here's his list, and I have NO clue what he wants...

Skip's Christmas List

  1. Computer that can play Starcraft 2 and Spore ( I like the one on page 84 of the Spore magazine)
  2. Starcraft 2
  3. H+H2.PC.V(H3.PC.V if out)
  4. AC.PC.V
  5. That book.
  6. Iron Man DVD

Er... what the HECK is H+H2.PC.V?

Or H3.PC.V?

And, um... AC.PC.V?

Anyone what to hazard a guess at what "*That* book" is? "Tropic of Capricorn"?

Oh well. he started off so well. I know EXACTLY which computer it is that he's got his eye on. Anyone surprised that it's orange? I'm not.

And while you're thinking about what those cryptic entries, numbers 3, 4, and 5 are, I distract you!


It's a low-budget Paris Hilton purse-pet.

Oh, and here's Nate's list:

Nate's Christmas List

  1. Manatee (webkinz)
  2. Skate or Ray (stuffed)
  3. Line Shirt
  4. iPod (not pink or purple)
  5. Bicycle
  6. Drum Kit
  7. A game
  8. Wall-E(DSgame)
  9. StarCraft2
  10. A computer (that works on StarCraft2)
  11. Spore Creatures (DSgame)

Well, nobody every will accuse him of aiming low...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving... under the wire

The day is nearly done, and I will be waking up in 4 hours to take my friend Toni on our annual 'get Christmas presents for the kids and husbands and then go out for breakfast while they are still sleeping' extravaganza.

But I did want to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. I am most thankful for all of you, and the chance to get to 'meet' you through this venue. And to those of you who I have had the privelege of meeting in person, I want to say that I truly feel blessed to have had that chance. The modern age is a magnificent thing, for bringing people like you into my life.

I'm getting into the groove of this late-season Thanksgiving, and it's starting to grow on me. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I get to put up the decorations.

Here's a taste of our Thanksgiving.

This is in our back yard. Yes, I'm evil. Thought I'd take a photo of the lemon just before I picked it to put into the apple/cranberry/raisin pie. That was a good lemon, too.

And here we have Ken's "I'm making too many dishes for the feast" coping-skillz t-shirt.

(rats, I thought that was in better focus when I uploaded it)

And what's this? Children wielding knives?

Yes, we put our slaves to work, making comestibles for our culinary pleasure. Cut those apples! And don't lose any fingers while you're at it.

And as a tip of the hat to the upcoming season, I pulled out ONE of my Christmas plates to put the cheese course on.

Here, you can see Ken's hands, building the pie. You can also see his father's wedding ring on his right hand. Look how similar it is to his own wedding band.

But now, I *MUST* get to sleep, lest I slumber in the chaos of Black Friday sales, and thus be accused of not bolstering the ailing economy enough.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I am avoiding big ugly jobs in my house by blogging.

Go me!


Last week, Ken had a Board Gaming Night, so while I was out with the kids in the afternoon (half days for parent/teacher conferences started last Tuesday. Kill me now!) I asked them what they'd like to have for supper, seeing as Dad wouldn't be around, and I was feeling generous.

Now, my kids are not exactly in the "Adventurous Eater" demographic, so I was pretty surprised to hear them all agree on "Fondue!"

Hello? When have we EVER had fondue in our house?

Oh! You mean... dipping anything edible into chocolate ganache? Of course you do.

So after lunch, we popped by the local grocery store, and everyone got to choose their favourite fruit. Then we went home, and got the homework out of the way (oh! They were SO cooperative, knowing that there would be no 'do I have to eat this?' food on the table that night. I really should pre-reward them more often)

Then it was Kung Fu time, and once that was out of the way, Let The Fondue Commence!

Skip was in charge of making the ganache. He's really quite the chef. And he can make any quantity, seeing as he's figured out the ratios, and has quite the facility with doing the cooking-math in his head.

He decided on TWO ganaches. One would be extra dark bitter chocolate ganache, made with Panther Bars (these 88% cocoa chocolate bars that are some 'save the endangered species' marketing wonder) The other one would be merely Dark Chocolate, made with Ghirardelli bittersweet chips. I know. The hardships, they overwhelm me.

And while he was cooking, Kelly and Nate were busy making the rest of supper.

(yes, start small with crescent rolls out of a tube...)

And I was put to work cutting up the fruit.

And then... HORRORS! I set up all the supper fixings on the coffee table in the family room, and let the kids WATCH TV while they ate. Seriously, I think they thought they'd died and gone to heaven.

(ok, so the peaches were out of a can. Skip's vote had been for nectarines, but YOU try finding nectarines in the middle of November. It's just not happening)

All in all, it was a pretty sweet supper. And even with the TV running in the background, I got a whole lot more conversation out of the kids than we normally get around the kitchen table with NO distractions.

Hmm. I think I may be reprieving this event in the future.

My hips won't thank me.

But my goodness, it sure was a nice treat.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting back into a groove.

Man, I must've blown the wad posting that last entry... SIXTEEN DAYS AGO. Egads. Oh, lots of stuff continues to go on, mostly with that "I'm barely holding on, but in a good way" sort of chaos.

And I know if I could just get into a routine (with a TON of stuff in my life) that things would just go smoother. Isn't that the same for everyone? Please, tell me it's the same for everyone.

So here I go. Fresh start every day, right?

Today, I give you a Pet Retrospective for the month.

Pet Number 1. Midnight.

He's a love. I truly think that he rides the short bus. He has no real sense of danger. No real desire for self-preservation, as it comes to the world of 'duck and cover', but he's not flighty and dare-devil, either. Either he's shooting blanks, or I cut short the little hamster-love tryst on November 5th, because there has been no baby action. We will try again in January.

Kelly and I took him outside yesterday. He enjoyed his time on the grass, and didn't get snatched up by a hawk, which is always a good day.

He's turning brown in his old age. A nice chestnut fade out from his blackness of babyhood.

Pet #2. S'more.

So, her little Hamster Palace that we bought for her when we got her? I hate it. It's atrocious to clean, and she spent all her time in her exercise ball, turning it into a nest/hoarde/potty. But she didn't go potty in the ball. She went into the tube-matrix, and peed in there, so she'd get pee all over herself while she scooted through the tubes, and then she'd back up against the air-holes in the exercise ball, and shoot her pee out through the gap, getting it all over the windowsill, the window, the dresser. It was a mess.

So I 'downgraded' her.

She changes it up every day. One day, she's sleeping in one corner, the next, she's made a big nest behind the wheel. Then she's shifting all the bedding to a new place. And she's SO cute when she sleeps.

And she went outside yesterday, too.

Pet Number 3....


A THIRD pet?????

Well, you see, Kelly had a cavity at this last dentist appointment, and she had to have a filling done.

And I'm a softie..

Here she is, waiting for the freezing to take effect. And while she was waiting, I let her phone her grandmother to tell her all about it.

And she felt all flubby and drooly after the (tiny) filling was done, so I told her that we'd blow off the rest of the school day.

But what to do with our "mom and me" time?

Well, we were REALLY close to PetCo....

Oh, the downfall of that place when matched with my miniscule restraint.

Meet Honey...

Honey (or, as I like to call him... "Bob") is a white Betta splendens. This picture isn't the greatest. But Kelly's quite fascinated with him.

OK, Maybe this will give me some kick in the pants to get blogging again.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Follies

Well, our family is going in eleventy-three different directions yet again.

This evening, Skip is off to play with his Jazz Combo (and can I just say that I *never* get tired of saying that?) at a school district fundraiser gala event, and Ken is taking him. After he finishes playing, he's gonna be taking dad out for sushi at our favourite sushi place. Yum.

But while he's doing that, The Littles and I will be heading across town to drop off ALL THE OLD BIKES at our pastor's house, because his father in law has a connection with this place that gives underpriveledged kids 'new' bikes. I hope our old bikes are in great enough shape, or that his connections can work miracles and make them all sparkly and new again. I'm glad they're getting new lives, and I'm VERY glad that they are Finally Leaving My Garage.

I've got onions sauteeing for French Onion Soup tomorrow evening, to go with the Butternut Squash bisque that I'm going to make, and the Corn, Chorizo and Chipotle chowder that Ken will make tomorrow morning. Yum, my mouth is watering.

Good thing that we'll be stopping at Dairy Queen before we drop off the bikes. Heh.

OH! And isn't this just the cutest treat? Hamster popcorn! And these little cobs are about as big as my thumb. I'm so easily amused.

On the knitting front...

Remember that glorious skein of yarn in the previous entry?

Tell me, how can something that glorious knit up into something THIS DRAB?

It's like those vibrant greens and blues just VANISHED when I wound that yarn up into a ball. And where did all that muddy black and grey come from?


Oh well. It's cashmere. It can't be ALL bad.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Blood Bath

Yesterday was my "do something nice, and go give blood" morning.

Considering my recent track record, I was pretty darned proud of myself that I made it to the clinic in one piece, with no surprise phone calls regarding the death/injury of any family members.

There was nobody around. I got right in.

I had a senior nurse who knew her stuff.

She gave me the wee-gauge needle, even.

Life was peachy.

Until the blood started flowing.

Then... ouch! It didn't flow, so she stripped the tubes (which hurts like a mofo, by the way). Then she pulled the needle out a bit. Then she pushed it in a little farther (eek!), then she asked for a 'fresh set of hands'. Then she asked me to flex my hand. Then she asked me to completely relax. (Yeah, YOU try to relax completely after all that).

The room was spinning and my eyes were crossing, and I've never had a donation take so long.


And then I got a present!

Looks like they'd poked right through the vein after all.

That bruise was actually a nice big sproingy blood blister last night. The kids were all impressed, and quite curious.

But hey, a small price to pay for what might save someone's life in the next weeks, right?

There was some activity in the neighbourhood the last few days.

Don't know what's up, but the kids are sure enjoying tracking the big white blimp.

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird... it's a plane...

It's a... cigar?

Shortly after that photo was taken, Kelly put down her jump rope, and Nate picked up a stick, and then... oh look! Shiny Things!

...and suddenly, Kelly has a big welt on her forehead, and nobody really knows what happened exactly.

Last night, Midnight finally figured out which end was up, and S'more finally started 'assuming the position'.

"Hamster Wedding Night".

And Kelly, watching the whole thing, said "Does it hurt when he climbs up on her? I think it would hurt. I wouldn't let a boy do that, even when I'm SIXTEEN!"

*stops breathing*

*clutches at heart*

*makes phone calls to nunneries*

On the off chance that Midnight wasn't, in fact, shooting blanks, Kelly and I have set up S'more in a cage that is far more 'watching the babies' friendly, and are now counting the days until the potential blessed event. November 21, if the literature is correct.

I have nearly finished the first of the Black Felted Wool Socks, and am taking a break by getting to work on something using the Cashmere-blend yarn I picked up in Victoria last month at dad's funeral.

*pets the beautiful yarn* You, my pretty, will never give my daughter ideas about misbehaviour when she's a teenager. Unless, of course, she starts to knit, and gets bitten by the 'Must Buy Yarn" bug. Oh dear. I hadn't thought of that...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween Redux

The non-stop activity of the end of last week.

Thursday started off with my moms in touch meeting in the morning, followed by tutoring of a second grader, sight-word tester for the first graders, and then library aide for the 4th grade. Skip had a geometry exam after lunch, and then immediately after that, I collected all 3 kids, pulling them early from class, so we could go to the Google Family Halloween Shindig. They run it the day BEFORE Halloween, because on the actual DAY, there are usually some small subset of employees who choose to wear "Not Appropriate For Family Viewing" costumes.

Unfortunately, the weather was being a real pain, and all the festivities happen outside. There was a little chaos there.

But here are some shots from between the cloudbursts.

We had to take shelter inside the offices, while the first of the rains hit.

Here's my little pilgrim. Kelly did a do-over with her Betsy Ross costume, and decided that it was close enough to be a 'settler' to go along with Nate's Indian. At the last minute, I cut her a square of grey flannel, folded in half diagonally, to be a 'shawl'. There just wasn't time to knit something, y'know?

We waited in the rain for the face painter. That wasn't particularly fun. Skip made sure to just stare at me with disgust, so I knew just how inconvenienced he was being. Yeah, suck it up, dude. (heh. His hat is melting)

But then it was his turn to get his face painted (after all the little 4 year old girls got butterflies on their faces. Heh. Did he look out of place, or what?), and he was all smiles.

And the finished product was pretty impressive, too. He just lacked a beard.

Nate, as you saw in the last entry, got a facial to go with his costume.

And Kelly, who had waited in line (in the pouring rain) over at the candy station, slid in to complete the Parker Trifecta.

The cardinal on her face matched those on her dress.

From Google, where the rain had now begun to POUND down, we scampered off to drop Daddy back at his office on campus, and then drove up to another city where I dropped Skip off at a Halloween Party that his youth group was involved in hosting at a homeless shelter. (ooh. aah. Don't we sound all Socially Active. Actually, Skip had a really good time, running one of the game booths for the little kids that came through. He REALLY does well with little ones. If only there was some future job that would meld his love of particle physics and his aptitude for soothing toddlers...)

Then I took Nate and Kelly out for supper.

Oh look! It's a Dairy Queen. Time for a healthy heart-clogging meal of deep fried chicken tenders and chips. Oh, and an extra serving of Texas Toast, too, please. Let's FRY that bread in butter. Boo yeah. Looks like my motto won't be "Thin Thighs for Thanksgiving", but "Thick Thighs for Thanksgiving" after all.

Here, Kelly has just discovered that I have enough money left over for ICE CREAM!

After that, it was off to church, for Band Rehearsal.

And look! I've been upgraded:

Usually my view is just the keyboard and the music. This time, there's the little added bonus of a MICROPHONE. Seems that our new worship pastor is a fan of a guy I went to college with, and was suitably impressed that I had sung on the guy's first album. This marks the first time in nearly 8 years in the band that I've been trusted with a microphone. (Way to milk my 10 seconds of fame, right, J-jumping?)

Friday was another go-go-go day.

Skip's band was scheduled to play at Nate and Kelly's school, at their outdoor Halloween Parade, (and I was scheduled to chaperone the band) but the skies just opened (AGAIN!), and the parade got cancelled at the last minute. Kind of nice for me, as I was off the hook for chaperoning, but kind of sad, because Skip was REALLY looking forward to (as he says) " the one time in HISTORY that all three kids will be at the same school". Fortunately, it looks like the band will be rescheduled to give a concert/assembly next week.

I was pretty pumped for the extra time off, because it gave me the window to finish up the book bags for Miss Farthing's class, and I was able to drop those bags off at school while it was Still October.

Skip, Kelly and Nate did a reprieve of their Google costumes, and I did my best to recreate their fantastic face paint jobs. It was B-grade, but the kids still appreciated the effort.

Then after school, we got ready for Trick or Treating.

My friend came up with her kids, and took Skip and his buddy off to the church for a Youth Event All-Nighter.

(Skip's beard is one of those stretchy Halloween spider webs that people decorate their shrubberies with. It worked really VERY well as a beard, all things considered)

Here. Gandalf and Captain America.

And I took Kelly and her BFF and Nate off to trick or treat.

Ken dressed up "Like A Canadian" to give out candy...

(doesn't he look like one of the extras on the set of Beachcombers???) That sweater of his is from 1955.

My friend got back JUST as we were heading out the door to trick or treat, so the moms walked with the kids, and took turns holding the umbrella. It rained EVERY TIME we folded the umbrella up, so it seemed safer for the kids to just keep the darned thing open.

We probably walked 2.5 miles (on some VERY steep hills), and then got to Kelly's friend Alice's house, and called Ken to come get us in the car. Because we're tired and lazy.

And then there was the LOOT!


I'm still on a sugar high.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

No wonder I'm so poor

Nate's been cleaning out my bank account.

First, there was the incident on Friday at school. When I got to the elementary school in time for their (rescheduled to be inside, and therefore absolutely chaotic) Costume Parade, I discovered that there had been some activity at lunch.


Nate is our child who NEVER messes with his teeth. When he loses a tooth, it's because it literally FALLS OUT. No wiggling. No manipulation. No tugging or pulling. And absolutely NO talk of tying a string to it and slamming a door, or any nonsense like that. His front teeth have been hanging on by threads for weeks. At the dentist on Wednesday, they were amazed that the two teeth were still in his mouth, but he didn't want any "help" sending the baby teeth off to their final rest in a tooth-coffin.

(ps: In case it''s not clear, he is being and Indian Puffle for Halloween. His choice. I told him I'd like him to wear Skip's old costume that I made for his second grade "Pilgrims and Indians Thanksgiving Feast" festivities, but Nate wanted to be a puffle (again), so this was his compromise. And when they're 6, you just let them run with it.)

I just realized that his make-up is smudging. Let's get a good look at the original facial art work. (Hooray for Google's Family Halloween Shindig - on the day before Halloween, and the face-painters that they hire)

That feather was an absolute MASTERPIECE!

And here's a better shot of the costume that I killed myself making for Skip (I sewed all that back when I had a NEWBORN, what was I THINKING????)

So, that was Friday. Hey, Tooth Fairy! Unload your wallet, please.

Then Saturday rolls around....

Hmm. Sorry for that shot up the nostrils.

This one had the Tooth Fairy scraping the bottom of her purses to find enough coin.

As my father in law used to say, with a twinkle in his eye, "No wonder I'm so poor"

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Why do I volunteer?

Lately, a few of my friends have commented on some of the things I spend my time on.

Like, why do I volunteer so much?

I've been thinking about this. Especially as it pertains to my role as The Guitar Lady at one of the local libraries. This is my tenth year volunteering weekly for a Baby Music and Books program. I don't know that I've ever done anything for ten years. (Well, except piano lessons. Those went for 14 years, but it wasn't my idea, or my money fueling the streak). Ten years ago, a friend of mine who also had a 3 year old, had an idea to put on a program at the public library that involved helping new parents integrate literacy into the lives of their little ones. She'd been involved (as a spectator/audience) at a similar program in Boston, and had really benefitted from it, and wondered if it could be implemented here. Her only obstacle was that she felt she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Oh, if only she could get in touch with a local musician. Or, at the very least, someone who wasn't afraid of belting out "I've been working on the railroad" in front of people.

Now, I've never been known as a woman who can keep her mouth shut, so I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you that the first thing out of my mouth was "Oh, I could sing that. In fact, I used to play the guitar, and I bet that song only has 3 chords"

And so was born Babies And Books.

Eek, I was a mess those first few months. Performance anxiety? I haz it.

But those babies? And those mothers? And those toddlers who look up at the guitar with unvarnished admiration and awe? They kept me coming back, even though my armpits squirted the most toxic nervous sweat stink for the entire first year.

Oh, there were plenty of reasons to stop.

And you know what? It was almost always the parents that made me want to stop.

This was a FREE SERVICE that we offered to the parents, and nearly every year, we'd have some small subset of entitlement-minded over-achiever parents who felt that the entire universe rotated with their own family at the hub. Or they'd grouse to me about how there was "too much book-reading and not enough singing" or they'd grouse to my friend "could you find someone else who knew more songs", or they wheel in 15 minutes late, and then complain that the session is too short, or they'd push in their baby's zillion-dollar super-sized stroller that does everything but make a latte, and then complain about how there's never any space in the venue, or they'd plop their baby down on the floor, plop themselves down on a comfortable chair "nearby" and then ignore the child (who usually was a bruiser, or a bully, or a tumbler), or they'd just sit there, WHILE WE WERE WORKING FOR FREE, and chat with their neighbour about who was seeing who, and what their baby was doing, and how Little Johnny was allergic to this or that, or was the next Einstein. Argh.

I am still trying to figure out a nice, polite, and STINGINGLY SARCASTIC way to let those parents know that they are a ferocious pain in the rear, but the right words still elude me.

For every bad parent, though, there were many great parents. And grandparents. People who realized that what we were doing was donating our time and giving back, and they knew that every hour we spent with them was an hour that we weren't spending doing things for ourselves. I have the greatest admiration for those parents who'd come with flowers from their gardens, or little bags full of their 'family secret recipe Christmas cookies", or gift certificates for the local grocery store (hey, I wasn't being paid, and this was a nice 'payment'). Once, I had this fantastic mother organize a collection after I had one of my miscarriages, and I ended up with a sweet gift certificate to the local mall, the only stipulation being that I had to spend it on *me*. Yup. Love those parents.

But really? I come back, year after year for the babies. The babies, they are in my blood (and the fun part about entertaining other people's kids is that you can hold the kid, and bounce him on your lap, and then, if they start to fuss? You just GIVE THEM BACK.) A few years back, I was in the Post Office of the town I do "babies and books" in, and I felt like I was being watched. I turned around, and there were two kids in private school uniforms. They were probably 8 and 10, I'd guess.

"Do you remember me?" one asked.

Eek! I looked to their mother for a hint, or a sign. She smiled, "Honey, when you knew The Guitar Lady, you were still a little baby. You've changed so much, I'm sure it would be impossible..."

I bent over and looked her in the eye, "My goodness! Did you come to Babies and Books? I bet you were one of my Solid Gold Dancers when we used to sing all the songs with the actions!" (this is always a good guess. The kids that remember are often the ones that were most involved.) "I would hardly recognize you, you're so grown up!"

She beamed.

And that, my friends, is why I volunteer.

Because the kids?

They love me. Every last one of them.