Monday, January 23, 2012

On Resolutions

I'm not usually one to make New Year's Resolutions.

 They can only end badly, as far as I'm concerned.
 But I like hearing about other people, and the changes that they are making in their lives. So I may have been a bit more attuned to listening the other day at the mall.

 I was in Claire's, picking up stuff at the 10 for $10 rack, to make goodie bags for Kelly's party.

 There were two women working in the store, and I was the only customer.

 After they'd both assured themselves that I needed no help, they went back to straightening shelves, or whatever it was that they were doing. And they continued with their conversation.

 Lady 1: So, did I mention my resolution?

 Lady 2: No, are you going back to the gym?

 Lady 1: No. I've made a change in my diet. For my heart health. I'm CUTTING SEEDS OUT OF MY DIET.

 Lady 2: (silence)

 Lady 1: Look at wolves. They never have heart problems. They're healthy as horses, and they spend their days running around eating red meat. But birds are falling out of the sky all the time. It's the seeds. So I'm cutting out seeds, and I won't have to worry about dropping dead from a heart attack.

 Lady 2: (silence)

 Me: (trying desperately to avoid snickering behind my hand. This is the proof that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Although a little knowledge sure was entertaining to me that afternoon at Claire's)

Sunday, January 22, 2012


 So, Kelly turned 12 on Friday.
I think I wrote about all our nefarious sneakiness leading up to the big day, and how she had no idea there was anything in the works.
So, Friday  morning, she wakes up and decides to open her presents before she left for school.  The boys were a bit grumpy, but handled it well.
Skip got her sushi earrings.

Nate got her the book War Horse.  We want to go see the movie.  And while we were talking about the book, Grandma phoned to wish her a happy birthday before she left for school.

We put most of her stuff into two decorator boxes that she can use to organize her room.

She got a good haul.  and then she went off to school, where I reminded her that we'd be meeting Dad for an early birthday supper, just her, me, and Ken.
We were a bit late getting to the mall, and Toni had called me to say "Let me know when you get here, so I can get the group ready at the restaurant."  Ken was running late on the freeway, and we weren't exactly on time, either.  We pulled into the parkade at the mall, and the first thing Kelly said was "Hey!  That's TONI'S CAR!"
Whoopsie.  I said "She and Carrie must be shopping.  I should call her and let her know we saw her here.  Too bad we didn't know, or they could've joined us for supper.  But I think Dad has reservations..."
So I phoned Toni, and had this LOUD conversation that went something like "Hey!  Kelly just noticed your car at the mall!  If only we'd known!  You could have joined us for supper."
Toni then whispered "Go up to the counter at the restaurant, and say "Parker, party of four", and they'll know where to bring you..."
It was very cloak and dagger.  Heh.
So we walk into the restaurant, and I go up to the counter (with the giant long lines of people waiting for a table) and I say the code phrase... "Parker, party of four",.
The hostess looks up at me, down at her computer screen, and says "There's a 30-40 minute wait."  And then she looks at the next people in line,.
This is NOT how it's supposed to go.  So I lean in, and I wink (hoping Kelly didn't notice).  "Parker... party... of... FOUR..."
And she looks at me "The... wait... is... about... thirty... minutes"
Good grief.
So I look at Kelly, who has already said "But mom, there's just THREE of us..."  Whoopsie.  And I say "Check out the door to see if Dad has arrived yet.  There's a glitch with our reservation, and I'm going to fix it."
I lean in "Listen.  There's a table with FIFTEEN people waiting for us to show up and yell SURPRISE, so can you point me in the right direction."
And she gets this look of dawning recognition on her face, "oh... you're THAT Parker party of four!!!!!  Come this way"
We got to the table, and Kelly was flabbergasted.  "But... but... you're shopping!" she said, when she saw Toni.  "Mom called you on the phone!"

(a shot from one of the girls at the table)  It took her a few minutes before she realized that the party was FOR HER.

And the absolute beauty of the party?  One of the girls asked if she could order off of the Kids Menu, and pretty soon all but 2 of the girls were ordering off of the kids menu, and we had a dinner for 15 for under $150.  And that includes 4 adults, eating whatever we wanted.  With refills on the drinks.
If I could do it over again, I would ask the girls to hand in their cell phones when they came to the table.  I was amazed at how tied to the phones some of the girls were.  And two of the girls didn't have phones, so there was a bit of have/have-not awkwardness there, although kudos to kelly for not taking her phone out.

(like the bandaids on her fingers?  She had her 12 year checkup at the doctor that morning, and had her warts frozen off, and by the afternoon, they'd all turned into these giant blisters.  Whoopsie.  Hooray for Angry Bird bandaids, though)
After they had stuffed themselves at the table, we vacated the premises.  Part of the agreement of the reservation was that we would be gone before 7, so we chose to not have dessert there.  that, right there, probably saved us over $100.  We went back to Addie's house, where Joan had decorated, and provided ice cream, and lemonade, for all the girls to have a bit of a relaxing time.  I had brought a cake over, earlier in the day, along with some horse figurines, so it was a fun and not-time-constrained evening.

(i just realized that one of the girls is missing in this photo.  Whoopsie)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We 'r' so sneeky

 Before Christmas, Addy, one of Kelly's BFF's came up to me one day and out of the blue said "Kelly is sad that she never gets birthday parties."
I raised an eyebrow.  This was the first that I'd heard about it.
And then she said "So I would like to give her a surprise party for her birthday."

Well, that sounded like a fine idea.  I'm glad that Kelly has such a good group of caring friends.  I gave it my blessing.  And I didn't think too much about it again.
While we were up in Canada, I got an email from Addie.  "Hi, its me. idk what u wanna do for K party?"
Hmm.  I read this, and first, I need to get the translator out.  Then I realize that Addie isn't giving Kelly a birthday party.  Her gift is to hound me until *I* give her a birthday party.


So I email back, and say "What sort of ideas did you have?  And how many girls would you like to invite?  If you want to do a sleepover at our house, it needs to be a group of six at the most.  We could maybe do a sleepover, and then some event in the morning.  I think it might be fun to go look at the Elephant Seals, but I don't know if I could get enough tickets.  Otherwise, you could organize a dinner party, and maybe take Kelly out to a restaurant, and have something a little bit more grown-up.  But we can't do dinner out AND a sleepover.  That's just too much activity."

Her response:  kk Sleepover is gr8!!!!! idk, kk let me no about tix.

Once again, translator... she likes the idea of a sleepover, and wants ME to look into getting tickets.
Ok.  So I look online, and there are NO tickets for any weekend Elephant Seal tours.  Bummer.
So I get back to her.  "I'm sorry, the Elephant Seals are out.  What about just a nice supper at a restaurant on her actual birthday (the 20th).  You could invite 10 girls, and Ken and I will pay the tab.  Let me know who you are going to invite, and if it would be ok, I would like you to add Carrie and Lauren to the list.  They're not in your grade, but Kelly is very fond of them.  She's always wanted to try out the new Cheesecake Factory, so why don't we go there for a dinner at 6pm.  That gives us time to visit, and then a small amount of time to cruise the mall after dinner.  That should be a good evening for 11 girls."
An hour later, I get a list "Ok, here are the 10 I would invite.  You can email their parents, and send out the invitations, and I will talk to them at school this week."
Once again, the ball is in my court.  So I email the parents, and get some quick positive responses,.  And then I get a response that chills me "Um, I thought Cheesecake Factory didn't take reservations..."
True enough.  Kink in the plans.  But Addie's mom calls the restaurant, and finds out that they 'will accomodate large groups'. but they only take reservations on Fridays until 5pm.  So we have to bump up the party time.  And then Addie's mom suggests that we go back to her place after the supper, for cake and ice cream.
(and a little chorus of angels started singing in my brain, because FINALLY, someone other than ME is lifting a finger to help plan this party).
So Kelly will be getting a birthday supper with 10 of her friends on Friday.  Now, we just had to figure out how to get her there.
We were out on Monday, Ken and Kelly running errands in his car, and Nate and I running errands in mine.  We all met at Starbucks, and started just shooting the breeze about birthdays.  Skip had just turned 17, so we were tossing around ideas.
"You know, Kelly, we should do something nice for your birthday.  Go out for supper.  Just you, me, and dad.  You know the boys don't really like to go anywhere for supper except sushi, and I think it'd be fun to go someplace that would scare the boys, and leave them at home."
Her eyes lit up.  "Where should we go?"
"Well," I paused for a moment... "There's The Counter - hamburgers - that's really scary for the boys.  Or Cheesecake Factory - you know, it just opened in the mall.  Both of those places would make the boys queasy."
She clapped, "What a great idea!  What to choose!?"
I thought a moment, as if I'd just come to this thought myself, "Hmm.  Well, we've already been to The Counter..."
"Oh!  I want to go to Cheesecake Factory!  Dad!  Have you ever been?  It's fabulous!  There are so many great things on the menu~!"
I interrupted.  "Oh!  I forgot!  I think you're going to Lauren's for a sleepover on Friday... maybe we shouldn't go out..."
She held up a hand "oh!  What if we go out earlier for supper?  Dad, could you  come early?  How early could we go out for supper?"
And Ken looked thoughtful, as if he wasn't giggling on the inside, or anything, and said "Well, I could get off at 430, and meet you at the restaurant at 5, how about that?"
And with that, Kelly had *planned her own birthday supper*, thinking she'd done it herself.
We. Are. So. Sneaky!
It was all I could do to not jump up and high-five Ken over our venti beverages.

I'm still kind of chafing about the party, though.

And here's what's kind of chapping my hide.

Addie thinks (and has spread it around) that Kelly is sad about not having parties.  She's not.

These kids seem to be convinced that if you don't have some soda-soaked lame party at a sweat-soaked party venue, there's no reason to celebrate your friend on their birthday.  Addie didn't seem to consider that I'd taken them out glass-blowing in October (FOR FREE), or all the times that I'd taken them horseback riding.  Or the times we'd done special stuff at the beach, or gone out for dinner.  It's just not *special* if there's not cheesy balloons and bad cake.

She wanted to 'give Kelly a party', but really has done nothing.  Lately, when I'm suggesting stuff to her, she says "Do whatever you want.  And get what you think we need"  She's going to be a great CEO, because she's delegated every last detail.  And it's costing me a fortune!

Fortunately, I unloaded this to a girlfriend who's a social scientist, and knows a TON of stuff about adolescent girl behaviour.  She says that this is the age that girls start to want to step into their roles as 'young women'.  They see themselves stepping into roles of hostess, or party planner, or all those social things that adults do, and they want to stretch their wings in these new avenues, but they have NONE of the tools to accomplish those goals.  As I've looked at this situation in that light, I have a bit more tolerance for the poorly-typed texts that I'm getting daily telling me what I need to be doing.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

More Snow

 Well, it's still pretty green around my parents' house, but there have been a few pretty rainy nights.
So, we took the opportunity to head up the mountain and just drive *up* until we hit snow.
It wasn't a terribly long drive (Dad gave us his 4x4 truck to use, so that we could put the sledding stuff in the back) before we were in slush, and then pristine new snow.
Alas, everyone else had the same idea, so it wasn't the solitary endeavour that I had thought it would be.
But the kids still had a blast.


Happy Snow-Filled New Year.


 The first day in Canada, the kids were all gung-ho to play in the snow.
Unfortunately, it was pushing 10C (50F).  Even though there had been a tiny snow miracle the night before, while the kids were playing in the hot tub, and big fluffy snowflakes had fallen, the night had just brought a wind storm, and a bit of rain.  We awoke to green and warm.  It was like a typical early April morning, except for the collection of winter birds that were visiting the feeders by the kitchen window.  (hello, 200-500mm lens.  Let's see what you can do)

With no snow to speak of around the house, we were pleased when mom and dad rolled into the driveway at 9 with news that they'd just been down to the camp (where Kelly and Nate had spent a week this past summer) to deliver some supplies, and had discovered that while it had rained at the house, it had SNOWED AT CAMP!  So without further ado, we piled into our snow gear (which seemed silly with the sun shining, and the temperatures at a level that we would routinely see in California on the way to school on a December morning), and headed off to camp.



The two camp dogs kept the kids company.

(talk about Christmas Miracles... Skip is actually PLAYING WITH THE DOGS!  He's been deathly afraid of dogs since he was wee, wee little, after being attacked by the neighbor's dog when he was a baby in Montreal.  I think he's actually outgrown his fear.  It was a beautiful thing to behold)
Nate, he's never really been afraid of anything...

Then Poppa said "You know, we should make a snowman back at the house.  What about if we make the balls, and take them home in the truck?"
Great idea!

The ball doesn't look that heavy when you're rolling it... but when you have to get it in the truck...?

This was repeated two more times.  I'm surprised the truck could hold all the snow.
Then it was time for photos.
Nate never saw it coming...

Back at the house, it was time for Snowman Assembly.
I'm really surprised nobody got a hernia.

It was such a gloriously sunny day.  I couldn't believe the beautiful weather.

Honestly. Hernia?

The finished product.  He looked good... until the rains came last night.