Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making decorations tonight

We noticed in the putting up of our tree that we are running low on decorations. Shel and I have had a lot of decorations over the years but some have been broken in all of our moves and some have been eaten by our dogs and some are just darn old. Now that we are kick A*# parents and Christmas is ALL about the boy's we have decided to start making decorations with them so that we can build up our decoration stash again.

I got this idea from a parent crafting newsletter and it was quick and easy and the boys loved it. I cut the pattern of a tree into a scouring pad and then the boys pushed these little crafting thingys into them wherever they wanted to. ("Crafting thingy" is the proper name for them I am sure! LOL)I just have to put strings on and then we will have the first new decorations of 2011.




 Max didn't want to hold his up for the photo, he wanted me to hold it up in front of him. I have no idea why all of a sudden this boy does not want to be in pictures. Silly kid.


CJ is holding up his finished product for mom to take a photo of in front of the tree. Apparently for him tonight "less is more".

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 of 12

This is the last month that Chad Darnell is hosting 12 of 12.
I love it and now that I have a computer at home again I plan on doing 12 of 12 again monthly - even though (unfortunately) Chad will no longer be hosting.
Check out other participants by linking to Chads site HERE.

And here are 12 photos to take you through my day on the 12th of December.

1. First thing this morning at about 7 am I went out to warm up the vehicle.
This is frost on the boys toys outside overnight.

 2. I was trying to get a photo of the frost on the trees in the driveway, but my breath and the car exhaust were causing problems for my i-phone. This is the best of the three pictures I took.


 3. I went for lunch in the cafeteria today at 1pm. They make really good soup. They have all these new signs and this is the sign over the water dispenser. I think it is funny.


 4. At the same cafeteria. I had to take a photo of this. The lunch menu today was perogies with sausage. Perhaps I am confused, but no-where in what I understand to be perogies is there any type of noodle and yet this was on the line. They weren't even good looking noodles! Oh well. I am sure they will show up in the Chef's choice soup by Friday. (One of the only soups I don't even try!)

5. This is scratched into one of the stall doors in the ladies washroom right by my office. I have worked here since 2003 and the same scratches are still there. 


6. SKYPE!!!!! Boo Yah I love Skype. Here is my little sister multi tasking. She is talking to me AND working at the same time. She has mad skills. 


7. My desk. I spent a stupid amount of time cleaning my desk because then I have a
reason not to be working on my thesis. Those are actually thesis papers on the desk right there as proof that I have at least printed off some material.


8. 5pm and I am home.
This is my boy greeting me as I arrive in the driveway.


9. This is my other boy greeting me and evidence of the sun setting at 5, yes, 5 pm.


 10. I blogged about this earlier. This is the hole which the mouse made in my vehicle. The mouse which I intend on finding and destroying. Yup I said it. Destroying.


11. 6pm He let me take this photo because I told him it was a photo of his toque head. For some reason he is not impressed with being the object of my photographs any more. I have to bribe him to get a picture any more.


12. I always think this flower is dead and it blooms every year and surprises me. This is likely the happiest thing that has happened in my life recently!


13. And a bonus photo . Our tree.
I have not touched ANYTHING but allowed the boys to decorate as they want to. The only thing I have done is "re-hung" things that have fallen off. 

It's been quite the week ...

The week started out with a hissing and some smoke from the front of the new vehicle.

Turns out we need a new radiator.

I took the Boxee Box back to the store.

Turns out the "great deals" we were offered when we bought a computer, a tv, a boxee box, a sattelite receiver and a sony tablet miraculously were ALL given on the boxee box so when I went to return it they said they owed me a bit fat ZERO. What a fiasco.

While taking the garbage out to the dumpster on Saturday I slipped on the ice and cracked my head HARD. I think I have whiplash because my neck is exceedingly sore and I can't move my head from side to side.

When I picked up the vehicle from the dealer, after being told the repairs are NOT covered by warranty, I lifted up the back seat which was laying down for some reason, only to find a MOUSE HAS CHEWED A HOLE IN MY LEATHER SEATS and made a nice little home for himself. That mouse is gonna die. I have no sympathy whatsoever I feel no guilt about it at all.

I'm ready for this week to be over. I'm ready for 2011 to be over. I have in fact decided I am not writing a Christmas letter this year because I have nothing nice to say about the year from beginning to end.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen of my favourite Christmas tree decorations

1.  This is a gift from a very dear friend. It is our family in 2010.


2. The very first Christmas tree decoration from Max. He is Three.


3. I made a number of these for Shel. They are glass and painted on both sides to resemble snowflakes.

4. Max brought this home this week and put it on the three. It is apparently a gingerbread man.

5. Maxie made this star last year in school.

6. I love snowmen and cross stitch. This is one I made a few years ago now.


7. Another creation by Max from last year.


8. This is from home. It is made out of banana leaves. I used to have another one but Mukiwa ate it. Now that I know it attracts the dogs it hangs very high up in the tree.


9. Our Angel.


10. More of my cross stitch decorations. I love them and I love making them.


11. Another.

12. Our friend L made this for us a few years ago. She is extremely crafty and I love her dearly. I love that she is a part of our Christmas each year because of this amazing tree skirt. That's what Christmas is about for me  - family, friends, traditions and making new memories.


13. Max put this on the tree. Apparently this horse got excited rocking and rocked himself upside down!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Meme

Egg nog or hot chocolate? 
Hot Chocolate. I have never had eggnog. The name alone makes me gag.

Letter to Santa?
Absolutely. Last year Santa replied to the boys and I have to say the letters were a bit of a bust. I need to dig them out and post them.

Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Santa wraps presents and Mrs. Claus provides each member of our family with new pajamas on Christmas Eve. My mom one year gave us a gift of sewn Christmas "bags" which I love to use for presents. Christmas wrapping paper is insanely expensive.

Colored lights on your tree/house or white?
Coloured. Unfortunately the colours available now are not the ones I like. I don't consider "orange" a Christmas colour. I have to get over it though, since what I want is no longer on the market. Does that officially make me old?

Do you hang mistletoe?
No, but it doesn't put a damper on the kissing.

When do you put your decorations up?
I have been terrible over the years at getting the decorations up. I would LIKE to have them up by December first and because Canadian Thanksgiving is in October once we are past Halloween there is rally nothing to stop us decorating for Christmas. This year the tree was up on December 4th.

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
I like Christmas Dinner. Ham, Roast Potatoes.

Favorite holiday memory as a child:
Christmas has always been a HUGE part of my memories of my childhood. My family has a lot of traditions. One of the things we always did we called the 12 days of Christmas. We would pick a family or families and thn each day leading up to Christmas we would make something and leave it on the doorstep, knock and run away. I have MANY memories over the years of things that happened when we "knocked and ran".

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don't remember.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
The gift from Mrs. Claus.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
This year the boys really helped for the first time.
Max is all about the lights so he helped me put the lights on first. IN all the moves Shel and I have been through we have lost a lot of our tree decorations or they have been destroyed. We realized this year how few we have. We will be making a lot more with the boys so the tree with be all about them :)
We don't have any balls anymore and we don't use tinsel because of the cats, so it is unique in that way.

Can you ice skate?
You know I think I might be able to lace a pair of skates on. Beyond that there are no guarantees.

Do you remember your favorite gift?
One year I got a bike from my grand parents when we lived in Gweru, Zimbabwe.
My favorite recent gift was a flip video camera.

What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? 
My sons, my family.

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
I really like Terry Chocolate Oranges which we seem to only get a Christmas but they aren't really a dessert... I don't know of a uniquely Christmas dessert I "love".

 What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The fact that we are making new traditions with our boys is my favorite. Growing up my favorite was the advent calendar we had that my mom made. Putting the star on the advent on Christmas eve was a special treat - with five kids all wanting to do it the opportunities were rare!

What tops your tree?
We have a metal angel. which tops the tree.


Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Absolutely giving. Especially to my sons.

What is your favorite Christmas Song?
This is an impossible question to answer.
Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby and David Bowie
My favorite Christmas Album is Boney M Christmas Album.
I absolutely love Christmas music, so choosing one song was difficult.
When I sang my favorite Christmas song to perform was Shine for me Again, Star of Bethlehem. Here is a link from youtube. I think it is nicer with a womans voice.
My favorite contemporary Christmas song is "There's Still My Joy" by the Indigo Girls.

Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? 
Peppermint Candy Canes but not the other flavoured ones.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why I hate the Boxee Box


This is a boxee box.

It is a d-link TV connected device. What it is SUPPOSED to do(among other things), and I have to be honest, what it MAY do for some people, is deliver content from internet sources to the television.

I liked the idea of it a lot. I wanted something primarily to watch netflix, but I was drawn to the Boxee because it supports flash and so it meant (theoretically) that I could watch more shows through the internet than I could using the apple tv device.

I had problems right from installation. I could not access netflix. I had to install an upgrade and it seemed to take care of the netflix problem for a day. I could not access any movies. The wifi signal kept dropping, which is still a problem and I see is also a problem for other users.

According to the information on screen, I have access to over 1000 movies. When I tried to watch the first movie, I needed to create an online account with MUBI. I did. I tried again to access a movie only to discover that the movie I wanted actually cost $3 on MUBI and I needed to put money onto my MUBI account. Honestly, If I wanted to pay for movies I would pay for pay-per view movies or rent a DVD from the video store. So I have access to SOME movies, but there is no information on screen about which movies cost money so you have to go one by one to find the movies that are free, or in most cases, not free.
Many of the movies say "Not available in your area" which I thought might be our rural area, but turns out is Canada!

Then there are the television shows. Scrolling through the shows that are available was fun. I had visions like sugar plums dancing through my head of all the shows I was going to watch. Then I tried it. The connection is TERRIBLE which I originally blamed on my home internet connection until I read some other reviews. apparently I am not the only person who has had trouble with shows buffering and CONTINUALLY stopping as I am trying to watch. This is so annoying and has happened on EVERY show I have tried to watch that it is simply a feature I will not use again.

The remote control is something reviewers have raved about. To be honest I find it annoying for two reasons.
#1. It is so easy to get turned around and impossible and so everything you are trying to do on the screen is happening backwards.
#2. I watch television and movies in the dark and so having this QWERTY keyboard on the back of it is useless for me because I cannot see it. And I cannot type in the dark- although someone else may be able to (or may watch tv with the lights on).

With all the hassles with movies and tv shows streaming I basically decided I would use it for watching netflix only. With that in mind there is no reason to have a boxee instead of an apple tv device and the apples are cheaper by about 90 bucks.

So last night I went home and got comfortable, or "Come -see" as CJ says, and turned on the boxee to watch some netflix. For the second time since I have had the boxee (two days), I cannot access netflix. I went online to contact boxee support and I cannot find ANYWHERE on the website a contact number to phone. There is a place online where you have access to forums, none of the information on the forums was helpful. There was a place on the site where I could register a problem with my boxee for customer support. I entered my problem and sent it off and so far - in 24 hours - I have not had a response from customer support.

I would NOT recommend this product and will be returning mine. What a complete waste.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Tree Time

Maxie has a lot of allergies and so we have had a fake tree for the past few years. This year our fake tree kinda died a horrible death and so we needed to replace it.
We checked out  few places but we are partial to trees that are not pre lit so we can do our own lights and fake trees are pricey!
We decided that although we will likely return to the world of fake trees (much to my chagrin) this year we will buy a real tree - it is less expensive this month than the $200 plus we would have to fork out for a decent fake one.
Tree is purchased. ( I believe it is a white pine - it is not one that I have ever had before and the needles are super soft but a little hard to hang decorations on).  Tree is set up, and now ... TREE IS DECORATED! It smells DIVINE.


We have some decorations that I love but a lot of the decorations that Shel and I had collected in the first few years of our relationship have been broken or lost in the many moves we have made. Our dear friend Loralee made us a Christmas tree skirt which you can see under the tree. I prefer the other side of the skirt which has a cool quilted design to the Santa side, but Max chose the Santa side and since Christmas is all about the kids - Santa it is!


Max hung this decoration upside down. I am in the "non-correcting" mode of parenting. I will not change the things he does! I have to be honest though, He and I strung the lights and they leave a LOT to be desired. We have a whole complete dark patch in the tree. I have debated taking the lights off and restringing them, but I REALLY want these holidays to be about the boys, and not about my need for things to be a certain way. So I am leaving the black hole also.

When I walked into the house today from work and opened the back door the first thing I smelled was the pine. It was AMAZING. It feels like Christmas.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

i-mac

Well it's finally happened.
We have a computer.
It is out of the box.
It is connected to the internet.
It is an I-mac.

I have never used a Mac before so this is the beginning of a new journey for me, but I am absolutely THRILLED to have a computer at home.
I can FINALLY blog to my hearts content!

Santa came early to our house and so far I am liking it!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas

I am really having a hard time getting my mind bent around Christmas this year when it comes to gifts for the boys.
We live a blessed life. The boys have clothing, toys, and pretty much everything they need. Trying to decide what to get them for Christmas is stumping me.
They have toys which they play with often and which they enjoy. We have whittled and whittled and whittled the toys away and so the house is not full of things they don't use but we really don't have the space to bring in a bunch of stuff. I'm sure some people would think they have a lot of "stuff", but I think we have been good about keeping the toys to a minimum (compared to how much we used to have!)
I am not concerned with having a million things under the Christmas tree but they boys are old enough to really "get" the idea of giving and receiving so it is important to me that there is SOMETHING for them to unwrap.
Max wants his own tree for his bedroom. I am having enough trouble coming up with ideas for presents under one tree, I don't need another! Somehow I am certain if we get him lights and extension cords he will be thrilled.

Monday, November 21, 2011

finally beginning

I've done it. I have taken some time off from work to get working on my thesis.
Why am I dreading this?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kids and technology

There's been a lot in the news and in conversations I've heard lately about kids and technology, more specifically about kids and cell phones. A friend of mine made the comment on facebook "I know several people who couldn't raise their kids without technology!"

I got the information above from a verizon website and I thought it was interesting.

On Monday Maxies school bus broke down before it got to our house. We went to look for it after calling the neighbours and finding out their daughter had been picked up already and we found them down the road. The wind was howling, the temperature was around -26 degrees C and the kids were getting cold waiting for a replacement bus. I offered to the bus driver to let the kids come sit in the van and warm up. She asked them if they wanted to and they all did. They climbed in and I turned the heat on high. Out of the 5 kids that came into the van (all younger than high school) 2 of them were texting the whole time and 2 other playing with an i-pod. (they were all polite and very happy to be warm) but it got me thinking about how we use technology in our home.

We have 2 televisions in the house and both have PVR. I like to watch television without commercials and it is nice to be able to record television shows without having to keep track of video tapes. The boys have NEVER been good "sit down and watch a tv show" kind of kid but now they like Scooby Doo, Inspector Gadget and most recently Max asked to watch the Magic School Bus. CJ will pay more attention to the television but unfortunately (for me) neither of them will just sit down and watch something from beginning to end and so I end up watching most of the kids shows that we put on the t.v.

The last time we were in the hospital at outpatients ( I feel as though we go once a month) they had us in a small waiting room with a television and CJ was quite disgusted that I could not fast forward through the commercials. He thinks every television has a PVR!
Shel went with Max on a class trip to the firestation and something about Star Wars was mentioned. She said all the kindergarten kids (but ours) knew who the Star Wars characters were. She felt a bit guilty about that so she stopped at the video store and rented some movies. As it turned out the boys were not interested in them at all and we just ended up paying late fees on the one we left in the dvd player when I returned them!

Shel and I BOTH have i-phones. We both have games downloaded for the boys to play and both boys know how to use the phones. The other morning I noticed that CJ had used my phone to take a picture of his poop. When I went to delete the photo I found that he had not only taken one picture, but SIXTEEN pictures of his poop. What can I say, he's proud.

We have used the phones to let the boys watch movies on netflix when we drove to Edmonton and we have used them to occupy the boys while we waited for appointments. Max knows how to find netflix, find a movie he wants and play it. Sure there was a time when kids waiting for appointments had magazines and toys to play with (in doctors offices) but for the most part those things don't exist anymore, and to be honest I would rather my kids  played with my phone than with the toys other sick kids had played with.

CJ (who is 3) knows how to go to youtube and look in the history for the motocross videos he likes and play them.

Could I raise my kids without technology? I'm sure I could, but why? I think I need to teach them MORE though, because right now they know enough to be dangerous. This morning CJ deleted a game I have been playing on my phone for a few months. DANG that kid! It made me think of what I can live without. I won't add that game again ... and I'll have time to find others!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snow Day

I got called into work this morning early. There was a power outage and temperatures dropping in the dorms.
The generators are now working. The heat is on. I am headed home to join my dog in his socks!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My very first blog post - from May 2006

Here is the very first thing I ever blogged.

My "Old" blog can be found HERE. I am seriously thinking I need to combine the two spaces but for now I have no idea how to do it and so things will remain as they are....


So Oprah was interviewed by Anne Curry last week and one of the things they were talking about was prayer. Anne asked Oprah if she prays and she said this.


"I live in the space where God is. There is no question that that is why I am where I am, and why I have had the success I have had. I allow myself to be guided by that which is greater than myself – than my personality. That’s the truth. I am doing the work that my soul came to do."

So this made me think about a couple of things.

1. What do I believe about God?

2. Do I pray?

3. Where is the "space where God is"?

4. Am I doing the work that "my soul" was meant to do? (Geez I hope not)

5. Do I even believe that "my soul" has work to do?


But the most bizarre thing of all was the dream I had. I swear I was dreaming about good and evil and which place was I in. Angelo was in my dream - probably because I just got an email from him. But this ‘thing" touched my shoulder and asked me to look at Angelo and see what space he was in. So I look at him and he is "melting". His eyeballs are all mushy and sinking into his head and he looks like some Edvard Munch painting. Then the "thing" touched my shoulder again and told me to be afraid and I was GRIPPED with this crazy fear that I never experience when I am awake but I experience it quite often when I am sleeping. It is the most terrifying feeling. ANYWAY. I woke myself up, but when I went back to sleep I dreamt again about which "place" I was in and was told to walk away from the darkness. Whatever that means!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Some recent random thoughts to start off the week

I'm actually not officially Blogging this week because I am spending some time going to all the blogs I love to read (but haven't lately) to catch up. Instead of blogging here daily I have set up some "pre-written" blogs to be posted automatically. Such technology!

Here are some random thoughts that sometime ago began as a Thursday 13 but never got that far:


1. I wish the aisles in Walmart were as wide and clear from obstruction in real life as they appear on Walmart commercials.

2. Since when does vegetable soup need to be advertised as "vegetarian vegetable"? Shouldn't vegetable soup "BE" vegetarian?

3. I think vehicle headlights that are LED are dangerous to oncoming traffic.

4. Orange is not a Christmas colour to me but it is impossible to find strings of multicolor Christmas lights that don't include orange bulbs.

5. I have loved reading for as long as I have memory. I wish I could be certain book characters or be in the places books are set. One of the very first characters I ever wanted to be was "Heidi" from the book by Johanna Spyri, another was Mary Lennox from "The Secret Garden".

6.One of the first places in my life I thought I would like to visit was "The Faraway Tree" from books by Enid Blyton.

7. I wish I could take "time-outs" in my life like they have in sports. There are some instant replays of my life I would like to watch over again before making a decision on what play I was going to make.

8. I'm allergic to cats and I never thought I liked them until meeting my spouse. Since then I have loved a few and think they are cool pets. I am still allergic though.

9. I am also allergic to my great Dane Hugo, but I love him and cannot imagine my life without him. No, wait. I can imagine it. I would breathe easier.

10. Daylight savings time is a terrible idea and should be done away with. I have yet to experience one positive thing as a result of daylight savings.

11. Swimming and Chess should be a part of school curriculum.

12. UPS has really fancy television commercials about delivering packages worldwide where you see a dude in a brown uniform riding a bike in China and playing soccer with kids in India and in a boat in the Pacific but they don't deliver to my town in Northern Alberta which is a HUGE pain when trying to shop online. They should spend less on commericals that say they go worldwide and spend more on actually shipping worldwide.
13. It seems wrong somehow that people can save so much money in some places by cutting coupons, but in other places coupons aren't even available. If there is a way for companies to offer a savings on an item doesn't it seem like the saving should be automatic and for all people who want to buy the product?

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Flanders fields by John McRae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Wake up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I think I should have excused myself.

I had to go to a meeting this afternoon. I went a few minutes early and entered a room where a male and female were already waiting.

I know "who" these people are. I know they work for the same organization. I know at least one of them is married. I know they live in different cities. Beyond that I have no idea what their relationship is, how long they have known one another or the nature of their relationship.

So when I arrived they were adding one another to their contact list on their phones. Then the lady texted the guy, then they giggled. Then the guy took a photo of her which she did not want him to have apparently because she does not consider herself photogenic, but he said she could not be in his contacts unless he had a photo of her. Then he showed her the photo he took of her which she apparently approved of because she said he could keep it. Then they giggled again. Then she texted him again.... ad nauseum.

All of this is going on while I am sitting in the room and I had this stream of thought.
"This is awkward, do they even know I am in the room?"
"Oh dear, perhaps I should leave the room."
"Wow. Something strange is happening here."
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. THEY WERE FLIRTING!

Can I just say it was such a surreal experience and I almost laughed out loud. I felt like I was a voyeur into this weird heterosexual ritual that is normally hidden from gay folk.

Flirting confuses me. Granted I am married and have been for the past 13+ years so there really has not been any reason for me to flirt in my life recently, but I don't think I EVER understood heterosexual flirting. I certainly didn't do it (that I know of) - and if any guy every flirted with me I don't think I knew he was doing it. Having this experience this afternoon made me realize how strange relationships between men and women are and how different my relationship is with men from the relationships straight women have with men. for the record I have also spend some time with the man who was in the room and not at any point did he take a photo of me, ask to have me in his contact list, OR GIGGLE with me. That would have been downright bizarre. I also think it was weird knowing he was married because they were absolutely flirting. Is that a common thing for married men and women?

This is one strange world we live in people. One strange world.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How much denial am I in?

Since the adoptions were finalized last year we have had virtually NO contact with the foster care system. Our house was automatically put on hold for fostering as it is with all families who adopt. When the six months "freeze" was over I tried to contact the foster care worker to get our home open again and basically that went no-where. Then they were in need of an emergency placement so they called us and needed to open the house "IMMEDIATELY" so in the space of three or four days we were running around like chickens with our heads chopped off but apparently they placed those kids elsewhere because the communication all of a sudden completely died off again and we haven't heard from them since - haven't even heard if our home is open or not again...

I digress.

In the year or so it has been since we have had social services involved with our family it has been an amazing thing. We have just "lived" without anyone looking over our shoulder, and it has been wonderful! I didn't realize how wonderful until the foster worker was back in our home to being the paperwork for reopening our home and she was taking notes on everything we said.

Yup. That again. I guess we had become accustomed to having everything we said - in person or on the phone - being written down and filed and I just forgot what an annoyance it is.

This time as our worker was asking us how the boys were doing and taking notes I thought to myself "HEY THERE! These boys are OURS now and there is no reason for you to be documenting every single thing that I say about their progress because now it is none of your business!" I mean sure, ask me how they are doing if you care to know, but there is no reason to be taking notes on their progress and filing those notes away somewhere. We are DONE with that process for these boys - and it was not an easy process by ANY stretch of the imagination.

So here is where I wonder if I am in denial or not: The foster care worked always asks how Max is doing and I always reply - "Max is doing as well as Max can do." She follows up this comment EVERY time by saying that soon Max with reach his "thresh hold" of intellectual ability and that we must be prepared for him to continue through his life at the mental ability of a 5 or 6 or 7 year old. I know she is trying to be supportive (in her way) but part of me wants to tell her to shut up already.

In the back of my mind I have believed this and in a way I think I have been making allowances for him because I believe he "cannot" do certain things and it is just because of the circumstances of his prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol. It's a tightrope walk for me though. I wonder if my BELIEF that he will stop progressing actually limits his progression. Then when I think - no - he will keep developing over his lifespan I wonder if I am deluding myself and setting myself up for disappointment.

One of the things we do know is that he struggles with communication. He has the ideas but somehow accessing them and then getting them out is hard. In spite of that I am constantly amazed by the things he does. He has a great memory but it has to be "triggered". For instance, the other day we were parked on main street to pick up the mail. An ambulance drove by with the siren on. He asked if I remembered when mom went in the ambulance because her nose was bleeding. That was over a year ago. I was pretty impressed by his recollection and we had quite a talk about it.

Today I had to take him to a doctors appointment. After the appointment we were sitting in the truck eating lunch together and a boy walked by and waved. I asked him if he knew the boy and he said he didn't, it was just a nice boy who waved, but did I know that the shoes he was wearing meant he was a skateboarder?

Just these little things that he comes up with give me hope that he will continue to grow and learn. I just hope I can balance my realistic expectations with my hope - and not sell him short one way or another.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gratitude month

On facebook some of my friends have started a "gratitude month" post where each day they post something they are grateful for.
I like the idea so I joined in even though I don't know where it started. (It may be a Mormon thing since everyone I know who is doing it is Mormon?)
It's still a good idea!
I used to keep a gratitude journal many years ago and I have fun looking back at the things I was grateful for. I am grateful for a lot of the same things now.
What are you grateful for?
Here are some of mine:
I'm grateful for warm days even though it is November already.
I'm grateful for my sons who grow more each day and who make me smile each day.
I'm grateful for my mother who always inspires me.
I'm grateful I was able to put up Christmas lights because of the joy they bring to my oldest son.
I'm grateful for friends who provide us with last minute halloween costumes!
I'm grateful for my spouse who sits with me in the emergency room ALL DAY LONG to make sure I get the care I need.
I'm grateful for the balloons which my mom and sister sent in my birthday package. We have played and played and PLAYED with those balloons for three days now. My lips hurt!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hoping for a productive day

We have really been blessed with wonderful weather for this time of year. Yesterday morning it was -15 but there was no wind which still made for a pretty nice day. On Thursday the winds were whistling at around 60 km an hour. It was only -4 but with the wildchill it was MUCH MUCH colder.

When Max and I went to meet the bus we were so cold we climbed into the ditch and crouched down to get out of the wind. I haven't found my winter coat yet and the wind just blew right through me. Unfortunately that ditch will fill with snow before long and will no longer be a place to get out of the blowing morning chill. I wish we had a place to build some kind of small shelter in the driveway where we could wait out of the wind on bitter days but unfortunately there is no such spot. On either side of the driveway the ground gives way immediately to the ditch and so there is no flat spot to put anything.


It is also the place where CJ likes to hide while he waits for Max to get home!
Today the temperature is supposed to reach as high as 1 degree which will be FANTASTIC as there are some things in the yard and house we need to do before the cold sets in for good. If it does actually get that warm I may even bust out the chainsaw and get rid of some deadwood before the snow flies. I guess the real proof of how warm it is will be how much we get done. I'll post photos Monday.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What's your number?

Recently the population of the earth exceeded 7 billion.

There is a cool page on BBC that you can link to here to find out some stats on yourself and the country in which you live.

When I was born, I was the:


3,793,054,066th  person alive on Earth and the 77,990,203,579th to ever be born.

Interesting isn't it?
 

You can get more information on the page about the country in which you live. I entered Zimbabwe because although I don't live there now, it is where I am from.
I thought it was interesting that the life expectancy of women in Zimbabwe is 45.5 years. Thankfully I no longer live there, but reside in Canada where my life expectancy is almost double.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen things I hate about my dental experience

1. The x-ray plastic pieces cut my mouth.
2. The dentist gloves taste nasty.
3. The freezing gel put on the inside of my cheek burns my tongue.
4. The squeezing and shaking of my cheek while putting the needle is does not take away the pain of the needle.
5. The bite blocker forces my mouth open wider than my jaw naturally allows.
6. My lips crack and bleed under the dental dam.
7. I have to concentrate the whole time on not gagging because my mouth is so wide open.
8. I HATE getting a filling on a tooth that will need a root canal in less than a year. I think it is a money grab and a way to make more from the insurance company and keeps me coming back to an experience I dread.
9. There are four posters on the ceiling and they were the same posters five years ago.
10. The freezing never completely takes away the pain of the dental work.
11. My fingers hurt at the end of two hours from clenching my hands so long.
12. I didn't get to rinse out my mouth after the whole thing was done.
13. I hate that I have to go through this whole process FIVE MORE TIMES in the next three months.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nablopomo

Today is the first day of National Blog Posting Month.

I have lofty goals of participating and posting something every day.

I will start out the month with a photo of my boys from Halloween yesterday. They had a ball. We just went to a few houses out in our neck of the woods and they loved every minute of it. Max wanted to come homke and start eating candy but CJ wanted to keep going. We experienced rain, sleet and snow but still persevered!

Max was bound and determined he was going to be a witch this year - right up until bed time on the 30th. Then he decided he was going to be a pirate. I could NOT come up with anything he wanted to wear but the Fenties bailed us out with costumes for both boys! Pirates are grumpy apparently - hence the grumpy face on Max.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Turning 40 today.

Today is my birthday. I am 40. ACK!!!!!!!

Typically I LOVE birthdays, they are among my top three favorite days of the year. I'm having a bit of difficulty with this one and things are popping up for me that I didn't anticipate.

This year (in February) my parents separated after 40 years of marriage. I have not posted anything on my blog or on facebook about it. Initially my parents asked us to please not post anything and I refrained from commenting to respect their wishes. I actually COULD write ad nauseum about how it has affected me, my siblings, my mom ... but I have refrained. Until today.

Today my dad is in Asia - somewhere. I think he is travelling but don't know for sure. I don't have a phone number for him. I don't have an address for him. I don't know where he is living. I could email him and he will respond to me as soon as he is able but sometimes that isn't for many days.

My dad won't remember that today is my birthday. My mom would usually remind him. He isn't great at sending letters or cards and never has been but ALL my life - until today - my parents would call first thing in the morning and wake me up to say happy birthday. It has been a tradition until this year.

I have actually had a pretty good day as far as days go. I have had an outpouring of love from friends, family and my kids. But my dad (wherever he is) doesn't know I turn 40 today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A meme to jumpstart my blogging block

I took this from HERE


1. If you and your friends formed a biker gang, what would your name be?
Flyin' Purple People Eaters

2. Are you more of a talker or more of a listener?
I would say I am more of a talker.

3. What's your favorite sport?
Soccer. Football. English Premier League. Liverpool Football Club. Are there any other sports?

4. Would you rather be really hot or really cold?
Being cold is hell for me.

5. Who do you think should be the next president of the United States?
Hillary Clinton

6. Do you believe in fate?
I like the idea of fate. Don't know if I believe in it though.

7. Have you ever been fired? If so, why?
Nope

8. If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?
Probably 2002. Following the brain surgery of my spouse, I would do better because I know better.

9. If you won a $1,000 shopping spree for any store, which store would you pick?
If I were being practical I would choose the grocery store, but I would prefer a bookstore, maybe amazon.com or overstock.com

10. Who do you think should run for president of the United States?
Steven Colbert

11. If you were stranded on a desert island, which one person would you bring with you?
My spousal unit

12. Are you a morning or night person?
Absolutely a night person

13. If you had to cook dinner for someone tonight, what would you make?
Martha's Chicken and nuts
14. What do you think was the greatest invention in your lifetime?
The one I personally use - ereader.

15. What do you think is your most attractive feature?
My hands

16. Where's your favorite place to buy clothes?
Old Navy

17. What did you eat for breakfast today?
I don't eat breakfast because I am not a morning person and eating in the morning makes me sick.

18. What was your favorite year?
The END of last year when the adoptions were made final - not the beginning of the year when we were told we were not permitted to adopt!

19. What celebrity would play you in a movie about your life?
Rosie O Donnell or Steffi Graf.

20. If your house was on fire and you could only grab three things, what would they be?
I am assuming that my family and pets are safe... I would grab.... 1.Photoalbums. 2. African Art.  3. Journals.

21. How many countries have you traveled to?
Let's see.... 7, but I have been in airports in more.

22. If you could have the starring role in one movie what would it be?
I thought tomb raider but I would rather star opposite angelina jolie than replace her as the lead....
So I think I would like to be the lead in "Salt". I would love to be a spy :)

23.Would you rather be a zombie or a werewolf?
Werewolf

24. What's your favorite season of the year?
Summer

25. What's your favorite city?
Seattle

26. Star Trek or Star Wars?
I used to be all about Star wars but probably now more Star Trek. That's what happens when you marry a trekkie.

27. What websites do you spend the most time on?
Facebook. Netflix. Postsecret. Goodreads.

28. If you could go on a road trip with any person, dead or alive, who would it be and where would you go?
I'd go with my spouse and we would visit every province and state in Canada and the USA

29.What's your dream car?
I have always wanted a mini-cooper, but it would be asinine to have one where we live. So I have to say .... some kind of BIG truck with 4 wheel drive.

30. What was your favorite movie as a child?
The only movies I can remember from when I was a child are E.T. and Return from Witch Mountain.  I preferred E.T.

Monday, October 24, 2011

my autocorrected text conversation....

Me: Oh dear. Final days until I'm 40.
My spouse: Yep. Lol. Enjoy your salad days!!
Me: I do like salad

Friday, October 21, 2011

Don't put the Birkenstocks away yet please!

I'm holding out putting away my Birkenstocks. Somewhere in the back of my mind I believe that wearing my birks will delay the cold weather. So far it has worked out ok but this morning was a might cold on the tootsies as I ran with Max to meet the bus.

Yesterday we missed the school bus entirely. I knew we would and honestly didn't even care. I work until after midnight on Wednesdays and so getting up on Thursday morning is already a chore for me, but for some reason on Wednesday after I got home from work the boys woke up and they were up pretty much the rest of the night. I think silence finally fell in the house at about 4:30 and there was no way I was getting up at 6:30.
I think that's the second time this year we have missed the bus which is pretty good all things considering.

This morning as I was on the back porch putting coats and boots on CJ I happened to look up and see out the window the bus coming down the road. In the instant I saw it I thought we were late and so I yelled "RUN" to the boys and we headed out the back door at as fast a pace as could be managed considering I was carrying a backpack, a bagel for CJ, mitts, a touque and CJ!
We have to take a flashlight already. It is pitch dark and since we live in the boonies there are no streetlights on the road. Max had the flashlight and was running. I was running behind him and CJ was screaming he was being left behind so I was "kind of" carrying him. I dropped a mitten and when I turned to pick it up Hugo saw it and grabbed it and ran off like it was a great game of chase.
The bus saw us and waited but Max ended up not having mittens this morning. It turns out she was five minutes early which was a huge relief to me since I thought my timing was messed up and it really wasn't. Unfortunately I will have to suck it up now and set my alarm 15 minutes earlier since it is colder because dressing both boys to go out takes longer now that we have to dress more warmly.
I didn't notice in the hustle out to the road how cold I was, but on the walk back to house my toes protested the exposure. Turns out the temp this morning was -5, so I guess the protest was legitimate.
Oh how I hate wearing socks and shoes. I guess I have to add another five minutes to the alarm if I have to dress myself as well.
Winter, I hate you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

poop

I never conceived that body functions would be such an integral part of my daily life.

I knew that boys found body functions humorous and I AM the mother of two boys, so I expected that at some point the boys would find things like burping and farting funny. CJ in particular thinks noises made by his body are a thrill.
Don't get me wrong. We are making attempts to teach manners and to have the boys say "excuse me" when they do happen to pass gas. However, I had NO idea how captivating poop would be. Nope. No idea.

We have been working on toilet training for a while. With Max the going has been slow and he still needs reminders and has accidents. CJ has taken to using the toilet like a duck to water. He LOVES it. What he doesn't love is wearing pants. Going to the bathroom has become an excuse for him to remove his pants and underwear and go nekkid for as long as possible. If going to the toilet means he can remove his clothing then he is all over it.

Living out on the acreage has allowed some freedom in what I like to call "location of excretion". We have let the boys got to the bathroom outside because we figured at least they were going and they were developing an awareness of bodily demands. When the boys were foster kids we were MUCH more strict on where and when they would go to the bathroom and going outside was avoided. It's one thing to let your own kid urinate in your yard but we felt the province would frown on us letting foster children void anywhere they wanted!

For the most part this has worked out o.k., especially since we were able to train them that the back porch was NOT an acceptable location to urinate on. We have always tried to get them to poo inside (but admittedly haven't always been as successful as we would like to have been.)

Now they are both using the toilet most of the time. CJ in particular is very proud of his endeavours and whenever he uses the toilet he wants one, preferably both, of his parents to come and look and give him a high five before he flushes and washes.  We do. We have created a monster.

A proud pooping monster. He is extremely proud of his poop. He is VERY excited to show it to us. He comes into the living room, or kitchen, or bedroom and says "MOM! Come see! BIG BIG POOP!" Once we have witnessed the miraculous expulsion he then tells us he is going to "BIG BIG FLUSH".

Now all of a sudden his older brother is in on the action. Max, who initially did not want ANYONE looking at him or heaven forbid, asking him if he was using the toilet wants to share his poop with us also.  Yesterday he asked me if his poop was as big as CJ's poop.

Just what I wanted to be when I grew up, a comparative poop analyst.

I will just say this. After I went to the bathroom this morning I considered for one moment if it would be appropriate for me to call CJ in to check out my poop. He would have been impressed. I let the thought go and went for the big big flush.... this time.

Doors ... and then the water pump

We have been living in our house for a few years now. To be sure it is a bit small to be "ideal" for us - especially since the introduction of Great Dane Hugo to our household two years ago.
There are many, many things which need to be repaired and upgraded on the house and although it sometimes feels as though we are not moving forward on any of these projects we do sometimes make small improvements.

At the moment we are in desperate need of TWO new exterior doors.

Both doors are made from wood and neither is insulated. One problem with the house being as old as it is is the fact that nothing is "standard". The doors are not standard doors. In fact, the back door is so short, it is impossible to find a replacement by walking into a store or to a "used" lot to find a replacement.
The screws holding the door into the frame have become stripped and completely pulled out of the wall on the top hinge and the door "flops" around. in addition to the flopping problem, it is impossible to put any kind of weather stripping around the door to stop the wind, rain, and snow from coming in because the door simply does not fit the hole that was made for it.

The front door is a hollow wood door with a piece of glass in the middle. The glass has fallen down into the door and now there is a hollow door with a hole to the outside which I have covered with duct tape to prevent the majority of the air from coming in. If I sit on the couch in the corner by the front door the wind will literally blow my hair!

Every time it rains we have to pile towels at the base of the door to mop up all the water that pours in underneath. It has been our intention to replace the front door before winter and to try to at least fix the back door until we can come up with a more permanent solution at the back entrance.

We have been trying and trying to get someone to come and help us make repairs for months. Literally months. We live in such a small town it is impossible to find a contractor who is willing to work on a project so small. In the entrance to the grocery store, the drug store and in the town paper there are fliers advertising people who are willing to work on small house projects. We have called these people. One is booked "for months", one has not replied, one came out and apparently worked on the back door, but it is not fixed?!

I am getting desperate. I asked the maintenance man who works with me if there was anyway he could come out to the house, measure what we needed for the front door, come with me to buy a door and install it. I KNOW it will turn into a larger project than simply pulling the old door out and putting the new door in. I know it is beyond my capabilities.
He said he would help. He said he would measure and we put together a plan for him to come out this weekend. At the last minute on Friday he came to me with this:

It is a sheet of paper on which he would like me to measure and insert lengths to save him some time.
ACK! I absolutely do NOT want to do this. Have I mentioned this house is old? I can GUARANTEE that the numbers I measure will leave him shaking his head and he will want to measure again to make sure I have done it correctly. I JUST WANT SOMEONE TO HELP ME !

We stuck with the plan to have him come and help with the door on Saturday , and I (quietly) planned to let him measure what he needed anyway!

On Friday night I went to bed. All was well. In the middle of the night the toilet made a terrible gurgling noise and all of a sudden.... we had no water!

The house was silent, which is a bad thing. I went to the basement to check on the water pump. There was power to the pump but no water pressure. This I know is a bad thing.

We get water right into the house from the springs so we don't need a cistern or to haul water which I LOVE. There was water in the tank. I don't know enough about the system, but I know when it is not working.

This is not OUR pump - but it is what our system looks like.

Saturday morning first thing I called the plumber. I told him what I knew and that we needed some help. He wanted me to check a few things and so I was taking instructions from him on his cell, which was cutting out, laying the phone down upstairs because there is no reception in the basement, and trekking up and down the stairs with the boys and dogs in my way the whole time to check on what he was asking. Still no water pressure. After many calls he said he would send someone out to check it. He did ask me if I knew it was a weekend and the call out cost was higher than normal. I did know this and unfortunately we cannot live without water and so we needed to pay whatever it cost to get it repaired.

I took the boys to swimming lessons, (where I made them shower twice!) and the plumber came out and fixed the switch. I was hugely relieved it was the switch that needed replacement and not the entire tank, but my plans to get a door this weekend just went out the window.

So today we have a pump and water that works, two doors that STILL need repair, and it is the second weekend in October.

I sure as heck hope I can figure out what to do with the doors before the snow flies and the water lines in the house freeze because there is no front door!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Toilets to avoid if travelling in Northern Alberta

We had to go to the city this weekend because Cj needed oral surgery. We decided to take off on Saturday after the boys had swimming lessons because we were thinking they would be tired out and would travel better and we wouldn't miss a week of swimming lessons.
It turns out they weren't tired, but they loved swimming and it was worth it anyway.
This was the first trip we have ever taken with both boys in "big boy underwear" and I was a little concerned we would make it without any accidents.
The boys were AMAZING and we made it accident free!
We did stop at a LOT of gas stations and on the side of the road once or twice but it was worth it.
I will just add here that if anyone is every travelling in Alberta and you end up in Whitecourt, do not, I repeat, DO NOT use the bathroom in the Whitecourt Esso on the north side of town. That place is NASTY.

Monday, September 26, 2011

addition to our family

This weekend my baby sister had her first child.
After 2 hours of labour she gave birth to a wee one (just 5 pounds) and both mom and baby are doing amazingly.
I would post a photo but I need to get mom's permission. Take it from me, she is GORGEOUS!
Welcome to the family little one.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

open minded... what?

This past weekend wubby and I attended a conference for foster and adoptive families. The conference is held yearly locally and we try to attend as often as we can.
The hotel was a complete bust (served cold food and put us into a dirty room and took two hours to move us) but the conference was pretty good.
We had registered in advance for some aboriginal training which we do at every opportunity but the presenter was unable to attend and the session was cancelled which was a huge bummer because we had to find alternative sessions at the last minute to join. There was a session on Child Sexual Abuse which I KNOW is important but I was not feeling emotionally "prepared" to sit through the session and another on dealing with adolescents - which I have a few years yet to prepare myself for. Basically my remaining options were limited to one. It was something about claiming your magnificent self ...
It was extremely touchy feeling and a LOT of sharing deep personal thoughts and feelings. I have to say it isn't something I would volunteer for again considering the group we were with.
In the entire group Shel and I are the only gay couple. MOST of the foster parents in the area are very religious and to be honest, not the most inclusive group I have ever been a part of. 
We do have a few good friends that it is always nice to see but we ended up in different sessions at this conference for some reason.
On Sunday Shel went to a session on building resiliency in children and teens and I went to a session on Aboriginal culture and Christianity. The presenters were a Catholic nun and an Aboriginal elder. The purpose of the session as outlined in the program was to have the presenters show the similarities between Christian ritual and Aboriginal ceremony. MOST of the people in the session were the people who are very vocal about their "Christian" lifestyle.
In every aboriginal session I have ever attended there is a smudging ceremony at the beginning. The presenters outlined that there would be a prayer from the nun and then a smudge from the elder. One person raised her hand and said that in her understanding a smudging ceremony was inviting aboriginal spirits to enter the room and stated that she was not comfortable in her religion to invite any spirit that was not from God.
The nun responded to her inquiry and stated that a smudge was like a prayer. I have included a link where you can read more info about smudging because I am in no way an expert, but what was explained was that all ceremonies must be entered into with a good heart so that we can pray, sing, and walk in a sacred manner. When the sweetgrass is brought to the people in the circle each individual wafts the smoke over their head, eyes, ears, mouth, heart and then down over the body. The whole process takes about two minutes per person.
The elder was very clear that if you were uncomfortable smudging that you could hold your hand over your heart or step back out of the circle and you would be passed over and there was no judgement on whether you smudged or not. The nun explained that when she smudged she prayed to her father in heaven that her heart, mind, eyes and ears would be open to the process about to take place so that she would learn and not pass judgement.
PERSONALLY, I like the idea. I think it is a cool way to start a meeting. It is a great reminder to take a minute, think about what you are about to do, why you are doing it, and commit to be a part of the process if a positive way. AS the smoke rises to heaven thoughts are on the creator and the role he plays in all our interactions.
Unfortunately this was not sufficient for the person who asked the question because she chose to leave the group and not attend the session. Others also left the room rather than be present for the smudge.
 Of those of us that remained more than HALF did not participate in the smudging.
The session continued, each presenter sharing personal experience and knowledge with the group. Then we were invited to take part in a pipe ceremony.
I have never been a part of a pipe ceremony but I was amazed and awed by the fact that this elder was willing to share something of his own spirituality that is so significant. ESPECIALLY in a group that was obviously not completely open to the ideas surrounding his beliefs.
It was an honor to participate. It was absolutely beautiful. Again, many people chose not to participate.
At the end of the session there was a sharing circle. The eagle feather was passed and each person in the group was able to share.
I said thank-you to the presenters for sharing their wisdom and knowledge. Some of the people still felt as though Native Spirituality was in conflict with their native beliefs.
I have been thinking and thinking about the experience and I WISH I had shared some of my feelings to the group. I am obviously still struggling with finding my "voice"  because what I wanted to say was this: (good thing I have a blog to "spew" on!)
I am a returned missionary for my CHRISTIAN church. I lived my entire life, served a mission, held positions of leadership and gave my time (and my heart) to proselytize for the church that I am not welcome in. My spouse and I have approached churches in our community and asked if we may bring our family to worship with them and we have been told that we are NOT welcome.
(I have to interject here that we have friends who attend a church locally who have invited us to join them and when we asked if we would be welcome they told us not to worry what anyone said but to go anyway. While we appreciate their support, it is not a resounding welcome from the community to our family!)
We have been judged, condemned, and rejected by EVERY Christian organization we have communicated with since arriving in our community.
Not once, not EVER have we been rejected, judged or treated differently by Aboriginal people in ceremonies we have attended. NEVER.
In the circle we sat in at the conference the Aboriginal leader welcomed all, regardless of belief, regardless of whether or not individuals wanted to participate. He said to everyone, "Come into my circle".
The people who rejected the message - self proclaimed "Christians".
I don't understand it. I have read the Bible (more times than many would believe). Christianity is so far removed from Christ it is unrecognizable to me.
I am so grateful for the BLESSING of being able to  pray to and thank my Creator in a space where I believe he walked, and it wasn't a church.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Birthday Boy

Max is FIVE years old today. I can't believe it.
He asked me this morning if it was his birthday "RIGHT NOW" and when I said it was he responded by saying "So do I get to stay home from school then?"
Silly boy.
He went to school but I got a call at lunch that he was not well and so I went to pick him up. Shel came into town and took him from my office up to the hospital where they said he needed medication and breathing treatments. He insists that he still wants cake and ice-cream for supper though.
I love this kid.
Happy Birthday Buddy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Books from School

Maxie brought a book home from school this week. He has done this before with regularity - but never before has he actually sat and listened to me read a book to him in it's entirety. Last night he listened to this book not once, but TWICE.
I love books. I love to read. I have been sad that my boy would never ever sit still or show interest long enough for me to read to him.
I love Sam Sheep.