Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dang house ..... part one

When we were renters I always felt like we were paying money to benefit someone else. On the other hand it was sure nice to be able to call the landlord when something went wrong and request that it be fixed.
I know of nightmare stories of renters who have trashed houses and really left the landlords in a pickle. I also know - and this has been our experience - of landlords who don't really care much about keeping the house in top shape and who are reluctant to respond when there are issues.

For instance, in the last house we rented, we had a problem with the heat. It was winter and bitterly cold and we simply could NOT get the house to warm up.

We called the landlords to let them know we were without heat. Because our rent included the cost of gas, the landlord simply told us to turn on the oven and keep it open to heat us up. Not the most ideal scenario. After many complaints finally we had someone come out and check the furnace and it was in BAD shape. There were birds nests and an old beehive and all KINDS of junk in the furnace which was not in any kind of working order.

At that time I felt as though I could not wait for the day when I was the homeowner and responsible for keeping up our own house and responding to issues as we saw fit, and in a more timely manner.



What I have found to be the reality of owning a home is completely the opposite. It has been an exercise in frustration from the outset.

To start with Shel wanted to live out of town and I wanted to live in town. One of my strongest arguments for living in town was water. Most of the houses outside of town limits have dugouts, cisterns or wells for water.

In the house we rented we had a cistern.To fill a cistern (if you don't have a water truck of your own) you must hire a water truck to deliver water. You have to gauge how much water you will be using and plan in advance to get the truck out for delivery. You don't want to pay when you have a lot of water left because the cost is the same regardless of whether you take a drop or a couple thousand gallons. ( The price increased from 60 dollars per load to over a hundred dollars per load in the time we lived in our rental house). The cost is for delivery, the water is free.

In the winter the water freezes and so it is very difficult to determine how much is in the tank because you can't see - AND you have no idea how thick the ice is.

We ran our of water once, and we had to call the landlord to come out and prime the pump for us because we had no idea what we were doing.

Another time (and this gives me chills just to think about) I opened the lid of the tank to see how much water we had. The water was frozen. I sat on the edge of the tank and pounded the ice with my feet to try and crush it so I could see how much water was in the tank. It didn't budge. I STOOD on the ice and jumped to try and break it, but it didn't break.

I discovered later that someone (probably more than one person, but at least one person locally) had died by jumping on the ice in the cistern. The ice broke away from the wall of the tank, tipped and allowed the person to fall into the water, and then went floated back to it's original position, trapping the person beneath the ice, out of sight and unbeknownst to anyone until much later.

I would not buy a house out of town if we had to haul water...

Monday, May 30, 2011

let's run

"Come with me, I need to run to town quickly" I said to Max. He looked at me and responded; "Run with our legs? I will be too tired!"

We didn't run with our legs, but the day has been tiring just the same.

We rented a truck so we could take as much stuff possible to the dump in one run (which has turned into two...) but we have been going like mad since first thing this morning. A lot of the stuff we neede to take to the dump has been stuff that was left here by the people that lived here before us - or stuff that no longer works (like our dryer). We managed to get to the dump two dryers, two mattresses, couches, loveseats, and other HEAVY things! I wish I was a strong as the days I loaded trucks for UPS. I could have used some of that energy today.

The dryer we ordered a month ago arrived in town at Sears for us to pick up and I absolutely wanted it this weekend rather than next week so we had to go and pick that up before the outlet closed at one pm.

We had some friends who picked up the fridge (which we have been without now for over a year) and brought it to us because I am too cheap to pay the 70 dollar delivery charge that The Brick wanted to drop it off for us.

We mowed the lawn, we pruned some trees, we cleaned out the playhouse - (well it has never been a playhouse, but it will be after this weekend!)

To get the fridge into the house we had to unpack it on the front step and remove the front door and the jamb.  We got it into the living room but once it was there we realized that the door from the living room into the hallway is smaller than the front door. This house can be SOOO frustrating. Not one thing in the whole place is built to any kind of standard. I never even thought to check the interior door widths, I knew I needed to check the front door because we couldn't get the old fridge out, but I didn't think beyond measuring the width of the front door. For now we have a fridge in the living room and it will have to do for the immediate future. We did so much today and I was shattered by the time we got the front door back on, and I was simply not prepared to start figuring out how to remove fridge doors to try and fit it through the hallway.

In the meantime on one of the trips to the dump as we came back through town Shel stopped and bought a bunch of stuff that needed to be refrigerated because she was so darn excited by the thought of having a fridge in the house after a year without one. (We have had a bar fridge but that's all). We had stuff on the counters in the kitchen that needed to be put away and I was ready to call it a night. For now the fridge is plugged in - in the living room  - and we will make do with this crazy house for a few more days.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brotherly Love

The boys are 27 months apart. They sometimes, but not always, play well together.

Cael is going to be three this summer and he is asserting more and more independence (much to my chagrin).
He is more adventurous than his older brother, but less destructive.

It USED to be that Max would never go anywhere and so we always knew exactly what he was up to because he was within a few feet of us always. He took things apart, for sure, but we were always fairly aware of exactly what was being stripped to pieces.

Then along came Cael. The kid is a wanderer. He is more social and more confident than Max, but less destructive. Unfortunately he will go anywhere and now that Max has a partner in crime, Cael leads, Max follows and destroys!

Cael will go outside alone. Max will not.
Cael will play alone. Max will not.

More recently Cael has wanted to be the boss of himself and this has not gone over well with Max - who likes to be in charge of EVERYTHING. Max wants Cael to go with him, but then wants to boss him around and life has become a little more complex between them.

The other morning they were on the back porch. I thought they were there getting boots on to go outside in and thought nothing of it. They were getting along, and I have come to cherish these moments when one (or both) of them are not screaming for mothers intervention.

The next thing Cael walks into the kitchen and with arms raised says "TA DA!" - which is what he says when he has something to show off.

It took me a moment to see what it was that he was showing off...

Max has climbed into the top of the bathroom cupboard and got the electric clippers and opened Salon Maxie.

Cael was not the only one sporting a new "doo"...
The third member of the little trouble trio - Hugo - also got a haircut.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

I thought the day was over.

Every now and then I work a really long day. I am in charge of supervising a student function one day a week that requires me to remain at work until after midnight. Unfortunately this supervision does not mean I can neglect other duties - for instance I am on a committee right now that is under a time crunch to do a lot of work in the next few months. Committee members have committed two full days of working almost every two weeks until the project is complete. Today was one of the days where I needed to be in a meeting from 9 am but still had to supervise a student function until 1am.


I left the house this morning ( I guess yesterday already) with Max at 7:45 am. I pulled into the driveway tonight at 1 am.

I don't carry any kind of a purse so I loaded up my arms with everything I needed to bring into the house, and decided I DO need to start carrying a purse - camera, camera charger, phone, phone charger, laptop, laptop charger, wallet, work keys, car keys, e-reader - in arm load number one. I let the dogs out and kept the cats in, put the stuff onto the table, took some advil for my headache and let the dogs back in - and kept the cats in. I tiptoed upstairs so I wouldn't wake anyone - this time my arms were full with only phone and phone charger, laptop and laptop charger, drink and e-reader!

As I got to the top of the stairs I could hear the tv on in our bedroom. I chuckled to myself. I thought Shel had fallen asleep with the Disney channel on - I could hear "Little Einsteins" on the tv.

I had to just segue here for a moment and say that in the instant that I heard and identified Little Einsteins on the television I had an instant but comprehensive conversation with myself in my head - wondering when it was that I became able to identify the voices from a child's cartoon without a second thought - and did I ever think in my lifetime I would have such a skill? "I'll take animated children's television show voices for 200 please Alex....." " What is Backyardigans?"

ANYWAY.... As I walked into my room I realized that my spouse had not in fact, fallen asleep listening to  The Little Einsteins playing Rachmaninoff, instead MY SON WAS AWAKE and in my bed watching television!

And I thought my day was over......

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (Slave Lake, Alberta)

This image belongs to Sun Media. Link to the photo as posted on Sun Media Website by clicking on the photo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to salvage a day

What do you do to salvage a day when it seems to have been a write off?

I had one of those days today. By the time I was finished with work I was convinced that I needed to come home, climb into bed, forget the day and just hope for a better day tomorrow.

When Iw as finished with a hellacious day of work I had one errand to run in town. Yesterday we went to a metal fabrication place and asked them if they could make us a new piece for our garden swing. Somehow over the winter we lost a hook for the swing and couldn't find a replacement anywhere. They said they could make it for us and that they would call when it was done. This afternoon I got the call that the piece was finished.I thought I would stop in and pick it up and surprise Shel by hooking the swing up tonight. So I stopped in and got it and they gave it to me free of charge. I thanked them and told them how much I appreciated it. I really was grateful for that small act of kindness and I got back into the van I wondered  if this small act of kindness had maybe started to turn the tide of negativity that until this point seemed to have overwhelmed my day.

I got home and hung the swing before I even went inside, hoping it would be a nice surprise for Shel - nicer than just having me home from work!
But when I made it inside Shel had some more bad news for me and I had to remind her that tomorrow I work a double shift (meaning that she has the boys alone until after midnight).The day seems to be stuck in this vortex of negativity.

I went and sat with the boys on the swing while Shel started dinner. I sat and looked around at how perfect everything appeared to be. The sun was shining, the boys were playing together nicely, we were enoying one anothers company. The dogs were laying close by and supper was on the stove.  I couldn't help but wonder how my whole world disintegrates around me when on the surface nothing changes at all. It's as though I am living two lives.  I'm looking at the exterior of my life, thinking that nothing "looks" wrong, all the time wondering how thin the veneer of normalcy really is. How close would someone have to look to see that all is not well? How are Shel and I holding it all together?  How do we get up and keep doing this day after day - and how long can we keep doing it until something cracks?

I thought I needed to do something to change the momentum of the day. I just couldn't be "in" it any longer.
I came into the house and took a shower and shaved my armpits. (You wouldn't think this small act could change anything, but then you have no idea how long it has been since I shaved my armpits!) After I got out of the shower I hoped that in addition to a cleaner body, maybe the act of moving might be enough to change the energy sucking vortex I was in.

We fed the boys  but I still felt like I needed to get the boys into bed so I could write off the day and head to bed myself. I use sleep as an escape (I know). Unfortunately there are not enough hours in the day for me to sleep all our problems into oblivion.

The boys didn't want to come inside after supper and I was frustrated. I went outside with the intent on dragging their dirty little boy bodies inside and into the tub. When I couldn't find them in the sand pile or on the playset and I realized they were in the quonset I was mad and went storming after their busy little bodies. I went tearing into the quonset ready to ........ ( I don't know what I was ready to do. Count to ten? Haul boys inside? I'm not sure.)

Max was putting together his kite. He asked me to help him  - and what could I do but join in?

We spent the next hour flying our kites.
I came in and got a kite for Cael and even got my own kite out.

Kite flying heals the soul.
It doesn't pay bills. It doesn't meet deadlines. It doesn't change the fact I have to work a double shift and massively inconvenience my spouse and my kids.

It makes the boys smile and laugh. It thrills them. It connects us to the wind, connects us to something so much bigger than we are. It makes me BREATHE.

Flying kites with my sons salvaged my day.

when to start projects

I just have to say that the time to START putting together a trampoline for the very first time is NOT at six pm on a Monday night - especially when bedtime for the boys is seven pm.
Just saying.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Slave Lake Fire

slave lake, fire, evacuation

This photo comes from the ctv.ca website.

My thoughts tonight are with those who have evacuated their homes and those who have lost their homes in fires in Northern Alberta tonight.

My boys are asleep in their beds. My dogs are asleep on my bed.
We are all safe, we are all under one roof.

I cannot express the gratitude I feel for this blessing tonight and I pray for those who don't have the luxuries I do.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The signs people put up...

On site where I work lives a maintenance person. One of the disadvantages to living on site is that he occasionally gets bothered by people after hours asking him for things unnecessarily.
(We used to live on campus and one of the reasons we were so happy to get into our own place was that there is VERY little privacy and people come at all hours of the day and night with ridiculous requests) The other night for my maintenance man it just got to be a "bit much" with people coming to his suite and asking for things after 10:30 pm.
He came and spoke to me about his concerns. I said I would speak to the offending parties but also suggested  that he put up a sign on the door saying it was a private residence and please do not disturb.
Well the sign went up.
I went and looked at.
This is what the sign says in part:
"Private Residence. If you want to find out about your problems go to the office."

Oh I laughed.
I don't particularly want people coming to the office to find out about their problems!
Hopefully he won't be bothered anymore.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The things people say....

Yesterday I was in line at the grocery store on my way home from work. A lady I know "vaguely" was in line behind me. We were in a play together about 5 years ago but I have forgotten the name of the play - and the name of the lady.

ANYWAY. We smiled and said hi to one another and then she said to me "HEY! I am in charge of a fashion show this summer (for the summer games we are hosting in town) and I was wondering if you wanted to be a model?" I kind of looked at her for a minute - and in the moment of silence she added "Not all the models have to be young and beautiful!"

My response to her was "Are you saying I am neither young nor beautiful?"

She pretended not to have heard me, but the checker laughed so hard she almost wet her pants.

It was an awkward moment, but instead of being upset by it I was actually amused. I laughed.

It ranks right up there with the two other best comments that have been made to me (and I am excluding all the times I have been called "sir" in this tally).

In Singapore a taxi driver asked me how old I was and I answered, to which he responded "That's awfully young to be so fat!"

And, best of all, when I was getting my photo taken at the drugstore for my passport the lady taking the photo said to me " I can't fit your face in the permissible dimensions permitted for passports because of all your chins!"

Apparently she missed the day they taught the concept of "zoom" to their photographers.

Oh, People say some funny things.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

12 of 12

On the 12th of the month I try to participate in 12 of 12 -  the idea comes from Chad Darnell and you can link to his site HERE to see other participants from around the world.

Here are my photos from today:

1. 8am:
Leaving for work, this is a photo of the boys sandpile in the yard. This was the best investment we have made for the boys, they spend HOURS each day here.

 2. 8am
This old wagon was in the yard when we purchased the property. We like it and have kept it, there are now some baby trees growing in the shelter it has provided.

 3. 11am
This is the centerpiece of the table at the staff appreciation luncheon I attended today. The centerpieces were given away as door prizes and I WON!

 4. 12pm
I took some photos of my co-workers, but they are not all happy to be captured on film. Since I don't have any of their permission to post photos, I chose this one.
The person in this picture predicted that she would win awards for (in her words) "best looking employee, friendliest employee, skinniest employee, youngest employee" and others. She is checking out the program to see the list of awards and alas, none of them are on the program.

 5. 5:30 pm HOME TIME!

 6. 5:30 pm The trees outside of the office are finally coming into leaf.

My mom and my niece - who live far away.

 8. 6 pm
The first green showing in our garden at home.

9. 6:15 pm
After I unloaded everything from the vehicle I tried to get some pictures of the rain that was falling byt none of the photos turned out. The BBQ was the only evidence I could capture that there was water falling from the sky...
10. 7pm.
When I arrived in the bedroom - this is what I found. My boy and the dog - IN MY SPOT IN THE BED!

 11. 9pm.
My brother called me to tell me there was an update for Angry Birds Rio. I tried and tried to find it but was unsuccessful. I REALLY don't want to uninstall and reinstall the whole thing to try and get the updates because I have already accidentally made that mistake before and had to start over completely. BUMMER trails. I will keep looking.
12. For my 12th photo today I have cheated a little. This was not taken on the 12th, but I love the shot so I am using it.
Firstly - this is a self portrait of my oldest boy. He LOVES the camera and he takes pictures all the time. He is good at it and so we encourage him to so it.
Secondly - this is a picture of him making "grumpy eyes". We practise a lot how to read facial expressions because it is something both boys struggle with. We make grumpy eyes and happy eyes and we have made being grumpy into something that is "acceptable", but also something that passes quickly because we turn it into a lesson about facial features and we can quickly transition into "happy". Max was trying to get a photo of his brother making grumpy eyes, but apparently settled for a self portrait. I didn't know he had taken this photo until I downloaded the pictures.
It made me smile.
I love our boys.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thanks for the votes!

I just wanted to give a huge "thank-you" to everyone who has visited and voted for me on Circle of Moms Top Twenty Five List.
I was nominated very late in the game and the voting is almost over but I have been thrilled with the support of family and friends and blog buddies.
Thanks everyone!
(and vote again today! - link on the right hand side of this page)

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Other Mommy

Something that Shel and I discussed when we knew we wanted to be parents (very early on in our relationship) was what we thought our children should call us.

It is something I am sure all gay parents discuss. We talked about options and we came up with different ideas on what we wanted to be called but we always went back to the idea that as the kids grew they would come to call us what they wanted to call us and not necessarily what we wanted to be called.

This non-decision has led to an interesting phenomena in our house now. To our sons we have become "mommy" and "other mommy".

"Mommy" is always the mom that the kids are with and "other mommy" is the one that is away. For the most part, because I am at work, I have predominantly referred to by the boys as "other mommy".

Last month Shel took Max to a doctors appointment in the city. I stayed at home with Cael. Since then Cael has decided that I am mommy and Shel is other mommy. Apparently "other mommy" is a lower status mother than "mommy". Shel has had some difficulty with her relegation to other mommy status. I think it is a bit funny.

I have been thinking about it a bit more recently and wondering if we should try to introduce other titles for ourselves. I don't know how practical it is in the long term to have one of us be referred to as "other".

Then again, Max DID ask me this week if I was a daddy - so perhaps we need to speed up this process of naming ourselves or I may not like what my sons start to call me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Craft night thanks to Aunty R.

Last night at our house was craft night. Much fun was had by ALL!
Much thanks to Auntie R. who provided the evenings entertainment...

 Yes, his fingernails are painted - but I was able to bribe him to let me cut them before I painted them !

It used to be more difficult for me to stand back and let them do their own thing. I had an idea of how things should look and I wanted to make sure that the finished product looked a certain way. I have that inclination no longer. Sure, I would like to do one MYSELF the way "I" would like to - but I love that they dive into projects with little or no help. They have a lifetime ahead of people who will tell them what to do and to colour things a certain way and not to mix the pain colours, but our time with them now I want to be just fun, without restriction, that they will remember and love to talk about as they get older.
Thanks Auntie R for sending us this AWESOME project. We loved it!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I need to laugh

There has just been so much happening in the world that has been depressing lately.
The tsunamis, the tornados, the oil pipeline rupturing (the largest from an Alberta pipeline since 1975, according to the Energy Resources Conservation Board, which regulates the province's pipelines.)
The outcome of the Canadian Election, the appalling reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden...
Which brings me to this photo.
I saw it today (you can link to the photo in it's original location by clicking on the photo) and I laughed and laughed.
The caption I saw with this picture said " What it would have looked like if Britain were involved in the raid in Pakistan".
Too, Too funny.
Thanks for the laughter!
 I needed it.

Wordless Wednesday