Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is this classic, or what?

This past weekend was Carp Snow Days, our local winter carnival put on by the Huntley Community Association. It's a lot of fun, and always well run. Skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, broomball games, etc. It culminates Saturday night with a spaghetti dinner and family dance at the Mess Hall. The dinner is always yummy, and cheap, and the dance is really for the kids. They hire a DJ who comes with lots of coloured lights and a fog machine, and a pile of kid-friendly dance music. And bless their hearts, they open up the bar, so that the parents can hang out and catch up with friends and neighbours over a beer and watch while the kids dance themselves into a frenzy on the dance floor.

Leah was especially looking forward to the dance because there are prizes. Yep, prizes for spot dances, and best robot dance and first kid to freeze when the DJ says 'freeze', and so on.

It had been a pretty long day. Rae was getting over a stomach flu that had kept her throwing up all Thursday night into the wee hours of Friday morning. We had gone out for the sleigh ride and the two-hour family skate in the afternoon. We headed over to the dinner around 4:30 (they served from 4:30 til 6:30), met my friend Julie and her daughter Mackenzie, ate dinner and the girls were raring to go when the DJ started up the music. They danced. They ran wild. They had a ball.

But the bloom was off the rose by about quarter to seven. Rachel was overtired from all the activity and had started to cry. The music was too loud, she wanted to go home. Leah, intent on winning a prize, wanted to stay. I was worried about Rae so I said that we had to go home. Now both girls were wailing. Rachel, because I wasn't moving fast enough to go home; and Leah, because she wanted to stay.

I helped stuff two crying girls into snow boots and jackets and led them out to the car. When we got there, Rachel had a full-blown hysterical meltdown because she had left her stuffed kitty in the hall. So I turned back to the hall, with both girls still crying full bore. As we reached the door, Julie came out. She offered to keep Leah with her so that she could stay at the dance. I asked Leah if that's what she wanted and she said yes, and almost stopped crying. I said thanks to Julie and we all went back inside.

I found the kitty under the table we'd been sitting at and handed it to Rachel, who had stopped crying and was looking around. "Mom," she said, "I feel better now. I want to stay and dance." I rolled my eyes. "OK," I said, "I guess we're staying then." You know, trying to be the nice, accommodating mom. "Yay," sniffled Rachel, half-heartedly.

"Mom," whispered Leah, up on tiptoes to get her mouth next to my ear, "I have to tell you something."

"I want to go home."

You just can't win.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy birthday, big girl

You're getting so big. You turned eight years old last week. Eight! You are my eldest, my mini-me. You are calm, easy-going, and nothing phases you. You are creative, imaginative, and at the same time, very, very practical. You are a total ham. You are not afraid to be the centre of attention; in fact, you kind of like it. You are my performer, my comedian, and you are never embarrassed -- you aren't afraid of looking foolish in order to get a laugh. You are brave. You love board games, crafts, catching bugs, dressing up, frogs, writing stories, playing outside (even in subzero temperatures), hockey, swimming, and your sister. You are patient with her, more patient than I am sometimes. I am lucky to be your mom.

I love you Leah. Happy Birthday.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Goodnight, moon

(Photo from http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html)

I watched the lunar eclipse last night. In 10-minute increments. I dashed out of the house onto the walkway crossing the front yard and stood in the -16 degree night, shuffling my feet and staring up as the Earth's shadow took an increasingly larger bite out of the bright white moon, listening to my neighbour's dog barking, and a slight breeze rattling the dry brown leaves still stubbornly clinging to the branches of my oak tree. Then I vaulted the stairs and went back to the welcoming warmth of the living room for a 10-minute warm-up, before doing it again. From 8:30 til just past 10:00.

When the eclipse was almost total, I tried to wake Leah up to watch it with me, but she was sleeping so deeply -- at one point I had her semiconscious and sitting up, but as I turned to get her some clothes, she had flopped back over and was sleeping again. I let her be.

The moon turned an eerie orangy red colour. I can only imagine how an eclipse might have scared and amazed people living long ago.

I didn't set up Leah's telescope, so I didn't get to check out the rings of Saturn, it was too cold to set it up outside. (I really wish they had scheduled this for a warmer time of year :-).) But I did see Saturn, it was the bright star underneath and to the left of the moon. The skies were clear and the view was amazing.

The temperature dropped overnight, and it was -20 when I left my car for the 5-minute walk from the church parking lot (where I leave my car) to my office. My upper body was all snug in my down jacket. My feet were nice and warm in my Columbia boots. But what was in between, man oh man, was it ever cold. I think I can see a growth industry for Ottawa. Down pants. No, really, who wouldn't want to slide their goosefleshed legs into a warm cushy pair of down pants? Or, if the pants seem a bit over the top, how about down undies? Yeah, that's the ticket, but they'd have to be down granny panties. More coverage means more warmth. A down thong would be kinda pointless. You'd want as much coverage as possible. Which brings me to the ideal brand name: Total Eclipse Panties. (Get it? Covering up the moon? Sometimes I just crack myself up.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bits and pieces and a small rant or two

Saw this on Danigirl's blog and you know I can't resist a quiz. Especially a science quiz.

JustSayHi - Science Quiz

I can only thank whoever loaded up the quiz with geology questions for my good showing. Go check out Dani's blog for info on tonight's total lunar eclipse!

For those of you aware that Leah's eighth birthday was on the weekend, I will be doing a birthday post, I just need a bit more time to upload the photos from her party.

And on that topic, I'd like to say something to the VISA security people, who flagged my payment of less than $200 at a CHILDREN'S INDOOR PLAYGROUND as suspect, and declined it, leaving me standing there looking like a deadbeat: seriously?? I mean, seriously!!

When I called the next day to find out what had happened (after paying for the party with my debit card) they told me that they track your 'spending pattern' and that 'unusual, larger amounts can trigger a flag'. Hello! That's what I USE my credit card for. Unusual, larger purchases. I don't use it often, I prefer to pay with debit and have the money gone from my account right away. But sometimes, not often, I want to buy something and pay for it with my next paycheque. That's WHY I HAVE A CREDIT CARD.

Sure, if a $1000 flat-screen TV purchase cropped up, or a series of purchases in Vancouver, by all means, question that. But $180 at Kids Zone in Kanata?? Come on. What's the point of paying with a credit card if my purchases are going to be second guessed by some security functionary?

The party place itself wasn't stellar either. I called them the day before to let them know that there would be an extra child attending. They told me no problem, but that there would be an extra charge and I said OK. Well, when we got there, there were 8 name tags, not 9, the table in the party room was set for 8, not 9, there were game tokens for 8, not 9. Enough food for 8, not 9. All rectified pretty quickly, but you know what, when I settled up the bill, "extra child" was front and centre on the computer, but no-one had told the line staff. You can see where their priorities lie.

I had assumed that holding a party there would be more relaxing than hosting one at home, but nope, not really. The only thing I gained was not having to clean up after the party, and that really wasn't worth the expense. The place was crowded, the food mediocre, and I had to buy the quarter slab/Fluffo icing birthday cake from them, at $28, when I could have made a better, smaller one home-made for much, much less. At least the girls had fun playing in the play structure, which is bright and colourful and there are lots of things to swing on, climb over, and slide down.

Live and learn, I guess. Last year's toboganning/pizza-making/dance party/sleepover was way better.

I don't think that we'll be doing a party there again, but we will drop in on a cold/rainy day to play.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Every picture tells a story, don't it?







For those having trouble following the narrative, this pictorial tells the following story: Alison puts on Chapstick, and in a moment of poor judgment, kisses Maxie on the top of his furry little head and instantly resembles Lanny McDonald.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Seeing as Daniel Craig

and Hugh Jackman
are probably busy tonight, I'll have to go to Plan B: pizza and chocolate with the girls.

Have a Happy Valentine's Day, everybody, whoever you spend it with!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A conversation with Rachel

It's Sunday morning. I'm making breakfast for Rachel. Leah is sleeping over at a friend's place. Rae is sitting at the dining room table with her stuffed cat. I am spreading peanut butter on an English muffin. I'm half asleep, because I was over at a party at Jay's the night before and I'm not used to staying up past 11 these days. (I am so lame.)

Rachel: Mom, why do you have a nipple on your chin?

Me: [not quite sure I heard right] A what?

Rachel: That nipple, right there [pointing], on the side of your chin.

Me: That's not a nipple, it's a mole. I have a mole on my chin.

Rachel: Oh. Are you sure? I thought those were called nipples.

Me: [picturing lots of opportunities for humour in Rae's future] No, honey. It's a mole. Trust me on this.

Doesn't children's television cover subjects like this? No? Well, maybe it should. I could see Elmo clearing up these anatomical confusions by explaining the difference between moles and nipples to Dorothy the goldfish. I really could.

Maybe he could do it by rewriting that old body parts fave. I can hear it now: Head and shoulders, nipples and moles, nipples and moles, nipples and moles....

Friday, February 08, 2008

No need to curtsey

I so stole this from Jen.

Though I'm 100% Canadian now, I was born in England.

Yep, in the southeast of England, in Hastings (yes, that Hastings, as in "1066, Battle of"). I'm sure that I must have aristocratic connections somewhere in the family tree. So when I saw this -- a website where you can get your very own aristocratic title -- I was all over it. My title:

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Milady the Most Honourable Alison the Elephantine of Wallop-upon-Deane
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

This is just perfect. Not the Elephantine part, though I could stand to use a couple of pounds, but those of you who know me well will know why the town name made me laugh til I nearly peed my pants.

You should try it, it's fun. Let me know in the comments what amazingly royal personages are hanging around my blog...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Not pulling his weight

This morning I nearly had a heart attack. As I stumbled into the kitchen to make my first cup of tea for the day, a mouse went shooting away from Max's food dish and disappeared down the basement stairs.

Where was the mighty hunter, you might ask? He was in the hallway outside Rachel's bedroom, beating the crap out of one of her My Little Ponies. We might be overrun with mice, but by God, we'll be safe from small winsome toy horses with overly long acrylic manes. Whew. That's a relief.

I'm adding mousetraps to the shopping list. Again.

(This is not a picture of the actual pony, but a picture of a new My Little Pony so that those of you without small girl children will know what I'm talking about. The one Rae has is pink with a long pink and orange mane tangled like the hair of a two-year-old Barbie and has been 'customized' with a black Sharpie. I was in no mood to find the camera and photograph Max and the pony, seeing as I was still pissed off about seeing the mouse. Oh, and I had to kill a spider too. And we all know how much I like spiders. So far, today sucks.)

Monday, February 04, 2008

I got nothing

I've been sick most of the weekend and it's hard to think when your head feels like it's full of cotton balls. So, a meme is in order. I think I saw this first on Dani's blog a while ago.

It's the mp3 player oracle. The rules: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

How does the world see you?
You Wreck Me – Tom Petty
(OK, that doesn't sound good.)

Will I have a happy life?
A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action – Elvis vs. JXL
(I guess I should get a move on with the dating thing, huh?)

What do my friends really think of me?
Beautiful Girls – Van Halen
(Ha. No, seriously, what do you think of me?)

Do people secretly lust after me?
Let’s Dance – David Bowie
(People want to dance with me? Have they ever *seen* me dance?)

How can I make myself happy?
One Night in Bangkok – Murray Head
(Not on my salary.)

What should I do with my life?
Pour Some Sugar on Me – Def Leppard
(Yeah, like *that'll* help me get back into those size 10 jeans)

Will I ever have children?
Start Me Up – the Stones
(I already have children. Not sure what that means.)

What is some good advice for me?
Girls on Film – Duran Duran
(Ummm, I don't think I'll be going down that road.)

How will I be remembered?
When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down) – Great Big Sea
(She was an optimist.)

What is my signature dancing song?
Limelight - Rush
(Not the world's greatest dancing song. But, then again, not the world's best dancer here either.)

What do I think my current theme song is?
What’s Love Got to Do With It – Tina Turner

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane
(Well, we did do a lot of traveling last summer.)

What song will play at my funeral?
No One is to Blame – Howard Jones
(I certainly hope no one is to blame. I'd kinda like to die of old, old age.)

What type of men/women do you like?

There Will Never Be Another Tonight - Bryan Adams
(Spontaneous men?)

What is my day going to be like?
Train in Vain – The Clash
(That figures.)

That was fun! Let me know if you haven’t done it and you decide to play along!

I'm going to have another cup of tea and a nap. Now I just need a good napping song.