Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The next three weeks

We are all over the place the next three weeks. Here is a general itinerary:

Tomorrow: drive to the cottage (Huntsville, ON)

Weekend: enjoy time at the cottage with our good friends, Pam and Jim and their kids

Next week: at the cottage... John working here and there, me and the kids making a visit to Santa's Village (Bracebridge) and probably having a sleep over at my dad's in Gravenhurst

Next Friday: drive to Toronto

For the week following that: stay in Toronto at my friends Deb and Andrew's house in the Beach (sweet!) while they are gallivanting around Paris. During that week we plan to visit the zoo, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Ontario Science Centre, go to the beach every day, walk up and down Queen St and soak it all in, walk amongst Canada's tallest skyscrapers so the kids can see what a real big city is like (no insult attended, Ottawa), have tea (Emily and I) at the Royal York or Kind Edward as Emily's birthday present. Perhaps during that week we'll pop into our house in Waterloo to make sure everything is okily-dokily.

End of our week in Toronto: drive back to the cottage for another week wherein we will have a number of members of John's family visiting.

Phew. I'm kind of worn out just writing it down. On the other hand I am so looking forward to the adventures of the next three weeks!

I'll blog when I can but I might just be having too much fun!

Monday, July 27, 2009

How to make your own fun when it rains ALL THE TIME

I don't know if you've noticed, but it's been a bit rainy this summer.

In fact, today was the first day we saw sunshine in Waterloo for at least a week. Maybe more. And that sunshine was broken up with the occasional downpour.

So, when my two nieces were over late this afternoon while my sister-in-law was at the dentist, we just had to take advantage of the break in the weather to run around outside. We headed around the corner to Emily's new school to play at the playground. I promised popsicles on the way home.

As we got to the school we noticed two things: (1) a GIANT bee hive hanging in a tree right above our heads on a person's lawn (not to sound too sadistic but in my experience those are eradicated before they get bigger than the average person's head... right? At least, that's what I've done. On the other hand, this was high enough that the bees didn't get too annoyed by us and the girls (and I) loved watching them go in and out of their architectural marvel) and (2) the giant black cloud gathering above us.

We played for about 10 minutes before the rain started. Just a sprinkle really. Nothing to worry about. Then the downpour. We headed for shelter under the climbers. After a few minutes I realized waiting it out could have us there for another hour so I shouted: "Who wants to walk in the rain and get popsicles?!" The answer was a resounding: "I do!"

As we walked through the downpour back toward the corner store, Claire said "This is the most fun I've ever had!" That's kind of how I was feeling at that moment too. I love walking in the rain in the summer. The temperature was warm, the rain was really wet and heavy and the kids thought it was hilarious. It was one of those summer moments that we all look forward to in the depths of February.

And then Emily slipped and landed smack in a deep mud puddle right on her bum. If I'd had the camera with me I would have snapped a photo before helping her up. I'm a good mum like that.

We got our popsicles and walked home. Hope chose chocolate, no surprise there. She loves chocolate. Anything chocolate. And when it comes to popsicles, she attacks them ferociously. And if you think that would mean taking some mean bites out of them, you'd be so wrong. She licks them until they are so completely melted and falling apart that they are unrecognizable as anything but a brown sticky puddle.

And thus, this was Hope at the end of our walk today:

I think we took great advantage of the few moments of sun, don't you?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Seems I'm still on vacation

Friends, it's been a while.

I know it's been a while when Blogger doesn't even remember my sign-in anymore.

And I don't have much of an excuse. I have an iPhone. So although the kids tend to use the computer as a t.v. during times when I could actually sit down and post, I could still be crafting a post. And it isn't like I don't have things to say. We've been doing a lot; having lots of fun; I've been observing, noticing things, things I would normally post about.

And yet here I am. Silent.

I think that I just want a little break. No obligation to say anything at all. So perhaps I'll keep that up for a while, or maybe not. We'll have to see how it all unfolds.

In the meantime, here is a quick synopsis of our week at the cottage: The weather was crappy at the beginning (where is summer this year?) and then nice at the end. The girls have really figured out what it means to play on the beach this year, the result of which is that I can sit in a chair by the water, knit, drink tea or something with a bit more kick (my new drink of the summer is the Palm Bay Vodka Pineapple Orange.... mmm), and relax. Or I can get down and dirty and show them how to build a fish pond with streams connecting to other ponds.

The week with Beth, Kate and Graeme was fun. And of course Sara Martin was there too - a friend of Beth's (and now mine) who joins us every summer. That was great fun.

We roasted marshmallows twice, cooked hot dogs over a fire for lunch one day and stayed up really late in front of the fire one night hanging out with our neighbour, Guy.

We hiked up the back hill/cliff area searching for wild blueberries. Last year we hit the payload. This year, not so much. I think they deer got to them before we did.

I built Emily another obstacle course. She was keen on the idea but less on the execution. She loved it last year; this year she had other interests. But she played long enough for me to capture it on camera.

On our last night before leaving for home the girls and I (and Sara and Beth) did face masks. It was a girly-bonding moment. Until Hope freaked out and cried for 15 minutes before insisting that I take it off. Hope's was chocolate flavoured which I thought would be a big selling point for her. She smelt like a sundae for a day afterwards.

We finished our week with supper at my dad's place in Gravenhurst. His house is now almost completely finished and it's beautiful. I plan to have a sleepover there in the next few weeks with the girls. And spend my evening in the hot tub on the deck sipping something or other.

We go back to the cottage next Wednesday for a weekend with our friends Pam and Jim and their kids. That will be great. Since leaving Ottawa I haven't seen them of course so it will be a great chance to reconnect and show them a place that is as much home to me as any place else.

We also still have a visit to Santa's Village in the future on an overcast cottage day.

And that's my synopsis. Perhaps I'll get something more coherent up over the next few days. Here's hoping!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On vaca

I completely forgot to post saying we were going up to the cottage for a week or so.

It's our first visit of the year and so far it is awesome! I'll give a full report when I return home. Even with the iPhone with me, I don't plan on spending my time online.

Now back to doing nothing.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, July 13, 2009

Life in Waterloo - Part 1 - What the heck are Twin Cities?

One of the joys of living in a new part of the province or country or world is to compare and contrast experiences of living in that new place with what we're familiar with.

I've lived in Waterloo before but it's been a long time (eight years!). Some things are the same, some are different and I'm seeing it all now through the eyes of a parent instead of the eyes of a late twenty-something.

I've decided that I will do an occasional series called Life in Waterloo. I plan to write about our life here of course, things I discover, things I love, the ways that our lives are different because we're in a different city and different part of the province. I'll try not to make it "how Ottawa sucks and how Waterloo rules" or vice versa but that will likely happen once in a while. I'll do the same for the months that we're in Austin, Texas.

And so, on to Part 1.

We live in Waterloo. About a 5 minute walk up our street, and you hit Kitchener. I can bike to Tamara's house in 5 minutes. Tamara lives in Kitchener. I live in Waterloo. Bell Canada and Canada Post list us as living in Waterloo. Onstar and the Globe and Mail list us as living in Kitchener. (They're wrong.) Other people list us as Kitchener-Waterloo. That's because Kitchener-Waterloo (also known as K-W) are twin cities. It should really be conjoined twin cities. You can't tell where one starts and the other begins save for the small signs that say in various ways "you are now entering the historic village of Waterloo 1857" or "City of Kitchener 1916" in a small nondescript sign posted above the parking regulations (yes, they could be different in each city).

My favourite one is on King Street and says in a tall, vertical sign from the 1940s or so "City of Waterloo".

There are two municipal governments, two hydro companies, two library systems, two distinct downtowns (although both are located along King Street and Waterloo affectionately refers to its downtown as Uptown Waterloo). There are two of many things. It does seem ridiculous to those who don't live here or haven't lived here in a long time. It's hard to explain if you haven't been here and can't picture it. They were once two distinct villages that grew together as the villages grew. Now it is one large(ish) urban area that is still two cities.

There was talk at one time of amalgamating but nothing came of it. And so they remain conjoined twins with people living in working as though they were one. Until you have to deal with government or phone companies or hydro or swimming pools or community centres (if you live in Waterloo and want to take swimming lessons a few streets over at a Kitchener pool you have to pay an extra $25 a year). Then it matters.

It all adds to the odd character of this town/town that I love.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Contest Update

We're on Day 3 here and so far we haven't made a trip to a toy store. Emily almost succeeded on the first day but ended up flipping out at the pool at Greg and Tamara's house (it's too cold! I don't like it here! I don't want to get out!). I knew yesterday would be a write-off when she appeared at 6:30 beside our bed and promptly burst into tears.

However today is a new day! I have a good feeling about today.

This is the happy one:

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The contest

No, not that contest! This is a family-rated blog (most of the time, minus some gritty language now and again).

The contest is this: I've challenged Emily to go for a full day - from when she wakes up to when she goes to bed - without crying. Crying due to getting hurt is allowed. All other crying is not - because your ice cream isn't a perfectly round mound on your cone, because Mummy isn't walking up the stairs directly behind you, because Hope isn't scared to go on the swing when you are, because you can't draw a perfect house - all of that is NOT ALLOWED. And mostly it is not allowed because if there is crying for any of those reasons or equally inane ones anymore this week/month/year, Mummy will throw herself in front of a moving train.

The contest is really a challenge to keep Mummy from moving into the woods and living like a hermit. And loving it.

The prize is any toy Emily chooses the day after she succeeds. If she fails (and I KNOW she will fail during the first few tries), she gets to start fresh the next morning. She seemed keen and I even caught her stopping herself from crying when she had to say goodnight to me without having me actually put her in her bed.

I honestly have no idea what has got into her the last couple of months. I can't blame it entirely on the move or school ending (although having those two things happen simultaneously was unfortunate). For now I'm blaming it on being 4, almost 5. And 4, almost 5, sucks. It really sucks. At least if you're the parent of the 4, almost 5.

I think there are crazy emotions running rampant, unchecked, having a grand old party in there with no one telling them to TURN DOWN THE G.D. MUSIC or STOP USING MY CANNING FUNNEL AS A BONG or THAT'S THE NEIGHBOUR'S DOG, FOR GOD'S SAKE!

And Emily is no match for that.

I do feel for her. I also feel for me. Hopefully The Contest will have a happy conclusion and at the very least, a little less crying. I'd go for even 10% less.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A test

-- Post From My iPhone

Trying posting from my new iPhone. So far eating up intended jam making time. Not for people with sausage fingers.

Me eating cake this evening.

Update: I just noticed that under my arm in the photo is tiny Aisha's face, swaddled and in the cradle. Don't miss checking her out. She's beautiful.

Calgon couldn't even touch this

I feel like there is a lot I need to write here but I'm not sure where to begin. I expect this post will be all over the place with no real plot line, no thesis, no conclusion. A sure D paper.

The house is mostly put together. There are still a few stray boxes - some winter clothes, one box of toys, a box of DVDs, but mostly everything is unpacked. As we've been really living here the last few days we've made a few discoveries, mostly appliance-related; the oven was 200 degrees off (running way too cool); the washing machine doesn't work; the fridge has a broken gasket; the toilet on the main floor runs; many, many windows don't open; many, many screens on the windows are missing or torn; and there are a few other, smaller things.

It sounds like the place is a money pit (which I guess it is for the owner) and it was a bad decision to live here. But actually, I love this house. It has a ton of character, lots and lots and lots of yard space, huge windows. And the property manager is on top of all the things that have to be fixed (the stove is already fixed). I think we're going to love it here.

What I'm not loving so much right now is Emily's behaviour. In a couple of words, she's totally brutal. I actually can't stand to be around her right now. I know that she's having some trouble adjusting to our change but her level of anger, frustration and downright sourpuss-ness is becoming intolerable. If there were a circus going through town, I might be lining up to sign her up for world's shortest woman.

On a brighter note, we went strawberry picking this morning at a great farm in Wilmot, where I've bought produce before (really, they're known for their corn). It was lovely and I plan to spend tonight making jam. The girls were great during picking and had lots of fun. I won't get into the events that followed but it did almost push me to have an 11:00 glass of wine.

On an even brighter note, my great friend Tamara (she and Greg are our close friends - along with Paul and Marnie - here in town) had her second baby on July 4. Her name is Aisha and she's lovely (of course). We're very excited that we're here to help out.

John is out right now buying us an iPhone. I'm pretty excited about exploring the iPhone Apps. It will put my little Kyocera to much shame.

My next project for tomorrow, aside from having the handyman in to fix all the remaing house issues, is to dig garden beds, weed the existing ones and then go to the garden centre. For my own sanity, I might do that during an evening when I don't have to take any children with me.

This afternoon will end, hopefully, with me sitting near Greg and Tamara's kid pool, sipping wine, while the girls play in the pool, watched by their father and ignored by me.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

We're here and we're tired

It's been an exhausting couple of days but the house is actually starting to come together. Eventually I'll post some photos once we acquire a bit more furniture (we're going to Generations this afternoon to look for some used stuff - Generations is the Mennonite equivalent to Salvation Army stores).

Hope is taking this all in a stride, as long as someone is there to give her hugs and play with her once in a while. Emily, the older, isn't dealing with it so well, which is what I expected to happen eventually. She's perpetually grumpy. She's told me a few times that she doesn't like the house, doesn't like Kitchener, wants to go home. Totally normal but I still feel bad that she's unhappy. I know that she'll get to like it and it will just take time. I think tomorrow I'll have to find something fun and unrelated to packing to do together. Perhaps a trip to Waterloo Park to see the animals and play at the multiple playgrounds will do the trick.

And of course, I need a shower. No joke, I wore the same shirt for more than 24 hours straight. And proud of it.

I'll check back in later now that we have access.