Sunday, November 29, 2009

So Much to Write, So Little Time

I have so many things that keep popping into my head lately that have me thinking, "Oh, I must blog about that!" I'm so far behind, I was a week late with Amy's birthday blog.

Part of my problem is that I am a bit of a perfectionist sometimes when it comes to writing. My university training has me thinking that I should not put my writing out there without careful thought as to argument, organization and proofreading. When it comes to parenting, however, I am a big fan of "good enough," as in, yeah the baby has cereal in his hair and his ear, but we have to get the other two to school so good-enough!

I am going to try to apply my good enough philosophy to my writing this evening in order to get down the quick and dirty version of all the potential blog posts floating around in my head these days...

1. For Amy's birthday party, we visited a local mega-theatre-plex for their birthday party special. You get a movie, popcorn, a drink, and a meal in the party room afterward. We wanted to see Fantastic Mr. Fox, but couldn't so we settled on Disney's A Christmas Carol.

This movie was TERRIFYING. Completely unsuitable for a group of sweet little six year old girls. I can't imagine who the marketers think will go and see this movie (besides morons like me). I get it that Dickens can be a little creepy, but the movie trailer we saw online was very "Disneyfied." The movie itself was so frightening that I marched them all out part way through and spent an extra hour in the party room trying to play Musical Chairs without music and Simon Says. I was looking for an easy birthday party, but truthfully it would have been easier to just host the thing at my house. Lesson learned.

2. Amy, poor Amy, is such a middle child that I didn't even remember to bring the camera to her birthday party that was a complete and total flop anyway. Nice parenting.

3. On a totally different subject, I'd like to know a whole lot more about the specifics around implementing all-day kindergarten in this province. I've read the BC Ministry of Education's stuff on the implementation process and I just don't see how this is going to work. It's EXPENSIVE to outfit a kindergarten classroom with all the developmentally appropriate learning materials and manipulatives. It's EXPENSIVE to provide all the additional human resources needed; theoretically we'll need twice as many Kindergarten teachers as we have now. The benefits to children at risk are well documented, but the benefits are minimal to so-called normal children. From a teacher's perspective, I am dubious as the government barely seems to want to fund education as it is (school closures, districts forced to make due with less...less specialty teachers, fewer teacher librarians, fewer education assistants, the list goes on). It seems like a vote getting grab to me, designed to suck up to parents who don't want to deal with the headache of arranging daycare around a half day of school; kindergarten is not daycare! As a parent, I would not have felt very good about putting my first two children in school all day at the ages of four and five. As it is, they were asleep on their feet for the first month of Grade One! I could go on and on about all this...let's just say that my knee-jerk reaction to this proposal is HUH?! and upon further consideration, I find myself seriously skeptical about the whole thing.

4. Had a baking exchange at my house this weekend. Yeah, this really deserves another blog post unto itself...tomorrow.

5. My mom recently had a milestone birthday so today we went to see Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas. It was excellent! Warm, funny, entertaining without the snark so prevalent in many comedians' shows these days. There was also wonderful music by Jill Barber and Matt Andersen. Man, that dude can SING! All in all a wonderful afternoon for my wonderful mother.

6. Some sort of stomach virus I have tagged "Random Malaise" struck at our house with a vengeance this past week. Here's a hot enviro-tip for you: those small plastic pails they serve the kids' popcorn in make perfect barf buckets. I hope you don't have occasion to try this out in your home, but file it away in your brain just in case.

7. Baby sleep. Look for this to be a recurring theme in upcoming blog posts. As in, Gavin, my previously perfectly easy baby, has suddenly developed separation anxiety and any type of sleep that doesn't involve rocking in my arms or nursing provokes screaming of the sort usually associated with banshees. So the whole "getting to sleep" process has become verrrry interesting. More on that later this week. Also, I can no longer type while nursing because Gavin wants in on the computer action; this is really cutting into my blog time. Gasp - what will happen when I go back to work?!

That's all for this evening. More tomorrow. IF I can get Gavin to nap.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Amazing Amy!

Dear Amy,
I can't believe you are six years old already! I remember the night you arrived like it was yesterday. Daddy and I listenened to the Canucks game on the radio in our hospital room while I breathed and waited for you to arrive. You had the good sense to wait until the game was over - you inherited that from your Dad's side of the family - before making your appearance at 10:00 pm. You and I stayed up all night just looking at each other. I was too excited to sleep and I remember thinking when I looked at you that this was just the first of many times I would be amazed by your presence.
Here are just some of the things I love about you:
- your determination
- your sensitivity
- your empathy
- your competitive spirit
- your intelligence
- your sense of humour
- your attention to detail and knack for organization (which I do NOT possess!)
I love the way you always find me for a hug in the morning. I love watching you in relationship with your brothers. I love the appreciation that you have for your grandparents. I especially love seeing the bond that you and Daddy have. I even love the myriad ways that you manage to delay the final good night because you just don't want our time together to end.
Speaking of which, I'm going to go and carry you upstairs now, after you managed to scoop an extra cuddle on the couch and fall asleep...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Loved the Muppet Show!

I'd like to watch all those episodes from the 70's and 80's again; I bet I'd like them even more this time around. Especially if they're anything like this:

***I always feel a bit like posting a youtube clip is like a cheat-post since I didn't have to do any actual writing. I shall endeavour to actually write something tomorrow if things settle down around here (more on that later...)***

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More on the Vacay...

On Sunday we loaded up my f-i-l's car and headed from Palm Desert to Carlsbad to take in Legoland. We took the Palms to Pines Hwy (74) and while it was beautiful, I was glad that the switchbacks only lasted for about 10 miles or so (Gravol, anyone?).

About two hours later we ended up at the Sheraton in Carlsbad which is directly adjacent to Legoland and has its own private entrance to the park. We quickly dumped our luggage in the room and headed to the park to take in what we could in the four hours left until closing time.

Ahhh, Legoland. This place is AWESOME and was worth every penny! If you have kids under 10 and are planning a trip to Southern California, you should definitely set aside a day to check it out. A keen interest in Lego is not a prerequisite (though it would be that much better); there are lots of rides that are fun and not too scary and a couple of roller-coastery rides that are great for the target age group. The magic height to go on the rides seems to be 36", though there were a few that were open to 34" and they have many suggestions of "What to do when you're 2." When we visited the crowds were negligible and the most we waited for any ride was 5 minutes. There were water play areas, good quality shows (not Disney, but decent), lots of Lego stores, good food at the usual theme park prices and it was all very well-laid out. One of my favourite things at the park was Miniland where they have re-created bits of the USA out of Lego in astonwishing detail i.e. Manhattan, New England, SF, Hollywood, New Orleans, and the Vegas Strip!

The Statue of Liberty (taller than me)

The Venetian from the Vegas Strip

Trevor on the Bionicle Blaster

Amy battling the Dark Force

Gavin is teamed up with someone his own size.

We'll definitely try to get back there while Trevor and Amy are young enough to enjoy it and Gavin is old enough to appreciate it!

The hotel (the Sheraton Carlsbad)...meh. It's a four star hotel, and the facilities were lovely, the view was amazing...the room was nice-ish, but freezing, the guy who checked us in had a hard time finding the reservation, not sure why. The restaurant billed itself as family friendly but really, not so much. The ambience is more like fine dining and I was very self-conscious of the level of noise of our kids (which really was very appropriate for a "family" restaurant). The prices were definitely higher end and our server was very pushy about selling and light on the actual service aspect of his job. For the price of the food, the quality was poor. Dave's prime rib was very average and my pasta was dried out and chewy. All in all we were pretty disappointed with the hotel and next time we would stay at a lower end place and catch a shuttle to the park (or walk a mile or two).
So here we are back in Palm Desert about to fly home tomorrow morning. It's a perfect desert day and it will be very hard to face the reality of cold, wet, dark, windy November at home...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Palm Desert

Here we are in the desert. A few things:

  • Back Street Bistro: AWESOME!!! In all the years we've been coming here we haven't had a chance to go there because there was always a huge line and we had little kids. We drove by on Veteran's Day (in the evening) and there was hardly anyone there so we decided to chance it with all three kids. The owner greeted us and was so incredibly gracious and welcoming, especially mentioning that she was happy to have the children. They don't have a kids' menu per se, but she offered to do up a small portion of anything on the menu or just whip up a kid friendly dish. Trevor had spaghetti and a meatball, and Amy had plain penne with butter and a bit of parmesan cheese (this may have been her best meal in a restaurant ever). Prices at this Italian restaurant were excellent; on par with franchise-type restaurants (think Olive Garden), but with far superior quality of food and service. FAR SUPERIOR. Can't say enough good about it. Go.

  • Olive Garden. Meh.

  • The WestJet website is a complete and total mess right now. Good luck changing a flight or even trying to do web check-in. They really need to get this sorted out pronto, it's been four weeks already.

  • It's Saturday, and guess what. We don't have ballet, tap, musical theatre, a soccer game, a hockey game, powerskating or a birthday party (all of which would normally occur on most Saturdays in the life of my family). On the schedule today: golf for Dave, bikes to the playground, a bit of shopping for new swim trunks for Dave and Trevor, swimming, playing outside, Panda Express for dinner and the hockey game on t.v. via the slingbox. I love vacations!

Tomorrow we're off to Legoland for a couple of days in Carlsbad (just north of San Diego). A review when we get back!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Travelling We Go...

I like the trip part of the travelling. Once you're on the road and away to your destination, even all the hoop-jumping to be done at the airport is kind of an adventure.

It's all bluster and fuss of getting ready that, for me, is gut wrenching. First, I have to start by cleaning my house. This is no small task as I tend to let it build and build and build...approximately the length of time in between trips, come to think of it. I clean so I can find what I'm looking for when packing, and so that when we arrive home all worn out from travelling we have a calm, organized space to put our feet up for a few minutes before unpacking.
Then there's the packing. Finding summer clothes that fit the kids, swimming gear, toiletries for five people, carry-on items that the FAA and TSB find an acceptable size, tickets, ID's, golf gear, bike helmets, car seats, and don't even get me started on baby gear. Now that the airlines have cracked down so hard on overweight luggage, we are walking a fine line with our family of five.
Organizing for the morning of travel can be challenging...making sure we've got everything, clearing out the fridge and garbage, making a quick breakfast for the kids, running the dishwasher, double-triple-quadruple checking that we've got everything. It really taxes my brain.

But then we're on our way, and we're all so excited to be having a travel adventure together, and relaxing and spending time as a family, that the 24 hours of upheaval prior to the trip makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Intersection Needs Help

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This is the view of the intersection at the 8th Avenue entrance to Royal Square Mall, home to my closest Safeway, Starbucks and Liquor Store (priorities, people). I travel through this intersection several times per week, both as a pedestrian and a driver. I'm not sure what it is about this particular intersection, but it is like a magnet for car accidents and near misses.

Maybe it's the confluence of a couple of factors:
- There are three traffic lights within a one block stretch of 8th Avenue. One block! The traffic light I am talking about is in the middle and I wonder if drivers are busy looking at the next light and just simply don't see the light right above their heads. In any case, I can think of seven times in the past year where I have seen a car blast right through a red light on 8th Avenue (and not a yellow light run, but fully and completely RED for several seconds). Two of these were near misses for me as I turned left out of the parking lot onto 8th and had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.
- The pedestrian markings for crossings within the parking lot are kind of weird. One is on an angle to the door from a parking row increasing the time it takes for a pedestrian to get across; the other one crosses very close to the lighted intersecion. It feels to me like drivers are just a little bit less patient with waiting for pedestrians, especially when they can see the light just beyond the crosswalk is green and if they could just get around this confounded pedestrian...

I know that they had to re-engineer traffic along this stretch when the Safeway was renovated and expanded and I remember reading that this was all approved by council as the best option. I'm not sure how it could be changed for the better as I know I am no traffic engineer, but it seems to me to be worth re-examining before someone gets seriously hurt. Certainly drivers should be more patient and pedestrians should be very aware of the traffic around them in the parking lot, but with darker, shorter days ahead, this seems to me to be worth re-examining (hopefully before someone is seriously hurt).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Day After

UGH! The day after Halloween. So much build up and excitement around costumes and decorations and gobs and gobs and gobs of candy, licorice, and gum, oh my! Who would ever want to deny young children the delight and pleasure they take in Halloween!

November-the-first-Me, that's who. Today we are in a hangover of 10 lbs. each of candy wrappers, chip bags, late bedtime, sugar highs/crashing lows, whining for one more treat, I-can't-get-along-with-her-because-my body-just-can't-handle-all-these-artificial-flavours, and he-has-more/different/better stuff than me.

I can't handle it anymore.

By 9:07 this morning, I just couldn't face another several weeks (at least) of this. So I offered up a deal.

For the paltry price of $40.00 (twenty each), I am rounding up their candy and buying them any toy of their choosing that falls within the price range. They get to keep twenty pieces of candy, whatever kind they want, and keep it in a bag and be totally in charge of its consumption. I predict Trevor will eat himself sick by the end of the day, and Amy will drag it out, lording over Trevor on Wednesday the fact that she still has candy and he doesn't. But at least it will all be finished within a week.

Now if I can just get them to go run laps around the cul-de-sac, it's not raining yet...