"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

I know I said "blog like no one is reading" but it's nice to know these people are

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I learned something new about our sleepy little town recently. There's a lot more than just sleeping going on around here. Our neighbours across the way are getting ready to put their house up for sale which is very sad because they are the reason we moved on to this street. They moved up from the city a year before us and when we started looking for a house they told us the one across the street was for sale so we bought it. But they have decided to cash out before interest rates rocket skyward. So we and the neighbours behind them are faced with the prospect of a new family moving in and potentially cutting off the kids path to school, not to mention the fact that their deck gets the sun the longest in the evening and they always open their pool first. So Betty (not her real name, of course) and I have started putting out the word to a select group that we will be taking applications to become our new in-between neighbours. The selection process is rigorous and includes being able put up with kids, dogs and adults traipsing through the yard at all hours; having lots of cold beverages ready in the afternoon; and enjoying backyard showings of the Stanley Cup and other major television events.

I quite naively mentioned the house to a woman I knew from school who said she and her family were looking to move into town so that their kids weren't stuck on the bus for two hours morning and afternoon. She was very interested but when I told Betty she stared at me and then said, "Well, if they move in we're moving."

I was rather taken a back by this response and asked "Why?"

"Don't you know about Ethel and Merv?" she replied.

"No" I said innocently.

"Well," Betty said, looking around to see if anyone was listening, "About two years ago we were at a party when Ethel came up and introduced herself to me and asked if I would like to see her bedroom which they had just remodelled. Not really, I replied but thanks for asking."

"Well, you really should," Ethel continued. "It's very well-insulated."

"Great, I guess you'll be warm in the winter."

"Yes and it's very quiet, no one can hear us."

As the realization of what Betty was telling me dawned I shook my head, "You're kidding? She was inviting you to come up and see her etchings, so to speak?" I said.

"Etchings and much much more and she didn't want just me to come up, she wanted the men to join us." Betty went on.

"OMG, you're kidding?"

"Nope and she didn't stop even after I tried to politely say, What part of no don't you understand? Then later when I was trapped in the dressing room helping our daughters lace up their skates she tried again, going on about all the fun they have with different couples on picnics. Again, I said that we weren't interested in going on any adult picnics and ducked my head down to tie her daughter's bright pink laces."

Apparently this happened several times until Ethel finally got the message and gave up inviting Betty and her husband for picnics. Turns out they had also approached three other couples with the same alfresco dining invitation. I was mortified that I had almost invited her to move in across the street from us. But then I thought, "Hey, wait a minute. We went to Ethel and Merv's Halloween party last year and nobody made any moves on us. What are we? Chopped liver?"

Now I don't consider myself a prude and I always thought I loved a good picnic as much as the next girl but I didn't think that in our neighbourly application process we'd have to screen for swingers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Digital Detachment

I commented to my sister the other day that, as I watched my Number Two Son hurl himself down a race course at 70km/hr, I didn't feel as nervous watching through the lens of our camcorder. I felt more detached from the scene which is why for his second run I gave the camera to her so I could get the full effect including feeling quite sick to my stomach. I know that this is the case anytime I am behind the lens of a camera. It is as if I'm not really there, a part of the action. I am removed from it and because I am the primary photographer of the family that is the case for most family outings and functions from Christmas morning and birthday parties to hockey, ski races and soccer games. So recently I have made a point of not carrying my camera every where I go (that may also because Number Two Son dropped my pocket camera on the floor and my big SLR is too cumbersome) and attempting to capture every waking moment of my kids existence. Don't get me wrong, I still love taking pictures and I have several full portable hard drives to prove it but like with much of the new technology that has invaded our lives it leaves me feeling a bit uneasy. Before with old-fashioned film cameras you had to think carefully about every shot you took since there were only 36 chances on a roll of film at most. If you filled it up with random images of your baby's every move that's all you got and then, of course, you had to pay to get them all developed and see if any were keepers.

The other thing, and this won't be news to any one, which takes us away from being in the present is the cellphone. Calls interrupt family dinners. Texts and emails buzz during games and recitals and remove us from where we are and who we are with. It is amazing to me how quickly it has become acceptable to take a call at the dinner table. Even my father-in-law does it, although I think we have shamed him into not keeping the phone sitting beside his place mat throughout the meal. And don't get me started on my Dad and his blackberry. I guess some might say it is no different than when we used to call my Dad at the office and his rule was, "If it's my kids I'll take the call no matter what it interrupts." His secretary (there's an old-fashioned word) would put us through whether he was with an employee or the president of a bank. But now it's not just us who he's taking calls from in the car, at home, on the golf course. It's every Tom, Dick and Harry who he has given his number to. Of course he can see who is calling (and screening is a whole other post) but nine times out of ten he answers the damn thing. And he is taken out of the moment as we all are. My Other Half complains that the first thing I do when I come downstairs in the morning after I put the coffee on is check my blackberry. What could have possible come in during the night when all my children are safely in their beds? Good question. I don't know why I check it, it has become a reflex. I see that little red light flashing and I have to look.

We complain about teenagers sitting together, not talking but texting one another while in the same room. I already loath the text lingo and abbreviations and my kids don't even have cell phones yet. But it is true all these things take us out of the moment. How can we stop and smell the roses if the only rose we see is posted on some one's blog or facebook page. Common Sense Media has a great post about teens and texting every parent should read. Although I didn't really like the movie "Wall E" I thought the idea of what was left of humankind after we destroyed the Earth was a bunch of fat cruise ship passengers lying on hovercraft lounge chairs staring at screens was a chilling vision of the future especially for a kids cartoon. Don't get me wrong. I love the fact that facebook has reconnected me with my friends from high school and university whom I haven't seen in 20 years and you know I love my blogging buddies but with all these digital distractions we are losing our sense of paying attention to where you are and who you are with. And even my camera which I have used as an excuse to go up to people I barely know at parties for years has become another tool in detaching us from the present. We fill our computers with images, music and videos that we may never look at or listen to again and yet were we really even there when we captured them? Do we remember the look on our child's face when he finished the race or did we notice the smell of the freshly cut grass as we walked across it talking into the phone? I am not advocating returning to a pre-digital time I just am going to make more of an effort myself to unplug from time to time especially when I am with my family or friends and even when I am by myself.

Funnily enough I can't upload any images to this post. Coincidence? I think not.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Being an Aunt

Monday the kids were back at school after March Break and the house was quiet again after the drama of races and hockey tournments and girls until my sister came over with my nephew who has been giving his parents a hard time with sleeping lately. Now my nephew is about the cutest, happiest baby on the planet and I love the fact that whenever he sees me his eyes light up and he gives me the biggest toothless grin ever. Being an aunt is almost as good as being a grandmother. I don't think I had this reaction to my brother's children or my husband's brother and sister's kids because in the first instance we were having our babies at the same time. I had Number One, my SIL had hers 10 months later when I was still knee deep in just getting by. Then she had Number Two and two weeks later I had mine. She had Number Three and five months later I followed suit. So we were always going through the same things at almost the same time. No time to sit back and smell the roses or see the forest for the trees or any other cliche. And our other nieces and nephews now range in age from 14 to 19 so back then when my Other Half and I were still foot loose and child free I loved the babies but I had no real appreciation for how much work was involved. Plus we were living out of the country for most of their early years so we only saw them at Christmas and in the summer.

But this one is different. Maybe it is because he is my sister's baby or maybe it is just that I am now the experienced one who gets called upon for advice so even if I can't really remember how my boys reacted to their first solid food I remember all too well trying to get them to sleep through the night. I vividly recall feeding every hour on the hour through the night, watching the digital clock tick through 5 .. 10 ...15 minutes and trying to gently pull a now sleeping baby off and every so gingerly placing him in the crib and holding my breath as I backed out of the room. All the while chanting to myself, "Please don't wake up. Please don't wake up." Finally lying back down in my bed and daring to breath a sigh of relief only to hear, more often than not, a wail. Feeling my whole body tense up at the sound and a feeling in the pit of my stomach that said, "I can't do this again." But getting up and going across the hall to soothe my child because what else is a mother going to do?

Flash forward seven years and I now get to spend time with my seven month old nephew. Did I mention how cute and happy he is at least when he's with me. If he does start to fuss all I have to do is call our dog into the room and PJ is entranced. Or if I have to call in the big guns I just get my Number One Son to take his cousin for a while. The two of them, 12 years apart in age, seem to have a real connection. My oh-so-cool almost teenager will have a bath, change a diaper or walk around for an hour talking with PJ and I swear they understand one another. The other two boys love spending time with him as well but they lose interest more quickly. Number One seems to have far more patience with the cousin than with the brothers. Go figure?

The chances of PJ being an only child are pretty high as he was a IVF baby and my sister turns 40 this year and they are both self-employed so there is no insurance to cover her for another round. So I am thrilled they have chosen to live nearby for both their sake on the child care front and ours. Now the question is whether once my sister goes back to work I will consider becoming my nephew's full time babysitter? Haven't broached the subject with my Other Half or even mentioned it to the boys. My sister and I haven't even talked about it seriously, just lots of off hand comments from both of us. It is a big commitment for me and my family. Oh and did I mention that we are looking into getting another dog as well? At least that will provide double the fun for PJ.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Big Win and First Kiss

The winning run

On the podium

I really don't remember my first kiss specifically. Does that make me a bad person or am I just going senile? But Number Two Son, age 9, has had his. Yesterday, on the chairlift with a girl who he has been "dating" on and off since last ski season. Apparently our little Romeo is quite the catch among his ski team where desirability is in direct proportion to how fast you can ski and what you look like in a downhill suit (something I never have and never will squeeze myself into) the girl/boy thing has reached a crescendo this past week while the kids were off school for March Break. Nine days straight of skiing, sun and sleepovers has resulted in a major outbreak of spring fever.

Up until now I had thought that the boys were quite oblivious to all the attentions of the girls. That my son was dating seemed more an orchestration by the girls of who rode the chairlift with whom but now I'm not so sure.

A kiss, even with goggles and a helmet on is serious stuff. I don't know if I am ready for this next stage. Even with a 12 year old I thought we had more time to prepare for the world of girls calling at all hours, let alone all the online stuff I don't pretend to understand. As a mother of three boys I know there will be many girlfriends passing through our house and, as a friend whose boys are now adults warned me, "Don't get too attached to them. Either they will break your son's heart or he will break theirs. Until you are officially a mother-in-law, don't get too emotionally involved."

Good advice, although I can't help thinking that maybe this girl might be a potential pedicure partner for me in my testosterone filled household.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just like a Wavin' Flag by K'naan

This has been one of our favourite songs to sing along to in the car when K'naan sang it originally and this new version gives me shivers.

Friday Fragments

I can't remember who hosts Friday Fragments but it seemed appropriate for me today, as I'm not quite up to Happy Hour Friday or even Friday Following. This damn cold just won't go away or even turn into something that would justify staying in bed all day. But on the upside tomorrow is the first day since December 26th that we don't have to get up, get dressed, get packed and get to the ski hill.

Tomorrow I will make sure our bedroom door is shut tight so that neither the dog nor the boys can enter when they wake up at 6am (Sunday will be even better since the time change is Saturday night and it will be darker at 7am and they all might sleep longer) I will remain in bed until someone brings me coffee and the newspapers. We here in Canada get our big weekend editions on Saturday which gives me two days to catch up on all the news I have missed since ski season started. I'd also love some new book suggestions since I seem to have made my way through the stack on my bedside table and I might have some time to read again. And even though after a week solid of sun-shiney spring days we are supposed to get some rain this weekend I don't care. All the better for staying at home or going to a movie, maybe Alice in Wonderland or Avatar for those in the family who haven't seen it yet.

How nice will it be to have a choice other than which race course to stand at the bottom of in sub-zero temperatures to watch one of my sons hurl themselves down at breakneck speed. And although next week is our Spring Break and the boys are off school and back on the hills I might be able to sneak in some time to go riding, take in a St. Paddy's Day party as well as a whole lot of apres ski on the patio. I'll be sure to post some photos. Stay tuned, spring fever has hit the Great White North and you never know what might happen once the snow starts to melt!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ahhh ... spring skiing

Watching the Junior Club Championships

White is the new black

Enjoying the Apres Ski

The Boys and Crazy Canuck Ken Read

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Follow Up

I had such a blast last time I became a Friday Follower that I just had to do it again, that and I gained so many lovely new friends and follwers. So here goes.

Friday Follow

Can't wait for life to get back to normal

Step One - My Other Half is home so daily life is a little easier

Step Two - Ski Racing Season is almost over so next weekend we can sleep in !!!!!

Step Three - Get myself back on Facebook and prove to them that I am not at all offensive
(although I'd still love to know what I did that could be any worse than what I saw
every day on my News Feed and it wasn't just my nieces and nephews' spelling)

Step Four - update my monthly banner with some new more spring-like photos, if I can
find spring anywhere

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Random Ramblings

Thanks Amy over at Bitchin' Wives Club for hosting Random Tuesday Thoughts this week.
  • First off, my facebook account has been disabled for reasons unknown and they don't even have the decency to respond to my very polite email asking, "Why, why?"

  • How am I going to keep in touch with my babysitters and check up on all my nieces and nephews to see how out of control their partying and how atrocious their spelling has gotten?

  • What am I supposed to do with all the time that watching the Olympics took up? Can't we have a post-Olympic weaning period, maybe cutting down on coverage by say, from 24 hours a day to 20 then 18 and so on ... over the course of another 17 days. Now I have no excuse for not cleaning the house or making the kids do their homework or sitting in the ski lodge on snowy days.

  • My Other Half is home after almost three weeks of being away at trade shows. It's back to real meals with vegetables and nothing out of a box. Not to mention the fact that I might have to get back into the habit of showering a little more regularly ... and making the bed ... and dressing in something other than sweat pants.

  • Please, can someone explain to me why all the TV shows that I started watching in the fall and liked then went on hiatus after only about six episodes and now apparently they are all at risk of being cancelled? Well, duh. You have to have a show actually on the the air for people to watch and for advertisers to place their commercials, even in this digitally virtual cyber-like world.

  • I am in my third winter of not having a bath tub deep enough to cover both my knees and boobs (and not because they are so big, unfortunately) at the same time and I think I might have to take matters into my own hands and rip out the disgusting fiberglass built-in unit in our bathroom and replace it with one of those gorgeous freestanding soaker tubs.

  • Finalement, I wish I knew why William Shatner was unable to remember the name of his (and my) alma mater during his monologue at the Closing Ceremonies. It's McGill University not University of McGill. They named the Student Union after him for god's sake! And for all you south of the border, the blow-up beavers and flying moose were not the best part of the show, despite what Redneck Mommy said.
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