Saturday, March 26, 2005

Easter Loot

Still have to fill the eggs to hide for the egg hunt
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I'm making up for last year's Easter with a bang. The children were promised Easter "surprises" as a reward for participation in the choir, special musics and so on and this year the loot box just grew and grew. I'm really happy with how they turned out so I thought I should get photos before the children see them.

I despise that easter grass so this year I ordered playsilks instead from Candace of The Fairy's Whim - a mama I've been on message boards with back since before Melissa was born.

In addition to the playsilks and the usual chocoate rabbits and candy - here's what they are getting:
  • Melissa - new pink dance outfit, pink leather ballet slippers, pink tights, easter stickers
  • Michael - Toy car, assorted plastic bugs, stickers
  • Madeleine - stickers, Easter Dress by Katie of Everything Patchy with a tiny mouse pad or coaster thingy
  • Megan - Duck bath puppet, barrettes, spring soft shoes (like Robeez)
  • Maribeth - Frog bath puppet, barrettes, spring soft shoes (like Robeez)

So now I have to fill the plastic eggs with chocoate eggs and jellybeans (plus I have some stickers to decorate the plastic eggs with). I've boiled real eggs that Maddy and Michael will help me decorate tomorrow morning.

Grandma and Grandpa are coming over for lunch with Melissa and we'll do the egg hunt and baskets then. Allan is going to roast a chicken too. So it should be a good Easter Sunday.

Children's choir concert

children's choir
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I was embarrased to death today by Michael and Maddy. Of the two, Michael was worse - pushing and shoving children next to him no matter where I tried to stand him. (Yes - I kept having to go up there and phyically move him away from other children.) Plus he created a distraction with some kids shoving back, others fussing, and other ones stopping singing to hiss, "MICHAEL! NO! STOP THAT!"

He also took off some of Maddy's costume against her will. AND he continued to walk up front to play with and make silly noises into the microphone during off and on.

Maddy was just a ham as usual. Racing around from one part of the choir to another, getting her shoes off and then crying about it, yelling "MY SHOE IS OFF!", jumping up and down in front of the projector lights, and making silly faces.

At one point Maddy was on my lap and Michael was playing with the mike and ignoring my gestures and whispers to "stop that!" Maddy darted from my lap straight up to Michael and pushed him away from the microphone saying loudly into it, "MICHAEL. YOU STOP THAT NOW!" before tearing off to jump in front of the projector light again.

To top it all off, Maddy took off in the chaos at the very end of the service and when I found her she was running around the foyer wearing only a soggy, half off diaper.

Ahh well - I got all sorts of comments about how adorable she was. Melissa was mortified - but was consoled with an overnight trip to Gumpa's house.

Melissa - model of appropriate behviour

Beautiful Baboo
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Her behaviour was a good match for her attire - at least today! Though the same could not be said for Michael and Maddy's behviour which started out well and deteriorated throughout the day.

The M's had their first special music for adult Sabbath school today - they did very well and I was very proud of them.

The younger children's classes also sang a number together, plus it was the big Easter program with the adult choir and children's choir.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Twins in the backyard

The sun came out today after lunch and so did Gumpa. He took the older 3 M's over to the playground and I let the twins out into the backyard.

When the older M's came back from the playground, they played with the twins.

Updated Archives

I found one of my archive CD's last night where I had backed up the pages and images from my first Geocities site. I started it back when Michael was born. You'll see that our archive links in the index now show October 2000 and November 2000.

Memorable Posts:

In Which the Girl Squashes the Boy
Never fly through La Guardia (if you can help it)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Wow - back in an orchestra!

The audition and 1st rehearsal went well - mostly anyway. I definitely could tell that it has been a LONG time since I have played in an orchestra. The conductor said she would love to have me play with them and several people there remembered me from before!

I will have my work cut out for practice. This next concert is an ambitious one: Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", music from "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings", and several other modern pieces by local composers. Technically, some of the parts are challenging: the Barber is in 5 flats, key signature change all over the place in most of them, there are double flats, key signatures ranging from 12/8 to to 5/2. The cello parts range from low open C string through tenor clef and in the Barber - up into treble clef - high g flat (that's the g just over the top line and the cello part STAYS in that range for half a page IN five flats). Thankfully it's mostly whole notes.

The drive to orchestra practices is approximately 45 minuites from here. At first I was worried about the cost of extra gas for me to drive out for rehearsals and concerts, but then I was thrilled to find that gas prices are MUCH lower there than out here. The Esso near our house is charging 97.9 cents a litre for regular gas and the Esso I filled up at after rehearsal was charging 66.4 cents per litre! So if I can manage to always fill up the tank out there - the price difference may cover the gas costs of my going out there!

Household Projects for the Home Improvement Impaired

One of the doors to our bedrooms upstairs has a cheap locking knob - it is really ugly: faux gold as opposed to the more workman-like unfinished steel passage sets on the other doors. I've been told the previous tenant was a single mother with 3 teen-aged daughters, so I suspect that one of them installed the locking knob herself.

Beyond its appearance, the truly unfortunate aspect to this situation is that Melissa and Madeleine got the room with the door with this knob on it, and we've already had them lock themselves out of their own room a time or two. Thankfully we have a key for it, but the annoyance factor is sure to wear over time.

My friend Richard, who died a few years ago, was a locksmith by trade and he taught me some of the finer points of installing door hardware. The end result of which is that I know how much it will cost to replace this unappetizing bit of hardware with something decent, but I just can't justify spending the cash to do it right when what exists is serviceable. What to do?

Tonight I hit on the answer while dealing with the girls and their perpetual mess. I threatened to remove their door if they didn't get their mess dealt with right away. As they were considering the level of my seriousness, a bright idea hit me. I got my screwdriver and proceeded to remove the hinge pins on their door. Well, you should have seen the flurry of activity that took place after I took their door away.

5 minutes later I had the door off our bedroom - which is just down the hall. I replaced it with the girl's door. 5 minutes later I had our door installed in the girl's doorway.

Voila! Problem solved. The girls can no longer lock themselves into their room - whether on purpose or not. And we can lock our door, or not, as the need arises.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Travel Plans Update

Good news. I found this site that has some good information about what to expect and plan for when travelling with electrical appliances and gadgets. I've discovered that the power supply for my laptop indicates that it can connect to AC 100 - 240v ~1.5A, 50-60Hz. So I won't need an adaptor for my laptop after all.

Aaaaaand I have to give Dell some credit since the mini-brick adaptor for my Axim X50v is also rated for AC 100 - 240v. Just like my 600m brick.

Question: what's the availability on AA batteries in the Philippines? I am going to bring along our Canon A60 digicam - Gail's old camera - and it runs on 4 AAs. We use energizer Nimh rechargeables and I've just confirmed that it is only rated for AC 120v.

More digging required I guess..

The plan right now is to bring my laptop - primarily to be able to download photos from the digicam, secondarily to be able to communicate with the home-team.

My friend Michael is currently in Patagonia, in the Southern-most town in the world. I know this because he MSN'd me from there. Yeah, they've got broadband there too. So I'm hoping that I'll be able to find an internet cafe in the Philippines that has broadband access.

Pre-Audition Jitters

Tomorrow night I am auditioning for an orchestra for the first time in about 10 years.

It's a community orchestra - but a good one as it is self-supporting. As I've been reading some on the Internet Cello Society's forums I've realized that being able to play in a community orchestra for free is not to be taken for granted. Many community orchestras charge the orchestra members fees to play in the group. The fees cover music, rental of practice space, and possibly paying a conductor or soloists to come in. Some people pay as much as $300 a term!

The pre-audition jitters hit me this evening - what was I thinking?

My cello definitely isn't ready to be played on regularly. It needs a new bridge and a new "A" string. The A is getting dead sounding - I put on a used Jarger A a while back because the Heliacore "A" I bought was way too harsh.

My cello also needs a few other repairs and adjustements and all my bows are in dire need of re-hairing. Fortunately my "good" bow is in the best shape of the three - having been re-haired about 2 years ago.

Then there is the big question of What to play - I don't have ANYTHING at proper performance level right now. I'm supposed to play excerpts from 2 or 3 peices that showcase different styles - approximately 10-15 min of play time. It does help somewhat that it doesn't even have to be whole peice. I just spent a good 90 min or so with my cello trying to narrow down the options and this is what I'm at right now:
  • Brahms Sonata #1 in E minor for cello/piano. 1st section of the 1st movement. I'll take the piano part along with just in case. It really showcases the tone on the lower strings.
  • Bach cello suite #1 - Allemande (2nd movement).
  • Squire Tarentella. Mom suggested this and I'm thinking it does make a good fall back as I've performed it with piano within the past 5 years and it's very upbeat.

I was initially thinking the Aaron Minsky cello etude #3, instead of the Tarantella. It's a VERY different style - more jazz inspired. I performed it in a music dept recital when I was in college - but that's iffy because if the dissonant notes aren't hit together perfectly (while in thumb position) it can sound really bad. Plus the timing is very tricky and conductors notice that sort of thing.

On timing - I bought a new battery for my metronome and ran the tarantella and Brahms through several times with a metronome as I don't have a natural sense of timing. I'm hoping to get time sometime tomorrow to practice during the day - though I must take care not to practice too much or I won't be able to make it through rehearsal. My fingers are already sore just from the past 4 days of practicing.

I'm also worried about my intonation - my shifting between positions has become very sloppy and I have a cold - so my ears are stopped up - which may throw my intonation out even worse than it probably already is.

Traveller's Misconceptions

I was quizzing Michael this evening after supper about what we should bring on our trip to the Philippines. Michael figured out that "we should probably bring extra clothes." I asked him, "Will we need to bring soap too, to wash our clothes?"

He said, "Well, I think that they don't have washers and dryers."

Me, "Oh, they don't?"

The boy, "No, they still wash their clothes in the sea."

Michael also seems to be under the impression that part of our trip is going to be on a boat. This has come up the last few times I have talked to him about our coming trip, and I am not sure why he keeps thinking this is so.

I've only just remembered that the Philippines is on a different voltage than what we have here. I think it's 220v or something like that. I talked to Dad about it this afternoon and he thought it would be best for me to pick-up a power converter here to bring with us. So that's one more thing to add to my packing list.

The itinerary also indicates that the flight from Vancouver to Tokyo is going to be 9h 45m, so I am thinking that I ought to find a power converter that will plug into the sockets they have now in airplanes so I can plug in my laptop to keep Michael entertained for all that time. We're going economy, but I'm hoping they expect people to have laptops these days and provide power options. Otherwise we're stuck as I can run about 4-5 hrs on battery, but only about 1 hour if I'm using the DVD drive.

Family Photo

Family Photo
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Alvin came to visit this weekend. The kids sang up front at church. We took this photo after potluck.

The weather turned blustery today. It's warm, but windy. Spring has definitely sprung.

The plum and cherry trees are blossoming - weeks ahead of time. The wind is carrying pink cherry blossoms everywhere.

The previous tenant of our unit dug up her garden (now ours) before she left, but I've spotted a few 'volunteer' tulips poking up here and there.

I've also spotted three or four of the nine mourning doves that frequent our neighbour's bird feeder. I've been hearing them in the evenings since we arrived, but it's been a treat to actually see them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

No title tonight

Just some random updates.

1st of all - exercsing 3-4x/week at Curves for 1 month has had the effect of inducing a 2 lb weight GAIN. The Curves staff member looked concerned briefly before proclaming definitely (but still in an encouraging tone), "this is actually really common .. umm .. you haven't gained FAT .. you've gained MUSCLE and once you gain more muscle - then your metabolism will increase, and then you can lose weight."

I give them points for emotional support, but I discount their theory in part due to my own knowlege of my diet (specifically, my lack of diet management) over the past month, which included, but was not limited to, the indiscreet consumption of half a pound of fudge the night before weigh-in.

In my own defense, after weigh-in I set the M's loose on the other half pound. All of which which brings me to the our next subject:

Baby Chocoholics

That's right. Who knew? The twins are fans of fudge. They had fudge for breakfast with their oatmeal, fudge for snack-time, fudge after lunch, fudge before supper, and finally fudge after supper.

They watched as I stashed it in the cupboard above the dishwasher and then crawled over to the dishwasher to beg for more fudge. When the fudge was "all gone," they burst into tears together and it took frozen cherry bits to console them.

The truth is that chocolate is not new to the twins: Maddy fed them Oreo cookies months ago - on a Friday when Gumpa had M1 and M2 out of the house. I came down from doing laundry to discover Maddy and the twins covered in Oreo crumbs on the kitchen floor.

I asked, "What is going on?"

Maddy answered, "Babies having their snack - they made me eat them."


Originally uploaded by krissie p

Still, it has only been over the past couple weeks that the twins have developed a finely honed chocolate radar. No one in the house can get out ANYTHING chocoate (chocolate milk, chocolate cookies, chocolate ice-cream) without first one twin and then the other making a surprise appearence, and of course who can resist cute twin baby girls who are supposed to eat "high calorie" foods. What is more high calorie than chocolate anyway?

In other news today, Maribeth the "technobaby", thwarted Gumpa's attempt at surfing the web. Specifically, Attie Gail's blog and flickr sites.

I attempted to show him the sites and how to navigate around them while he was here today but the older M's had their own agenda:

"HEY - Look - that's us a long, long time ago when we were little."

"That's MY birthday."

"I wanna see the rat video - Gumpa show us the rat video!"

"Mommy, write something to Auntie Gail for me."

.. and on and on.

After posting a couple comments online on behalf of the kids - I evicted them from our office so Gumpa could have a turn to catch up on the life and photography of Attie Gail.

As I was booting them out, I explained, "Michael - yes, you can play the Franklin game. Melissa - no you can't go online right now because your machine isn't connected to the interent (or the network either for that matter). Yes - Melissa, Grandmommy is bringing a 'new' computer with her and you can go to the CBC kids website then because it will have a wireless network card so it can be on our network and online without running a cable."

Melissa answered, "Yay - I can't wait for wireless! I'm going to go on the CBC kid's site and the Veggie Tales site and look at pictures online..."

The look on Gumpa's face at THAT exchange was - well - priceless. I wish I had a camera to capture that moment. He looked so proud of the kids.

So Gumpa was reading and clicking away until Maribeth got into the office. She did her mouse swiping trick (she pulls the mouse cord until the mouse falls down onto the floor where she is) and navigated Gumpa to an investement advice site online.

Gumpa said, "I lost it" (meaning Gail's site) and then tried picking up Maribeth off the floor. I offered to re-find the webpages - but he said, "That's o.k., she has a lot there. I don't think I can read it all today."

Then he added, "even her cousin said that she couldn't look at everything Gail sends her."

We are planning to send over the Pentium 400 CPU to Gumpa's to replace the Pentium 75 that he currently has. It's still outdated - but a lot faster.

The Big News

We are several thousand dollars more broke, but we have the actual tickets for the Phillipines trip!!! It is actually going to happen: I admit to having my skeptical moments over the past few months. Still, both Allan and Michael now have passports and tickets.

Also it is going to be like living in a revolving door around here for a while:

  • It looks like Alvin may be coming out for the long weekend.
  • My mother has a ticket to come here while Allan and Michael are gone.
  • Then Ally is flying out the end of April.
  • Rumor also has it that Attie Gail may make an appearance in the next couple months and that both my parents may come out for a visit towards the end of the year.

Last comment for tonight: NEVER let a little boy watch "Pollyanna."

A girl will watch that movie and learn that sneaking out windows is a BAD plan because Pollyanna fell and got injured. Small boys on the other hand, get ideas more along the lines of "don't wear a dress when climbing out your window!"

I caught Michael tonight, an hour after he had been put to bed, in dayclothes, with his fleece and shoes on, attempting to open and exit his bedroom window. To go WHERE and do WHAT - I don't know. What would a 4 year old be sneaking out at 9:30pm at night in the rain be planning on DOING anyway?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

New carseats for the twins after M5 nearly strangled herself!

I am posting this EVERYWHERE I go online. This was so scary. Maribeth at 16 lbs and 13 months can get out of the Graco 3 pt infant seat. She gets both legs out from behind the buckle that goes between the legs and slips her head out and under. When we moved the chest clip farther up right under her neck - she got her legs out and flipped over and almost strangled herself trying to get her head out. Her face was already turning blue when I could pull over and get to her.

I will tell everyone from now on to buy 5 point NOT 3 point infant seats. We went straight to T.J. Kiddie store as they sell Britax. . The saleslady there said with smaller/older babies that happens a LOT with the infant 3 point seats - but not with the 5 point. A 3 point would be o.k. for bigger babies who would be out of them before they get really mobile - which is why I never had a problem with my older ones as they were 20 lbs by 8 months or so and in a rear-facing convertible seats. So we just bought Britax marathons for both girls. Well charged - ugh.

I just can't believe how scary that was. If I had ANY idea something like that could happen - I would have made sure to get 5 point infant seats. I bought new carseats for the twins too - rather than use the old one. So please if you are having a baby - don't use a 3 point infant seat - make sure you have a 5 point one. Or if your baby is a smaller older baby - just go ahead and get a convertible toddler seat don't take the chance on leaving them in a 3 point infant seat. The worst could have happened if I hadn't been able to get over when I did. I will be contacting Graco on Monday about this.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Big day for Melissa

Melissa couldn't find her ballet slippers
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

The preschool ballet I class recital. Melissa was just happy we made it there even though her ballet slippers and skirt didn't. We were running late and they were dropped en route from the door to the van.

It was cute chaos. The little girls rearranged themselves regularly, got mixed up regularly, quite a few keep runnning over to their parents - some in excitement - some in tears.

Babies fussing in the audience - 1 of them Megan. Maribeth didn't make much noise at all - she just focused on repeated escapes from the stroller and me.

Melissa was thrilled to have us there to watch her and take photos and "lots of video". The younger M's usually present enough of a distractoin that we drop Melissa off at class and head over to the library.

Melissa is finally growing and as she pointed out - her leotard is getting too small - the long sleeves are now 3/4 length so I have promised her a new outfit for her next class. Preschool Ballet II - which starts next month.

Mommy! Maribeth is on the table - again!

Houdini baby strikes again
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Look - the amazing houdini baby can get out of her high chair, climb across the high chair tray and onto the table in the time it takes me to quickly grab something out of the fridge. She's so skinny that the tightest settings on the seat belt and high chair tray can't keep her in.

She is like her oldest sister in that she is very agile, very aware of depth and the edge of the table and doesn't fall. She also has negotiated getting DOWN to the floor from the high chair - but so far hasn't managed to get IN the high chair from the floor.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

PSA - Candles can cause brain damage

Madeleine and the candle

Now I enjoyed nice scented candles but until yesterday I thought the only danger they posed to small children was the risk of burns or a fire being started. Not true - apparently the soot/fumes from candles (esp scented ones) is linked to impaired learning and brain damage! The worst offenders are scented candles made in foreign coutries because they often contain - lead of all things.

Check out this article.

Maribeth Crawls!

The post about the twins' one year check-up mentioned that Maribeth and Megan are, among other things, crawling. Faithful readers should note that the girls have been doing this for a while and can move very quickly if one is not wary.

These videos are from October 24 of last year, and it's kind of amazing to see how far Maribeth has actually come.

Maribeth crawls! (2.3M - Windows Media Video format)
Maribeth crawls more! (2.2M - Windows Media Video format)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Michael Misbehaves

What do I do to a 4 year old boy that sprays his sisters with a garden hose outside in February?

It was a nice sunny day out here - chilly - but not freezing. A good day to get the kiddies outside for a while. I caved and let the twins crawl around outside on the lawn even though both already have colds and Maribeth is running a fever with an ear infection.

Well - without my noticing (he was behind me) Michael turns on the tap, then sprays the sprayer on the garden hose right on the twins. (One of those more high-pressure sprayer thingys - Allan was using it to wash some stuff up.) Megan got blasted straight in the face. The end result was both twins soaked through to the skin and shivering. He also managed to get Melissa and Maddy some (they moved quickly, but the twins were just stunned and sat there) and then he sprayed ME when I went to take the hose away.

My immediate reaction on wrestling the hose out of his grasp was to spray HIM with the hose to see how he liked it. The problem was that he found it far more funny than the girls did. Michael got quite a long time-out while I got the shivering, soaked-through-to-the-skin twins dried off and into bed with clean clothes and warm bottles.

This is on top of such antics today such as:
  • repeatedly turning on the dishwasher when it's got clean dishes inside or only half full.
  • opening the door to the dryer so it stops and backs up laundry,
  • leaving the water running in the bathroom after playing with water in the sink
  • and attempting to use my cello in the case as a slide.

The twins "1 year" Dr visit!

I took the girls in to our family doctor for their 1 year check up. Dr. V/S is very happy with them developmentally. Both girls are crawling, pulling to standing, and babbling.

I forgot their head circumferences and lengths - but both girls are within 1/2 cm of each other on both and right at the 50th% for adjusted age of 11 months. The girls are 13 months actual age tomorrow.

Megan weighs 19 lbs 13 oz - which puts her at just under 50% for adjusted age in weight as well. Megan loves solids and drinks iron-fortified formula - which we're advised to continue a least until she is 1 year adjusted age before switching her to whole milk. Though the Dr. said it would probably be better to keep both girls on formula until around 18 months.

Maribeth's weight is of concern. She is just over 16 lbs and has dropped down on the charts again - so even for adjusted age of 11 months just is off the bottom of the charts. Plus the Dr. said usually they stop adjusting at 1 year. So for actual age - she is WAY off the bottom. So this is concerning. Esp. wtih her being now the same height as Megan.

So I will have to bring Maribeth in a month from now for another weight check. If she isn't at least back on the chart by then - we will be referred back to the pediatrician/neonatologist to check for things like possible anemia or continued mild reflux (GERD). Maribeth was taken off the reflux medication back around Christmas and that's around the time she started falling off her growth curve - so our family doctor thinks that might be related. (The lowest she's been even pre-natally was 3% and back at 8 months was up to 10% for adjusted age for weight). So it's a pretty steep down-curve.

Also Maribeth stopped nursinng a week or two ago - so she is on iron fortified infant formula as well. We are going to continue that for her but if she doens't start gaining more by next month - then we've been told the pediatrician will likely want her on something more high calorie than regular formula. I'm not to try and force feed her or stuff her - but to try and feed her calorie-rich foods. No water or juice just formula to drink. Butter on her bread bits and so on. Part of the problem is likely that Maribeth won't allow us to feed her baby foods - she will only eat what she can pick up herself and she definitely eats less solids overall than Megan.

Poor Maribeth also has a yeast diaper rash, a bad cold and cough, AND ears that look iffy. I've got a prescription for antibiotics for her if she doesn't improve in the next 24-48 hours.

We were also recommended to delay the MMR vaccine for another few months so it will be more effective and she recommended getting the chickenpox vaccine at the same time as the MMR even though they already had chickenpox because they had it under one year of age and might not have lifelong immunity and the govn't is now providing chickenpox vaccines free of charge. That I'm really not sure about.