Friday, September 30, 2005

Morphine and gallstones

I had horrible horrible pain last night - like labour type intensity pain. Starting at midnight in upper abdomen. I figured it was gas or something so tried taking some tums and even some zantac, then tried advil and hot water bottles. No luck. I did NOT want to wake up everyone - esp since Allan worked late and had just gone to sleep when the pain started.

When Allan woke up at 6am - he was quite distressed to see me in so much pain. So he decided I HAD to get into the ER. I was saying I did NOT want to go into the ER and "be there all day". I said if he insisted I go in - take me to a clinic. He loaded up the kids and then dropped me off at the ER. But as there were only a couple other people in the waiting room - I didn't complain.

It was a good time to show up - the wait was not that long - less than an hour. They examined me and thought it was my gallbladder athough my non-fat supper of vegetable soup did perplex them - odd thing to have triggered a gall bladder attack. They gave me an injection in my backside of Morphine for pain and gravol for the nausea I get from the Morphine and said they were arranging for an ultrasound to check on the gallbladder and any other organs located in the region of pain.

Allan showed up around now - having taken the M's out for breakfast. I was surprised to see him SOLO - he had charmed the desk nurses into watching our children! He was relieved to hear nothing was life-threatening and that they gave me something for pain. He headed home with the M's to attempt working from home.

Ultrasound had to squeeze me in - so I sat for a LONG time in a wheelchair in the hall. Where the morphine kicked in and I actually dozed off to sleep IN the wheelchair. I'm not the sort to fall asleep anywhere - so that spoke to how tired I was after no sleep the night before and only about 4 hours sleep the preceding night.

The ultrasound turned out I do indeed have gall bladder problems - big gallstones - bigger than 1 cm. Too big to pass. The doctor told me I needed to stick to clear fluids for 48 hours (but NO broths!). Then NO fat at all, no butter, margarine, oil anything cooked with any of those, no dairy at all, no eggs until I can get my gall bladder out. With any luck the pain won't return once the Morphine wears off or it'll be manageable with Advil.

I took a taxi home rather than to have Allan load the kids back up and come get me. For one thing - I didn't think I could stay awake long enough. Once home I went right to bed to sleep off the Morphine - leaving Allan attempting to work while the kids watched DVD's in the living room.

I have an appointment with my doctor on Monday for a referral to a surgeon but the ER Dr said wait lists are about 6 months right now for this. The downside to socialized medicine. None the less I'm glad I wasn't put into surgery right away as Allan leaves this weekend for a work conference that is absolutely required. He can't get out of doing it. So it's for the best that this happened while he was still here.

I will say - Morphine works for pain relief - but I don't react well to it. In addition to nausea - it makes me itch all over! After a few hours sleep - I was awakened by the itching.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The ABC boycott

I'm announced I am now boycotting the SDA's Adventist book store. Personally that is and for Sabbath school supplies I will only buy there what I can't get anywhere else. Veggie meat - will be bought exclusively at the grocery store.

This last Sunday was the last straw for me in a series of poor customer service relations. It's sad really - one would hope one's own CHURCH store would have suprior, not sadly inferior customer service.

The last straw was as we were returning home from camping this weekend - I had a sudden craving for Big Franks. Now with Maddy's allergies - I've had to be very careful with soy-based veggie-meats in the house - but prior to that I was a HUGE customer of the ABC and it's Worthington and LomaLinda brands of vegetarian meat subsitutes. But Maddy's allergies have lessed as she's grown and so I'm again having some in the house - just not feeding them to her.

"Allan take this exit" I said - and he did. We zoomed into the parking lot wiht only a few minutes to spare until closing. Wallet in hand I jumped out of the van and headed for the door. I was spotted by the employee working there. They sprinted to the door too and turned the sign to "closed" right in my face and then vanished into the depths of the store.

"Hey! I had like 4 min wanted ONE thing that I KNEW where it was". Wow - they didn't even bother to tell tell - me "Sorry we're closed now - already turned off the computer" or see if I needed anything. What if I had an emergency and was coming to the church offices for assistance? O.k. - now THAT isn't very likely - but well - how would they know?

So we headed back to the freeway and I vowed this was IT - I'm not going to even TRY for SDA veggiemeat (this NOT being my first bad ABC experience by a really LONG shot!). I'll just buy what is available in the stores - Yves meat alternatives, Schneiders "Au Natural", Money's mushroom burgers and so on. All of which are lower in fat and cheaper anyway.

Now ABC may not really think they've lost that big of a customer because in the past couple years I have not bought much. BUT I have 5 children who I will not be feeding their products too. FIVE children who will grow up NOT eating SDA veggiemeat - but what is commercially available. What you learned to like is what you eat. They've lost customers into the next generation with this. Plus how many OTHER people in my generation have had this same experience?

In our association in general - young adults and young families shop at Celebration Christian bookstore or House of James - not the Adventist book centre. If vegetarian - they eat what is available in the grocery store and don't make the long drive to the very limited hours ABC. People who have jobs and children can't make it there by 4 or 5pm. Hey if you run into traffic and are a few minute later than you thought - they'll just flip the sign to "closed" anyway - so why bother? Other Christian book stores are open later - until 7 or 8 giving people TIME to actually get there!

Most my generation don't attend camp-meeting either - we don't. It's mostly old people, not-very friendly people, people that have attended there forevermore and had their own spaces there forevermore, ancient speakers in an auditorium full of gray hair. We take those weekends without church committments to go hiking and/or camping somewhere else. Those who do go - go only for Sabbaths.

Do I give to conference budget? No - never. Does anyone I know in my generation give to conference budget - no. Local church budget - yes. Special drives for things like hurricane or Tsunami relief - yes. Missions even - yes.

It's sad how much the beaurocracy of our church is alienating the younger people. I can understand commercial business just flipping the sign to closed - but I expect MORE from a church whose mission is not only business but ministry. But I bet this stuff is losing them business - 20 years down the road will the ABC still be there if they don't make themselves and their products more available to people who have families, jobs and work?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sunset on Lightning Lake

Sunset on Lightning Lake
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I have to make a token blog post here as I don't have time for the whole story.

We spent the weekend camping at Manning Park. Breathtaking scenery and clear, clean, crisp fall air. Lakes, mountains, hiking .. It's hard to go back to the daily grind of work for Allan and the never-ending housework for me!

See more of our photos and descriptions in our Flickr photo set.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Originally uploaded by kostia

Link stolen shamelessly from Gail.

This online quiz is so NOT accurate!

Debbie's seemed to be - but mine sure isn't!

Your Birthdate: July 23
  • With a birthday on the 23rd of the month (5 energy) you are inclined to work well with people and enjoy them.
  • You are talented and versatile, very good at presenting ideas.
  • You may have a tendency to get itchy feet at times and need change and travel.
  • You tend to be very progressive, imaginative and adaptable.
  • Your mind is quick, clever and analytical.
  • A restlessness in your nature may make you a bit impatient and easily bored with routine.
  • You may have a tendency to shirk responsibility.
  • Very sociable, you make friends easily and you are an excellent traveling companion.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Not for the faint of heart

Disclaimer - do NOT click on the following link if you are:

  • Vegetarian (Beth, Allie, and Debbie, this means you)
  • not Asian (or at least unfamiliar with Asian cuisine)
  • a memember of P E T A (it's a joke, 'k?)
  • actually eating food

With apologies to Harry Chapin

This post is dedicated to AviatorDave - gourmand and funny fellow that he is.

Funny from the "cello chat" boards

On Yo-Yo Ma's incredible popularity in the USA vs other equally skilled contemporary European cellists

"what could be more American than a French-born Chinese with a biology degree, recording for a Japanese firm on an Italian instrument from an English woman, left behind in a NY cab (the cello, not the woman)?"

"I want to ride a Century"

I decided that again yesterday after reading a few back issues of Bicycling magazine borrowed from the library. Riding a Century was a pre-children goal of mine and one that I had only made it halfway to.

Cycling saved my sanity post-divorce and I've decided that it's probably going to be the best way to stay sane with the 5 M's. In addition to sanity - Bicycling had an article proclaiming that the secret to staying fit and slim was one hour minimum of cycling 4-6 days a week and eating a healthy diet. A nice benefit to spending an hour on a bike!

Reactions were mixed: Allan (having done a number of Centuries in a former life) just laughed and said "It's not THAT big a deal - it's just 5 or 6 hours of riding." At the other end of the scale was my mom, "You are insane!"

I figured there was no better time to start riding than the present - so after Melissa and Grandpa left. I loaded up the library books and set off on my bike. My plan was to go into Langley and back and hit the library on the return trip. That's not what happened.

Going up the "big hill" - I had a rough time with the gears. I couldn't get the bike to shift down to the small chain-ring so I ground up the big hill on the middle ring. The smaller gears weren't that much more co-operative - jumping suddenly and unexpected down and up with seemingly no rhyme or reason; whether by preschool interference, user error, or sheer bicycle malevolence!

Determination won out. I made it up the hill still ON the bike but almost blacked out, seeing stars, and gasping for air. At the top - I took a right turn onto a side street and took sidestreets back towards the library. Only I got a little turned around and ended up on Hwy 10. No bike lanes .. traffic .. major trucking route .. pedal as fast as I can with legs that already feel like jelly ..

Finally at the library I managed to lock the bike, glance at the clock (that was only 30 minutes??) and make it into the bathroom before losing my supper. "Only 5 hours of riding," he says. HA! I have a LONG way to go!

The next 20 minutes were spent at the library. I love the library - I ended up checking out twice as many items as I had returned. They almost didn't fit into my backpack.

Getting on the bicycle again to head home - it was dark! All right!! A chance to try out my new lights! Taillamp clipped stragetically to my backpack and headlamp on handlebars - I headed out into the night. I had forgotton how much I LIKE night riding. It's quieter. Less traffic, less people, it's dark - so not as much visual distractions. Very peaceful. I couldn't possibly go straight home.

Instead I headed back to "the hill"; determined to try again now that the gears seemed to have sorted themselves out. Going back up the hill I was amazed at how much easier it was in the lower gears!

Yes! I finished in my granny gear and turned around to head back home - having completed a total of 1 hour on the bike for the evening.

I'm happy having a bicycle again after a number of bike-less years after consigning my Softride for some cash we needed desperately at the time. I plan to drop Curves in favour of the bicycle when my 1 year contract is over next March. I WILL ride a Century too - maybe not this year or next or the next - but I WILL do it.

Melissa is off!

The beanie was 0.99 cents on ebay
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Last night she stayed with Grandpa and Grandpa Edwin. This morning they were off to the airport headed for Boston. Then up to my parents place in Maine followed by south to PA for Gail and David's wedding.

This was taken yesterday and is NOT her traveling attire though Baby Jub did go with her. While we miss Miss Melissa it was nice having the kids ALL ASLEEP and a quiet house by 8:30pm and to wake up the next morning again to a quiet house. Michael was awake but playing quietly in his room by himself instead of the usual shrieking and door slamming!

We noted this when Melissa went to Maine before - removing Melissa drops the noise level by down to about 25%. This time I thought it wouldn't be so drastic as the twins are still here. But still it's WAY quieter than normal even with the other 4 children up!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Remember this book?

Remember this book?
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I loved this book as a child. We got a stack of old Golden Books from the late 70's and early 80's given to us yesterday. "The Monster at the End of this Book" is already a hit! I think I've read it about 5 times today already!

Maddy's "new" toy kitchen

Maddy's "new" toy kitchen
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Chef Maddy is having lots of fun making pretend food with her "new" toy kitchen. Yes - there is a story behind it's aquisition but I don't have time at the moment.

The Curse of Mediocrity

There are some of us who are just doomed to be "average" or "o.k." at anything we decide to do: not really bad, horrible, or "I totally suck at this", yet not really GOOD, wonderful, or excellent either.

This mediocrity crosses every area of my life.

There are those who are really, really excellent parents and really in touch with their kids. The kind of people who wouldn't think of yelling at their kids, or hiding from their kids. People who LIKE answering "why?" questions. I'm not one of them. But I'm no abusive "bad" parent either; just mediocre.

There are cellists and musicians who are truly inspiring. They have excellent intonation, inspiration, and interpretations; who move people with their artistic renditions of the piece. I'm not one of them. I'm an "o.k./all right/pretty good" amateur cellist. I got into the community orchestra but am technically so far from where I would like to be.

There are writers who move me to tears or leave me in breathless laughter - and then those who just make me stop and REALLY think. I wish I could express myself better with the written word. I like to write - but again, I'm mediocre.

Then there is home schooling. I see home schooling parents who LOVE teaching their children, who embrace it and run with it and delight in searching for the right way to teach concepts to their children. Of course there are "homeschoolers" who really do nothing at all and give home schooling a bad name. Again - in the middle. My dirty secret is that I despise having to try to explain things to the children - especially if they don't get it the first time. I want to tear my hair out if they forget something this week that they KNEW last week. But yet, my children are progressing at grade level. I'm not a BAD home schooling mom - but not one of the good ones either - mediocre again.

Photography - I look on Flickr and I am amazed by the talent of other photographers: the amazing shots and compositions, the depth, the artistry. Something I will probably never attain. At best I can hope to take some "pretty good" photos and most of mine are nothing out of the ordinary.

Mediocrity even surfaces in the kitchen. I can do more than open cans and heat things up in the microwave - but am nowhere near being a really GOOD cook!

This just points out the most obvious but the list could go on and on and on. Practically everything that I do I'm mediocre at, and likely doomed to be the way. You see it was foretold by my high school guidance counsellor.

Anyone remember those aptitude tests they give you in high school to help you choose your "career path"?

Well my results told me that I should NEVER go into any of the following careers:

airplane pilot
bus driver
truck driver
taxi driver

Anyone who know my directional sense (or rather complete lack thereof) knows this is true!

Every single other possible career out of HUNDREDS it said I would be "average" at! So basically I was told I had the aptitude do anything I want as long as I don't expect to be really good at it! 13 years later - that I have to conclude that test was right!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

In Which Michael Munches Mummy's Glasses

And this after he almost drowns himself. Let me explain ..

Charlotte, one of the girls at church, turned eight years old this week. Her family threw a birthday party for her at the hotel just down the road from us and invited the whole church.

Even after six years of this, Cheryl still marvels at the fact that in the Filipino community grown-ups attend children's birthday parties. It's one of those jarring cultural adjustments that she's referred to here before.

I say six years, because the very first one of these shindigs that Cheryl ever attended was out at Jericho beach when Melissa was two months old. We were invited by Larry and Loveza (and you KNOW it was Loveza who was doing the inviting) to their daughter Lariza's first birthday. She said to come out to Jericho beach (and didn't say exactly where) on Sunday (and didn't say exactly when) and that it would FUN!

That Sunday rolled around, it was getting on towards noon, and Cheryl started to get anxious. Loveza didn't tell us exactly where to find them, so how would we know we had got to the right place? And she hadn't told us exactly what time to be there, so weren't we going to be late?

My replies of, "Oh, we'll know when we see them." and "We won't be late. There's no such thing as being late to a Filipino party." were not very reassuring to her.

After badgering me for a couple of hours, we got into the car and headed into Vancouver. That was 1 pm. We cruised around the park at Jericho beach but did not see anyone that I recognized. By then it was closer to 3 pm. I suggested we try further along the road - out towards Locarno beach. It was near the far end of Locarno beach that I spotted a big RV with hordes of kids running around and 3 picnic tables packed with food. It was about 3:30 at that point.

"That's them."

"How do you know? We're hours late."

"I know. You'll see."

Loveza spotted us right away and herded us toward the tables. She said that they had only got there about an hour or so before, so we hadn't missed much. As it was, we stuck around until 6-ish and there were still people arriving, just in time for more food to be put out.

Anyhow, the hotel has a pool, and since Charlotte's family had booked the banquet facilities, the pool was also available for us to use. So of course, Charlotte's mom let us know that if we arrived early, we could take the kids swimming before they served the meal. When we arrived, there were already about ten or fifteen kids in the pool splashing around.

On our way in we saw a sign directing banquet guests to park in a different area than the main hotel parking, so I had to leave Cheryl to get the kids into the pool and move our van. When I came back, I stopped in hall above the pool area to look down and see how everything was going.

I arrived just in time to see Michael run up the stairs of the corkscrew waterslide beside the pool. This raised my eyebrows, as the waterslide emptied out at the "deep end" (it was only about 4 ft deep) of the pool. Ah, my eyebrows came down as I saw Cheryl position herself near the end of the slide.

Whoosh! One of the older boys came zooming down the slide and landed in the water near Cheryl with a big splash! I saw him paddle off, then both Cheryl and I turned our attentions back to the slide -- just in time for Michael to come flying out the bottom of the slide to crash into his mother feet first!

Cheryl managed to catch him, how I don't know, and then awkwardly swung him towards the side of the pool where she deposited him in a soggy heap. She turned back towards me and it was then I saw that she was missing her glasses. She dove into the water and found her glasses. Oh good! However, something was still wrong. She gestured to one of the kids nearby who was wearing goggles. He dove down into the water, obviously searching for something. That something turned out to be one of the lenses for Cheryl's glasses. They searched for a minute or two but did not find it. So I headed for the door to get into the pool.

To keep a long story from getting even longer, I eventually found the lens, but by then it was too late. Someone had stepped on it while it was resting on the rough, non-skid bottom of the pool and it was scratched horribly.

Cheryl told me that when they had first arrived in the pool area she had to deal with the twins and the girls, so Michael was able to make a beeline for the waterslide unchecked. A couple of older boys saw Michael come down the slide, fished him out of the deep end of the pool, and brought him back to her saying, "He was drowning himself."

The boy remained unfazed by it all. "I didn't know it was that deep mommy."

Note: Remember that there were only three of us back then.

Friday, September 16, 2005


So since I was up until 2:30am last night - what happened this morning at 6:40am?? Allan - bouncing into the room waking me up for my bike riding. He managed to wake up the M's in the process. Realizing that like it or not - I was up - I squinted and stumbled myself ready to go.

Then I opened the door - rain - lots and lots of rain. Cold rain - not nice summer warm rain. I looked at Allan - now sitting at the table with his laptop and said "it's RAINING - you didn't tell me it was RAINING". I don't even have fenders on this bike. But I went. I rode in the morning in the rain, cold rain, on roads surprisingly full of large transport trucks, to Curves, worked out and rode home.

Now I EXPECTED Allan to be ready to head out to work on HIS bike - but no. He had dressed nicely in professional clothing and had his laptop case. Traiter. Sending me out on a wet, cold bike ride and not going himself.

The torture of grocery shopping

Last night I went grocery shopping - not your "pick a few things up" trip. But a massive - restock of the pantry trip. I wait until our cupboards and fridge are almost completly empty because I dread this kind of trip so much.
Produce was first and produce I usually don't mind so much. $60 or so of fresh produce(including 50 lbs of russet potatos for the really low price of $11!). See I had planned to buy 20 lbs - but couldn't pass up an "extra" 30 lbs of potatos for only $1 more!

Then on to superstore - I hate superstore - too many people, garish store colors, and huge sizes. The huge sizes are an evil necessity when you have a large family. $335 all told and with any luck it'll be 2 months before I have to do another big stock up. It has been suggested to me that I should "go more often" but really - who wants to drive 40 min round trip and battle crowds of people for a 1 gallon jar of mayo or pickles? Much better to do it all at once.

So I get home - we put away food, we cook and freeze food that won't fit into our fridge. Yes - I'm not yet used to our smaller fridge size! Then just as I was finishing up - my sister phones at midnight. Followed by the babies wake up from 1 until 2:30 am. I figured my planned for bicycling to Curves before Allan got up was out the window.

See that's the thing about the grocery shopping - it's NOT just the shopping, it's the wasted time. I spent from 6:30 to midnight last night - driving, shopping, loading, unloading, putting away, freezing green and yellow beans. Allan cooked up even more stuff and made frozen dinners for him to take to work. So Allan had to deal with kids and food all evening as well and didn't get any work done - and it desperately needs to be done. I didn't get to practice cello for the second day in a row AND I didn't get to exercise. Plus the house is a mess and desparately needs a good cleaning. That didn't get done either. The whole evening lost with having to deal with food.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Challenge for Melissa

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Melissa had her first ballet class tonight. They don't allow parents in the room plus I had to go pick up Allan from work anyway. So the other kids and I walked her in, turned her over to the dance studio staff and left her there. I got Allan, dropped him and younger M's at home and returned for Melissa. I got there still 10 min before class let out.

She came running out looking happy to see me - but the instructor pulled me aside and said she cried first part of class starting when the started barre work. She wanted me - but of course I had already left. She did stop crying at some point but mostly watched didn't try anything at ALL until the end.

The watching doesn't worry me so much - the crying does. She's the kid I can drop off ANYWHERE with ANYONE and she's normally fine. She was fine when I left her in the waiting/change room area watching videos of last year's recital with other students since we got there early.

She is the youngest and by far the shortest in the class and the ONLY one who is new this year in Junior ballet. The other preschool ballet classes through Parks and Rec didn't have barre work at all. She was the oldest and is used to being the oldest and the one who knows the most. So I'm sure it's an adjustement to be the youngest and the one having trouble. Though she sure was getting a lot of attention! The older girls including those waiting for intermediate ballet were definitely all over her asking how old she was and telling her how cute she was.

The teacher is really nice and said we'll see how it goes. However - Melissa's going to MISS the next 2 weeks going out East for her Aunt's wedding. So she'll be even more "behind". I was assured this was fine talking to the staff when I registered over the summer, but her instructor sounded really dubious after today's class.

I stopped at the library with her on the way home to get books and videos about ballet and will ask my mom to do the same while she's out East. So at least some of what she's doing will be familiar. Other than that, I'm not sure what can be done but hope she starts to feel more comfortable after a few more classes. We signed a contract for a year and I'm inclined to hold her to it - though I think next class I will make sure that Allan is watching the other M's while I sit out the hour in the waiting room.

One possibility is she might have been hungry. In the rush to get out the door - I burned supper dreadfully and ended up serving a rush "supper" of leftover rice and donuts. I had $5 on me and offered to stop for a DQ treat - she spied the menu and ordered herself a whole cheeseburger meal, with chocolate shake and ate it ALL!

Maple Fully Aflame

Almost one month later, the maple that we can see from our kitchen window is now fully turned red. You can see the entire progression here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Please pray for AviatorDave

Words are not adequate to convey the depth of emotion attached to the following facts:

David Fielding (AviatorDave), who asked my sister Gail to marry him almost a year ago, is now caught up the fight of his life: a fight for his life.

Barely 4 weeks ago, Dave checked himself into the hospital because of a cough that would not go away.

Photos taken during a biospy revealed a 4 cm mass on his left lung.

At the time we all hoped it was just lymphoma, but the diagnosis came back as limited stage small-cell lung cancer.

Over the last few weeks, Dave has had to endure the effects of an aggressive dual campaign of radiation and chemotherapy.

As of this week however, the strategy has been revised because the cancer has now spread to David's spine. We are now dealing with "extensive" instead of "limited" and any hope for a "cure" has been replaced with hoping for "remission".

Dave's Logbook

We have come to appreciate and love Dave over the last year. His humour, intelligence, and obvious deep care and respect for Gail won us over.

Gail and David have a lot now, but there is a lot more for them to look forward to. We want them to at least have that opportunity.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Eerie Singing in the Night

Update on the Tinkle Tunes Potty: It works!

Cheryl and I heard some scuffling upstairs last night after the kids were put into bed. The girl's room is right above our office, so we assumed it was Melissa and Madeleine messing around again. (We've been working with them for months to settle down after lights out.)

And then this tinny tune came wafting down the stairwell. Arrgh! They must be fooling around again with one of the baby's toys or maybe a singing greeting card (Michael got one from Granny for his birthday).

Cheryl said, "Someone's awake up there. You go deal with it."

I went up the stairs and lo, the potty was there just outside our bathroom, beeping merrily away with about a cup of urine in it! I rinsed it out and the singing stopped as soon as the water diluted the urine sufficiently. As to the urinating culprit, Melissa said it was Madeleine. Oh that we could have had the singing potty sooner!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

and more shoes! This time for Melissa! After a number of years of very slow growth - Melissa's feet have suddenly had a growth spurt! From size 9.5 to size 12 over the course of the summer! Today we realized all her black dress shoes from last year were too small (but they fit Maddy!), her runners purchased a month ago - also too small! Even her SOCKS are all too small! It's time too move to sock size for girls size 11-4 instead of girls size 5-10!

So Melissa and I went out in search of much needed shoes and socks! She has new runners, new black "Mary Jane" style church shoes and another pair of "school" shoes. Black but not "church" style. I'll have to photograph them tomorrow. They are Melissa's favourite and will look good with a skirt and tights. She also picked 2 new packages of socks. All her old socks, shoes, and sandles will be passed on to Maddy (or saved for Maddy).

Melissa is a caring big sister. She really loves Maddy and was genuinely sad that I wouldn't buy Maddy new shoes too. Then we passed the toy dept and Melissa saw the VERY thing to cheer Maddy up! "Look Mommy! There are little scooters with TRAINING WHEELS and they are ON SALE!!! Maddy would like that Mommy - because she already feels left out that she can't go on a scooter like we can. I know I don't like to feel left out and it makes me sad when Maddy gets left out. Then she will also feel left out if I get new shoes and she only gets old ones. Michael got new shoes last week Mommy. ".

Now WHAT could I say to that? I'll tell you what I said. "Now you think Maddy would rather have pink or purple?" She's good, she's really good. I taught her everything I know about comign up with arguements other than "but I want it". Allan says I should be afriad....very afraid.

Scooter photos to come tomorrow but there were a couple of happy little girls here tonight. Yes - we got Maddy OUT Of bed to see Daddy put together her new scooter!

Oh - one more purchase - I bought a pair of size 10 jeans. My 12's kept sliding down and "showing Mommy's UNDERPANTS!". Wooo-hooo!

Great sleep articles!

I think I'm going to try this - umm - just not tonight! I was realizing that starting next week - I'll usually have to go to Curves in the morning before Allan goes to work because Monday evenings will be Orchestra, Wednesdays will be Melissa's ballet class, Tuesdays and Thursdays are Allan's "bike to work and/or work late" days and Friday we are usually into Sabbath preperations. Plus Curves closes several hours earlier on Fridays.

How To Become an Early Riser

How to Become an Early Riser part II

I don't actually drink a lot of coffee - but I think this is good info here.

How to Give up Coffee

Friday, September 09, 2005

"Little Playzone with lights and sounds"

"Little Playzone with lights and sounds"
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I can now stick our twins somewhere safe and turn my back for a bit! This is the playzone plus 2 extension kits. Just the playzone by itself is the size of one of the older square playpens.

I saw this online and went an a major search for a retailer in Canada. No luck. Then another search to find someone who would SHIP to Canada. The cheapest shipping I could find was from $46 USD - compared to the next lowest price of $78 usd from an e-bay seller - that was a steal. We did get stuck paying GST on delivery - so our total cost ended up being double what it would in the USA. At times like this - I just repeat - "but we didn't have to pay for the twins NICU stay...." over and over.

So far the girls are happy in there. They only tears so far (it's been about 40 min) have been a scuffle over one of the attached toys. This without the "lights and sounds"! I didn't buy batteries with it as they charged an obscene amount for batteries - we'll get more re-chargeable ones.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Discovering consignment!

Baby Feet - Megan's new pink suede shoes. They're Hush Puppies! Wooooo ... New they are USD$34. Cheryl got them for CAD$10 at a consignment store.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Grandpa came today and took Melissa, Michael and Maddy to the playground. The twins were inconsolable about not getting to "GO, GO." So I loaded them up in the double stroller and we headed off on a walk.

Well we found a little consignment store. They sell name-brand, good condition used clothes, shoes, Robeez and knocks-offs, used dance attire, and all sorts of baby toys and gear for way less than retail prices.

I am now kicking myself for donating or passing on most of our prior baby gear. All those little used Robeez I passed on or donated could have been sold! All the matching twins outfits could have been sold. See I figure it's WAY too much hassle to go through the buy'n'sell, and ebay would be even worse. So I've just been donating or passing on to other people. A great stash of stuff has gone back with my mom waiting for one of my sisters to produce children. I just sent a bag of very nice condition too-small twins clothes with my mother-in-law for a co-worker of hers that has twins.

No more. Anything in really good shape from here on out is headed straight for consignment. The inducement - they will evaluate your stuff and let you "trade" for something else in the store on the spot! Of course waiting until your stuff sells and they cut checks IS another option. But knowing me - I'll be just buying more clothes for the girls! Unfortunatly, outside of dance gear - they only carry clothes through size 5. So Melissa and Michael are going to be out of luck.

Megan was in heaven - racks and racks of "Shoes! Shoes! Shoes!" Name brand shoes like "Stride Rite", "Robeez" and "Hush Puppies."

I started trying shoes on them. Maribeth latched onto the first pair - black shiny "boots" and that was it for her: no further interest. She clutched the boots the rest of the time in the store.

Megan was far more picky. As I tried pair after pair on her, she shook her head and said "No, No" and "Not dat!" - all the while struggling to pull the offending shoes off her feet while insistently pointing in the direction of the shoe shelves "NEW SHOES." After about 8 pairs of shoes -I FINALLY figured out which pair she wanted. Pink, REAL suede Hush Puppies! The same color pink as her much beloved pink summer sandals. Now they are a size too big - but she doesn't care and her feet WILL grow!

We spent a bit longer finding a few other items - including some dance tights for Melissa! Her ballet starts next week. I signed up for their frequent buyer card and sale notifications at the checkout.

Our next stop was the local Salvation Army thrift store. Another TINY store - one I have passed often but never gone in until today. Despite its small size, it seemed to have better stuff that a lot of the bigger Salvation Army stores. It'll take things that aren't in good enough shape for consignment. We made only one purchase there - a teeny tiny toddler potty! It doesn't play the "tinkle tunes" anymore BUT it was only $2.29 plux tax. A bargain considering that the cheapest potty at Walmart is $20 and Ikea doesn't carry their $5 little potty anymore.

Relative Foot Size

I needed to measure Melissa's feet this evening, so I had Baboo get up on the table and stand on a piece of paper so I could trace her feet. Maribeth came up as I was doing this and immediately starting looking for a way to get up on the table herself to have her feet traced. When I was done with Melissa I lifted her down, picked up Maribeth, and traced her feet. The rule in the middle of the picture is 20 cm / 8 in long.

Relative Foot Size - Melissa's feet measured for her shoes for Gail's wedding. Maribeth volunteered to climb up on the table top to have her feet measured as well.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Of Carpets, Cats, and a Trip to the Lake

The carpet cleaning people were supposed to show up sometime between noon and 5 pm today. Instead they called at 8 am to let us know the cleaners would be arriving at 9 am. In fact they arrived at 8:30 am. I was in the midst of my morning constitutional when the doorbell rang. Aargh!

The carpet man looked around and said in his most serious tone, "This carpet is too soiled and stained. The $70 package you are scheduled for won't do anything to get it clean. You'll have to get the $149 deep-cleaning to get this clean."

Double-aargh! I knew then that we had stumbled onto some shady operators. They advertise a cheap package just to get in the door. I was betting that they had probably already been given the heave ho by those customers who had been scheduled ahead of us. Still, our carpets were in desperately in need of cleaning given the accumulated depredations of all 5 M's.

I let him twist in the wind for a few minutes, "I'll have to speak to my wife about this first."

He looked a bit dejected as he went back out to his van to wait with his partner.

When I explained the situation to Cheryl she fumed, "I ASKED them on the phone if there were any other packages they might offer me when they got here. They said, 'Oh, no. None. This will take care of everything!' Yeah, right!"

We decided that the carpets needed to be done anyhow, and let them know to go ahead.

They started to bring their equipment in and we hustled the kids out of their rooms and into the back yard. Cheryl brought out some cheese sandwiches and cantaloup for breakfast, and we watched them first vacuum, then spray detergent, then use the steam cleaner on our very grubby floors. It took them about 90 minutes all told, and when they were done, Cheryl and I took a quick look around. Our carpets were once again an even cream colour, instead of the bilious, leprous appearance they had beforehand.

We paid the carpet cleaners (but not before Cheryl said within earshot of the carpetmen, "We're never using these guys again!") and they sped off in a cloud of dust without so much as a by your leave. No doubt Cheryl's comment was part of the reason for that, but I suspect they were either used to: (a) being pelted with rocks on their way out, or (b) being given rubber cheques and were going to look for a bank to cash their payment before it bounced. (Not that we would do that to them of course.)

We decided to escape the drying carpets by driving out to Alouette Lake for one last outdoor adventure for the summer.

On our way out of our neighbourhood, we saw a black cat by the side of the road.

Cheryl - "Hey kids, it's that cat again. The one that looks like Hugh!"

Me - "I hear tuxedos are all the rage now with cats."

Michael (in his most confident, self-assured voice) - "I know what a tuxedo is."

Me - "Oh really?"

Michael - "It's a black and white cat!"

Melissa (who has been to enough weddings now to know what a tuxedo is) - "No Michael!"

At the lake - Megan chases her siblings and momma out into the lake."
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

The kids got soaked. Their mother got even more soaked. Fun was had by all.

See the photos here.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Maple Flame - revisted

I looked out our window today at the maple across the way and noticed that there are more red and orange leaves than there are green. Compare the photo below to the ones I took back on August 17. I think I'd like to get a thermometer for out kitchen window so I can start logging the temps here too. According to Environment Canada, it's 13 degrees C out at YVR. I think it's closer to 11 or 12 here.

Michael had some more fun this afternoon learning how to ride his new scooter. He kept falling over until I got him to focus on just going in a straight line. He did much better after that. I'm quite proud of him because after one particularly spectacular wipe-out (which prompted the only crying of the afternoon), he got back up and kept going.

Michael on his new scooter - Michael says that the antennae indicate he is 'dressed up'. I think that means he's wearing a costume. Marker on tractor-feed printer stock - by Michael, aged 5
Originally uploaded by Syntaxerror

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Sundown at Crescent Beach

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

After a long Sabbath afternoon nap we packed up some sandwiches and juice and headed down to Crescent Beach for a last "summer" sunset.

Summer is definitely over - there is a chill to the air in the evening. The evening breeze has a bite to it. The sun is setting earlier and earlier. The summer camp at Crescent Beach has shut down and taken their floating dock away. The lifeguard station on the point is abandoned and a sign "No lifeguard on duty - swim at your own risk" is now posted there instead.

Still the M's were exhuberant. Michael, Melissa and Maddy took off racing down the now-familiar beach trail. It was they who reminded US that, "We have to walk first so Mommy can get her exercise and THEN we go in the water."

They, like their Mommy and Auntie Bethy, were determained to go into the water - chilly air or not! The twins squealed, laughed, and bounced in the wagon down the trail (not all the way tonight) and back again.

Back again because it was too windy out on the main beach. We walked back towards the north beach and found a quiet sandy pocket beach below the retaining wall.

Michael was the first one in. He waded out to knee deep, dropped his swim trunks, and proceeded to pee in the Pacific! And in full view of other evening beach walkers.

We were temporarily horrified into silence until Allan finally managed to blurt, "MICHAEL did you just pee in the ocean!?"

"I had to pee," said Michael matter-of-factly.

"But that's the water that you swim in," said his father

"That's okay," said Michael.

"Well the fish go in that water and it's a big ocean," I said, drawing a GLARE from the other parental unit. "But Michael - don't EVER show your private parts in public!!" -- myself being more worried about possible pedophiles with digi-cams than the pee in the pacific.

The twins were already in their fleece jackets and stayed far, FAR away from the water: 5-15 feet away from the water. They are the most sensible toddlers we have had. When it is not really hot out - they don't go near water. They don't want to be cold and wet. So they had fun playing with sand (and STICKS apparantly - I didn't see THAT until looking at the photos/videos at home).

I took to the water with Melissa, Michael, and Maddy. Melissa did NOT go very far in - but Michael, Maddy, Michael and I got completely soaked.

I swam out and back a bit and demonstrated floating to the amusement of Melissa and Michael. Maddy was not amused.

"No Mommy. No Mommy. Come BACK Mommy."

A summer of evenings at the beach has not yet freed her of the fear that I will go too far out to sea and be: (A) eaten by a shark or (B) caught by a diver and put in an aquarium.

Such is the downside of letting a small child watch too much of "Finding Nemo.

Bed bugs

Madeleine woke me up last night around 1:30 am. I heard her crying and fussing in her room and when I came in she was sobbing and incoherent. I finally managed to sort out that she thought there were bugs crawling all over her bed.

I'm going to Sting-er-eee!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

I flicked the lights so she could see there weren't any bugs (but not too long so as not to wake the other kids) and got her calmed down enough to go back to bed. Unfortunately she would not go to sleep and this same scene was repeated at 1/2 hour intervals until 4 am.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Happy Birthday to Michael...

Happy Birthday to Michael...
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Michael turned 5 years old today!

Both Grandpa AND Granny stopped by earlier in the day. Grandpa came over before work and Granny arrived just as he was getting ready to go. She brought something new for all of the kids and 2 new outfits for Michael.

He said "Thank you" politely, but didn't really co-operate with actually getting dressed up in the new clothes for a photo op. Every photo taken had him making a gagging face!

We celebrated just family at home for supper. What a supper though! Vegetarian pasta casserole, herbed rice, tossed salad, BBQ chicken wings, steamed broccoli, juice, fresh cantaloup, and rib steaks roasted with potatos. The latter not being in the plan until I realized the potatos were in dire straights and had to be cooked today.

Michael had several small gifts from his sisters (read: from Mommy and Daddy, but wrapped by Maddy and Melissa) and a surprise package from Maine with a whole bunch of goodies - the biggest hit being super-capes for Michael and his stuffed elephant "Toothbrush".

The huge surprise of the evening was Michael's big gift. I had ordered him a scooter from an online store...late at night...after taking an antihistimine or two. (No I'm not a closet drug user - Allan doesn't want me to give people that Idea. I do have the misfortune to both react badly to insect bites while being extremely attractive to biting insects). The computer also froze at the time - leaving me to finish the transaction WITHOUT my online receipt. When the box arrived - I had the M's decorate it but did NOT open it!

When Michael opened his "big present" - we were all shocked to find TWO scooters inside! A quick check of the packing slip confirmed that I had ordered TWO scooters not one! Hmmm- that explains why that VISA charge was so much higher than I had thought it was going to be. The 2nd scooter was officially dubbed a "family/sharing" scooter - but Maddy just isn't co-ordinated enough right now, so functionally it's Melissa's scooter. She is thrilled and convinced that was THE reason I would not giving in to her cajolings to tell her what Michael was getting!

Of course the scooters HAD to be tried out, so we all headed outside and over to the co-op playground. There Maribeth surprised us all by climbing UP the slide ladder by herself!

Maddy, who was already tired, soon got very frustrated at only falling over and pitched a bit of a fit. We came back inside and her behaviour landed her INTO Megan's high chair. A very thrilled Megan sat up with the big kids in Maddy's place.

Maddy chippered right up once she had a bowl of cake and ice-cream!

But the mess - oh the mess! Sticky EVERYWHERE! These kids are about the messiest kids I have ever seen. The twins had been stripped to their diapers in anticipation of the mess - but even so their cloth diapers were soaked with ice-cream and smeared with cake, to say nothing of their skin and hair!

That is par for the course but what was even worse was that I was just as bad! I dumped pasta and salad down my front at supper. This was follwed by cake and ice-cream down my front at dessert and there was not one child close enough to blame it on.

"And WHO is the messiest eater children?" asked Daddy.

The gleeful chorus, "MOMMMY IS!!"

It's been a good birthday - but I really need to hit the shower!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Summer's End

Tonight was my very last sailing class for the summer and my last in White Sail III with the Surrey Sailing club. I have Cheryl to thank for a fantastic summer - she made it possible for me to go out two nights a week, meet a lot of neat people, and grow in a new and exciting direction.

Sailing through the Summer
Photos by Allan & Cheryl

I am home now with my 'report card' which I am humbled to say, shows a check-mark in the 'Demonstrated Consistently' column in every listed skill required to pass the course. So now I have, in addition to my White Sail I and II certifications, the last of my White Sail stickers.

Sailing with instructor Mike
Photo courtesy of Calvin Lo

Sailing downwind on the port tack with instructor Mike
Photo courtesy of Calvin Lo

Geoff, our instructor, said that most adult students will stop at WS III, get their own boats and learn whatever other skills (like using a spinnaker) on their own. But there are further certifications - Bronze Sail 4 and 5, and then Gold Sail 6 and 7. Bronze teaches advanced sailing skills (like sailing without a rudder) and introduces the student to racing and racing strategy. Gold teaches advanced racing skills and prepares the student for the instructor certifications. Cheryl and I have talked about my possibly taking the bronze certifications, but we'll just wait and see how it goes.

Sailing Instructors - Geoff(l) and Keegan(r), my WS III instructors. Yeah, Geoff looks quite young for a sailing instructor - he's going into his 3rd year of university this fall. Don't let that fool you because this is his 7th year of teaching sailing.

In this, my first season of sailing, I did not miss one class in ten weeks @ two nights / week. That means I got to see twenty sunsets from a sailboat this summer. I got to go out on the water on a couple of nights in rain and light squalls, as well as on a few nights when there was barely a breath of wind. On those nights when it was calm, my sailing partners and I (we were two to a boat in a class of 12 and pairs were shuffled often) would chat about work, family, hobbies, etc. I got to introduce myself a few times like this:

Me - "I'm a writer."
Sailing partner (sounding all impressed) - "Oh really?"
Me - "Yes, I write fiction. I write documentation for a software company."
Sailing partner - "Well, I guess that does count as fiction alright."