Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween with the MJE's

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

The twins were sheep. They even said, "Baaaa! Baaaaa!"

I got to be "Little Bo Peep". The kids wanted me to dress up too. (With apologies to Allison - but the dress from her wedding was the closet thing I could think of for a costume on short notice.)

Michael was a puppy dog. Melissa was a ferocious tiger in the costume Grandmommy made. Maddy was the "queen bee." Everyone but Megan let us paint their faces too! As Attie Gail can attest, this is a real breakthrough! The M's have previously refused any sort of face painting at every fair or event we have taken them to!

We headed out with the twins in the wagon; which proved to be a bit cumbersome getting up sidewalks to doors. But they simply aren't ready to walk yet. Hopefully next year!

We managed the co-op and the neighbouring cul-de-sac before Maddy said, "I want to go home." This was shortly followed by the twins getting into a great battle over candy in the wagon.

Despite the fact we didn't cover much ground, they got a GOB of loot. Plus we have over half of the candy we bought to hand out left still. It was cold and drizzling rain and we just didn't see as many treat or treaters out as we expected to.

Aunties dress up for Halloween

Bunny & Cat
Originally uploaded by mossflower.

Most of the M's Aunties dressed up for halloween as well! Auntie Ally and Auntie Beth dressed up as a cat and a bunny.

Plus there is flickr feline representation. Auntie Ally's Molly looks awfully spooky in the dark!

Nala and Ally - 2 black cats

Bunny Beth with her sidekick Mopsy

Auntie Gail with Hugh taken by Aviator Dave

More on Auntie Gail and Uncle David's Halloween here

Sunday, October 30, 2005

In Which We Get a Break

A break in the weather that is, but hopefully a break in the cycle of illness that has been plaguing us too.

When one has small children who have not developed awareness of proper sanitary practice, it's pretty much a given that you're going to spend a good deal of your days battling off one bug or another. Still, it's been definitely "heavy weather" that Cheryl has been under for the last while. The poor lass has had over two weeks of over-stuffed sinuses, trying to breathe whilst feeling like a not-small pachyderm was on her chest, and feeling wiped out no matter how much rest she got. By Friday, she'd had it, and took herself to the walk-in clinic, where they prescribed an antibiotic with enough punch to knock out an elephant. Hopefully she will be feeling a bit better today and better tomorrow.

All this has taken place of course against the following backdrop: Autumn, also known as "The Rainy Season" hereabouts, has arrived with a vengeance - intent on over-compensating us double and treble the precipitation deficit we managed to run up through most of July, August, and September of this year. I will be grateful that the North Pacific doesn't get warm enough to spin up the hurricanes that they get in the tropics, but it sure does get warm enough for the air to absorb a significant amount of water when humidity levels hit 100%. Since it will be only 30 or 40 days until Winter -- "The Even More Rainy Season" -- arrives, the last six or seven weeks have been, to say the least, distinctly gloomy.

Anyhow, the break .. We woke on Saturday morning to blessed sunshine! It was wonderful to be able to open the blinds and see the lovely yellow-golden light. We had a late brunch, and then Cheryl said, "Let's get everyone packed up and go for a walk."

Me: "Are you sure you're up to this? You, and everyone else in this house, are still sick."

Cheryl: "I'm fine. We won't be out long. I just need to get out long enough to get some sun."

Me: "Riiiiight."

Actually, the antibiotics she is on must have been helpful, because it was Cheryl who did all the work to get us out the door. My brain was, and still is, pretty foggy about the whole thing.

I believe we drove around the block only once before we figured out the general direction we were headed in -- the ocean of course. If you head up valley, you'll just end up following all the gunky weather. If you head out towards the ocean, you've at least got a 50/50 chance the weather coming in from the ocean will be fair and not foul.

A couple of wrong turns later, we found ourselves headed to one of our favourite places, Crescent Beach. However this time I directed Cheryl to steer us away from our usual walk, towards the other end of the lot, and the entrance to Blackie Spit Park. This handkerchief-sized park points north and nast, away from the ocean, and protects a small marsh and wetland on its eastern side.

The shoreline that describes the spit was practically deserted. The kids had a great time looking for shells and other treasures on the sand.

Momentarily taking leave of her senses, Cheryl decided that it might be fun to wade into the ocean in bare feet.

The children, other than Megan, felt discretion the better part of valour, and left the wading to their mother and sister. That and the water was pretty cold anyhow.

Fall Artwork

Fall drawing

While I"ve been under the weather the past couple of weeks - the M's have stayed busy drawing. We've scanned and uploaded some more of their work to their Syntaxerror site on Flickr.

The winds and rain have brought down many of the fall leaves and Michael has been fascinated with the raking of leaves as shown in his fall drawing "raking leaves":

Maddy has shown the most progress in the past few weeks. Finally going from scribbles to actually attempting to draw pictures of things.

Here is her most recent work "My castle":

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

An unexpected turn of events

Going on a camping trip
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

When the girls want to play with Maddy's new playtent - they go on a camping trip and set it up in MICHAEL'S room!! Surprisingly - he can look past the fairy princess castle theme and actually wants the tent in his room. I suppose it makes sense - the girl's room is much more cluttered and what floor space there is tends to be full of discarded clothing.

Michael and the binoculars

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ducks Redux

We went for a walk at Greentimbers Park today to see the ducks.

Mummy & Maribeth
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

For some reason the kids get really excited every time we go. I, having been exposed beyond my share to these incredibly noisy and aggravating birds, just don't share their enthusiasm.

On the Dock
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

The Quacking Horde
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

The twins asserted their toddler independence and actually walked for quite a ways.

Pondside Twins
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

On a completely different note - thanks to Gail, I have evidence for Cheryl that Michael had at least one Bob the Builder birthday-cake:

Video posted by Gail

There's a very short flash in this video of one of the twins. It goes by so fast that you can't tell which one it is.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Happy 4th Birthday Madeleine!

Maddy's big birthday cake
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

A huge cake, tubs of ice-cream and balloons all around!

Maddy was the centre of attention at church today from the moment she walked into the door, carrying her helium balloon and telling everyone "It's my birthday today".

Smile for the Camera!

"Thank you for coming to my birthday party," she kept telling people all through Sabbath school, church and potluck.

Gifts will happen later at home after nap and some supper but she actually WAS given some money by church members!

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I seem to have caught the latest virus from the twins. Miserable cold, horrid sore throat, coughing and I think it's leaning towards sinus infection. Of course as they are feeling better - that's when I start getting sick!

poor Allan though - he's so swamped at work and he comes home to a diaster zone.

You know the joke where the SAHM just doens't do anything all day and her dh says "what happened" because the house looks like a War zone and she says "I didn't do what I do all day"???? Well...that's what Allan came home to!

I did some "school" with the kids from laying down but not a full day's work. They barely ate today and no proper meals, sippy cups everywhere. I had twins running around the house eating cold left over corn on the cob.

Poor Allan - he just got them to bed. I've managed to load the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry but that doens't make a dent in this mess. ugh. I'm hoping he doesn't come down with this! Plus it's Maddy's birthday on Sabbath- so I really need to be better for that!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Walking Alone at Night

I love walking alone at night - at least when I'm not having nagging thoughts about very bad things that might happen to a woman walking alone at night. Statistically speaking - it's not THAT dangerous though. Well, it depends where you live I guess. I'm generally more cautious about these things now that I have children. Though I'm not actually SCARED of walking alone in the dark - I feel like I SHOULD feel scared.

In the summer - it's not so much of an issue at all - but now it is getting dark earlier and staying dark longer. So that leaves walking or bicycling in the dark (morning or night) or NOT EXERCISING OUTSIDE AT ALL! I can do videos in the house but it's better for my mental well-being to actually get outside!

So after Allan-who-pulled-an-all-nighter-last-night and the kids were tucked into bed - I set out on foot for the library. I had items that were due today and 1 hour left to get them back. It's a shame to take the van for something that takes me 20 min to walk or 10 min to bicycle. Bicycling was out as my headlamp has dead batteries. I need to get rechargeables for it really. It goes through AA's so quickly. Allan thinks I need a higher quality headlamp.

It was a lovely peaceful walk - I saw some stars out, crisp cool air. Nothing really scary. Then had the fun of browing the library by myself. Putting requests in for the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books - all checked out and one one I'm 8th in line! It seems the movie has really increased the demands for these books! I did manage to get the ONE Douglas Adams book in the library branch "The Salmon of doubt" published post-humously and in an unfinished form.

Other books I brought home with me include
"Welcome Home - Travels in Smalltown Canada" by Stuart McClean (of the Vinyl Cafe)

"Safe Kids - Safe Families" by Samantha Wilson. I'm hoping it will help me to navigate the troubling waters of what to let the kids go do by themselves and when. Allan grew up with considerably more freedom than I did but with both turned out o.k. (well - yes - I admit that is open to interpretation and some might not consider walking alone at 9pm at night in the dark to be "o.k." either!)

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus.

Ambitious aren't I?? But since everyone else is asleep - I'm going to go curl up with my books and a cup of Camomile tea.

BTW it was a lovely walk home in the dark by myself.

Look where we found Maribeth

Look where we found Maribeth
Originally uploaded byAllan & Cheryl.

I realized just now that Megan was clinging to my leg acting like she needed a nap - but I had no idea where Maribeth was. We went on a search and I found her IN Michael's loft bed!

I guess she'll get the top bunk

I guess we know who is getting the top bunk when the twins get bunk beds! She had even shut the door behind her and climbed up there with a bottle! So cute!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

We watched it last night after the kids were in bed. I don't know when I've laughed so much! It was hysterical - I hope they do more of them. I'm sure Allan will be along shortly to write a well-thought out fan reveiw. But in the meantime I'm glad we actually BOUGHT the dvd from "pre-viewed" bin for only a couple dollars more than renting it. We'll definitely be watching it again. I'm now inspired to re-read the books - it's been about 10 years since I've read the series.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

How grammatically correct are you?

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

Congratulations! If your mission in life is not already to preserve the English tongue, it should be. You can smell a grammatical inaccuracy from fifty yards. Your speech is revered by the underlings, though some may blaspheme and call you a snob. They're just jealous. Go out there and change the world.

How grammatically correct are you? (Revised with answer key)
brought to you by Quizilla

Childrens choir Concert

Children's choir
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Maddy is the shortest girl standing in the wrong place between two boys. She was supposed to be on the end as they were supposed to be arranged by height. Maddy was adorable and perfectly behaved even during some 'techinical difficulties' in the beginning.

Melissa is 3rd from left in the line of little girls in pink ponchos. She was looking and acting very much like a 'big girl' today.

Michael was supposted to be be in the middle of those girls. He didn't want to stand by girls, pitched a fit at practice, and ended up not singing at all.

The concert ran for about 2.5 hours and was a Heritiage singers themed concert with most of the musical numbers being music performed by the Heritage singers at one time or another.

Our children's choir sang 4 numbers which an additional 2 numbers being performed by the older members of the choir - the bigger boys and the older girls wearing the blue ponchos.

Megan and Maribeth alternated between behaving properly, fussing, charming strangers, and playing shy. They finally had simply had it after 2 hours, so Melissa and I took them downstairs to run around in the fellowship room where people were setting up for the food fair.

At the food fair I was pre-sold combo plates from our church. Allan was a bit put out: "Hey what about all the OTHER tables". But it turned out to be a good thing as the Aunties at our church table offered to give us our plates of food before the concert let out! Which meant by the time the chaos of several hundred hungry people poured into the fellowship room our gang was almost done!

I don't know WHAT possessed me but I let Melissa take $5 to spend on desserts. She bought (big surprise!) chocoate cupcakes, with chocoate frosting and smarties on top! I had removed the girls ponchos before the meal, but their brand new white shirts got quite messed up as did the twins' new pink outfits. I'm now running laundry as penance.

The boy has remained somewhat grouchy all evening (with the exception of a brief period when then chocolate cupcakes were handed out!) Maddy's declaration that, "Michael was being BAD this time and I was GOOD in the concert," was not exactly improving his mood. He finds it hard to believe now, but a time WILL come when being asked to stand next to a girl will NOT be considered torture of the highest order!

Another side-note to the activities today: we caught Maddy going around inviting people to, "come to my house for my big birthday party next week..."

ACK!!!!!! Filipino birthday parties are HUGE deals where EVERYONE is invited. We are NOT planning on doing that anytime soon and don't have the space or finances to throw that big of a bash. We have had a talk with Miss Maddy about that and a chat with the Aunties at church. Instead, we will be bringing a giant cake and big tubs of value priced ice-cream to church potluck next Sabbath! The whole church can sing to her then.

We stopped and ordered the cake on the way home: a full sheet (Barbie) cake from Save-On-Foods.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Twins Are Growing Up!

Look at my teeth!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

They are not "babies" anymore - but little girls! I thought all their fussing while Melissa and Allan were gone was just because they missed them. Well it turns out some of the crankiness was TEETHING! You can see they have almost full sets of baby teeth now - with new teeth still cutting through almost every day. The new teeth have changed their faces to look more like toddlers / little girls and not like babies.

They are adding new words every day too - including animal names and sounds. A favourite is, "DUCK - QUACK - QUACK"!!!

They also have started to sing. They enjoy music so much that I've started checking out children's music CD's from the library to play. This week's favourite across the board with ALL the M's is Raffi's "Playtime" which includes the Beatles "Yellow Submarine".

Yesterday Megan found a "Jesus Loves Me" flag that had somehow escaped from the Sabbath School supply box. She was walking around the singing, "Jesus wuves ME ... ooohh oohhh ohhhh," over and over again while waving the flag enthusiastically.

Today at supper Allan sang, "oh, oh, oh, Alligator Joe".

Maribeth sang back, "oh, oh, oh, DADDY-gator Joe".

The reaction impressed Maribeth enough for her to give an encore performance!

Melissa makes a decision

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

She has switched from Junior ballet where she was the youngest and the only new student in the class this year - to musical theatre - a class comprised of other 6 year old girls.

Instead of a sad and scared Melissa, after class we got the happy, bubbly, bouncing Melissa.

"I LOVE my dance class! It's so much fun. I simply ADORE it!"

The downside of course for the parental units: new shoes. Specifically, leather "jazz style" dance shoes in black. Not the newly purchased ballet slippers.

A quick visit to the consignment store and we traded the twins' 18-24 month like new Black Bow Robeez (which they don't make anymore!) for dance shoes for Melissa.

The twins walk so much now that with the fall weather we have them wear "real" shoes when we are going out of the house. Robeez are only for IN the house to keep little feet warm and socks on.

However - we'll hang onto those ballet slippers because it's already a tight fit to get Maddy's feet into Melissa's old pair of ballet slippers!

Maddy's first dance class

Maddy's first dance class
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Madeleine had her first "kinderdance" class today. The other 3 year olds are just as silly as Maddy! Even with such a small class size the teacher sure has her hands full.

Maddy went happily - so we were able to walk to the library and back while she was in class! She came out all bubbly and happy to show off her sticker!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Random Thanksgiving thoughts

I got up at 8 this morning and got started right away on the pot-roast, never having made one before. It turned out okay, more or less. Witness that I am taking the paltry left-overs to work tomorrow and that will it for the pot-roast. You'd have thought we would've got a week of meals out of it for sure.

Dad stopped in at 11 for Thanksgiving dinner. It's the first time in weeks that we've all been at home for a meal together, so it was a special moment.

After lunch, Cheryl took the twins for a nap then settled down for a short cello warm-up as it was orchestra practice tonight. Dad and I went out to the garage for my bi-monthly haircut.

It's a familiar and intimate ritual - Dad has been cutting my hair since I was around the twins' age. He and I have had some good heart to heart talks while he was cutting my hair. A little later on Michael came out, having decided that he was too cool to watch the Beatrix Potter DVD from Gail with Melissa and Madeleine. Of course he got his hair trimmed too. He sits very well for a five year-old. I can only hope he will remember these occasions when he is my age and my dad is long gone.


After Dad left, we got the twins up, piled the kids into the van and went to Serpentine Fen for a short (4 km) walk. The fen is partly natural and partly man-made. It started out as farm which was reclaimed with dykes from a brackish marsh on the Serpentine River. It is now managed by Ducks Unlimited as the Serpentine Wildlife Area (SWA), where the dykes are used to create and manage multiple marsh habitats in the same area. Ducks Unlimited also 'farms' some of the fields to create forage for migrating birds.

Thanksgiving Ramble
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Thanksgiving Ramble
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.


I walked out to the dumpster tonight (it's packed to the gills by the way) with the last load of garbage from today's activities and noted the stars were peeking through the overcast. I hope this weather-system clears out soon. We could use some wind to clear out all the fallen leaves.

Maple flame - August 17
Maple flame - revisited - September 4
Fall is Here - September 8
Maple fully aflame - September 12
Ashes - October 12

Flooding in NH

(the) bridge we take to Bellows Falls
Originally uploaded by mossflower.

I have relatives that live there - NH has declared a state of emergency and the National Guard has been mobilized.

Check out Mossflower's on the scene photo-set.

Other links for more info on this disaster (Thanks to the OC and GMP):

New Hampshire Public Radio
New Hampshire Union Leader

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I'm back from Tucson

.. it was an interesting week. My company's annual user conference was held there for the first 1/2 of the week and I think I logged a cumulative 5 hours of sleep over the 3 days. When I wasn't zonked, I was talking, schmoozing, listening, evaluating, presenting, talking, schmoozing, and then talking some more.

At the end of the conference my customers were saying things like, "my head hurts because of all the new information to absorb."

I was saying things like, "my head hurts because of getting all the information squeezed out of it."

(Of course, there were also a lot of people saying how much their heads hurt from absorbing all the alcohol, but since I was the self-appointed DD, and therefore welcome everywhere, I didn't have to worry about that.)

After the conference, I had a few more days of meetings with one of our customer focus groups to gather more information to plan new features for this coming year.

Next year's conference will be Savannah, GA. That is going to be a neat trip for sure.

On a completely different note, how come no one has ever mentioned the wildlife in Arizona being so brazen? This week, I (or my fellow conference attendees) had encounters with:

- wild pigs (collared peccaries, aka "javalinas")
- wild-cats / puma
- scorpions
- skunks
- praying mantises
- geckos
- an owl

Photo credit - Todd's Desert Hiking Guide

On Thursday night, I came back to my hotel room and heard an owl hooting, and it seemed to be very near by. I opened the curtains to my balcony and there it was! - not 3 feet away on the railing. It turned its head toward me, we locked stares for a good 10 seconds, and then it turned away and flew off.

For those who know the area, our conference was at the Loews resort in Ventana Canyon. I wasn't staying at the Loews, but at The Lodge next door. These places were, ummm .. quite swank, if you know what I mean.

It wasn't a completely boring work week though, as I got to spend about 4 hours at the Pima Air & Space Museum yesterday before I came home. They have the Airforce One that presidents Kennedy and Johnson used - and about 75 acres of other aircraft. You can get an idea of how big that is by going to or Google Earth (Keyhole). It's amazing!

Photo credit - the Arizona Aerospace Foundation

I also got to take the AMARC tour - where they take you to the government's 'boneyard' of decomissioned military aircraft at Davis-Monthan AFB. Our tour-guide joked that this is the only arm of the government that actually makes money - since they sell parts to other countries which are still using the different types of airplanes kept in the boneyard. He said, "I know some of you are thinking, what about the IRS? Well, they don't actually make money, they steal it."

I could have spent days there.