11 Jul

We are currently in a level 1 drought.  If we don’t get significant rainfall in the next 24 hours, it will be a level 2 drought.  This is pretty significant for our area, since there are many farms which rely on the rain to water their crops.  Some lucky ones have permits to take irrigation water from nearby lakes, but not all.  And, not us.  Not to say that our little garden is on the same scale, but, you know…

What does happen though, is that our teeny tiny 10 foot, dug well can’t keep up with our water needs, and that’s when Bruce gets creative.

Some things Bruce has suggested to conserve water:

  • No showers.

Ok, he’ll allow showers, but only 2 minute ones.  And you have to turn off the water while you lather.  And it is preferable to have a second person in the shower with you, so one can rinse while the other lathers… so as not to waste water!

  • All water run from the tap, if not being used, should be collected in receptacles from which we can water plants and dogs.
  • Since the rain barrels are now depleted, he and my brother-in-law have headed to the river to collect stream water to keep our garden alive.  Apparently it’s legal to take water from a lake if you keep it under 50 000 L.  I’ll take his word for it.
  • No laundry- all clothes are to be worn until soiled.
  • Dishwasher once a day max… our Hydro bill is going to be awesome!
  • The old adage “When it’s yellow, let it mellow; when it’s brown, flush it down” is in full effect.  If you don’t know what that means, Google it.

And finally, in an effort to conserve as much water as possible, he’s decreed that he and Eric will do their part by switching to drinking beer.

Bronwyn, in the spirit of the moment, came up with her own solution.  After finishing her ice-cream sandwich, she held out her hands to the dogs to lick clean.  She then dried them on a towel and proudly announced that her hands were clean, and she didn’t even use any water!


Living the Wild Life

23 Mar

Yesterday started out like any other.  We woke up.  We watched bunnies hopping around our garden.  Sent the the kids to school.  Brought the van in for repairs (yes, this is a practically daily occurrence).  As we were driving out the driveway, I noticed the dogs didn’t have their shock collars on, but I was late, and figured they’d be fine…

You can sense a story unfolding, yes?

When I came home that afternoon, I saw Dude

Man's Best Friend

racing along the fence line next to the highway.  And Nevis

Bronwyn and her pal Nevis on the first day of SK (Sept 2011).

wading in an enormous mud puddle across the road.  I rolled down my window and started yelling at the to get GET.HOME.RIGHT.NOW.  And that’s when I noticed it.

The animal that strikes fear into any stupid-dog owner’s heart.  The dreaded… porcupine!

I shut the dogs inside, put their collars back on, and headed out to get the girls from school.  Bruce had assured me that he would take care of it when he got home, as long as it was still hanging around.  I assured HIM that he wasn’t going anywhere!

When we got back, Bronwyn and I went out to investigate.  When Bruce got home we had a great time taking pictures and talking about porcupines.

Bronwyn loving the porcupine.

A little proof that I was there too!

Soon enough we had to make a decision though.  We sent the kids inside and “coaxed” the porcupine into our yard.  Bruce made quick work of the poor guy, and all was well with the world…

You can tell the story isn’t over yet, right?

After supper I went out onto the deck to get the dogs’ food bowls and I heard them howling and barking and carrying on, so I went to investigate.  I quickly ran back into the house shouting at Bruce to get his gun.  There was ANOTHER porcupine!  I figured it was his mate.  So while I ushered the dogs back inside, I was only thinking about the fact that the only thing worse than a porcupine hanging around the house, was a love-sick porcupine looking for his mate*

* I do not know if this is accurate.  I don’t know if porcupines mate for life… it was just what I was thinking.

Anyway, as I was heading outside to see my second porcupine in as many hours, I grabbed the shovel quickly, thinking that if I needed to nudge it in the right direction, I wouldn’t need to get too close.

I rounded the big pine tree in the front yard admiring this new specimen.

How glossy it is, I said to myself as I admired its smooth, shiny brown coat.

And so much browner- the other one was all scraggly and grey.

What big teeth it has…

And that tail- I’ve never seen a porcupine with such a large, flat tail…


I am not kidding.  What was a beaver doing so far from water?  And in a yard with 2 dogs in it?

And halfway through this thought process is when IT JUMPED ME.

Again.  NOT kidding!

I hit it over the head with my shovel, but it kept coming at me.  Finally I wedged the shovel underneath its body and flipped him over and we both stood glaring at each other.  Well, he was glaring.  I was screaming.  And walking backwards slowly as fast as I could.  When I reached the house, Bruce opened the door and I blurt out the whole story.

I don’t think he believed me.

He handed me his gun and went over to investigate.  You can’t shoot a beaver.  For one thing they aren’t in season.  And besides, they aren’t a menace like porcupines.  I implore Bruce to take the shovel, and he brushes me off.


This is what happened next:

It is kind of weird, because you can only hear my side of the conversation.  But… what the?!?!?  Crazy attacking beaver!

I stopped the movie because the neighbour came over just then with HIS shovel and the two of them kind of snowplowed the beaver across the road and back into the ditch.  A little while later I watched it run across the field back towards the river.

Inventive… I like it!

4 Feb

Tonight, Bronwyn and I went grocery shopping late, after the other kids were in bed.  This had a dual purpose: spend some one-on-one time with my eldest… and, hopefully, wear out a kid who (even after spending the day outside in the snow) wasn’t even close to tired at 8 pm.

To keep her occupied, and let her be helpful (and who doesn’t like free kid labour?!) I encouraged her to grab things off the shelf whenever possible.  This also allowed her a chance to practice her reading in a non-threatening environment, and try to recognize familiar brands etc.

We were almost done, and the store was very empty, so I sent her on ahead to get bananas.

“Get a bunch with 5 or 6 on it” I instructed as she ran off.

She returned with 7.

I inspected them thoroughly (I think that kids should be able to choose good quality produce at any age) and indicated that although they were a good colour there were too many brown spots.

She quickly returned with a second bunch.

“Too green” I countered.

I left her to scrutinize the remaining bananas while I threw more food into the cart.  She had been gone a little longer than I expected so I headed for the banana section.  That’s when I saw her, deep in conversation with a produce employee.  He was a guy about 17 years old, and I watched as he listened intently and walked all around the huge stack of bananas while she gestured and gesticulated what I could only assume were my previous instructions on Proper Banana Choice.  At one point she looked over at me and saw me watching her.  She indicated with a look that she had asked this guy to help…

She returned, triumphant, with a bunch of bananas.

“That man said these are the best bananas he has.  I couldn’t find the perfect ones, so I asked someone who worked here”.

I don’t know who was more proud: Bronwyn for having found the perfect bananas, or me, for witnessing my child engaged in such a grown-up solution.



16 Jan

For all of you waiting with bated breath, the answer to this question is….


And, yes, you can tell by the eyes.

I have never seen a picture capture what so infrequently passes over the face of a child: the ability to take on the characteristics of someone else.  It happened once when Holly was born and I looked at her face and saw my grandmother.  It happens more frequently when Josselyn makes a face and for a second I am transported back in time to when Bronwyn was that age.  But to have it on permanent record; proof that they are related; makes my heart content.  One day, I will show this picture to them.  Some day when they are older, and fighting, and hate each other.  And give them perfect proof that they are cut from the same cloth.  That we are all just extensions of each other.  Family sticks together.

Valley Girls

16 Jan

Alternately titled:  Welcome to Ontario, Jenn

Last week I invited some friends over for a playdate.  It is the first time that the adults were not outnumbered by children 3:1.  I actually kept counting them because I thought we must be missing a bunch.  It was also the first time that the new pastor’s wife (Jenn) came to my house.

It may also be the last.

The visit went fine.  Chaotic, but that’s to be expected.  Since the oldest child was not even 3, the general dynamic of play seemed to center around where the Moms were: 5 adults and 5 babies in my living room= crowded!

But, everyone played nicely.  Lunch was consumed.  Nobody fell down the stairs.  A success in my books.  Too soon it was time for Jenn to leave.  As the only person to bring more than 1 kid (I KNOW!), she had her hands full, and naps were needed…

She packed everyone up, and I helped her out the door.  Major points to her at this point for oohing and ahhing over the dogs, and recognizing that Nevis was named after Ben Nevis (although she is from Ireland, so…).  We parted ways waving and smiling.  I plunked Joss in front of a show to give her some down time while the rest of us chatted upstairs.  I looked outside and saw a disaster in the making.

Jenn, not having ever been to our house in the non-snowy months, did not realize that our driveway borders a large ditch, and backed right into it.

I rushed out to warn her, but it was too late.  Sheepishly shaking her head, she climbed out and we looked at the back end of the van sunk a good 2 feet lower than the front in soft, fluffy snow.

I did the only thing I could do at this point: called Becky outside to help!

While we waited for Becky, I shoved 2x4s under her wheels for traction, and recounted this story.  Becky and I gave a half-hearted effort at pushing the van out, knowing full well that we were only going through the motions in order to satisfy the requirements of “doing everything we can”.  It quickly became apparent that we’d have to pull it out with Becky’s truck.

In the Valley, girls drive monster pick-up trucks too.

She pulled out the chain (why would’t she have a chain in the back of the truck?  It’s WINTER.), and I quickly hooked it to Jenn’s van while Becky secured it to the hitch.  There was some discussion here about load-bearing and the best way to angle the chain, but I only include it here to make us sound more awesome.  I should also mention that the 3 of us moved a frozen-to-the-ground plastic play structure off the lawn so Becky could get close enough to the van.  Like I said- AWESOME!

After some quick directions to Jenn (who’d never gotten stuck in a snowbank before- and I can honestly say she is the first adult I have met to say that to me) she cranked her wheels and gunned herself to safety.

High Fives and Hugs abounded.  We.are.women- see us pull minivans out of ditches!

Moral of the story:  with lots of prayer, and friends who own trucks, you can get out of any tight spot.

A Battle worth fighting?

9 Jan

This morning, on the radio, there was a debate going on about whether or not one of the hosts should allow her 5 year old son to cut his hair into a mohawk style, even though she hated the idea.  It generated some debate, with most people falling into two categories: it’s just hair, let him cut it however he wants; and, you’re the parent, cut his hair the way you prefer.

I started to think about this, because I find myself drawn to the argument that children should learn to accept their parents’ rules, and perhaps we wouldn’t be faced with such a terribly self-centered generation if there was more “because I said so” parenting.

BUT, I also truly believe that it IS just hair, and that we need to allow our kids to make some choices in life.  Especially ones that aren’t detrimental to their safety and well-being!

So, I came up with a Pros and Cons list on the debate “Whether to let your 5 year old choose his own haircut”:


  • Children should be allowed to make mistakes in order to learn how to own up to their mistakes in the future.
  • Children need to have a strong sense of self, and choosing how they look can be a way to exert independence.
  • If we dictate everything to our kids, they will eventually revolt, and although it might be benign, it could be over something much bigger.  However, if we allow them to make decisions over the small things, they are less likely to rebel over the big things.
  • Children need to learn how to make decisions, so if we always make every decision they will not learn how to a) make decisions b) live with the consequences.
  • Our tastes are not the same as our kids.  Remember when your parent wanted you to wear something hideous?!


  • Children should look their age, and mohawks are too old for pre-schoolers.
  • Children should learn that their parents have rules that need to be respected, whether they agree with them or not.
  • Although hair will grow, if he doesn’t like the haircut after a few days, are you going to bail him out, or let him live with it (and maybe get teased- which is a harsh lesson for a 5 year-old)?
  • This generation is very self-centered, and not being allowed a haircut of your choice might be a good lesson in learning to live with disappointment.

What do you think?

Twins Part 2

9 Jan

Remember last March when I posted this?  Time for a new Picture Quiz!  Leave your vote below!

What child is this?