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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…

Beaver

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.

“TAKE THE SHOVEL”.

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.

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.

Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated

5 Dec

The Christmas Season is well upon us now.  And since we are officially past Holly’s birthday, with party and “day” under our belts, we can turn our attention to what’s really important: all the stuff we are going to receive in the next 4 weeks.

Now, please, don’t get me wrong.  We are very grateful and awed that so many people love our children enough to go to the effort of actually entering a store (going online), in the month of December (December 23rd) and handing over well earned cash (swiping their credit cards) to purchase an item they spent all year thinking about (called to ask what each girl wanted).

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  No really.  We love it.  Don’t stop…

It isn’t the types of toys that make me fear Christmas.  In fact, this year, it sounds as if the girls are going to have their best Christmas EVER (gift-wise anyway- the lack of snow situation is seriously worrying Bronwyn).  It isn’t even the quantity.  It is the gnawing, mind-devouring agony of the post-Christmas week going something like this:

G1:  That’s MINE.  I got it for Christmas.

G2:  But I was playing with it.

G1:  Well you can’t, cuz it’s MINE!

Me:  Just let your sister have it, she was playing with it, and you didn’t even care until you noticed.

G3:  Hey!  She has MY *thing*.

G1:  But you said you didn’t want it.

G3:  I did not.  I said I didn’t want to play with it now.  But now I do, so give it back.

G2:  How can I play *X* when she has all the pieces?

G1:  Well, *so and so* didn’t give you all those things, she gave them to ME.  And I want to play with them.  ALL.  Right now.

Starts crying

G1:  She HIT me.

Me:  I’d hit my sister too if she were being so selfish (in my head of course, I’d never say that out loud for real… ever… or anything….)

Me:  Don’t hit your sister.

G1,2,3:  BUUUUUUUUUT SHEEEEEEEE TOOOOOOOK IIIIIIITTTTTTTT…….

Does this happen in anyone else’s house?  How do you deal with it?

Elaine and I can (now) fondly reminisce about our days sharing a room in the basement.  We actually (based on the Berenstein Bears’ book, I think) plastered masking tape down the middle of our bedroom floor.  My side had the door, so I made Elaine enter and exit our room through the backless closet door (which led into the laundry room).  We had to share a room, but that didn’t mean we had to share anything else.

I want my kids to grow up in a house where everything is communal property.  Not everything, of course.  They each have their “special” toys and keepsakes that they keep in their rooms, and have a 6th sense when someone else is even thinking about touching them.  But most things.  I want them to be able to open up the My Little Pony bin and play together without attaching ownership onto every comb and accessory.

I dream about a home where all the toys are there to share and be played with, instead of hoarded and purchased in 3-packs.

However, the more I poll my friends, and listen to their experiences, the more I fear this is a pipe dream.

Maybe kids are meant to covet ownership as a means to control their lives, and practice their negotiating skills.  Maybe this is a lost cause on my part: insisting on joint custody of every Barbie.

All I do know is that I can’t referee every fight and preside over every judicial hearing, or I will go crazy.

What do you think?

To-Do List: Birthday Edition

13 Aug

1.  Drink coffee in bed (note to self, get sheets in laundry in time to put back on bed for tonight)

2.  Have Bruce make breakfast (do not tell him there is no food in the house)

3.  Go grocery shopping (by yourself)

4.  Paint nails (use new Crackle nail polish that you got at the Rideau Centre this week.  Remember that when you asked Bruce which colour to get, he encouraged you to get 2!)

5.  Go golfing with Bruce (beat him… on one hole…)

6.  Eat fancy and expensive steak dinner at 2nd favourite restaurant (use gift certificate that you lost before you could give it to the intended recipient… but then found after you had bought a new one)

7.  Eat birthday cake (made by Bruce, who, after checking back of the boxed mix twice still failed to see the addition of water, so it was more like a giant Birthday Cookie)

8.  Thank Bruce for making me a Birthday Cake (and the girls for remembering that green is my favourite colour)

I don’t think I have ever crossed off so many to-dos in one day!!!

Happy 30th Birthday!

30 things you never thought you’d need to know

7 Aug

Nothing motivates me to write a blog than visiting my favourite blogs and not seeing anything new.  So… you’re welcome.

No segue is coming to mind, so I will just jump right in:

I am turning 30 on Saturday.

I.KNOW!

So, to celebrate this milestone, I thought I would tell you a little about myself.  You know all about my kids, my husband, and even my dogs.  But I rarely really talk about myself here.  You know, on MY blog.

So here are 30 things you may not know about me:

1.  My favourite colour is green.

2. My middle name is Rachel, but it took me years to realize that it was spelled the normal boring way and not “Rachelle” which in my pre-teen mind was WAY cooler.

3.  My biggest fear is getting lost.

4.  I have a really hard time running and doing other things at the same time (which is why I suck at basketball, but am decent at Ultimate Frisbee).

5.  I once drove for 4 hours outside Thunder Bay with kleenex stuck in behind the mechanism to keep them on.  I thought they were broken, but it was really because your high beams won’t work if your lights aren’t on…

6.  I would rather eat potato salad than potato chips.

7.  My favourite donut is the apple fritter not because it is a superior donut, but because when I was a student, and I wanted the most value for my lunch, the apple fritter seemed the biggest.

8.  I hate sneezing more than anything else in the whole world, even more than throwing up.

9.  There are people out there who only know me by the name, “The Waterfront Nazi”.

10.  My friend, Melissa once convinced me that they hoisted Shamu the whale up a tower and let him dive into a pool of water.  Thanks, Melissa!

11.  The only movie to ever make me cry is Armaggedon.

12.  I own 7 pairs of shoes.  Total.

13.  I once cheated on a test in the third grade.  I couldn’t remember the last of the four food groups.  FYI, it is Dairy.

14.  I wrote an entire 8th grade geography paper based on the fact that Alaska was a country…

15.  I have owned 4 dogs: Honey, Peaches, Nevis and Dude

16.  I have owned 6 vehicles (not including my parents or my husband’s): the Booger, Ugly, Lance, the Civic, the Vibe, and my current minivan.

17.  I once went on a cross-Canada road trip with 4 girls, a car we had no business driving that far, and one suitcase each.

18.  I swam with spawning salmon.

19.  I have rappelled down a cliff-face in the dark.

20.  I have swam in a underwater cave.

21.  I saw a barracuda while snorkeling.

22.  I have no idea what colour my eyes are.

23.  Every time I travel to the United States, my bag/vehicle/person gets “randomly” checked.

24.  I once bought a statue of a giraffe from a man on the street.

25.  I have only kissed one guy.

26.  I have never tried drugs.  Unless love is a drug

27.  When we were kids we used to catch fish in our lake.  But we hated cleaning them, so we always let them  go.  One time we caught a monster catfish, and it was so big we wanted to keep it to show my dad.  Of course, we forgot about it in a bucket of water in the sun for weeks.  When we finally remembered, it looked like the fish had disintegrated in the water.  It was so gross.  It was only a few years ago that I realized that a raccoon probably ate it…

28.  The only word I ever remember getting wrong on a spelling test in grade school was “sugar”.

29.  My favourite book is Pillars of the Earth.

30.  When I was still dating Bruce, I drove the Booger to his parents’ house in Newmarket during a snowstorm.  We were supposed to leave for Chicago together in the morning, and I didn’t want to be late.  The storm was getting so bad, I considered pulling off the highway and waiting it out, but I was afraid I would freeze.  It was then that I noticed a set of headlights coming toward me, windshield wipers frantically pushing the snow off the windshield.  Windshield wipers?  The storm was much more bearable after that…

I hope you feel you know me a little better after that, and also, that you don’t think less of me…!

Also, I want to know if there is anyone who knew every one of these things.  If you did, comment below.

BFF… is it possible?

19 May

Bronwyn has a BFF.  Her name is Madison, and our story of how we met is a good one:

The first time I laid eyes on Erin (Mads’ mother) she was speeding past us in a passing lane and I glanced over and told Bruce, “look, there is another black Vibe with a guy that looks JUST like you… weird”.

Turns out, we were going to the same place.  This guy (and wife and daughter) were the other members of the wedding party that Bruce was in (for their mutual best friend).

“Is it strange that Ben has two best friends that look the same, drive the same car, have wives that practice in the same profession and specialty, and have all the same interests?”

A little.

When they moved to our area, I had to get to know them.  That first weekend together when Bronwyn was 5 months old and Madison was 8 months old, and Erin and I traded off shifts attending the reception and babysitting the kids set us up for an unexpected friendship.

Fast Forward Five Years.

Both girls assure us that they are best friends forever.  Why bother making other friends, they have each other.  They don’t go to the same school.  They see each other maybe twice a month.  And when they do get together?  They play in separate rooms.

Erin and I have shook our heads more than once and this incongruity.  I mean, what’s the point in having a best friend if you don’t do anything “best friend-y”?

I think us adults could take a page from their book though.  I am in a position where I have had to make new friends in my adult life.  My old friends are far away, and we moved to an area where we didn’t know anyone.  It amazes me that in a combined town of 30 ooo people, I have managed to meet so many quality friends.  They keep moving away, but I’m trying not to take it personally…

I still struggle how to manage friendships though.  How is it that a concept I find incomprehensible, my 5 year old handles with aplomb?  I constantly second guess myself.  I feel shy about introducing myself to new people.  I hesitate over the proper etiquette of who should invite who over and what should we do together etc.  I trip over my tongue in an effort to make my friends feel welcome in my home.

And I still don’t have that calm assurance that Bronwyn has when she declares that the only person she wants at her birthday is Madison… obviously…

Once when we were all at the park, the most popular girl in Mads’ class came running over:

“Madison, I am SO glad to see you here.  Let’s play, ok?”

“Can’t you see I am with my BEST friend, Bronwyn?”

Snooty?  A bit.  But that unwavering loyalty isn’t something you can teach.  And I wouldn’t take it away from them for anything in the world.

Hoping all your birthday wishes come true, Madison!

Too old for all-nighters

20 Apr

Every spring it seems like a glacier is melting and the runoff heads directly to our house!  The result is that our sump pump, in the basement, runs more than it rests.  Bruce is a bit paranoid of a flood and for the entire spring season doesn’t get a good night’s sleep because he’s half awake, listening to make sure he can hear that the pump is still running.  Because I grew up listening to a sump pump run every spring (right through the wall next to my bed) I rarely even hear the sump pump turn off and on, but Bruce can sense it anywhere.  That little bit of paranoia has resulted in “3 emergency plans” to deal with potential basement flooding issues.  Last Sunday, we used Plans A, B, C; and, a new Plan D was nearly implemented!

Plan A is the easy one: a battery powered water alarm to alert us to rising water levels.  It is very loud, very annoying, and saved us three times in one night!

Plan B: a generator that plugs into the house in case the power goes out.

Plan C: a used sump pump in case the current one breaks.

It was 7:00, and I am half way through putting the kids to bed.  Bruce has spent the better part of a half hour making his famous nachos.  Just as he is about to pop them in the oven, the power goes out.  Six seconds later the water alarm goes off.  Fifteen seconds later Bruce is already in the garage hauling the generator out (which happened to half flat tires) across our mushy lawn in a rain storm (I had to go out and save the day help)!   We get the generator up and running in the nick of time, restarting the pump.

9:00 –  after putting off dinner in the hopes that the power might come back on, we attempt to cook the nachos on top of the wood stove.  Although this sounds like it could work- I do not recommend it!  The bottom burned and the top didn’t melt.  Not what you are looking for in a plate of nachos…

9:50 – Bruce sends me to town (in the storm) to get more gas because the generator is running low.

9:53 – Power comes back on.  By the time I returned the generator was back in the garage – crises averted…

12:00 in the morning – one of the most amazing thunderstorms!!!  Constant lightning everywhere!  Magically, the power stayed on.

1:00 – Power is out again.  Water alarm goes off.  Luckily, the power came back on before we had time to get the generator out of the garage.

2:30 – Plan A sounds the alarm again!  Different this time…  power is still on… pump is still running…  Bruce says he’ll take care of it and if he needs me he’ll call.

7:00 – Wake up.  No Bruce.  I work my way downstairs to find him crouched next to the sump pit with two pumps going full blast, hoses and pipes Duct taped together (water spraying all over the laundry room) with everything leading outside through an open window.  The storm had dumped so much water that our one pump couldn’t keep up.  We were required to run 2 pumps 24/7 for 2 days before the water slowed down to a manageable amount for our original setup.

So in one night we used Plan A, B,  and C.  When I asked what would’ve been the next plan…   Bruce pointed to a nearby pile of buckets.