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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.


I want to see how many times I can fit “4” into this post!

3 Dec

It is 8:04pm.  Four years ago I got my first drop of Pitocin and the contractions started in heavy.  We were already 40 minutes into the Raptors game, and I had to convince the nurse that I really DID want to watch it, and no, my husband didn’t have to turn it off…

I couldn’t have known that less than 4 hours later (in Room 404), my sweet Princess would make her grand entrance at the stroke of Midnight.  Maybe we should have named her Cindy?

Our sweet, nameless girl looked nothing like what we expected.  She was born within minutes of 2 other babies, and kept the poor OB hopping!  She arrived in the middle of the worst snowstorm of the season.  In fact, we got stuck in a ditch on the way to the hospital (right outside our house) and the snowplow driver had to hoist us out!

Who is this strange person? And why does she have more hair than me?!

Since that first snowy night when she entered the world, Holly Grace has been spreading life and love in our lives every day:

Announcing her new status as "Big Sister" just days before her 1st Birthday!

Can't get her thumb out of her mouth long enough to blow out 1 candle!

Year 2 was just as great.  Holly continues to charm and surprise us!

Terrific Twos!

And last year… this cool cake was inspired by Holly’s favourite book that year: Curious George’s Hot Air Balloon Ride.

Showing off Auntie Jenn's awesome Hot Air Balloon cake

Which brings us to FOUR!!!!  How on earth my baby is 4 years old is a mystery to me.  But I love her more every day and will spend the rest of my life trying to show her how much she means to me:

Happy Birthday, Holly!

Holls and Lamby... Best Friends Forever!

Spa Season

7 Nov

Men… well, all the men that I know… consider the month of Fall to be “Hunting Season”.  This is a Truth that I grew up knowing.  I knew that my father would be absent in October to a place that I couldn’t picture, and wasn’t invited.  I knew that weddings planned, and babies born in October would not be looked upon as times of gladness and blessing, but of inconvenience, and resentment, and ultimately guilt at having to miss a daughter’s wedding…

I guess my question is, “when is Spa Week?”.  And if there were such a thing, is this how it would go?

“Got my plans all firmed up for Spa Week, honey.”

“You’re going spa-ing AGAIN”.

“You know I go every year.  And can you call your mother and make sure she got the dates right?  Luckily someone in our group got a package this year, so we won’t be exfoliating for nothing”.

“You mean you’re going spa-ing with my mother too?  I thought that you were going to the City with your girlfriend”.

“Oh, I’m doing that too.  This week is for manicures, but the City week is for pedicures.  And I’m going to need to more spa clothes.  Can you pick me up a reversible bathrobe?  I need it to be terrycloth on the one side, but silk on the other….”

“Why on earth do you need two different fabrics?!”

“Honey, obviously you can’t wear silk for the hot stone massage.  It would ruin it with all that water vapour.  But terrycloth is too heavy for mani-pedis.  Besides it’s the law.  I’m also going to need to go out to the spa and clear my area ahead of time.  I need to adjust my chair so it’s the right height, and put out my nail file and clippers.  Plus, I’ll need to pick up half a dozen polishes.  I just have no idea what I’m going to need once I get there.”

“Well, when will you be back?”

“I don’t know, depends if we get the seaweed wrap or not.  Could be Tuesday, could be Friday.  I’m going to need you to get some money for travel expenses and food.  $500 should about do it”.

“Didn’t you just GO spa-ing in the Spring?”

“Spring is facial season and my annual pre-wax, and I only went in the mornings before work, this is the big stuff- MASSAGE.  I just can’t wait to head out every week to a different Spa jurisdiction so I can catch all the legal spa times, and hang out with my friends, and drink fancy cocktails, watch chick flicks and get a few treatments in”.

“Well, why can’t I go?”

“Honey, you know it’s just for women, besides, who’s going to watch the kids?!”

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.


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.

Groundhog Day

27 Mar

So, I know that I have been not keeping up my end of the bargain.  You know, the one where I write blogs, and you read them?  So, today, you are going to be treated to several blogs in one.  All featuring my “other” children.  The furry ones.  Please be aware that the following contains content that is gross in nature, and some adults may be offended.


When Nevis was a puppy, only a few months old, we were still living in our apartment in Guelph.  Housebreaking a puppy (especially one as dumb as Nevis) was not going particularly well.  Things turned around when we got Dude a few weeks later.  Dude showed Nevis how to walk down the stairs.  And Dude showed Nevis how to not get lost between parked cars… sigh.  And Dude showed Nevis how to open a can of Coke (but that is a story for… further down the page!).  But Nevis showed Dude some things too.  Like how to pee on snowbanks.

We got the dogs in the winter and we often brought them out the side, service door to do their business in the wee hours of cold mornings.  This is also where the plow left all the snow from the parking lot.  So, this is where they peed.  But, Spring came, and the snowbank got smaller, and smaller, and smaller… until… there was only a shovel-full left.  This didn’t bother Dude, who easily transferred his urinary loyalties to the grass, but Nevis was concerned.  He sniffed around and circled until he managed to arrange his hindquarters into just the right position to get the yellow stuff directly onto the snow.  You can imagine what happened when all the snow finally melted.  Nevis was beside himself.  Until he found something that finally made sense.  A great big, fluffy pile of white stuff… and it was inside!!!!!  You know… where it should be.

That’s the last time we ever forgot to make the bed.  Apparently our big, fluffy, white comforter was just too tempting to a dog who loved snowbanks…

Olive Oil and Coke

While we still lived in Guelph, we often had to leave the dogs for 8 hours or more in the apartment while we worked.  Since they were getting older, and not chewing so much, we often left them out of the kennel when we’d only be gone a short time.

We returned to find two very sick looking puppies.  We couldn’t exactly figure out what they could have gotten into, but Dude, especially, looked off.  We knew something was up when he ran, pee streaming from behind him, straight into the patio door (which led outside to street level, but was difficult to get over).  We quickly opened the door and witnessed Dude eliminate more urine than Vanessa N on a boat!  That is when I saw the 24 pack of Coke on the kitchen floor.  I hadn’t noticed it earlier, because all the cans were accounted for, but as I looked closer I could see puncture marks in each of them.  A Coke-loving vampire?  Nope, just two thirsty dogs; who now needed to pee every 30 minutes for the next 24 hours…

On a different day, Nevis (and Dude?) broke a bottle of olive oil and drank the whole thing (about a litre).  Soon, they vomited all over the kitchen.  We cleaned up the mess with paper towels and assumed we’d seen the end of it.  But Nevis wasn’t about to let a little thing like a garbage can keep him from eating the vomit-saturated paper towels ( I know, I am feeling a little nauseous just writing this!).  Since I am not in the habit of checking to make sure the garbage is still in the can, I was pretty surprised when the next day we had taken them for a run and noticed Nevis was having some difficulty, you know, passing a bowel movement.  It turned out that his difficulties stemmed from the wad of paper towels he was attempting to pass.

The grossest best part?  The paper towels were still intact!

Groundhog Day

Last year, or maybe the year before, Dude discovered groundhogs.  More to the point, he discovered how to hunt them.  He and Nevis had brought us a few birds and mice but nothing really substantial.  I was thrilled, and slightly grossed out when I got home one night to find Bruce and Dude in front of a groundhog.  He had caught it during the day, but wouldn’t eat it until he had shown his people.  When Bruce got home he gave Dude the go-ahead to eat what he wanted.  But he resolutely refused.  He needed to show me (apparently his real owner!!) before he allowed himself to partake of the spoils.  I praised him and admired his cleverness and hunting prowess and all those things you say to a dog when he brings you the carcass of a nuisance rodent.

The next day, Bruce decided to bring Dude across the road to see if he could help tone down the groundhog population over there.  The owner of the field has a large garden, and has admitted, that although the dogs bark a lot, he has sure noticed a decrease in the number of groundhogs and skunks!  So, Bruce has some pretty high hopes for the dog and I can practically see the plot of “Where the Red Fern Grows” running through his head- just a boy and his coon dog.

Dude was not very successful.  He tried, but the art of stealth hunting was lost on the poor animal and he just tired himself out running from hole to hole barking his head off.  Until… he chased a groundhog right to his hole, barking like a fool, and turned his head to kind of see what was hitting him in the side of the head, and a groundhog ran right into his open mouth!  I am not sure that counts as a successful hunt, per se, but we praised him pretty good anyway…

Groundhog Day Part 2

Today was the dogs’ first successful groundhog kill of 2011:

Nevis taking credit for the kill (when we know full well that he is no way fast enough to get a groundhog!)