Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cleanliness is next to Godliness


Those of you who have been to our home will know that I am not the most skilled homemaker. I can tidy with the best (ok, maybe not THE BEST) of them. And I declutter on a regular basis and vacuum every day. However, my most reviled chore of them all is...honestly, all of them. Solution? We have just gotten ourselves a cleaning lady. Since the cleaning lady we have (which is me) pretty much sucks.

Today was the first day May, our spotless saviour, has come to clean. Within twenty minutes of her arrival, the kitchen smelled of Mr. Clean. The back of the sink, the edge of the sink basin, behind the spice know all the places where guck lingers. Gone. It was magical. She spun her scrubbing spells everywhere. Places I didn't even know were dirty looked strangely different and...clean.

Molly and Finny were very impressed. They took a happy tour of the house pointing out all the things that were sparkling. Although, after May left, Molly pointed out that the mirrors in my bedroom hadn't been cleaned. That comment scared me a bit because I couldn't help but wonder what other secret observations she makes on a daily basis in that wee little head.

Off to bed, the girls were pleased to see all their animals and dolls lined up on their pillows. Molly said her bed was so nice she didn't want to get into it.

So clean. So nice. So worth it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Night out on the town

The scene: Sanafir restaurant on Granville Street...trendy crowd of Vancouver sophisticates.

The cast: Eight girls (and me) from high school

Sore thumb: Me. Wearing brown cords and a puffy vest. The hostess, while leading me past countless beautiful people clad in dry-clean only clothes (not a single one with spit-up stains), managed to say this with a straight face: "May I check your VEST this evening?" I refused, simply because I was unable to picture my puffy vest flanked by Chanel and...oh my god, I can't even think of another fancy label. That's how sad I am.

Having said that, the mild embarrassment of wearing an Eddie Bauer sweater to an urban hotspot was more than worth it for the company of eight interesting women. Plus, the food, which comes in trios based on meat, was very good. The only obstacle was nine women trying to be polite as they split tiny bowls of food into equal portions. It isn't easy to divide a prawn nine ways. But hey, the breastfeeding mother (i.e. me) was not afraid to snag the last tidbit of braised savoy cabbage or breaded fatoush. Ain't too proud to beg.

The trip to Ontario was great. Lucas was a terrific travel companion to my mum and me. We had a really nice time celebrating my grandmother's 90th birthday at my aunt and uncle's house in Picton. It was great to see family and see how the next generation is growing. Plus, there is no more lovely place to spend a spring weekend than Aunt Mary's house. It was a blissful interlude.

I also have to say that all mothers of new-ish babies that are second or third children should take them away by themselves for a short trip. I really missed the girls, but it was a rare treat to have Lukey alone for while. We were able to get acquainted on a slightly different level than is permitted by routine life. And the good news is...I like him even more.

Almost a whole week away from the girls was a tiny bit hard. I was definitely ready to see them again. I was missing little arms around my neck. The honeymoon period was brief, though...oh so brief. I went to surprise them at the swimming pool. When I got there, I could hear them in the changeroom. I started to knock on the door, which terrified Finny that a stranger was trying to break in. She started to bawl. By the time she figured out it was me, there wasn't so much joy that I had returned as relief that I wasn't a hairy, ravenous beast pounding on the door. Eric told me that it was the most annoying homecoming ever.


Friday, April 20, 2007

E-No break for single parents

As one of two parents, raising 3 children, life often feels like it consists of a continual series of things that need to get done. However, as a single parent, I can really see how difficult it can be to ever find time for myself. Alright, in the spirit of full disclosure, it has only been two days, I now am only responsible for 2 children and I have family help in town. Never-the-less, it is a good glimpse into how challenging it must be to raise kids alone, especially if you don't have much support.

The girls and I enjoyed a nice Spring day yesterday, riding bikes and playing in the court yard. Well, at least Finny and I enjoyed it. As soon as we were outside, Molly, surrounded by friends, toys, balls and bikes, decided it was time to loudly repeat over and over "I'm bored. I'm bored Daddy." I couldn't figure out why she was saying this. She had just about everything she could want. Then I remembered that earlier I had told her, that after playing, we would walk up to Shopper's Drugmart to see her friend who works their, Sandy Posnikoff. Sandy, apart from being a sweet lady who is always ready to greet the kids with smile and a hug, is particularly popular in our house because she often gives the kids treats when they visit. I get a lot of requests for "let's go see Sandy". Anyways, my point is, this behaviour yesterday was a good insight into the psyche of a 4 year old. While games, sunshine, toys, bike's and friends are pretty good on their own, when compared to candy (and Sandy), they are pretty "boring".

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Broken Family

Sorry I am weak with the pictures. But it is 11:45 and I'm tired.

I had to add this little tidbit, though.

I am leaving for Toronto tomorrow. The girls aren't coming with me. So, as I was putting them to bed tonight, Molly was lamenting being left behind. When I gave her one last cuddle, she whispered into my ear, "Are we a broken family now?"

What? What have you been watching, Moll? Then I realized that in "Lilo and Stitch", Lilo and her sister are called a broken family because they have no parents. That's a bit heavy. So, I sat back down on the bed and we had a little chat about the permanence of family...blah, blah, blah.

Out of that conversation, Molly revealed that she wished she had a magic mirror so that she could look in it and always see where I was. Holy crow, that's out of Snow White. Hmmm, is it possible that I need to take a second look at our video collection and maybe give Disney a bit of a rest?

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Quiet House

I am sitting in Vancouver, and a quiet house surrounds me. Lukey is asleep and Eric and the girls are in Point Roberts. I came home (almost) by myself tonight, after the Canucks game (go Canucks, go) because I have to go out to UBC tomorrow morning to participate in a study and I had to submit an article I just finished for a trade publication. Seems weirdly silent here. The girls are quiet when they are sleeping, but somehow even their silence sort of fills the place. Lukey is breathing away here, but his little breaths don't seem to have the same volume or girth.

Poor wee Finny had a mini-breakdown tonight before bed. She was up pretty late, so was a tad fragile. But as my mum pointed out, sometimes it is easy to forget that she is still so little. Sure, her speech is fairly ridiculous (if you haven't heard it you will think I am being cruel but you'll just have to take my word for it). But really, she is a very together toddler. In fact, that word toddler just feels stupid for her.

Her night was capped of by breaking one of my new-ish shoes. It wasn't a big deal and it wasn't even her fault, but she snapped. She collapsed into my mum's arms and proclaimed that it was a "Dammit day!", followed by a bunch of dammits. Wow. Not really what you want coming out of a two year old's mouth, but fairly descriptive. She was bummed. She was sharing that emotion with all of us. You know what? Fair enough. There will be plenty of time tomorrow to explain that we don't really want her saying that (particularly at the top of her lungs...say, in a supermarket, where I will incur death glares from judgmental grown-ups). In the meantime, she was having a Dammit moment. Alright little Finny, alright.

Sleep it off, kiddo.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

E-A typical day at Alli's house

A friend from England just sent me this picture of Alli, the girls and my Mom. Although the girls will soon forget, I wanted to post this picture to remind them of their trips to Aunt Alli's. My Mom did a fantastic job of including Molly and Fin in Allison's life by going out there an average of one or two times a week. They would watch movies and read stories together, go for walks and then give Alli a back rub before her afternoon nap. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Last Sunday I went 15 hours without sitting down, but somehow managed to get no sympathy from my wife. Steve Hall came down and spent the night at Point Roberts on Saturday. We woke up at 6 am Sunday to join our Dads for a game of golf at the local course. Despite a little rain at the beginning, it turned out to be a great Spring day where we had to worry more about mosquitoes than getting wet. Although none of us shot particularly poorly (keep in mind I consider a 116 not that bad because the course is over 6,000 meters long and I haven't touched a golf ball in 2 years and am pretty unskilled to begin with), it still took us almost 5 hours to finish. This posed a little bit of a problem because we were having people over for Easter in the early afternoon- and I wasn't finished until 12:30. Oh well, I knew Les had some helpful toddlers at home to help get everything ready. I managed to buy the beer, get some ice and still make it back before anyone had arrived.

The afternoon's activities were mostly outside based around the bonfire. This in itself was quite the activity, as the fire took almost an hour to really get going despite the use of large quantities of paper and gasoline. Maybe Fire Fighters (and wannabees as well) are better at putting out fires than starting them. Nah, we'll just blame it on the rain from the night before.

With the fire roaring and the beer flowing, we brought the toddlers out to play, and set up a backyard Easter egg hunt. We were smart enough to keep the eggs well away from the fire.......we definitely didn't want to see any good chocolate melt. The ham, buns, chips and vegetables went over pretty well, for a little while at least. I noticed consumption greatly slowed down over time, and I figured everyone had had their fill. However, around 8 in the evening, when I finally stopped tending the fire and helped myself to a sandwich, I got a closer look at the food. Apparently what goes up must come down- and the large plume of smoke that carried up most of the organic waste from our garden, eventually lost momentum and settled down over our table. At that point in the day however, after so many hours on my feet, with very little to eat, I figured a little extra ash wouldn't do anything more than add a smokey flavor to the sandwich. And I was right.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Definition of Stupidity.... taking three kids for shots on the same day. They each had four. Bad idea.

The good news is that they were all in all, very even tempered about the whole thing. I breastfed Lukey and honestly, what guy wouldn't be placated by the presentation of a naked breast? Molly was her typical sensitive but cerebral self. She was feeling the pressure to be brave after the silly display of mind over matter put on by her sister. Finny went into some "pain free" zone and managed to come through the whole experience completely unscathed. In fact, when we got back to the car, she came out with this:

"Shots are super fun, Mummy."

Really? Apparently a shiny sticker and a short memory are golden.

Saturday, April 7, 2007


Molly, Finley, Lucas. Here is a picture of your Dad's, Mom's Mom-Doris, Dad-Garnet Hamblin and Doris' parents Annie and George Williamson.


Friday, April 6, 2007

E-Ode to a modern mother

It wasn't that long ago that, while the husband went off to work, the wife was expected to stay at home, look after the kids, make pastry and keep a clean house. Life is pretty different in our home, with a lot fewer expectations of what is normal, and a lot more experimentation of what works best. And this is where I have to give Les her props- she is very creative and willing to try new opportunities which are now available over the internet. I don't know where she finds all of these things? I think is probably a starting point for her, but I suspect she has many other sources too.

I would say that this behaviour started a little less than two years ago when we arrived home from Europe. The first venture I can recall was "Mystery Shop" where Les got paid for mailing some envelopes with the Post Office and then filled out a questionnaire about the level of service she received. Ever since then we receive a couple of emails a day with different opportunities for us to make a little cash by visiting a local retailer. It wasn't a big money maker and Les doesn't do many any more. However, every once in a while, when she wants a free basket of BodyShop products or what have you, Les once again dons her mystery shopping hat.

Perhaps a more profitable but time-consuming activity, is selling things on Craigslist. We picked up a $3 "saucer" for toddlers at a thrift store last year and Les was able to sell it for $35 on the first day she posted it on Craigslist. Not a bad return but pretty labour intensive. The article Les had published in the Globe and Mail came through the internet, as was a recent job offer to write for a trade magazine. Les is great at getting free things on the internet too; whether it's passes to a show or a Starbucks gift card. Lately I have noticed that a lot of the events we take the kids to, stuff going on in the community, are things Les heard about on-line.

However, having said all this, I still think last night's activity was the coup for her. I rushed home after work so she could go out to another of these mystery events. It turns out that somewhere on the internet, Les found an invitation to a catered buffet dinner at an upscale local hotel. In exchange for eating this meal (which she described as "fantastic" note: she rarely says this about my special breakfast dinner I prepare for her) and sharing what she knows about Flaxseed oil, Les was paid $60 for her time. Now, I know what Les knows about Flaxseed oil,and this does not seem like a fair exchange. However, the man who is starting the Flaxseed Oil company seemed happy enough, so everybody came out a winner. You've got to love the internet- and my wife too of course!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

E-U.S. housing market

With all due respect to Bryan, I realize that he just bought a piece of American real estate, and this probably isn't the video he would like to see. However, being a relatively recent purchaser of US property myself, I feel entitled to put this video on our blog. I have no idea how accurate these statistics are but I thought it was a cool representation of the housing market.


Molly told me she was a cat this evening as I was putting her to bed. I'm not sure if this was a tactic to prevent bedtime (ie, some argument that cats don't have beds, or bossy mothers, or they can't understand English, or she's a cat that doesn't sleep...whatever). We tucked her into her kitty basket (oh man. who am I? I don't even like cats. I love Molly. Really don't love cats). Stroked her silky cat fur...etc.

I came downstairs and settled in for the evening. And Molly settled into her evening routine: twenty minutes of stalling and chatter. Tonight, she told me she needed to go to the bathroom. Fine. I heard her get up. Then she kept talking. I couldn't hear her exactly, but sometimes, at the end of the day, patience is low. I told her I was done talking and so was she. She hesitated. Then there was this:

"But Mummy, I just wanted to tell you that the cat is in her kitty litter..."

I laughed. Mixed message, I know. But it was funny. I didn't even know she knew what a kitty litter was.

Monday, April 2, 2007

E-Welcome neighbours

We'd like to welcome our new neighbours in Point Roberts, Bryan, Judy and PJ McKnight. (Although PJ is not officially on the owners certificate, I am pretty sure we'll be seeing a fair amount of him considering that he now has access to the American sub-50 cent beer market that every 24 year old Canadian has to love!) For over a year, the McKnights were quietly on the look-out for the right opportunity to buy a place on the Point. At the beginning of March, the perfect place became available- a beautiful lot on the beach, with a small, rustic cabin that over-looks Georgia Straight.

Bryan and I drove down to the Point yesterday while Les and the kids went to a morning Art/Dance class at Arts Umbrella and an afternoon Swim lesson at the Arbutus Club. I had my first tour of the cabin and opportunity to lend a hand. That's the thing about recreational property- there's always work to be done. But who can really complain about work when it's outdoors in the sunshine with a view like this. And there's always a cold beer waiting for you! Later in the afternoon we tackled some work at my place. It finally felt like Spring as I power washed away the 6 months of "waterlog", that was our winter, from our decks and driveway. The only part of the day I didn't enjoy was cleaning out the pond/stream in the front yard. It is pretty much a cesspool of scum this time of year that has to be pumped out. The highlight of this activity came at the very end, when the water was pretty much all drained and only a thick brown sludge remained. With the thickness of the "liquid", the pump wasn't working well and needed some adjustment. As I rotated the base of the pump, the hose disconnected, sending a powerful wave of sludge right into my face (not to mention pretty much every other part of my body). Thankfully I had a partner looking out for me who decided it was time to call it quits, grab a beer and get home in time to watch the Canucks win their 46th game of the year.