Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Doing crafts with kids

There are two kinds of crafts you can do with kids:

1. Total Chaos.
The kids have complete control of crayons, markers, glue, sparkles etc. The end product is something you discard. You compliment them. You tell them you love it. You might even put it on the fridge...for, like, six hours. But make no mistake. You will throw it away. If you can even pry the gluey monstrosity off of the table in one piece (fairly unlikely).

2. Organized Chaos.
You have an idea of what you want the children to make. There may even be "instructions". You assemble the necessary equipment, possibly even requiring a trip to a store to purchase a specific colour of pipe cleaner. You try your hardest to massage the kids into following the "instructions". Then you will settle for fulfillment of modified instructions, then just one, one little instruction. Then you give up and make it yourself. And either tell them that they made it, or if all else fails, that you made it for them. Then you throw it away.

This observation is prompted by my attempt to do a "dry run" on valentines. I tried to see what would be most realistic to expect the girls to make themselves (the answer? none. none, none, none). I ambitiously embarked on a woven paper heart shaped basket. Not only could they not do it, I couldn't do it. It took me about an hour to finally coax together something like a woven paper heart shaped basket. And then I gave it to Finny and told her I made it just for her...

Saturday, January 27, 2007


If anyone has seen The Pursuit of Happyness, you will know that most of the movie deals with Will Smith's character making homelessness seem "fun" for his son. I had a similar experience yesterday when Molly, Finny, Lucas and I were locked out of our house for three hours. Both the girls started a chorus of "Oh no", "How sad", and "What will we do?". You know the way kids are, they probably thought we would never get inside ever again. Looking at their stricken little faces, I went into damage control mode. Make no mistake, most of the damage control was done in an effort to reinforce that their mother was not a complete out and out idiot for letting it happen in the first place, but I also didn't want them to be sad. Soooooooo, we were off on an adventure!

Alright, you are two and/or four years old. You are not dressed very warmly (see above comment about idiot mother, but in my defense, I wasn't EXPECTING to be locked out...). What will qualify as a bona fide (and warm) adventure? Funds are limited.

We went up to London Drugs and bought a drink and snack for the journey, then hopped a bus out to UBC. It was toasty warm, it was moving, and it was something we wouldn't normally do. Sounds like an adventure to me.

We rode the bus out there, walked around and had a coffee (for me) and two cookies (for them), then tried to call the key-keeper (Eric) to no avail. Back on the bus for a return trip. The girls chatted non-stop the whole way and very little of the conversation had to do with me being a keyless moron. Fun was had. We grabbed some sushi and regained entry to our house. Instead of coming off like a no-brain dimwit, I was the bestest, most funest mom. Victory.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

the kid is smiling!

It is incredibly difficult to capture the fleeting smiles of a very little baby. The trick is that not only are they quite quick, you very much want to enjoy them when they come instead of chasing after a camera and seeing the whole thing from behind a lens. Then there is the added problem that most of the pictures that you actually do capture look pretty horrible and nothing (or very little) like the heart-squeezingly, devastatingly adorable face that makes your insides liquify, all queasy with love and worry and love and more love.

So kudos to mum, who managed to get this shot today while she was watching Lucas at her house. Certainly not the pinnacle of cuteness, but at least 4% of the way to how sweet his wee face actually is when he breaks out in joy.

We had a very nice day, spent skating and swimming with the girlies, then meeting mum and Luke for lunch. As days go, pretty lovely.

Other than that, not much is happening. Eric is working this overnight tonight, which consists of sleeping in fits and starts in a portable about two blocks from here. I might sit down and watch The Grizzly Man, which we just got from Zip.ca. We started an urban compost system today, which I am optimistic about. And we just started getting organic fruits and vegetables delivered bi-weekly, which is great so far.

Oh, and on Monday, we enter week three with no washing machine. I have always been someone for whom piles of dirty, or at least worn, clothing accumulate all over. This habit has been compounded quite disasterously by having children (whose clothing coincidentally also exist in mountain formation). Apparently, exponential growth can be expected when washing shuts down. Who knew? Thank goodness my mother can be relied upon to do the wash...and deliver it back all folded, too. Maybe the washing machine will never be fixed...hmmmmm.

Monday, January 22, 2007

weird baby sleep

Any of you who have or have had babies in your daily life will know about the strange phenomenon that I am witnessing right now: the very creepy habit that little babies have of sleeping with their eyes either wide or partially open. Wee Lucas is asleep on the floor behind me (bizarre eye think aside, he's looking pretty darn adorable if I do say so...though you are no doubt aware that I have a biological predisposition to find him cute. Because, man, if I didn't, there would be no feedings in the middle of the night, no changing diapers filled with green-I-don't-know what-the-heck-that-is, no putting up with spit all over all of my shirts, no toleration of all the other...sorry, enough of that...). He is facing me. He is looking at/through me, all the while dreaming of whatever babies dream of: big, never emptying, milk-filled boobs or...um...well, that's probably it.

We are hanging out at home today, enjoying a house made very quiet by the absence of the two girls. Molly and Finny are out with Eric's mom, Eric is at "work" (I will explain the quote marks another time, but let's just say I would happily trade jobs with Eric some days...) and Lucas and I are here.

Our weekend was nice and quiet too. One highlight was getting to see half of the taping of the CBC radio show "Go". I got tickets online to be part of the studio audience, which I was excited about since I listen to the show most Saturdays. I left all three kids with Eric at our friend Steve's place, watching hockey. When I say watching hockey, I actually mean that Eric was watching hockey, probably twisting Luke's head so he would watch too (who knows how osmosis works?) and the girls had the run of the rest of Steve's apartment, finding goodness knows what to play with. It's a pretty great guy who takes three kids to a friends place like that.

I went down to the CBC studios and met Paulina for the show. When we went into the studio, a producer asked us if we would mind asking a couple of pre-determined questions to one of the speakers during the live tape. We said sure. I was given the question, "In the REM song, End of the World, what Russian leader is mentioned?" When my turn came to ask the question...keep in mind this is live...the speaker hazarded a guess, then asked me if he was right. This was a question I had been given...I had no idea what the answer was. In short, I was made to look pretty silly on national radio. Blast that selfish producer. Humiliation aside, I enjoyed the show very much.

Oh, and on my way in, the guy putting money in the parking meter next to me thought I was 24. That was nice too. Oh, the kindness of strangers.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Family life...four in a single tub...

One of my favourite things to do with my girls is take a nice, relaxing bath in the evening before bed. We all pile in and get clean. Now, however, we have a new member (with a member...sorry...) and the bath seems to be getting smaller. The two girls and Lucas and I got into the teeny, tiny bath this evening. An adventure...I am pretty sure there were about two tablespoons of water in there, distributed between all our many parts. You will notice that there is no photograph to accompany this particular topic in the blog. You can thank me now, you can thank me later. But believe me, you DO want to thank me.

Tomorrow we enter a new phase of family life. Molly and I will go to the Vancouver School Board offices to enroll her in Kindergarten. Because she was born in Germany, we need to drag out every piece of paper the poor child has had her name printed on in the last four years. I am going to take this opportunity to apologize to Moll for the endless years of monotonous paperwork she will be forced to endure, all because her mom and dad were so selfishly residing in Stuttgart at the time of her birth. Sorry Molly.

Yikes. The school years are now officially breathing down our necks.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Dorner's visit

I'm now in the regular work routine at my newly full time job as a First Aid attendant on the RAV/Canada line. I am doing a 2 days then 2 nights on (followed by 4 days off) shift rotation, which is good preparation for the fire fighting job to follow (yes, I'm still expecting that to happen, eventually). In between shifts, we headed down to Point Roberts for 3 days of cold and snow. Most of our time was spent around the warm fire playing board games with the girls and watching movies from our Zip.ca account. It was so cold I didn't get a chance to try out my Christmas present, a new chainsaw.

We came back from the Point in time for my Sunday afternoon basketball and hockey games. I now have a few days of work before I head off to Phoenix for a couple days with Les' dad. These pictures are from our trip to Whistler (with a stop at the Stanley Park totem poles) just after the new year with the Dorners.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Out of contact

Well intrepid blog readers (and by this I mean my mom and dad...), in order to prevent feelings of abandonment, I felt it necessary to mention that my lack of update is due to my lack of computer. We are down in Point Roberts and I am sipping my coffee at the Cafe Capanna, looking out to an angry gray ocean. We will be back in the connected world tomorrow, but I didn't want anyone to feel neglected.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

We've made our bed...

...and now we'll lie in it. We welcomed another new addition to our home today: our brand new king-size bed. We have three kids...all five of us really need to fit in a bed. Most of you reading this will know that the Butler/McKnight REALLY like their sleep. Even the little ones. Look at the disgusted expression on Molly and Finley's faces in that picture. They are just bummed the bed isn't for them. Since we are lazy/sleepy people, we sprang for the big bed. To give you an idea how big, you can see how little Lucas is lying there in the picture.

And to give you an idea of how not that small little Lucas is, we went to the doctor yesterday to give him the once over and make sure that he hasn't lost any fingers and/or toes since birth. In all honesty, that is about the extent of the medical examination. I suspect that I probably could have done away with a few of Lucas's smaller appendages without raising any suspicions. They do weigh the babies though. And Lucas was big.

Eric and I made a vow when we had children that we would not become percentile spouting weirdos like so many parents. But brace yourselves...I am about to do that which we promised we would not. WARNING: A percentile is coming.

Lucas is really big. He is in the 97 percentile for weight and head circumference. He's gained more than 1.5 kilos in the last four weeks. Porker.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Great Skate

And so it begins...the endless parade of taxi-ing children to programs, lessons, activities and courses. The two girls started skating lessons this morning. Shockingly, they were really good. I was fully prepared for a scene very much like the part in Bambi when the deer hits the ice. Instead, they were not bad. Not bad at all. Tellingly however, the highlight for both of them was not the feeling of confidence they had or the thrill of obtaining competence at a new skill. It was overwhelmingly the procurement of butterfly stickers stuck on their (bike) helmets at the end of the lesson. Making gingerbread men was a close second place, which consisted of lying on the ice and being traced around with a brown felt marker. Pretty passive activity there, what with not moving at all. Probably teaches "oneness" with the ice or something. Well, whatever. They liked it.

Eric and I went to Body Worlds 3 at Science World yesterday. Rather than terrify the girls, we left them with Eric's mom and hoped that Lucas wouldn't be too scarred by the fact that he spent an entire afternoon, out of only 38 afternoons in his entire life, looking at plastinated human bodies, sliced apart and contorted into gruesome/artistic poses. Maybe he'll be a doctor...or a serial murderer...? Hmmmm.

We really enjoyed the exhibition. It was well done and very thought-provoking. Plus, a little voyeuristic and creepy. What's not to love?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Well, maybe exhausting isn't really a fair description. Although, it would be fair to say that I would love to crop my disgusting, yawning face out of that cute shot of Lucas and Finny. This newborn little guy (yikes, one month old tomorrow!) is making life pretty easy on us. Having said that, I am typing while holding him on my shoulder and periodically patting his back to get rid of his hiccoughs, so it's all relative. Never exactly the fastest typer, this is a definite speed-killer. Oh, and Finny is yanking my hair, standing behind me in my chair. But, sleep has been plentiful. We woke up this morning at almost 11:00. Lucas and I were the last to face the day, the two of us peacefully cuddled in a warm bed.

Yesterday, we showed our German friends, the Dorners, around downtown a little bit, then toured Stanley Park, which has only just reopened after the catastrophic wind storm that toppled what appears to be half the trees in the park. Prospect Point looks like a clear cut. Even though the whole "windstorm of the century" thing has been covered pretty much non-stop in the media, I was shocked by how wrecked the park landscape is.

After touring the disaster-zone, we headed to our friend Steve's house to watch the Phoenix Suns game and then the Canucks game. He has a pimping entertainment centre there...huge plasma HDTV, fancy cable box that gets 19,000,000 channels and surround sound. Makes our dinky arrangement seem pretty much like a prehistoric system of entertainment...our wee little old-school tube television. We can hangout here and more or less watch a candle burn in the darkness or head to Steve's and be dazzled by a fantastic display of technological wizardry. The candle is sooooo pretty.

Tomorrow we are off to Whistler for the night with the Germans. Should be nice as I haven't been there for a while.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Christmas dinner...take 3?

In my family, turkey is king. While it is lovely to spend time with family and ponder the spirit of the holidays, the truth is that while I was growing up, my dad was probably primarily motivated to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas because of the turkey feast that accompanies the celebrations. So, in the TRUE spirit of McKnight holiday, my mum is cooking another turkey dinner tonight. Why? Why not.

New Year's last night was really nice. We had a fondue over at my parents, then bizarrely left their place at about 11:30. We got home in time to shove the cranky kids into jammies and then listen to their over-tired cries as we watched the ball drop over Times Square. There was a little box in the top left corner of the screen that said LIVE, so I thought it was really nice of the good people in New York to re-gather three hours after their midnight to ring in the new year for the westcoast.

We have guests coming in from Germany this evening, so we will be hosting and tourguiding this week. Lucky us, we have the joy of taking our guests sightseeing in Vancouver. Imagine having company come to see you in Woonsocket, South Dakota. "And here is the Dairy Queen. Oh, you already saw that? Did we show you where Toothless Timmy the celebrity dentist lives? We did? So...I guess we're done. Thanks for visiting Woonsocket." Ahhh, thank goodness for the Aquarium.