April break

The kids and I zipped over to PEI for a few days last week for the funeral of my Uncle Emmett – RIP – and because I am the meanest of all Mommies, I forced the kids to actually learn something during our trip by dragging them to a couple museums. They were really broken up about it, as you can see:

 Here they are at the Acadian Museum in Miscouche, which was “really good,” as Charlotte proclaimed on our way out. It is good – informative, visually interesting and well laid out. You should go.

We also liked Founders Hall in Charlottetown:

 The statues of the Fathers of Confederation were a particular hit. Founders Hall is the perfect example of how museums can be fun and educational at the same time.

Because I aspire to be an absolute monster, I also dragged them to the beach:

 That’s Foster running toward that bit of ice jutting out, from which he launched more chunks of ice in an attempt to either (a) splash frigid water all over himself or (b) fall into the frigid water completely.  Contrary to my expectations, he did NOT fall in, but ended up so wet he might as well have. As we were leaving, he came to me clutching an armful of ice chunks and said, “I guess I can’t keep these, huh?”

See how smart he is? All this homeschooling is paying off.

This is my co-pilot at Cape Jourimain in New Brunswick:

 To escape the children’s incessant nagging for Tim Hortons donuts, I abandoned the vehicle and was sprinting towards the Confederation Bridge yelling, “Let me back in!” when I realized I had left my MP3 player in the car. Shoot. It was a tough call, but I returned to the car and continued driving home.

And yes, they got their stupid donuts. (But I ate a maple glazed. You know, just to show them who’s boss.)

Black Hole Falls is as scary as it sounds

When one of Anna’s friends invited us to accompany him and his parents on a trip to a secluded beach yesterday, I said sure. What better way to spend a sunny March afternoon than rock hounding in the fresh air, right? Wrong. As it turns out, there are LOTS of better ways to spend a sunny March afternoon when the route to the beach is actually a mountainous death trap.

Yes, a death trap, I tell you, and nothing – not even the way everyone else was bounding over fallen logs and leaping from wet, mossy rock to wet, mossy rock like a bunch of mountain goats – will convince me otherwise. The problem, you see, is that my knees are not made of bone and cartilage and ligaments like yours, but rather cracked toothpicks and dried gum and bits of half-rotten string. That’s a fact.

Anna’s lovely young friend and his wonderful parents couldn’t possibly know this, of course, but I bet they’ll ask for x-rays and a complete physical before ever inviting anyone on a trip with them in the future. Spending three hours with a red-faced, grunting, wincing, limping mess (that would be me) oughta do it.

The first two minutes were promising enough, but then Anna’s friend suggested we take a short detour to see a waterfall and that’s where it all went downhill. Like literally down a really steep hill. I stood at the top and watched all the others scamper down fearlessly and thought something along the lines of, ‘oh poopy.’ With my first tentative step down, my right knee made a horrible popping noise accompanied by a knifelike pain below my kneecap and I started to sweat because that’s my good knee.

It was a rough trip to the bottom – not because I fell, although I did consider hurling myself down the hill more than once, just to be done with it. My shaken confidence and inability to stand upright for more than two seconds helps explain the quality of my photo of the waterfall:

Water, trees, ice, beauty, yeah whatever – I’m dying.

But I didn’t die, happily or unhappily (it depends on how you feel about me) and after the kids failed to drown in the frigid water below the waterfall – not from lack of trying to fall in through foolhardy behaviour – we crossed that stream raging river you see in the foreground not once but twice. Everyone else had perfect balance, naturally, and the ability to leap from the tip of one icy, jagged rock to the next across the water while I, crippled and embarrassed by my lack of athletic ability, did not.

When we finally made it to the beach, I rejoiced and wondered if it would be possible for me to live there permanently, partly for the lovely scenery and partly because I didn’t know how on earth I would ever make it back out. The Bay of Fundy shore (along this part of Nova Scotia, at least) is rocky. Really rocky:

 Those rocks are a good twelve feet high, I’d say, and we had to cross them to get to the beach beyond.

 That’s everyone else charging on ahead while I tried (and failed) to keep up. At least no one could hear my whimpering back there.

 This is Charlotte climbing out of a cave. “Come in, Mommy, you have to see this,” she yelled. “It’s really neat.” Without a jet pack to propel me up there, I had to regretfully decline.

 See what I mean by rocky? I lived for those flat, pebbly areas.

 The red speck in the centre is Foster coming down the sheer face of a giant rock as if he were hopping from the top of a bunk bed.

 They’re fit, fearless explorers, as you can see. They get that from me.

Ha.

To celebrate making it out alive, we stopped at The Look-Off on the way home for my kind of sightseeing: drive up, park, stand on level ground, take pictures, repeat.

 Here, Foster, Anna and Charlotte commiserate over their failure to have lost me in the woods. Try harder, suckers! (Actually, don’t.)

Charlotte the chef

While excavating the family dumping ground (otherwise known as my desk) the other day, I came across the following two recipes written by Charlotte sometime last year. I wish I could be more precise as to the dates these were written, but sadly I didn’t scrawl the dates on the backs as I usually try to do.  Must have been out clubbing seals or raiding tourist sailboats on those days.

Like the best archaeologists, however, I’m able to guesstimate a time frame based on the artifacts found immediately above and below the recipes, which is corroborated by what I already know about the development of communications at that time  (i.e. Charlotte’s handwriting and spelling). It’s all very complicated.

Outmeal Recipe

1. Pour in outmeal

2. Pour in a lot of water

3. Put in cinnomon

4. Put in brown suger

5. Put it in microwave for 15 sec

6. Put on raisons

7. Put in a bit of milk

8. And eat it

Smelling good! Thumps up!

Popcorn recipe

1. get out ingreddeints. butter and popcorn nuts.

2. get out other stuff        bowl, popcorn pumper.

3. put popcorn nuts into popcorn pumper.

4. start pumping the popcorn

5. when it’s ready heat butter and pour it in

6. eat it or put in bags For shcool.

Considering Charlotte’s recipes already surpass some of those by the best-known television chefs  (see Rachael’s Ray’s Late Night Bacon recipe and Paula Deen’s English Peas recipe on the Food Network), I predict she’ll be a huge star in the celebrity chef world in another twenty years. Guess I’d better start being nice to her.

reasons to love and fear Foster

After supper the other day, Foster took me aside and said, “I need to get a job. How do I get a job?”

“Why do you need a job?” I asked.

“Because I need some money.”

“Why do you need money?”

“Because there’s a Lego man Charlotte really wants and I want to buy it for her.”

“Oh, I see.”

“And I need two dollars so I can go to that machine in the mall, the one where you use a claw to pick up a toy, and try to get the blue bear for Charlotte. She really, really wants that blue bear.”

“Well, we’ll see what we can do,” I said and thought, awwww, quit breaking my heart, kid. Isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard? How many ten-year-old boys do you know who spend their time daydreaming about what to buy their little sisters?

The next day, a Body Shop order arrived for me and included in the box were three little manicure sets – one for each kid. (They were marked down to $2 – go check it out if you need a manicure kit because there might be some left.) Inside each kit is a pair of nail scissors, nail clippers and a metal nail file.

Within a minute of receiving his, Foster held up the pieces one at a time to show me. “Look, Mom. The clippers are for snapping the lock on the gate, the scissors are for cutting the phone lines, and the file is for stabbing somebody! It’s The Ultimate Murder Kit!”

Uh, okay.

Sweet, loving, considerate, homicidal freak.

See this innocent little face?

If he asks for a two dollar loan, I’d just give it to him.

 

product shown is not actual size

The late January sun slices into the kitchen at just the right angle to make a foot wide sunbathing area for the dogs, which they politely share:

 It doesn’t last long so they soak it up while they can.

While I was transferring that photo from the camera to my computer, I came across this unexplained bit of weirdness:

I don’t know what it is exactly, who made it or who took the picture, but I’m guessing it’s candy. Some kind of candy sculpture. I shudder to think about what might be holding the pieces together.

This photo is what I get for leaving the camera within reach of the short people.

the most (fill in the blank) time of year

As the kids get older, I find Christmas more and more enjoyable with every passing year. Sure, babies and toddlers are cute and it’s fun to dress them up and watch them scream their guts out on Santa’s knee, but they’re also needy and irritable and poop a lot, none of which are qualities I purposely seek out in friends and companions. This pre-teen age, however, is perfect. They aren’t too jaded or “cool” to be excited about Christmas, they hide themselves away for hours before Christmas to make gifts for everyone and, most importantly, they no longer beg for big, noisy, obnoxious, battery-devouring toys that make me want to hurl them (the toys, not the kids) into the driveway and back over them. Repeatedly.

No, now they want books and clothes and make-up and technology. They want to walk into Future Shop and take one of everything, essentially. Which would be expensive, but still better than having a house that looks like a Toys R Us.

Here are the young revellers, modelling t-shirts and a new tiger hat:

 And here’s Foster, ever-so-slightly pleased with his new Wii game:

And Charlotte (for whom every day is Hallowe’en), cuddled up with Glen in a new fuzzy blanket:

And Anna, trying to put on Glen’s new parka:

See that poor dog? That right there is the definition of resignation. Look at his limp little limbs. Why bother struggling? Just let the giant, pink, tiger-headed girl have her way and eventually she’ll get distracted and move on to something else. Fortunately, he received a ton of new toys and treats to make up for the humiliation.

My birthday, on the other hand, never seems to become more enjoyable. I turned 39 (shriek! how can this be?) on December 28 and my lovely family took me out for Chinese food before bribing me with gifts to continue doing their laundry for another year, then presented me with this:

Cupcakes decorated to look like balls of yarn. How cute is that?

photo dumping

It’s out of character, granted, but I don’t have much to say these days. That is probably because I spend every moment flailing frantically, trying to keep my head above water. I know being busy is better than the alternative and I can rest when I’m dead and all those other condescending (and morbid) expressions people throw in your face after asking how you are and hearing the response, “Busy.”

I don’t say I’m busy because I want sympathy (I chose to take on most of my current responsibilities, after all) or because it makes me sound important (aside from being the only one around here to remember everyone’s birthdays, I’m completely replaceable); I say it because it’s true. I have a lot on the go, too much on the go, and I’m struggling to make it all work. I have the bad feeling something has to give and I’m not sure what that something will be. I’ve already jettisoned exercise, all creative pursuits and a social life, so what next? Personal hygiene? Eating? Sleeping?

So, upon realizing I had nothing to write about except my insane daily schedule, I decided to have a look through the past several months of photos on Anna’s digital camera in the hopes of finding a nice picture or two. What I found was…interesting. Anna’s camera is used by everyone (except The Boy Wonder, who seems to have no desire to prance around taking photos with a tiny, pink camera) and as the photographer gets younger and younger, the photos get weirder and weirder. I’ll spare you the countless shots of Lego constructions, Littlest Pet Shop posters, blurry shots of the dog and deeply unflattering close-ups of the humans. (Most important lesson I learned this afternoon: I have no good side.)

But I did find this:

 Anna took this in our office the other day and I call it, “Forbidden Embrace in Office Supply Closet.” It isn’t in a closet and they’re free to embrace, but I think it adds a little excitement and mystery, don’t you?

Oh, and this:

I took this shot on a home-schooling field trip to Halifax to visit the Museum of Natural History and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I call it “Sullen City Bird.” He agreed to this photo in exchange for a french fry.

And this:

“Bald Eagle Contemplating Small Dog for Afternoon Snack.” This photo was taken by Charlotte, I think. It might have been Anna. I can’t remember, but I’m sure they’ll waste no time in correcting me if I’m wrong.

And continuing the bird theme:

“Outside my Dirty Kitchen Window an Osprey Takes Flight.” Shot by me a couple days ago. Not shot shot.

And then I found two photos, also taken by me, that beg for an expanded collection:

Caterpillar on pavement.

Giant slug on pavement.

How exciting to have a new project.