Saturday, June 30, 2007

Jam 101 or Brian Makes Jam!

Here in my corner of Canada-Land, we are at the end of Strawberry Season. It was a joyous time.

This blog was going to be an account of how I make jam. I've done it the past two summers and I've been pleased with the results. Well, except for one little disaster that could have been called 'Strawberry Dessert Topping'. However, I had told a number of people that I was going to be making JAM and therefore, anything less would have been woefully inadequate. So, this past weekend was designated Jam Making Weekend #1. As I type, the final load of Strawberry Jam is on the counter, cooling and lid-popping. Brian decided that his mission in life was to join me in our teeny-tiny kitchen this year for jam making so we could frolic and romp and grope each other amid hot jars and boiling fruit like In-Lust, Romantical teenagers whose parents have vacated the premises for the weekend. Just kidding, hun. Really, Brian said he'd be happy to help. He's been my resident motivator lately. It's great.

It was nice to have two people involved. We cleaned as we went. I could obsessively read the recipe book while he stirred. One of us was available to parent without the risk of wrecking the jam.

Some of you in our audience today may not believe that Brian made jam, but I assure you, he did the majority of this batch of jam that you will see. He also paved the way so that we eventually got 3 batches of jam done up that first weekend. Not only that, but this weekend, we've made another batch of Strawberry jam together and he's driven to three different stores for more supplies. I'd share the complete menu, but you'll have to wait for your Christmas baskets.

To make our jamming session go smoothly, we went berry picking. Seriously. Fresh, local berries are the best.

See? Fresh-picked berries.

Didn't Brian do a beautiful job hulling berries? For you berry virgins, that means to pull out the green bits. While Bri did the manual labour, I prepared all the dishes and supporting ingredients we needed.

Bri then crushed the berries...

...and added the secret ingredients.

Here you can see the stove station all set up. We have the snap-top lids heating - Never Boiling! in a shallow pan. In the giant lobster pot on the left, we have all our jars heating - Never Boiling! I got to do this part.

Berries are cooking in this photo. This part took a bit. So Bri made milkshakes. While making jam!!! After all these years, he still amazes me. Once the berries were boiling rapidly, things sped up.

Then the sugar goes in. I got to do this part.

Here is the key make-or-break step of your jam making procedure: Boil and stir for 60 seconds. See how the fruit mixture is threatening to escape the pot? Brian held steady, though. He did minimal stressing during this step. Sure is hard not to flinch, though, when the hot jam spatters onto your arm.

After the requisite 60 seconds, Brian removed the pot from the heat and skimmed the foam. No one likes foamy jam.

Here we have the jam going into the jars. I helped with this part, too.

It's very important to release the air form the jar as the jam goes in. A few swipes with a rubber spatula does the trick.

And then the lid goes on. Yes, that's a magnetic lid-grabber. You'd have one too if you were grabbing lids out of hot water with your hands during previous jam making festivities.

Lids on and the jam jars go back in the hot water to process.

And there you have it. Jam's done! The lids 'pop' very soon after you take them out of the boiling water. That's the vacuum seal required for successful canning.

You wouldn't believe some of things you can put up in cans. Did you know you can make watermelon rind pickles?! Can't wait to have that in your Christmas basket, can you?! (Actually, I'm kind of don't be surprised.)

I hope to make a few things this year as some of the produce comes into season. I'm thinking something spicy with hot peppers, maybe a spread that could double as a pastry/tart filling and perhaps a blueberry jam if I can bear to part with my fresh-frozen Maritime Blueberries. Wish me luck!

Good Morning...

WoW, and what an early morning it is! Been up since 5am. First, Raiden came in to get a sleeping buddy and then once he fell asleep, the dog started nosing my back. Nice. So I let her outside and then, I was awake. The 5 million screeching, squawking birds in the tree outside may have had something to do with that.

The plan today: Go Strawberry picking early. Now, if you know us at all, we are night owls, not morning birds. So, if berry picking works out this morning, please be suitably amazed. We would have to fit berry picking in before soccer starts. Which is where we will be most of the remainder of the morning.

Otherwise, nothing official planned for this lovely Saturday. I considered going to Riverfest, however, $14 admission in order to have to further pay for food, vendor sold items and mid-way rides does not appeal to me. We had wanted to attend the Children's Fishing Derby, but again, $14 to stand on a pier surrounded by 400 small children wielding barbed hooks just doesn't seem safe to me.

Tomorrow, I hope the weather is nice so we can take in some of the mid-day Canada Day celebrations. Canada is 140 years old this year, my American friends. Brockville, or the more endearing Brock-Vegas, is celebrating 175 years. I know, just a drop in the birthday bucket for my European friends, but 175 is pretty old for Canada-Land communities. In the afternoon, I hope to head down to the waterfront so the kids can take in some of an open air concert featuring some local kid-bands, as I refer to them. Some pretty great music and a very interesting crowd usually develop at the annual Pump Up The Volume event. Fireworks follow later in the evening. We've never actually stayed down at the waterfront from afternoon through to evening. Perhaps this will be the year.

Have a good long weekend all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Yesterday Was Not a Great Day.

Yesterday was not a great day. Once it was over, I looked back and I was able to find some good things. Like our happy math lessons (really...the kids enjoyed their math yesterday!). And how the kids tried something new at dinner and they liked it!However, there was some serious overshadowing going on.

My dad popped by - as he often does - and got the dog all riled up. He hadn't even stepped in and she was prancing and dancing and howling through the screen door at him. I hate that. It's not good company manners.

He let her out so that he could pet her on the front step. I hate that too. The dog is a husky. She needs to be leashed at all times. She's not the most reliable creature around. Sure, she does the whole come, sit, stay bit. But only if she's properly motivated with food. Additionally, we live on a very busy street. Sure enough, today was the day: She bolted.

In the confusion at the front door either the dog or my dad managed to dump my container of baby pepper plants. I lost half of them.

Dad left before I could talk to him as during all this, I was dealing with lunch on the stove and it was over before I could get the cheese stirred into the macaroni. Oh, the dog did come back after a mad tear across the lawn.

Disaster #2 started out innocently enough. The kids were chewing gum during our read aloud. Gum is kind of a treat around here. They had both got some in their loot bags from a weekend birthday party. They both blew a great big bubble: their best ever. See?

Now, the unfortunate thing was that Kori popped her bubble and it stuck to her face. Firmly. No joke.

An hour later, after trying to get the gum off with a dry cloth, a wet cloth, a cold cloth, a warm cloth, an ice cube, our fingers and telekinesis...we gave up.

Brian called during this mess and I was good enough to snap at him. Nice wife, eh? He, being the wonderful guy that he is, called me back five minutes later and gave me The Peanut Butter Tip. It goes like this: rub peanut butter on the stuck gum and the oil in the p.b. will dissolve the stickiness in the gum and just like that you're back to butterflies and blue skies.

Except it got worse.

Oh, the gum was removed - easily and completely. But suddenly there was a big, raised, white welt in the growing redness of Kori's upper lip where the gum had stuck and where she had rubbed raw peanut butter. And, because it made sense to her, Kori proceeded to rub her itchy eyes. Within no time at all she had bloodshot eyes and hives along the inside of her nose up to the corners of her eyes. Of course, by now I had clued in and she found herself washing with soap and water so fast it made her head spin.

Me thinks perhaps she never really outgrew her allergy to peanut butter. See, she had one reaction when she was a toddler. Since that time, she has not eaten peanut butter, but she has been exposed to peanut-exposed foods with no reaction at all. Our doctor has told us that she is one of the 20% of children who outgrow their peanut allergy. Me thinks it's time to re-evaluate our position on that one.

So other than a few other mundane, frustrating things, that was the jist of my day. I'm glad Bri got to go out after work. He went to check out a buddy's new boat and do some fishing. I had climbed down from my snarky perch by the time he came home. And today was somewhat better. Heck, anything would have been an improvement.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

First eBay Win!!

After two long weeks, I can let the cat out of the bag.

I am the proud owner of an Ohaus Triple Beam Mechanical Balance 750-SO. Our homeschool shelf now has a resident scale!!

I knew I'd 'need' one this year as the kids' Saxon Math uses a balance in a smattering of lessons. I couldn't bring myself to buy the cheap, barely adequate, colourful, plastic, preschoolish number that Saxon suggests. It's pretty, yes. Even usable to a point. But the Ohaus. The Ohaus is accurate. The Ohaus is scientific.

I knew these were a wee bit on the expensive side. So Brian suggested we try looking for one on eBay. We found one in Florida and we won the auction in the last 8 seconds with an earth-shattering bid of $21 U.S. Dollars. Shipping was a brisk $27.70. So, for just over $50 Canadian dollars, I am the proud new owner of a slightly scratched, perfectly working, weights included Ohaus Triple Beam Mechanical Balance.

I knew the kids would be excited to get a hands-on machine that they could use on their own. I foresee many interesting experiments where we explore weights and measures. But the very exciting thing will be watching Raiden learn some patience while he waits for the scale to balance.

He is a fast-forward kid who would live on a steady diet of video gaming and television if we let him. He is also very concerned that he is fully aware of what is happening around him. If he can have a hand in controlling these events, all the better. So, true to form, Raiden jumped in as soon as the scale was unpacked and he began ordering his universe. Now, not only would each thing in our home have it's place, it would have a measurement to go with it.

Here he is checking the weight of the weight shortly after the scale was balanced to zero.

And here he is trying something tiny and light.

Even Kori's breakfast wasn't safe. That's an empty milk-jug, by the way.


And my breakfast, a PB&J.

And so our morning went until Brian called a stop to all measuring so we could go berry picking. For you less-than-local people, around here, that means Strawberries - first berries of the season. I'll be showing you the fruits of our labours shortly. But now, I'm off to the store for more jam jars. Have a great remainder of the weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Raiden Throws A Dish

We've been playing at the new pottery studio here in town. Local artist Krista Cameron is leading the kids' classes.

Here's Raiden taking his turn at the wheel. He was so brave and didn't even flinch at the clay under his nails or the water that slicked it all up. He did mention that those were his favorite shorts when some gunk messed them up. But he sure didn't take his foot off the pedal to go wash up. I think he enjoyed himself.

After the clay is firmly affixed to the wheel and centered, Rai made a divet in the center as a starting point for his 'popcorn bowl'.

He pulled a hole to establish the bottom of his bowl while keeping tabs on the top edge.

He threw the clay up....and due to an unfortunate accident lost the top of his bowl. That's ok though, a pretzel dish will be just as good as a popcorn bowl.

After a quick fix-up to even the top off again, Rai pulled the clay down and out to make his bowl. He sponged a smooth, even edge...

Finally it was ready to remove.

Pretzel Bowl is drying at the studio now. I'm not clear as to whether the bowls are to be glazed or painted, but I suppose we'll find out next week. Rai had great fun making his bowl. He was particularly fond of how the sponge would fly off the spinning wheel when it was 'accidentally' dropped. The way the water would fling off the wheel was also pretty interesting.

Monday, June 18, 2007

7th Country Fair Is Open!

Check it out!

(I haven't read it yet, but was all hyped up about it so I figured I should throw up a link. I'll be stuck there for a while, neglecting the kids, letting the dog lounge on the furniture, ignoring the phone...)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

WoW! Has Cristina ever got me thinking! Her blog on being left-handed has me motivated to devote some time to pondering being in my right mind.

I was/am the anomaly in my family. I am the only left-handed person in our little family of four. I was the only lefty amongst my parents and siblings. My maternal grandfather was left handed. He very matter of factly told me the very short story of his very short-lived left-handedness. Once he entered school, the teacher tied his left hand to his pants and he was forced to use his right hand. Sounds brutal and cold, doesn't it?
We do things differently now. I was able to watch, first hand, a little girl being taught to change her dominance to her right hand. She was born with a cleft hand, her left, and her natural inclination was to be left handed. As she approached school-age, she was having more and more difficulty with everyday tasks. On the advice of several specialists, her parents were encouraged to help her become right-handed. After ten months of half-day preschool in a Montessori classroom, she was well on her way to being comfortable right-handed. It seemed to be a very gentle and seamless transition. Certain Practical Life activities require an increasingly dexterous pincer grip. As the little girl progressed through the encouraging and self-correcting activities, she nearly naturally chose to use her right hand to complete the tasks. Imagine that, no tying of the arm to the belt required! Have we ever made progress in the last 80 years.
When I was a middle schooler, I became more and more interested in my left-handedness. Being one of the only lefties in my circle, it gave a particular uniqueness to myself. Typical preteen: wanting to fit in and be unique at the same time. My mom found a neat-o little shop in Toronto that sold only left-handed items. I found a few of these tucked into my Christmas packages. For my birthday once, Mom was able to track down a copy of a Lefty magazine. There began my discovery of left-handed writing and bookkeeping.

I became quite adept at writing right-to-left across the page. That particular note-taking technique irked my conservative history teacher to no end. By Grade 9 History, I'd been doing it for two or three years and could do it effortlessly. I put dividers into my binders upside down and filed things back to front. I thought it was cool as well as practical. I finally could use erasable Papermate pens - all the rage in 1989 when I entered Grade 9. I was so cool.
My penchant for such de Vinci-esque behaviour petered out by the time I hit hair took much more time to do and there were all those boys...and the gym...I was busy. I was on to using bigger and better antics to define myself: Lifeguard Extraordinaire, Fitness Class Guru, Rollerblading Queen.
I remember being surprised in England. Upon College graduation, my parents decided to treat us all to a trip to London, England. Besides the obvious right-hand-drive and all it's implications (reversed traffic, leading to 'opposite' placement of road signs, leading to 'reversed' pedestrian behaviour, etc.) there were other strange little English things that led me back to my left-handed thinking. Many places we stayed in sported the peculiar Right Hand Flush. This was amazing to me. I held up many a family adventure because I absolutely had to stick my head back out and announce to the fam, "Hey, another right hand flush!!" It was especially announcement-worthy if a right-handed pull-chain was the culmination of the rest room activities.
It wasn't so much that these things surprised me because they were 'backward' to our Canadian habits, the surprise to me was that I naturally adapted. It was so comfortable. I was amazed that I didn't find my regular way of doing things awkward - and yet these 'backward things in a foreign country didn't seem awkward.
Once back in Canada-land, I was quick to mentally catalogue my daily actions. I still do it to this day. Oop, that's a right-handed door. Oh, that light switch is a right-handed reach. Arrgh...stupid scissors! They must be right-handed. Why doesn't this can opener work? Hm, this is a stupid layout for doing dishes. Try it and you'll see what I mean. You right handed people can go through your day without crossing over yourself. Lefties are constantly reaching across themselves to use their more prominent left hand. You either learn to use your right hand (and quite quickly, you can bet. After all, I'll only whack my arm so many times when opening the microwave with my left hand. After a good bruise has developed, it's just easier to use my right hand to push the door release to avoid more bruising.) or maim yourself using your left.
Seriously....Open a door sometime when company comes calling. With your left hand. You'll grab the door knob with your left hand, turn the knob and then...what? Pull back, step back and shove the door to the right. Your left arm has to go across your body to achieve your objective. Awkward. And don't think you've got me by saying that going in a door is easier. Try doing your own front door left-handed sometime. Notwithstanding kids and other baggage, put your keys in your left hand, grasp the handle with your right. Turn key, turn handle and then push the door open with your right arm. A hefty shove is most convenient, trust me. Otherwise, you have to step in with your right arm crossing your body, opening the door to the left so as not to smash it against the wall.
Doing such things 'right-handed' becomes second nature for us lefties. It makes us think more. We're adaptable. Our dexterity is increased. I like to think that anyway....the other side of the coin is that we're sometimes tripped up easily and find simple things awkward. Like a strange carrot peeler. I have a left-handed veggie peeler. Trust me, it's easier. I also have a left-handed paring knife. Brian hates it. He can't make it cut anything. I laugh at him like all those nasty kids used to laugh at me when I couldn't get the kindergarten scissors to work. I had a left-handed can opener, but was so ingrained to the use of a right-handed one, I found the use of it difficult. My mom was recently showing off a newly acquired, hard to find, fancy-schmancy quilting measuring tape. I nearly hyperventilated when I discovered the ingenious placement of the numbers. Perfect for lefties!! "I have to get me one of these neat-o things!" I exclaimed, sounding like Junie B. Jones. It was like the invention of refrigeration: suddenly, life looked so much easier. No more craning my neck and turning the tape around trying to read the numbers right-side-up without my hand being in the way.
So, thanks to Cristina waking the lefty beast in me, You can look forward to more Tales from the Right Side. I'm so excited. I think I'll even add a 'Lefty Wish List' to remind me of which miraculous inventions it would be so cool to have. Maybe I'll collect some lefty out some lefty bloggers. The possibilities are endless...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Country Fair

With Wild Abandon, I am alerting you to this exciting blogging event.

The Country Fair is back!

I must admit, I was never privy to the previous Fair. However, I am very excited about this resurgence. Here's what Doc has to say about it. She's much more eloquent than I quote in part:

"What’s the country fair? It’s a homeschool carnival, without the paddle. A place where everyone has something to say - so long as it isn’t hurtful towards any specific socio-economic-racial-sexually oriented-religious group. Everyone is welcome. Shooting for a publish date of Monday, June 18th.

The theme for June’s fair: “How we celebrate diversity”

Okay, really - the Country Fair is an alternative to the more popular Carnival of Homeschooling, because a lot of people just aren’t comfortable with the administration of that carnival. The Country Fair will be run a bit differently. It has a home base, instead of traveling around. Hopefully, different bloggers will take control of this “home base” each month, establish a theme, and do all the stuff involved in putting it together..."

I may have to drum me up a glass of wine and see if I can pull off an attempt of a submission. I am so sick of the recent 'here's a cool thing to read....but I'm going to pull it in 3 days because my reader's aunt's cousin's mailman told me there's a cuss word on page 435 of the other blog the author's just not Christian...' trend that seems to be plaguing some Carnivals. I can say that. I'm a Christian. Any ideas of how I celebrate diversity? Maybe I should come out of the closet with my blended family? (I'll take a second while everyone gasps. You ok now?) Maybe I should write about my parental 'awakening' during my kids' years at Montessori? My struggle with trying to learn how to homeschool 'properly'?

I think we should all try to submit something. Even a short little something. Even you non-homeschooling-lurkers. If that's not a diverse author base, I don't know what is! Happy writing....see you at the Fair!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I am liking the way we celebrate birthdays around here. There's been a bit of celebratory evolution, you might say.

As babies and toddlers, birthdays were a family affair. In hindsight, I can see the undercurrent of "This is so cute! They're going to love their 'real' birthday parties when they're older!"

As preschoolers, they had their share of birthday party invitations. We ran the gamut of the birthday party circuit. The kids (and I, because I'm one of those overprotective mothers) attended traditional parties at someone's home. Cake, presents, pinata, games, loot bag and off-ya-go. Some of them got a little swanky, but we were running with the professionals/family money crowd, so that was to be expected. There was a golfing party, the all day private pool party, the catered party.

Then we threw Kori a 5th birthday party as her friends had had. Pool party, junk food, balloons, cake, presents, loot bag and $300 later, off-ya-go. That's no including our 'family celebration', that's just her party. When Raiden's 5th birthday rolled around, you guessed it: pool party, balloons, junk food, presents, loot bag and a mere $250 late, off-ya-go.

And do you know what? Not one of those guests - from either party - do we socialize with today. Craziness. Why do we do that? Spend all that money for crappy food and to be rushed through the requisite activities so that everyone can go home with a bag full of stuff they don't need or want?

Not only did the birthday party have to happen, but there was the family birthday at home. This normally consisted of presents, a cake and the birthday dinner. Then we needed to accommodate the extended family. This meant dinner, cake and presents at my parents, or we hosted the guests and served dessert while they brought presents.

Did I mention that Kori's birthday is at Christmastime? I won't even get into the stress of that schedule. Well, maybe another time. It's got to be amusing from someone's viewpoint.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that all this was silliness and fluff. We were focusing on the event rather than the child. A birthday is supposed to be about the person celebrating. It's about reflecting on your achievements, your growth, contemplating your direction. Not only that, but the amount of money we were spending was criminal! Brian was key in helping me discover this epiphany.

Birthdays at our house are more enjoyable for our family now. We get a lot more out of a birthday than we used to. First, Brian takes the day off and declares a Family Day. After a few gifts first thing in the morning (a very important aspect of the A* Family Birthday Tradition) and a leisurely morning getting ready for our day, we head off to an activity chosen by the birthday person. We've done a fancy dinner at a restaurant, bowling and lunch, and mini-golf. We come and go as we please during the day, deferring to the Birthday-Person. We fit in a trip to pick up the birthday cake - always a popular outing. In the evening, we may have a couple of people in to share cake with us, but not always. It's nice. Low-key, low-stress. Plenty of time to enjoy a couple of gifts (usually something to read, something to wear and something wanted). No getting hyped up or over-excited or sick on junk. Just family time.

Extended family celebrations are also kept low key. My mom likes to have a Sunday dinner type of thing for my kids' birthdays. It's no different than any other weekend dinner we might attend with them with the exception of an organic spice cake - no icing unless I bring it.

I imagine as the kids get older, there will be some wanting to celebrate with friends. But, maybe not, who knows. For now, this is what works for us. The kids love their birthdays and that's the whole point.

And, without further ado, some pics from Rai's birthday on the 8th...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Take What You Want And Leave The Rest

So you may have noticed a few changes here. I like to flip things around every now and then. There's been a few polite comments (thank you, ladies...) and Brian likes the old green better. I have a few other things I'd like to do. So the white will stay for a little bit, anyway.

I've been playing with some new stuff. Such activities would explain my absence of late. I'm looking at learning some Photoshop things. I've been playing with a new widget over at LibraryThing - I'd link you, but they've been having server problems. If I can figure out the widget thing, goodness knows what other fancy do-dads I'll be able to tack up around here. I'm also drumming up a list of HTML stuff that Brian needs to help me with. So Cristina, I'm not ignoring your Technorati questions, I just don't have an answer yet. You may have noticed the new additions to the sidebar: I've been poking around looking for new and interesting haunts. Which brings me to my next thought:

I like to read all kinds of stuff. A wise lady once wrote/said, take what you want and leave the rest. So, if you're poking through the links at the side, enjoy the reading, take what you want, and leave the rest. I like to have interesting people around me, and I like diversity. Heck, I'd be up the creek if I didn't. A cynic could read my life like a Jerry Springer Late Night TV Special if they really tried. But, enough about my closet. I hope you find some of my picks for the sidebar interesting. I hope to add to it regularly.

Since I blogged last Thursday, we had Raiden's birthday on Friday, soccer and fishing on Saturday, caught up all my laundry and went for dinner at my parent's on Sunday and dove into schoolwork on Monday. Lots of blog fodder there, but as I said, I've been absent. I do have photos though. Alas, that will also have to wait as I am off to spend the rest of the evening with that guy upstairs in the bedroom I like to call my husband.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

My Dog Is A Nut.

What else can I say? She still manages to find new things to get into. When will it end? She's 4 for goodness sake!

This is Nuk. I found her 22 seconds after I let her out 'exploring' the window well of her tiny backyard. I guess the two extra inches of chain actually do make a difference.

At least she's not totally stuck. After she managed to sort herself in the right direction, she climbed out on her own.

What's that you say? Why didn't I go and rescue her? Last time I tried to rescue a dog, I ended up with 8 or 10 stitches. And Brian really, really likes this dog. Can't get rid of her, so she has to rescue herself...or at least give it an honest try.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

What Happened Here?!

Did I ever mention my addiction for moving things around? It's mom has the same affliction.

It usually rears it's ugly head early some Saturday morning when you can't sleep. After sitting around for an hour or so, waiting for the rest of the household to wake up, you start to picture the couch over there...the table moved this way a bit...the entertainment unit up against the other wall. You start moving the little things. Then the medium sized things. Since you're moving them on your own, it becomes a little inadvertently wake someone up. You shamelessly conscript them into service before they become fully awake and run for the hills.

It just sometimes happens. For some odd reason, I get this nagging, insisting urge to move things around. It is sometimes nice, as the things that get moved get a good cleaning in the process....but it can really throw a kink in a weekend when I suddenly need to rearrange the living room. Or one of the kids' rooms. Rearrangements of this calibre take some time.

The last few years, I've had a bit of an urge-killing. Brian and I have a water bed...those can't be moved on a whim. Kori will only let me rearrange her things maybe once a year, tops. Raiden is no better. As our townhouse is now packed to the gills, it seems the rooms available for me to play out my penchant are steadily diminishing. Brian insisted on buying a monstrosity of a television. I can't physically move it. He did that on purpose.

So I am forced to diffuse these strange and sudden urges with my blog. I think I sort of like this change. Colourful. Now, if only I could get the 'insert a picture in your header' feature to work.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Gold Star Day

I am going to skip over the irritation, the stoic matter-of-fact-ness with which I trudged through the day, the dreary weather and the increasingly frustrating reminders I gave out all day today making me irritable and snarky in order to bring you the Gold Star moment.

Brian received a wee word of recognition from his employer today. It doesn't happen very often as said employer is offsite and it's generally a case of No News Is Good News. And just because Brian won't say anything himself, I thought everyone should know. Yup. I'm proud of my hard-working button-pushing man. Good Job, Baby!

In other life-long I began officially working with the dog. She is so totally motivated by food, it's pathetic. A few mini marshmallows at 10am and here she is, 12 hours later, staring at me with her brown puppy eyes, just waiting for a 'Sit' or a 'Down' or a 'Come'. Did I mention having a dog is like having a toddler? Forever?

School news: Math lessons, grammar and a history lesson were all done today. We finished reading about the birth and death of stars in our library books. Library books are due on Wednesday - don't let me forget! Raiden and I are heavy into the morning card games: Set, Kaboodle, Zigity. This new ritual is directly related to the absence of tv viewing. (Yes, Brian and I have done the unthinkable and said 'no tv' for a while.) Kori worked on some new comics and a story or two throughout the day. We had Kori's Girl Guide evening tonight. The third year girls 'graduated' and all the girls got the remainder of the badges and crests they've been working on. Kori received her 4 year Service Pin. She's pretty proud of herself. Raiden is printing and spelling up a storm since I've hung up the chalkboard a couple of weeks ago. He spelled 'sweater', 'ears', 'boats', and a few others today on his own in his grammar book. He's reading many of the lighter Calvin and Hobbes comic strips on his own. And, he says I should let you know, only 100 more math lessons for him in his Saxon book. Yes, folks, since the end of March, we've managed only 30 math lessons.

That's all for the day. I'm off to watch the end of the hockey game and set out our math work for tomorrow. I've not been commenting on my favorite blogs and I'm sorry. I'll try to do better...I promise! I've been thinking about re-decorating Bonni's and I think I've been distracted by those thoughts. I've been reading, though. Does that count??

Sunday, June 3, 2007


...she said in her best Jerry Seinfeld voice.

Our three day weekends have started. For the next three months, Brian takes Fridays off. He's done this the last couple of years and it seems to work out nicely. His employer doesn't have to find someone to come in and do his job for week-long stretches. His work doesn't pile up in his one day off. This is especially true during the summer months when much of the general working population of the plant is drastically reduced anyway. We're not travellers, so the three-day-weekend set-up is wonderful for us. We stay local, enjoy our town, the waterfront. We have time for the kids' activities without feeling rushed or like our entire weekend is spent running from the soccer field to the pool to a play date.

So, now that you're caught up on our new schedule, some pictures. You're all visual, admit it.

Friday's planned school work was usurped by an impromptu visit from my wee nephew. His daddy was called to an appointment unexpectedly and Wee Nephew needed a place to land for an hour. We were happy to be useful. Wee Nephew likes to chase Rai's balls, watch the kids, uproot Playmobil trees and experiment with fridge magnets. He likes peaches and Cheerios and isn't too sure of our dog.

Friday afternoon Brian took us fishing. It was hot and hazy, not your typical fishing weather. The kids, however, do not care when the fish are biting, they just want to fish. So off we went.

On his first dip in the pond, Brian retrieved this lovely specimen. Apparently, it's a pike. It had big teeth and an attitude.

I just love our waterfront. Look at that haze. Look at that lovely green island. Check out how calm the river is. See the lovely wide dock that my babies did not fall off of? Notice the expanse of space available so they could cast their own fishing rods with minimal risk of hooking a sibling.

Saturday mornings mean soccer. For us and just about every other household in the city. Kudos to my daring husband for this photo, shot from his lap in the general direction of the action with the camera held at arms length. That's our son, leaping athetically in the air.

And finally, Kori's highlight of the weekend. She caught her first fish ever. Then she caught two more. She's pretty glad she skipped her Girl Guide camp this weekend. Sunday afternoon, eight fish were reeled in between the three of them. I don't have a rod. I am the Gofer/Photographer Girl on these fishing expeditions. Quite happily I assume my role. Although, I must remember to bring along sunscreen with the camera, the coffee and the fishing paraphernalia. The poor kids thought their feet were burning today and had to stand ankle deep in leech infested creek water.

Have a great week all. I'll try to check in regularly. I'm anxious to fit in an appropriate amount of school work before Friday. I should be able to drum up something in the way of a story, a complaint or an amusing anecdote.