Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I spent a good chunk of the day today going through receipts to ensure that I have spent enough money for reimbursement for our Flexible Spending Account. This is the first year we have actually participated in it. Anyway, my new crown and my glasses pretty much used up most of the funds that we decided to put in it but I was still about $100 short. I found receipts for crap-loads of Benadryl, Zyrtec (before we determined it was evil) and Children's Motrin that we've purchased through the year and those purchases more than cover that balance. Now I just have to submit the receipts.

We are off to Ash's house for her annual NYE party. I have a cold (runny nose, sore throat and body aches) so I don't imagine we'll stay much past midnight. My kids are napping right now so they'll be good to go right to the end of 2008.

I am looking forward to 2009 and all the good things that it will bring.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I know you missed me yesterday. Our cable went out before 9pm and was not back until this morning. Of course this meant that the cable, Internet AND phone was out. I swore I would not renew our "triple play" with Comcast because of all of the phone outages but it saves us about $50 per month so I stuck with it. But now my new cell phone service (AT&T) works in our house (so there, T-Mobile!) so we can keep the spotty cable telephone service too.

I finally made it back to the gym to work out today. I barely made it through the class. Hopefully I will be back on track by next week (me an thousands of others who are making New Year's resolutions to get back to the gym). Later, we took the kids ice skating today (back in the old country I would just say "skating" but living here I feel that I need to add the "ice". Like when I order tea in restaurants I have to say "hot tea" so I am not brought a big jug of overly sweet icky iced tea). Anyway, it was Jax and Cars' first time skating and Dex's second time. They all did really well. We took Ash's kids as our Christmas gift to them. I think Kins enjoyed it more than Gav but they both did well too. Amazing to see how quickly everyone caught on! We also rented a "walker" to help the younger kids learn to skate. It helped them learn to balance a bit. I think they need larger ones for bigger kids though.

Spy's dh and her sons were there too practicing hockey on the little mini-rink they have their. Cars was so pleased to see Col and not long before we were ready to go, Col came out on the regular ice to skate and Cars told me to let go of his hand because he did not want Col to see that he needed help skating! It was so funny to see my 5 yr old trying to look cool and tough for his 4 yr old friend! Stephen took Jax for his appointment today - for the first time since Jax started going just over a year ago. Just a few more to go and Jax will be done. I am so happy and proud of him.

Ok, off to get ready for bed. I think I am coming down with a cold and I need to rest up for the annual New Year's Eve party at Ash's house.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

We went to The Container Store to buy more $helving for the Lego Room because of all of the new Lego. Stephen will probably put it up tomorrow or the next day. Afterwards, we bowled at Lucky Strike Lanes which apparently is the most expen$ive bowling alley around (it was upstairs from The Container Store). The kids had a really great time though so that was fun.

After dinner, I decided it was time to clean our oven because Stephen accidentally dripped some grease in there on Christmas when he took the roast out of the oven. The self-cleaning stopped abruptly and the display screen is flashing F9 at me. I looked it up online and it looks as though our oven is now broken. Aargh! The door is still locked (presumably due to the heat from self-cleaning) but apparently this is a common problem with these types of ovens and the fix is expen$ive. Merry Chri$tmas!

Looks like it was our day to $pend a lot of ca$h.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hurray! I got out of the house today and went somewhere other than Safeway! I vroomed Stephen's 4-wheel drive car up the driveway and sloshed and slid down the street to the main road which was bare and off I went to the mall.

Of course the mall was packed and it took me 20 minutes to find a parking spot. The stores had good sales and the selection was really good but the lines in all of the stores were horrible. Long, long, long lines. Anyway, I did get a few things that I needed (b-day present for Ash and a black belt for me. Ok, and a pair of black patent pumps). I also treated myself to an Orange Julius. I don't think I had had one in about 10 years. It was so refreshing and just what I needed because the mall was about 80 degrees. I actually left two stores (The Children's Place and Illuminations) because the stores were so hot and I felt as though I were going to faint. The clerks in The Children's Place were complaining to each other about the heat so I know it was not just me.

I have to say I wonder who all of the people were in Nordstroms who were swarming the designer shoe sales rack. Shoes on sale 50% off for $200-$500! Wow! And I felt so extravagant buying myself that pair of patent leather pumps at Macy's for $50.

In the hours (and hours) that I was at the mall, it rained and warmed up so much that our street was a breeze driving along when I arrived home. I am sure by the end of tomorrow or the day after there will be no more snow on the road. We'll be back to our normal rainy winter. I am so looking forward to it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing Day! I hope everyone had a happy Christmas.

We had several people (18 including us) over for dinner and a few more (6) for drinks/playing after dinner. I had a great time and I think that our guests enjoyed themselves too.

The kids and I bought Stephen a Wii for Christmas and they are just setting it up now because typically we reserve Boxing Day for Lego Building. And boy did they build Lego.

It has been snowing all day (although it has actually stopped for the moment). It was a snow/rain mix for a while so it is really yucky outside. I am about to venture up the driveway to see if I can cram anymore garbage in our bin which has been sitting out for 9 days now. Today was supposed to be garbage pick up but looks like we'll have to wait until next week so that will be 3 weeks worth of garbage at once. The no-stinky garbage (Christmas wrapping, etc) is sitting in the garage with the recycling that cannot fit in the recycle bin. What a mess!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Whomever is dreaming of a White Christmas...

please stop!

Photos from today (December 24)

And of course it would not be Christmas Eve without a photo of my boys in front of the tree wearing their Christmas Jammies.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas is coming...

Well, Christmas is just about here. It seems a little surreal since I lost about a week's worth of prep time (and shopping time).

The roads are better today so Stephen went out with his car and hit Big 5 Sports, Costco, QFC, the butcher shop, liquor store and Safeway. So many of the stores have not been able to get their deliveries so Stephen could not find garlic until he hit Safeway. Later, I went to Safeway to get icing sugar (powdered sugar) and Safeway was out so I had to go to QFC. The gas stations by QFC have run out of gas and the gas trucks cannot get up the plateau to deliver more. Glad my tank is full. Of course I have not driven my car since Wednesday (I took Stephen's out today since it is an all-wheel drive). It has been parked out on the street since last Tuesday.

Anyway, we are all set for dinner so now I have to whip the house into shape tomorrow. I completely forgot to take my linen tablecloth to the cleaners to have it pressed! Yikes! I am going to try to do it tomorrow but it is 120" long and will probably take HOURS.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I feel a little better today because Ash and I got down off the plateau in her truck. The roads were really bad but we were able to get to Target and Fred Meyer for groceries and I was able to get a few gifts. What a relief! I still don't have gifts for everyone.

Our dinner plans for Christmas have changed as it was first to be my family and Ash's family. But today T called because her parents' flight from the Midwest was canceled so they are not coming for Christmas so T, E and their kids will come here now. Then, Ash's dh asked if one of his friends could come too because his flight was canceled today too. So we are up to 14 people with a possibility of 18 as another friend had her flight to Denver canceled so they will be home for Christmas now with no plans.

BTW, all of these flights have been canceled due to snow at SEA-TAC.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Still more friggin snow! Aargh!

We had a great time at Spy's house last night. She and her dh sure know how to throw a party! It was much smaller than planned because everyone from out-of-town had to cancel due to the roads so there were just 5 couples. Spy stole the show from her dh with her "championship belt" as Stephen called it. :)

I shoveled the driveway twice today. The kids told me they were "bored" of the snow so they did not go out until late afternoon. Then they built snow forts and had a snow ball fight.

I ordered new snow boots from and they are supposed to arrive tomorrow. I hope they come early in the day. The boots that I have are inadequate for traipsing through the snow. I bought them 11 or 12 years ago when I lived in Minnesota where of course we would get way more snow much more often BUT the roads and sidewalks would get ploughed so I was never really trudging through 6-8" of snow unlike here.

I have also been wearing my big winter coat that I bought 11 years ago. It screams 1990's with the big gold buttons but it is longer than my other coat (which I bought not necessarily for warmth but because it is waterproof - something usually more important than warmth around here in winter).

Of course being snowbound does not mean that I have finished my Christmas cards! Oops! Hopefully I can finish them up tomorrow. I have been mailing them as I go so at least half of the people should have them already.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The next round of snow has hit and everyone here is in full panic mode. Safeway was crazy again today (Stephen went there). I went to the drug store and I was not the only one buying Christmas gifts there. I also popped in the liquor store to get some minibar sized bottles for Stephen's stocking and the line was huge as people were stocking up to hunker down for a few days.

I think we are prepared for the wind storm. Stephen brought in a few piles of wood for the wood stove. We have our cast iron fry pan for the stovetop if need be as well as the cast iron kettle. We are probably a little short on water but I won't worry about that unless a water pipe bursts. I really do not want to lose power but the news and the city's website are basically calling it a sure thing. Let's hope it won't be for long.

Our babysitter is walking down the big hill tonight and Stephen will walk her home (she lives across the street from our old house so just 1/3 mile away). We are going to Spy's house tonight for her dh's 40th birthday party and they are just 1/2 mile away so we'll walk there too (or maybe catch a ride with Ash and her dh as they are dropping their kids off here to be babysat).

Ok, off to get ready for tonight...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day #3

School for today was canceled by 5pm yesterday. We had soooo much snow. The roads are so icy. Stephen treked off the plateau today and bought chains for his car at the tire store. I need some for my van too. This weather is nuts!

Today, the kids played outside for ages and then we walked to the store. We stopped for lunch first then off the Safeway and it was a complete zoo! People were in panic mode because of the snow AND we are due for a wind storm tomorrow night. And everyone remembers the last big winter wind storm so they were stocking up like crazy.

Later, the kids and I walked to Ash's house for Cosmo Friday. It was painful going there (just under a mile away) because we had to walk up two big hills while lugging sleds. Coming home was smooth sailing though. I almost liked the walk because it reminded me of home and of the years we spent in Minnesota - Stephen and I walked all the time in all kinds of weather then. It was clear and crisp and cold. Like this:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Day #2 (with snow!)

School was canceled again today but at least we had snow this time. I could hear the frozen rain hitting the window in the morning before I awoke but then it changed to snow. It snowed all day long. Spy invited the kids and I over for lunch so we walked over (she lives about 1/2 mile away). The kids had a blast and played outside for nearly 3 hours! I think there was over 6" of snow.

Stephen of course did not go to work today and was irritated that he could not connect to work (as the other 30,000 people who work for his company in the area could not go in either and they were all trying to connect at once apparently). He was able to get some work done while we were at Spy's so that is good.

Here are a couple of photos:

Boys playing in our yard about 9:30AM

About to trek home from Spy's house about 3:15PM (photo courtesy of Spy)

School has already been canceled for tomorrow because the temperatures are expected to drop well below freezing tonight (and that was to be the last day of school for the Christmas vacation!). The roads are nearly impassable without chains. The highway was closed and they showed accident after accident on the news tonight. Buses are not running and people are stranded everywhere. What a mess! This is not the weather we are supposed to have in Seattle!

Jax has an eye doctor appointment tomorrow at 10AM that I will have to cancel (at a co$t of $25 according to their website). I will walk to Safeway tomorrow morning to get milk, cheese, bread and some supplies to make Christmas cookies. Hopefully they'll still have some of those things and that the delivery trucks get through.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We had a snow day today but no snow! It was in the forecast but it did not arrive. It snowed to the north and to the south but no snow anywhere in our school district!

So, to pass the day, the kids and I went to the grocery store, had hot chocolate at Starbucks, built a gingerbread house, played the game of "Life". They then played Battleship, played a bit on the computer, made videos using Jax's Flip video camera and they read. They were perfect!

Now, more snow is coming as well as very cold weather again (help me)!.
Schools are closed due to icy roads and the threat of a huge snowfall which is expected to start any minute.

I'll never finish my Christmas shopping!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I am so tired of this cold weather already. The faucet outside popped a leak and was spewing water for God-knows how many hours. Can't wait to get our next water bill. And the furnace has been running non-stop too - the gas bill will be lovely.

I know that I sound like such a suck, complaining about the cold weather. Especially since I lived in Minnesota for six years and I grew up in Toronto and Ottawa. But, the difference is that I have acclimated to this milder region (well, what used to be a milder region) AND there are so many hills around and a lack of snow removal/sanders/de-icer equipment around that it makes it very stressful trying to get around.

I have driven in horrible snow storms in my life. Storms that would make the roads virtually impassable and driving home from work would take well over 2 hours for a normal 25 minute commute. In Minnesota, it was so cold that often my car would not start (no engine block heater to plug in - nor outdoor outlets at our apartment). But that was ok because I knew eventually I could get the AAA to come (maybe 12 hours later but they'd come) to give me a boost or that the snow ploughs would have the roads cleared by the next day. That just does not happen here.

I had such a hard time of it last winter with the cold weather. And I was so looking forward to a beach vacation that disappeared with the Saab's exploding radiator. I honestly don't know how I will make it through another really cold winter again without some warmth. Maybe I just need to re-invest in some nice wool sweaters and sheep-skin slippers? Whatever the answer is, I need to find it to make it through this winter.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear?


Normally this is the time of day when all hell is breaking loose. The kids would have arrived home from school, been complaining that they were STARVING or about HOMEWORK while unpacking their backpacks, their lunch boxes and shoving armloads of paper at me to sort through. Teasing, bickering and whining is what I am used to hearing at this time.

No today though.

Jax and Dex are at their cartooning class (last one today) and Cars is on a playdate. Cars was so excited to take the bus one extra stop today to go to his friend's house. So, I have another sweet hour and a bit of quiet time until I have to pick up Jax and Dex at the school then swing by to get Cars. I guess all I've managed to do is put off the chaos for a couple of hours.

And what I am doing with my time? Blogging and desperately trying to decide what last minute gifts I can get for some young adults on my Christmas list. Usually I buy them American Express Gift Cheques/Checks but today I arrived at my local American Express Travel Office only to find out that they closed up shop in November. And of course these need to be mailed to Canada TODAY to make sure they arrive on time.

So, I came home (oh, after spending 55 minutes in the post office, after a 10 minute wait for a parking spot and then finding out that the very cute Christmas cards that I bought are "bumpy" so each card mailed to Canada and Internationally require an additional $0.20 of postage. That is a freaking lot of money considering that most of my cards are mailed to Canada!) to surf some lame Canadian shopping sites for gift cards for these receipeitns who will be now be receiveing their gifts AFTER Christmas.

Oh, and since I spent soooo long at the post office (and too long in Kohl's as I ran into a very chatty friend), I just now took something out of the freezer for dinner so I am hoping it is defrosted in time to reheat (a meat pie) for dinner. And we have to eat a little early because Dex has his "Third Grade Performance" tonight at the school and since he has a speaking part, I want to arrive a little early to get a front row seat to video him (ok, writing "video him" sounds weird but I had written video tape him then changed it because it is not video tape but digital video on Jax's Flip Video Camera - ok, rambling here).

Ok, so while I hear nothing but sweet silence, all I can hear in my mind is a great big clock counting down.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I hate being cold. I hate the snow.


I love that my kids love it!

Friday, December 12, 2008

It has been a crazy week! I took the boys to the dentist on Wednesday and Dex has two cavities and he is DEVASTATED! He was wailing "I WILL HAVE IT FOR THE REST.OF.MY.LIFE!" (in his adult molars where the sealants fell off). I haven't had the heart to schedule the appointment yet.

Yesterday, I had offered to take a meal to a friend whose mother has had a stroke and she has been spending a lot of time at the hospital and getting her mom settled at home. Ok, I know I cannot cook. You know I cannot cook yet I offered to do this. I made my mom's famous pork chops (they are really pretty good and honestly, one thing that I can actually make without screwing up). Anyway, I burnt my hand on the oven rack while testing the temperature of the pork chops (ouch)! About 5pm, I packed the kids in the car with the pork chops, corn, salad, buns, bottle of wine and a Lazy Daisy cake and off we went to deliver it. She was not home! No one answered their phone. I called my other friend who organized it and she said "Just leave it on the porch" so I got out of the car and started walking up the driveway when a big, brown lab charges up to me and starts barking its head off. I called my other friend back who said "Oh that's just 'Insert Dog's name here as I now forget because I was scared shitless'. Don't mind him". Riiight. This dog is barking and GROWLING at me and I was thinking "I am not leaving these pork chops on the porch for this damn dog to eat!" so my friend suggested I drop the food off at her house and she will contact other friend to come get it when she gets home.


So, I do that (they live right around the corner from each other) then rush home to work on dinner for my family (also pork chops but I put them in just before we left). I burnt my hand AGAIN. Geez!!!

Stephen got home and I put dinner out for them and then go get ready because it is our book club's Christmas Celebration which was a lot of fun!

Now today, we a big winter storm has hit. What that means here is a lot of rain and wind. The power has gone off once so far today. but I am prepared. Flashlights, tons'o'D batteries, plenty of food, the grill's propane tank is full, we have a neat pile of wood outside for the wood stove in case we lose power for any length of time.

Hopefully the storm will pass without the rain turning to snow (the temperatures are to drop). We do not yet have our Christmas tree so we'll be out picking out a sopping wet tree this weekend.

Ok, off to post this before the power goes out again!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We went to another work Christmas party today at Stephen's VP's house. I started chatting with the wife of one of his co-workers who I had met briefly at the party on Friday night. Anyway, she asked me if I was at the gym today because she said she thought it was me because "I recognized your hair". LOL

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Yes, it was my hair. I coloured it. Well, sort of. I mean, yes, there is colour but not all-over-colour like I used to do. Just foils with high lights and low lights.

After all that pain and ugliness I went through to grow out my hair colour, why on earth did I go and do it again?! It's simple. Pure vanity.

I bought a really pretty top to wear for the holidays, figuring I would just pair it with some black wool pants. Anyway, it was pewter and black. I thought it looked nice on my in Macy's (where is there a different sale every day and coupons galore that they practically PAY you to take the clothes). I brought it home and in the different light, the pewter with my grey hair made me look MATRONLY! OMG! It was horrible. I decided right there and then that the shirt was going back. And I started obsessing about colouring my hair.

When I first grew it all in, I thought it looked ok (well, after I finally cut it). I had enough dark hair left that the grey looked, at least with my rose-coloured glasses on, distinguished and unique. But in the last year it has become more grey. I was first struck at how grey it really was in CraftyMama's Zoo photo. And when I pulled it back, the right side was completely WHITE underneath.

Then, wearing that top and looking OLD and MATRONLY was the final straw. It did not help that I was in dire need of a haircut since I had not had it cut since the end of August.

I made an appointment at the local $alon and told them I wanted to discuss hair colour. I went in, said I did not want all-over-colour but just something to make it look a little less grey. Also, she assured me that it would not be that noticeable growing out. I hope she is right.

So that's my story. All this angst and battling with myself over hair colour is over. I am very happy with the results. I may even go back for more in a couple of months.

Oh, and thank you for all the lovely comments. I'd better watch it or I'll get a fat head.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Can you see the difference?

Here are two photos of me taken about a month apart. The most recent is on the right and was taken on Friday. There is something slightly different about me. So slight, in fact, that none of my friends have even noticed. Stephen did though.

Leave a comment if you think you know what it it is.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I haven't been much inspired to write in my blahg lately. Even the mundane day-to-day stuff is a chore to write about. Hoping this indifference lifts soon as I don't want to lose my readership. :)

Thanks to those of you who still read.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Stephen, Jax and Dex put up the Christmas lights today. They look good and I am so proud of the boys for helping Stephen out.

We went to Stephen's holiday party last night. It was fun. The food was great (especially the desserts!).

I need to start on my Christmas cards. I cannot believe how many I have received already! Yikes!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Gotta love the dentist. Why else would you pay someone $500 to torture you - break your teeth, jab sharp objects in your mouth, inject you with some chemicals that make kill your taste buds, cement man-made materials to what's left of your tooth, then spend the rest of they day aching?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sunday night at dinner we were talking about dreams and Dex described a dream that he had about church:

I was going down the aisle on the way to the Children's Liturgy. (the kids in grades K-6 can leave the church and go into the chapel during the readings and the homily but come back for communion) All of the kids were chained together at the ankles and it was very hard to walk because we were walking through some thick, green goo. Then, if we did not get down the aisle fast enough, we had to start all over again.

Stephen had a heyday as he is "anti-church". (I'd say at the moment but the moment has lasted about a decade). Anyway, Stephen says to me "Are you hearing this?". Of course I was hearing it. I told Dex it was just a dream and then Stephen starts on about how some people believe in dream interpretation but I stopped him before he decided to interpret Dex's dream for him.

I know that my children do not like going to church but they also don't like eating vegetables or brushing their teeth. But it is something that I have decided they need to partake in. They all complain about going to church. Well, that is not true. Cars rarely complains as, up until this year, it was always fun for him. He had Sunday School during Mass and then he got to play in the gym/social hall for an hour with his friends while his brothers went to their religious instruction classes. He is less impressed this year as the kindergartners now go to Mass and now he has religious instruction afterwards so he misses playing with Spy's son, Col, and other preschool and Sunday school friends in the gym.

When Jax complains about going to church, I just tell him that I made a promise to God that I would take him until he was a man and he doesn't want me to break a promise to God, does he? Ah, I've started the Catholic Guilt early, eh? Jax is terribly concerned with the idea that someone may have eaten peanut butter before coming to church and perhaps they have not washed up so he hates giving the Sign of Peace and holding hands during the Lord's Prayer (ok, I have to admit that I don't like that either).

Dex does not really complain that much either. At least, not loud. I can hear him muttering from time-to-time during Mass that it is "so long". He is the one most likely to follow along in the hymnal (reading, but not singing but I'm ok with that) so I guess it can't be that bad for him, right? Hey, I can interpret things too! ;)

I guess I really cannot understand their feelings about church. My mom left the church when I was about 6 or 7 years old so my family all stopped going because there was no way my dad would get all 5 kids up and ready to go to church on Sundays. Up until that point, I loved to get all dressed up and go to church. I had fond memories of wearing white tights with velvet dresses and shiny shoes every Sunday. I did not go back to church again on a regular basis until I was an adult. So it was a decision that I made and not something I was "forced" to do by my parents.

To make matters worse, our Mass has stretched to an an hour and twenty minutes in length! Our priest is not the most dynamic speaker and his homilies take ages! He insists that we sing every verse of every hymn. And now he has eliminated the "sattelite" communion stations so what really should be an hour service is regularly one hour and twenty minutes long. An eternity for children (and for their parents who try to keep them occuppied). I do not believe that my kids should have to sit still for that length of time and even with them going out during the Children's Liturgy (which is infrequent due to lack of volunteers for that program), Mass is just too long for them.

Our neighbours, whom I just found out go to our church as they told me they do not go all that regularly (I admit we don't go often during the summer), asked me if Mass ever ends "on time". Funny to say that. Mass should be an hour long. It should not be longer unless it is Good Friday, Easter Sunday or any of the Christmas Masses.

Oh, so here I am complaining about church, just like my children. Perhaps I do understand their feelings after all.