Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas time at our home...

Just a few photos (to try and vamp up my 2008 post count) of, what else, my kids. We had a lovely Christmas at home this year, albeit chaotic. We had both sets of families (bits of them) out for dinner on Christmas Eve and my parents and brother stayed over the next two nights. The day after Boxing Day we had a wonderful birthday party for Connor, who turns 2 tomorrow. Tonight we're staying in and having fondue after we put the kids to bed. Tomorrow, more birthday celebrations for Connor. We have a lunch play date at McDonald's and then Mom is making a turkey dinner, complete with ice cream cake. That satisfactorily ends the holiday season for us, so I think we'll spend the weekend dismantling the tree and packing up ornaments.

I've come to the conclusion that Christmas is a holiday best enjoyed by the young. This year I think I spent most of the time in food preparation, food cleaning, or taming tantrums. I didn't put my feet up, didn't play a game of cards, didn't even have an afternoon snooze on the couch. Not that I ever have (snoozed that is). It was a little bit nuts! I think that as the kids get older, their ability to deal with the busyness will get better and life will get easier. I can't say that I'm sad that it's over for the year... I'm getting tired of constantly telling the boys to "Leave the tree alone!" and I know that I will discover at least a couple of ornament casualties again this year.

I hope everyone who still follows this blog after my two years of sporadic posts, enjoyed the holidays and is looking forward to the New Year and all that it brings! (The New Year is kind of an odd, bittersweet sentiment to me. I always felt that the New Year started in September, back when life revolved around the school calendar. Starting fresh in the midst of winter and darkness never did seem quite right.)

But I guess that's for another post...


Alex posing oh-so cooperatively in his new sweater from Grandma and Grandpa Freeman.

Connor, a little more cooperative, but just as unenthusiastically!

Kirstin, showing off her new pj's and present eating prowess!

This is a photo of my boys not cooperating for the camera. It was supposed to be a head on shot of them in front of the tree in their new pj's - with their sister who never made it into the photo. Unbeknownst to them, it's adorable and I couldn't have asked for a better pose!

My little viking in his new hat and t-shirt.

Wow... can you say "stuffed". The stockings are Cory's thing. He loves to cram as much as possible into them. It gets a bit crazy. I did his, and didn't do too bad a job if I do say so myself. Mom and Dad and Nathan brought theirs out too, so Santa certainly had his hands full at our place Christmas Eve!

Connor posing at his birthday party (and saying "no pictures, Mama!") We had a sleigh ride, followed by a hot dog roast and sledding. It was fabulous!

A packed sleigh!
Darn, it's sideways!! The first birthday cake I've ever made that turned out well... I baked, iced and decorated all by myself... well, okay, with a little (or a lot of) help from my parents. Otherwise it more likely would have resembled the pile of snow that the plow left behind, rather than a snowman. Thanks guys, it turned out great and inspires me to maybe make another one some birthday down the road.
"I'll huff and I'll puff... and eventually Daddy will help me blow out the candles!"
Merry Christmas and all the best in 2009, from the Freeman Family!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Calvin's Infamous Snowmen!

Every once in a while you get an email that is worth forwarding. I have received this one a few times now. I always forward it! This was a great comic strip and it's too bad that it only ran for a few years (10, I think). Anyway, these always crack me up! I wish I had his energy!













Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Probably my only political post

My brother wrote this on Facebook a few days ago. I really enjoyed reading it and he's garnered a lot of interesting comments because of it. So... I figured I'd share it on here. I learned a lot from it and its subsequent essay (which my non-political brain understood less).

* * * * * * * *
In 2006, Stephen Harper's Conservatives introduced and passed a bill fixing election dates for every four years, unless the government was defeated in a confidence vote, in which case an election would be held by the usual rules.

In September 2008, Harper ignored his own law and called an election without his government being defeated in the House of Commons. He failed to secure a majority of seats in Parliament for his Conservatives.

Last Thursday, Stephen Harper's Conservatives presented a fiscal update which was not agreeable to the opposition parties. As every politically aware individual in Canada knows, a minority government has to tread lightly or face defeat. Harper's Conservatives, however, chose to include two very contentious issues in this update.

First, the update was to cut federal funding in a supposed effort to cut spending. For a government that was projecting a $10 billion surplus this year, cutting $30 million in political party funding is less than a drop in the bucket ( essentially 3 cents for every $10 ). The effect of this would be to hurt the opposition parties financially and reduce their ability to campaign in the next election. Sure, the Conservatives would lose more in federal funding than any other party, but as a right wing party is far more capable of independently securing funding from wealthy and corporate donors.

Second, the right of civil servants to strike was to be suspended until 2010-11. Obviously, this term alone would cause both the Bloc and the NDP to vote against the bill.

Additionally, the update failed to provide support to workers in the tougher economy ahead. Every other affected nation in the world ( including US Republicans ) is implementing a plan ( some more sensible than others ) to use government money in an attempt to reduce the impact of the financial crisis. Harper's fiscal update actually goes the opposite direction, in an attempt to reduce government spending.

So where does this leave the Liberals? Well, the Liberals don't want an election right now. The Liberals cannot agree with the terms of the fiscal update. The choice Harper presented to the Liberals was to either support this fiscal update or face an election.

The Liberals chose a third option. They negotiated a coalition with the NDP, supported by the Bloc. It must be emphasized, that in spite of Harper's lies to the contrary, that the Bloc is not part of the coalition, nor are they as threatening as Harper would have us believe. This coalition is entirely legal and constitutional, and this is the opinion of former Governor General Ed Schreyer. It is, and always has been, part of the Governor General's role to explore whether a viable government with the support of a majority of the House can be formed before calling an election in the wake of a government's defeat.

Due to Harper's heavy handed tactics, his government will fall. It is up to Michaelle Jean, therefore, to evaluate the options: - Prorogue Parliament at Harper's request ( ie. suspend it until the budget is to be tabled ), delaying the inevitable confidence vote- Allow the confidence vote, then either call for an election or for the opposition leader to form a new government. Harper's propaganda campaign would have us believe that this coalition is undemocratic. He is lying. I'd give him credit for being mistaken, but he attempted exactly the same thing in 2004, which means if he does actually believe it is democratic he's admitting that democracy is not important to him. Odd that calling him a liar is actually giving him credit.

When Canadians go to the polls, we vote for local MPs. We do not vote for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is traditionally the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons, though a Parliament composed entirely of Independents is theoretically possible. The question of Prime Minister in such a case is an interesting one.

Regardless, we did not vote for Stephen Harper to be Prime Minister. Rather, we voted for the people who would represent our individual constituencies in Parliament. The largest party happened to be Conservatives. These Conservatives tabled legislation that the majority of representeatives felt would be a betrayal of their constituents. They had 3 days ( before Harper postponed the vote ) to come up with a solution, which left no time to consult the voters. However, for those who claim the coalition is an attack on democracy, every MP who will form this government and command a majority of votes in Parliament were elected by the voters of Canada.

That being said, local MPs have been receiving letters both in support and against, according to Jean Crowder ( Nanaimo-Cowichan) those letters against coming from Chilliwack and Alberta, with similarities in the emails suggestive of an organized letter-writing campaign.

So, not only is the coalition entirely legal, it has the support of the people who elected the individual MPs who would form the coalition government. This is a very democratic process.
So what part of this crisis is undemocratic?

Harper illegally called an election, in direct violation of a fixed election date law he initiated and implemented.

Harper started his second term by attacking the funding of the other political parties, which would have artificially improved his chances of a majority. He also attacked the right of a labour union to strike regarding wages.

Regardless of whether you agree with Harper's right-wing ideals, he is a serious threat to democracy in Canada that must be removed whatever the cost. He claims that he is willing to listen to the opposition's suggestions, but he's been caught lying too many times to be believed... Fixed election dates, income trusts, accusing Dion, Layton and Duceppe of avoiding being photographed in front of a Canadian Flag when signing their agreement ( there were two Canadian flags behind them ).

As a final note:

The breakdown in percentages of registered voters ( and no this does not add up to 100% due to rounding, independents and others ):
22% voted Conservative
15 % voted Liberal
11% voted NDP
6% voted Bloc Quebecois
4% voted Green
41% did not vote

With 26% of registered voters supporting them, the parties forming the coalition still hold fewer seats than the Conservatives, hence the need for Bloc support. Harper has burned that bridge. His government will fall due to his unwillingness to cooperate with other parties.

Nathan Martin

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Santa's on his way...

As I was strolling through the Co-op this morning I was overcome by a feeling of festiveness. Grocery stores in November tend to do that to me. I resisted the urge to toss a bucket of red and green jelly beans in my basket, instead I swung by the hardware store and stocked up on multi-colour outdoor replacement lights. I'm very excited! This will be our 4th Christmas in this house and this year, we're not going to have any burnt out lights on the house! Our excuse for our shoddy, half-lit Christmas lights display has always been that we don't have a ladder to change the lights that were on the house when we moved in. This year we have a ladder, so it is my goal to look a little less Charlie Brown this year.

We've taken the armchair approach to Christmas shopping this year, and I have to say, so far I am truly enjoying the experience. We shopped http://www.toysrus.ca/ and are currently shopping now at http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/ . Can't beat the line-ups, and shipping and handling is cheaper than the gas it would cost to get to the mall. Yup, this might be the most organized shopping season yet for me. I even called the Toys 'R Us in Kamloops to see if they had two items that aren't available online and my sister-in-law picked them up for us and is sending them to PG with her sister. We're pretty much down to gifts for our siblings and stocking stuffers.

So, with a little help from my sister-in-law, Santa will be delivering this to my boys this year! Isn't it cool???

And our little girl will be getting one of these...



We've had fun googling puppets and have found a few that might just be great to have. Chapters has a neat selection of Sesame Street puppets. I think Gingerbread Toys has some animal ones. The theatre comes with 2, so we'll wait and see what's included before Santa makes any more decisions. There's also a neat website http://www.thepuppetstore.com/ that has a huge selection of hand puppets (and marionettes, but not for my youngsters, thank you) that are pretty clever. They have everything from dragons to Bible characters. Can you picture a Mary Magdalene puppet show? Anyway, we're sticking with the non-denominational puppets for this year ;) and I'm looking forward to many years of impromptu puppet shows in our living room. I know Alex, and soon enough, his trusty sidekick, Connor, won't disappoint!

Now, who's going to ship Christmas baking to our door?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bullying...

My 4 year old is being bullied. I feel like crying. He has a "friend" (when you're 4 the mailman is your friend, you pretty much don't discriminate) who throws his weight around. I don't let Alex play with this friend unless I can supervise him. I encourage them to play in our yard. Alex hasn't played with this friend in a few months and the other day he heard him out in the yard and begged to be able to go play. I gave in. I want to get along with the people we live next door to, and I get tired of saying "no" all the time, so I said he could go out and play as long as I could see him. I threw my son to the wolves.

Deep down, I knew something would happen. It always does. How many second chances does one kid need? I left the door open and I checked on Alex every 5 minutes. I could hear them out in the yard playing together. Then, suddenly, Alex was at the front door, in tears, covered in mud from head to toes. It took two baths to get all the dirt out of his hair. He'd been pushed in the mud and despite his saying no, had dirt and worms put in his hair by his "friend" while his other "friend" - the little sister who I do approve of Alex playing with, kicked him in the ribs.

It's a very powerless feeling to know that you set someone up for abuse. I remember feeling the same way when someone jumped my brother years ago, while I was left in charge when my parents were out of town. The same emotions, the heartbreak, the guilt and the second guessing. If only I'd been there, I could have prevented this.

If I had been outside with Alex, instead of inside with the other two, perhaps he would have been safe. Perhaps not. Right under my nose this "friend" destroys our property, throws rocks at my kids, scares the crap out of Connor, and hurts Alex. He's very good at what he does and is very quick. I've seen him abusing his little sister and his dog. Never when his parents are watching, of course.

I'm an idiot. I want my children to be able to play kick the can in the backyard with all the neighbourhood kids, the way we used to do. I want them to be able to go next door, knock, and say "Can my friend come out and play?" I'd like to turn off the tv all summer while my children get dirty and suntanned the way children are supposed to. Idealic? Maybe. Maybe there is nothing to do except sever all ties complete and become the unfriendly neighbours. I'm at a loss.

I told the parents today what happened and why my children are not allowed to play with their's. Nothing will come of it, but at least I went to bat for my son. Apparently Alex is the only victim of this particular bully. I find that hard to swallow. Does my son have a "kick me" sign on his back? Does Alex invite this kind of behaviour? I don't think so! We all want to think the best of our children and, to that extent, are probably in denial about one or more of their personality quirks. But I'm not worried about the kind of man Alex is growing in to... I am worried about the other boy.

Sometimes parenting sucks!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yummy...

I can hardly believe that my little girl was 6 months old on Tuesday. She's no longer a newborn, and to celebrate we introduced her to "solids" (or gruel, if you prefer). She enjoyed her cereal immensely and I think she just might be a natural!!! The boys were fascinated and cheered her on. Cory fed her... no more excuses for not leaving her at home with him for short stints. Well, I also asked him to do the inaugural feeding because, I take better photos! ;) Mush, anyone?

"MORE!"


Two proud big brothers... well, one big one and one rather short one.

S, exciting times around here. And today Connor offered her a cracker. Umm... let's not rush things too much, guys...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Our Halloween!

Trick or Treat! My children had a blast this Halloween. Our friends drove here from PG to join us for lunch. While our babies napped, the older kids decorated Spider cupcakes. We had a really nice time with them (Tanya, thanks for sorting all of Kirstin's baby clothes for me) as we don't get together nearly often enough now that we don't live in the same town.Our jack o' lanterns. After days of deliberation, here's what we came up with. One I copied, one I created. Alex wanted a "Daddy"... so I did my best. I can draw, but I sure as heck am no carver!My boys, waiting patiently for me to finish bundling up their sister so we can go trick or treating!
And, my bundled up Cinderella... the warm fuzzy snowsuit underneath has bunny ears, so really, two costumes in one! :)
Connor's first ever trick or treat! Our neighbours always get a kick out of our kids.
Alex decided against wearing his spiderman costume because he really, really didn't want to wear the mask. So he picked out a costume from two years ago. It was a lot longer on him when he was 2! :)
My grumpy frog prince.
Blinded by the flash, I think... Kirstin just rode happily around in the stroller. She'll probably be walking next year, so maybe I'll let her visit a house or two.

And that's it... happy Halloween... and now... Alex is counting down to Christmas already. I told him he had to at least wait until after Remembrance Day to start the countdown.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Inspiration...

So, looking for inspiration for myself and my 4-year old, we googled "jack o'lantern designs". I found this really neat site (I think I've seen it before in various emails, but it totally bears sharing once again!

Check out http://www.extremepumpkins.com

Here's a few of the photos we added to our favourites to try, if not this year, perhaps in the next couple of years!







Of course, both of my youngest woke up from their naps, so all we managed was to empty the guts out of one pumpkin and carve the lid out of the second. But that's progress, perhaps tomorrow we'll manage to finish them.

And for a bit of a sneak preview, I think we're going to have a Cinderella (albeit a bald one), a spiderman (although he's refusing to wear the mask and with the winter coats we tend to have to wear Halloween he might not be that convincing) and a frog prince (occasionally frog princes have tantrums too).






Happy Halloween!