Monday, 25 July 2011

Weekend Birthdays

Aah, birthday weekend... the start of the sugar buzz that rolls right on through to the first week of August. Yup, it's birthday season again! Not sure what fate smiled on us when our first born showed up smack in the middle of hubby's already too close birthday and mine, but he did. So, it's Cory, then Alex, then me. Which inevitably means three cakes in less than two weeks. Yum. Ugh.

Anyway, having almost recovered from the rich food weekend, I thought I'd post some photos of Cory's birthday and Alex's birthday party. Alex isn't quite yet 7, as that's still 3 days away, but we always throw his party on a weekend, being more convenient to our work schedules.

Saturday morning... Cory walks in the door from his 8 hour shift. The kids accost him with well wishes and gifts they've each carefully chosen. I loiter in bed wishing, yet again, that they'd learn how to sleep in on weekends. That's my qualifier... Cory looks like crap cause he's worked all night, I look like crap because I just woke up - it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he's just crossed over the halfway point of his thirties and I'm soon to.

Kirstin giving her Dad a birthday snuggle after he opened the lamp she picked out for him.

Alex being thanked for the "Spiderham" comic he picked out for his father. They've already read 60+ pages!

Alex's terrible photography skills... yeah, that's why I look so puffy! And yes, that it my super-awesome birthday gift for him (no help from whatsoever) :)

And Cory trying to steal a birthday snuggle from Connor, giver of the Dr. Doofenschmirtz doll.

I love taking the kids shopping for gifts. They each have their own personalities and perceptions of what makes a good gift. For Father's Day, for example, my dad-in-law recieved a lovely red plunger from Connor! :)

After Cory crashed for the day, the kids and I set out to make him cupcakes for supper...

... proving yet again, exactly why I ask Grandma to make cakes for my children's parties! :)

And since I didn't have 35 candles kicking around... we chose to go with 1 rather large, rather tacky one. Connor was determined to blow it out before Cory. I don't think he succeeded, but the effort was cute!

Which brings us to Sunday and to celebration #2 - Alex's birthday party. My "baby" is just about to turn 7. It's pretty crazy and cliche how fast the years go when you have children. But they do. When I asked him how he wanted to celebrate his birthday, he said "Exactly the same as last year!"

Here's last year's post, if you missed it...

So... we did. Almost. We changed a few things and kept a few things. And I do believe that the children had a blast, went home high on sugar, and made a few memories along the way.

We were lucky enough to have decent weather for our party. I really didn't want to have to do it indoors, but since it's pretty much been raining since the first day of summer, the odds weren't in our favour. At 12:15, 45 minutes to show time, the rain began. So instead of setting up in the backyard, we backed the cars onto the road, moved the bikes and recycling bins, and swept out the car port. But the rain stopped and we managed to pull off a pretty successful event.

A recycled poster from last year saved me a good evening's work!

The bouncy house that serves as entertainment AND a good place to sit and eat watermelon.

The party-goers lined up with their water balloons... toss at Bowser of course! (Lots of little balloon bits lodged in my tree now)

The updated Yoshi Egg on spoon race... this time forget about running in a straight line, run the obstacle course with your egg, instead. (Connor's the one in the background retrieving his fallen egg)

Kirstin is wearing her red Donkey Kong tie... we made those instead of party hats this year to differentiate between the two teams for the mini games. Half of them red, half blue.

And yet, the kids all played in one big chaotic muddle after all. Another recycled mini-game... Bean Bag Boo... too cute not to re-use!

This year instead of Pin the Moustache on Mario, we went with the classic, "Pin the Tie on Donkey Kong" instead.

And this. I'm actually pretty pleased with this one in particular. This is the pinata I built. It's not very square and it's not very pretty, but a true Mario fan would recognize it for what it is, so that's all the counts.

And then Alex got to open his gifts. Some pretty cool stuff (Eric, how about reviewing "Candyland" with Alex next time you're up?) Including a Light Sabre! Umm... thanks, Mom and Dad, Cory loves it...

And the cake my Mom made. See, compare it to my cupcakes and give me one good reason why I should attempt baking again!

Winding down after an over-tiring, over-stimulating, sugar coma kind of a day... Blowing bubbles with Grandma, a perfect tantrum taming activity.

Happy Birthday to two of the men in my world! Blow out your candles and make a wish...

... cause mine came true 7 years ago.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Pride Day

So, I posted on facebook on Friday that I was taking my kids to Pride Day because we were proud of our GLBT family members. A perfectly harmless update not meant to inflame or cause debate. I'm not interested in debates. (So if you're reading this post and gearing up for one, move along right now, please).

The next day a cousin-in-law updates her status. No names mentioned, but it's pretty obvious that it was referring to mine. She called me a "mushy believer" (huh?) and inferred that my tolerance and acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle is leading me straight to Hell.


Meanwhile, her diatribe (that goes on through 3 more comment boxes because she obviously has far more to say than facebook thinks she should), spews judgement and mud-slinging. She even mentioned that she had a gay brother and that she regularly tells him that his lifestyle is an abomination and he needs to repent and turn from sin, yada yada yada...

Wow, how supportive. Can't imagine how family dinners go at her place.

So then I comment on her status about how I feel sorry for her brother (cause I can't keep my big mouth shut), and my cousin comes to her defense and throws a couple of Old-Testament Bible verses my way.

The fact that the Bible is written by men and has been, for centuries, interpreted by men to suit the opinion of the day, is lost on this couple. I mean, Jesus had long hair, wore sandals, and a gown... do you really think he's homophobic?

Anyway, long story short, Pride Day was great! The parade was clean and a colourful, there were craft booths and activities for the kids, everyone was loving and happy and I only heard the F-word once. The best part, I didn't see any hate-mongering going on the way I have in previous years. It was a really tame event and fairly family friendly. The marchers threw candy from the floats at the children and the occasional condom at the adults. Alex found a couple on the street afterwards and said, "Mama, what kind of candy is this," but I pocketed his "candy for adults" and changed the subject. He hasn't thought to bring it up again. Whew!

My kids accepted it without any shock or disgust (and why would they, we have never promoted bigotry in our home). There were a couple of awkward moments when the drag queen was being crowned (Kirstin: "Those are weird princesses!" and "Why does she talk like a man?") but for the most part, they just enjoyed themselves and took it in stride.

In fact, when I asked my boys afterwards, if either of them had any questions, Alex replied, "YES! Why do you have to be 9-years old to go on the velcro wall?" and "Can we come back next year?"

So, there you go. I stand behind my status update. I'm proud of my GLBT family members. I think it's time to do a clean-up of my facebook friends list. Might just make it two people shorter and make my life all the much more pleasant!

In the meantime, have to figure out a way to get this message through to them before I unfriend them...

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Chore Chart update,,,

Well, its been a month since the implemenation of our detailed chore chart. And I'm cautiously optimistic that it is working. Well. For the most part.

Its new home on the wall between the living room and the hallway.

Sure there are some gaps. For my own part, I have never managed to make it through all of my "daily" tasks. Or my weekly tasks. I, in fact, haven't dusted a thing since I put the chore chart up last month. And my "zones" are sadly lacking in movement, too. For the two weeks that I had the Kitchen card hanging up, I managed to move the stove and fridge out and wash the floor underneath them. That's it. I still haven't cleaned the oven. And the living room card has now been hanging for two weeks. I steamcleaned the carpets (with our cheap Bissell... it's not great but it's better than nothing). And that's it. So the detailed cleaning tasks are not really working too well. But the day to day stuff that I used to have to nag and plead with people to do, well, those things appear to be getting better.

Here's how I know this.

  • I have washed three loads of laundry this weekend. That is it! I'm not sure where the rest of it is. I looked under the beds and on the bathroom floor but it's not there. The kids have been putting their laundry in the hamper before bed every night as one of their chores. And I've been emptying those into the washer whenever they get full, rather than letting it all pile up for Saturday. For some reason, it seems to have kept the amount of laundry at bay. I guess it's true that a load or two every day or two, keeps the pile under control.

  • The last time I was in the boys' room picking up toys was three weeks ago. I walked in there in the dark last night and I didn't step on anything sharp and painful. I didn't step on any laundry, either! The room looks great! Yes, it's colourful, crowded, and haphazard. But it is also tidy! As tidy as one can expect a 6-year old and a 4-year old with differing abilities to keep it.

  • (Kirstin's room still looks like a tornado hit it. She's not so good at putting her toys away. Although I suspect that the boys might be contributing to that, as they seem to be playing more in her room, in order to maintain order in theirs.)

  • I vacuumed the carpet yesterday. I didn't have to spend an hour picking stuff up before doing so. I just plugged in the vacuum and started vacuuming.

  • There are definitely some surface areas that need organizing (my catch-all-the-crap-that-comes-into-the-house desk in the far corner, and the piano that's covered in Alex's school papers) and you can clearly see the two loads of CLEAN laundry that have yet to be folded, but really, this is totally a liveable living room!

  • I swept the floor yesterday, too. Same thing. Didn't take me an hour to pick up crayons, paper, half-eaten food... laundry. I just swept it.

There's still a long way to go, of course. I'm not claiming this house is spotless. I will probably never be able to claim that. As I sit at this computer I'm facing all the dust (I hate dusting) that has settled on the desk, I can see evidence that we are never going to live in a show home. I see the pile of recycling on the kitchen floor that has yet to make it out to the carport. There is a pair of pyjamas discarded on the floor where Connor got dressed just a few minutes ago. There are crayon marks on the walls and the water cooler. There are cobwebs, scuffs, and fingerprints on almost every surface of this house. There's a stuffed dog in the middle of the kitchen table. A pair of shoes on the carpet and not on the shoe rack. Et cetera, et cetera.

But this weekend, for some reason, I don't care. I feel much more relaxed this weekend than I have in a while. I've decided to meet this family halfway, and accept liveable. We have clean underwear and clean dishes. Our house definitely looks lived in. I'd probably still run around with a bottle of lemon cleanser and a rag if someone called me up and said, "We're coming for a visit, we'll be there in an hour". (And a laundry hamper to stash all the clutter in our bedroom). But it doesn't look like a pigsty. And three days into this lacklustre (wet!!!) Canada Day weekend, I can probably calculate that I've spent about 3 hours doing housework (that's over 3 days). So whether this is a fluke or not, I have not spent 2 days busting my butt trying to clean this place up so that I can go back to work.

I'd say that's progress!