Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Technology addicted?

It seemed like an odd coincidence that I was just thinking about my desire for less technology when we were suddenly left without power for 3 days.

I have to say, it was a real eye opener to just how reliant we are on having power, and our expectation that technology will always be at the tip of our fingers.

It sucked being without power because I wanted a hot cup of coffee, dammit, and I wanted to heat up my hot pack and lay on the couch with it (oh, first world problems!)  But those were small potatoes, and I could live without those things.  It was an inconvenience to not be able to play music or watch shows (although I WAS able to charge my phone in the van, and then play a few songs here and there so the kids could dance some of their energy out!)  But ultimately none of those things were THAT big a deal.  I didn't particularly like having to view everything by candlelight by a little after 8:30 at night. And it did feel like a big deal to be without my fan for sleeping, but that’s just because I’m so accustomed to the ‘white noise’ of it that I’m more sensitive to all the sounds around me when it’s not on.  I guess I could get used to that!  But not having a phone or internet was REALLY tough, I’m not going to lie.  

We’re so used to the internet being there that even having a conversation by candlelight, James and I found ourselves forgetting and trying to check for information on our phones.  Whenever we want the answer to something, we just look it up so we have the answer and can move on.  Not being able to do that felt so weird!  And not being able to make calls was beyond frustrating.  Some people we could text with and others we couldn’t.  At one point I tried texting James’ phone, in the same house as me, just to see if it would work, and it wouldn’t go through.  I really couldn’t stand my phone being rendered essentially useless.  And just not being able to get any information about the outside world.  What was going on; when was the power expected to be back on; was the storm over?  We couldn’t answer any of these questions if we didn’t have the ability to, at the very least, contact someone who still had power.

We were so lucky that my parents’ place never lost power, so we could go there to charge our electronics (LOL) and use the internet to ‘stay connected.’  (Not to mention, drink coffee and eat warm food!) And this is coming from someone who is on Facebook but otherwise doesn’t even use social media!  I don’t use twitter or instagram, I’ve heard of things like tumblr but never checked them out, I’m seriously NOT on the up and up of social media.  I can only imagine how lost a person would feel who is used to being on ALL those sites.  I’m actually not that huge of an internet user when it comes down to it, but I guess I just like to know it’s there if I need it!  

So, yes, I got more actual book reading done with the power outage, which was good because it’s got me into a novel that I want to keep reading, and I’m sticking to my decision of not-getting-sucked-into-a-new-netflix-series-for-a-good-long-while.  It’s just nice to have the security of knowing all that stuff is still there, waiting for me, rather than the other way around!!

Electricity is finally back!

September already, seriously?!  Me no likey...

I was so hopeful that by Monday morning we’d have power, so I could get up and all would be starting to go back to normal.  Unfortunately, we were some of the last unlucky ones still stuck in the dark.  Well, partially.  It’s true some lights worked, but most still didn’t.  We still had no internet or phone service, either, and even text messages were difficult to send.  (BTW about 50,000 people in Burnaby were without power during the storm, and we were in the last 6000 of those to get power back...But throughout the lower mainland and Vancouver Island, 710,000 were without power at some point through the storm, which is C-R-A-Z-Y!!  It was the worst outage in BC Hydro’s history).

By about 10am I was really getting concerned about the food in our fridge and freezer.  We were onto day 3 with no power, and what I’d read online (when I was at my parent’s place the night before, as we took our leftover pizza and ingredients to make a salad to their place for dinner Sunday night) was, ‘When in doubt, throw it out.’  It didn’t sit well with me that ALL our food was garbage, but I knew it couldn’t go much longer before it would be.  One saving grace is being vegetarian, because definitely any meat that thawed out or got above a certain temperature would have to be thrown out, but that wasn’t an issue for us at all.  But still...I’d just bought a bunch of frozen foods a few days before the storm, and there were some things in our fridge I really didn’t want to lose.  So I packed up our cooler bag and another bag full of food and took the kids over to my mom’s to use their fridge till the power came back on.  I left most things behind, just stuff I desperately wanted to save, and I’ve kept all our condiments and whatnot because I really don’t think they warmed up enough to warrant throwing them out.  Some people are more paranoid than me, maybe, but I think everything I kept will be fine.  

We stayed at my mom’s for a couple of hours and then went home.  When I opened the door the kids started cheering because the lights were on in the living room, so we knew right away that the power was back on.  After getting the TV set up again, I put a show on for the kids and got to work cleaning out the fridge and freezer.  I ended up getting rid of a fair bit of stuff, but not nearly as bad as it could have been.  

Ultimately the power outage taught me that we’re not entirely prepared for something that could potentially go on a lot longer than 3 days.  Although we did fine, and COULD have gone longer if we had to - it’s not like we would have starved or something.  Ultimately it was just a major inconvenience, but still...it was frustrating, and there are definitely a few things (like a portable radio, and more battery operated lights, as well as a few flashlights) that I’d like to have on hand ‘just in case.’  I’m just glad we weren’t also without water during the outage!  We do have a giant container of water stored away for emergencies, although I’m not sure it would be enough for 5 people for a whole week or something.  If we had a garage I’d likely have several of those on hand, but we don’t have that much extra space at the moment and we don’t have a closed garage.  Maybe once I’ve downscaled what we own (which is currently in the works!) we’ll have the space for more.  I hate the thought of not being as prepared as possible.

The windstorm that blew us straight into fall...

(I wrote this on the evening of Sunday, August 30th)...

It has been an interesting weekend…

We had the worst wind storm yesterday that BC has seen in years, and our power was out before noon yesterday.  I don’t remember the last time we ever had a power outage that lasted more than a few hours, until this one.  It’s been a day and a half now and only in the last few hours have we got HALF our power back…It’s crazy - our microwave works, but the stove doesn’t (yet they are right beside each other).  The fridge is still out.  The dining room light works but the downstairs bathroom is still out, as is the entire living room.  Upstairs is all working except for the kids’ rooms.  We also have no internet (I’m writing on the computer only because we took it to charge up at my parents’ place, which is about a 5-7 minute drive from us and their power never went out, even though it seemed to go out all around them!)  Our phones can’t even dial out, and when people call us they can’t hear what we’re saying and then the call cuts out.  It’s like we’re in the twilight zone.  Having NO SERVICE on your phone at home, landline or cellular,  is just unheard of!  And no internet access is insane!  And trying to read by the light of a candle or flashlight is HARD!  I really love my electricity...

Adding insult to injury is the fact that James and I had a date planned for yesterday evening.  My parents were all set to look after the kids from dinner time onward, and I expected we’d have been out together for about 4 hours+.  I was SO looking forward to it and really felt excited about us having some time together, just the two of us.  It’s been a long time since we went out, just us.  I kept thinking the power would come back on, but it was SO stormy, and then we heard that ‘a’ tree had fallen in the neighbourhood, but in reality it was MANY trees all over the lower mainland.  Many, many, MANY trees.

We didn’t venture out at all yesterday and of course had to cancel our plans, because it just wasn’t safe to go anywhere.  People were having trees fall on them, and there were even trees falling onto the highway.  There’s no way I would have felt good about going out in those conditions, and there’s a good chance the place we were planning to go to would be out of power, anyway.

The kids had to be reminded several times that the power was out, when they asked us to play music, or wanted to watch a show.  Margaret in particular is a bit of a TV-aholic, and asked to watch something when she got up from her nap.  I told her she couldn’t because we still had no power and she just stared at me!  But I found all three kids were actually really good about the fact that we didn’t have access to TV or music or lights, or even a way to heat up some food.  They were content (for the most part) to play with their toys and we read and played games, and THANKFULLY our favourite pizza place still had power, so we ordered from there for dinner so we wouldn’t have to worry about the fact that we couldn’t cook anything.  It was the original plan, anyway, that we were going to order pizza for when my parents would be looking after the kids, and James and I were going to take some with us to go, it just didn’t quite work out that way!

Everything was pretty much fine (other than feeling sad that we weren’t getting to go out) until it was starting to get dark, and we had to get creative with how to give the kids light upstairs, since they’re used to sleeping with the hall light on outside their bedrooms.  And Andrew typically has a light on in his room at night, too.  We got the girls into bed and had a 3 wick candle lit on a tall shelf outside of their room, so I wasn’t worried about it being a fire hazard or anything, but I also knew it could only be a short term solution since I couldn’t leave a candle burning once I was going to bed, too.  So I took this art projector thing from Andrew’s room and set it up on the shelf where the candle was, so when I went to bed I would just turn that light on and leave it on as a night light, and it turned out to be the perfect thing!  I was glad I thought of that.  We also found a portable night light for Andrew’s room, but it had burnt out by the time I was going to bed (which ended up not mattering as Andrew was already asleep and didn’t notice!)

So we got the girls to bed, which went much smoother than we’d thought, they were pretty much completely fine with the light situation.  Margaret did mention once that it was ‘too dark’, but seemed fine once I said that there would be a light on outside her room all night.  Once they were tucked in, we came downstairs and James, Andrew, and I sat on the couch with candles around the room, and chatted.  Mostly stories about James’ childhood, and a little about mine, too, in relation to what we used to do when there were storms and power outages.  It was nice to cuddle up on the couch and share some stories and some laughs, and then Andrew said he was getting tired so we got him tucked into bed and he fell asleep pretty quickly.  James and I chatted some more and it was nice to just hang out together without the need for technology, although once he went to bed I felt a little stuck for things to do!  My time of the month started, which seemed like terrible timing because I couldn’t even heat up the hot pack that I REALLY could have used, and I wasn’t feeling all that great so I wanted to just veg, but wasn’t really wanting to go to bed yet.  Especially since I’m used to sleeping with a fan and couldn’t stand the thought of being without it.  I think part of me was hopeful that the power would be back on soon and I’d just wait it out and go to bed once it was on.

But of course that wasn’t going to happen!  I ended up reading a bit by flashlight, which as it turns out isn’t entirely easy on the eyes, but it was doable.  I went to bed a bit earlier than usual and managed to fall asleep after a while, but woke up a lot through the night to every single sound outside because I’m not used to hearing everything that’s usually masked by the fan.  A group of guys slammed car doors and talked loudly in Chinese as they walked down the street, and that had to have been around 2am or so.  And every time a car went by I woke up, which happened a surprising amount of times for being the wee hours of the morning!  

This morning we just hung around and the kids played, and then James went to the store for a couple of things that we really needed, but just got a small container of milk because of course the fridge wasn’t working (and sadly, is still one of the things that’s without power, so I’m worrying about how much food we’re going to have to throw away after this).  When he got back he went back to bed and I took the kids over to my parents’ place, where we could enjoy some electricity and I could finally have a coffee, which I’d been wanting since I’d got up in the morning!  We stayed there for a couple of hours and then it was time to come home for the girls’ nap time.  I was getting so frustrated with being at home so while the girls slept, James and Andrew had some father/son time and I went to the mall, which luckily was open, but it was also crazy busy with people who were also without power, and a lot of people plugging their phones and computers into the outlets throughout the mall!  I looked for some supplies for the proper emergency kit I’m wanting to make, because it became clear that we’re really not properly prepared for something major happening (if we weren’t quite properly prepared for THIS, we’re definitely not equipped for something more major, and I want to feel like we’re as prepared as we can be, so I have to get on that ASAP!)  I didn’t find the things I was wanting so I ended up using up some coupons I had and got some new fall clothes, which I’d been wanting to do so it was a bonus that the coupons were finally valid.  I need to get a few new tops and one more pair of pants and I feel like I’ll be set for a while, which is awesome.  I just can’t believe I was shopping for FALL when I was feeling so hopeful that summer wasn’t actually over yet.  But, sadly, I think the wind (and rain) storm threw us into fall in the span of 24 hours.

Its been a crazy couple of days, and it isn’t over yet, because I’m still sitting here with candles lighting the room, no internet access (obviously when I post this it means it’s back on!) and wondering what to do about all the food in our fridge.  Fingers crossed this ends any minute, and I can make my to do list for supplies that will ease my mind about all the ‘what if’s’ this little wake-up call has forced me to think about!

The good ol' days...

(I wrote this on the evening of Friday, August 28th)...

We got our first family computer when I was about 10-11 years old, so around 1990/91.  It was a huge clunker of a desktop that literally took up the entire desk top, and had zero programs on it other than a word processor, but it was brand new and state of the art for the time.  The screen was black with yellow writing, and when I wasn’t whiling away my time writing stories (I remember writing a lot about the Fraser Gold Rush as it was what I was learning about in Social Studies at the time) I would play the tutorial for the word processor as if it were a game.  There was literally nothing else I could do with the machine, so I got creative with it, and particularly enjoyed writing stories and printing off little letters to send to penpals and family.  I would also print out big banners in cool fonts with our trusty old Dot Matrix printer, which could take literally an hour to print depending on how many letter there were, and then I’d sit there and perforate the edges (people younger than me probably have no idea what I’m talking about, ha!), and colour in the bubble print because, of course, the printer only had the capacity for black ink.


Oh, those were the good ol’ days!


The thing is, I kind of believe that they were.


Yes, things were simpler, and no, there wasn’t near the selection nor ability to do even close to what we can do now with just the click of a button or two. But the thing is, I personally feel that it’s easier to think less the more that’s placed in front of us.  Everything is already done and out there, or so it seems, and it’s incredibly disturbing how quickly HOURS can go by before a person realizes that they just wasted their time frittering it away on perusing the internet, when they could have been doing something creative to better themselves.  


Not that one can’t better themselves with the information obtained via the interwebs, I’m just saying, it can have the opposite effect as well.  I think of such things as Pinterest and while I LOVE pinning and spending time looking at amazing crafts and DIYs that in my mind I’d love to do, but seriously...It also REALLY grates on my nerves how many videos pop up in my newsfeed on Facebook suggesting I make pancakes that look like a spitting image of Albert Einstein, for example.  It can all seem like too much after a while.  On the one hand I love it, but on the other, way to make me feel bad about myself for not doing all the things that apparently everyone else with internet access is doing daily!  Fack!

I love technology and feel like I can’t live without it, but that’s because I’ve gotten used to having it at my fingertips at all times.  But sometimes I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if I’d never known it.  

We got our first family computer when I was about 10 years old, so around 1990.  It was a huge clunker of a desktop that literally took up the entire desk top, and had zero programs on it other than a word processor, but it was brand new and state of the art for the time.  The screen was black with yellow writing, and when I wasn’t whiling away my time writing stories (I remember writing a lot about the Fraser Gold Rush as it was what I was learning about in Social Studies at the time) I would play the tutorial for the word processor as if it were a game.  There was literally nothing else I could do with the machine, so I got creative with it, and particularly enjoyed writing stories and printing off little letters to send to penpals and family.  I would also print out big banners in cool fonts with our trusty old Dot Matrix printer, which could take literally an hour to print depending on how many letter there were, and then I’d sit there and perforate the edges (people younger than me probably have no idea what I’m talking about, ha!), and colour in the bubble print because, of course, the printer only had the capacity for black ink.

Oh, those were the good ol’ days!

The thing is, I kind of believe that they were.

Yes, things were simpler, and no, there wasn’t near the selection nor ability to do even close to what we can do now with just the click of a button or two. But the thing is, I personally feel that it’s easier to think less the more that’s placed in front of us.  Everything is already done and out there, or so it seems, and it’s incredibly disturbing how quickly HOURS can go by before a person realizes that they just wasted their time frittering it away on perusing the internet, when they could have been doing something creative to better themselves.  

Not that one can’t better themselves with the information obtained via the interwebs, I’m just saying, it can have the opposite effect as well.  I think of such things as Pinterest and while I LOVE pinning and spending time looking at amazing crafts and DIYs that in my mind I’d love to do, but seriously...It also REALLY grates on my nerves how many videos pop up in my newsfeed on Facebook suggesting I make pancakes that look like a spitting image of Albert Einstein, for example.  It can all seem like too much after a while.  On the one hand I love it, but on the other, way to make me feel bad about myself for not doing all the things that apparently everyone else with internet access is doing daily!  Fack!

I love technology and feel like I can’t live without it, but that’s because I’ve gotten used to having it at my fingertips at all times.  But sometimes I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if I’d never known it.  

….

It’s after 1 in the morning (so, Saturday now), I got up to get some water and try to collect my thoughts enough to feel like I can shut my brain off and sleep.  Only I came downstairs to find a cluster of newborn baby spiders hanging from the stove vent in the kitchen, and starting to disperse themselves.  So I had that to contend with, and considering I hate spiders more than pretty much anything, it has left me feeling somewhat scarred and even less at a point of feeling sleep-ready.  Which is frustrating given that I only got about 4 hours sleep last night, I’ve been nursing a bad headache for nearly 2 weeks now on and off (mostly on), and the curse is starting to take over as only it can this fateful time each month.  I’m so tired I’m starting to wonder if I’m coming down with a cold, but then I remind myself that it’s normal to feel those symptoms when completely run down from lack of sleep...and then I start to panic that because I’m making it worse by still not sleeping, I WILL end up getting sick after all.  It’s a vicious circle!  I’m so tired I can’t sleep….or...haven’t slept in years….(song references, in case you didn’t know.  Fancy thing about the internet, you can look those up and instantly know the song names/artists...which in tune with my last post (the good ol’ days), was another impossibility ‘back when I was a girl’...!!!  If it wasn’t in the dictionary or an encyclopedia, you weren’t going to find an answer unless someone already knew it to tell you!)

Netflix is another MAJOR time waster, and while on some levels I LOVE Netflix, I’m also starting to view it as the enemy.  As of tonight I’m taking a break from it.  I’ll watch a show on there with James, but I’m not allowing myself to get suckered into binge watching another series when it’s late at night and I finally have my quiet time to do something productive.  It’s ok to want to veg sometimes, and no one could blame me for feeling tired and lazy by 10 or 11 at night after being on my own with the kids for 11 hours or more throughout the day!  But honestly...I know if I’m more productive, even if it means for gawd’s sake picking up an actual BOOK and just reading, I’ll feel so much better about myself and what I’m doing for my mind.  (I do have a book on the go currently, as it happens, but I tend to choose Netflix type time wasters over books more often than not, which is incredibly sad).

Recent series I’ve enjoyed lately include Switched at Birth, and The Fosters.  Both had lengthy seasons, which was great because I loved both the shows, but omg what a lot of time spent watching them when I could have been doing other things.  Not that I regret watching them, it’s just...there’s a reason I feel in need of a break from it.

It’s so hard to stay away from technology, there’s such a strong pull toward it.  Feeling the need to have our phones practically strapped to us at all times, it’s ridiculous.  How did we ever manage without them?!  And yet we did, didn’t we?!  I feel like life was so much simpler back before all of this social media stuff, and part of me wishes it didn’t exist so we could see what it’s like to live differently.  

I’m bummed that my gym closed for good officially as of today.  I barely got there this month, in part because we were busy but I think mostly because once I knew they were ending it, I felt no motivation to keep up with it.  I knew I’d lose everything I’d worked hard for there because if I don’t keep up with similar machines, how can I expect to keep the muscle and fitness level?  I now am faced with being back at square one, trying to figure out what to do to keep in shape.  I HAVE to do it, because I already don’t feel nearly as well as I did when I was working out at least 3 times per week.  I felt stronger, happier, healthier, even if I didn’t actually look like I’d lost weight.  I could feel the difference, not necessarily in my weight but in my fitness and strength.  And it did wonders for me.  I need to keep that up, but without access to a gym, how?  Nothing else is affordable.  It’s not just an excuse.  I have to come up with a whole new plan and make it work.

I want to focus on reading and writing and being creative.  I want to somehow figure out a way to do all of those things AND get more sleep so that I’m more present and able-bodied/able-minded for the kids.  I hate feeling so sluggish and tired all the time and feeling like half the time I’m just a zombie on auto-pilot because it takes literally all my strength just to do what I absolutely have to.  I want to feel happier, clearer-minded, and more balanced and centered within myself.  I need to do all these things and I want to do them, so hopefully that will be the motivation I need to actually work at making the necessary changes in my life to achieve these goals.  Less technology and more getting back to my roots!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

If only summer could last a few more months...or more

It has been SUCH a hot, dry summer here on the usually ‘wet coast.’  It’s been amazing, actually.  Not so much for the earth itself, since obviously we’re in dire need of rain to feed all the trees and plants (which apparently we’re in for - after tomorrow all that’s in the forecast is rain…)  But I have to be honest, I’ve loved how dry it’s been.  I’ve gotten used to being able to plan outdoor events without even really giving the weather much thought, because it’s just assumed it’s going to be sunny and hot.  I love that!  People have been calling this ‘the new California’ and I have to say, I’ll take it!  Now, I know California has been in a serious drought situation...and I also know that it would be nice to be able to get back to using water without feeling such a need to conserve (I don’t even remember the last time we had the kids’ outdoor pool filled up, despite that the heat has made us wish we could use it daily).  But no rain has been glorious, and I could seriously get used to this.  I worry we’re going to have a harsher winter to make up for how dry the summer has been, which freaks me out because I’m not a snow person (one or two days is fine but that’s about it!)  I never realized it, but maybe I COULD get used to living somewhere warmer!  The only thing that holds me back from that is the size of the bugs and spiders in a hotter climate.  I’ve noticed the spiders around here have expanded in size over the summer and that’s one thing about the heat I can say I could never love!

We were spending a LOT of our time out in the backyard until they started with the fence building/clear cutting of trees business.  This tree has become a major issue the past few days, as our entire backyard has been full of little wood chips and dust from the 100s year old tree that was taken down.  Still sad about that one...I look forward to when we can get back to using our yard, but I fear with the rain coming we won’t be able to finish the project in time and we’ll end up not finishing it till next spring.  I can’t stand when things are in such disarray.  I’m hoping we can at least get it seeming more like it’s supposed to look this way before we pack it in for the winter!

I’m not ready for summer to end.  I feel SO SAD about Andrew starting up at school again in just a couple of weeks.  Just 2 more weeks of summer!  Or is it a week and a half now.  UGH.  I’m so not ready.  I can’t let on to him that I feel this way because I want to encourage him and make him feel excited about school starting.  But I just want to cry.  I don’t look forward to making lunches for him every night (coming up with lunches for James is challenging enough, but Andrew is more specific about what he’ll eat, and I’m just praying that his grade one teacher doesn’t have an issue with peanuts entering the classroom because if she does I’m really in for it, since PB&J is my go-to for him).  I’m not looking forward to having to be up and ready and PRESENTABLE AND probably worst of all, in a mode where I’m ready to actually CONVERSE with people, AND have all the kids dressed and ready and fed and out the door by 8:30 in the morning.  I’m not ready to have to make sure the girls are on a schedule that works for picking Andrew up at 3, especially since they’ve taken to napping slightly later lately and aren’t usually up till after 3, and I’ve enjoyed the leeway because it’s meant that we can plan outings and go do things and not worry that it might coincide with when they have to take their nap by, because it’s not that big a deal if it’s a bit on the later side.  Now it will be a big deal!  I know in some ways my life will be ‘easier’ with Andrew ‘out of my hair’ for 6 hours a day, and I KNOW the enriching experience of school is ultimately good for all of us.  But I like having my boy around!  As much as he’s demanding and makes me crazy at times, I love being around him, and I’ll miss all the extra time we get to spend together.  He’s been at his nana’s in Victoria the past few days (on his way home right now) and I’ve really missed him.  It’s been way too quiet without him here!  

Why oh why does summer have to end?  It feels like it just started.  Fall can go somewhere else, I really don’t feel the need for it this year!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The story of our fence and the fallen trees

The fence in our backyard is complete...sort of.  It was quite a process for the workers, and I think my head is still spinning from watching the whole thing.

Nothing in our complex ever happens in a way that makes sense, so why I thought they could do a great job of the fence, I have no idea.  I guess I just couldn’t bring myself to not be hopeful.  I guess it’s better than what we had so I don’t want to sound completely ungrateful about it...but…….

First of all, they built the back wall of the fence before doing the sides.  They built one long strip of fence from our neighbours’ backyard, through ours, and through our other neighbours’.  Instead of measuring where to put the fence based from the actual structure of the house, they based it off the fence that separates us from the complex across the way.  The problem with their logic is that if you look down the pathway that separates us, you can see that the fence in the other complex is on an angle.  So while the dead space between the two fences is straight, our yards are now asymmetrical.  Which probably wouldn’t be a big deal if we were like most people in this complex and didn’t really use our yard and therefore did nothing to make it look half decent.  But because we want it to look nice and be functional, it’s very much going to matter.  The plan is to extend our deck out by a few more feet (thanks to my dad who offered to do that!) and then push the fake grass to be up against the fence.  The problem is, there’s going to be a huge gap on one side of the yard because of the fact that it’s not actually straight.  We’ll figure something out, and likely use pots with plants and/or flowers to try to mask the issue, but still.  It really pisses me off that they couldn’t just do the job right.

They cut down 3 trees in the process.  One of which I was happy to see go, two of which could have stayed.  They de-rooted as best they could two of the trees, one in each of our neighbours’ yards.  But they didn’t bother to do that for the one that happens to now be in our yard...So I’ve been fighting with it with a rake, shovel, and saw for days and still haven’t been able to get the damn thing removed.  Madness.

We requested a gate, one so that we’d be able to leave through the back if need be, and two so the meter person can still access our meter without having to knock on the front door (because I swear without being told that, management wouldn’t have thought that far).  When they put the gate in afterwards, I would have thought they’d have put it in the middle of the yard so we could have made use of both the sides and been able to do something symmetrical, but no, they put the gate off to the side but not quite in the corner, and had to build 2 new fence posts to put it in, whereas if they’d just built it in the middle they’d only have had to add one.  They put our gate on backwards, and all the other gates on the right away.

When they built the sides of fence (which they did really oddly, one side is higher than the other and one side goes lower from post to post whereas the other side doesn't...) they said they’d be spacing the boards closer together, because I’d mentioned that if they spaced them as far as at the back, we’d have zero privacy and may as well not even have a fence (I said it nicer than that!)  They assured me they’d space them more appropriately but of course, they didn’t.  So we were looking straight into the neighbours’ yards and had ZERO privacy despite the fence being about 7 feet tall on the sides (it’s probably about 4 feet at the back).  We had 2 bamboo blinds that we’d used on the old fence for privacy (when there were only 2 fence panels to speak of) so I ended up going out and having to spend about $140 on more bamboo blinds to pretty much cover ALL the side panels of the new fence.  I figured the workers would be annoyed when they saw we’d covered the new fence they’d built us, but the main supervisor said he thought it was a great idea that we did that!  Seriously.  He also told me he figured the fence would look decent ‘for a few years, maybe.’  Great.

They went 10 feet between posts, when most fences wouldn’t be more than 8 feet between, so we can expect the fence to be sagging in the middle between each post within about 6 months.  Fun.

They also left such a huge gap underneath the fence on all sides that I could comfortably crawl under the fence, and I’m not the tiniest of persons!!  So we’ve had to spend about $60 to have my dad install boards underneath.  I’m totally appalled that we’re putting money into this place when we don’t own it, but it’s the only way we’re going to have it even remotely the way we would want it.

The night before last I was sitting out there on one of our lounge chairs cuddling with Emily, looking up at the huge willow tree to our right.  I thought to myself, at least they didn’t take that tree down.  It’s so beautiful and I enjoy sitting out there to watch the birds perch on the branches way up high, and I love how it offers us shade for several hours throughout the afternoon.  That tree just made me feel happy.  It was so tall, well established, and healthy that it honestly didn’t even cross my mind that they might cut it down.  Yesterday they started the process, and now it is just a giant stem that they’re working at taking down.  We will have bright sun beating down on our backyard ALL DAY now, because there are no trees in line with the sun that would ever offer us shade.  So unless we go out and spend upwards of another $100 to buy a second umbrella/stand, we won’t be able to use the yard during the day on the hot, sunny days until after dinner, because we’ll always be in the direct sun.  I am sad/angry/upset……….I just can’t believe they’ve done this, and without even warning us that it was happening.  I know we don’t own this place, but even renters consider their house their home, and we treat this place as if it were our own.  It just seems like common courtesy to me to inform tenants of your plans for the property, especially when it’s going to affect them directly.

I’m trying to embrace that we have this new fence, and our yard IS a bit bigger, which once we have it all redone to make sense with the new layout, I know it’ll be great to have that extra space.  I just wish they could have gone about the process better, knew how to actually build a fence properly, and for the love of gawd (and us!) would stop with the clearcutting already!

A childhood dream come true...sort of!

I bought a Groupon for Dinotown a few weeks ago and on Saturday we decided to take the kids.  Andrew went last summer with the mil after they’d camped over at Cultus Lake (which is right down the street from it) but James and I (and therefore of course the girls) had never been to that area at all.  

When I was a little girl there was often a commercial on TV about Flintstone Bedrock City in Chilliwack, and I desperately wanted to go.  It was just too far away to get there from where we lived on the island, and it never happened.  Several years ago it was renamed Dinotown and I had hoped it meant that a lot of Bedrock City had been saved, but from what I gather the majority of it was torn down.  There were a few things leftover from what it used to be, though, and while it wasn’t much it did feel like I was finally able to check that off my Bucket List of places I’d always wanted to go!

Dinotown was definitely ‘campy,’ but it turned out to be perfect for all 3 of our kids, to the point that we’ve already decided we’re going back next year.  We plan to stay overnight somewhere nearby for maybe a couple of nights so that we can explore a lot more of the area (there’s an AWESOME looking theme park there, for example) and enjoy the lake as well, which we didn’t get to do this time because the kids were so tired after 3 hours at Dinotown, and the girls really needed a nap (although as it turned out Andrew slept the longest of all of them on the car ride home!)

For $24 (the cost of the Groupon), the kids got 3 full hours of fun, and James and I loved how laid back it was, and that it was small enough that we could let the kids run around without feeling overwhelmed about where they were going.  Of course, the girls in particular still needed a close watch since if they did get ‘lost’ they wouldn’t necessarily know where to find us, but they mostly wanted to play in the life-sized dollhouse, anyway.  It was equipped with lots of dolls, clothes, blankets, a little kitchen stocked with supplies, and high chairs and cradles.  

Andrew loved the bouncy castles, but it took him some time to feel comfortable with the fact that it was a free-for-all.  He’s used to having to wait in lines and have someone give him the OK to go on a ride, but at Dinotown, while there are employees at each ‘station’, you don’t have to wait to go on anything, you just sort of do your own thing.  I guess if it got super busy you’d have to wait, but there were a comfortable amount of people there that it was never an issue.  I loved that they didn’t push products, and really only had an ice cream stand if you wanted to get something.  They encouraged bringing your own food (which we did), or going to the little store down the street to buy something and come back in.

There was mini golf, too, which the girls tried for the first time, and all I can say is...thank goodness for plastic golf clubs!!!  Everything there seemed fairly low-budget, and I definitely think they could do a lot with the place to make it ‘better’, but the kids LOVED it the way it was, and in all honesty there was something nice about it being the way it was.  It was more relaxing there than any other kids’ attraction we’ve ever visited, which has to count for something!

I can’t wait till we go back next year and explore the area, and make a little holiday out of it.  It took about an hour and a half to drive there (taking the scenic route to avoid the tolls), but due to an accident and just crazy traffic, it took 2.5 hours to get home, which was ridiculous.  The kids were amazing and all 3 seem to be really great travellers, which we’re so lucky to have because I suffered from terrible motion sickness as a child so there was always a risk at least one of our kids would inherit it.  But the trip was made much easier by them all being so content, and while they didn’t nap much they also did a minimum of fussing.  Still, it would be much more ideal to spend a few days in the area, knowing we had some space between the long car rides.  Definitely something to look forward to next summer!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The girls' first Playland adventure!

This morning James and I dropped Andrew off at my parents’ place and took the girls to Playland for the very first time ever.  We took Andrew a few weeks ago, and he knew that when we took the girls he wouldn’t be going with us.  He was amazingly completely fine with it, because he knew we wouldn’t be able to do all the fun, cool rides he’s tall enough for that they aren’t.  He had his special day there with us, and today was the girls’ turn.

I wasn’t sure how they would do, especially Emily.  She can be so shy at first, especially around strangers, so I wasn’t sure if she’d enjoy going on rides by herself (even with her sister by her side) because the person tending the ride would have to be the one helping her with seat belts and whatnot.  But she ended up being the most excited one of all, to the point she was half running, half prancing as we walked to the venue from where we parked the van.  

Both girls absolutely LOVED all the rides they were able to go on.  Most of them require being at least 36 inches tall, and they are about 34 inches I’d say.  But only one of the tenders said no to them going on the ride, all the others ok’d it despite their shortcomings lol!  They went on the cars first (Emily LOVED the pink one, and Margaret LOVED the blue one), then the train, the carousel (Emily said she ‘loved riding on the mommy horsie on the cawousel!’), the hot air balloons, a gopher car (or whatever it is!), the super slide, the tea cups, the motorcycles, and a little play area pirate ship.  Some of the rides were gone on twice, and we brought our own snacks but bought some cotton candy, which Emily claimed insofar as she HAD to be the one carrying the bag AT ALL TIMES, OR ELSE!  Both girls loved checking out the outside of the Haunted Mansion, which we had to go back to twice because they were in awe of all the ghosts and zombies...so much like their big brother!

It was really cute to see the different ways they approached the rides from each other, but also in relation to how Andrew was at Playland when we took him for the first time around their age.  I was amazed at how often they chose to get on a ride at opposites sides.  I imagined them doing everything together, and feeling safer being close to one another, but not so!  They did some rides together and enjoyed doing that, too, but it certainly wasn’t as a means of feeling secure having each other close by.  They got the hang of the place pretty quickly and were loving it, each in their own ways!  

We saw 3 sets of twins within minutes of being at the park, which was really bizarre.  It was so quiet having got their shortly after it opened, and it looked like it was turning into ‘twins day at the fair’ by how many sets we were seeing!  It was fairly cloudy when we got there and I’d worried it would be too cold for the girls, but it turned out to be quite muggy and then about halfway through our time there the sun came out and it was bordering on boiling hot.  There were still a lot of clouds, though, which kept things at a much better temperature than they could have been.  It was nice to experience Playland in less sunny weather, as we’d already had a scorching day there with Andrew (which was awesome, I loved it, I’m not complaining!)  It felt like a different experience, and I’m so glad we decided to take them this year, even though they couldn’t go on any of the more thrilling rides just yet.  

Our summer trip to the island...

I wrote this on Monday, August 10th, so when I say 'On Saturday we got back...' it was Saturday the 8th I was referring to!

On Saturday we got back from a week long adventure on the island, with our home base being a cottage resort in Parksville.  I wrote extensively about it already, in my private journal, with details I didn’t necessarily feel needed to be blogged about.  Suffice it to say, we had a good, albeit totally exhausting, time.  We were mainly there for James’ dad’s significant other’s family reunion (say that 10 times fast!), but we also had the chance to visit some of my family and friends in Nanaimo, since it’s just a short drive away.  

The kids travelled amazingly well, loved the cottage that we had all to ourselves, and were mostly very well behaved (aside from a few, let’s face it, AWFUL moments with Andrew when he decided to be in a really bad mood...!  But mostly they did well).  The weather was amazing, and pretty much perfect for visiting Rathtrevor Beach, which happens to be my most favourite beach in the world.  The best beach, in my view, for children, because the tide is generally so far out that there’s never a fear of them running off too far into the ocean!  There are so many little pools and pockets of water, with baby crabs and sand dollars and little fish and shells.  I used to go every year in the summer for day trips with my family, and took Andrew a few times when he was a baby, so it was special for me to be able to enjoy it with all 3 of our kids (and James, of course!) throughout the week.

We explored Coombs Market, checked out the awesome sandcastle competition on Heroes and Villains, which was AMAZING, Andrew and I spent lots of time swimming in the pool at the resort (which he REALLY took to and was actually SWIMMING without my help, it was a huge milestone and a major Proud Mommy Moment for sure!), and we finally got to Butterfly World, which I’ve been wanting to go to since I was a little kid.  We had lots of mini beach adventures, hit up my favourite party store in Nanaimo, visited with family, and danced at a concert in the (warm) rrain under a big beautiful rainbow on our final night there.  I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to go, and want to remind myself of all the wonderful memories we created with the kids, because when it comes right down to it that’s really all that matters.

I have to be honest, though.  The trip left me with some difficult emotions to wrap my head around, and I’m still processing it two days post-trip.  Part of it is how tiring it was.  Considering how many people were at the reunion and staying right near us all week, it was pretty upsetting that no one, not even a group of people, was willing to look after the kids for us so James and I could have even an hour or two alone together.  I would have loved to have grabbed a coffee together and gone for a walk along the beach, or been able to go back to Coombs and explore it a bit more ‘sans enfants.’  James’ dad did stay with the kids on one of the nights so James and I could socialize at one of the family get togethers, but only once all the kids were tucked in and asleep..  And as much as it was nice to experience one of the evening parties (since typically that’s when everyone gathered, and we were usually not able to attend due to the kids’ bedtimes, as well as our exhaustion setting in by a much earlier hour than for those without small kids...which was everyone but us!) it really would have been great if we could have had a little time just the two of us.  But I digress.  A few times people would take Andrew to the beach and one night someone else took him to the pool when I was way too tired for a swim.  But other than that, we really had zero help, and I had less time to myself over all on this trip than I do during a typical week at home.  Which is frightening, given how little time I get as it is!  Psychologically I need space sometimes, or I start to go crazy, which I think is what happened to me on this ‘vacation.’  It was challenging, to say the least.  I guess it made me a bit sad to know that a holiday is way more work than just staying home...Which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it again, I’m really glad we went and the memories we created in the positive moments were wonderful, and I’m so happy we have those.  I guess I just wish the things that stressed me out and upset me about the trip didn’t have to feel so prominent when I think about our time away.  

UPDATE:  It has been almost a week since I wrote this and can say that I am feeling a lot better about things!  I just needed time to process it.  Some of my thoughts toward the trip still upset me but I’m not dwelling on them like I did when they were fresh.  I’m just grateful for the good parts of it, and knowing that through our kids eyes it was wonderful makes me happy!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Are YOU ready for Halloween?!

My kids absolutely LOVE playing dress up.  Lately it’s one of their favourite things, even in the heat (although it’s been slightly cooler lately, at least not a total heat wave at all times...Today it’s actually RAINING, for the first time in ages).

Andrew and I usually start obsessing about Halloween costumes in August so we can get them ordered early on.  It’s like our security blanket that we’re all set for Halloween well in advance!  This year we started looking at costumes online a couple of weeks ago, which looking back I probably shouldn’t have allowed, because Andrew became so fixated on choosing a costume that we HAD to make a decision a few days ago, and as a result, the kids’ 2015 Halloween costumes are currently in transit!

While we were looking into what the girls should go as (with their input...I feel like it was so much simpler when I got to just choose myself, but I can’t help but let them have a say to some extent at least, now that they have their own interests and ideas about things!) we checked out some ads on Craigslist and I came across a Snow White costume and a Witch costume, both of which were in the girls’ current size, and the person was selling them for just $5 each!  I doubted they’d be what we wanted for their actual Halloween costumes, but I couldn’t help but snap them up just for dress-up.  It turns out the girls are OBSESSED with them, and while they definitely aren’t wearing them for Halloween, they have already paid for themselves and we only got them a few days ago.  They both fight over the witch costume at times but usually Emily is Snow White and Margaret is the ‘Dark Witch’ as they call it.  It’s a VERY good thing I stuck to keeping them in matching costumes for their actual Halloween clothes, because I couldn’t stand the thought of them fighting over one costume.  They really do better dressing the same I find.  Unless they choose to wear a particular clothing item and it happens to be different from the other, they don’t have anything to fight over if I just dress them the same.  I still love the cuteness factor of them matching, too.  I’ll definitely do it for as long as I can, and the girls love it, so it’s great all around :)

Yesterday I gave the kids a bath.  We haven’t been bathing quite as often with the water restrictions, or I’ll take a bath and then the kids will all pile in after I’m done (or try to pile in there with me…!)  Emily was so excited to be having a tubby that she grinned from ear to ear and said to me, ‘Tubbies are the best thing in the whole world!’  I thought that was super cute.

Last night Margaret woke up around 11pm.  I was still up, and she knew it by the gate not being locked yet at the top of the stairs.  I heard the pitter patter of her little feet race from her bed to the stairs and she called out, ‘Moooommmmmmyyyyyy!’  I went up and got her tucked back into bed.  She asked me in her teensy little Margaret voice, ‘Are you going to bed now, Mommy?’  I said, ‘Not yet, why?’  She said, ‘Because I miss you when you go to bed, Mommy.  And then I get up and wake up Daddy to tell him, and then he says, that’s it, no rice pudding for you!’  LOL!  It was HILARIOUS.  (The kids will get a little bit of rice pudding on the mornings when they’ve all slept through the night properly...to be honest I don’t remember the last time they had it…and it’s 99% Margaret waking up in the night…)

I just love all the cute things the kids say, and I wish life didn’t feel so busy that I could just jot everything down as it’s being said, but it typically doesn’t happen, and then when I’m sure I’ll remember it all at the end of the day, by then my brain is fried and I can’t remember much of anything.

Of course Andrew says hilarious things all the time, too.  Lately I’ve really been noticing how much older he’s looking.  I can’t believe he’ll be turning 7 this year.  I told him he looks like such a grown up boy now, and then he said, ‘But I’m still your baby boy, right, you’ll still call me that?’  I told him that even when he’s 60, and I’m 90, I’ll still call him my baby boy!  He seemed relieved.  I love that he’s still at an age where that wouldn’t seem embarrassing.  He’s still my little cuddle bug, and I hope that doesn’t change for a long time yet.

I just asked him to say something funny for me to finish this post with, and he said, ‘What’s green, sits in the corner, and cries?’  Answer:  ‘The Incredible Sulk!’  :D


blogger template by lovebird