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Somewhere close to home

Bloggin through the early years with four little ones!

Updated: 2018-03-02T09:10:15.274-07:00


Happy New Year and some resolutions!


So where I am again ... Think I can keep it up?

I have loved this blog. Rereading post from 5 years ago is a gift.  You quickly forget the ups and downs of parenting very young children - it is impressive how much I forget.  While the children are older, I certainly would call them old (I wonder what age you start thinking they are too old?).  They have a multitude of adventures and experiences each week - some are funny, and some not so much.  Regardless, I think our family adventures - whether vacation, outings, mealtime or Wii time - are still worth documenting.

So, here I go again.

Resolutions for 2012:

  1. Take pictures
  2. Be active
  3. Eat cleanly (less processed, more homemade, less meat)
  4. Have fun
  5. Be happy & healthy 
  6. Blog as much as I can
  7. Read more
With that in mind, I am off to clean toilets - not quite sure which category that task may be allocated.  I promise I won't take pictures.  

While on vacation,


Eat frozen burgers.

While I don't think I am a food snob, I am getting to the point where I am.  It isn't about expensive food - it is about avoiding crappy food.  This house hasn't had take-out pizza (in the house) in almost 2 years (except the Boston Pizza with the mover guys when we had no dishes during the move).  Jim began making his own dough in the fall of 2009; we purchased the pizza stone that Christmas and have been eating homemade low-fax mozza pizza with salami, olives, mushrooms, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, or an assortment thereof ever since.

We also start making our own burgers.  It first started with ground angus beef/sirloin from the grocery store.  It has evolve to home ground up flank and sirloin, 'nothing added' burgers - a pure experience of beef in a bun.  My husband calls them some of the most expensive burgers in town.  Jim even made homemade buns a few times but we haven't figured out how to make the buns small so we reverted to grocery buns.

When we went on vacation, I bought as pure a frozen grocery burger as I could.  I wasn't sure how homemade beef patties would withstand the trip over the mountains.  While they may not have made the trip, at least they would have tasted good.  These expensive grocery burgers were downright awful - a compaction of crappy ground beef embraced by a terrible binding agent (I didn't look at the package.)

So, we are home again.  Fresh back from a vacation, with the goal reinforced of limiting processed foods in the house.  I made banana bread today and am thinking about homemade granola.  Not sure we will get to homemade yogurt or even homemade bread (which I would love to accomplish) - but as least processed as this family can possibly achieve.  We aren't perfect but are at least moving in the right direction.

Back from vacation


I had planned many months ago to go camping.  I canvassed the camper type people (well, actually the '5th wheel' type people at the office for appropriate locations in Alberta to camp, and in a particular tent camp.  I got rave reviews of a place in Kananaskis  - private lots, bike trails, hot showers located 45 minutes from Calgary.  I was keen, stupid and well, ultimately VETOed by the rest of the family.

Instead, the internet came to our rescue (we had rented a house in Orlando from VRBO).  We rented a home in Golden, BC, specifically up the Blaeberry Valley - a very quiet home (with hot showers, a BBQ and a hot tub) in the middle of of nowhere - just perfect for me!  We saw deer each day, a herd of small prairie dogs and a skunk, in the distance.  We were surrounded by mountain ranges on most sides.  The kids were appropriately bored.  We made S'mores on the fire.  We ate well and sipped wine well.  I almost finished a book.  It was grand.

Happy Canada Day!


It is now summer.  As much as I can complain about the weather in Calgary, it does have a huge advantage over the East - no humidity!  It is a bit chilly this morning, maybe 12C but it is suppose to warm up to the mid-20s at some point.

Jim is still in Toronto.  He flies home in a few hours.  I remember when he was working in Halifax a few years ago - the trips were tortuous for me.  I watched the clock to see him return.  Night time routines with four very small children (2008, so the children were 1, 2, 4 and 6 years old) was very difficult.  The night time awakenings even more so.  I know have four children who most of the time will go to bed (OK - Declan is banned from computers today because of misbehaviour) and who definitely sleep through the night.  I got up just past 7am this morning - the first one truly vertical.

The tough thing about Jim being in Toronto on a morning I am not working ... here is petty, COFFEE!  Jim loves his coffee and makes a great cup in his very cool coffee machine (my x-mas present to him).  I had to phone him to get the instructions to quantities of beans and water.

Our plans today, because the weather is so nice is to ride the bikes.  I have all four children going to bicycle camp next week and we need to improve the peddling abilities of our youngest pair.  A neighbour was helping Deckie with his no training wheel cycling abilities on a very small pink bike.   The 17" bikes we have are a bit large to learn and balance.  We will go out again today to practice.  Deckie is, despite a tendency to fall, fly through the air and crash spectacular while on his feet, a very athletic little boy.  I know he will get it - just a bit worried he won't use his brakes, which I hope will be well reinforced at PeddleHeads camp.  Sean, on the other hand, has no interest in peddling a bike.  Sean is a tad stubborn and when he isn't interested in doing something he can be rather challenging.  I plan to be a bit bold and ask the soccer team we coach whether any of them have a small bike we could use for a week to get him going.  We left the small hand-me-down bikes in Toronto and I don't feel like buying a new one for a few weeks use.

I  love summer and I love long weekends!

Off to make breakfast.

Happy Birthday Kate!


(image) Hard to believe but 9 years old!

You are an incredible, amazing young lady who amazes us every day.  While reluctant to move to Calgary when first discussed, you have taken to your new city and all that it offers.  You have become a skier extraordinaire; your skating has improved with mighty leaps; and your enthusiasm for soccer is truly evident in the sheer number of balls that you kicked over the fence yesterday!  You have made new friends and kept in touch with your dearest ones from Toronto.  You are happy, mischievous and funny.  While you might dislike being small, you are our mighty one.

Happy Birthday (Baby) Girl!

Odd foodstuffs


Introducing the 'Strawberry Jello Salad'.

Simply put, we eat well in this house.  Good, wholesome, homemade food - concocted by Jayne, Jim or myself, depending on the day of the week.  This past weekend was no exception - other than I would say it was a bit unusual.

Jim borrowed yet another cookbook from the library.  We borrow a lot of cookbooks (and buy a few of the well liked ones).  We try a few recipes and keep record of even fewer.  However, we both enjoy reading the cookbooks.  One of the recent books was Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  A cookbook focused on 'Classic American Desserts Reinvented.'  I can't say we borrow too many dessert books - not our thing.  However, always good to attempt a few of the deletable, or at least unusual recipes.

We made the Cowboy cookies last week - think oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with pretzels.  We moved onto the jello, strawberry, cream cheese and PRETZEL dessert this weekend.  I thought it was an awesome summer BBQ type recipe.  While this concoction is far from low fat, it does stay relatively true to our goals of low processed foods.  This recipe didn't call for Cool Whip (which I absolutely refuse to buy) like most of its brethren on the Internet and instead required frothy whipped cream.  [I did use low fat cream cheese because we had it in inventory.]  My father even liked it!

The cookbook has an endless supply of deletable treats.  Before it is returned, I am hoping to try the Malted Milk Cookies and the Chocolate Whoopie Pies.

Good stuff.

One week later ...


(image) You would never know what state we were all in exactly one week earlier. Deckie is simply unbelievable - and obvious after today, that quiet is going to be a very difficult concept. Jim was playing with the boys on the magic carpet run - Seanie loves to chase and will easily go through the stars (i.e turn) on the way down. Deckie was just running for the joy of movement, despite my yelling to walk.

Seanie is a grand little skier when he wants to ski. He did go up the chair lift today but it took forever for him to make it to the bottom. I think a stubborn attitude and maybe a bit of fear of the 'big hill' may have contributed to his very (very) slow descent but he made it down. We had asked Deckie's instructor from last week to be Sean's instructor this week (a bit of a peace offering - very nice guy, very bad incident) and it was grand to see the instructor and Deckie reunite.

(image) The weather was spectacular. While the car thermometer suggested a -8C, I can't imagine it was possible. (It was above freezing and sloppy in Calgary.) It was so sunny and so simply beautiful on the mountain today. Kate and Andrew were back with their instructor from the past several weeks. They found powder up to the kid's arm pits - they were loving it. They spent their morning finding secret trails (hmmm, skiing through the woods). The hill was quiet, sunny and beautiful. I would easily want winter to stay for a few more weeks if this is the weather it would grant.

Maybe again next week!

A new family sport


(image) So, Deckie is on limited activity. We thought we would buy a few new XBox games so he could play them, in the family room, where we can watch him being quiet. [I don't really like the Xbox because too many shoot 'em up games, but we got a Cars and an old Lego Batman game.] The Wii is in the basement, well out of parental supervision. Furthermore, in my opinion, the Wii is a full contact sport in our household. The children jump, leap and move remotes erratically. It is not a quiet endeavour.

Of course, a new toy attracts everyone's attention - a rare photo of all four children together. (I did try and get a frontal shot but I got tongues, cross-eyes and a lot of complaints!)

It appears we are going skiing this weekend as long as the snow forecast for Calgary for 15-20 cm falls on Saturday and not on Sunday. Supposedly, it was snowing a lot in Banff today when Jim was speaking to the Norquay team so we may actually get another day of fantastic snow in the mountains. (No, Deckie isn't skiing but I am sure we can show him the rescue toboggan!)



Deckie came home today after two nights at the Alberta Children's Hospital. He has compression fractures in his spine, T5 - T9; his worst bruising is from IV lines in his arms and in hands. He is restricted to very limited physical activity for the next month and suggestion to push pain meds over the next few days.

We are counting are blessings. He had a spectacular fall and the outcome could have been quite poor.

Our ski experience this winter is making us think about sports and children. Aside from Deckie's fall (while in a lesson), Andrew also had an incident with a miscommunication with the chair lift operators at Nakiska and ended up riding up the chair lift alone on his first day of skiing. We chose to put our children in lessons to ensure they learned to be safe skiers. Not quite sure we got the desired results.

Is it the nature of the sport? the ratio children to instructor (especially the 3-5 year old age group)? the equipment or is it the personality of your child?

Not sure!

The surgeon did suggest we not allow our children to pursue mountain biking.



It is never a good thing when the ski school supervisor seeks you out in the chalet. When you ask 'Is everything OK?' and they say 'No', a parents' nightmare becomes reality.We had four children on the hill at the time, in various different lessons. I asked which child, 'the five year old'. DECLAN. That part was not at all surprising. Declan has repeatedly hurt himself, the knocked out front teeth, the broken elbow and the broken collar bone. He is just five years old but he has accidents. Immediately, I am thinking broken leg, skied into a tree, a crash.The ski school manager calmly explained that he fell off the chair lift, likely down 10 metres (i.e 30 feet) right before the dismount hill. He had lost consciousness for a minute but was breathing. It is an awful feeling to hear that information. Oddly, I had a positive outlook from the beginning. The other three I may have feared the worse, but Declan - he bounces, he doesn't really hurt himself despite the most spectacular of falls, bumps and tumbles.We could see the emergency personnel at the top of the hill. They had him at the bottom in just a few minutes (even when they were 'long' minutes). He was bundled neck & spine, completely immobilized, terrified, but very aware, talking, whimpering but moving his hands. I was told he tried to sit up at the top of the hill and was obviously moving his legs at that time. Breathing, talking, recognizing parents, and moving limbs - all tremendously good signs. Knocked off the 'really bad' outcome very quickly. The ambulance was at the hill (very close to Banff) before Declan was at the bottom of the hill. Jim went with him to the Banff hospital. My parents (just home from vacation) followed. I waited for the other children.Once I was left alone, I had time to panic. The ski instructor in absolute tears and the top of the chair lift person removed from their post due to traumatic event. I was worried about the older pair who may hear chatter amongst the ski school groups - as we know, spectacular events can get really negative quickly. Declan was x-rayed head-to-toe at the smallish Banff hospital then moved by ambulance to a the Children's Hospital in Calgary about 90 minutes away. He was quite alert, in pain, hating the neck brace. When I got to the hospital (my father drove me and the other children back to Calgary) about 10 minutes after the ambulance, Declan and Jim had arrived, he had a slew of a trauma team working on him. It was terribly distressing. I hadn't expected that many people in the trauma bay - it was TV like. However, he was cleared as stable and then was put through the ct-scan - head, chest and abdominal. Once done, the neck brace was removed and he was cleared for liquids. The poor boy was starved.So, in the end, we now have a child that has fallen from a tremendous height, from a chair lift, hit his head, lost consciousness, ridden in two ambulances, had ct-scans (oh, the radiation), and admitted to a Children's Hospital as a 'trauma' patient. We will all survive, already finding the humor in the situation.God bless parents of accident prone children. This is a really really tough job. [...]

Skating, hooked


Kate competed in her first skating competition today. Kate started skating a few years ago, but has been skating in a more focused 2 day a week program since September. We continued a similar program in Calgary when we arrived here a few weeks ago.

I sent the video to my sister who giggled (hmmm, cackled) and said she was hooked and we were done. Her daughter, Elise, a few months older than Kate, is a very intensive skater with many hours of private coaching each week, both individual and synchro skating. She knows what she is talking about!

I was so proud of Kate today. As a working mom, I rarely get to see Kate skate. In Toronto, she skated early on Saturday mornings so I spent time each weekend watching Kate skate. The program here is different - every Tuesday and Thursday at 4-5pm. I don't get to see her skate. She has improved so much since she started in September, and maybe even more so since she started with this new club in Calgary.

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Kate was so excited when she got off the ice - 'can I compete again?' (And, yes, that is the boys laughing in the background, namely Sir Seanie.)

The girl is taking flight.

Maybe I will be back


I look back on the entries in the blog and simply love re-reading my memories. They are never to be repeated events and are certainly cherished - everything from the lack of sleep entries, the frustration of parenting young children to the infinite joy of watching these little people develop. I thought about closing down the blog - entries once every three months is insufficient to keep the memories documented.

However, the idea makes me truly sad. I know some people have gone to Twitter and Facebook but it just isn't even comparable to a blog all about us! I want to keep it going. I just wonder if I have the discipline and the ideas to keep it all going.

So, here goes another attempt (I think I 'attempted' in September and again in early January ... maybe this one will stick.)

Updates from the West


This poor blog has been mistreated. I had the best of intentions at the beginning of last year to be inspired, and post more. Somehow, that didn't quite happened. The last post we have is now almost 4 months ago. How time flies!

A few things have happened in the past four months which should help to inspire the blog posting.

In a matter of just over five weeks (November 21 until December 29th), Jim and I accomplished the following:

- Quit my job of 12 years;
- Accepted a new job;
- Sold a house
- Bought a new house (one I have yet to see inside the front door!)
- Hire an architect/contract to renovate the 1970s shag carpet special
- Rented a house
- Moved 2125 miles to Calgary Alberta with four children and two cats
- Somehow, in a truly odd turn of events, brought along Jayne too (aka 'the Nanny')

Now two weeks into our Calgary adventure, I am truly exhausted. Living in a new city, however, is simply amazing. Even the drive to work makes me a bit doubtful (yes, drive west then north, not east, then south). Also, I am unbelievably cold! The first week here, before I started work the weather was wintery but the sunny was bright and warm. This week, my goodness, it is extraordinarily cold, like -38 (with the windchill) cold. [For the record, a -38, it doesn't matter if you like imperial or metric, it is basically the same.]

Our gear arrived last Friday (we had practically nothing for the first two weeks) so we are slowly unpacking the 19,700 lbs. of gear we shipped. The children have gotten new skis and have attempted to use them in the backyard. Tomorrow, we expect the TV installation guys to come (living without cable isn't that difficult but we will get cable regardless). Slowly but surely we shall find our way. I am just awaiting the first Chinook as Deckie is a bit concerned Calgary doesn't have any grass.

So, here is to a new year and many new adventures. Hopefully, this blog will capture this new year.

Home sweet home!


Jim came home on Friday. No IV attachments. I watched the nurse remove his last tether. I was gleeful, I wouldn't even imagine how happy Jim felt to be 'healthy' and free. Obviously, healthy isn't the way we would describe the guy - he remains on extremely high doses of oral antibiotics with follow-ups with an infectious disease specialist due to the extent and seriousness of the infection as well as an endocrinologist due to elevated liver enzyme due to the infection and required drug intervention to fix the problem.

As I mentioned in the last post, I am thankful. Jim's initial doctor (from the first admittance) was simply awesome. Her humour was very much appreciated (my moto should be, when the going gets tough, I crack a joke!) but her practical approach was exceptionally appreciated. (Many doctors aren't reknown for their bedside manner.) Her commitment to her patients was unbelievable. Prior to his release, I attempted to track her down through the ER and the various floors I knew she had patients - to no avail. We have her email address so will track her down electronically.

The nursing and medical team were great too - friendly and energetic. Jim would spend some time each day in the cafeteria or the hospital coffee shop. He was always saying hi (and thank you) to many different people that walked by - whether it was a nurse who took an interest in Jim's eclectic reading list, the ultrasound technician, the ER clerk or the porter - the health care team that made up this city hospital was great.

The doctor was adamant in her belief in that despite the delapidated inner city Toronto hospital (i.e. a dump), the care provided was second to none. I believe it! Not sure I want to spend any time at that hospital again any time soon (but know the location of all cool parking spots now!), but will willingly return if an emergency strikes this family again.

Just please, please, please - not too soon!

Geez Louise!


The last post was titled 'Always an adventure'. To be honest, this little trek has been way too adventurous, and I want off this train now.

I called 911 on Sunday night after my husband collapsed and had what we now know was an allergic reaction to the IV penicillin he had been prescribed. The home nurse was switching and flushing the IV lines when Jim felt a burning sensation in his arm and head, nauseous, light headed and then promptly collapsed on the (very small) nurse. After we both got him down on the floor, I called 911. His open fixed eyes, the quivering and the odd breathing noises made me utterly panic. I will never forget what I saw, and will never be able to think about it without bringing tears to my eyes.

Thankfully, the 911 dispatcher was very calm and exceptionally helpful. He asked for an update on Jim which the home nurse provided quick responses indicating his breathing was returning to normal and he was becoming more alert. It took the ambulance and fire truck just over three minutes to reach the house. Twenty minutes later, under his own power but helped by the two big paramedics, he walked out of the house to the stretcher and returned to the hospital from which he had only been discharged 48 hours earlier (and visited earlier in the day because of the very new penicillin reaction).

Two days later, he is feeling much much better. Again, the system worked very well, albeit a tad slower than I would have preferred. He had a CT scan yesterday to rule out a pulmonary embolism as well as third repeat ultrasound to rule out both blood clots in his legs as well as abscesses at the cellulitis site. He has remained on cardiac monitoring systems as the collapse has been recognized as a serious and unusual event. While he looks good, his energy level remains at likely 25% of normal. His stroll outside for a coffee (with his IV in tow) was about as much activity as he could manage. His two days at home last weekend simply exhausted him (this house with four small children is a buzz of high activity). It took just about 24 hours to get him moved out of the ER. The ER of a big city community hospital is just indescribable. He was placed on a different ward this time, probably more general medicine, as compared to geriatric palliative care last week, which has provided a more restful environment. Jim referred to the last ward as his 'house of horrors' as geriatric palliative care is rather disturbing. After the last episode, the doctor will not release him to home care and will only come home once the IV antibiotics (not penicillin!) are no longer required, and oral antibiotics will support his recovery.

My father arrived yesterday and my mom arrives tomorrow. My work has been tremendously supportive. I have only cried to the girls! The children continue to surprise with their resilience. My father (as my relatives will agree) has shown miraculous levels of patience - and has become the prime destination of cuddles. (OK - the Indian Jones movie set certainly helped win over the hearts of the more reluctant!).

I am blessed. My husband is lucky. My family is infinitely loving and extremely supportive. Our circle of friends amazing. The doctor who is responsible for his care is simply awesome.

Jim will be home soon and life will eventually return to normal.

911 works.

I am thankful.

Always an adventure


I think I described our life today as chaotic but typically free of crisis. I will admit I made that comment while I spent the better part of the afternoon in a hospital emergency room with a husband lying on a gurney being pumped full of morphine and high doses of very strong antibiotics.

I think we may have hit our first crisis!

Jim was misdiagnosis with phlebitis (an inflammation of the veins) last Thursday. After a weekend of fever, pain, a growing rash on his leg and a lot of the 'shakes', he was diagnosed today with an advanced case of cellulitis (a bacterial infection of the inner skin layers) with a risk of an absess. When I saw the damage last night, I knew he must have been misdiagnosed, he looked like he had a massive sunburn from his hip down to his knee with a bulging hernia like mass on his thigh.

As a result of the cellulitis and the delay in treatment, my husband has been admitted to the hospital to receive continuous care and large doses of antibiotics. One doctor suggested he would likely be in hospital for 3 days, another suggested he may be released tomorrow. Jim has had a similiar bout of cellulitis about six years ago and was on home nurse care and an IV for 4-6 days. I suspect, even upon release, Jim will have an IV to curb this nasty infection.

It was difficult leaving my husband at the hospital, still in the ER because the hospital is over-crowded and no room was available. Makes you realize the 'pecking order' of illness - obviously, this man is quite sick and at risk of a much more serious illnes or they wouldn't even attempt to admit him to an over-crowded hospital. Looking around the hospital, many people seem to make more noise or appear to be in worse shape, but they were sent home - logical conclusion their condition wasn't too bad. Yikes!

I would have preferred to have stayed with him, even if I couldn't do anything for him. (I brought him dinner, snacks, water bottles and a whole bag of personal clothes and books!) It is just a matter of time before he is moved to his own room. I can't really help him. Thankfully, he is much more conherent than he was earlier today (a man in severe pain, with a dose of morphine isn't necessarily a rationale person!), the shakes have stopped and the medicine will slowly do its job. My kids need me much more than him!

Of course perfect storm of circumstance ... my nanny's mom arrived from the UK today. I think it has been years since Jayne has seen her mom and we have known about this visit for months. We had a whole care plan figured out which required two parents modifying their schedules, back-up child care and my parents to fly in from Calgary next week. Instead, day one saw Jayne taking all four children to meet her exhausted mother at the airport, a friend taking Kate to soccer practice (and both Kate and Andrew to x-country practice tomorrow morning) and a missed skating lesson.

To be honest, crisis diverted. We unfortunately will see more health issues in this life, hopefully not for a very long time and hopefully none too serious. The system messed up but more than fixed itself today. (I have to thank the nurses and doctors today - they sometimes have a very thankless job in the ER - sick people, impatient people, rude people, overcrowded hospitals, long waits - they do a great job given the circumstances!)

As always, life is an adventure!

Case of the missing blogger


I have been found, and to be honest, was obviously never lost.

Summer has been a wonderful busy season - children at soccer fields four nights of the week, warm weather, a backyard landscaping renovation, another camping trip, Lego-mania.

School started back last week. We now have three children in public school. I think we have a stellar roster of teachers for this school year. Kate and Andrew are in classes full of friends. I have a new lunch box routine using Bento Boxes which should keep lunches interesting. Declan started half day kindie on Friday - he has a small class (17 kids) which is predominantly senior kindie kids, a set-up very beneficial to Declan's personality. Seanie will start a preschool program at the end of the month.

Skating started again this weekend, at least for Kate - 8am Saturday mornings. She began a new level, Preliminary, so will now require the guidance of a private coach. A bit of a scramble this weekend, but she now has a coach that I have never met, have spoken to on the phone, but is recommended by another family. Andrew & Declan will start their skating season next weekend, same place, just begins when Kate finishes. It is hard to go into an arena in September.

So, with the 'new year' upon me, I will give this blog another kick at the can. Will keep you posted.

The Case of the Missing Fish



Our 'Nate the Great' audiobooks arrived this week from the library. This case would likely never make much of a story, but certainly had me a bit curious and somewhat repulsed on Saturday morning.

We have a fish, well, we had a fish. When I was making dinner on Friday night, I know we had fish. He was swimming in his rather small, yet colourful bowl. He swam to the top because he was a greedy little goat and wanted to be fed again. I liked that he interacted with us humans (our last fish didn't exactly show us any interest).

On Saturday morning, the fish bowl was void of anything fishy. Where, oh where did little fish go? I have my theories. The said fish either:

- jumped out of the fish bowl, the oxygen saturated flopping woke up the two cats who were otherwise sleeping on the couch. The fish was then subsequently eaten by one or both of the family felines.

- or, one of the cats assisted the fish out of its bowl, then proceed to eat the guy. We obviously have documented evidence of Martin drinking from the fish bowl. (image)

Regardless, the fish is gone. Sean won brownie points all around when his thoughts immediately switched to the nanny - 'Jaynie will be so sad.' (Jayne buys the fish, feeds the fish, cleans the bowl of the fish and otherwise scared me to death when I improperly cleaned, but didn't purify properly the water.)

My main concern is not for the fish, but for the absolute certainty that the cats did eat MOST of the fish. 'Most' is the issue. I know I have fish entrails, and in particular the long flowing fins of a dead fish somewhere in my house.

Case not yet closed.

Been camping


After months of camping research and preparation, this family has been camping ... and we had fun!After a slight 2 hour delay (it takes a VERY LONG time to get everything packed), we headed for The Pinery Provincial Park, near Grand Bend, Ontario. As always, every aspect of the weekend was an adventure. The poor minivan was loaded down, the extremely large Thule Rack very packed but we had it all (which is the truth, only minor items forgotten).One thing I do know, Jim will never allow me to be the navigator for any trip in the future. My theory of 'Go West' until we hit water, while accurate, took us through some very interesting countryside. We stopped at a Tim Horton's for some donuts and coffee (where a ladies' group was making sleeping mats out of strips of milk bags) in Parkhill, Ontario (I think, without a map, we aren't exactly certain where we were!) I asked for directions, which I didn't understand, and we left again. A few moments later, we were driving down a gravel road where a couple of farmers in the fields stood up to watch this crazy minivan with the big Thule drive down the road. Nevertheless, we didn't have to turn around too many times, and we did eventually get the to park.The Pinery is a very big campground, with a lot of camp sites (i.e. not too private), but the sand dunes, the lake and the beach are spectacular. Putting up tents is much harder than I had expected. While we had practiced putting up both tents in the house, we had never put on the fly. The directions were a bit unclear but we eventually got it. My tarp instructions from You Tube were incomprehensible to Jim. Thankfully, a nice neighbour with a beer in hand help set-up the tarp - a few pictures and close examination should ensure the next tarp experience is a bit more straightforward. The kids loved the dunes, loved the tents, loved the water. We made friends with many fellow campers and their dogs. We ate very good food, drank very cold wine (thumbs up for the Coleman Xtreme cooler), and slept somewhat well. The adults' backs were a bit sore - almost back to late pregnancy days where you know you have to roll over but the prospects of the roll seem much more painful than the current ache in the lower back. The kidlets, however, rarely slept on their self-inflating mats and seem to have great sleeps. Deckles woke up one morning with a burst 'that was the shortest sleep ever', and that was more than nine hours after he went to bed. I will admit I did take Kate's mat on Saturday night, and slept on a double cushion; not sure if it helped or my guilty conscious of allowing my daughter to sleep on the cold tent floor (in a sleeping bag) prevented me from getting a better night sleep. The theory she wasn't using it any ways didn't seem to help the conscience. Seanie's cast didn't slow him down one bit. Our family typically attracts attention, but a little one in a bright green cast creates a bit more impact. We even met 'Filmore' in the campground - a 1978 VW camping van, with a pop-up top. Kate, Andrew and Declan brought only their 'GoGo' boxes which kept them all occupied for several hours. I will admit camping isn't exactly relaxing, but not sure it is any less relaxing than home. Jim and I make jokes that our home time is pretty much spent as a short-order cook. Camping is really no different, just a few more steps to wash dishes with water heated on the Coleman stove and no Wii to create any diversions. We didn't see very much of the park other than our own campsite, comfort station, our own sand dune, and the beach. It w[...]

Grant me the serenity


... to accept the things I cannot change.

Boys will be boys!

In the past eight days, I have made a trip to the local hospital four times with Sean. Three visits were related to his foot and tonight another trip for a split chin.

No more jumping on the Deckle's bed!

As always, when out and about (not at home whining), Seanie is quite the happy dude. He chatted me up during the three hour round trip visit to the ER. He pulled down his pants (repeatedly) and showed off his cute white derriere to the ER (pediatric) waiting room. The needle to freeze his chin just about had me feeling woozy, but we both recovered. He is now the proud owner of 5 stitches.

Not too good when you are familiar with the ER nurses but oddly enough, I seem to get great camping advice from the staff. Gives me confidence, I may find all the necessary emergency care right there in the campground!

Bedtime stories


(image) I will not suggest I read stories to the kidlets at night, because I don't. Every now and again, a child will get a bedtime story; however, in general, we listen to CDs or iPods at bedtime.

Andrew's story either stopped this evening or ended, not sure which one. As I marched upstairs to fix the story, I realize, as with so many things with young children, I will not go upstairs for too many more years. At one point, in the very much too near future, my children will not need me to reset their CDs and will definitely not ask me for anything technical. I might as well love it while I can, and remember it forever!

So, what do the kidlets like to listen to each night.

Hands down, Seanie is the most vocal about choosing stories. His current favourites are Mercy Watson, the Boy (aka Mozart's Magnificent Voyage), or The Great Discovery (Thomas).

Declan, unfortunately, chooses an assortment of those options, but would rather listen to Star Wars stories. He also likes Jack and Annie (Magic Treehouse), Ralph S Mouse and Henry Huggins.

Andrew is an exclusive Star Wars boy - a three disk package, and we just rotate the CD each night. Tonight we are listening to disk 2 (after disk 1 hit a funk).

Kate shows some variety. She too likes Mercy Watson (great stories, and likely my favourite), Star Wars but recently listened to Anne of Green Gables and Roald Dahl stories. I am never quite sure which story she might choose.

Different whimpers or complaints suggest different issues with the CDs. Seanie will sometimes travel about the second floor if his story has finished before he falls asleep (he still naps). I just heard him, the bright green fiberglass cast thumping about gives his location away. The others will be fast asleep long before their stories finish.

Someone didn't tell the truth


(image) I have been spending a fair bit of time on the internet learning about camping and camping tricks. One trick I have read about was the sheer amazing functionality of duct tape. Duct tape, according to websites and camping books, is described as the miracle to all things evil on a campsite - tarp issues, fly issues, tent pole issues, cooler issues, rope issues, just use DUCT TAPE. I bought duct tape on one of my recent (yet numerous) trips to Canadian Tire.

However, for the record, duct tape doesn't stick very solidly to the cast of a three year old who has walked off all the coverings and gotten the cast a bit wet, and, well, a bit muddy. I thought it would be the solution to our problem, add a bit of stability and a bit of waterproofing to the cast - alas, someone didn't quite tell the trust.

No arguments thought, he is happy!

Fracture Clinic, take 2


Wow, blog - a bit of a hiatus. The lack of posting isn't from a lack of news, events or other fun stuff, just a bout of writer's block and one tired momma.

In the past month, since the last entry, this family has accomplished a lot including two birthdays (happy 8th birthday to Kate and happy 3rd birthday to Sean), a gardening weekend of spring planting and herb container gardening, a girls' trip to San Francisco with my mom and sister, graduation to a no-diaper family, a new Kindie teacher for Declan, and a fair bit of time spent on soccer pitches.

Oh, and I guess, Deckie lost his red cast, and Seanie earned a very 'sturdy' cast on his leg.

Not much more to tell really, Sean and Deckie were fooling about in the basement and Sean hurt his foot. For the record, they were not jumping down stairs or off furniture.

We always suggest a sleep-off to determine the true extend of injury but that strategy only lasted until 11pm. Thirty minutes later, after an extended bout of crying about his now quite swollen and very sore foot, Seanie and I headed for the local ER. Reassurance from the nurse that this 'bizarre' swelling certainly was worthy of an ER trip, a discussion with the ER doctor, 3 right foot xrays and a soft temporary cast, Seanie and I were sent on our way at 2am, with instructions to return to the Fracture Clinic for 7 am sharp the following morning (to beat the queues). I actually thought that was a spectacular turnaround for an ER visit!

Very tired mother and puffy-eyed son were the first 'casting' of the day at the fracture clinic - orthopedic surgeon said no break was visible but with feet this young, it is very difficult to tell the extend of injury. With the extensive swelling, Seanie was given a soft cast that is very sturdy, which I now interpret as pretty friggin' heavy. We have a return appointment scheduled for this Monday.

Jayne now almost has a baby back in the house as Sean can't walk and only crawls. He is industrious, however, and can make it up and down stairs when he wants to get somewhere (and apparently, only when I am not home). My arms are stretched and sore from carrying the boy - I think the cast must add 5-8 lbs to his 30lbs. frame. As always, a ray of sunshine to every story, Destructo Man now moves so much slower and is incapable of creating his common path of destruction.

I am now off to research the comfort of fully waterproof casts or start planning the backup plan in the event we aren't going camping in less than 10 days.

Stories from the couch


Logic is not always abundant in this house.

Tonight at dinner, Kate asked why Sean had a purple band-aid on his foot. The honest response - Declan bit his finger.

The only explanation I can provide to substantiate the logic - Sean is two.

Right before dinner, Sean started screaming (not that unusual). Declan emerged from beside the couch looking guilty. When we asked Sean why he was crying, he indicated Declan bit his finger. When Declan was asked why he bit Sean's finger, he explained Sean's finger was in his mouth. Sean has no explanation why his finger was in Declan mouth but did demand a band-aid for his foot. To calm the masses, and allow us sufficient space to prepare dinner, Jim pasted a band-aid to the top of Sean's foot.

All normal activity resumed immediately. So, the logic when you have a two year old - don't question too often why something needs to be done. If you both win, just do it. Band-aids fix everything, just buy lots of them

Good morning Dutch Baby!



Move aside waffles and pancakes, and welcome to the Dutch Baby.

This family enjoys its Sunday morning breakfast treats. The tradition began a a few years ago. We typically eat homemade pancakes and waffles, with real maple syrup. I did at one point use the mix but gave that up when I realize how easy it was to make your own mixture.

I can't say I like making pancakes. I am not very good at making pancakes. My father is very good at making pancakes. His secret is whipped egg whites and bacon fat. I can't replicate the pancakes because I can't beat egg whites, and I don't typically make bacon because of the smell that lingers in the house. (I love the taste of bacon.)

Waffles are lovely. However, the best waffles are best made with an abundance of butter and a lot of maple syrup. Regardless, even the best waffles get dull after many, many, many weeks of consumption.

Introducing the Dutch Baby. Descriptions in both my Joy of Cooking and my cast iron skillet cookbook suggest the recipe is a german pancake. Not quite sure I understand the name, but this one is a winner. I have wanted to try the recipe for several months, but the ingredients just didn't suggest a winnable combination in this house - lots of eggs, little flour and milk, and a smidgen of sugar.

I made two of these pancakes this morning. Neither looked very good - batter was lumpy, and think tremendously deflated souffle, with ridges the size of the Rockies, too well browned. I feared I would have a sticky, messy cast iron pan. I was wrong (I forgot, another ingredient ... butter), the mass slide right out of that pan.

The children loved it. Kate thought it was a 10 out of 10; Andrew said two thumbs up. The first batch was served with maple syrup, but the second serving was sprinkled icing sugar with a good squeeze of lemon. Yum.

** Borrowed picture. This one looks much better. We will add raspberries the next time.