Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Great Negotiator

Littlest is always trying to get a better deal.  And her response to any request is always the same: How 'bout dis.

Me:  Time for bed.
Her:  How 'bout dis.  Five more minutes.

Me:  Go pick out a book to read before bed.
Her:  How 'bout dis.  Five books.
Me:  How 'bout dis.  Two books.
Her:  How 'bout dis.  Three books.

Me:  Put your dishes in the dishwasher.
Her:  How 'bout dis.  We have some ice cream first?

Are you starting to see a pattern here?  The thing is that she is so cute when she says it, we have all started saying it.  Let's do 'bout dis...let's do 'bout dis...

Last night, she was done her spelling words before supper, had already read her take home reading book and had a shower all by 6:15.  I told her she could watch TV for half an hour if she wanted.  Guess what she said.  'How 'bout dis.  15 minutes.'  I laughed .  I told her half an hour was more than 15 minutes.  A big grin came across her face.  'You just made my evening,' she said.

I aim to please.  Later.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Happy 39th Julie

Today is the 39th birthday of my beautiful wife, Julie. She keeps joking about how old she is getting. I hope she's just joking anyway, because that would make me really old! 

However, if Julie were able to retire today, I'm sure she would have no trouble finding things to do. She loves to create and would have no problem doing that full time. Colouring, painting, sewing, crocheting, making stained glass projects.  I'm sure if she had more time, the list would be longer. She sees the beauty in something old or plain and brings it out.  She has chalk-painted an old desk and turned it into something beautiful. She redid an old church door and made it into a headboard. Every year she sews the kids (and me!) pj pants. She has made a wonderfully snuggly blanket for curling up on the couch. And she has created many gorgeous stained glass pieces.  Here are her hands at work, doing some of the things she loves:

Some day she will have more time for these things, but in the meantime, her hands are busy helping people.  She is great at her job, and has helped countless people during her time as a sonographer.  But even though her hands are great at taking pictures, it's her heart that is her real gift.  Much like crafting, she sees the beauty in everyone.  She truly believes in the 'care' part of health care and people know it when they see her.  She is compassionate and empathetic and a great listener.  So I hope she carries on doing what she's doing for a long time yet.

Perhaps her kind heart is because she has a heart for Jesus.  As a parent, the greatest thing you can pass onto your kids is your love of Jesus and Julie is doing that.  All three of our girls see how their Mom lives and are following in her footsteps.  

So if you see Julie today, wish her happy birthday and let her know 39 isn't old.  She has a lot left to give this world.  She's just getting going.  Later.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Shaming, feeling old, and power ballads

Hello.  Is it me you're looking for?
Sorry about that.  But now that you're humming Lionel Ritchie, let me say welcome back.  It has once again been forever since I've written anything.  Summer has come and gone.  Even fall has come and gone.  But in my defence, fall only lasted 4 hours this year.  A few nights ago Julie asked me if I was ever going to blog again and I said that the longer I went, the harder it got to get back into the swing of things.  So much has happened that I don't know where to start.  She told me to just start.  So here I am, just starting.

One of the children came home with an art assignment the other day.  She was supposed to make four curvy lines down a piece of paper and then connect those lines with curves (essentially looking like some segmented worms).  She was then supposed to colour all her segments with shading to make it look like these four worms were three dimensional.  She was busy going about it, when I noticed the instructions and what she was doing.  She was colouring with markers and there wasn't a whole lot of shading.  I attempted to show her what the assignment was supposed to show and she didn't like it.  Oh well, I tried.

Everyone in our house is into colouring, so I thought I would join in too.  One day in Michael's, I spotted an adult colouring book called the 'Hipster Colouring Book.'  It looked like something I could get behind, so I picked it up.  A few nights later, Julie and I were colouring after the kids went to bed.  I know what you're thing - we are pretty wild and crazy.  Anyway, this is what I created:

The next morning, I was eager to show off my handy work to the children.  They all oohed and aahhed appropriately.  One commented on the hat and how it looked curved and how I did that.  I said it was by the way I shaded it.  The one with the art assignment said it looked really cool.  Then she paused, cocked her head to the side a bit and looked at me.  'Wait a minute!  Are you trying to shame me?!' Not me.  I would never do such a thing.

I guess I've been alive long enough now that some of what the kids take in school as 'history' was stuff I lived through.  One came home talking about the Quebec ice storm.  Oh yeah, I said, I remember that.  We then talked about it a bit and I asked if she knew what year it happened in.  I honestly didn't think it was that long ago.  She said, 'I'm not sure.  I think it was in the 1900's.'  Boom.   Talk about feeling old.   She said it 'nineteen hundreds' the way we talk about the 1800's or 1500's.  Turns out she was right.  1998.  The good old 1900's.

Speaking of the 1900's, I've been educating the kids on some power ballads from the '80's.  I'm not quite ready for them to hear all of Warrant's or Poison's songs, but some are okay.  Middlest has taken a liking to Heaven, by Warrant.  Littlest likes Poison's 'Something to Believe In.'  The other day after listening to it, she asked to see what the singer looked like.  Not wanting to shock her too much, I pulled up a fairly recent picture of Bret Michaels.  'Hmm,' she said, 'pretty handsome.  But not as handsome as you Dad.'  Take that Bret.  I guess every rose does have its thorn.  Later.  

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Annie and her three very different boys

Almost seven weeks ago, Julie's parent's farm cat, Annie, had kittens. Annie has a pretty good life. She has a house on the deck, food and water, and is in close proximity to the treats. But she lived on her own for a while before being adopted and hasn't lost her killer instinct. She can bring down birds and gophers. 

So when it came time to deliver, Annie did not choose the safe confines of her deck house. She secretly burrowed in under an old mower. After much searching (and Annie diverting), the den was eventually found. But it was tough to see how many kittens were back in there. After careful observation, it was believed there were three babies. But then they were gone! Annie had moved them. Again, she didn't want to give up the location, but the new nest was discovered under a pile of fence posts. They made a couple more pit stops before all arriving on the deck one morning. Annie was ready to share her family (and some of the feeding duty!).  

Somewhere along the way, Julie's parents decided that since there were three cats, each grandchild should get to name one. That takes some ... courage? The kids couldn't blindly name them though, they needed to know the sex. Papa determined all were boys. 

After seeing pictures, the girls all decided on names, but the news had to be delivered in person. So we made the trip to the farm and after six weeks and six homes, the kittens were named. 

Biggest chose one that was all black. Black from head to toe. Like one certain Sith Lord you may or may not have heard about. Yes, the first kitten is...Darth Vader. 

He looks pretty menacing. 

Middlest chose the kitten that was black and white. She, being interested in unicorns and rainbows and everything cuddly, chose a slightly softer name. Meet...Fluffy. 

Littlest had a kitten that was mostly black but has two white spots on its underside. And in typical Littlest fashion, she picked something totally random. Meet...Justin. 

There was one brief moment of panic when I heard, 'Justin is a girl! He has boobs!'  All cats have boobs, I replied. Whew. Crisis averted. 

So there you have it. One mother. Three sons. Three very different names. Thanks Nanny and Papa. Later. 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Sarah, Johnny, 1D, Corey and sugar bugs

Over the past month or so, I've started listening to songs with the girls before bed.  We'll say our prayers, get snuggled in and then listen to a relaxing song or two, depending on the time.  If it's two songs, we each get to pick one.  This actually started with Littlest.  One day she wanted to listen to a Sarah McLachlan song.  If you knew me in the '90's when I was going to the Lilith Fair festivals, you would know that this is a weak spot for me.  So we spent the next several nights drifting off to sleep while Sarah sang about being in the arms of an angel.  Pretty relaxing.

Eventually the other girls caught wind of this and they wanted in on the action.  I was filled with shock and awe and pride when the first song Middlest ever wanted to listen to was 'Boy named Sue.'  Maybe not the most relaxing, but she asked for Johnny Cash!  How could I refuse that.  It all worked out when I played her some Sarah after.  A few days later she asked to hear 'Perfect.'  Without missing a beat, I said, 'One Direction?'  Why do I know that?!

As time goes on, I'm having to dig a bit deeper into my musical vaults to find calm and soothing songs.  My sister would be happy to know that there has been some Corey Hart lately and that he has been pleasantly received.  Except for a few years of teenage denial, I've always liked Corey Hart.  I even owned Boy in the Box.  After that, my sister bought all his albums, so there was no reason for me to.  But I do have his greatest hits on CD and now on iTunes.

After Littlest and I listened to 'Chase the Sun' one night, she wanted to know what he looked like.  So I showed her the album cover.  Then she wanted to know what he looked like when he smiled (she felt it was a very serious picture).  So we did a quick google image search.  As it turns out, I don't believe Corey Hart smiled during the eighties.  He was too busy perfecting the brooding look I guess.  We did find a picture from 2011 with a slight smile, but definitely no teeth.  Littlest then decided that he must be a very serious person.  She said, 'I wonder why he doesn't smile more.  He should.  I smile all the time.'  I replied, 'Yes, yes you do.  And I love it.  Goodnight.'

I don't want to name any names for this next story, just so I don't embarrass anyone.  This way they can all deny it.  We were laying there listening to the smooth sounds of 'Never Surrender', the child with her eyes closed and me rubbing her back.  Then a hand came up to her face, a finger came out, gave a little poke in her nose and then went into her mouth.  I snickered.  'Having a little night lunch?' I asked.  She wondered what I was talking about and I told her what I witnessed.  Then she giggled a bit and closed her eyes again.  We laid there a few more minutes and then she asked, 'Dad, do boogers have sugar bugs?'  There's a question I didn't ever anticipate answering.  Looking back, maybe I should have answered yes, it might have been a deterrent.  But then it probably would have meant a trip back to the bathroom to brush teeth again.  I simply giggled to myself, said no and kissed her forehead goodnight.  Later.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

I sure miss saying goodbye to you

There are a lot of songs out there, especially country ones, that deal with death and losing someone. Until you are faced with that situation, they don't stand out as much. 'Over you', 'I drive your truck', 'Drink a beer', were all just good songs until we lost Dad. Since then there have been many nights walking the dog that I have cried a bit while listening to these and other songs. 

There are some songs that aren't specifically about dying that strike a chord too. 'Hasn't hit me yet' comes to mind. There is another one by an east coast Canadian singer that goes like this:

'Winter came a bit too soon, 
I sure miss saying goodbye to you.'
- Seasons by Andy Brown

It seems like a weird thing to miss, but I do. Whenever anyone of us would leave mom and dad's, he would always come outside to see us off. Weather didn't matter. Middle of winter, he would get dressed up, come outside, wave and stand there till we were out of sight.  Even near the end when it obviously wasn't easy to manage the stairs, he still came out. It was something that was important to him.  I don't think I'll ever stop missing that. 

Today is Dad's first birthday that he's not here to celebrate. Last year we were still able to enjoy a big party with him. This year we're left with the many memories we have. Waffles. Music. Stories. A good beer. The way he put everything in God's hands. The way I would call him and ask what he was doing today and he would always say 'nothing.'  Then we would talk for twenty minutes or half an hour about nothing. 

I made waffles on the weekend and Biggest helped me. We dirtied three bowls, folded in egg whites and listened to Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton on vinyl. Making new memories and keeping old ones alive. 

Happy birthday Dad. I miss you. I'll see you again. Later. 

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Saskatoon, fools and fun dad

Last weekend we had the opportunity to go to Saskatoon. We had some appointments scheduled for Friday and then stayed over till Saturday. It's always nice to go back and reconnect with friends. We went and hung out by the river for a while. Walked on the train bridge. Watched the pelicans. Saw a beaver. Posed for a picture. 

We came home Saturday evening and went to church Sunday morning. Now most of my funny stories here involve the girls but I have to tell one from Sunday school. I teach grade 5 and 6 boys so it is often interesting. The story talked about a man storing up stuff here on earth and God called him a fool. I asked why God called the man a fool. The first response I had was, 'Because it's nicer than calling him an idiot.'  True. Not quite what I was looking for, but true nonetheless. 

This came in the mail this week too:

My awesome wife ordered it as soon as she saw 'chewbacca mom's' video online. It is pretty awesome. I surprised a couple of coworkers with it as well. 

This weekend Julie is in Phoenix with her cousin, so it's just me, the dog, two cats and three girls. I'm doing my best to make it a fun weekend to they don't miss mom too much. We started by getting slurpies after school yesterday. That was followed by hotdogs, chips and pop for supper. Yum yum. 

This morning we went swimming. There is only one indoor pool in Lloydminster for about 30000 people. It has a water slide and a wave pool that goes off once every hour. I checked last night and the Saturday hours are 9-9. Perfect. Everyone was up well before 7, so we had no problem making it there by 9:30. We were the only ones in the pool! We left around 10:30 and still the only ones! 30000 people and not one other person at the pool except us (and a couple geriatric people swimming lanes).  It was strange indeed. 

From there we headed outside to a family fun day in the park. 

There were horse carriage rides. Here is the view from the cockpit. I sat beside a nice old fellow who told me about his 14 miniature horses (and two babies) and the nice weather this year. Last year's ride was incredibly hot and the yer before that it snowed!  Early June in Canada I guess. 

There was also a petting zoo. I use the word zoo loosely. A bunch of animals and kids crammed under a tent would be a more accurate description but I don't think it would look as good on the sign. And who can resist a good goat? 

There was also a train ride. And by train ride I mean a bunch of barrels on wheels pulled by an atv. But again, doesn't sound quite as good. Nevertheless, it was one of the highlights of the day.  The older two said they were happy to ditch me for 5 minutes. I didn't have the heart to tell them that the feeling may have been mutual. 

And did I mention there was free cake?!

We rounded off the day with a movie and fairly early bed time. Now it's just me and the hound dog, chilling on the bed. It's hard work being fun dad all day long. One more day to go though, so I guess I better rest up. Later.