Saturday, June 30, 2012

Just the two of us

We are very fortunate that while my parents live a five hour drive from us, we get to see them a lot. My family has always been close and I'm so glad that J gets to have a good relationship with her grandparents even though we're not in the same city. We Skype with them regularly and once or twice a year J gets to go visit them *without* her parents. I'm not sure who is most excited about that, J, my mom and dad, or Alex and I. Sometime Alex and I get to do fun stuff while J is away and sometimes it's a time for us to catch up on work around our place.

J was gone for five days this time and we decided to try to get some fun stuff and some work in. I had the week off and Alex was working the day shift, so we actually got to see a lot of each other.

Five nights without J meant all kinds of things:

4 afternoon naps
1 piece of furniture given away on craigslist
5 nights where I stayed up past my bedtime
1,473,204,283 pieces of random paper and other junk removed from our home
38 cups of coffee too many
1 shower almost fixed
62 times an hour I thought of and missed J
nothing painted because instead we sorted out the balcony and did other boring cleaning chores
15 - 84 times a day I checked on J because she was playing too quietly or sleeping too quietly but really she just wasn't here
5 mornings where I got to sleep in a little
1 kitchen back splash picked out (but not yet installed)
2 trips to the post office
1 trip to the library
4 walks
1 night of Shakespeare
1 dinner date with Alex
1 lunch date with Alex
1 dinner date with Fifers

I think we did pretty well! But I'm oh so glad to have my little J back. I missed her so much!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Germany, Ukraine and the USA: swans, gardeners and sand dunes

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Postcard from samara from Germany

Description: Mute swan

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Postcard from inga_t from Ukraine

Description: Little gardener-girl


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Postcard from suzyleigh from the USA

Description: The Oregon Dunes are like no other sand dunes in the world. Oblique dunes, measuring a mile in length and 400 feet above sea-level are found here. Desert-like landscapes, lakes, rivers, ocean and forest blend together, creating a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Netherlands - Handmade Holland

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Postcard from Gerrie50 from the Netherlands.

Description: This is a handmade card - I'm not sure if it comes through in the picture (our scanner isn't the greatest) but the swirls are embroidered (and I think they're super pretty) and then the flowers and the blue and white dutch boy and girl are that paper craft where you cut smaller pieces of the same image and glue them together to make a 3D image...I can't ever remember what it's called.

I really like this card and appreciate the time it took to make it!

Make new friends, but keep the old

9. Make a new friend

One is silver and the other gold.

You know, looking back this was a strange challenge to set for myself. When I decided to do the 101 challenge, I wasn't sure how I thought I'd do this or what kind of measurement I'd be using. I kind of thought I'd just know when this one was done. And that's pretty much how it was. I'm not sure how you can tell when a relationship turns from an acquaintance-ship to a friendship or when you go from being just people who belong to the same group to friends or when you go from people who work together to friends. I don't know where the line is. Is it when you decide to go for coffee for the sixth or twelfth or twenty-second time? Is it when you decide to see each other in a context that is not your "normal" context? Is it when you willing listen to each other's dating debacles, relationship woes, and parenting anecdotes? Is it when you decide you've had enough and go for lunch and complain about work together? Is it when you share your stresses and celebrate your successes together? Is it when most of your conversations tend to be about things other than the group you're in together?

I don't know. And I don't think I really care. All I know is that somewhere in the last 16 months those lines shifted and in a city where it's hard to make friends I feel like I definitely have at least two new ones. One is a colleague and one is another blogger, who happens to live somewhere other than Vancouver, but that doesn't matter either. I think I'm pretty lucky to have these lovely new friends...good choice of a challenge Shannon!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Germany, Finland and Germany again

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Postcard from Frieder from Germany.

Description: Lisbath, 1894. Carl Larsson (1853-1919)

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Postcard from Millamagia from Finland.

Description: Friends

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Postcard from Tornasol from Germany.

This lovely handmade envelope arrived this morning. I was excited - when I first went off to boarding school, Fifers made me a bunch of these envelopes to send letter home in. Because it was, you know, back in the day of old fashioned letters. I loved those envelopes and when one showed up in my mail box, it made me super happy! (By the way, if you're so inclined, National Geographics make good envelope paper...the pages are thicker than a lot of other magazines)

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Inside there was a postcard of a fair.

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And a picture of a dog and cat snuggling (there seems to be a friendly animal theme today!)

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And this park image - I'm not sure if this near the sender's home or if she just liked it.

Our own Food Revolution

32. Make dinner from the Jamie Oliver cookbook every night for a week five times

I gave Alex Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook for his birthday (or maybe Father's Day?) a couple of years ago and it has become one of the cookbooks I turn to weekly to make dinner. Even with meal planning, I realized that eating from one cookbook for a week was going to be super tricky, especially when leftover were factored into the equation. So this challenge was changed to using Food Revolution to cook dinner five times. Much more manageable and allowed for more recipes (pretty much every single one of these dinner had at least one day's leftovers for our little family)

First there were pork chops and cauliflower bake. Yummy!

pork chops and cauliflower cheese

Then we had the best ever salmon cakes. J asks for them all the time.

salmon cakes

Alex really wanted burgers one night, so out came Food Revolution and we had the Cracking Burgers.

cracking cracklin

Some of the best comfort food we had last winter was the Pot-Roast Meatloaf. Oh my goodness. The pictures do not do it justice.

pot roast meatloaf

The bacon adds a lovely flavour to this, but also means that we don't eat it very often. Once, possibly twice, all winter. And when we make it next winter, it will be when we have company so that there are no tempting leftovers the next day.


Is it wrong that I love meatloaf? It's such an underrated food, even more so when you make it the Food Revolution way!

The last Food Revolution meal was a regular on our menu rotation. Delicious tomato soup. So good.

jamie oliver tomato soup

I am not a tomato soup fan, but for a few weeks I made a pot of this soup every few days. We were taking it for lunch and having it as a starter with dinner. Even J loved it! (Oh, and I'm not a big cream soup fan and this soup is perfectly creamy with no dairy products added. YUM!)

Just because they were so good, some Baked French Potatoes.

baked french potatoes

This cookbook might be the best cookbook investment we've made!








Tuesday, June 26, 2012

And then there was the time I thought I'd get organized...

Or there were many times. Or something. I've tried a few things that have worked and a few things that haven't worked and I've drawn some conclusions and came to some realizations.

1. I know how to be tidy and organized and keep my home relatively clutter-free, I'm just not doing it for some reason. I keep going back to what I read in One Year To An Organized Life about how my house got to the state that it's in (a state that I'm not particularly happy with, but isn't atrocious) and keep reminding myself that instead of analysing it and agonizing over it to just DO something about it.

2. I did the 52 weeks of organizing challenge over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Part way through I stopped blogging about it partly because life went sideways and partly because I figured that the time I spent fiddling around with pictures and writing was time that could be better spent decluttering, organizing or cleaning something. I've been keeping track of the list and I updated it last and I've managed to cross a bunch of things off. I might actually get to cross most of it off eventually.

3. When I first had J, a friend of mine told me about FlyLady stuff. It sounded like it might be a good way to get myself into a routine. Life was super different - I wasn't working and I was home with an infant all day. But FlyLady didn't work for me...it felt too rigid and too inflexible and too commercial (buy our special feather dusters etc). So I stopped doing it. And that was okay. It took me a bit to get to the "that was okay" part because I kept thinking I'd failed, except I hadn't. My house was clean, my family was fed, we had our own routine that didn't start with a shined sink and require shoes in the house. And really, I took some good stuff away from it. And we have a routine now. I just don't always remember to follow it.

4. We have too much stuff. We don't have enough space. I've been getting rid of stuff (go see...it's not all the way updated but I have now officially tossed,returned, given away or recycled over 250 things...) I know I can live with less stuff - I used to live in 500 square feet and I didn't have too much stuff, I just had better control of it, so I should be able to control stuff in 950 square feet. Maybe. I didn't have a preschooler with all the multitudes of things that preschoolers come with when I lived in the Hobbit Hole.

5. I discovered the UnFuck Your Habitat website. It's to the point, there's no excuses, there are before and afters, there are cleaning tips, there is no harassment about shoes in the house. It's awesome. I check it regularly. And the biggest thing I've taken away from UFYH is that small steps are good...20/10s and 45/15s are good. Marathons are BAD. MUST remember that.

So, we're in a week of doing little projects at our house. I'm hoping when I'm done the piles are gone (or at least noticeably smaller) and maybe we'll have some newly painted walls...We'll see...

So that time that I thought I'd get organized? It turns out it's not a one time task - it's ongoing and requires maintenance. Huh.



Belarus and USA - cathedrals and pirates

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Postcard from Olga6 from Belarus

Description: Cathedral of the Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Minsk

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Postcard from Bookster61 from the USA

Decription: Capt'n Sharky. Silvio Neuendorf "Die Piraten"

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When I grow up...

Ugh, these were taken when my phone decided to reset itself to the lowest quality, lowest resolution, smallest sized pictures it will take...

For the longest time J was going to be a tow truck driver when she grew up. And she'd be a mechanic too. Those two things seem to go together. Not like her 4 year old mommy's plans. I was going to be a dentist and a ballerina and a swimming instructor in my spare time. Because you know, none of those jobs is particularly time consuming. I believe I was also going to be a mommy.

Last week J had to accompany me to the dentist. I try to schedule my appointments so that I can go alone. Then I don't need to worry about what J is or isn't doing, but this appointment was rescheduled a few times, so I just brought her along.

Well, first she sobbed because we had to take her out of the dentist's chair because it wasn't her turn to get her teeth cleaned. The hygienist said she'd never seen that before...it's usually the other way around. The hygienist was great with J. She showed her how the suction worked in a cup of water and J assisted her while I had my teeth cleaned. I hope she's as excited to be there when it really is her turn!

And now? Well, she doesn't want to drive a two truck or be a mechanic. She wants to be a dentist!


first you pull up like this
First you pull up like this


then you stick it in mommy's mouth

Then you stick it in mommy's mouth


watch out i'll get you
Watch out! I'll get you and make your teeth clean


then you put it away again

Then you put it away again

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Little Fish

2. Enroll J in swimming lessons before she turns 3

Not only did we do this, she's taken swimming lessons since then too. But nothing compared to the first time, when she was able to go primarily with Alex. I went in the water a few times when he couldn't come, but this was their Saturday morning time together...

ooh it's cold

The water always started out a little cold, but J quickly figured out that if she snuggled close to her "helper" and squirmed, she would warm up. Not the most comfortable for her "helper," but it works.

fishy

J loved the floating toys and loved the game her class played at the end - the teacher scattered the toys and the parents helped the kids get them. J would have liked to have all of the toys, but we had to share....

aughing

This girl and her daddy had fun. Once this set of lessons was done, J moved on to lessons on her own...that was a challenge for everyone...a couple of times I had to get in the water and "participate," but not hold J...more lessons and more pool time should help this work itself out!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hong Kong - Lion Dancers

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Postcard from stellangai from Hong Kong

Description:Traditional lion dancers in Nathan Road A dancing lion, with a rowdy accompaniment of drums, gongs, and clashing symbols (sic) is a familiar participant in all sorts of celebrations in Hong Kong.

Israel - Jaffa

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Postcard from israpaulo from Israel

Russia - Rocking Horse

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Postcard from Pallada from Russia.

Description: Egor Starostin (6 years old) Horse in the pea

Saturday, June 16, 2012

There Will Never Be Another Tonight

bryan adams


So good. Too bad someone (ahem, me or possibly J) reset the settings on my phone to crappy quality teeny-tiny pictures. This was the coolest spotlight ever. And a really great concert.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Finland - Kids and daisies and bees and things

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Postcard from rosebud from Finland

China - Tanks

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Postcard from HuaMingWang from China

Japan - Odori Site

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Postcard from Ayu2007 from Japan

Description: 63rd Sapporo Snow Festival

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Estonia - Multiple cards and other fun stuff

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Postcard from Treksek from Estonia.

This cute little postcard came in an envelope...an envelope that was rather heavy for one little postcard...and that's because there was more than just a postcard in the envelope.

We also received some fun stuff:

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A Thumbelina card


The translation of the Russian is:
Oh! This is unfortunate! - Thumbelina wept.
Come up with! - Bob shouted. - Unfortunately for Wolf!
Bob gathered the "small" in a circle and began to whisper something to them.


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A second little card...which J told me is *very* cute.

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Some bookmarks - J likes the train!

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Adorable little calendars. Can you guess which ones J has claimed as her own?

And then these other cards - they're not for us. They had Canadian postage on them and the sender asked us to mail them for her. I couldn't resist scanning them though...There were some awesome stamps on them. They are safely on their way to far off places now.

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These are cherry vareniki or dumplings. There was a recipe written on the back of the card, but it was in Russian.

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Tallinn - Rotermanni, a business district

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Tallinn - Stenbock House, the residence of the Estonian Government on Toompea Hill

What a fun thing to receive in the mail! Thank Postcrossing and Treksek!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Germany - The Bellevue

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Postcard from CarolinW from Germany

Description: K. Walter von Lom: The Bellevue (1992)

USA - Florida - The Seas with Nemo & Friends

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Postcard from Pinkpeep from the USA.

Description: Epcot. The Seas with Nemo & Friends. Cruise out to sea in the clamobile! Greet all your Nemo pals as they swim amid the live marine life of the gigantic aquarium. Delve down into the deepest parts of the ocean in this fun-filled story where the majesty of nature meets whimsical Disney magic.

France - Volendam Holland

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Postcard from didieroux2 from France (but the card is from the Netherlands...)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The people on the bus

When I first moved back to Vancouver long, long ago in 2002, I regularly rode the bus. It was how I got everywhere unless someone took pity on me and gave me a ride. And honestly? It wasn't that bad. Really. I know I complain about it sometimes, but overall, taking the bus in Vancouver is a fairly pleasant ordeal.

I met some very interesting people on the bus back in 2002. In those days, I worked downtown and the bus I got on started its route two stops before mine. So even though it was rush hour, I always got a seat. But getting a seat usually meant at some point I'd get a seat mate.

There was the "you are beautiful" guy. He was well known in Kits for getting on the bus and working his way slowly to the back telling every woman on the bus they were beautiful and then asking if they would be his girlfriend. Most women were gracious as they declined this offer - he was particularly in tune to not pissing off husbands and boyfriends. I kind of wonder if anyone ever agreed to be his girlfriend...

There was the very elderly lady who had "met" Prince William - who is a very well mannered young man, in case you're wondering - and he is devastated that his parents divorced and that his father remarried and that everyone had to see him walk behind his mother's coffin. And he makes a mean roast. Really. And if his father will be king before him, he might have to commit patricide. She was serious too.

J and I have recently started taking the bus to work most days - I had to start driving when she started daycare at the university because of the hours...if I dropped her off and left within 5 minutes of the daycare opening and got back at the absolute last minute to pick her up, I would be short a good half hour in my working day - the half hour trek across campus each way does that. So I started driving. Since J has moved centres and is a little bit older, the hours are extended by half an hour. It's cutting it close, but I can drop her off, put in my 8 hour day and pick her up before the daycare closes. It requires some very close attention to the minutes in the morning, but we're doing it...

I thought we'd get to meet some interesting people, but headphones seem to have done away with people talking on the bus...I did see a woman in a fluorescent pink crushed velvet leisure suit and bright white sneakers today. I thought she was an older woman, but when I got close enough to see her, she was young - maybe in her early 20s. I didn't know those things were back in style. I also saw a woman pacing up and down the sidewalk, walking backwards. She was there when I walked to my office and she was still there when I walked back to pick J up. She fell off the curb twice and bumped into three people...I don't really understand, but okay.

Maybe tomorrow we'll meet some interesting people on the bus?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Happy Feet in Vancouver

19.5 Go on 10 "adventures"

We've decided to let J define the adventures we have and it's interesting to see what she deems an adventure and what she figures is just everyday life. For instance, Sunday's excursion was a trip to the aquarium and it was most insistently called an adventure, but when we went with J's little cousin C before Christmas, well, that was just how we rolled.

non adventure aquarium visit


Yesterday started with a very special treat - a visit to the local-seattle-based-soccer-mom-mega-coffee-shop where J got to have a kids hot chocolate, half-sweet, no whip, IN a COFFEE CUP! It probably could have been slightly sour steamed milk and she would have been okay with it if it had been served in a coffee cup.

hot chocolate in a coffee cup


First stop at the aquarium was the new penguin exhibit to visit the tuxedoed birds. They were super friendly and would swim right up to the glass and wave with one flipper.

hello penguin


At least, that's what it looked like they were doing. Maybe they were just trying to get a better look and dry off one flipper. Who knows.

how are you


J was super excited about the penguins, but also a bit apprehensive. We're planning on going back soon (thank you season's pass, you rock), so maybe a few more penguin visits and she'll be excited to see them.

mini jelly fish


J was pretty excited by the mini jelly fish. They are small - maybe the size of a loonie - and they were quite cute.

big jelly fish


I like the big jelly fish. They take pretty pictures and they are mesmerizing to watch. I could watch them swim around all day long....I love the blue lighting too...

sunflower sea star


J found the sea stars a big confusing - they don't do anything. They just sit there, stuck to the glass or the walls and sit there. She figured they must all be in the middle of nap time or something!

real reason we visit the aquarium


And this, this is the real reason we go to the aquarium...like most children who were brought up on Raffi, J loves beluga whales. And insists that the three giant belugas are all BABIES!

It was most definitely a successful day! We came home with not one, but two penguins of our very own. Well, three, but one went in the mail to England.

penguin 2


This one is pretty special. J saved some money she got from her grandparents to buy something sometime and decided that she wanted a penguin to take home. She was pretty proud when she gave the woman at the till her money. And a bit confused to get some change back...

penguin 1