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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer's Bounty

This weekend, we visited the St. Jacob's Farmer's Market, along with Grandma and Grandad. It was pouring rain, but we had a good time nonetheless. The rain did mean fewer crowds and more deals. My biggest deal was on fresh raspberries. Five boxes for five dollars. I canned up the remainders this morning. They'll taste mighty fine come about January... 1. 2.
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Doing Myself In

So, I decided to keep sewing. Not such a hot idea, maybe. I had purchased a beautiful embroidered sheer in ivory from my beloved Len's Mill Store. The lady who assisted was exceptionally warm and helpful, but not so good with a straight line. Trying to square up the fabric to make two even curtains was an event. I should have used Jason's square, as my mother had suggested. I did get the curtains made and Jason hung them for me. Only then did I realize the truth I had been trying to avoid for many weeks: my windows needed a serious wash.

So, this morning, after a quick visit to the chiropractor, with bucket and rags, toothbrush (an old one, don't worry), paper towels, and Bon Ami in hand, off I went. After multiple childis interruptis, I managed to finish, just before supper. In the interim, we had eaten lunch, changed diapers, fixed boo boos, visited neighbours and been visited by travelling JWs.

This still left flowers that desperately needed watering (a task far more difficult because of our hose watering restrictions), laundry to bring in and fold, children to bathe, children to feed - in that order, don't ask, and a patio to wash down from an earlier watermelon incident.

So here, at 9:15 pm, I sit, waiting for Jason to BBQ me my steak, marveling that I can think straight at all and loving every minute of it. 1. 2.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

To market, to market

I've been on a sewing kick again lately. My mother came to visit for the day and we made a new set of Roman blinds for Elyza's room. They turned out really well, actually.

I started reading the other day about the reusable grocery bags we all have to use now. A nasty little report that the bags become easily contaminated with e-Coli and other yuckies. So, I've started making my own. Here is the first incarnation: 1. 2.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Musical Musings

We attended "Celtic Fire", put on by the Pierre Schryer band and the K-W Symphony Orchestra. It was phenomenal, with a traditional dancer, double bass, acoustic guitar, trumpet, and multi-talented whistle, drum, etc. playing young man, as well as the fiddler himself. We first went for dinner at Sole. It is this funky little bistro in downtown Waterloo. They had an amazing mixed greens salad with fresh cranberries, goat cheese, candies waluts, and a balamic reduction. We also had a pizza made with feta, fresh black olives, and artichokes. It was scrumptious.

We had been given a set of tickets by the Welcome Wagon lady. It was perhaps the most valuable item in our 'basket'. The $10 gift card to Giant Tiger was nice, the mug now holds the kids' crayons. We were gift a note for a free key cutting for a Home Hardware across town (there is one at the end of our subdivision). Lots of pens and magnets. And an oil change certificate that expired before either of our vehicles needed an oil change.

All in all, it was a beautiful evening. Of course, almost anything sans bebes is pretty fantastic :) 1. 2.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lost Art

I recently bought shoe polish. I would have thought it a pretty easy task. I always remember that being the one thing grocery stores carried, long before it became fashionable or necessary to be a 'one stop shopping experience'. I had to hunt high and low to come up with simple black and dark brown. Two simple little tins, with the little red and white bird on top. I never remember there being much other than Kiwi polish. My mother dabbled in other forms, besides the semi-solid puck, but always went back to the pucks. The one glaring exception would be white. White shoes needed to be heavily dosed in a white, opaque liquid, squeezed out of a sponge top bottle. It was sticky stuff and always seemed to leave streaks.

I had forgotten how soothing it was to shine shoes. Lining them up on old newspaper, slathering on the polish with one old rag and rubbing it off with another, both rags kept especially for this purpose, since no cleaning liquid has been invented that will remove it from fabric. The simple satisfaction of seeing all those shiny, nearly new again shoes lined up.

Perhaps in today's throw away society, we have forgotten about shoe polish and keeping things for as long as possible. I am glad to have re-discovered it. Kiwi polish, since 1906 and still going strong 1. 2.
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hold the Coffee, Please...

Today's blog entry is a reflection of annoyance and a general question, rather than the deep and profound ideas I usually spout here.

We are in a recession, no secret there. During this time, our socialist government seeks to prop up our economy and slow the downward spiral by investing in a multitude of infrastructure projects, some with more merit than others.

Why then, oh why, have all of the rest stops on the 401, beginning after Woodstock headed westward, been torn down and not replaced? There is nothing headed eastward, until well on to Toronto. These bits of antiquity were in desperate need of repair, to be sure, but where are they now? In a season when tourism will begin again, why would you hamper people from travel? Spend your money here, say the ad campaigns. Visit Ontario, says another. And to truly add insult to injury, the mammoth sign on the side of the road, warning to 'Take a Rest Fatigue Kills'. Where exactly would you like a body to rest? In the ditch?

The tear down of these aging structures begin last spring and hasn't progressed past the piles of dirt covered in tarps stages since. Had private industry been given the reigns, I can almost guarantee that the rest stops would be up and running again in six weeks or less.

Perhaps our many government officials would like to go to Windsor (if they can find it) or Kitchener and sit down for coffee. Then see how far down the highway they can make it before the lack of rest stops becomes a very pressing issue. 1. 2.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Baby Shower

So, I made a whirlwind, 26 hour trip to Windsor this weekend. While I was there, among other things, I attended the baby shower for the daughter and son-in-law of a dear friend. This cake was my contribution to the cause.

It was inspired by the paper goods for the shower, these adorable little onesies, found, at all places, the dollar store. They were absolutely precious. Truly, what did we all do before the dollar store? 1. 2.
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Monday, March 2, 2009

Cool Stools

We just made a trip to IKEA in Burlington. I'm not sure we'll go back to that location, given a choice, but it was a pretty cool trip anyways. This particular location is not a 'full service' IKEA. While they carry most of the stuff, they don't have all of the colours or options available. It worked well enough for our purposes, but I suffer from a terminal case of the 'what ifs'. As in, what if I liked the other colour better? What if I saw something else I had wanted more? You know how it goes. You are actually happy with your purchases, but are always looking for other options. I like to label myself a victim of our materialistic society. Helps me avoid accepting blame, I guess...

At any rate, we found these very cool, wooden, stools, for the kids to use. They are always wanting to help in the kitchen, but kitchens are built for adults, not so much little people. These stools provide them with a sturdy standing surface. We have rubbed them with linseed oil (stool on left) and will put the traction grippy tape on them soon. What we didn't count on is that they also make excellent little tables. The kids have imaginations that obviously exceed my own. They love them. For $20 apiece, I'm figuring they were a darn good investment. 1. 2.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And the Party Train Rolls On...

My 'Lyza Girl turns two whole years old tomorrow. I can hardly believe it. She arrived 2 1/2 weeks early and hasn't stopped since. She is my Everyday Diva, sporting skirts and pretty bling at every opportunity. She is my Disaster Waiting to Happen, creating chaos out of the most innocuous situations. She is my Tiny Tempest, with the ability to reach vocal heights the world's finest opera singers would be proud of.

She is also a charmer. Men of the world, beware; when this little girl turns those hazel eyes your way, shakes that curly blonde hair, and pouts her bottom lip, there are few mortal men able to resist. She is her brother's confidante and strength, quietly giving him the courage to venture out into unknown places. She is mommy's shadow; cleaning, shopping, cooking, and whatever else fills up our day. She is daddy's princess, running full tilt into his arms when arrives home from any length of absence.

And most of all, she is just Elyza Jane... 1. 2.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sew What?

Sew, I've been in the basement again, sewing away in my little corner. This time, I've produced some fabric books; seven Christmas ones and four every day themed ones. These are a relatively simple project, if only I could be convinced to follow the instructions. First, I managed to sew the pages inside out. Then, a couple have been sew upside down. Still others I went 'outside the lines' and had to re-sew them entirely. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

A woman I know often laments that she cannot sew. I laugh at this. She creates some incredibly beautiful wearable works of art, putting to shame my meagre needle and thread offerings. You can see her work at
I would sell my offspring for skills like that. But then, we're always wanting what we don't have, aren't we?

1. 2.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

The futility of cleaning house whilst Toddlers are present

As I sit here, my house looks pretty much respectable. This, of course, is because E1 and E2 are asleep. At any moment, they will awaken from their slumbers and begin, once again, to terrorize and demonize each other, the dog, and anything else in their path. I will bemoan 'my poor house' and 'all my hard work', seemingly wasted in a heartbeat. It's easy enough to do. I worked hard to clean this joint up, and I'd like to see it stay that way, if just for a little bit.

But this weekend, we will all get together, my father's family and we, to celebrate my grandmother's 85th birthday. Gathering with so many at once puts things into a little perspective for me. My grandparents did not have full indoor plumbing until my father was in high school. My grandmother raised her own 5 children, as well as parenting a host of other children, on $20 a week for groceries. She and my grandfather took in boarders to help out financially. Road crews would board at their house while building the new highway in front of their farm. She even climbed out the bedroom window, so the men in her living room would not realize she was in labour and headed to the hospital. Christmas presents were often homemade and always presented in brown paper grocery bags.

So, when I despair about having 'all this house to clean' or 'not needing any more work to do', I need to stop myself. We have been blessed with this home and these children and far more things than my grandmother could ever have imagined having to worry about.

When I am ready to pack it in, ship the kids off to day care, and talk to 'real people' for a change, I'll take a quick look around and notice some emtpy arms. Family from whom God has chosen to withhold children of their own. The cousin whose medical condition prevents she and her husband from having children. The uncle and aunt who have adopted from overseas, but face the constant conversation about wanting to go back and 'find my real mom'. The aunt and uncle who filled their home with five boys, but never dolls and dresses.

Truly, I look at E1 and E2 and wonder what right I have to complain about anything?

When the kids run around, making noise, knocking things over, and generally causing chaos and destruction, I will remember my little cousin Adryan. He was born over 2 months early, and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Although currently undergoing a number of promising therapies, he cannot walk on his own, labours to feed himself, and communicates in a pretty limited way for a three year old. The only mess in my cousins' house is the mess they leave behind. The pitter-patter of little feet is actually the painfully slow turning of the wheels of Adryan's walker. And, although he laughs and smiles in a truly heart melting way, as of yet, we don't know exactly how much he understands.

So, today, when I am tempted to throw up my hands, pull out my hair, and wallow in a thoroughly deep trench of 'poor me's', I will stop and remember my family. A group of slightly left-of-centre individuals God has placed in my life as a mirror to help me see my own selfishness a little more clearly. 1. 2.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Helper

So, in honour of St. Valentine, I have baked and decorated some sugar cookies. What heart shaped sugar cookies have to do with a guy who married young couples in secret has never really been that clear to me. However, in my family, we will use any excuse to fire up the stove.

The recipe is very straight forward. It should be; I cut it off of a cookie sheet I received years ago.

1 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 T vanilla
3 c flour
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

Cream together butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, salt, and soda, add to wet mixture. Chill at least 2 hours. Roll out into 1/8" thickness, cut into shapes, bake 350 F until edges are barely brown, approximately 5-8 minutes.

I had made up the dough and chilled it the night before. The kids were asleep (hooray!), so the actual cutting and baking went extraordinarily well. Then it came time to ice the little critters. Time for one child to wake up, as is usually the case. So, Elyza helped. Oh, did she help, as evidenced above.

Even with, or despite, her assistance, the little things turned out pretty well. Some for Elliot's Sunday School class, some for daddy's office, some for this Saturday's birthday celebrations. And a little girl who still wants to spend time with mommy. Some day, I will beg for moments like this. Overall, not a bad afternoon's work. 1. 2.
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Birthday Celebrations

We are in the midst of celebrating and re-celebrating my daughter's second birthday. It hasn't actually come yet, but we've already got one of three celebrations under our belt. Last Saturday, we headed back to Windsor to celebrate with the Delands. We had it all planned: Winston was staying with neighbours across the street, the items we needed to take with us had been assembled and placed by the door, the truck was full of gasoline. We were all in, ready to go, and then it happened: click, click. Attempts to jump the truck using the car failed and resulted in sparks. We now find out it also shorted some fuses, some we knew about that day (our own) and some in the truck (those we found out about later). So, we quickly re-loaded into our wee little Hyundai Elantra and headed out again. We stopped at a London McD's for breakfast and still made it to grandma and grandad's before noon. Once Uncle Todd, Aunt Michelle, and cousin Josh arrived, we ate lunch and opened gifts. Then the real fun began. Elyza had been acting a little off, but we attributed it to her cold. With Josh's playpen set up in grandad's room, Jason attempted to put Pooh down on the spare bed. She proceeded to upchuck everything she had eaten. What a mess. Have you seen those marshmallow candy hearts, the ones covered in red sugar? I have. Twice in the same day. Uncle Todd and Aunt Michelle chose this point to head home and attempt to put Josh to bed in more familiar surroundings. The new clothes Elyza had gotten for her birthday came in might handy that day. Once my girl finally fell asleep in my arms, we transferred her back to a bed. I had originally planned to do a little shopping, but this idea was quickly kiboshed. We shared the Dora cake I had made especially for my Elyza Jane, and she didn't get even one bite.

Uncle Todd and Aunt Michelle go bowling on Saturday nights and grandma and grandad watch Josh, so we needed to leave while she was still sleeping. So, we grudgingly woke her up and packed up. Elliot was asleep before we left the subdivision. Which wouldn't have been too bad, except that we were only going a few kilometres down the road. Again, we grudgingly woke up our eldest and tromped in to meet some old neighbour friends, people who were more like another set of grandparents and parents than just the people across the road. My little girl was ill, again, this time in the sink instead of on a non-wipable surface. Once we got her cleaned up and into more clean clothes, there were more gifts. Replica red Mustang and Corvette cars for Elliot and a little tow truck that makes siren noises and chugs along the floor. A giant floor puzzle for Elyza Jane with a book and then, the piece de resistance - an inflatable Wonder Pets ball house, complete with 50 balls. Oh boy oh boy! However, the inflatable part had to wait until we got home. Even Mr. Pat didn't have enough hot air to blow it up, not even with Momma's help.

We ordered Chinese, put Elyza to bed and chatted with our old friends for quite a while, enjoying the birthday cake that Mrs. Nancy had made, on Elyza's behalf. They are expecting their first grandchild in May. Their daughter and her husband live in Las Vegas, a hotel manager and a soon-to-be chef extraordinaire. We reluctantly packed up and headed out, unfolding ourselves out of the Mighty Hyundai at about 1 am. Elliot was sound asleep and stayed that way. Elyza, on the other hand, came inside and again was violently ill, at least this time, most of it was on the linoleum. Another change of clothing and eventually off to sleep for all, around 2 am.

So, what have we all learned from this experience? A few things, I think. First, start the truck first, before anything else. If it doesn't go, neither do we. I believe God speaks in a lot of ways. Some of them not so mysterious, if we will just pay attention. Secondly, His ways are not my ways. My ways, for the weekend, included some me time, shopping, and pleasant travel. His ways included some very close family time, cleaning up vomit, and tight traveling quarters. There was a reason. Dunno what it is yet, but I trust, that in His time, I'll figure it out. Thirdly, to be sure to continue to make the effort, even when you don't feel like it. Good friends are hard to find and harder to keep. 1. 2.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama is President - So What?

I've been musing over the inauguration, with all of its pomp and circumstance. I am afraid I am left to conclude - so what? Ah, but you say - Here is the first black American President. If I were an American I would be ashamed it had taken so long to elect an individual based on character rather than skin colour. And, in fact, I'm not entirely sure he has been elected based on character or perceived ability. As often happens in social dynamics, the pendulum swings too far and the prize is actually muddied in the attempt to achieve it.

But he is so full of charisma. He will make a good leader. Fantastic. Hitler was highly charismatic. So were Princess Diana and Pierre Trudeau. Their records of leadership are highly varied. True, charisma tends to make people want to follow you and fall into line with your plans, but it also has a disturbing tendency to make people forget to think on their own, often with disastrous results.

He will fix our economy. He has turned communities around and has incredible plans for the United States. Maybe yes, maybe no. The economy is pretty close to rock bottom. There isn't a whole lot of other direction to go, but up. Pretty much the same as the communities he helped to rebuild. People were desperate for change and he offered them solutions that they wholeheartedly worked with and goals they strove towards in a unified fashion. They had no other choice, really.

He will repair the image of my great country and help return it to its former glory as a superpower. Perhaps temporarily, at best. US policies on everything from health care to the treatment of its war veterans cannot be erased overnight. And, in this economy, it is unlikely it will be. Osama bin Laden did not send his bombs into the World Trade Centre on a whim. There has been a long, simmering hatred of the US that didn't start eight years ago. It culminated 8 years ago and continues to this day.

The 'official' version of history is likely to be very kind to the 44th president. It will have to be. Any other opinion would be considered racially motivated and pooh-poohed to the fringe of memory. So be it. Only time will tell, though history will not entirely accurately portray it, what kind of president Mr. Obama will be. 1. 2.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Let's Hear it for Little Tikes Toys!

For Christmas this year, we bought our daughter a Little Tikes Cook 'n Learn Interactive Kitchen It was absolutely fabulous and a real steal at only $30. We picked it up at a Wal-mart in Windsor when they were renovating, long before we moved. We put it together before the big morning, only to find a part broke as we were assembling it. It was not a crucial part, and so the toy was presented without it. Both kids loved it and have spent numerous hours preparing countless specialties for dolls, bears, grandparents, and house guests, as well as mom and dad. When my husband called the company about a replacement part, they asked if we still had the receipt. He, giving me more credit than I really deserved said 'Sure!'. Having bought it 4 months earlier, before The Big Move, I no longer own it. Another call was met with a 'no problem'. Well, earlier this week, the replacement part arrived, via courier, completely free of charge. Not only did they send us the little knobby thing we had broken, they sent an entire set of replacement parts. Handles, kitchen taps, food, bowls, and cutlery. I am amazed by this company. In a day and age when companies are routinely cheaping out and skimping, Little Tikes has really stayed on top of their game. 1. 2.
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OK, this seems to be a bit much

I heard the most absurd thing earlier this week. The upcoming presidential inauguration will likely garner more attention than any White House to-do has since the Kennedys were sworn in. This comes as no surprise. What does surprise, shock, and sadden me, however, is that you can actually register the dress you are wearing. Yes, that's right. You can avoid the life-ending social faux pas of sporting the same frock as someone else by posting your dress on the website Unbelievable. Are we that juvenile? That shallow? Who cares? I somehow doubt anyone else will show up wearing Mrs. Obama's outfit, most there will have spent exorbitant amounts of money on custom gowns. Really, are we in high school again? Is this really amount the same thing as our senior prom? And in this economy, wouldn't it be refreshing to find that someone else has been frugal with their pocket book and purchased off the rack?

Perhaps this is why women don't rule the world yet. We haven't found the right shoes to go with our power outfit... 1. 2.
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A new hobby

So, in the past couple of days, we have definitely put our new extended health care benefits to the test. All human members of our household are now on antibiotics of one form or another, and Goose is also on an inhaler. Sleep and rest would be beneficial, if said antibiotics did not cause my son to have nightmares. Some day soon, I swear, we will sleep again.

So, having nothing else to occupy my time, I have decided to take up some sewing again. Some of it has always been out of necessity. Jason has a 36" inseam. Have you ever tried to find pants in such a size? Most likely not, or there would be more of it available. Living in Windsor, we could usually find them in the US. Apparently, Canadian companies have decided that all lumberjacks are short and stumpy. Computer programmers, too, I guess. So, I need to make pyjama pants for him. The only fabric I have in reserve features semi-fluorescent mini M&M's candies. While this may be in fashion somewhere for someone, I am reassured it is not something my husband is looking for. So, off to Len's Mill Store I go. Truly, I could stay there for hours. Rows upon rows of beautiful fabric; shelves lined with a wide assortment of goodies; interesting bits of clothing I cannot imagine anyone really wearing. Nonetheless, I found the perfect bit of fabric. A heavy piece of Toronto Maple Leaf flannelette. As the last bit on the roll, I receive 15% off. I'll have to let you all know how it turns out. And if they are are available to wearing before next winter...

Update: Here they are! 1. 2.
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Fine Start to the Day

So, last night started out pretty promising, but just got consistently worse. At about 4 am, Chong came to roost with us, completely restless, totally awake. Repeated attempts by both parents to get her to go to sleep or back to her own bed failed. At 4:30, the road grader came through to clear the streets, thus setting the decorative plates above our bed rattling and a illiciting a chorus of 'What's that?' from Chong. And then, at 5, our Japanese neighbours started up their snowblower. It would be one thing if it was a normally operating machine. It is not. The couple bought it after they arrived, just over 2 years ago, so the problem isn't that it's old. Nor is it a particularly behemoth that set my teeth rattling. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but I have expertly narrowed the problem down to one of two things. First, they are mixing the fuel, a big no-no in today's machines, but very popular in older models. Or, they are giving it way too much fuel period. Either way, it sounds like a small jet plane with the hiccups and smells like tanker spill. Nothing like walking out your door to a smell reminiscent of the Valdez oil tanker. 1. 2.
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

If I slept so well, why am I so tired?

HALLELUJAH! The child slept through the night. Actually, both of them did. It's a minor miracle. A full 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. My body, obviously unaccustomed to such inactivity, has repaid me with a stiff neck and upper back.

Today was the day, the end of the Christmas decorations. I had also decided to condense. Ha! So much styrofoam. My attempts to be a good citizen were also foiled by our recycling rules: Nothing larger than the size of a Blue Box. Who are we kidding? I could fill 6 of those and recycling day isn't until Monday night again. So please, for just this one week, forgive my mountain of black plastic.

Cheech and Chong are obviously feeling pretty good. They have promoted the chaos theory all day, except when they napped and I have my doubts that they powers were still not at work. Chong's medication appears to have kicked in. When I picked up the 'script from the pharmacy, I was forced to wait while the pharmacist filed paperwork, blew her nose, and otherwise occupied herself with everything but me. When she finally came over, she offered this helpful tidbit "OK, administer the amoxicillin three times a day. That would be once in the morning, once at noon, and again at night." You have no idea, after having toted two toddlers through the Ontario health care system, how impressed I was to have waited to hear THAT.

I also discovered, this evening, that I have been our hot water heater rental bill to the wrong account. Go figure. I somehow had saved our old account, from over 5 years ago, in our bank's on-line bill payment system. So, when I finally talked to the very helpful customer service lady at Reliance today, she laughed. I didn't dare ask if this happens often. Perhaps her sense of humour comes from sharing the same name. I'm hoping I will never know. 1. 2.
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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

So, it would appear our almost 2 year old daughter has started coming between us. For about the last four nights, she has ended up (or even started out), sleeping and not sleeping between us. She has come down with a nasty cold and ear infection. This leaves her making all sorts of sleep disrupting noises and leaving all manner of liquid deposits in our bed. The doctor at the clinic gave us some antibiotics yesterday and I'm hoping we are now starting down the road to recovery. We turned our mattress this morning, hoping it will help us get a better night's sleep. I am not entirely convinced that this is our problem, but we'll see.

I am thinking Poohy is feeling somewhat better. She did manage to give Sir Winston a yogourt facial this morning. She also ate some of it. I guess there was a bit of a trade off there.

Mac and cheese is baking in the oven. Ironing is done. House doesn't entirely look like a toddler bomb went off in here. Not bad.

Peeling carrots has become much safer for I, the Queen of the Knife Cuts. I received this cool gizmo called a Palm Peeler for Christmas. Very nifty, keeps my fingers well away from the blade - an exceptionally good thing. I now find it is available in avocado green. I may need to 'invest' in a second one, just in case... 1. 2.
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