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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Not in My Ball Park

Sometimes you don’t need to buy Harry Potter Jelly Beans to be grossed out.
Yesterday I called Peter in to our bedroom for a midday chat. I think it was about planning our Malaysia trip. We’re stalled on booking the resort for the Perhentian Islands. Mostly because every single resort has mixed reviews from: this place is a DUMP--I’d never visit again! to Loved it--Best resort on the Island. And the bathroom reviews are always conflicting. From “Clean” to “”Moldy and disgusting.” But we are beginning to believe the part about it being the best on the island, despite the food “Sucking!” Because even the glowing reviews start out with “This is a jungle Island. If you’re looking for luxury, look elsewhere.” I just hope we get the clean bathroom and someone else has to deal with the mold.
Back to our midday chat.
Peter arrives smacking his lips with the odd smell of garlic and ketchup on his breath.
“What have you been eating?” I question, accusingly. He has a habit on stashing junk food in the shelves of the garage to unearth on weekends.
“Oh, nothing, just a few chips,” he says.
“CHIPS?” I’m accusing again as we don’t have any chips to my knowledge and since when to chips smell so…so…weird.
“We had some from last weekend. When I bought some for lunch with the girls.”
I remembered we had his sister Grace and niece Courtney visiting so it wasn’t out of character for him to sneak in some contraband articles under the guise of “entertaining.”
“Well, what kind of chips are they?” I ask, beginning to feel a little repulsed by the smell of his breath.
“Extra thick cut,” he answers.
“That’s not a flavour.”
“Oh, ya…well then I think they said ‘Ball Park.’
BALL PARK??? What kind of a flavour is that? Never heard of it.”
“Ya. That’s what the bag said, extra thick, Ball Park flavour.”
“Come on! There’s no such thing as “Ball Park” flavour. You’re making it up.” I say.
“Seriously. That’s what they said. And I only bought them because it said thick cut. I thought they were thick cut, like a Chicago pizza.”
“So they’re pizza flavour?” This was starting to go somewhere. I knew there was more to the story.
“Not exactly,” he says.
“What the…” I say rising from the bed to go find this bag of “Ball Park” extra-thick cut chips resembling Chicago style pizza.
Mistaya was already in the kitchen. “Where are those chips your dad is eating?”
She lifts a crinkly bag from the cupboard that stores my cookbooks. A typical hiding spot. Peter’s been know to hide all sorts of contraband in there: Turtles, cans of root beer, store bought apple pies that he proudly shouts out in a shrill voice when I discover them, “Trans-fat free!”
I smooth the front of the nearly full bag. Yup, there it is, they’re extra-thick all right, and underneath that it says ‘Ball Park’ printed right on the front of the bag. But  it’s what’s underneath the ‘Ball Park’ that blows the whole thing wide open. Written in large font are the words, ‘Hot-Dog Flavour’ and then in fancy smaller font, ‘with mustard and ketchup.’
I race to the bedroom, contraband in hand. “Ball-Park my ass! These things are hot dog flavour! Who in the hell ever heard of hot-dog flavour? What kind of joke chips are these?”
“They’re for real and they’re disgusting,” Mistaya has followed me into the bedroom.
“Hot-Dog! With mustard and ketchup for God’s sake! Who ever heard of hot-dog chips?” I’m not yet completely convinced that they didn’t come from some kind of a joke shop, like the Harry Potter Jelly beans that taste like earwax and vomit.
Peter lay speechless on the bed, too afraid to continue smacking his lips.
“You bought hot-dog flavoured chips?” I say. He looks guilty--frightened even. But he’s suppressing something else. He breaks into laughter.
“They are disgusting…” he manages to say between roars, “They were an accident. I swear, I only bought them because it said extra-thick cut. You know...like a pizza.”
“Yes. So you said…Chicago style.” I might have rolled my eyes at that point.
Eventually the chips made their way back into the cookbook cupboard. God knows why. No one will eat them. Perhaps I am partially entertaining Pete’s idea. “Next guests we have…we’ll put them in a big bowl...”


Friday, May 28, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Wear a Bra

1. hook keys onto strap while at the gym
2. hold ipod while working out
3. hold plastic doggy-poo bag while running with pooch
4. Storing baby's soother--keeps it clean and smelling like mom
5. keep change for emergency purchases
6. becomes a summer top when one gets too hot hiking
7. becomes a bathing suit when one can't resist a cool fresh dip in the river on a hot day
8. extra tissue storage on a day one feels a little weepy
9. store emergency toiletries (dental floss, bandaids, etc)
10. store meds that must be taken midday


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tres Chic Jungle Attire

Courtney, Grace, Pip and Tabs.
Just got back from date night--we went to Joey's for supper to discuss our latest plans. Mist is at a youth group get together and Tabs baby sat while we were out. We received several worried phone calls from the Tabs about a possible fire on the mountain across from our house.  It rained all day and was raining when she called so we assured her that the fire would not spread to our home. But I had her call Auntie down the street to assess the fire situation and told her we would be home shortly and to call back if she was still concerned. As Peter and I drove home we both speculated that the "smoke" was actually mist from the lake. As we climbed our mountain the "smoke" was indeed mist, which hung low, smothering the mountains.
We could see that if Tabs thought all of that mist was smoke, she should have been very worried--to the point of evacuation! Our little worry wort.
Pip is a worry wort  in training. Today while shopping at Winners she announced that she wanted to be a baby again. When I be a baby again? My answer was most disappointing to her. You were already a baby, now you're a little girl, next you'll be a big girl and then an adult. She wasn't interested in growing up. No. She wanted to be a baby again so that she would never grow old and die. I don't want to die mom. If I stay a baby I won't die. I explained to her that sometimes even babies die: if they get really sick or haven't enough food or water and they starve. I gonna get really sick mom? I explained that no, she was healthy. As long as you drink water and eat each day you'll be fine and healthy. You'll live to be a very old lady. The questions kept coming. How old will I be when I an old lady? How many sleeps until I old lady?
No more boring shopping with mom--I have to keep her royally entertained or else it's gloom and doom.
Reading David Sedaris essays--so funny.
Entire research is hanging by a fine balance. Such is academia--frightening.
My mom purchased safari net-hats for Peter and I--a relief that now I know we''ll be looking tres chic trudging through the jungle in the dark. Now I just need to come up with some sort of high-top leather boots to avoid snake bites. Mist refuses to let me borrow her metallic-silver Doc Martins. So many blasted dangers in the jungle it is amazing anyone dares safari at all!
Looks like we'll do one night in Hong Kong on the way home--5* hotel too :)

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Little Pretties

Pip and Artemi today in my backyard.

A fun weekend with Peter's sister Grace and niece Courtney visiting. Peter made his famous pomme-frites for them--way too good. The girls enjoyed watersliding, wine tours and home tours with their rellies and a camp-out style sleep over at Auntie M's.

Still stalled on thesis--have written in vain for help--will demand Peter sit down with me tonight until we figure it all out.

Travel vaccs this afternoon--no, no, no...
May take up Mist's idea that we need "Taco Del Mar" tonight.

Dog a pain in the butt--at the moment tipping over the kitchen garbage.

Enjoying my first "fun" read in ages: French Kissing--I feel as though I am living in Paris as I read it.

Encountered an ass at the gym. A fat man who was so rude. Assumed he could load down a machine with 100 lb weights, go ride the bike for 10 minutes and that no one would dare touch "his" machine. As I unloaded all the heavy weights and put on my own, he raced out on no where to announce "I have one more set." I ignored him and continued finishing adding my weights and then said innocently, "Oh, you had one more set?" He begrudgingly backed off saying, "well, since you've switched them now..." and I silently cursed him, wondering where on earth such self absorbed, rude men are born?

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Friday, May 21, 2010

T is for Trouble.

I am a little confused. Do you ever feel like one day you'll wake up and start living your real life?
I try--living in the moment, enjoying moments. Yet sometimes one is set in a nasty spiral of events and it is hard to find the good karma again.
Things painfully slow on the thesis front. Something so simple made impossible. Just give me a research # so I can access my ethics review. No one will call or email me back with this simple F-ing request so I am stalled at ground zero. I can't even begin my study until this is completed and passed. I am wasting hours and hours, trapped by bureaucracy.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tiger Ears

Pip in her "tiger ears" hair style created by her sis Mistaya.
Just picked up the Tabs from school. She called saying she had upset gastro track. Home again for the day. I am starting my thesis prep today--see how nicely I can stall!? 
Mist is going out with friends tonight--a last youth night of the season so Peter and I have postponed date night until tomorrow.
Grace and Courtney arriving for the long weekend on Saturday. I hope the warm weather comes back--it is cooler today.
Purchased for rose bushes for my back slope. I didn't realize how much I adore roses until I walked out into the yard behind the greenhouses and spotted acres of rose plants waiting for a new home. I felt giddy in love. They are so beautiful in every way and as luck would have it, they are the only plant that I have any luck growing--roses and lavender that is. 
Malaysia trip looking good: 2 nights Kuala Lumpur, jungle railway to Taman Negara Park (boat or jeep to Rainforest Resort) for 2 nights of jungle safari, jungle railway to coast and boat to Perhetian Islands for 6 nights, boat and railway to Penang for four nights at 5* hotel for conference. Home through Hong Kong. Must get way too many travel vaccs: typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, Hep A & B. Not to mention all of the jungle fevers that I can't get shots for--it is a little unnerving! And I must wear long pants in boots for the safari--leeches and snakes.
Pip at preschool so I really must tackle the last MA frontier: my thesis...

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

After the Rain in My Secret Garden

The last few years I have found a wild orchid hidden amongst the bushes and shrubs. But this year, six wild orchids! They are so lovely and delicate.
I finished my last official class for my MA on Saturday. When all is said and done, I admit to feeling relief. I found the two years personally challenging--not being a  current BC teacher, I felt a little on the outside. But it was a good lesson for me--social lessons are invaluable.
Planning the Malaysian trip. Borneo is out for 3 reasons: threat of kidnapping of tourists in east (where the orangutans live), time is short--two weeks to do the entire Malaysia leaves little time for a trip way across the ocean to Borneo, and malaria threat and other diseases much higher threat in Borneo than in Malaysia. Instead it looks like this:
Singapore--Jungle Railway to Endau-Rompin and Taman Negara (giant national parks for trekking with wild rhinos, monkeys and elephants)--to Perhentian Islands (for a week living on the beach and snorkeling/diving/jungle exploring) and then to Kuala Lumpur and then to Panang to finish our trip--fly home through Hong Kong.
Girls all well. Gearing up for a month of piano recitals and dance recitals. We leave for a family 5 day trip to Vancouver/Victoria on June 5th. We'll stay at Hotel Vancouver and the Empress in Victoria.
I have a tummy bug-- for 3 days now.
Fernando still challenging me. I think I have him all sorted and then he lunges and tries to bite every person on the street that wants to pat him. Oh, he'll sit and put up with the first pat with my insistence and praise but they the person stops patting him and relaxes and that's when he decides to lunge for the fingers and bite. Also, I can never do enough for him. If he thinks his walk was too short, or I left him in the yard too long--in he whips to poop and pee in the house in protest.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Super Teach

Peter accepting his teaching award from UBC. The award means he is in the top %10 of all teachers at UBCO as evaluated and voted on by undergraduate students.
I need to do some work today so this will be short.
I purchased a set of learn to read books for Pip yesterday and she can read! She read her fist book, cover to cover, out-loud several times yesterday. She loves the alphabet and is always asking "How you spell that?" so I determined she was ready to start reading and is she ever--the little darling just turned 4!
Mist is home today, perhaps bronchitis, I will take her to the doctor. Tabs went back to school today after several days at home with a nasty cold.
Man I love to salsa! I definitely have to do salsa Thursdays. It's the kind of dance/music that I can get lost in. It is so passionate.
Date night tonight--yee ha! Swedish film (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and tacos I'm thinking.
Purchased an amazing book on Malaysia and Borneo and now I am so excited about our July trip--Jungles, beaches, snorkeling, Orangutans! I have little interest in exploring Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, I just want to get to the beaches and jungles and experience the nature.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Osoyoos Desert, BC

A beautiful mother's day in the desert--the southern tip of the Okanagan right on the USA/Canada border.
It is one of the earth's most beautiful places in my opinion. I want to live on an acreage there someday. 
The pictures include one of spotted lake--a sacred aboriginal place for centuries. It exists on aboriginal land and as of yet one can only view it from the road. All of the landscape in the area is an ecosystem at extreme risk--vineyards are chewing up the land to grow grapes in this precious area teaming with rare and endangered plant and animal species.
I captured the dessert interpreter centre statue of an aboriginal warrior with a real raven resting on his spear. The ratttlesnake sign is for real. The area is alive with the shake-shake of rattles.
My day began with breakfast with my dear mom, sister Theresa and Joop as well as all my darlings and Peter. And it ended in the desert--one of my favourite spots on earth to visit.
 We drove across the border (risking our lives as the American border official went ballistic on Peter because he dared drive ahead before the green light went on!) and dined at a Mexican restaurant.
I received many lovely cards from my daughters and a gift of two black pug bookends to add to my collection. Tabitha composed a song titled "A Happy Mother's Song" and played it for me on the piano. She'd hand written the entire score of notes out by herself. She is amazing!
I realize that I have explored the entire Okanagan from tip to tip in the past two weeks. First, I traveled to the northern tip, past Armstrong, to explore an old graveyard. Next I explored Vernon  (of course central Okanagan is covered as  I live in Kelowna) followed the next weekend by West Kelowna and Penticton in the south. This weekend I went to Oyama (central Okanagan) followed by an evening in Summerland (south-central Okanagan). Lastly, I crossed the southern most tip of the valley entering Osoyoos and then into the American Okanagan valley yesterday.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day Tea

Pippi and Artemi with their mommies at preschool this morning. My face glows with sunscreen.

Reading a fascinating paper on genius by Ray McDermott. How genius has been defined throughout western history and what it means now (not a lot). It has become a commodity--an artificial way of separating a few from the masses. The idea of genius has been rejected in modern society except by institutions such as schools. Institutions that celebrate the failure of many and the success of a few. My view is that we've even designed test that help the few "prove" their theory of genius: I Q tests. The truth is that I Q tests, evaluate social status more than anything else. In America, only 10% of students graduate beyond grade 10 math. That means, the nation is celebrating the failure of 90% of its students. By categorizing children as geniuses and dunces, we have built a warped world of education. One that does not measure true learning nor true intelligence.
We as parents are all guilty of wanting our little geniuses to rise above the pack of the masses. In fueling this competitive desire, we are robbing youth of real learning. Why is this acceptable? Because it is Ok to say only a few are geniuses in our current society, yet not Ok to categorize youth by other methods of false "superiority"such as race, sex etc.
A fascinating read. And yes, I am guilty, bragging about Mistaya's entrance into honours math. Although in my defense, there are sexism issues I am dealing with too. I am so sick of girls being told they are not good at math. It is BS! My girls are all math whizzes, so there! I was good at math too yet my high school teacher refused to believe it. If I ever got 100% he would nit-pick and try to find a step where I didn't show in my work and dock me a point. And if I handed in my test first (before my classmates), he always gave it back to me, saying I couldn't possibly be done and check it over again. With that kind of support it is no wonder by grade 12 I fell asleep in math class!
Guilty as charged on all counts of bragging and trying to rise above the masses lol.
-Will drop my big girls off at piano, Pip off with nanny Hilary and then speed to UBC in time to see Peter get his teaching award (the second year in a row)--I can't get away from celebrating the few above the masses...the biases run deep... but truthfully I go for the free appies and drinks.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shakespeare in Summerland

Princess Penelope.
My last MA class is in sight! Only 2 more Saturdays! I am going to get to go to some of Tabs soccer games this season after all.
 This Saturday my group hosts the field trip to Oyama. It will be a cultural/natural experience of the area culminating in making a ceramic tile at the local studio.
Artemisia is over playing with Pip at the moment.
Peter is busy all week with the conference he is hosting thus, I have cleared the week of all suppers and we are dining out. Tonight I will make the girls a little something because I have to run to Zumba. Perhaps I'll bring us home a movie tonight.
I almost bought myself a fluffy novel at Chapters today "French Kissing" but the $22 price kept me away. I'll spend that much on a good book but summer fluff--not so much.
Friday night we are off to Summerland to watch my nephew Kyran in a Shakespearean play. We'll get supper there and meet my sisters and their families.
I want to finish all my class notes tomorrow so I am free to start my thesis. I feel it will be delightful to only have my thesis to worry about (temporarily). Then I will need to hunt down a good MFA. I am happy though, because I am aware of my need to only pursue degrees which have me painting or writing fiction. If I am not doing these 2 passions I feel like I am being smothered by a life not of my choosing.
Mistaya has been accepted into math honours next year. It is competitive. Students have to be teacher recommended and then must score high on a math honours exam and have a stellar work ethic history. We are proud of her.
I am enjoying my new hard-core weight lifting 3x a week. I feel I am building a super strong muscular foundation. Do not misunderstand me, it is boring and it is hard work but I will keep at it simply because these 3 mornings a week give me a really, really strong frame and defined muscles.
Starting to get a little nervous about the jungles of Borneo. I so want to do a jungle trek but I am a tad nervous because I don't want to pick up any tropical parasites or viruses--I have 3 babies to come home to. I'll have to way the risks.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Big Buzz for BC Children's Hospital

Here she is in all her bald glory: darling Mistaya. On Friday she had her head shaved to raise money for Bc Children's Hospital. Mistaya raised $500 personally for the cause. Thank-you to all that supported her! And I just have to say, could that little bald head get any cuter? She still has the stork bite birth mark at the back of her scull I have noted ;). She is pictured with a friend who also made the bald journey.
Yesterday was exhausting. A field trip to a retirement centre. I chatted one on one with an elderly women. I will call her Ev. She was very interesting. Her teenage memories about her schizophrenic mother made her tear up and cry. It was so heart wrenching, how cruel her mother was to her that I nearly cried too! She was forced to leave home in Winnipeg to live with her Aunt on the coast. She always knew when her mother was taking her meds--there would be amazing fresh bread greeting her in the kitchen when she came home from school with homemade jam. But Ev's mother often went off her meds and was cruel.
Also, Ev's stories about how she met her husband after WWII were so romantic. He had just returned from the war and was finishing his studies at UBC. She was working as a telegraph operator. They met at a bus stop and he got on her line and off at her stop even though he really was supposed to be on another bus line.
Then we drove down to the second field trip in Penticton. We studied Kettle Valley Railway artifacts at the museum. I adore KVR artifacts as I love the old railway line--biking, hiking along it is paradise--I never want to leave. Also, I wrote my first junior fiction novel based on the railway line. It definitely fires up my imagination.
Tabs played well in Soccer while I was away. She has been busy creating a power point presentation for school. Even though the teacher said not to start yet, she couldn't resist and has spent her free time creating an amazing presentation on the rainforest with video even.
The girls received updates on their orangutan sons in Borneo. They are so adorable. I am leaning towards Peter and I doing a snorkeling holiday in Malaysia and then a jungle trek through Borneo and stopping to visit our dear little boys at the orangutan sanctuary. So two weeks spent in Malaysia and Borneo in July. The conference is only 3 days in Panang, so we have plenty of time to explore and Malaysia is supposed to have some of the best diving/snorkeling on earth! I read of a three day jungle exploration on a river boat through Borneo--I want to do this as you see all the amazing wildlife like orangutans in their habitat. I have to find out all the vaccinations I'll need. The jungle is something else.
And today all 3 gals are heading up to Aunties for dear little Artemisia's 4th birthday party--lately she and Pip have had yellow mustaches from smelling all the dandilions in the yard--they are so precious.

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