Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Technically speaking...

I am pretty sure I know the culprit. I won't name names because there were no witnesses.

I have told the kids that they cannot pick candies off of the gingerbread house until New Year's Day when it gets smashed and devoured (this rule is made considerably more difficult to enforce by their father, who somehow feels that rules of this sort do not apply to him).

Aside from a couple of lapses, this dictate has been honoured. Then today, I saw this:

I am not sure if you can see in the picture, but there are clear teeth marks in the giant gumdrop. SOMEONE has taken the word of law literally and has NOT picked the candy off the house. Instead, they have EATEN the candy while it is still ON the house.

Well played.

Note to self: next year, clearer rules.

Friday, December 25, 2009

E- 35 reasons to celebrate

On Tuesday Lester turned 35....which doesn't sound really old to me
anymore ( I seem to have finally adjusted to the fact that I am in my
thirties) but does sometimes feel shocking when I think back to
celebrating her 17th birthday together. Back in 1991 her parents took
us to The Prow at Canada Place, perhaps not yet realizing that this
dud of a boyfriend didn't eat seafood. I can only imagine the awkward
small talk and level of discomfort I had at that dinner, just a couple
of months after we started going out.

This year we decided to stay in and Les' family joined us in Point
Roberts for dinner. We had prime rib, Yorkshire puddings and veggies,
which were no match for the Prow or Hy's, but turned out pretty well
for my first try. On the 24th I had to work so I was late to join
the party at my sister's house. We were once again stuffed full of
good food, this time Turkey. By the time the kids finally got to bed
at midnight, they were so tired that they all fell right asleep
together without any pandemonium errupting over Santa's imminent

E- School's out....let Christmas begin

Molly and Fin's school had their concert again on Friday which is
pretty cute but also slightly painful.... even to tine deaf people
like myself.....mostly cute though. The next day we had the Xmas party
that I helped to organize from our firefighters union. We bought more
than one hundred presents for Santa to give out and food for double
that number. With the rink rented and the gymnastics studio to
ourselves there was no shortage of entertainment. In the evening we
decorated Gingerbread houses at Margo's and had some pizza and beer.

Friday, December 18, 2009

E- Embarrassed to be a Canadian

As a Canadian I have almost always felt lucky for, and proud of, my nationality. There were lots of times in Europe when I really felt privileged to be from north of the 49th parallel and to be able to talk with pride about the limited, but generally very positive role
Canada plays in world politics. However, I find myself at this very important moment in time, when global cooperation has never been more necessary, embarrassed to be a Canadian.

I do not consider myself a hardcore environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination. I know I am as guilty a carbon polluter as most, although I do try to make choices that limit my carbon footprint when they don't inconvenience me too much. I don't get too worked up about my own behaviour because I know that a global treaty is the only chance we have to make a difference. I am also aware that science
isn't even totally clear about what will be the consequences of our CO2 emissions.... and won't be clear until it's far too late to make the necessary changes.

However, I feel really strongly that we don't need 100% irrefutable proof (which will never exist anyways) before humanity commits to changing our carbon based economy. To me it boils down to common sense. Everything in this world requires balance to be sustainable in the long term. We don't need scientists to tell us that what we are doing to our atmosphere, the minuscule layer of air that is responsible for sustaining almost all of life on earth, is out of balance. Basic common sense can tell us that there will be huge human induced changes if we continue to pump more and more CO2 into the atmosphere. It's also plain to see how difficult it will be for most
plants and animals to adjust to a change brought on so rapidly.

But what about the costs? Who knows how much it will really take for us to make the changes? I have heard many credible economists and scientists estimate that it would cost 2-3% of world GDP for a few years to totally wean ourselves from fossil fuels. Even if it cost us 2 or 3 or even 10 times more than that, wouldn't it be worth it just in case the Domesday scenarios are true? I mean, if we do get to that 3 degree plus increase in global average temperature that starts an irreversible warming cycle, what good is any of our wealth anyways? Since this planet is responsible for 100% of our wealth, doesn't it make sense for us to use as much of that wealth as is necessary to protect earth from a realistically severe threat? Of course it does! The fact that the fix can be done for so cheap is a big bonus. We don't need to go back to stone age or basic subsistence living to help save the planet, we just need to acknowledge that the time for burning fossil fuels has come and gone and now we need to spend the money to make a new energy infrastructure.

The funny thing is that changing our economy away from fossil fuels would probably have exactly the type of stimulatory effect the global economy needs now. Instead of money pouring into corrupt Gulf states (the US and Europe export thousands of dollars per person on energy each year), those dollars could go to local companies researching and producing cutting edge clean energy products. Millions of people would all of a
sudden have a good reason go buy a new car when a pollution free, quiet, low maintenance electric vehicle becomes available. Homeowners will be lined up to retrofit their places when they can affordability chop their energy bill by installing geothermal or solar energy. There are so many benefits to these changes that I really think they
will far outweigh the costs in the long run. However, when we pay nothing to emit CO2 despite its huge cost to the environment, and the infrastructure of the fossil fuel economy has more than a one hundred year head start on alternatives, massive government action is required to level the playing field. Which brings me back to my original embarrassed I am by our government's action both over the last couple of years and especially now with the Copenhagen conference.

I am not really surprised that a government that chose Rona Ambrose as our environment minister (who pretty much denied that climate change even existed before being laughed out of office) should be less than totally committed to the international efforts to get a treaty in CO2 pollution. However the reports I keep hearing of Canadian representatives doing their bit to block progress of the talks and fight against further cuts to carbon emissions makes me hate what these people are doing in the name if our country. I know we have allowed the oil sands to develop to such an extent that the whole Canadian economy now probably benefits from this money.....but doing the wrong thing out of self interest is not what Canada is all about....certainly not when the stakes are this high

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

E-Camera Down, iPhone pictures only

Luc celebrated his birthday with lots of cakes and toy
he was happy. Then again he almost always is. Luc is pretty easy to
please for a three year old boy- low maintenance all around. He loves
to laugh and play and doesn't get worked up about much. However, he
will not stand for wet clothes even if it just a drop on his shirt. It
doesn't really fit with his personality but I guess we all have our
quirks, and Luc's happens to be hydrophobia.

December seems to fly by with between work and socializing. We have
already had work parties for both Les and me, with a couple of more to
come. We saw White Christmas at the Stanley, which I wasn't a huge fan
of and had skating parties for the school and at the Arbutus Club. We
also took in the Santa Claus parade, cookie decorating at my sister's
and HSBC basketball finals. A great dinner out with friends from high
school and a goodbye dinner for friends from the kids school have made
for a busy couple of weeks.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Straight from Summer to Winter

Most days on our trip felt like the height of summer and it's a bit if
a shock to come back to winter. Rather than complain though, we have
embraced it by getting into the season. We took the girls for their
first skate of the season and Lucas for the first one of his life. Pat
Hall took the girls a couple of days later to Robson square where they
found out how much more difficult it is to skate on really rough and
crowded ice.

The Christmas blitz has started too. We now have five advent calenders
hanging in our hall and this gingerbread house we made this afternoon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The kids are on a crazy schedule. It's like summer all over again. Natural body rhythms have taken over. Our evenings are extended. Molly and Finny should be tired. They had a busy day skating at Robson Square with a great family friend.

The girls are in bed and have been for some time now. They are having problems falling asleep. I keep yelling up to them to be quiet. After quick spurts of obeying, they keep NOT being quiet. Just a moment ago, Finny burst into very loud tears. I called up to ask why. Here is what I heard:

M: "Finny is upset because I told her that fairies hear everything!"

Me: "...? Huh?"

M: "She said that Santa is smarter than the Tooth Fairy!! The Tooth Fairy hears that for SURE!" [fresh and intense wailing from Finny]

What has followed (and continues now) is a lengthy conversation about the nature of fairies and if they have feelings, or bear grudges. I am at a loss...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not the best day to be the average girl at the pool...

Eric mentioned in his last post that there was a large scale invasion of bikini-clad bodies on one of our days by the pool of the Golden Nugget. Hilariously, he didn't realize until I mentioned it a couple of days ago that it WASN'T just female competitors at the was a co-ed competition and there were tons of male bodybuilders on site. Somehow he missed that.

Anyway, it was an odd day to be a normal girl poolside. Here you can see a picture of me...wearing jeans. My wee animal print mirco-kini was wet, you see. Plus, I wasn't all that happy with my last spray tan lines.

The truth is, I would much rather have all three kids piled on my lap while I relax and read a book. I may not have had a rock hard six-pack set of abs...I had a three-pack of love to cuddle.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

E- The supertramps taking the long way home

The miles seem to take about twice as long coming home as they did on
the way down. Today we drove from Vegas to just outside of Salt Lake
City, which although only four hundred miles apart, felt like the
longest drive of the trip. Perhaps it's just leaving the warm sunshine
for the rain storms that await us, or the snow we are actually parked
beside tonight, but somehow the trip home is much more difficult
psychologically. We are close to the three thousand mile mark and
have been on the road for almost three weeks, so there's probably a
little fatigue factor as well.

Last week, after spending a great day at the San Diego zoo with Les'
brother PJ, we drove all evening to Phoenix. The only surprise on the
trip was being stopped a couple of times by US customs officers
looking for illegal aliens using the interstate that runs along the
Mexican border. We stayed with our friend Ed Mohs in Phoenix, who
displayed his incredible hospitality by putting us up for a couple of
nights and never showing any signs of the stress that must come from
such a dramatic change to his normal peaceful routine.

Even Lucas'
floaty incident in the hot-tub didn't seem to rattle Ed.

Les took the kids to the Phoenix science centre while I went with Ed
to look at a few foreclosures. Although prices seem to have stabilized
and are possibly increasing slightly, you can still get an incredible
amount for your money. Mostly we were looking at nice homes, less than
8 years old, in good neighbourhoods for around $80,000.

The rest of our time in Phoenix was spent relaxing and just trying to
soak up the sun, as if it were possible to somehow store it up for the
long winter ahead.

We eased into our trip home by first doing a short drive to Las Vegas.
Les proved her extreme internet bargain hunting skills again (
saved us hundreds of dollars and introduced us to many good
restaurants we would never have otherwise gone to) when she was able
to get us into the Four Queens hotel for 3 nights for $33 (total, not
each night) including all taxes and fees by using Although
it's no Caesars Palace, the hotel was more than adequate, clean,
comfortable and right where we wanted to be in old Vegas.

For the
second year in a row I got to see some guys from Delta compete at the
world championships of the combat challenge.

I also had my own challenge when we took the family to the strip one
evening at about 7 pm to experience the Vegas sites. After a couple of
hours and maybe walking half the strip, Lucas and Fin decided they had
had enough. With all their weight loaded in the front making steering
really difficult, it felt like my own extreme event navigating the
stroller through the throngs of people on the couple of mile walk back
to the car that finally ended close to midnight.

We spent a couple of hours each day in Vegas sitting by the the pool
in the sunshine and taking the girls swimming.

On one of these swims
the whole pool area was invaded by over one hundred contestants from
the Miss America Fitness competition. Although it's tough to really
complain, it was a bit of a scene having all the firefighters from the
combat challenge and all the girls in the pool at the same time.

a peaceful swim out of the question, there was nothing to do but grab
a semi-submerged lounge chair, put on some sun glasses and watch the

Of course, being in Vegas we had to take advantage of some good
eating. We ate a pretty decent prime rib buffet when we stopped at
Laughlin on our way into town. Molly went crazy fir the profiteroles,
which I don't know how to spell and which she prefers calling
"puffers". We had some good meals at Magnolias in the hotel and
treated ourselves to a room service breakfast this morning as a
goodbye to Vegas thing.

However the best food came at the Memphis
barbecue house. Another pleasant surprise from our
experience, the Memphis barbecue had big portions of really good
tasting food, at not at all unreasonable prices. Although my head may
be slightly sad to leave Vegas, I am sure my arteries are breathing a
big sigh of relief.

As soon as we left Las Vegas, the weather got progressively colder. We stopped for the night by Salt Lake City. There was snow on the hills.

Here we are outside of Boise, visiting our friends Becky and Mantia on our drive home.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A penny for your thoughts...

We were walking through Caeser's Palace last night on our epic Strip
exploration (wow, distances are huge between the super-casinos). We
passed a fountain and the kids asked for pennies to toss. I gave them
each one coin and watched them chuck them into the water (Finny always
tries to fire her pennies off of a statue or something, banking them
into the fountain). The girls rushed back to give me hints about what
they wished for as they tossed their coin. Lukey listened and then,
realizing that he'd missed the point, rushed over to me to say, "I
didn't know about wishin'. I need another penny!" I handed it over.
When he came back, I couldn't resist asking him what he'd wished for.
What do nearly three year olds want, I wondered. He pointed to the
revolving doors we'd just come through. "Revolving doors?" I asked.
"Yeah! Revolving doors in our house!", he shouted.

Wish on, little buddy.
Sent from my iPhone

Friday, November 13, 2009


Finny has been on dozens and dozens of rides since we left Vancouver, but the one that she has been eagerly anticipating was only at Sea World: Elmo's Flying Fish. It is a simple ride, waaaay lamer than the others, but it has Elmo. Enough said. There were many questions of the "how many days till the flying fish" variety over the course of the trip down.

The arrival in the parking lot of Sea World resulted in a all-body Finny dance that I would make fun of, if it weren't so familiar. Eric reminded me of my near melt-down in the parking lot of Six Flags in 1994. I was so excited to get in to the roller coasters that I sort of lost it while waiting for Eric to sort out some stuff in the car. Plus, in the interests of full disclosure, I had to make a second "cool down" trip to the parking lot to recover from a hastily ingested taco salad, overlapped with too many rides. Let's just say, the kids didn't have any such problems. They are way too mature for that.

So really, I should lay off Finny and her excitement, right? Done.

Here's our girl, all jazzed up on the fish (and Molly behind us, in the Angel Fish):

Next stop, Abby's Sea Star Spin:

Then, a quick sprint to catch the 4-D Seasame Street movie (note the crazed expression):

We learned of a photo opportunity with ELMO! and Zoe. THAT wasn't to be missed. Look at the happiness on the girls' faces:

At the furry photo shoot, I caught the next picture, which might be my favourite so far. Elmo was giving Lukey a ginormous hug, but it looks like he's eaten him. It could be captioned "Cute Red Furry Monsters Gone Wild":

It almost looks like Zoe is moving to pull Elmo off. I hope Lukey's had all his shots.

Hold on, this isn't Sea-same World? What? Whales and stuff? Here at Elmo Park? We pried Finny away from the Jim Henson love-in and steered her towards the Shamu pool. We ended up watching a dolphin show and the Shamu show. Both were impressive. They have made a big effort to make the shows more education than "trick pony" oriented. The only real exception is the Shamu soak, which starts with chants of "Shamu, Shamu" and the ominous opening of a water gate to a rear pool. Then "Shamu" (I just checked and it's a trademarked name, after the original Shamu who died in 1971), circles the pool and douses the lower 14 rows of the stadium. Yes, we were in the bottom 14 rows. I had to explain to Lukey, who HATES being wet, that splashes are whale love and Shamu was giving him a cold water hug. He bought it! And in case you are wondering, we sat in the bottom rows for both shows. Suckers for punishment, I guess. Either that, or there is a part of me that also sort of believes that the splashes are whale love, too.

It occurred to me as I consoled wet Lukey that the Shamu soak is probably a true highlight in the captive whale's life. There was a saucy curve in "Shamu's" tail as she/he pushed hundreds of litres out of the pool into the faces of camera toting tourists. Even though I was one of those annoying bipeds, I enjoyed the thought of the whale's revenge.

Molly, who is a newly minted ride addict, had to do the only grown up ride at Sea World before we left. And bonus, Finny was tall enough too. The ride, Journey to Atlantis, was sort of weird, sort of good. And on the upside, the girls mostly stayed dry. Me, not so much. You can see my face of protest in the next picture. I am complaining to Eric, who stayed on dry land with Luacs.

Mt brother was in San Diego for business. We had met up with him at his pimping La Jolla hotel for an evening, but then he had to work for a couple of days. We planned to hook up again once he was done. Somehow, he managed to find us in the Sea World parking lot. We looked online to find hotel rooms for him and us, then headed to dinner. It was night two in a row of In-N-Out burger. It's good. Dangerously good. Only, bizarrely, you can't get anything good on their regular menu (except the milkshakes, where are stellar and only $1.85). You have to use their "secret" menu, which means ordering burgers "animal style". I know, it weird. But it's worth it.

We had an awesome time seeing my brother. The next day, he joined us at the San Diego Zoo. It was a nice treat to have him with us for a couple days.

E- Taking our animals to the park

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

E- Happy Anniversary

What a romantic evening...Les bloging on the netbook while I blog on
the Iphone. However we had a great day as a family, that was a
fantastic way to celebrate our 18 years together.

We went to sleep to this sky

and woke up to sunshine and warmth at San Elijo State campground. After a leisurely morning we rented a wetsuit from the
local surf school and hit the beach. The waves were far more than we
needed to bodysurf on but we were in no place to complain. The air was
in the high 70's and, the water a pretty tolerable 62, felt almost
balmy with the wetsuit on.

The girls took a few rides each on the
boogie board and spent hours building castles while Les and I tried
our best to catch some waves. Luke was pretty happy to chase the birds
on the beach but got really excited when a biplane started buzzing the