You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2008.

The April edition of the Gravel Gazette rolled off the photocopy machine today right on schedule.  This family newspaper is a real keeper.  I hope that I can pull it out years from now and the boys will remember how hard we worked on it to make the deadline.


It was my birthday on Friday.  This year April 25th showed great promise for being a fantastic day.  I wish I could blog that it was indeed a really happy birthday.  Alas, most years my birthday plans go askew and this year was no exception.  D and P found out that Friday was a P.D. day for school kids so they begged and pleaded that we too had the day off.  “Wouldn’t it be great,” they reasoned, “to take a day off on your birthday?”  It did seem like a good idea.  What followed that line of reasoning was to have a sleepover on Thursday night.  Sleepover- what a misnomer.  P did arrange for a neighbour kid to spend the night at our place but sleep they did not.  The next day, my birthday, both my boys were very tired and very cranky.  Throw in a visit from the neighbour kids and it was all out war, along with lots of fussing, here.  I desperately wanted to escape all this but I had to stay at home waiting for my long anticipated table and chairs to arrive.  I had ordered them the first week of January and wonder of wonders they were slated to be delivered on my birthday.  I was so thrilled with this that I planned a dinner party at my place to celebrate having lived through another year and finally having furniture in my dining room.  At about 2p.m. the table and chairs had not arrived, the kids were driving me over the edge and I was longing to leave the house.  I called the company to find out how much longer I would have to wait.  That’s when I found out that somehow my name was not on the delivery list for that day.  A number of frustrating phone calls later, I found out that a mistake had been made and that my long awaited table and chairs would not be arriving on my birthday.  Lovely.  I had lots of food to cook up, guests coming over and no place to seat them.   I went for a walk to think this one through (and to escape my warring children).  Of course, it started to rain.  That was just par for the course.  I finally ended up cooking at my place and moving the whole party, food and all, to a friend’s.  Happy Birthday to me.

Three of the guests I had over were my Mom, my Dad and a nephew.  Whenever my parents come, they always expect that I will have a list of chores for them to do.  I never seem to disappoint them.  This time around my Dad brought his chainsaw and cut up the tree that had fallen on my back porch at the beginning of winter.  It was great to finally get that all cleaned up.  The rest of the branches and the sawed up wood got hauled to the back of the property where I have a firepit.  I can’t start a fire or keep one going to save my life.  The boys know that so they pleaded for Opa to get one going.  He was happy to oblige  them and much to their enjoyment we had a roaring bonfire blazing Saturday night.  A neighbour kid supplied the boys with hotdogs and everyone had a good time.

And the potato?  Well, I haven’t got that story all worked out yet.  After my Dirty Job episode, I closed the door to the downstairs bathroom and declared it off-limits.  No one wanted to go in there anyways since it smelled so badly.  My Dad tried snaking the toilet but even he wasn’t successful at getting it to flush correctly.  That led to taking the toilet apart to get to the bottom of the problem.  Well, the bottom of the problem was a potato.  Somehow, my downstairs toilet swallowed a baked potato and had a hard time digesting it.  How the potato got in the toilet is still a bit of a mystery.  I have two suspects and both have been interrogated.  To date, I have not had a confession or a conviction.  I think I will have to move to round 2 of interrogations.  I’m still trying to think of what that will look like and what will happen if the truth comes out and I have to face the fact that one of my darling children lied to me.  Hmmm…I think I’ll take a walk and pray some over that one.

D and P like to watch a  televsion show called “Dirty Jobs” where host Mike Rowe tries his hand at all sorts of jobs that are less than glamourous.  Yesterday, I had my own version of dirty jobs.  The downstairs toilet has taken to backing up regularly and recently overflowed.  Of course, that lovely event happened while I was out getting the car repaired.  Anyways, it was obvious that something more than the plungering I had been doing to remedy the problem was needed.  I went to Home Depot on the weekend hoping against hope to find “Liquid Plumber – Toilet Edition”.  Wouldn’t that be great?  Just pour half a bottle of the stuff in the toilet, let it sit for 15 minutes, flush and the problem is solved.  No such luck.  There isn’t a product like that that I’m aware of.  Instead the helpful man at Home Depot took me to a place in the store where I’ve never browsed before and introduced me to a lovely tool called a toilet auger.  He then very helpfully went on to explain to me how to “snake a toilet”.

Yesterday, D decided that he wanted to try snaking the toilet.  I was very happy about that.  D is a pretty handy kid and if he could successfully solve the toilet problem without my assistance I would have happily blogged about how great he is.  He got off to a good start and then started to panic when a lot of dark brown, smelly stuff started to rise in the toilet bowl.  That’s when I got called in.  Being more than a little bit ignorant in the mechanisms of toilets, I saw all that brown stinky goop and thought that surely D had successfully “snaked up” what had been blocking it from flushing properly.  That’s when I made a big mistake and the job turned dirty.  I flushed the toilet.  The brown smelly stuff didn’t go down like I hoped it would.  It rose higher and overflowed the bowl.  It was at that precise moment that my amazing sons vanished into thin air.  They weren’t about to audition for Mike Rowe’s job.  That was left for me.

Just then, I…

(a) wished that Mike Rowe would show up and say, “T’ain’t nothin’ maam.  All in a day’s work.”

(b) was very thankful that I still had a pair of rubber gloves kicking around.

(c) was totally willing to sacrifice a towel.

(d) was wondering if any amount of lemon-scented cleaner would be powerful enough to mask the horrible odour that now filled the entrance to my home.

(e) was glad that the seldom used fan in that bathroom was actually operational.

(f) all of the above.

If you picked (f) you’re right on.  This was a dirty job.  The not so happy ending to this story is that there is still a problem with the toilet so I may have to venture along this road again.  Maybe I need to film this worst case scenario, invent that pour in liquid toilet declogger, go on to have my face on a jug in the Home Depot plumbing aisles, become famous, make lots of money and live happily ever after with a toilet that flushes.  That would be a nice ending to a dirty job. 

Yesterday I managed to chip away the remaining ice on the deck and get all the leftover tree debris off.  It looked so good to me that I decided to eat al fresco.  The weather was so nice that the boys opted to stay outside longer and eat later.  That option was O.K. with me.

Today the roof got reshingled.  The house doesn’t look a whole lot different but I would still say it’s a spring improvement.

I also noticed flowers popping through the matted down weeds and grasses on my walk today.  It was so nice to see cheery yellow after months of drabness.

The boys are having a great time outside even as I blog.  They hauled me out there amid great excitement to show me the fish they netted in the creek that runs into Lake St. George.  They have since come back to get more pails or containers to keep alive two other fish they have managed to catch.  I have no idea what kind of fish they are but they are surprisingly large for such a little creek.  The boys of course are thrilled!  Spring, we’re glad you finally came.

Now that the snow is melting, the little yellow shovel that was missing for most of the winter has finally turned up.  Not too surprisingly, it was under the mound of snow that was once D and P’s fort.  The melting snow has also revealed some work that needs to be done in the back.  At the beginning of winter a tree came down on our back deck.  We did our best to hack off limbs and get it cleaned up but the snow set in fast and thick before we could really finish the job.  All winter long we looked at a lovely, white, glistening mound of snow on the deck.  Now that Spring is here, we are seeing something quite different!  Hopefully the warmer weather will keep happening and all that debris will be freed up from the ice that is still holding it down.  It sure will be nice to sit out on the deck again.

The idea of owning a gun has been temporarily dropped in favour of these slingshots that the boys purchased at the local hunting store.  I don’t know if I’m so thrilled with D and P having these but I guess boys will be boys and I have to accept that.  We’ve already had our first run-in with these weapons.  D and P lent their old slingshot to the neighbour kid while he was at our house and apparently the neighbour kid took aim and shot something at another neighbour kid.  That kid and his dad were at our door complaining.  Our neighbour kid denied vehemently the whole incident and my boys backed him up.  So there I am listening to a crying kid and his father on one side of the door and my own kids and their friend at the other side.  Of course, their stories don’t match.  That would make things way too easy.  In the end, I decided to confiscate all the weapons for the day and assured the crying boy that he could tell me in the future if there were any other incidents.  That satisfied crying boy and his father but left my boys and their neighbourhood friend furious.  Whoever thinks that parenting is easy likely doesn’t have kids or at least doesn’t have my kids and their neighborhood friend.

The pictures are of happy kids enjoying the Ontario Science Centre but the real story is that I drove to Toronto.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a real fear of driving in unfamiliar cities, especially large ones like Toronto where it’s easy to get lost.  I have no natural sense of direction so getting lost is a very real possibility for me.  My fear is an irrational one though; I’m afraid of getting hopelessly lost.  This fear is so real that when I do miss a turn or find myself unsure of where I am I have something like a panic attack.  I start gripping the steering wheel, my heart starts racing, I break out in a cold sweat and I have been known to start crying.  It’s silly but this reaction in me is so uncomfortable that I choose not to go to many places just so that I don’t have to run the risk of the above scenario.  I don’t like this about myself.  It really makes no sense.  No one gets hopelessly lost.  There is always a way out and given enough time, wrong turns and asking for directions I know that I can find it. 

I decided today to face this fear.  D and P were delighted with my pronouncement this morning that we were going to Toronto.  I think that they could hardly believe it.  They know first-hand how difficult it is for me to drive in unfamiliar places.  I did get lost in Toronto.  Very early on, I had no idea where I was but I didn’t panic!  I accepted the reality that I didn’t know my way, pulled off at a Chapter’s, bought a map (which really didn’t help me too much) and talked to two very friendly women at Chapter’s who were good at giving directions and encouragement.  We laughed a bit and then found our way to the Ontario Science Centre (even though we had initially thought of going to the Royal Ontario Museum!).

D and P had a great time at the Centre.  There are a lot of hands-on acitivities and they were gung ho to try them all.  Fortunately for us, there weren’t too many people there so line-ups were minimal.  We even got to take in an Imax movie on Hurricane Katrina.

This story even ends well.  I wasn’t sure that I would be able to find my way back home after the round-about way we had gotten to the Centre.  I took my best guesses and amazingly they were all correct.  Wonder of wonders!  Even the boys said, “Wow mom, you’re getting better at this!”  We made it back home without one wrong turn!  You know what that means – I think we’ll be going back to Toronto for more fun in the future.

On your mark, get set....Vroooom!

You know it’s spring when you hear the drip-drip of water, see flooded fields that were white with snow just a week ago, and find your kids running around outside without jackets.  You also know it’s spring when the bicycles come out.  D and P have been having a great time playing in all the water the warmer temperatures have been generating.  They’ve also been having a blast tying up the neighbour kid’s “porche” to the back of one of their bikes and peddling for all they’re worth to get the little car going at “high speeds”.  It’s also a sure sign of spring when you have to start talking to your boys about wearing their helmets when they bike.  (Why do they always forget that over the winter?  Every spring it’s the same!)  I just noticed now that the boys are not sporting their new bicycle helmets in these pics.  Guess I too was too excited about all that spring brings to remember the details of parenting.  Funny how warmer weather after months of snow and cold affect the brain!

One Eyed Cat by Paula Fox

D really wanted a gun for his birthday.  He had enough money but the packaging of the gun said that you have to be 18 years old to buy one.  His solution was that I would buy the gun for him using his money.  I had problems with that idea and enumerated them to him.  He was unhappy. 

I chose to read One Eyed Cat as our next book because it’s about an 11 year old boy (Ned) who gets a gun for his birthday from his uncle.  His Reverend father has problems with that and puts the gun away in the attic.  Ned can’t get the gun out of his mind and sneaks it out of the attic at night.  He accidently pulls the trigger when he sees something moving in the grass.  He’s scared to death that someone knows about his disobedient act and even more scared when a one-eyed cat shows up.  He’s sure that he’s the one who shot the cat’s eye out.  No one addresses him about the shot and he begins to think that if he can just keep the cat alive everything will be alright.  The book moves slowly revealing the weight of guilt Ned carries because of his unconfessed sin.  On top of that he keeps having to lie to keep everyone in the dark about it.  Finally, he feels that his whole life is a lie and that he’s become estranged from his family.  This wasn’t a Christian book but I really appreciated the way the author let us know that to carry unconfessed wrongs and to live a double life is no way to live at all.  In the end, Ned does confess, first to his invalid neighbour who had been helping him take care of the cat and then to his mother who had actually seen him the night he had the gun and known all along.  There is peace in confessing and it opens the door for some confession on the part of his mother as well.

I don’t know if any of this had an effect on D.  He still laments that I won’t buy him a gun but he’s softened a bit and now thinks that maybe a new fishing rod or a science kit might be good investments too.


Just a couple of pics of my junior bakers in action.  The cookies they made were a big hit at small group Bible study tonight.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.