Monday, June 29, 2009

Anyone know a weather god I can pray to?

On Wednesday morning, we're leaving for the annual Canada Day weekend camping trip (although Canada Day is not over a weekend this year, we've turned it into one).

We leave on Wednesday, spend three nights in tents and return home on Saturday night.

The first year, at Arrowhead Provincial Park, it rained. And rained. And rained.

The second year, at Arrowhead Provincial Park, it stormed. And rained. And was cloudy and cool.

This year, we're moving to Balsam Lake Provincial Park. And here's this week's forecast:
I think it's time to start praying to the weather god. Either that, or invest in some good quality rubber boots and rain jackets for all four of us.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's not easy wanting to be green

I want our house to be greener than it is. I really do. But I just can't figure out how to manage it.

On paper, it sounds like a simple concept -- reduce, reuse, recycle; use green products; and cut down on hydro.

But in practice, those simple concepts are a lot harder than it would appear.

For starters, we do reduce, reuse and recyle. There are three bins under my kitchen sink for sorting trash, green and recycle and there's two bins in my bathroom for the same purpose. Everything (almost always) goes in the correct bin. And thankfully, we live in a municipality where diapers are green bin-able. Because I've been using disposable diapers for over three years now and had they not been green bin-able, I probably would have seriously reconsidered the decision to go disposable.

But have you ever seen how over-packaged kids toys are? You try your damnest to be green, and then you end up with a house-full of non-recyclable packaging after a birthday party. The worst packaging fiasco I ever saw was when Austin got his tool bench. Each tool was sealed in its own plastic bag. And the toy came with about a dozen tools! That was 11 plastic bags more than I needed.

And kids toys aren't the only thing that's over-packaged; a lot of Costco products are as well.

I shop at Costco. A lot. With a family of four, we go through a lot of stuff, and the cheapest way to go about it is to buy it in bulk. But somone please explain to me why the extra-large pack of paper towels I bought last week had to have 12 individual rolls of paper towel wrapped in plastic? (I wouldn't have bought it if I'd realized that.) And why does a three-pack of bread have to be wrapped together? (So that means there are four plastic bags for three loaves of bread.)

Being a Costco shopper, and a thrifty shopper, makes it hard in general, to shop green. Because at Costco, for example, a 150-load box of Tide costs $20. A similar size green product isn't even available, but if it were, it would costs me three or four times as much money.

And that's the biggest stumbling block I have to having a green household -- detergents and cleaners. I want to buy the green ones, I really do. But everything from the Tide green equivalent to the toilet bowl cleaner green equivalent costs too much money. And I can't justify spending more money when I a) don't have job in the first place and b) do about 8 loads of laundry a week.

But, since I'm on the subject of laundry, this non-green activity is all my fault. I tend to throw a load of laundry on while the kids are napping because it's the most convenient time for me -- but that's the most expensive hydro time of day. And the time of day when Toronto Hydro is always telling us to turn down our a/c and not run the washing machine or dishwasher to conserve energey. But I do.

Lately, I've been trying to remember to leave the load in the washer when it's done and then moving it to the dryer when I go to bed. But that doesn't always work. And I'd love to be able to say I'd hang it on my clothes line, but I don't have one. I'd love to, but in my backyard, there's nowhere to put one.

So I use the dryer 12 months a year.

And being at home all day with the kids, I have no intention of turning off my a/c during the day -- I love the summer and the heat, but I was not too pleased the day my a/c wasn't working earlier this week (thankfully it's working now).

But, my new dishwasher has a timer on it, so I am always setting it to run around 1 a.m. So that's a start I guess.

And we all have to start somewhere.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Still lying around in bed

I was thinking this morning that it's been over a week since I posted about my sister and since I've had a few phone calls from blog readers asking how she's doing, I figured it was time for an update.

The good news: she's still pregnant. The even better news: the doctors are pleased with her progress, or more importantly in this case, her lack there of and are easing up on the conditions of her bedrest. She's now allowed out of bed for a (very) short period of time once a day but other than that she continues to lie around all day, reading books, surfing the web on her phone and entertaining visitors.

She's probably getting pretty bored by now, but she hasn't complained once -- at least not to me. I'm sure if it was me in that bed, I'd be losing my mind by now.

Today she is 25 weeks, 6 days pregnant -- a unimportant day to anyone having a normal pregnancy but a monumental achievement in this case, considering the last few weeks. Someone, somewhere was listening -- now let's hope they keep listening.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Finally entering the txt age

When I was in Ottawa with my sister last weekend, the topic of texting came up. And I had to hang my head and admit that I couldn't text.

But it wasn't entirely my fault. Because I've tried to text and given up. It's my phone's fault.


My phone is five years old, and although five years isn't a lot for many things -- for cellphones, it's ancient. So ancient, in fact that although it technically has the capability to text, it is not user-friendly. My youngest sister (the one who thought it was so funny that I couldn't text) tried awhile ago, and even she couldn't figure out how to do it.

So I never used it. And to be quite honest, I rarely used my cellphone either. I have it on a bare-bones plan that costs me practically nothing and means I have it if I absolutely need it but for the most part, it's just at the bottom of my purse.

When I remember to charge it, I don't remember to hear it when it rings.

Then, a few weeks ago, when I decided to use my cellphone number as my business line, I went and looked at phones and phone plans. And I talked myself out of getting one for the time being (with the justification that maybe I should see how much business I get before I go spending all this money on a new phone and plan that I may not even need). But, just looking at all the phones gave me phone-envy.

I wanted a cool new phone and I wanted to be able to text. And well, I just wanted one.

So, it was rather timely, that last weekend, as they were all making fun of me for not being able to text (because did I mention that even my mother can use her phone for texting) that my sister said, from her hospital bed, that she had an extra phone at home.

Last summer, she had bought a Crazer, only to get a free Google phone from my brother-in-law's work a few months later. So her brand new phone has been collecting dust ever since.

So, when my brother-in-law left the hospital for a few hours that afternoon, he tracked it down, charged it and gave it to me. Before I could say anything, he switched my SIM card into it and handed it to me. It even came pre-loaded with a wallpaper picture of Austin.

I love it. It's fun, it's user-friendly and it even has a camera!

Now, I just have to figure out how to use it to text.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Hoping for the days to pass uneventfully

My sister is 24 weeks, 5 days pregnant with her first baby. I'd tell you how many hours as well if I could.

It's not because I'm excited to become an aunt (which I am), it's because right now, she's lying in a hospital bed doing everything she can to keep that baby from coming into the world just yet.

Two weeks ago she started having contractions and was put on home bed rest. She had to lie on the couch all day and was only allowed up to go to the bathroom, eat her meals and to go back upstairs to bed at night.

The contractions stopped and life went on as normal -- except for the fact that she had to lie around all day.

On Thursday she walked into the hospital for a routine ultrasound and the doctors didn't like what they saw. She wasn't allowed to walk out. They put her on a stretcher in the ultrasound clinic and rolled her down the hall to the mother and baby ward. At 24 weeks 2 days pregnant.

Now she's not allowed out of the hospital bed. She's not even allowed to sit up for any reason at all. And she's being watched around the clock by the high risk team.

For someone who is going through so much right now, my sister (and brother-in-law) is amazing. She is putting on such a brave face and doing her best to stay calm -- something that is keeping the rest of us calm. Because the rest of us can't do a damn thing but sit by her bedside, bring her the newspaper to read, talk to her about life in the outside world and hope like hell that that little one hangs on for a while longer.

Every day that baby stays put is another day my sister is pregnant, and that's a good thing. A very good thing.

I'm not religious, I don't believe in a god and I don't pray but if anyone, anything or anywhat is listening, please let many more days pass by.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The new vegetable garden

On Sunday, the three-year long backyard project officially came to an end. That's when I planted the vegetables in the newly-built garden Ryan did on Victoria Day weekend.
It took him all day. But when he was done, the empty space of dirt and weeds at the end of the patio was bordered by a shiny new brick wall and filled with dirt. Bye bye weeds, hello vegetables!
I hope.

I can do flowers -- in fact, I cut out a new flower garden around the lilac tree (and took down the dead half of the tree) the weekend after Victoria Day. I love flower gardening. I have perennials in the back (in the new garden), annuals and perennials in the front and three flower boxes, hand-picked and planted by me, on my deck.

But vegetables -- yikes, who knows if I can keep them both alive and pest-free until they're ready for eating in August.

I'm going to try. I planted peppers, cucumbers, onions, zuccini, chives, cataloupe, peas and tomatoes -- lots and lots of tomatoes. Too many I think, because the plants are closer together than the label says they should be. But what the heck, it's an experiment, right?
The worst thing that can happen is that the entire project fails and next spring, behind my shiny new brick wall, I plant flowers.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The new me

For years I've always said that if I ever wanted to go into business for myself, I could. Because I'm a writer, and it's easy to decide to become a freelance writer. It's harder to get clients, but it's easy to make that decision.

I just never thought I'd actually set out and do it.

But as of today, I am officially a freelance writer and editor in search of clients. In a span of two months, I found out I lost my job and went into business for myself. A few months earlier, I never would've imagined I'd be where I am today. Actually, I'm still a little stunned by how fast this all happened.

I mean, seriously -- I have business cards and everything!

And this morning, at 7 a.m., I went to my first breakfast schmooze thing. A friend of mine is a member of a networking organization and he invited me to come along as his guest so that I could hand out business cards and drum up some business for myself.

It was a great experience. But it was weird for me.

First of all, I had to be 'on' at 7 a.m. I deal with kids all day -- 7 a.m. means sleepily slopping around in my pyjamas trying to make breakfast for everyone. It's not exactly my best schmoozing hour.

But in all honesty, it was weird because schmoozing has never really been my thing. I'm not very good at interjecting myself into conversations, introducing myself to random people, talking about myself, remembering to hand them my card and generally just doing the schmooze thing. Which is what I need to be doing if I'm in business for myself.

But I can write. So if you need a writer, know someone who needs a writer or just want to check me out, here I am:

All I need is a few clients and I'll consider this venture successful. After all, it's only meant to be a part-time affair. I have a full-time job.