Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Eat, drink and be merry

'Tis the season to have a lot of tasty treats in the house. We baked this year (and yes, even I baked) and several friends have given us plates of their holiday baking.

And I just keep snacking on them. Several times a day, I find myself wandering by the kitchen and grabbing a quick 'snack'. There's a reason I don't keep such things in my house most of the year -- because it's way too easy to simply walk by the kitchen and pick up a cookie/brownie/chocolate on my way to the rest of the house.

Pair that with the Egg Nog in the fridge, the bottles of wine, etc. in the bar and it looks like we have the makings of a yummy holiday season.

So, I've decided that instead of worrying about how much I eat and drink, my goal for this holiday season is to eat, drink and be merry. Or as the hubby says, eat, drink and get fat.

And then I'll start running again in January.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Computer woes

Our computer is old. Six years old, which is definitly approaching the age of retirement in computer years. It's been slowing down and acting up for awhile now -- probably the better part of a year -- and every now and then I'd complain about it.

But do nothing about it.

Then, on Thursday, it skipped the retirement stage -- where it was going to be considered suitable for kid-use only -- and went right to the life support stage. It caught a virus.

I don't know how because I wasn't even downloading anything at the time it started to throw error messages. But I knew things were bad when it wouldn't even let me run the virus software. Ryan knew things were really bad when he tried to start Windows up in Safe Mode and just got the blue screen of death.

So, on Friday, we took it to the much-smarter-about-computers-than-us people at Geek Squad. And Merry Christmas to us, it was going to cost a lot of money to retrive our data and then fix it. And they had us in a Catch-22. We couldn't just walk away from it and buy a new computer like we had been talking about for awhile because we needed Geek Squad to retrieve all our files for us. And that costs money. And once you're paying them to do that, it almost seems worth it to pay them a little bit more to wipe the virus off the machine and send it home.

So we went with that. Until they called and told us there were other problems with the machine -- like we needed a new hard drive because this one was done. One problem and upgrade led to another and we suddenly realized that we'd be spending more money to fix the thing than to buy a new one.

So last night, I picked up our new external hard drive with (almost) all our retrived files (yup, some were lost on our dead hard drive) and our useless desktop computer.

So, how am I writing this then, if my computer is nothing more than a really big paperweight at the moment? Well, we've had an extra computer sitting in a box for the last month because a relative gave it to us for use as a kids computer. We just hadn't had a chance to buy a desk or table to put it on, clean up the hard drive and set it up for the kids. So now it's set up for me to use.

There's a reason why it's meant to be a kids computer. I feel like I'm puttering along on my old 486. But I won't complain, because it's either that or have nothing.

But you don't realize how much of your life is tied to your computer until you don't have it. I can't count the number of times, I've gone to pull up a file or picture while sitting here, only to remember that there's nothing on it -- that until 9 p.m. last night, my entire computer life was in the hands of someone else. My work files, six years worth of pictures (although many have been backed up to DVD at some point), videos and my music library were all in his hands. Heck, I wanted to mail something to someone and then realized I couldn't because my address book is a file on my computer as well. All I had was the hope that he'd be able to retrieve it all. Let me tell you, this has definitely been a lesson in the need to properly backup my files on a regular basis.

And hey, Merry Christmas to us -- we get a new computer! And if we're lucky, the Boxing Day deals will be good this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Catching a glimpse of the Olympic torch

For a week now, I've had it on my calendar that today was the day that the Olympic torch route would run by less than one block from my house. And I just had to see it.

I've always been fascinated by the Olympics and find myself glued to the TV when they're on -- regardless of whether it's summer or winter. The Summer Olympics were on last year while we were at the cottage -- and CBC was the only channel we picked up. So we spent a lot of time watching it. And four years ago, when the Winter Olympics were on, I sat at home watching them, day after overdue day of my seemingly never-ending pregnancy.

So, when I heard that the torch would pass through my neighbourhood around 3:45 p.m., I bundled the kids up in their snowsuits (it was cold out today afterall), packed them in the wagon and headed out up the street with my mom (who was visiting for the day).

Well, it was running (no pun intended) ahead of schedule and as we rounded the corner, the advance parade was already going through. And so we ran up the street -- me pulling the wagon behind me -- zipped between the stopped police cars holding off the traffic and stationed ourselves on the corner just as I caught a glimpse of the runner coming along the street.

And that's when I noticed that the next relay runner was standing about five feet from us holding her torch.

Needless to say, it was a pretty neat experience to see -- even the kids seemed to be caught up in the excitment, even if they didn't fully understand what was going on --and one I won't soon forget. Afterall, it's not very often that the world comes to Canada, and the torch is something I might never see again.

Now bring on my 16 days of Olympic couch surfing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sleepless nights

When Austin was Alex's age, he was a champion sleeper. He was a terrible napper, but almost without fail, he would go to bed at 8:30 p.m. and sleep straight through until 7 or 7:30 a.m. the next day.

I say almost because around 18 months he started having nightmares from time to time. These resulted in long, sleepless nights for all of us and usually ended with me sleeping in his rocking chair or on his floor until he fell asleep again.

But (thankfully) nightmares didn't happen often and we all had good night sleeps.

Then baby number 2 (Alex, of course) came along. And along with that came the expected sleepless nights. Things were no better or no worse than most new parents go through and as she got older, she slowly cut down the number of times she woke until she was sleeping through the night just as Austin had.

But somehow in the last few months, that stopped. I don't even know when it all fell apart; because it feels like forever. She's 20 months old and I don't remember the last time Ryan and I both slept through the night.

Because, you see, there are the odd mornings that I wake up and realize that I hadn't woken up once all night and that leads me to ask Ryan if he'd been up at all. Sure enough, the answer is almost always yes -- I had just been so tired that I didn't hear her cry.

The problem is, is that I honestly don't know how to fix this non-sleeping problem. Because she wakes for a variety of reasons. Sometimes she's cold because she's kicked off all her blankets (even though she now sleeps in fleece sleepers, she still gets cold); sometimes she's moved around so much in her sleep that she's stuck in a corner of the crib; sometimes she's sitting up and confused as to why it's still dark in her room (thankfully, all she needs to be told is that it's still night time and she lies back down); sometimes she wants her soother and can't find it; sometimes she wants her soother and can't be bothered to open her eyes to find it; sometimes there's no reason at all that I can figure out; and sometimes she has nightmares.

Aside from the nightmares, all of the reasons for her waking and needing assistance mean that I'm out of bed for no more than 2 minutes -- and that includes the time I take to stop at the bathroom. So it's not like the old baby days where getting up means a 30 to 45 minute chunk of your night is gone. But it's still a sleep distruption. And it's not uncommon for the get up, see Alex, go to the bathroom, go back to bed routine to happen two or three times a night.

That means some nights, I'm only sleeping in two to three hour blocks. And after months of this, it's taking a toll.

The nightmares are a completely different story. I can deal with this -- although they mean I'm up for a much longer chunk of time. The other night, she woke up screaming bloody murder, and although I don't know what she dreamed about (because she can't tell me yet), she was terrified to go back to sleep and would get very upset every time I went to leave the room. So I stayed there on her floor while she lay awake for about an hour and a half. When she finally passed out, I tiptoed back to bed.

It sucks. And I was tired the next day. But that's part of parenthood -- sitting with your sick or scared child.

Getting up because your 20 month old can't sleep through the night shouldn't be. Should it?

But how do I get her to stop waking up and crying out? The old let her cry it out routine doesn't seem appropriate here, because if she needs help -- like if she's stuck or cold -- then she doesn't need to learn the lesson that crying it out teaches, she needs help moving or another blanket. Yes, she does need to learn to find her own damn soother, but I don't know that's the problem until I get there. And, to be honest, needing a soother often goes hand in hand with cold or stuck.

So what do we do? Because I really, really, really would like to start getting some sleep again.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Playing Santa Claus

At 7:50 a.m. this morning, I found myself doing something I hoped I would never have to do. I was the 12th person in line outside Toys 'R Us waiting for it to open.

It was (thankfully) no Tickle me Elmo frenzy, but it was still standing outside a store, in the cold, cup of coffee in hand, in hopes of being one of the lucky ones to get 'that' toy. And the odd thing is is, I willingly did this as my kids haven't asked for anything from Santa because they still don't truly 'get' that concept. (In fact, Austin has asked Santa for presents...nothing specific, just presents.)

But Ryan and I decided awhile ago that Santa would bring Alex a kitchen and Austin another train set to add to his existing tracks; so we've been waiting, watching and hoping for sales.

Hence the standing outside Toys 'R Us at 7:50 a.m. Today only, a kitchen (that looked good -- there's a lot of crappy ones out there) was on sale for $50. And a train set was also on sale for $50. Both items usually retail for $100. And at prices like that, you know they won't be hanging around on the shelf for long -- especially the kitchen.

It was worth it. Twenty minutes after I walked into the store, I walked out with a kitchen, a train set and a set of play food (because what's the point of having a kitchen without play food?) having spent a grand total of $107 after tax thanks to the added promotion that the first 300 people in the store received $20 off with a $100 purchase.

I felt like Santa -- well minus the exta weight and the big red suit, of course. And I know we'll both be playing Santa on Christmas Eve, but this morning, I felt as if I was the one getting the gift I really wanted, instead of the kids.