Saturday, 31 March 2007

Good Bye Kaeko!

Today we said goodbye to Kaeko. She stayed with us for two weeks. Right now it is Spring holiday in Japan. Kaeko is studying medicine in University in Japan and wants to be a doctor just like her dad. She is really studious and usually right after dinner she'd go down to her room and stay there all evening doing some studying. (Sometimes I think that would be my dream life!)

We really enjoyed having Kaeko with us. She loved to jump on the trampoline and always had a big smile. She's very gracious. I've really grown to appreciate some things in the Japanese culture after knowing some of the girls we've known from Japan.

All the best Kaeko! Keep in touch!

Friday, 30 March 2007


I haven't posted a picture of our new little dog. His name originally started out as Spike - but that just didn't seem right. Since then we've decided to name him Chico. It's interesting to see how he interacts with each of us differently. He loves to run and chase with Peirce. Jill's bed is the place he prefers to sleep - and he will always settle down if I or Allen take him after the kids are playing with him.

I wasn't real excited about getting a dog - but things seem to be working out pretty well with Chico. He's definitely a member of our family now!

Here is a picture of Peirce and Chico kicking back at the mall. It seems that Chico likes to go EVERYWHERE with us!

The Fair

Every Spring the mall near us has a fair. When that time draws close I tend to find different ways to drive home in an effort to avoid taking our kids there. But they saw it, and after the incessant pleading, we gave in and took them tonight. It was really quite a lot of fun. I remember the first time we took Jill and took her down the big slide that you sit on the gunny sacks with. She hated it and refused to do it again. Now she wants to go on the Octopus and the other semi-scary rides. She doesn't want to go upside down - but spinning and going up and down is right up her alley. Peirce quite liked the swings. We put him on the kiddy roller coaster. Last year when we did that his eyes were as big as baseballs and he was at his limit of being freaked out - but this year it wasn't a big deal at all (rats!) Luckily we have an exchange student staying with us right now so she was happy to go on the rides with the kids, and that seemed to appease the requests for Allen or I to join them. I used to like those rides - but something has happened to me. I can't do it anymore. Well, that's not true - I can usually do one - but them I'm done. One thing is for sure - I CANNOT spin. I can't even watch those evil strawberries. Makes me sick! I don't even like sitting and spinning on swivel chairs. :0)

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

My darling son....

I think Peirce might be taking after Uncle Dwayne (heaven help us!) LOL

Peirce chose the fake teeth out of the gumball machines. Funny thing was the makers of the false teeth were a company called "Duh-wayne"

Saturday, 24 March 2007

I think we don't need to renew our passes!

Today we went to the zoo. I have bought zoo passes for the kids and myself ever since Jill was about 3 years old. They've really enjoyed it - and I have too - as long as we just go for an hour or two. Anymore than that is torture, if you ask me.

Well, today went to the zoo. We were there for more than 3 hours - and boy, were they worn out. Funny thing though, they seem to have a resurgence of energy when we get to the playground at the zoo.

Funny thing though is that they then couldn't make it all the way to the van. I let them stay and sit while I went and got the van and drove it up to where they were resting their weary little legs.

....then they came home and jumped on the trampoline. (What is up with that??)

So, maybe the bottom line is that we're ready for a break from the zoo (can you hear the hoorays! coming from me, the mother??!) When we were leaving I asked them what they liked the best today. Jill said she liked what they liked last time ( specifics). Peirce said he didn't think the Canadian Wilds was a real part of the zoo and he never wants to go there again (we had made a point of going there first so Kaeko, the Japanese girl staying with us could see the Canadian animals).

I think it sounds like we're ready for a break from the zoo!

Here's Peirce at his favorite place at the zoo (the playground) He's in the mouth of the snake slide in this picture.

Lucky for us we have one of those (playgrounds, that is) in our neighborhood!

Friday, 23 March 2007

Student Led Conferences

Today Jill has been off school. We went to the gym this morning then went over to the school for "Student Led Conferences". Basically Jill showed us all her work and we played around in her classroom for a while. We were the only ones there at the time so we had a good time trying a few games, and she taught us some dances that she's been learning in gym class. The teacher said that last night the place was CRAZY. Apparently the younger siblings were a significant part of the craziness. I'm sure glad we have the flexibility to be able to go when others usually cannot be there. I've been there when there are a ton of other people...and it's not fun. Mostly that's because I have to worry about Peirce (who tends to really like to whoop it up with some of Jill's friends younger siblings).

Jill is doing well in school. Nothing seems to be too much of a challenge for her (perhaps that could be a concern actually) and she is enjoying what they're doing in class. A big factor in that is that she really likes her teacher. Her teacher seems to have a good balance between being strict and proving enough latitude for Jill to have some choice in how she spends her time and gets her work done. I really couldn't come up with any suggestions for areas that she could focus on for improvement in the next reporting period...well, except for neatness. She doesn't seem to care too much about whether or not things are printed perfectly. She's more into effeciency - which translates into some things getting kind of messy. But really, that's her personality. She's my 'random' child. She doesn't need things lined up and put away like Peirce seems to (and I seem to as well!) Creativity is her thing - and she has always been one who didn't care too much about clean rooms, tidy printing and things like that. Maybe though if I continue to hound her about she'll change (then again, maybe not!) LOL

The one thing I would change is the reams of worksheet style work they seem to do...but I mostly just bite my tongue and don't say anything. I'm not a worksheet person at all. I realize though that sometimes it's the best way to survive in the classroom. In a perfect world I'd never have my kids doing worksheets. But then I'd probably have to take over and homeschool to have that happen - and right now that just doesn't seem like the right thing to do.

Jill's teacher has had some serious health issues the past few years. I feel really bad for her. She's not old enough to have to go through all the issues. I really like her as a taecher. It's just too bad that she's had such a challenge with her health. I hope she gets things figured out soon. It can't be fun to always be in pain! She said she's seeing a specialist during Spring Break though. Hopefully he'll have some answers.

Overall, I'm really happy with how things have gone for us as far as school goes with Jill. Putting her in French Immersion was really the right thing. When I look back on how much work I did trying to figure out what school would be the right one for her - it's funny that we ended up going to a CBE school. I plan to also put Peirce in French Immersion next year too. Sometimes I wonder if I should be going through the same excruciating process with him and try to analyze everything to figure out what would be best - but the truth is I feel good about putting him in the same program as well. I hope it isn't just that I'm not as vigilant about these things with the second child as I was with the first!

Peirce is very excited about going to school. It's been a long time coming! I'm really excited for him to be able to go to Kindergarten in September. He will love it. He's more of a routine kid. He likes routines, he likes things to be what he expects them to be, and he follows the rules like a charm (well, in public home things aren't always that way...but if I had to pick I'd rather he act 'proper' in public and give me the hard time at home!) Lately he's really getting good at a lot of pre-reading skills. He knows the sounds of most of the letters, can come up with rhyming words, loves to be read to, and I think soon he'll be able to start sounding out words. If I really worked with him I think he could be reading in the next six months - but I'm not sure I'm going to push it with him (here comes the less-vigilent issues with the second child again). Lately he is also starting to figure our addition. It's pretty cute. We seem to do that most often when we're in the van. I'll ask him what 1 + 2 is and he gets his fingers going and is very proud to tell me the answer. It's really fun to see him start to catch on to all these kinds of things.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

One of the great things in my life is a book club that I started. I have been in a few book clubs and have always enjoyed them. I wanted to join another one but hesitated because with Allen working most evenings it just ends up yet another reason to get a babysitter. So I decided I'd start my own and there was just one rule - we had to always meet at MY house. We started small but now we usually have 6 or 8 people every time we meet. It's great. I really enjoy the people that come and I feel like we're forming some real friendships. And I LOVE reading and discussing books.

Which brings me to this post: I just finished a great book. We read it for the book club. Our book club meeting was last week - but it took me until tonight to finish the book. It's not difficult to read - but the difficulty was just finding the time.

The book is about a boy that is autistic. We really had an interesting discussion that night because two of the ladies in my group have siblings that are autistic. We had a long conversation about what it's like to live with someone with autism.

One reason I enjoyed it is because I know someone from my University days that is autistic. He's always been someone that has just made me smile. He's quite entertaining in a funny and harmless way.

The book was also inspiring because it's neat to see how the main character accomplishes some great things (makes his way to London to see his mother by himself, aces a math test, and writes a book) and because of those things he sets bigger goals.

The summary on says:

"Mark Haddon's bitterly funny first novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, is a murder mystery of sorts--one told by an autistic version of Adrian Mole. Christopher John Francis Boone is a 15-year-old boy, mathematically gifted and socially hopeless, raised in a working-class home by parents who can barely cope with their child's quirks. He takes everything that he sees (or is told) at face value, and is unable to sort out the strange behaviour of his elders and peers.
Late one night, Christopher comes across his neighbour's poodle, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork. Wellington's owner finds him cradling her dead dog in his arms, and has him arrested. After spending a night in jail, Christopher resolves--against the objection of his father and neighbours--to discover just who has murdered Wellington. He is encouraged by Siobhan, a social worker at his school, to write a book about his investigations, and the result--quirkily illustrated, with each chapter given its own prime number--is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

"Haddon's novel is a startling performance. This is the sort of book that could turn condescending, or exploitative, or overly sentimental, or grossly tasteless very easily, but Haddon navigates those dangers with a sureness of touch that is extremely rare among first-time novelists. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is original, clever, and genuinely moving: this one is a must-read."

I read on the author's website ( that the rights have been sold to make this book into a movie. That would be interesting! I was interested in reading about the author and finding out how about how someone was able to get such an insight into people with autism. I think the author has the strangest website! I really couldn't find much of what I was looking for (inspiration for the book, background on the author, etc.) One bit of interesting information I found was just to say that he doesn't accept many requests for appearances as he did that for a while and just found it took away too much time from writing. Specifically he said, "Nearly all the people I have met while publicising Curious Incident were kind and enthusiastic and charming, but every day I spent in their company was a day in which I got no writing done." I thought that was quite curious. 'got no writing done'?? My mother would click her tongue at that grammar. It kind of reminded me of how Harper Lee felt about the fame To Kill a Mockingbird brought her. I suppose there are a lot of people that write because they like the solitude of it - something that doesn't quiet mesh when one becomes a famous author!

Next month we are reading Mary Called Magdalene...and it's quite thick! I picked it up at the library tonight and I figure I better get serious about getting through it right away!

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Ah...the things I love

Tonight was a fun night. I had a bunch of friends over and we visited and made a little baby quilt for one of the friends. I was quite proud of myself because I got all the supplies or it, got everything prepared and even got the thing set up on the quilt stand. I've got my Grandmother's quilt stand that I assume my Grandpa made. I think I'd like to do that more often. In preparing for this night I went to a store called Freckles. Oh the fabric!! It is a really beautiful store with so many cotton prints it is just amazing. They have classes and they display quilts all over the store that you can make. It was so inspiring! I really love to sew - but I never do it. I think I need to figure out some way to fit more of that into my life. I find it a great source of self-renewal. It's good for my soul to sew, I think! I've never really given up the habit of buying fabric. I think perhaps I might have to get downstairs and do something with that fabric I've been buying the last few years. LOL (I always tell my husband not to worry about me buying fabric. At least it's cheaper than some other forms of therapy!)

Clean Carpets!

Today I had a ton of stuff to do. While I was chauffering Allen here and there he, "Hey! Why don't we go get a carpet cleaner and do the carpets." ...which really translates to: Why don't YOU clean the carpets. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now it's 11:00 pm...every inch of carpet in our house is wet...and I'm exhausted!! It actually all went a little quicker than I thought it would. The last time I did this it took much longer. I was pretty effecient at it today. I moved furniture myself and did all the cleaning myself. I might be sorry tomorrow! I can already feel my legs and back stiffening up! LOL I just have to try and finish the hours of work I should have been doing during the time I was cleaning carpets! Ugh

They make it look pretty easy in the picture! But man, it's a lot of work! I don't look half as lovely as the lady in the picture. And what's up with wearing heals to clean the carpets?? Not me!! Imagine bare feet, hair in a pony tail, old cleaning shirt on...and one plain old worn out woman!!'s not a pretty picture...

Monday, 19 March 2007

Driving us all....crazy!

One thing about Allen is that he loves to drive. And he loves to drive fast. And since he spends most of his workday in the car he seems to be at risk for more tickets than the average person. That being said, the past few months he's seen more than his share of tickets. Well, apparently the province agreed and he now doesn't get to drive for 30 days. We're about a week into this new scenario. We seem to be getting by and he seems to still be able to do his work - although it's at quite a slowed pace. Luckily the guys he works with are all very giving and good people - and so one guy picks him up in the morning. Others give him a ride to the gym or drop him off here and there. There is some sympathy in the office for his situation because this has happened to at least two other people there. Allen was going to ride his bike to the office - but we've had snow a few times and it just didn't seem like a good idea to be riding a bike. Of course, getting to the office is small potatoes comparing to figuring out how to get on appointments. So far things are going pretty slow in the appointment category. The funny thing though is our kids. Every now and then when we're going somewhere Allen will tell me I'm in the wrong lane or going too slow or something like that - and I'll remind him that I'm the one with the driver's lisence. Peirce usually pipes up and says "Now do you see why you shouldn't speed Dad?" I just smile...and then give Peirce a high five. Luckily Allen has maintained a pretty good sense of humor through all of this too. Hopefully that can continue for perhaps another 21 days. we just have to get all the darn fines paid! LOL

Sunday, 18 March 2007


I'm so excited! Today we met with the Bishop just before Sacrament meeting and he released me from my calling as Ward Activities Chair I've been ready for a change for a while. I figured back in the fall when they asked Allen to be the Elders Quorum President that my days were numbered - but it took a little longer than I anticipated it would.

I've actually had this calling for going on six years now. Six years! Six Stampede Breakfasts, six ward corn busts, six Trunk of Treat parties (or is it Trick or Trunk....I still don't have that figured out) and most overwhelming of all for me, six ward Christmas parties. So glad to be finished with that!!

I actually knew that this was coming as the ward secretary guy that makes the appointments for the Bishop called and he had initially set up a time for us to meet with him on Thursday - but that didn't work out. Saturday I had a dream that I went in and the Bishop asked me to do six different callings. I dutifully said yes and then went home and cried for days. I had this bad feeling it was an omen or a warning of something that was to come! So anyway, we went in there and he asked me to serve as the Visiting Teaching Coordinator. I wait to see if there was anything else...and there wasn't!! Yea!! That was it! Just one calling! LOL

I'm excited about this calling. I have a testimony of visiting teaching. I've also had a real desire lately to find a way to help unify our ward - and this might just be a good way to work on that! Time will tell. From Allen's experience as Elder's Quorum President I've learned that home teaching stats are pitiful in our ward. Hopefully visiting teaching isn't quite as bad. We'll see I guess!

Monday, 12 March 2007

School Closure Meeting

Well, tonight we had our big meeting. The board is considering closing our school and so this meet was for the board and the trustees to get feedback from the parents. There's a huge can of worms to open!

I arrived a little things were already underway. Phil Carleton was reading the document that had been sent home to parents that was the background on everything. There was a big table where all the trustees were sitting. Then on the other side of the room was the superintendent and the Area Director and some other CBE employees. In the middle of the section where all the parents sat was a big podium with a microphone...which all seemed a little foreboding to me of how this was an us against them scenario...and least that is how it looked.

I had actually been on the parent committee that came up with some scenarios for the trustees to consider. The scenario they chose isn't one I wanted - but it does make a lot of sense. I've been one that hasn't had a great opinion of our board - but being on this committee really changed that. I found them to be very interested in listening to parents. I'm sure it would have been much easier to just meet as a board and make the decision. The journey was a little rough! We met bi-monthly for almost 18 months to work on this whole proposal. A LOT of work went into it.

I was a little nervous about this meeting because I would imagine it could get quite emotional and angry. However, everyone really did a pretty good job at staying sane. I was impressed at the people that attended from the board. All the big guns were there. Each of the trustees were there, the Superintendant was there, the area director was there, and a number of other CBE employees were there. The superintendent responded to a number of people that spoke and I thought he gave some thoughtful and sensitive responses. I had hoped there would be more parents there though. One year they changed class configurations after 3 weeks of school. The place was packed for that meeting. Parents were REALLY upset to have their kids class changed. You'd think having the school potentially close would bring out at least as many people. I'd say it was about on par though.

The concerns seemed to boil down to a few things: people don't like their kids being bussed and they'll be bussed further with this proposal - and they feel like this is being rushed and not enough consultation has happened. That kind of drove me nuts. We've made a real effort at our school to keep parents informed one all of this every step of the way. We invited anyone who wants to participate to be on the committee. We put information in the newsletters and talked about this issue at practically every Parent Council meeting. Three years ago when our numbers were continually declining we tried to put together a bit of a marketing committee - but we couldn't seem to drum up enough interest to get it off the ground. Suddenly people are very interested. Go figure

I actually am hoping this change does happen. I have really loved many things about Jill's school - but I can see that this change is warranted. I do support the trustees in ensuring that school's are not under utilized. This is our fourth year at this school and our 3rd principal. We seem to be a launch pad for new principals to move on to bigger schools - and that gets old. We also seem to see quite a bit of turnover in the teaching staff. I think that most teachers prefer to teach the same thing from year to year - and that is a rarity at our school...and so teacher's seem to transfer out and go to a bigger school. The new school will mean about 10 more minutes on the bus for our I'm not very concerned about that. I've talked with the principal of the potential new school a few times and and she seems quite on the ball. I think all in all the change will end up being a positive one - if it happens that is. I can't see how it won't though.

April 17 is the big decision day. I think I'll go to that meeting.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Where Does The Time Go?

Time flies! We've been busy lately and every day I tell myself I'm going to update my blog. I have a ton of things I need to be doing today - but I decided I'd stop and pop in here for a minute.

Allen's brother was here last week for a couple of interviews. We're sure hoping he snags a job here in Calgary. I think he'll know if he has an offer in the next week or so. Keeping our fingers crossed!

I tried to give blood today. I haven't given blood since 2004. I tried to give blood then and they said my heartbeat was irregular - so I had to go get a bunch of tests done. Bottom line: nothing was wrong with my heart. However, it took me 3 years to get back to a blood donor clinic! Today they had one at our church so I made an appointment to donate. I dutifully brought the form with me that shows that nothing is wrong with my heart. However, they wouldn't let me donate today because their doctor has to review the form. Oh well!

I've got a big project I'm working on right now - and it's slow and painful. The project is for mystery shops at an optical store. The shoppers have to get an eye exam - which seems to be the show stopper. If they could just go in with a current prescription it seems it would work better. The client is meeting with the optical store head office today to try and find ways to improve the project and make it more attractive to shoppers. I sure hope they can get some changes made! Last month was my lowest income month ever since starting this job. Not good!

We just had a student go home. Her name was Shiho (pronounced "she-ho") and she was here for 3 weeks. We quite enjoyed haveing her here. It's amazing how with some students it can all be so great....and with others it can be terrible. I really didn't enjoy the student we had stay with us previous to Shiho and I was thinking that perhaps we'd had enough of being a host family. However, my faith is renewed after having Shiho here. Perhaps we will do it again! As a matter of fact, another student is coming next Saturday for two weeks. I hope it goes as well!

I took the kids for a walk this morning through Nose Creek park and we brought the dog along as well. Jill rode her bike and loved it. Peirce rode his tricycle. He has a two-wheeler with training wheels, but he prefers the tricycle. I am hoping this Spring he decides the bike is okay as he's not too fast on the tricycle. I end up carrying it over rocky parts, up hills and across streets (and whenever else he can con me into carrying it). Good old Chico wasn't much into the walk. He walked for less than 5 minutes and then was always getting tangled in my feet because he wanted to be picked up. Now and then the kids would get off the path and run up a hill by the path and Chico would get all upset and whimper and bark at them. Crazy dog. We're going to have to toughen the little guy up a bit!

Today we're having a regular and quiet Saturday. I love Saturdays like this: a little exercise, a little housecleaning, a little work, and some quiet time too. The sun is shining and it's quite warm. I'm LOVING Spring!