Monday, September 17, 2018

And just like that Summer is over

The one that's rough about taking holidays at the end of August is that you almost wish the summer away, counting down until your time off.

Summer is officially over, but we did have a good time.  In fact, it was one of our busiest vacations on record.

We first set off for the Dells.  10 hours.  We initially were going to take the truck, but the car is so much better on gas, so we opted for the Fiesta instead.  Zach is too tall to sit in the back, so he got the front and I sat in the back with Logan.

It was cozy.  The drive down went pretty quick.  We got up at the crack of dawn as we planned on doing the drive down in 1 day.  Logan and I fell asleep as soon as we hit the highway.  I woke up briefly to say hi to Border patrol and then back to REM until we got to Fargo.

The Dells reminds me of a theme park town.   Everything is kind of kitchy, but you can see how it would appeal to families on summer holidays.

We checked into the hotel and went out for dinner at Paul Bunyans.  It was a cool little place that looked like a log cabin.  It was all you can eat chicken and ribs night, so it was a fiscally responsible decision since the boys hadn't eaten since we hit Tim's on the way out of the city.

The next morning it was a little cloudy.  I was disappointed, because the water park we were going to was Outdoors.  The best waterparks are outdoors because there is more room to build, but you take a weather risk.

We got there for the park gates opening.  The one good thing about the getting there early with somewhat crappy weather is that there is no waiting for the rides.  We pretty much had no lines the whole day and went down every slide outside of the toddler ones.  Some were terrifying.  Zach and Logan both went down this straight drop slide, the one slide I wouldn't do.  Part of the reason is that a) it was insanely high and b) it was one of two slides in the whole park that didn't use an inner tube. 
As we waited at the bottom of the slide for the boys, every person who came off was complaining about their back.  The joins in the slide scraped as you went down.  It looked really painful.  You could tell who had gone down that slide during the days because of the tell tale red wings on their back.

My mid afternoon I was done.  I was cold, had done all the rides I wanted to and was getting hungry.  I refused to pay the crazy waterpark food prices.

That night we hit Moosejaw pizza.  Apparently it is "one the must see places".  The boys liked it.  Funnily enough, Logan bumped into one of his best friends at the restaurant.  Small world.

Back at the park for Day 2 the weather was much nicer and the lines were much longer.  As crummy as it was to have the colder weather the day before it kind of worked out, because we knew what rides we liked and which ones weren't worth the wait.

It is nice that the boys are old enough to go off by themselves in the park.  My mother instinct still flinches when they go off on their own, but I knew they are old enough.  Logan's friend was at the park that same day, so they had a great time hanging out together.

Brad got a wicked sunburn that day.  You know its bad when someone behind you in line says that you should probably put some more sunscreen on.  Yikes.

That night we packed up and drove to Albertville because we were going to do a full day of shopping before heading home.

Shopping with the boys is kind of painful.  Zach hates it and will grab anything just to be done.  Case in point, we were in a store looking for some jeans and I asked him if he liked this particular pair.  He grunted in my general direction, said "Yeah, those are fine", grabbed the first pair on the rack (without checking the size) and headed to the checkout.  After a lot of eye rolls we got him to try on a bunch of stuff and even came away with some winners.  Hurrah.

On the other end of the spectrum is Logan.  There are tons of stores in Albertville, but he only had eyes for Under Armour.  I kept trying to convince him to try other things, but his mind was made up.  When we got to the store he went nuts, trying on everything and I'm pretty sure he bought out the store.  The discounts were decent (even with the cra*p exchange rate) and he needed clothes, so it worked out well.

We got home Thursday night and pick up Shiloh.  She was so excited to see us and we really missed her.  Sat down Thursday night with a big glass of wine and fell promptly asleep.

Saturday was the Twickenham Block Party.  It was the 4th annual party and was again a big success.  All the families came out with the kids.  We had a full folklorama potlock, bouncy castles, egg races, water balloon fights (that the adults got in on as well), movies for the kids and a late night bonfire in the middle of the street.  I love my neighbours, they are really great people.

The following Monday we left for Lester beach.  We rented a cabin for a couple days.  It was a dog friendly cabin, which meant we could take Shiloh.  Lester beach is beautiful.  Identical to Grand Beach with the icing sugar sand, but without all the people.  The cabin was an Airbnb.  It was my first time renting and Airbnb and it was pretty good.

It was a small one bedroom open concept cabin.  It had a kitchenette, hot plate and microwave etc.  Outside were picnic tables and firepits.  We went on a bunch of hikes (got lost more than once), spent some time at the beach, had bonfires and smores.  It was great.

The only thing that was a little weird was that the renters had another cabin (their own personal cabin) on the properly that is about 50ft away from the rental cabin.  As luck would have it, the renter was in the city that week getting ready for school (she's a teacher), so we had the area to ourselves, but it would have been a little odd to be so close.  I think it would have felt like they were always watching.  From their perspective I totally get it.  You want to make sure that you property is being taken care of, but from the client perspective, it was a little uncomfortable.

We drove back into the city for Zach's friends birthday party on the Wednesday and then headed out to our cabin for the Unbirthday weekend with my family.

The cabin has undergone HUGE renovations and I am thrilled to report that my parents almost have water!  That will be a game changer for them.  As per usual, we settled into some hard core relaxing.  Brad and Zach did their first ever canoe float down the river.  Initially it was going to be both both boys, but then Logan changed his mind.  I think it worked out for the best because Brad was able to get some one on one time with Zach without having to deal with the boys fighting.

The only glitch in my summer relaxing came at the hands of a bottle of duty free spiced rum.  One night we had friends Courtney and Dale over.  I had poured a spiced rum and coke and offered Dale one, but he turned it down because he said that brand (Kracken) made him sick.  I had bought Kracken loads of times and never had that problem.  The night continued with well mannered frivolity.

The next morning was BRUTAL.  I haven't had a hangover like that since I was in my twenties.  Head pounding, stomach rolling... the works.  It didn't help that my Mum was making a big turkey dinner for that night, so the ordinarily delicious scents sent me running for the woods as there is no functioning toilet to get sick into.

Somewere south of 6:30pm, I was able to keep some food down.  WTF?  I had drank anymore than normal, but we discovered that the alcohol content on the duty free was WAY higher than what I am used to.  I can only surmise that was the cause.  That night Brad had a glass or two and woke up feeling sick, so maybe it wasn't just me.

We got home Monday night and was back to work Tuesday.  Mental note to build in a few days of recovery before returning to work.  It's been two weeks and I am still catching up on laundry.

School is back in session now with Zach in Grade 10 and Logan in Grade 8.  There are lots of things in store this year.  Zach has signed up to go to Costa Rica in March and Logan will be graduating from Junior High this year.  Someone please hit pause.

Next up on the agenda is hunting season.  Now that all three of my boys have hunting licences, Brad is hopeful that we will fill our freezer with venison.  I hope so too.

and now... we return you to your regularly scheduled fall programming of pumpkin spice lattes.



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Summer Finally Starts

It's mid-August.  For some people that means summer is winding down, but for me it's just starting.  July is always a bit of a sh*t show.  Work is always so busy that I don't have much in the way of time to enjoy the weather.

But August is my time.  Things slow down and I usually take holidays the last two weeks of August, which means in 3 short days I will be on holidays.  Hallelujah.

We haven't really gone away much recently.  The simple answer is that we had to do things around the house and any vacation budget went to that.  For instance, last year we landscaped the back yard and put in a deck.

This year however, we are making a bigger effort.  The boys love waterparks.  A few years ago when my cousin Brent got married, we drove down to Saskatoon for the wedding.    On the way home we stayed at the Kenosee resort.   It's a beautiful little spot in the middle of no where.  It has a real Riding Mountain sort of feel.  There is an outdoor waterpark there.  The majority of the rides are the standard ones, but there was one in particular that was absolutely insane.  It was an 8 story free fall.  You had to use an inner tube to go down, but the inner tube was ever so slightly bigger than the chute, so you felt (or at least I did) ridiculously unstable.  Logan liked the idea of going down, but when push came to shove, he opted out.  Zach surprised me and went down the thing dozens of times.

We also visited the giant red paperclip.  It's an interesting story - Some guy went online with a red paperclip.  He traded it for one thing and then traded that thing for something else and worked his way up to buying a house in this small Saskatchewan town.  They have made a art installation in the town.  The boys weren't overly impressed, but I thought it was fun.

This year we are heading South.  We are going to Wisconsin Dells waterpark capital of the world.  I wasn't sure if the kids are too old for it, but what the h*ll, if I can go have fun, so can they.

ZJ... he's 14!
We are going to stop in at Albertville or Eden outlet malls.  Both boys need new clothes.  Logan has shot up like a weed and is now a fair bit taller than I am.  He has that skinny look of a kid that has grown a lot in a short amount of time.  Although I know that he'll fill out soon enough, Hargreaves boys (my nephews included tend to be built like brick walls).  Zach is no longer a string bean and has filled out already.  He has the look of an NFL linebacker at 6'2", 190lbs. Generally speaking they say that ADHD medication can stunt growth, so in some cases they recommend taking a "drug holiday" over the summer.  We do drug holidays, not because of growth issues, it's simply that Zach only needs the focus for school and when school isn't on he does fine.  Albeit he's a little emotional with mood swings, but it's hard to tell if that is because of ADHD or simply being an angsty teenager.

After the Dells, we are home for a couple days and will be there for the Twickenham Circle block party.  It's annual event on our street that has been happening since 2014.  It was started by my neighbor Dave and Brad.    Each year in August, we have a party.  We get a permit, shut down the street to traffic,  Last year was EPIC.  We had our usual, yet beyond amazing Folklorama potluck.  There are families from all over the world on our street so the array of delicacies is crazy.

We then set up games for the kids, face painting, bouncy castles, water balloon fights, ring toss etc.  When the sun goes down a sheet gets draped over a garage and we play movies for the kids.  Brad and I brought out our old school kettle corn popcorn maker and served up some popcorn, because what movie is complete without popcorn?

That night just happened to be the Mayweather/McGregor fight.  My other neighbour had the pay per view, so he brought out his projection TV, set up another sheet on the garage door, hooked up some speakers, got a firepit going in the middle of the street and we sat out on the street in lawn chairs and watched the fight.

I am not sure how we are going to top it this year.  We are working on getting a live band to come out which would be awesome.

After the block party we are heading out to the beach.  We've rented a airbnb cottage between Lester beach and Grand Beach for a couple days.  It's a dog friendly cottage, so we can bring Shilo which will be great.  We are thinking that we might even drive around and go to the dog friendly Winnipeg beach as well.

Hopefully the weather stays nice.  You never know about late August.    Once we come home from the beach, we have a few days and then just like that summer is over.

Logan will be gearing up for hockey tryouts, he's pumped, so much so that he's already started dry land training.  He takes his hockey very seriously.  Zach isn't going into hockey this year.  He likes the idea of hockey, but we found that each time there was a game or practice he would complain about it.  Hockey is really expensive and between registration, extra ice fees and brand new equipment he would need, we couldn't justify it.

Logan is such a social kid that even if he stopped hockey he would be all up in intramural sports and after school activities and I never worry about him getting enough exercise.  Zach... not so much.  I am concerned about him getting enough exercise and remaining part of a social group.  I am trying to encourage him to join a school club, but so far he hasn't been slightly interested.

I can't believe how fast they have grown.  Logan will be going into grade 8 and Zach into grade 10.  That is NUTS.

Alright with T minus 3 days until holidays, I will bid you adieu.





Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Murphy's Law in Action

I decided to get a jump on the long weekend and take a half day off.

My plan was to hit Costco, grab my grocery order at Superstore, load up the truck and be on the road to the cabin by 3:30 pm.  But like they say, what could go wrong certainly did.

Since the car is too low to the ground to go off road, I needed to take the truck.  However, the truck is too big to drive into the parkade at work.  The plan was that I would take the car and on the way to Costco stop off at Brad's work and switch cars.

Traffic was busy as I left for Diamond as everyone had the same idea of leaving early.  I got to Diamond, gave Brad a hug and kiss and set off for Costco.  I found a parking space easily which in and of itself is miraculous as parking the truck is difficult at the best of times.

I walked up to the entrance and reached into my purse to get my wallet/costco card.  However, my wallet wasn't there.  I have an open style purse, so I just assumed that it fell out in the truck.  Disgruntled I walked back to the truck, but it wasn't there.

F*ck.  I called Brad to see if my wallet fell out in the car.  Nope.  Well fantastic, now what?  In order to get into the parkade at work, you have to scan your card.  I keep my card in my wallet, so I know I had it when I left work.

There was only 3 places it could be, in the stair well/parkade, in the Diamond parking lot or the Costco parking lot.

It wasn't at Costco and Brad said he couldn't find it at Diamond, so it had to be at work.  I hopped back in the car to drive to Diamond.  Since I had to go to work, I had to switch vehicles again.  After grabbing the car, I had to fight traffic AGAIN to get downtown.

I called a friend at work while I was on my way and asked if she could go down and look for me.  Unfortunately she couldn't find it.  She asked the security desk, but they said no one had turned it in.

F*********************ck.  I could only surmise that someone must have picked it up.  I had important receipts and a whole bunch of gift cards in that wallet.  Plus the idea of having to replace all my IDs left me beyond angry.  As I made my way through traffic I let out a rather unladylike torrent of profanity.

I rushed back to work as fast as I could and searched the parkade and stairwell.  Nothing.  I went up to the service desk and the guard said that no one had turned anything in.  Now the parkade entrance is behind the desk, so I got a view of the underside of the desk walking in.

As he continued to tell me my wallet wasn't there, I spotted a familiar red/blue/white striped wallet sitting on the shelf in front of him.  I pointed it out and he then went on to say that he was filling in for the regular guard and no one told him anything.  Ok. Whatever dude, I don't even care at this point.  That's my wallet, hand it to me.
Admittedly, I wasn't in a super calm state.  I was running majorly late, had criss-crossed the city numerous times and I wasn't in the mood to be civil.  I finally demanded he hand it to me, reached in for my ID, proved it was me and was off and running again.  I was super frustrated though.  What if I had only gone to the desk from the front?  I would never have found it!!  

As I was driving over to Costco, I realized I was going to miss my pick up time for the online groceries.  I called Superstore who were great and agreed to hold my order.

Back on track, I rushed downstairs, hopped in the car and bee lined for Diamond.  Switched vehicles yet again and hit Costco. Made a lightning fast loop of the store and was on my way to Superstore.

Pulled into the stall, loaded up the groceries and headed home.  I was slightly annoyed that a few of the things I ordered were not in stock, but whatever, they weren't essential, so I headed home.

Just as I pulled into the driveway I got a call from Brad. "How much did you spend at Superstore?".  I was completely perplexed as to why he was asking until he pointed out that instead of the regular $250ish, $500ish came out of our account.  What in the actual F*ck?

I ran inside and called the store.  Apparently they have implemented this thing where the pre-authorize and put a hold on funds which are then reversed.  It's a similar thing to what happens when you pay at the pump for gas.  However, unlike the gas pumps who immediately reverse the charges so you don't even see them on your bank statements, Superstore actually took the funds out.

The store "apologized" but said that this would be standard practice for everyone from now on. If that's the case, my online grocery shopping has officially ended.  What the h*ll?  Who would agree to that?

The manager suggested that I pay with a credit card so that the impact wouldn't be significant as it is in a bank account.  Ok dude, really?  I want to pay with a debit card and you're telling me not to?

I was told it would be reversed in 3-5 business days.  Awesome.  What if you were on a budget and had mortgage payments coming out and this caused them to bounce?  As I was on the phone, I glanced down at my bill and realized I was not credited the bonus PC points for my order.  The offer was if you spent $250, you got 25,000 points, which is the equivalent of $25 dollars.

I mentioned this to the manager while I was on the phone and he said that wasn't his department and I would have to call another number.  Of course I do.

After hanging up, I called the PC points number.  Apparently the offer is not valid on milk, which makes no bl**dy sense.  Even better, my order without milk came to $244, a whopping $6 shy of the $250 offer amount.  Remember those items that I ordered that were out of stock?  Those would have put me over the $250.  Son of a b*tch.

Thankfully the rep on the phone was reasonable and credited me the 25,000 pts but gave me the speech about ensuring that I hit the total accounting for any milk purchases.  Oh good, now I have to become an extreme couponer.  Excellent.

Despite it all, I still I had plans to go to the cabin, so we packed up.  Was not a great start to the weekend.

It was nice to see Mum and Dad, but the boys were going at each other like Cats and Dogs all weekend which really took away from the fun of it all.  Logan especially.  That kid is just relentless when there is something he wants. On Monday, Zach stayed at the cabin (that was the plan all along) and Logan and I drove back to the city.

Sigh.  Wasn't the best weekend to be honest.  On top of that we are now headed into quarter end and so things are going to be super busy until August.

Oh well, it is what it is.

Happy July all!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Another school year done and gone

WTF.  I mean serious, what in the actual f*ck.

Logan's 13 and will be going into grade 8 and Zach's 14 and going into grade 10.

Those are years of school that I truly remember.  I remember snippets of elementary school and much to the chagrin of academics, most memories surround my school crush Andy Mandziuk.  Everyone had a crush on him.  Although I do remember one incident where I left my jacket at the playground and got in supreme sh*t from my parents for doing so because when I went back to get it, it was gone.  The next day the kids found is buried in the pebbles on the structure, but it had been set on fire.  Creepy even by today's standards.

But junior high and high school that when things got real. That's when boyfriends started and the shaking of the sheets started. I cannot imagine Zach dating right now.  He has a girl that he has been texting off and on for a year.  I keep asking him if he's going to ask her out, but his reply was he wants to take things slow.  Well mission accomplished kiddo.

Logan wants to grow up so fast.  One of his friends has a job working at Tim Hortons.  Can you believe that?  14 years old and working.  I think I was in grade 11 when I got my first job.  Ah, such fond memories of Perkins and the ludicrous amounts of shoes I went through.

No joke.  Oil breaks down rubber. So gross.  There was tons of grease around.  How is got on the floor is sort of a mystery, but I think it came from the cooks shoes or if someone spilled salad dressing and mopped it up.  The mops were never cleaned or replaced and so we were constantly spreading leftover grease on the floor.

We were all required to wear black runner/rubber soles and after awhile, the soles of your shoes would literally start to crumble.  It was amazing really. Encountered a similar situation in university when I had lofty goals of being a veterinarian, I was taking Cordate Zoology.  This course had us dissecting a mink over the course of the semester.

This was by far the gnarliest thing I have encountered.  You were given a mink on day one and required to put dog tags on it so that you would know which was yours.  Each class we would learn about one layer of the mink and slowly layer by layer, class after class work our way down to the skeleton.  After each class you would wrap your mink in paper towels, secure the dog tag and place it in this giant vat of formaldehyde until the next class when we would all bob for minks prior to the professor beginning his lecture.

Now, you would have absolutely no reason to know this, but minks are fatty AF and they stink to high heaven. G*d forbid you got any of the mink sauce on you as you would carry that sh*t with you all day.  We would wear MULTIPLE layers of latex gloves, especially when we got to the fat layer.  You would be working away and then twang one the gloves would just split off.

Good Lord, that was a bizarre tangent wasn't it...

Let's circle back.  Now this year has been a rough one academic wise.    Zach struggled in his first year of high school. 
It was such a shock for him.  I am 100% in agreement that Zach needs to take responsibility for his assignment and exams.  However, I feel he was wildly unprepared for it.  Elementary, which now runs from K-8 does not have exams.  They RARELY have homework.  Then they get to high school and they have homework every day and full on end of semester exams.  Semester one Zach had science and math.  He grasped the concepts, but the workload was a challenge.  For the exam we began studying 3 weeks in advance.

I guess it's my background though, I hear exams and instantly I am in full organizational mode.  We came up with a daily study schedule, found copies of old exams to work through you name it.  That kid was PREPARED and it paid off, he got A's on both of the exams.

Second semester was a whole other ball of wax.  It was social studies and english.  Zach hates writing.  At first it was a fine motor skill thing, but then it started to morph into the fact that his thoughts came faster than he could write them and his work would look haphazard.   I can't really blame the kid for getting off topic though.  He comes by that honestly.  Case in point, scroll back up for the mink story.

Now he had to write essays and poetry process papers.  It was a nightmare.  He sqeaked by, but it was a pretty big wake up call for him.  When we were talking to him about it he admitted that he liked science and math because there was a clear answer;  X=5 rather than X's feeling toward 5 were like a warm breeze on a hot summer day.

But despite the roller coaster he made it through and learned some hard lessons.  Hopefully he takes it to heart.

Logan's teacher was different did have tests and assignments.  Logan is a bit of an enigma.  He is very conscientious and would tell us when he had anything up at school.  However getting him to study for them was like trying to photograph a unicorn.  If he didn't get the concept immediately he would get frustrated, freak out and completely shut down.

He would say things like "Help me study mum, why aren't you helping me?".  The thing was, I was trying to help.  I would sit with him and go through the work with him.  However, if he didn't understand, it was immediately my fault.  I think it is because my learning style is different from his, I am a solitary written learner and so is Zach.  So Zach and I worked well together that way.

Logan isn't a written learner and it's hard to tell what kind of learner he is actually.  We tried visual where I would show him how to work through the problems. When that didn't work, I tried verbal, just talking about the concepts, but that didn't seem to work either.  I think he might be a kinesthetic, social learner, but that is going to make learning algebra a bit of a b*tch.

Logan is hard to nail down for any great length of time.  He wants to be outside, riding his bike, playing with the dog, hanging out with his friends.  The idea of having to stay inside for lengths of time snout deep in a book makes him act like a sloth on ambien.

Also, while some teachers and school staff are full on amazing, others are simply sea witches in disguise.  Do not sing into their shell I'm telling you.  For some reason Logan came to be at loggerheads with one particular lunch monitor.  To be fair, I think Logan likely started it with viscous little tongue.  One particular day, she let the boys throw a football in their classroom over the lunch hour as it was raining outside.  Gees, what could possibly go wrong?  Logan's friend threw the football at him, just as another friend called Logan's name and he looked away.  Bam!  Right into a computer monitor.  What followed was a minor civil war.  Logan was given the choice to pay for it or
work it off.  I still laugh thinking back to the conversation with him where he actually thought we would pay for it.


Today is the last day of school and I am happy it's summer.  Partly because fighting with your kids to do their homework gets old really fast and I hate making lunches.

I know it's supposed to be this lovely maternal thing where you cut sandwiches into hearts and include sweet little notes along with perfectly portioned packages (alliteration win!) of baby carrots into their lunch bag before sending them off each morning.

Not sure why, but for me I cannot stand making lunches.  Irritates the living h*ll out of me.  First they are picky AF and total opposites.  Everything Logan likes, Zach hates and vice versa.    So unless I want my groceries to go on a field trip every day, I have to make something that they will actually eat.

So after 180 days of making these lunches, I'm ready to poke my eyes out with hat pins.

But it's done for the year.  The boys and I are heading out to the cabin this weekend.  Brad is staying with the menagerie as we are pet sitting my friends rabbit while they are in Europe.

Zach will be staying at the cabin for the better part of the summer at his own request.  He's going to be working as a farm hand with my Dad around the cabin and earning a little cash in the process.  Better than having him sit at home playing video games all day every day.  Plus that would cost me a fortune in groceries.

Logan has a week at camp Cedarwood coming up in July but that's it for camps this year.  Zach opted out of Camp Arnes for the first time in a number of years.  He was reaching the oldest age for the camp and since they have the full range of ages, they sometimes o cater to the younger kids and Zach was finding it boring.

Cedarwood is different in that it's for junior/high kids only.  I think they only go up to Grade 11 actually.  I can't believe my kids are almost too old for summer camp!

There we have it.  On to Canada Day and the start of summer.  Wooot!

























Friday, May 25, 2018

New beginnings

This past weekend we were out at the cabin visiting my parents.  It had been awhile since I had been out, September long weekend I think.   It was the first time I had been out there since they officially moved there.

They still have a lot of unpacking to do, but it's coming together.  It's funny, the simple addition of a plant seemed to transform it from a cabin to a home.  In this case, the infamous Christmas Fern made the trip.

The major development was an internet phone and WIFI.  Prior to moving out, there was no land line at the cabin and cell service in the valley was sketchy at best.  It gave me some comfort knowing that they have a dedicated way for us to contact them.

The WIFI was a dream come true for the boys.  To be able to be at the cabin and still keep in touch with their friends was awesome.  During the day, they are outside playing, doing yardwork etc, but in the evenings, Grandpa watches TV programs, usually documentaries or cooking programs which they aren't too interested in.  Plus my mum has an apple tv, so she can now watch Netflix on their TV now too.

It was a bit of a work weekend as we needed to get the pine tongue and groove ceiling up because 1) the permit was about to expire and 2) Dad can't do it on his own as it is a two person job.

Both Brad and Zach were able to help.  The funny thing was that every time they tried to work, some tool was missing.  First it was the Brad nailer which they knew was in some box that hadn't yet been unpacked.  The initial search turned up nothing, so Zach and Dad drove into Brandon to get another.  Then the next day they needed a jigsaw.  After a search they found that, but then they needed jigsaw blades and didn't know where those were.

In the meantime, I was helping mum go through some boxes.  I tend to be a bit ruthless in purging stuff.  I read somewhere that when trying to de-clutter, fast decisions are the way to go.  Also, you need to ask yourself, "Does this bring me joy?", if not, toss it.  Sounds super cheesy, but it's actually pretty effective.

We were able to come up with quite a few bags of things, boys clothes that they had outgrown, extra comforters (they were merging linens from two houses and couldn't possibly use them all) as well as some extra household crockery and toys.

Since we were about to head into Brandon to drop off the things at goodwill, we added a trip to Home Depot for jigsaw blades to the itinerary.

While at the cabin, we always take time to visit with our friends Dale and Courtney.  Honestly, they are as good as it gets and you couldn't ask for better neighbours.  Court and Dale have two dogs, Cesar and Tyson.  Cesar is a big German Shepard and Tyson is a American Bulldog cross.  When I think of bulldogs, I think of the British ones, those pudgy small dogs with drooly jowels.  Nope, Tyson is an American bulldog and he's HUGE.  His head (which is rock solid) comes up to my waist and his wagging tail feels like a whip if it hits you.  Also this past weekend they were dog sitting Marley, a golden lab, who is just the sweetest.

The boys went mental over the dogs.  Every time they saw them, they would run outside to play.  While we didn't talk about it per se, both Brad and I could see how much the boys enjoyed animals and knew we would get another at some point.

We had said that it would be quite some time before we even thought about another dog, if ever, but life happens and plans change.

On Monday night, Brad found an ad on Kijiji for some golden lab/retriever cross puppies.  They were adorable and we made an appointment to go out this coming Saturday to see them.  The puppies were too small to adopt yet, but you can make a down payment and reserve one.

In the meantime, Brad kept looking online just because. He found an ad for Labrador Retriever cross puppies.  The mother was a Labrador/golden retriever cross and the father was a Labrador husky cross.  The dogs were out in the country in St. Claude.

We decided to go check it out, but didn't tell the boys.  If we brought the boys we would guaranteed be bringing home a puppy and after what we went through with Stella, we wanted to be able to say no if we didn't feel it would be the right fit. So we told them we were going to Costco. It's a testament to how long I usually take at Costco that we were gone 3 hours and they boys didn't think anything of it.

When we arrived, the mother dog (a beautiful light chocolate color) came up to our car (walked, did not run) and didn't bark once!  She waited until I got out and then nuzzled against me.    The father dog didn't bark either, but was more reserved and sort of chilled out beside the house.  He had the most unusual colors.  He was a white dog, but looked as if someone had taken black and brown paintbrushes and painted little sploches all over.

We knocked on the door and were greeted by this super friendly lady.  She took us around back to meet the puppies.  The litter was 7 puppies;  5 with multicolor coats like their father and two solid black.  When we arrived, there were two puppies left, the coal black ones.

She let the puppies out of their pen and they happily bounded out.  They came towards us and cuddled up at our feet.  One was more bouncy than the other.  As I bent down to pet one, the other came up and was playing with my hair as it hung down.  The more rambunctious had a bit more brown coloring to its coat.

We watched them for awhile to see how they interacted with everything and really like the temperament of the quieter one.

Prior to arriving we talked about names.  I really wanted a soft name, one that had a peaceful sound to it.  I looked up "peaceful" names and came across "Shiloh".  It had that soft sound I was looking for and given that the Shilo army base is right by our cabin it seemed like a great name.

Once home, I sat the boys down for a family meeting.  Brad stayed out in the garage.  He then came in and the boys mouths dropped open.  It was so sweet.  Zach was beside himself.

 It has been a couple days and she has been doing so well.  She plays with both boys, cuddling up with them, coming to them when they call her and sleeping on their beds.

I want to do everything we can to help Shiloh become an amazing part of the family.  Part of that means socializing and socializing early.   So the same night we brought her home, two of my friends Jen and Jill came over to visit.  Then our neighbors Silvie and her sweet son Blaise came over as well.  I was always so scared with Blaise around Stella as she was so unpredictable.  This time it was COMPLETELY different.  Shiloh came up to him super gentle and played with him on the grass.

The next day we went over to our friends Sean and Erin's place and brought Shiloh.  She was sweet and calm there as well, playing in the grass before finding a spot under the table and laying down.  Kat and Gerrit came and brought their 1 year old daughter Avery.  Shiloh was calm and let Avery pet her without the slightest hesitation.  She didn't bark once the entire time we were there.

It's early days, but to say I am happy is an understatement.  She is just so laid back.  She hardly barks (I have heard two in 3 days), doesn't freak out at the doorbell, in fact, doesn't even flinch when she hears it.

I registered her in puppy classes and they start on Saturday. They say training can start as early as 9 weeks and that is what she is.  I want her to love being around other dogs and other people.  That would be a dream come true.  Welcome to the family baby girl.




Friday, May 4, 2018

Retrospect

The problem with being so flipping busy is that when I finally get around to updating a blog post I can't remember anything that has happened over the last month.

I'm getting old.

Well let's see.  I suppose the biggest news is that my parents have thrown caution to the wind and have moved out to the country.

I would say most people in their 70s would downsize from a big house and by a condo or move into a seniors complex, but that's not how my parents roll.

What they decided to do was move out to our cabin full time.  That sounds lovely right?  The peace and quiet, getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  One caveat though, there is no plumbing and running water.   Who needs showers right?

You know it's easy to say that they are crazy and most people I've mentioned it to say exactly that.  Maybe they are right.  Or maybe, just maybe, it's the smartest move ever. At a certain age,  I think once you stop moving you don't start again.  Keeping active is the key physically as well as mentally.  So some say its a good idea, some say it's a bad idea.  But hey, good for them for having an adventourous spirit!

Being at the cabin you cannot sit on your tuckus doing nothing.  Sh*t needs to get done.  They currently don't have a furnace, which means in the winter you need logs for the wood burning stove.  There is no indoor plumbing so the composting biffy (kudos to my parents for being green) has to be emptied which means walking into the woods.  This is actually pretty cool once you get past the squeamishness of it all.

My Dad used old pallets and built 3 big bins.  The kind of look like a chicken pen.   When you empty the biffy it goes into one bin for the whole year.  The second bin is "resting" and the third bin is used for fertilizer.  It's called Humanure.  So in addition to not polluting the ground water, you are composting.  Every day is earth day at the cabin.

The other thing is that there are no paved roads.  In fact, to get to the cabin, you have to drive down a gravel road and the turn off into a field where we have made a trail into the cabin.  In the summer, no worries outside of any mud ruds we get when it rains.  In the winter... a bit of a bigger deal becuase the trail into the cabin isn't a muncipal road and so it isn't maintained.

Dad had to buy a tractor so that they can plow themselves in and out during the winter months.  I think the Spring/Summer/Fall will be awesome, but I worry about the winter.  I think they might get a little cabin fever.    But right now with all the move and unpacking, I think they have more than enough to keep them busy until 2019.

All of the stuff from the house went to the cabin.  Which is 35 some odd years being scuttled off into a cabin in the woods.  That meant a lot of moving and a lot of trips back and forth.  From what Mum has said, they have almost 2 of everything since the cabin already had furniture and it's a little cramped with everything in there now.




It's going to be interesting to see how this goes.  Knowing my family the way I do, no matter what happens, it's going to be interesting as h*ll.    I found this book on the table when I was at their place awhile back.Anyone shopping for a new reality show... look no further.









Monday, March 12, 2018

Sweet Stella

Good grief, it's been a tough start to 2018.

First GG passed away and then we had to say goodbye to Stella.

I can't even believe that I had to write that.  Stella has always been a hyper animal.  She would lose her mind if the doorbell rang, would jump up on people and on occasion snap as she was the type of dog that would play with you using her mouth.

Last summer, during our street block party, one of the boys on the street went into our house to play with Logan.  He didn't knock and instead of coming through the main door, he went in through the garage and into Stella's room.

This kid has dogs at home and went towards Stella the way he would with his dogs, but Stella is not that kind of dog and she jumped up and nipped him in the arm.  It left a red mark, but other than that all was well.

Sort of.

It shook me and I was really upset.  After that we took Stella to two sets of training classes, bought her special anti anxiety jackets and supplements, but nothing seemed to help.  She was good with Brad and I, but she never warmed to the kids and would never let them pick her up.  Despite that, they loved her very much.

Increasingly over the past 6 months, she would start to growl and the boys and snap at them if they came too close to her.  Not fantastic.    We spoke with my cousin who is a vet, and she gave us some suggestions, so we tried them all, socializing her, taking her to classes, recommending some good books to read etc.

Nothing seemed to work.  It was getting to the point where I wasn't inviting anyone over and if they did come over, I spent the entire time on edge wondering if she was going to lose it, which is not a good vibe to have around your dog.  I was especially nervous when our friends with little kids came over.  I knew that Stella needed to be exposed so that she would learn to relax around them, but I didn't want my friends kids to be the test cases you know?

In doing some research looking for help, we found out that the chihuahua/terrier/pug is right on up there with the worst family dogs.  Apparently since they are small, they are nervous with kids picking them up and are very territorial.  They tend to pick one member of the family as their favorite and that's that.  In our case it was Brad, but she was always sweet with me, sitting on my lap, sleeping beside me at night.

Awhile back we found out there was no insulation in our roof, so they came and repaired it, but there was still some work to be done on the drywall in the living room.  We set up the appointment and I took they day off to be there.

The doorbell rang and Stella lost her mind as usual.  Our door plan was to pick her up and hold her until she calmed down and then we would let her go.  At which point she was usually ok.  Not sure what happened this time, but she lost it.

The guy came in the house and I brought him to the living room.  Stella would not calm down and when he held out his hand for her to smell, she jumped on him.

Growling, snarling and barking, she bit hard into his leg.  I pulled her off and got her into her room and quickly ran back to check on the guy.  He could not have been nicer about it.  He explained that he had dogs, and likely smelled like them which set Stella off etc etc. 

I asked him if felt comfortable staying to do the work as I would completely understand if he wanted to go.  He said it was no problem and we cleaned up his leg and he carried on with his work.

I was beyond upset.  BEYOND.  What if this was one of Logan's friends?  What if this was my friends beautiful one year old daughter?    What if this was either one of my boys?

I called up Jill asking for advice.  Jill understood what was going on as we had been dealing with this since day 1.  Everytime we took Stella to the vet she would go after Jill.  At her last appointment, Jill had to go get these big leather gloves to protect herself from Stella biting her.

We talked about our options, rehoming etc.   The trouble was that Stella is not a good candidate for re-homing since her aggression has started to escalate and she had already had two incidents of going after people.

Basically our options were that we could never leave her unsupervised including everytime she was with our boys in the house.  We would not be able to have anyone over to the house without kenneling her the entire time, which means that the boys could not have friends sleep over anymore without Stella being locked up 24/7.

Our other option was euthanasia.  Jill explained that sometimes dogs just aren't wired right and have aggressive tendencies that cannot be trained out of them.  Stella fit into this category.  Jill and I spoke for a really long time.  I wished more than anything for someone to tell me what the right answer was.

I didn't want to put Stella down.  I adored her.  However, I also didn't want to be a prisoner in my own home, not being able to have anyone visit without being completely on edge she would attack, or having to be on constant watch when she was around the boys.

If we took her to the humane society, she would likely sit for a couple months, not be adopted and then ultimately put down.  We didn't want her to spend her last few months scared sitting in a cage, so we made the decision to put her down and would be with her the entire time.

Telling the boys what we had to do was one of the hardest things I have done.  They were devastated.  Everyone was crying.  Not sniffling, not wiping a single tear.  Full on, gaspy crying.

Once we made the decision, there was no point putting it off as doing so would make it even harder.  Plus, we didn't want to wait until there was another incident as I couldn't live with that either.

We asked the boys if they wanted to come, but they both said that they couldn't handle it.  I thought I was going to go, but when it came time, I just couldn't.  I couldn't get into the truck.

Brad ended up taking Stella.  We knew it would be hard, but it was awful.  Because Stella was a healthy dog in every other sense, she had full energy and as Jill went to give her a needle to relax her, she lunged at Jill.  Thankfully Jill is well prepared for these type of situations and Stella didn't get her, but it was close.

It took Stella a really long time to settle down enough for them to give her the final needle.  Brad said that he was glad that the boys and I didn't come as it was a very hard experience even for him.

The house feels pretty empty.  It been a few weeks, but it still feels like something it missing.  When I go to sleep I miss her warm little body tucked up behind my knees.  I can even still feel her paws on my leg begging me to pick her up when I came in the door or the way she rolled on her back with her paws up asking for a belly rub.


We all still think about her often.  Logan has her collar on the shelf in his room and he says goodnight to her each evening.  I would love to get another animal, but I don't think I can handle saying goodbye.  We have tried before with cats, and had to give them up because of Zach's asthma.  He has since outgrown it for the most past, but being around them still makes him wheezy.   We got Zach tested for a dog allergy and specifically chose a short haired dog to avoid any problems and then this happened.

As much as I would love to go out and get another dog, I can't.  Maybe sometime in the future, but for now it's not in the cards.

Rest in peace sweet Stella.  We love you.

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