Thursday, September 22, 2016

Old Routines and some new ones

School has been back in swing for awhile now.

Boys seem to be settling in ok.  Logan's teacher is a real techy kind of guy and so the lesson's they get are presented in new ways, ipads, mimeo screens ( I'm pretty sure that's what they are called) among other ideas.

It's crazy.  When we were kids our days were quite limited.  Sit at your desk, look at the chalkboard, don't pass notes.  On loop.

Not now.  Now they have interactive screens, ipads, video conferencing.  I remember last year Logan's class got to Skype with some Canadian Olympic athletes.  SERIOUSLY!!

Wobble Chairs
Standing desks
As for the desk solutions... endless.  They have the regular chairs, wobble chairs that allow kids to move in a full 360 degree motion without tipping over, bean bags chairs, exercise balls, rockers... you name it.  For the kids who don't like to sit, they have standing desks in the back.  For the kids who get distracted with all of the classroom noise, they can sit in the hall and still participate in the lessons via ipad.

It is pretty cool actually, but I can't help be a little jealous.  School would have been a lot more fun.

Sigh... I feel old.

Logan has been getting some decent homework.  I know there are studies that say homework is bad for kids, but I can't understand that.  At some point they are going to be expected (even if it is university) to work on essays and projects that won't be completed in a lecture.  If they have never had to do that, how will they handle it.  Maybe I'm out to lunch.

Zach's in Grade 8 now.  He's grown so much.  Both physically and maturity wise.  He's now 5'9" after having grown a couple inches over the summer.  Brad said that he went through a similar thing, but I can tell you for certain that I never had a "3 inch summer".

He ahsn't had much in the way of homework yet or he hasn't got behind enough in his homework for the teacher to call yet.  The latter is far more likely.

So settling back into the school routine is old hat.  Settling into routines with Stella?.... still learning.

She's like a baby.  You can't leave her alone, you have to get up in the middle of the night to take her out for a pee...etc etc.  I don't mind, it just adds a bit more chaos to our mornings.  I take her out as soon as I get up and then after breakfast one of the boys has to take her for a walk around the bay.

She's been doing good and even starting to go to the door by herself when she has to go out.    She still has accident during the day in her room when we are out simply because her wee little bladder can't hold it for that long.  But the accidents when we are home seem to have decreased.  It's weird though, she'll have a accident free couple days and the boom! out of nowhere 3 accidents in a day.

It's sweet to come home and have her some tearing at you for hugs and kisses.  It makes you feel pretty loved.  As much as the puppy stage is adorable, I'm really looking forward to when she's a bit more self sufficient.  All in due time.

Monday, September 12, 2016


It's weird to think how times have changed.

In my head, I'm still young, but when I stop and think about it, it makes me feel really old and that's ok..

For instance:

  •  I sent my first email in UNIVERSITY
  •  I dated before cell phones, facebook, twitter and all social media
  •  Dial up internet and the ear piercing symphony that came with it was a real thing, including being super impatient waiting for someone to get off the phone so you could get online.
  • I went to "Ask Jeeves" instead of google for awhile....seriously.
With this in mind I can only imagine what it must be like for my 90 year old Grandmother. So showing her things like my cell phone, face timing with her sister in England, ipads and social media are just mind boggling.

We try to get over and visit GG as much as we can, but it is hard with work, school, hockey and everything.  But when we do have some time, I make sure we go.

Zach and I went for a visit recently.  Whenever you visit GG, the beginning of the visit will be a run down of her current ailments.  Once she gets that out of the way, she visibly cheers up and the conversation starts to flow.
This past visit Zach wanted to show GG the magic of SnapChat.  I love snap chat, but I don't use it the way you're supposed to.  As I understand it, you take these mini videos of yourself and send them to people.  The videos only last seconds, but be forewarned that good hand eye coordination by the viewer means screen grabs of the videos.. eek.

What I like is the SnapChart filters which takes fun house mirrors to the next level.  You can get turned into a bee, a dog, a princess, a demon... you name it.  Zach decided that it was high time GG learned about this.

It was hilarious.  GG couldn't believe her eyes.  She and Zach were laughing their heads off.  It was really good to see her laugh like that given everything that's been going on with our side of the family.

Sometimes it nice to get outside yourself for awhile and be silly.    I know that getting older comes with its own set of challenges. Despite that, getting older is a gift.  You may get wrinkles that can hold a three day rain and the physical landscape may start to shift, but who cares?  For me, I am looking forward to what my tattoos will look like when I age.  At least it will give me something to laugh at until my grandson brings me the 2070 version of SnapChat.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Never thought I would see the day.

I have wanted to have a pet for what seems like forever.  We had two sweet calico cats when the boys were young, but shortly thereafter Zach was diagnosed with Asthma and was hospitalized for awhile.  We were told at that point that any and all pets had to be removed as well as any carpeting (which could harbor any number of questionable things).  So we found a new home for Aristotle and Newton (thanks Owen!) and installed hardwood floors.

That was almost 10 years ago.  Zach's asthma is way more controlled now.  So with subdued optimism I took him to the doctor to ask some questions.  Can we get Zach tested for a pet allergy and is his asthma under control enough so that we could get a pet?

We had the follow up appointment to those questions about two weeks ago and got the green light.  Allergies are the following; smoke, grass, dust and pollen.  So basically as long as he isn't outdoors, he's fine.  Works out well considering gamers aren't exactly known for their tans.

That brought us to question two, can we get a pet?  Zach's doctor is awesome.  He isn't overly chatty, in fact he seems to use as few words as possible.  In answering question two, he simply replied, "I have no concerns".

The gif above makes me smile, because this actor bears a remarkable resemblance to Zach's pediatrician.

Ok.  Green light in hand, we sat down as a family to figure out what we wanted to get.  Zach and I were open to anything, Brad and Logan wanted a dog, so dog it is.

Brad liked the look of a pug, so we get out online looking for one.  It's hard to find a pug that isn't a purebred.  I went to Winnipeg Pug Rescue, but they didn't have any pugs.  Instead they had a hodgepodge of other breeds.

Purebreds are no joke.  The ones we saw were easily $1,000.  So we switched and looked at French bulldogs... EVEN WORSE!  $2500 was the starting price.

Time to regroup.  We had no plans of putting this dog in shows, so why did we need a purebred?  Exactly.  So with renewed enthusiasm we set off in a hunt for a lovable mutt.

While we weren't specifically looking for one, we found a pug online through Pembina Valley classifieds.  Puppies were listed as free to good home.  Perfect.  I sent a reply to the post with some questions.  Turns out the dogs weren't here, but in Toronto.  Hmmm.... bit of a red flag, however, I checked with Jill (who is a vet) and it's not unheard of to courier purebreds.  Sure, that makes sense, but why would they be giving a purebred puppy away?

In corresponding with this guy it became more and more obvious that it was a complete scam.  First off he said that the dogs were free, but we had to pay the courier fees upfront.  This is that delicate balance in which neither party wants to get ripped off.  It's like a mobster exchange or something..."show me the goods....."

I asked for some more pictures of the puppy and requested his phone number so we could hammer out the details.  This is where it went sideways.  He refused to give a number.  Finally, he relented and provided a number, but the area code was for New Jersey.  Yeah... we're done.

I sent a reply back saying we were no longer interested, but I wasn't prepared for the response I got back.  It was a full page rant about Christian people and how could I think that they would try to take advantage of us.  He then quoted some scriptures and ended with the final eloquent piece de resistance..."Let me know when you are going to send the money".  So that ended that exchange pretty fast.

Learning from that debacle we decided that unless we could visit the dog, it wasn't going to happen.  Brad found another ad on kijiji just outside of Morden.  It was a farm and we could go see the puppy.  The ad had pictures of the sweet puppies and listed them as Chug Terriers.

Now if you are like I was, you would be asking yourself, what is a Chug Terrier.  It is a cross between a chihuahua, terrier and a pug.  The mum was chihuahua/pug and the dad was a  chihuahua/terrier.  The litter had 9 puppies up for adoption.  We were immediately drawn to the only black puppy of the bunch.  The rest had a brindle coloring.  Logan picked her up and she instantly began giving him kisses.  Done deal.

The trouble was we were just about to leave on holidays, so it wasn't really an ideal time to take her home.  But the family was really sweet and if we put a deposit down, they would hold her for us.  I'm so glad that we did, because when we went back to pick her up, the owner said that she had been offered extra if she would let another family take her home.  Thankfully, she stayed true to her word.

She's been with us a week and we are in love.  We named her Stella.  If it had been a boy puppy, Zach and Logan were going to name him Gary.  A small part of me wishes that would have come to pass because that's funnier than h*ll.  Side note, they came up with that because in the cartoon Sponge bob, his pet snail is named Gary.

The boys are so great with her.  Zach especially which surprised us as Logan is the pet lover.  Zach has been taking her for walks and helping potty train her.

We decided to not keep her in a crate during in the day.  Instead, she is going to be in our mudroom/laundry room.  It's a fair size room when you only weigh 5 lbs and there is nothing she can get into if we close up the closets.   Added bonus is that it has linoleum floors in case she has an accident.

Potty training a puppy is a new thing to me as I have never had a dog, but she's doing great.  Outside of one day (third day we had her home), she has only had two accidents.  Not sure what happened on day 3 though... yeesh.

We don't keep her in the mudroom at night.  Instead, we keep her bed up in our room.  Brad is the biggest softy and has taken to letting her sleep in our bed.  I resisted initially, but if you've ever gone to sleep cuddled up to a puppy, it's futile to fight it.

I am not sure when the novelty of calling out "Steeeelllllaaa!" will wear off, but for now it's still pretty funny.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Saskatchewan Skunks

This past Saturday we got up bright and early and set off for my cousin Brent's wedding BBQ.  Brent and Kim got married in Hawaii this year, but like any destination wedding, not everyone is able to attend and so they had a come and go BBQ this weekend.

That is a long drive to do in one stretch with kids.  More so if your kids are small.  Our boys did ok thanks to the Where's Waldo complete collection I bought for the trip.  Kept them busy.

We checked into the hotel, had a quick shower and then looked to see where Brent and Kim live.  It was complete dumb luck, but our hotel was right off the main highway and about 10 minutes from Brent's place.

In true Preston family fashion, there was a pig roast.  Almost every outdoor summer special occasion is marked with a good old fashioned Pig Roast.  It's the best way to feed large groups of people.

After the BBQ, we headed back to the hotel.  There was a waterslide for the boys to play on.  They had a great time.  Jill and Jason came over and hung out with the boys in the pool.  Jason is great, he hopped into the water and roughhoused with the kids.  Jason and Zach have a pretty cool bond.  Not everyone gets Zach, but Jason does.  Zach just loves him.

Early Sunday morning after a surprisingly awesome continental breakfast, we were off again.  It was 4 hours to Kenosee park.  The trip in and of itself is beyond boring.  As we were driving down the highway, I spotted a sign for the World's Largest Red Paperclip.

While the boys groaned, I made an executive decision to stop.  I mean come on, how often are you going to have the opportunity to see the largest red paperclip am I right? So stop we did.

Now for a small town, the directions were slightly confusing, perhaps a sly attempt to have you explore their town.  The story of the paperclip is really quite interesting.    A guy started out with this paperclip and started making online trades, paperclip for a fish shaped pen.  Pen for a doorknob... etc.  Eventually working his way up to snowmobiles, condo rentals and a role in a movie directed by Corbin Bernstein.    An economic adviser in Kipling suggested to town council that they make an offer and so the town offered a house for the movie role.  Trade was made a year to the day from the original paperclip offer.

Pretty Cool right?

After the paperclip pit stop, we continued on to Kenosee.  Neither Brad or I had ever been, but pictures online looked great.  In person, it blows it all away.  The place is a small resort like town which strongly reminds me of Riding Mountain.  Views are really pretty.  We had decided that we would camp rather than stay in a hotel.  Why?  Because kids needs to get outside.  They need to get in nature and get dirty.  Go on hikes, go fishing and just get back to simpler things sometimes.

Camping was $15/night.  How it is so cheap, I can't understand.  The next day we got up and headed to the Kenosee Superslides.  It is an amazing waterpark.  Lots of great slides and tons of green space for picnics.    The weather could not have been more perfect.  35 C all freaking day.

Boys had so much fun on the slides.  Me, not so much.  I mean I enjoyed then an all, but  I have come to the conclusion that I was not built to go airborne.  Actually, it's not going airborne that is the problem, it's the landing.  Holy Mother.

I promised the boys that I would go with them on all of the slides and I kept my word.  I didn't want them to see how scared I was because then it would freak them out.
This proved harder than I thought when Zach wanted to go on the 8 story tall free fall slide.  I was TERRIFIED.  Waiting is definitely the hardest part.  First the LONG walk uphill to the slide, then waiting in line and then ascending up a set of stairs to the slide platform.

I was so nervous, my heart was beating out of my chest, I was sweating (which I am going to blame on the heat) and my legs were shaking.

You have to go down this thing on an inner tube.  When it was my turn we got the tube all set up and just as I was going over, I almost lost hold of the tube handles.  There isn't much of a top lip, you just plummet and I just SCREAMED.

But I made it and once was more than enough.

We had arrived when the park opened at 11 am and left around 6 pm.  We were just done.  That much time in the sun  and walking up that many hills is exhausting.

At the campsite, we had a fire.  It's always tricky for us because of Zach's asthma.  His asthma had settled down completely with the exception of two triggers; smoke and hard exercise.  The only indication that he is having trouble is that his lips go a dark purple/blue.  He doesn't get the usual shortness of breath that most people get.  We have to make sure he stays out of the smoke and has his puffers handy.

After the campfire we all went to bed.  We hadn't brought an air mattress and were sleeping on 2 layers of comforters.  When I was a kid I could sleep on the floor of a tent with no padding and be fine; wouldn't even notice it.  As an adult?  My shoulders, back and neck were completely ticked off at me.

Sometime in the night, I heard some clanging and twigs snapping behind our tent.  We had put the camping equipment back there.  I woke up and listened again ( I can't always rely on my hearing) and sure enough I heard it again.  Rather than going out the front of the tent, I unzipped the back window of the tent to get an idea of what was there.

I am not sure that I was expecting, but a big, fat, furry skunk was not it.  My instinct was to yell at it to go away, but thankfully my brain took over and stopped me otherwise we would have been covered in Skunk spray.

In the morning, we surveyed the damage.  Apparently Brad had left some leftover muffin wrappers in the bucket of camping equipment which proved to be irresistible for the skunk.  I haven't decided if that is a compliment or insult of my baking.

We had the intention of going to the beach that day, but the clouds looked black and ominous so we headed home.

While it was a short trip, it was a good one. It's funny how much you can pack into a few days.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Raspberries and Sandbars

On Saturday we picked Zach up from Camp Arnes.  He always has such a good time there and this time was no exception.  He attended Paintball Camp, which is by far his favorite.

We drove up Saturday, watched the little concert/show that the kids put on, had some lunch and headed back into the city.

Lately, Logan has been so anxious to do stuff.  He absolutely hates relaxing.  His favorite activities of all are spontaneous ones.  It just so happened that on the drive out to pick up Zach, I spotted a Upick fruit sign and made a mental note that it would be a good spot to check out on the way home.

Zach and Logan both seemed up for it, so we turned off the highway onto this little back road.  Not gonna lie, after about 15 minutes it started to feel like we were driving into a Stephen King novel.  After two more turns onto even smaller gravel roads, we finally ended up at the Upick.

It was super quaint.  It was run by this elderly hippy like couple.  So sweet.  They got us all set up with buckets and we were set.  There wasn't any strawberries, but there was loads of raspberries.  With buckets in hand we started picking.  I have to admit my eyes were more optimistic than the reality of my bucket. I had ideas of bringing home 3 buckets worth of raspberries.  It took us about an hour to fill a single bucket.  The sun was beating down, mosquitoes were eating us alive and we made an executive decision that one bucket of raspberries was the perfect amount.
It is the first time we have ever gone to a upick and we didn't know that filling up an ENTIRE bucket to the brim isn't the best idea for raspberries anyways because the berries at the bottom of the pail don't have the structural integrity to handle the weight on top of them and quickly turn into juice.

Since we didn't have any specific plans for the berries anyways, we decided to use them to make jam so the squished berries wouldn't go to waste.

It was a really great day.

Sunday the weather was gorgeous and I didn't want to waste it inside, so we packed up our gear and headed out to Grand Beach.  I haven't been to Grand Beach in at least 10 years and the boys had never been.  

I forgot how soft the sand is.  Just amazing.  It's like you're walking through icing sugar.

We got there about noon and I was totally surprised at how quiet it was.  That being said we were at the East beach which doesn't have the boardwalk and is therefore by nature less busy, but still.

We set up camp and the boys immediately ran into the water.  Brad went with them and they were splashing around and throwing footballs.  It was great.  

Now, I am not much of a swimmer.  I can of course, but it's not really my thing.  But the boys really wanted me to swim with them, so in I went.  Now the sand may be amazing at Grand and the bottom of the lake may be amazing (soft sand goes out really far into the water so you aren't walking on rocks), but the algae is GROSS.

If you are a girl and you swim in this, just know that the top part of your swimsuit acts as a filter and when you come out of the water the "girls" will be covered in this green algae sticky stuff.  Ick.

Taking a break from the water, the boys came up on the beach for some lunch and we covered them in sand. Again, they'd never done that before and it was such a novelty.  So much fun.
  The beach didn't really fill up until about 3pm and then it was just packed.  We stayed until about 4:30 pm and headed home.  It was an awesome day.  Since I am going to be on vacation soon, I think we'll make another trip or two out there!



If you follow my blog, you know that I am good friends with our neighbours at the Cabin, Courtney and Dale and something amazing happened to them recently.

You know how you always hear about these crazy wild things, but never think they can happen to you or someone you know?

Well it did.

Last week I got a text from my friend Dale...."we won the lotto"

Dale and Courtney occasionally go to the casino, so I figured, they won a couple of thousand or something.

Nope.  Dale replied... $1.2 million.

As if.  Dale's such a joker, you never know when he's being serious.  So I texted Courtney.  It's true. They won the HSC lottery grand prize.  $1.2 million!!

They had a few options:
1. Luxury home by Maric
2. Luxury home by Kensington
3. Luxury Cottage
4, $1.2 million
Court and Dale live in Stockton Mb on a farm.  What they h*ll are they going to do with a fancy house in the city, other than sell it.  They already have a cottage, which they love.  So the obvious choice was to take the cash.  

It couldn't have gone to better people!  They are the most hardworking, kind people on the planet. 

Congratulations Guys!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Crash and Burn

No clever way to introduce this post, so I'm just going to dive in... Cool?

Our pantry is a little unique in that it's a walk through pantry meaning you can get access to from the kitchen or coming in from the garage which is quite handy when bringing in groceries.

On one side is the standard organizers.  On the other is a cut out (similar to a bump out) where we put a apartment size freezer.  Again, quite handy because the fridge freezer is quite small.

Above the freezer is a whole schwack of dead space.  So Brad installed some organizers above it.  Perfect. There were no studs, so we used those drywall plug things, which seemed to work just fine....for 2 years anyways.

On the weekend we were sitting in the living room (or great room I guess you call it, but I can't buy into that name) and we heard a MASSIVE crash...

We jumped up and ran in the direction of the noise.  There in our pantry, well more specifically, on the floor of our pantry was the additional shelf as well as it's contents.  The shelf had finally had enough of the isometric contraction and released causing the screws to rip out of the wall.

Isn't that just kick you in the cr*tch, spit on your neck fantastic.

First up we had to remove the carnage, which is now lumped into a massive eye sore of a pile in my living room.

Brad then got to work fixing the wall.  He added some wood to the existing studs (that were too far apart for us to anchor into.  The extra wood meant that when we put the shelf back up we wouldn't have to use those drywall plugs.

Now, our pantry is a warm grey.  When we built the house, we had them paint the whole house this neutral color with the expectation that once we were in, we would change the colors over time.  Case in point, Logan's room is now orange, Zach's is now blue.

So I am taking this to be an opportunity to paint and I want  color. With that in mind, Logan and I (who likes to get out and about and is always game for tagging along) went to home depot.  I asked Logan his opinion and he said what about lime green?

Hmmmm.... good call kid.  We chose a bright lemon lime green.  It looked like a big pop of color under the florescent lights, but it was a bit subtler when we held up the chip in the pantry.  Still, we are going to go with it.  All that's left is for Brad to finish up the wall.

Can't wait.

So that was the "Crash" part.  "Burn" part coming up.  Our backyard is a disaster.  Well, maybe disaster is too harsh... perhaps neglected it better.  We can't decide what we want to do or how we want to organize everything, so it's somewhat like Living Prairie museum at this point.

That being said, we have a fence, so our little eyesore doesn't bother anyone else or so we thought.  Turns out our neighbour (Let's call him Herb) is not a fan (I suppose he can see our backyard from his top floor)  and complained.    Not to us of course, that would be direct and the most logical, but to our friend Dave across the street.

Interesting choice of gossip buddy considering our friend Dave has a son Blaise.  Herb got a new dog last month.  Do you know what they named the dog?  Blaze, knowing full well that was the name of the little boy across the street. Classy.  So given that, I was surprised that Dave was up for a chat.

Herb told Dave that he was going to call the cops about our backyard.  Ok, here's my problem with that.  1) Our front yard is the epitome of perfection, manicured lawn, flowers etc. So in terms of curb appeal, there are no issues.  2) Our backyard is the only area with weeds and whatnot (which are there yes, but not super bad, it's mostly dirt.) and city legislation doesn't give a flying f*ck about your backyard. 3)  Given all of the stuff that the cops have to deal with; murders, theft etc, I'm fairly confident that they do not give a rat's a$$ about weeds....

But despite not being a fan of our weeds, Herb and his wife enjoy theirs.  Alot.  Like ALOT alot.  At least 3 or 4 times a week you'll walk outside and about 30 minutes later get the munchies...  In a added tidbit of info, the neighbour on the other side of Herb is a cop.

That's where the irony kicks in. Herb want to call the cops because of my weeds, even though he enjoys his weeds while living next to a cop.  You can't make this stuff up.  Cherry on the Irony cake is that Herb named his dog BLAZE...subtle.

I don't want to be that neighbour, so on Sunday, I headed out into the backyard to pull some weeds.  We had a fire going in the fire pit so I burnt some.  It was for the pure irony of it, but I couldn't resist.

Backyard was now all cleaned up so we headed inside after having dinner outside.  While getting the boys ready for bed, I went over to Logan's window to close the blind and happened to glance over into Herb's yard.  Herb has two dogs that stay outside all the time.  They are really quiet so I have no cause for complaint, but I've never seen anyone in the city do that before.

I guess the two dogs got bored and turned their attention to the rather beautiful and expensive patio furniture; those cushions didn't stand a chance.  I can best compare their backyard to running a kleenex though the laundry....

As of Monday night, the stuffing situation was even worse as they hadn't cleaned up the first foray into quilting supplies before the puppies tore into cushions 3 and 4.

Well hey diddly ho there neighboreenos! Karma Much?

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