October 30, 2010

7 Months

At seven months, Liv definitely found her voice.

A very high-pitched squeal. It kind of sounds like a canary crossed with Celine Dion's highest note . . . if she were on crack. Or a guinea pig squealing into a microphone.

Not that she never squealed before, but this month brought forth much more communication in that manner. Especially at meal time.

Speaking of which, Liv is the first of my babies to LOVE baby food. She gobbles up all the jarred concoctions. And, as much as I wish I could be the mom who makes all her baby food from scratch . . . I'm not. And having a child eat those jars of food instead of me having to grind or cut up table food like the other kids, I'm very glad.

Her newest talent has been "flopping." When seated, she will flop to the floor to help her reach something, and then she will roll onto her back (her prefered position).

Teething has settled in and she now has one little pearly white. It's cute. But was a pain to have to go through with all her crying.

Our Liv is really a lively little girl who is quiet . . . most of the time. She really is a joy to have around and reminds us of how much harder kids are when they get older. If only they would all stay as easy as Livvie. (In fact, if only Livvie would stay as easy as she currently is. One can hope.)

Wishing . . .

That I was here again.

I know Halloween is upon us, and that is fun. But the weather is getting pretty chilly and I'm just not sure I'm ready for the frigid cold that looms. At least not as long as we don't have a warm weather getaway planned.

I'm also wishing I were up to date on all our pictures and end of the year book. (Last year's is laying stagnant in February and I'm supposed to be working on this year's.)

This picture was taken at the Colony Tennis and Beach Resort in Florida. We went last April. If you can't remember the post, you're not alone. I haven't gotten to it yet! (Yup, I'm rather behind.)

October 19, 2010

Bare Walls?

I stumbled across
site and thought I would share.

They are awesome!! Hmmm . . . do you think any of them would suit my living room??


Wondering what to dress your little child in for Halloween this year?

Please DON'T use any of

October 8, 2010

Random Photos

Some random photos that we shot just last month. Nothing special, just cute kids and their favourite things.

Liv, who is hard-done by for floor time because it's just too dangerous. With a big sister on the prowl, she prefers to be up high so she is out of "love's" reach. (Aka, harm's reach . . . since she often gets smothered with love.)

Reason 1 of why there aren't a ton of Livvie pictures. It's near impossible to shot photos of her when Avery is in the house . . . which is always . . . and she insists on being in all the pictures.

(Sweet) Little Avery. For the most part she is sweet. I believe her heart is good, but she gets very strong willed and so-help-her if you don't let her do as she pleases . . . especially with her sister.

Jayden and his favourite toy. Lego. After collecting just about every Lego Star Wars kit that existed, he is now branching out to Lego City. If only Lego would invent a toy to clean up Lego pieces scattered through out the house.

Jackson desperately wants his own animal to take care of. Even though I suggested that he already had one, Guillermo just didn't suffice. Apparently, Guillermo doesn't sleep with Jackson. In his room. All night long. So he needs something else. Like another dog. Or a cat. Or a Gekko. Currently he is trying to show his responsibility by taking care of Guillermo . . . taking him out to potty, making sure he is fed, has water, and attention. And trying to get through 100 reading lessons to get his new pet. I am hoping that by the time he puts in all his effort with Guillermo that he will find that Guillermo recognizes him as "Master" and no longer feels the need for another pet, particularily one who requires live flies every other day. If not, at least he will be reading if he can finish off his reading lessons. Surprisingly, he is not only enthusiastic about them, but actually good at them. As in, he is really focused. Really focused. It's amazing. Hopefully it will stick because the first few lessons are pretty easy . . . even Jayden had trouble once he hit the 50's.


I think the look says it all. The things he puts up with. (Babies pulling his fur, preschooler boys learning how to be gentle, life without grass . . . or long walks.) It's no wonder the vet recently suggested that we put him on prozac.

The Woman Behind the Camera

I am often behind the camera, taking what I hope will be perfect pictures of my sweet children so that years from now I can remember everything about them as they grew up.

The dark flip side is that I am almost never in any pictures. Should anything happen to me, or in 10, 20, 40 years from now my children and grandchildren look at our albums, they wouldn't have a single trace of me. Not IN the photos anyway. Or at least not any idea of what I looked like.

So, for posterity's sake, I did a little photo shoot with Liv . . .

and Avery even took a portrait of me.

October 6, 2010

Morals vs Money

Busy shoppers whirled around me, quickly running through their lists for the week and the upcoming holiday.

I, however, stood frozen beside some packaged fresh turkeys.

Trying to do the math of converting kg to lbs, and trying to price check the big box store's brand vs an add in the local paper from a farmer around the corner for his fresh turkeys.

I was nauseated. Food Inc has made me terrified to buy any meat from any store, but the pressure of spending on four kids, groceries, Halloween costumes, new house items, and the looming purchases for cold weather in the next few weeks as well as Christmas was suffocating me.

Do I abandon my morals to save $20?

It was just a few days before that I was at another grocery store and paid $12 for TWO breasts of chicken. Robbery! Perhaps . . .

Surely it wouldn't hurt to purchase and eat one more big box bird . . . and next time save up more for the dinner. Would it?

And who is to say that the local bird would taste good? Maybe I'd get an old bird and it would be gamey?

The financial pressure did get to me, and I guess it was just the mere ease of picking the bird up with everything else since I do have four kids . . . and I never shop alone.

But next time, I vow, I will budget for a fresh, local bird. I will start sourcing out good farmers and not let the financial burdens control my food choices.

Scientific Advancements

As a trained scientist, I know how much good scientific advancements can improve the quality of human life.

I suppose that I have remained in a "fortunate" oblivion (fortunate because at least I could eat and wear what I wanted).

But, after watching Food Inc at my mother in law's insistance, I have not been able to grocery shop well. I scan the aisles for anything that might be edible . . . or safe to eat. I search for items from small, local companies in order to avoid the unethical animal and human practices that the larger companies most probably are involved in.

Then, I began researching sunscreens. Now I know that there are problems with them, and they present themselves on my family's skin. Photo-unstable chemicals producing free radicals demonstrate themselves in bright red, bumpy rashes on us. The doctor said it was "normal" and to either live with it or try to find a sunscreen that doesn't do it.

This summer it was to the point where I had a decision to make: use a sunscreen that does more damage than good and causes us to break out in rashes or take our chances playing skin cancer roulette. We opted for the last and got a few bad burns.

With all my researching, I came across some physical blocking sunblocks and thought all my problems were solved. I even found one in a powered form that was perfect for putting overtop of makeup through out the day.

Until I realized that nanoparticles of Titanium Oxide and Zinc Oxide were in it. And in everything else cosmetic. Virtually every powder has it in it, and now pretty well every liquid foundation AND liquid sunscreen.

Is our society too scientifically ruthless? Do we can so much more about the immediate result (beautiful complexion, "tasty" food) than we do about the end result (skin cancer, organ toxicity, cruel and unethical treatment of animals and small businesses . . . even humans)?

Or, are we just so technilogically advanced that we have the time to develop these things . . . and then have extra time to find things that could be wrong with them? (Remember, once they said eggs were bad to eat, now they are okay . . . and caffeine is beneficial or not, depending on the study you read.)

Because if you take all these "studies" you will find yourself standing in a grocery store, surrounded by food . . . and yet you will be starving, afraid to eat. And in order to avoid sun damage you will be cooped up in your house with your blinds drawn because nothing is safe to wear outside.

I'm still undecided. In the mean time, I'm looking for some good local husbandry farmers and maybe a sunscreen with mostly physical blockers but lots of antioxidants in it. How about you?

The Other Pink Meat


After already being spooked by Food Inc, this was no surprise, but it was disturbing and nauseating none the less. Be sure to check out Jamie's Food Revolution clip.


Second Thoughts

Some time between lugging groceries (that included a turkey and lots of unbagged Costco items) across the torn up grand cayon that was my driveway while hurdling over the tall concrete block that is soon to be a sidewalk and walking the to the mailbox while "admiring" (and choking) on a sky filled with dust . . . I began to wonder if a new construction was really worth while.

I mean, really, did we think at all about our children and how it would affect them? And poor little Guillermo who no longer knows what grass is all about. I watch last night as he ran to something that looked like grass, but was covered in dust and construction scraps.

And this morning, well, this morning was fun. Hoisting garabage cans that are so heavy they should only be rolled because our garage is full of stuff, including a car, so our driveway can get done. And then trudging through the mountains of gravel/dirt, again carrying my garbage cans, to get things at the end of the "driveway" and find a spot amidst more mountains and cazms for garbage to sit properly.

To put it bluntly, it sucked. I mean, really sucked.

Then I watched as all the kids walked to the bus stop, deeking out construction trucks rolling by, and trying not to step in any of the foot deep mud that makes up the road (naturally, it would be rainy week) . . . it brought my spirits down even more.

To be honest, it was a hard decision as to where to move to: and which house to buy. Along the way, there have been several times where Brad and I have sat down and bantered about whether our first love would have been a better choice. Certainly, this summer without a/c and without grass for the kids to play on was a biggie. And the fact that we are no longer starting our office here, but closer to the other house. And then with every weekend bringing more "to-do's" to our list and looking at a partially finished kitchen and master suite, it isn't hard to pine for our lost bungalow.

Fortunately, the community has more than made up for most of these. The extra space immediately available in our five bedroom (as opposed to the three bedroom bungalow) is more than nice. The neighbours, they are simply wonderful. And I can't even being to talk about how much we love the location in relation to anywhere we want to go . . . or the grocery store at the corner.

Yes, for the most part, the decision has been good. And I think that once everything is done, it will feel better.

But, for today, and several parts through out this year, my heart aches a little for the "normal" life we could have had.

October 2, 2010

Learning the Ropes

To pass the time without Dad, I loaded up the kids in the van and drove out to a local conservation area where the township was hosting a "Fall Fest" family day.

Even though we made it one hour later than planned (I wanted to be there the minute it opened), we had no trouble getting on any equipment. It seems that everyone slept in or had something else to do on their Saturday mornings. It worked well for us.

The kids were able to walk right onto the jumping castle and have races up the wall and down the slide. (Sorry, no pics, just video and my a/v skills are not up to snuff . . . well, truthfully, I haven't even tried to figure it out. Maybe one day . . . )

Next we ventured over to rock climbing wall. Jayden was confident that he could handle it since he had previously been to a rock climbing party last year. Jackson, was eager to try so they skipped off to the "harness tent."

Suiting up.
Testing the equipment.
Learning the "ropes" of climbing . . . aka learning the lingo and safety tips.

Belay-On? On-Belay!

Jayden was right. He was a master at rock climbing. Seriously, I was impressed. I remembered the parent of the child's birthday commented on what a great climber he was and figured he was just good for his age. Not even. He could kick any expert climber's butt. Well, almost any. ;)

Jackson did really well too. For being five, and not scared, he was pretty good. His counter-climbing to the cookie cupboard experience paid off . . . but coming down was a lot more fun!

Next we moved onto the high ropes course. (No sense in starting at the low ones!)

Jackson was up first on the catwalk. He climbed up the ladder pretty well (again, those counter-climbing skills coming in handy) but looked down too often and got scared. (Maybe that's what I need to do . . . make my counters 15 ft high!)

After a bit of "practice falling" so that he knew he wouldn't fall to the ground, he started up again and got higher . . . but still, the height got to him. Down he came.

Jayden originally wanted to go on the "swings" but was talked out of it by a 9 year old girl who said even her 11 year old sister had trouble. He thought it prudent to start himself on the catwalk too.

He seemed cool as a cucumber up there . . . but once he came down he confessed as to how scary it was.

Coming down is just so much fun!

Just for some perspective of what they did today.

My little "rope" men.
(This photo is for those of you who wondered why I posted the other one . . . we are now entering the man-photo-aversion phase of life.)

Night Sneaker Myster Solved

Perhaps this is the reason that Avery sneaks into our bed in the wee hours of the night.

Hers is too full.

October 1, 2010

Where The Sidewalk Ends

"We'll try our best." The site manager said half-hearted as he looked away from me.

I have heard that before. From the moment we saw green stuff flying around on other streets in our development we have been asking, pleading, begging for grass to come our way.

"Just the back yard, at the very least, please, we have four children who are cooped up in the house!"

And every time we get the run around"

"Oh, you have to talk to the landscaping department. I'm not in charge of them." (You are the site manager, in charge of everything that happens on site though??)

We got letters placed on our door saying that landscaping was to occur that week and we needed to park on the road. Every morning we were the first of the whole development to be parked on the road with eager anticipation. It almost seemed like a cruel joke to see the Templemans get so excited . . . and then crash down in despair.

And every afternoon we were miserably disappointed to find everyone else's drive done but ours.

The kids started to crumble with the unfairness of it all. I started to crumble as I had to listen to new neighbours tell me about how they would be raising a stink if it was them who hadn't got grass and they were first to move in.

(I mean, seriously, do they think I was happy to let things go? I tried to get our warranty to come through, but they have a clause about landscaping and seasonal days that gave them until July 20011 to get it done before I could take legal action. Of course we were bugging managers, but what else can you do when they say,

"We'll do our best. We'll try to get at least your back yard done when we do the neighbours across from you." Eagerly we watched as the neighbours across (most of whom had not even moved in got grass . . . and we got taller weeds.

Time went by, weeds grew really tall. And unruly. It was pathetic. And fall came. Our chance of getting fall grass was fleeting, and honestly, now that the boys were in school, I was beginning to feel okay about it all. Not that I didn't want grass, but that I knew it wouldn't come until next May, there was nothing I could do about it, but at least the boys were out of the house most of the day and had the school yard to play in.

But the gravel . . . the gravel that was being tracked in to the house daily because of an unpaved drive was getting unbearable.

"What do I need to do for you guys so I can at least get a paved drive?" I asked a site manager in an exasperated, ticked off kind of tone.

"We're trying our best." I rolled my eyes.

"I've heard that before. Can't you at least just pave our driveway? Even with just a base coat?"

"When you see the curbs go in, that's when you know you'll get your landscaping."

I sighed. "But we're on the far north street."

"Oh, I know where you live."

"Yes, and there is a house sitting in a foundation. They won't put in the curbs until the street is finished."

"Well, they can still do it . . ."

"I know it is possible, but will they is the question. I've seen other developments that would have given us grass and a drive way, even with other houses getting built beside us."

Aggravated, I left, feeling as though I had gotten no where. Again. And as I drove through the development, my heart sank and my attitude went downright rotten.

Gravel was bulldozed to make way for sidewalk braces on every single street.

The unfairness of it all was rancid.

I turned the corner to our house and what did I see? Could it be? A little path plowed through our driveway, just like the other streets.

Was it another sick practical joke on us? Just plow our gravel to make us think we were going to get a sidewalk?

"We're going to get grass!" Exclaimed Jayden.

"No, probably not. But it seems like we might be lucky and get a driveway." I didn't want to have our hopes up too high. But, if we did have a driveway, why couldn't we get grass?

Brad and I pushed the Trooper (who has seen better days) into the garage, just in case.

And the very next afternoon . . . we had sidewalk brackets in . . . and concrete laid down.

Happiness burst in our hearts at the knowledge that we would definitely be getting a driveway . . . and even possibly grass.