Aggregate \Ag"gre*gate\, a. [L. aggregatus, p. p.]

Formed by a collection of particulars into a whole mass or sum; collective. To bring together. Syn: To heap up; accumulate; pile; collect.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Who's Your Daddy?

So today is my last  day as a single mom and it could not come a moment too soon. This past week has been pretty uneventful (even with the bear in the yard!) yet thoroughly exhausting. Days and weeks such as these give me a new appreciation for one parent households, and I am not even working outside the home.

Slim to no unpacking happens during the day when it is just me here feeding, watering and walking the knee-highs. Then there are also the dogs. It is 8pm by the time they all are in bed, it takes an hour or so to tidy and then I am too burnt out to figure out the logistics of three wardrobe boxes and no closets to empty them into, so upstairs we are still living out of said boxes. Oh, and my mattress is on the floor since we could not fit the box spring up the stairwell built in 1940, and it is not in a good minimalist/bohemian way either.

It is time for Michael to come home. Jack is shouting, "Daddy" at random men across the street which is surprisingly embarrassing. Then Isla starts, "Is that my Daddy?". Umm, awkward. At the dinner table the other night Velma made a noise in the kitchen. "Is that Daddy?" Jack asks. "No Jack, Daddy isn't coming home for a few days" I answer. "But I hear a crappy sound." He means crackly.  He continues "Do you hear it? Crap, crap, crap". The whole situation is heartbreakingly cute, but I am glad it is almost over - and yes I know how blessed I am to be able to say that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Notebook

I find that in retrospect it is always easier to see the signs. Looking back they are like little bread crumbs along the path of experience. There have been plenty of times that I have had to say to myself "Look, the answer was right there and you weren't listening" And of course when the Voice says "Left" and I say "but first I'm gonna look a little bit on the right" that is almost always the beginning of trouble, life lessons none the less, but trouble all the same. Like when Mike and I decided to buy that time share...oops. That time the Voice was like a punch in the gut. I felt sick to my stomach, but I WANTED it! I am forever indebted to whomever wrote the buyers remorse law!

I always prefer hindsight when I can see that I was listening. Even more so when I can see Mike and I are hearing the same thing. Rossland was (and is) one of those times. He and I have wanted to move here for the better part of our marriage. We tossed around the idea interchangeably with Fernie and at times even Calgary. But moving never seemed right. Then suddenly this spring, it did. We found the house and wrote an offer, we listed our Vancouver condo and it sold by the weekend. Everything felt right. But then things began to fall apart. Our offer for one. 

So we came back to Rossland to house hunt. Nothing seemed to fit. There were plenty of houses that we could make work and others that were lovely but would have stretched us too far. The Voice was pretty clear about not having a co-signer and I didn't want a house that we had to force ourselves into. I waited for the reeling sensation in my stomach to start, but it never did. I mean, I felt panicked at times, however at no point did I ever feel that moving to Rossland was the wrong thing to do.

Then there was the photo album. One afternoon, while Mike was working a move shift, a photo album fell out of a shelf and onto his feet. The owner had already moved out and everything left in the house was being taken to the dump. Mike picked up the album and went to add it to trash when the Voice mentioned he should hang on to it. Later in the afternoon, he almost discarded it again. Turning it over what was written on the cover took him aback. It simply said, "ROSSLAND".  In the middle of Vancouver this album had found Michael, filled with 100 year old photographs of familiar streets and brick buildings, mines and hiking trails. To say we took this as a sign would be an understatement!

This adventure is a little bit "If you build it they will come" and a little bit "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams". As you know we ended up getting the house that felt like a home but Mike has to travel back to his job in Vancouver. We are still working it out, but the breadcrumb path looks pretty promising!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Picture Perfect

I have a pretty mitt full of pictures to be hung. Everything from framed family photos to some beautiful hand painted canvases by my friend Leal and even one by Michael's Grandmother. I spent 3 years gathering and hanging them in just the right spot and, well, I am struggling to find their new perfect place on these walls. Even the print I wanted forever that Michael had gotten me this past Mother's Day is driving me crazy.

I love each piece and I would not even think of letting any go, but nothing seems to fit or cry out "hang me here". I wonder is it the paint colour? I am beginning to doubt how effectively I can pull off  the whole white-wall-no-window-dressing thing or if I even want to. Now Jessa has an eye for white and while I have a huge appreciation for beautiful rooms of all kinds, when it comes to pulling it all together in my own space I feel a little bit like I'm playing dress up, the clothes are nice but the whole situation has run amuck.

Perhaps I'll put on a stiff upper lip, grab a cuppa, then Keep Calm and Carry On.

Hot Tubs and Take-Out and Bears, Oh My!

Today was my first day on my own here in Rossland. Both Grammas have gone back home and Mike left early this morning to Vancouver for work. There are still boxes everywhere and one mess lends itself to another. This is amazing to me because we have had four adults working as many days reassigning doors and light fixtures and cleaning, organizing, feeding the kidlets and working hard so that it looks like this. Now it is just me. We have visitors coming in a week and I am having doubts about how much I'll have finished.

I am having a bit of a "first time home owner moment". Feeling a little panicky I must confess. This is our third purchase, but previously we have lived in Strata run properties, which is similar to when your parents start charging you rent. We paid a fee and some else painted, mowed and told us what was going on. I actually had to figure out how to fill, heat and mix the multi-chemical cocktail so that MANY HOURS later the kids and I could have a 15 minute soak in the hot tub. I spent the entire time praying our skin wouldn't melt off since I was pretty sure I poured too much Bromine in.

And there is still more unpacking. One of the boxes yet to be unpacked is the food stuffs. We are eating our way down main street one take away meal at a time. Cherry Hill coffee from Clansey's, brunch at the Sunshine Cafe, and dinner from Idgies or the Village Restaurant or the Colander in Trail.

Tonight I picked up a pizza from Misty Mountain (there is a sister store in Whistler).  As the poppets and I walked home, mouth watering savoury in tow, I noticed a shadow in the bushes that surround our yard. Standing no more than 10 feet from us was a bear.
He turned and disappeared back into the garden and there was really no where else for us to go but into the house. But that meant 200 more feet around the hedge to the back door. Eight years later when we hit the driveway and I rushed the clueless children into the house, locking the door, from the safety of the living room the kids finally saw what had mommy so uppity. Lumbering through our vegetable garden was Winnie - welcoming us to Rossland.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Barb's House

Another busy day of unpacking and (insert shocked gasp here) sick kids!!! Amidst this chaos both Jack and Isla have managed to contract some seething green beast of an illness.  Two grandmas or no, this mucous train significantly derails the day.

When we have taken a moment to escape the business of the house for food and coffee breaks it is hard not to notice how exceedingly hospitable everyone is here. Friendly, outgoing and courteous we have met lots of other parents and their children, been invited to the moms group on Tuesday mornings at the park, and filled in about the Strongstart program here in Rossland. Sometime in between Vancouver and Rossland some locals began following me on Twitter and I had received warm welcomes before the first box crossed the threshold!!

Of course when people asked where we moved into we answered Vancouver style, offering our civic address and then some details regarding proximity. "Oh" says the Rosslander "You moved into Barb's house". Everyone really does know everyone - a crash course in small town 101! I think the semantics  might bother me if this house didn't already feel so much like home. In a way simply saying "We live in Barb's house"makes us feel even more a part of the community. We get to listen as Barb is fondly recalled and hope that we will be able to fill her shoes in a way (well her gardening shoes at least) while eeking out our own niche here!

Monday, June 21, 2010

All Wired Up!

It is late Monday night and after a week long ag.gray.gate hiatus the internet is all hooked up here in the new house and we are all moved in. The kids are snuggled in their new bedrooms and I am nestled in between boxes and other "move-in" clutter with a cuppa and the Mac. Surprisingly, it already feels like home here.

Last week I had sent out a Facebook APB. We were in dire need of movers and I was having a little bit of a moment. Our home was beginning to look like an episode of Hoarders and my husband, who is a mover in between dream jobs, mentioned that everything might not fit. The thought of which gave me palpitations. Thankfully, not only did our friends turn out in full force Friday morning, they worked their arses off lifting, cleaning and getting us out by noon. Most everything did fit into the truck too, what didn't we bequeathed as small thank yous to those who so selflessly gave up their Friday to help us.

Then it was time. I picked up the kids from their sleepover at a friends (another super generous gesture) and we were given what felt like a royal send off. Mike drove with his dad in the moving truck to Christina Lake and I drove with the hobbits to meet my mom in Castlegar where we spent the night.

We took possession at noon on Saturday and have been settling in ever since. The kids stayed with my mom in Castlegar that first day while Mike's parents and two of his cousins moved all of our worldly belongings into our Rossland house.

Both our parents are here till Wednesday giving us a huge headstart on doing the gazillion things that transform a house into a home. There is still so much to do, it is overwhelming and exhilarating all at the same time... and I really need a shower!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Better late...

It is late and I am hungry. Unfortunately all the food and cookware is packed, Michael is working and the kids are finally asleep salty snackage for me. I am pretty much all packed out. In no way does that mean everything is packed, so I will have to do some mustering!

This weekend was a pleasant and *moving* reprieve though ;). We have some pretty incredible friends and neighbours. The farewell BBQ they hosted was a perfect way to gather together with everyone from the neighbourhood one last time. There was sun, fabulous food and conversation, a bouncy castle, and lots of laughter lasting well into the night. The wonderful women that make up our Momz group surprised me with an au revoir basket and they had me guess whom each item was from! Then there was this completely fantastic scrapbook that the ladies poured their hearts out into. I could not even read through the book for fear I would be reduced to a puddle publicly and I prefer to be a puddle on my own! It is a perfectly beautiful memento.

We are relying entirely on the kindness of friends right now. From dinners to childminding to using these friendships in order to enlist movers, we are pretty much the neediest family I have ever met. It is nice to know we are well loved, especially by those whom we love so well.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Beginning of the End

Last week some of our dearest friends invited us to a farewell lunch. As per usual the fare was incredible, but it was their wisdom that gave us something to chew on. It had really never occurred to me to drive by all the places we lived and favourite places we frequented one last time. It isn't that I'm not nostalgic, but perhaps I'm in a little bit of denial that this is really the beginning of the end of our time here in Vancouver.

Suddenly the idea of touring Vancouver seemed very important though so Michael and I drove by every flat we had lived in, reminiscing about old roommates, landlords and neighbours. In the coming days we hit Las Margaritas with friends for my birthday lunch. I was crushed when the unseasonable rain, and my lack of rain gear, prevented us from walking one last time on Kits Beach. On Wednesday I went downtown and had my hair did, picking up some Onigiri and Hi-Chew at a little Japanese shop on Robson, then grabbing a latte from Cafe Artigiano. Yesterday was my last Mommies Group Thursday. And today will be my final visit to the North Shore. I am still praying for sun to amble in along Ambleside with all my munchkins in tow. At least Park Royal Village has an Arti's!!!

Today is officially the one week mark and everything seems to finally be sinking in. Tomorrow is Jack's last golf lesson and our fabulous not-just-neighbours-our-children-grew-up-together are hosting a goodbye BBQ - our last here in Vancouver. Where I suspect a glass of wine and a plate of meat will most likely result in salty tears of realization!

This time next Friday we will be headed East, having spent the night in the home of some of the sweetest, most generous friends we could have been blessed with. This will actually be the kids first sleepover - and the first of many firsts and new adventures for this little family!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Here and There

One of my favourite things about Vancouver is being downtown. I love how the streets rise and fall toward the ocean on all sides, and I find the combination of old growth forest versus towering skyscrapers enchanting...and the shopping is to die for!

Before moving to Vancouver I lived in an expansive, albeit beautiful, Suburbia. I drove to the store, to school, to the movies,  church, the mall, and the grocery store. This sprawling city had a downtown core that all but shut down after 6pm. Going to an evening at the theatre was somewhat of an eerie experience. You got out of the car and tumbleweed blew by. In Vancouver I walked to the theatre because, in Vancouver, I walked everywhere.

Shortly after getting married we bought our very first apartment in downtown Vancouver. We had a car, but our parking stall was used more extensively than our vehicle! When the time came we actually walked across the street to the hospital where Jack was born. Then we walked home with him the very next day!

But what we loved in long walks on the seawall we lacked in space, so we drove to the suburbs and have been driving in, out and all around Vancouver ever since. I could not believe how many additional kilometers we put on the car. We really missed the ease of proximity.

Nestled at the foot of Red Mountain, Rossland has this quaint little downtown strip. Groceries, coffee shops, schools, the library and even a little toy store. All within walking distance of the house. We are excited to find our feet again. Instead of putting the poppets into the car they will go into the stroller so we can, well, stroll! 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Olde Fashioned Girl

There is an olde fashioned girl living in me and she L-O-V-E-S lists. She also loves moderne conveniences, but there is just something about list making with a pen and paper that trumps all!

I am easily overwhelmed by tasks and what-not that pop up out of the ordinary. No matter how small. I think this is a symptom of being an olde fashioned girl. If the what-not is part of my not routine it seems magnanimous to me. I find a sort of catharsis in making a list. Lists make my life more manageable. I can see the big picture. Even if the list is 10 feet long,  it is there in black and white. I feel empowered and capable. More like myself and less like I am drowning.

Sometimes if need be, I will borrow other peoples lists. Martha Stewart has dailyweeklymonthly, and seasonal house cleaning lists that I recently printed and had laminated so I could reuse them. They hang in my laundry room. Her crazy abates my crazy, right?!

I make lists about everything. Things I would like to do as well as what needs to be done. Places I would like to go, goals, dreams and aspirations. There is a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as I cross items off the list, be it getting bananas, more time for myself or finishing the vacuuming. The latter is done with Isla visible ;). And if I get something done that was not previously on the list, I will add it and then unabashedly cross it off!

There have been times when I felt inept. Beating myself up and wondering what I was doing with my life only to see my many achievements staring back at me from my Dream Board or from a list I wrote 12 months ago. In these moments I feel bolstered and encouraged. Having a concrete record of feats to remind myself, when I cannot see the forest for the trees, is one of the ways I love lists best.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Words to Laugh By...

I am packing up a storm today, and am a little overwhelmed by how little headway it seems that I have made. Boo.

So I thought I would share some of the things that get said around the house that make my day a little brighter!

Jack: (heartily enjoying his lunch) "whack-a -roo-nee. I can say that, right? It means 'I am eating GREAT food' in French!"

Isla: (sneezing, spitting all over Daddy's phone and the dog) "Mommy, I blessed all over Velma."

These kids make me laugh so hard!

I would love to hear what the special people in your life say to make you giggle, and I could use the break from packing!

Friday, June 4, 2010

V is for Velma

As I mentioned in an earlier post (The Birthday Box) Isla got Jack a puppy for his birthday. We already have a Chihuahua, but he is much too crotchety and fragile to play with the knee-highs. Tiny Toby has also become somewhat of a recluse recently and we were hoping that a new puppy would ease him out of his funk. Overjoyed at the thought of a new puppy, sharing her made perfect sense to the kids and needed no further explanation. Before she even arrived we fawned over photos and named her. Now I did ask for suggestions, but Jack wanted to call her after a close family friend, then after this friends dog, and Isla just wanted to name the puppy Isla. I let them know the new puppy was called "Velma".

Mike and I were originally leaning toward the notion of a large dog, after all we would now have the space. But we had also always wanted a Brussels Griffon and when we came across Velma online the decision seemed to make itself.

Note to self for future reference: when packing up and moving house it is not the best time to get a new dog. Nor when planning a birthday party. And what is the point of celebrating not having anymore children in diapers when there is now a monkey-faced creature pissing and crapping all over the house? At least it is no longer officially my house, but still. Ugh. When we first got Toby he WAS the baby. We ate, slept and drank all things puppy. We were newlyweds with oodles of time and patience. I tend to be deficient in those areas at present, when I am pretty sure everything smells like poop.

We are now kennel training her.  And she is allowed to roam the kitchen freely, but no further. These two things have made huge headway for both my sanity and her survival. And watching the kids with Miss Velma warms my heart...and there are still two more weeks to work on house breaking here. So I guess she can stay.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baby Mommas

There are always been those BIG moments in life when one worries about making new friends. For example changing schools or, ahem, moving.  

Making new friends is something I have taken for granted in the past. Always being in one form of institution or another, the same people day after day, has its advantages. In retrospect school is sort of a give in the friend-making department. Thrust amongst a thousand peers for years one is bound to find at least one like-minded individual. Extra-curricular activities from K-12 are the proverbial friend-making icing, being a concentrated pool of similarities and shared interest.

After graduating from University and moving out of the city where I grew up I found myself, for the first time, with no real friend generating systems. I had to pursue friend-making. It was hard. There was more baggage. Ugh. But then something miraculous happened. I pushed out a baby!!!

Having children have afforded me that coveted "in". Babies are like an institution in and of themselves.  I find spending hours on playgrounds and in playdates fosters discussion and openness with my new peers. Suddenly making friends seemed easy again. We swapped poop stories and labour tales, shared laughter and tears. The walls came down and I have become friends with some incredible women. Women whom I will miss dearly, but are the special kind of friends that no time nor distance seems to pass between.

I am banking on Jack and Isla to get me through the Mommy-door in Rossland! They really are great little icebreakers and the kids are still at that invaluable age when my friends children are their best friends as well.  I know this luxury will end one day soon when Jack and Isla begin making their own friends, but by then I should be well imbibed in Rossland mommy-culture!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Tiny Rod Stewart

Guests were coming. I was vacuuming. The kids were sleeping...or so I thought. When I shut the vacuum off however I heard the unmistakable sound of the electric toothbrush buzzing upstairs. I knew immediately who was awake. Isla.

Sugar and spice and everything nice. Heavy on the spice. Head strong and independent, brilliant and beautiful, adventurous and funny. Thus, even a briefly unsupervised Isla, can have unpredictable results. The short list: removing her diaper and its contents, consuming toothpaste in the guest room, drinking a latte, reformatting the computer, covering herself in various creams, lotions, chapsticks and lipgloss. It happens in an instant and this time was no different.

I thought I'd better get up there before she got into anything. I could hear her happily sing-songing to herself. I took the stairs two at a time. "Whatcha doin' Bean?". As she placed the toothbrush on the vanity and I scanned the bathroom for damage what I noticed took my breath. The toothbrush had been her second adventure. Earlier I had used my shears to snip a thread on a cushion when the kids first went down. Obviously I had left them out.  A large disembodied clump of hair lay on the floor. Grabbing her head I instinctively began to search the back for the missing lengths. It was all there. I took her beautiful face in my hands and saw the haircut had happened up top Friar Tuck style. She was all business in the front now. Past the point of "mullet", I learned when you can see scalp the correct term is actually "skullet".

Four months later I cannot believe how long it has taken for her hair to grow back. Currently my 2 year old daughter looks like a tiny Rod Stewart. Especially in the morning. Especially after a restless, sweaty nights sleep! If not for her remarkable dexterity things could have been worse. I mean she is lucky to still have both eyes and the top of her scalp.

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