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.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


My husband and I are movie aficionados - some might say snobs - but we enjoy great films and then discussing them with equally snobby friends! Maybe it is a theatre thing. Stick us in a room with a screen or a stage as actors or audience and we are two immensely happy people!

In this season of our lives though we don't get out to see nearly as many plays or movies as we would like. In fact we have patronized far too many animated movies in the last two years then I would care to recount here! With one exception. The Fantastic Mr. Fox was one of the all time family faves of 2009. With great film snob friends in tow we went to the theatre for Isla's 2nd birthday and I was filled with pride knowing that my two small children enjoyed their first Wes Anderson film as much as I remember enjoying mine.

To remedy this situation in part, for Michael's last birthday I gifted him (and myself!) a mammoth plasma and surround sound system. We LOVE watching movies at home. Put the kids to bed, close the door, turn down the lights, turn up the volume and we are ready for our best viewing experience! In Vancouver I had recently discovered the $2 movie machine at Safeway. I think we are almost caught up on the new releases from the past few years - finally.

There is no such magical movie machine here in Rossland and I am having a hard time reconciling myself  to spending $6 to rent. We are falling behind again. My computer lacks the room and I lack the computer prowess to procure movies any other way...until now.

Netflix is coming to Canada. I am so stoked!!!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Olde Fashioned (frugal) Girl

Okay, maybe not frugal enough to make business cards from a cereal box, (however I reserve the right to change my mind!) but I do LOVE a deal.

In Vancouver I subscribed to all sorts of coupon and sample sale mailing lists; GrouponI Love Sample SalesGap Sprize, amongst others. I collect Airmiles like a fiend. Because of my fiendishness, last year when money was tight at Christmas I was able to send out gift certificates for clothing and movies that otherwise we would not have been able to afford. I currently have my eye on a new espresso machine (that would retail for around $1000) since I have well-loved my current machine into a place where it no longer loves me back ;) and that doesn't help anyone make it through the day unscathed!

For all of the ways I thought moving to Rossland would save us money (having an herb garden has definitely saved me some coin) I was still worried that moving to a small town would hamper some of my frugality. My fears have been abated and I have found some great deals already in Rossland. They have a local coupon book filled with great frugal finds, everything from 2 for 1 golf rounds at Redstone to 2 for 1 lattes at the Alpine Grind, and at $20 it encourages buying local while having the potential to save a family hundreds of dollars on things we would be buying anyway.

After employing the uber frugal Menu Plan Monday method, I take my grocery list to our new grocery store, Ferraro Foods. They have a "Moo Card" and for every 10 jugs of milk we get one free. That is some cheap (as in inexpensive) milk, and being Island Farms it's not cheap (as in gross) milk either! Their Ferraro's websavers are great too.

The 11th item free seems to be a theme here in Rossland. At Tails, when we buy 10 bags we get the 11th free, and this makes getting great dog food for our beasts is a little less expensive now too!

 Happy Saving!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bear Hair, Done That.

There has been a bear in our yard almost everyday since I wrote about the bear a few weeks a go. One day I came around the side of the house to turn on the water spigot and there he was, 10 feet from me. I had startled him just as he had startled me and so he lumbered away which was nice given the alternative.
Barb had an open compost pit as many residents here in Rossland do. There seems to be some disagreement between Rosslanders as to what exactly attracts the bears, and other residents choose not to compost at all. I am a composter. I bought an easily turnable barrel style compost before we moved (since I am a beginner) and I have noticed a HUGE difference in the amount of garbage that we as a family put out since integrating it into our way of life. Garbage is collected once a week and recycling every other here in Rossland. When all the coffee grounds, fruit and veg peels, egg shells (rinsed and crushed of course) and such head into the compost it takes this family of four about a week and a half to fill one Safeway bag with garbage.

I digress, back to the bear. This composter frustrates the bear to no end and he resents having no access to what was once an once open pit for his perusal. The "animal proof" composter has been dragged all over our yard, has enormous teeth and muddy claw marks and, two nights ago after vigorously shaking and smashing the barrel the aggravated animal threw it into the street!  Later that same morning, again when I was at the water spigot, I heard Jack shouting something. I rounded the corner admonishing him for shouting only to see that he was screaming "Mom, there's a bear!" while standing several feet from one feasting on the cherries from our cherry tree. This bear did not seem perturbed in any way by my loud child, in fact all we ever saw as I ushered the kids into the house was his bear bum.

The Bear Aware  campaign has been really informative. The kids have been briefed on what to do when a bear is in the yard (talk, walk, leave the dog and go inside) and I never leave them alone outside. It is too late this year to ensure the trees do not bear (ha ha ha) fruit, next year we'll get rid of their flowers, but we do need to be more vigilant now that said fruit is ripening. After all, a fed bear is a dead bear.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Teevee or not TeeVee (continued)

This is an anniversary of sorts - we have been in Rossland for one month today. Which has also meant that we have survived one whole month without television. The kids have been doing great, but I must admit I have watched more than my fair share of movies. Exhausted and alone I had been watching a movie almost every night. Which meant I was up too late and the kids are up with the sun, so things weren't getting any better.

My sister Brandie wrote a great article the other day (after reading Life's Too Short To  Fold  Fitted Sheets: Your Ultimate Guide to Domestic Liberation) about prioritizing kids vs. cleaning. I thought it was awesome and more than well timed as I have been fighting an uphill battle to feed, clean and unpack all by my lonesome. Coupled with the late night movies in a cluttered room I was feeling like I wasn't "doing" all that I could to finish unpacking. But it is hard enough to keep a home clean and tidy when I have been settled in for years let alone when I cannot remember if what I need right now is a box somewhere.

So, instead of doing EVERYTHING and killing myself in the heat of the day, what I have settled for is a neat and orderly living room. One room. If the kids have left toys in said room they are to remove them. Under no circumstances are toys stored here, but Jack and Isla are more than welcome to bring a book (or the Leapster) and read quietly. No food either.

A miraculous a-ha moment! Just myself and my cuppa in the evening, free from encroaching mess, feeling like I am making time for me and more importantly that I deserve it. The simple act helps me dial down the crazy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Garden...

I have a garden. Finally. There is, with exception to the 5 tomato plants and 6 tiny miserable lettuce heads that I purchased, nothing in my garden that I planted myself. Barb planted everything else. As the season progresses it is increasingly clear she was quite the gardener, with a vision and strategy that comes only with practice. This dreamy English style garden is filled with BC wildflowers and succulents planted like a canon, the roses and lavender blooming as the peonies, poppies and Lupines fade. Thank God they are perennial.

Complaining to my mother that all of my inherited plants (of which I haven't the foggiest what most even are making weeding interesting) were wilting away prematurely, Mom informed me that I do indeed need to WATER them. Oh, right. We are not in moisture laden Vancouver anymore, Toto. Thankfully Brian Minter was back on the CBC B.C. Almanac this morning. I listened like I have never listened before gleaning some additional pertinent watering info - plants like to be watered in the early morning and preferably with a soaker hose. Good to know - I'm sure there was more but I don't intend to put the cart before the horse!

not my garden
Jack and Isla love heading out to the garden to pick things for our meals. We pull green onions, cut fresh chives, dill, sage and oregano and they are waiting with bated breath for the tomatoes to be ready. I am just trying not to kill it all.
also not my garden

Thursday, July 15, 2010

PImply-faced teenager

Day 4 of having the kids all to myself here in Rossland. Things have been a bit harried. I don't handle stress well. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. When I was younger I fancied wrangling my wit and intellect and becoming a lawyer. I remember being a blubbering wreck at some point and thinking to myself, "Who am I kidding, breaking down in front of a judge on a regular basis is not a great way to be taken seriously.". Our high school theatre teacher, referencing the difficulty in making a career of acting, spouted "If you can do anything else - do it." I still chose acting. I would rather make an arse of myself on my own terms. I'll probably end up playing a lawyer at some point anyway!

It turns out I have been, despite my telling myself otherwise, very stressed. You could probably have guessed from my incoherent ramblings. Looking in the mirror I look like the pimply- faced teenager from the Simpsons. I also have a raging heat rash on my back to match, a delicious skin condition I had never had the pleasure of experiencing until after I pushed out two kids. Oh, and I got the MasterCard bill today. I will be heading out soon to do some returns.

I guess I'll be focusing my wit and intellect on de-cluttering and cleaning. Easier said than done with two knee-highs wanting to be fed and what-not on top of the mayhem. I know doing it myself goes a long way and costs so little, but I had been seriously considering a one time hiring of Cinderella House Cleaners to at least get the ball rolling. This must be a life lesson of some sort.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

G. Michael

Michael has gone back to Vancouver again for two weeks in order to put food on the table. He is a worker that one - a fine combination of Italian workhorse, Scottish determination and Little House on the Prairie work ethic. He makes me proud.

In an earlier post I mentioned that in between dream jobs Mike works as a mover. Aside from owning a business with yours truly, Mike's other dream job is acting and he does it very well. He dons the more prestigious moniker G. Michael Gray and has quite the resume to show for himself.

G. Michael in the Feature 'Silk Trees'
In fact at the beginning of next week he will be adding to said resume as he tucks a Guest Star on 'Psych' under his belt. After a dry spell that felt as though it would never end this is very exciting news. I adore seeing Mr. Gray up there on screen - it never gets old, but then again he has never had to film a roll in the hay!
Baby Jack and his Poppa on 'Supernatural'.
It is awesome that moving here to Rossland has not meant the end of Mike's auditioning and acting for film and television. I guess the only real obstacle to the whole thing is when and how we will be able to watch the shows he is in given that we have successfully avoided resuming our cable tv subscription thus far!

Monday, July 12, 2010

S*#T Faced Grin

Whoever said that girls were easier to potty train than boys simply didn't know what they were talking about. Just like anything regarding child rearing, everything depends on the individual child. Jack, for example, began potty training when he was 24 months. By the time he was 25 months he was finished (day and night). Isla was quite interested in the potty when she was 15 months - I thought SCORE!!! Nothing really came of that though and we really started training at 23 months. It took her until quite recently to stay dry through the night too. 

Tandem Potty Time! (Isla 15 months, Jack 2.5 years)
Two and a half years old is a perfectly reasonable age to be trained by, but I must confess because I listened to the sweeping generalizations about girls vs. the potty I thought she would have been finished earlier. And that was not fair to her. Conversely the same "they" who said a 15 month old Isla should be speaking in 2-3 word sentences would have been fairly shocked when she pulled her dummy from her mouth and confidently announced, "Jack, when we get out of this car, I'm gonna smash you right in the face.”. Not that we condone that sort of thing, I'm just saying is all. Kids all have their own rhythm. 
Isla (15 months) Multitasks at Potty Time

The tiny Bjorn Potty that Isla uses now I had purchased before Jack was even born. He never used it, preferring instead to climb onto the big toilet. Isla is the opposite. The two of them still enjoy pooping tandem though! Until today that is because the tiny potty has henceforth been banished.

This morning I walked into the washroom to find Isla standing beside her full potty and Velma devouring its contents. I lost it. I told Isla that that was the last time she would enjoy her tiny potty since it was now being donated. I cleaned the poop out of Velma's beard effectively wiping the S@*T faced grin off her puppy face and locked her in her kennel. I am so over everyone else's poop!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Things We Lost In The Move...

The unpacking has been slowly happening bit by bit. Michael has hung his guitars in just the right spot. We have fashioned an open concept style closet of sorts in the boudoir and the mess is receding. Huzzah!

Lost and Found:

one pink croc (found in Daddy's shoe box)
DVD/BluRay shelves (found in DVD box)
All 35 "Cars" cars (found stuffed into Isla's Kitchenette)
Piece for hanging Blackout blind (found on  Jack's shelf)
Camera Case with 4 2Gb Memory cards full of Family videos dating back to October 2009

The most important things that we lost in the move were by far and away the Memory cards. Looking back it was unwise to have kept 4 full cards in same the portable case. We now have no video of the kids for almost a whole year. I have cried and prayed and cried some more. It does not get any less painful and I can imagine it feels something akin to loosing priceless family photos in a fire. Michael is still optimistic that the case will reappear, that maybe I didn't loose it at the park but that the knee-highs possibly helped by "packing" it. We have left our name and number in various locations around North Vancouver as well as with the places we donated heaping boxes of household items in Burnaby.

I would have happily bought someone a stack of memory cards (or just given them the money) in exchange for seeing Isla on her 2nd birthday, my kids opening their presents from Santa, visiting their grandparents and Jack skiing down the slopes for the very first time on his own. The thought of someone deleting these invaluable images makes me physically ill. I am crying as I write this and I can't write anymore today.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Need a Vacation from this Vacation...

Vacations are just not the same anymore. Seldom do I get a chance to kick back and relish a novel while basking in the sun...or rather from the shade of a large umbrella! Having two toddlers running amok, crazy high on their own vacation enjoyment significantly hinders my own.

In four years Michael and I have never even so much as hired a babysitter. Close friends or family have been called on occasion when we really let go! I am deeply afflicted and suffer terribly from a case of the "You will never be able to take care of my children as well as I can"s.

It might seem incredibly selfish and distrustful, and maybe it is overbearing and overprotective, but it turns out I have good reason. Last summer I indulged myself allowing my 3 year old to play under an other's "watchful" eye. Fully engrossed in my summer reading a strange gurgling sound caught my attention. I turned around to see Jack, his face a terrifying unbreathable inch below the waters surface, his hands helplessly grasping. The one who was watching him went for a dip and he followed. He had thought that he was wearing his life jacket. Since his father and I put it on him religiously, it was like a second skin he already took for granted, he didn't bat an eye as he waded into the deep. We pulled him from the water coughing, crying and scared. I can see it all as clearly as though it were happening now and a year later I am still having nightmares.

So who knows when family vacation is gonna stop feeling like the same laundry different beach?! Meals still need to be made, babies supervised, dishes washed, et cetera et cetera. Right now vacation feels like a bizarre summer time Christmas melee complete with every inch of what one dreads about the yuletide season. Ughhhh. I'd rather stab myself with a fork in the eye.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


In the eaves of our new home are nested a family of Swallows. At first I thought that they were cute, helpful even. This is apparently the year of the mosquito here in Rossland having been so perfectly cold and wet for so long this spring/summer. The Swallows come out in full force dawn and dusk to eat their fill  which suits me fine.

Well their eggs must have hatched because these cute little beasties have quickly become vermin. The Swallows dive bomb the kids all day as they play outside around the house and they are pooping on everything. Including the hot tub lid. Which makes me anxious about being pooped on while taking a soak and then trying to figure out which chemicals eradicate bird droppings. Eww.

I began to inquire about how one disposes of a nest. I even fancied the notion I could be the one who evicted the over-stayed house guests, for a brief moment. Then I remembered who I am and blowing a nest full of Swallow-lings off my house with a hose to appease my sense of propriety is not something I could stomach. I resigned myself to a summer of sweeping shit off my deck.

Today I returned to the house and to what appeared to be a tiny swallow massacre. I am not entirely sure what went down, whether the chicks got too heavy or if a gale wind blew but the deck was littered with clumps of mud that were formerly a nest and three tiny featherless bodies laying still. They are so terribly sad looking I can't even bring myself to move them. Poor baby birds. I am so sad but thankful the slaughter was not at my hand.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Canada Day!!

Our Canada Day was wonderfully uneventful. I am not sure I would have been able to muster the gumption to take my family to yet another mystery meat BBQ and lack luster celebration. The kids love them, but then they go napless and I am forced to feign interest in a host of "earth friendly" activities which usually amount to wasted paper and seedlings, ahem, growing in non-recyclable containers. The only thing different would have been the change in locale. We packed for a week at the Lake instead.

This is not the first Canada Day since my step-father passed away, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about the last few Canada celebrations we spent with him and my mother before he passed. These were different from all the rest.
First of all they are in soft focus, and they take place at the Bar U Ranch in southern Alberta.

Anyhoo - these are some photos from the Canada Day celebrations that meant the most to me in my entire life. 2007 and 2008 (5 months before Glen went home)




Friday, July 2, 2010

Run (in the) Forest, Run!

I've want to start running again. My running career both began and ended last summer. Before that I always fancied myself a non-runner. I hated it in school, indulging every cramp and stitch to get out of my gym class torture. I have no idea why since I have always considered myself an athlete, enjoying individual sports over team, loving rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking and hiking.

Last year for my 30th birthday my mother gifted me a Boot Camp. It was a wonderful kick start in the right direction. We did sprints and drills. To my surprise I quite enjoyed running. Over the summer I began running 7km each day. I felt better - I looked better. My new found strength lent itself to wonderful wakeboard/surfing sessions and the kids felt lighter too! Then my knee started to hurt. I wasn't stretching nearly enough, or warming up or cooling down so of course I suffered an injury. Apparently I pronate something terrible to top it off. The summer passed away and took with it my running routine.

July is back. I have a pair of new runners calling my name and some extra pounds yearning to get lost in the woods. I should have read about running more, or joined a clinic. Argh. It is go time, the perfect time to get some retrospective so I can get out and stay out.

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