Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stymied Summer Adventures.

This summer has not been awesome so far as adventures go.

Let me re-phrase that.

This summer has not been awesome so far as kid-type adventures go. As far as grown-up adventures go, it's been pretty epic. It's not every day you buy a house, move your family, have to find new routes to work, transfer services, take care of your yard, pay property taxes...

Other than the moving part, though, most of that is grown-up stuff. Not even so much "adventure" as much as just... new.

It's one of those things where I feel like I let them down, but they seem fine.

I have this vision (the dreaded, un-live-up-to-able vision) of what summer should be for my kids, and this was not it. There was no camping. There were no day trips. We didn't explore any woods or caves. Heck, we didn't even get out much. 

This time, I'm going to feel bad for five minutes, tell myself that they're perfectly happy playing in their new playroom, and then just let it go.  The move highjacked the summer*. End of story. Hopefully, next summer's story will be a bit more interesting.

While we've been sitting around being boring (aka: unpacking and setting up our house), I've been letting the kids share in the adventures of some of these guys. 

1. The Adventures of Tintin
2. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
3. Tad: The Lost Explorer
4. The Adventures of Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure
5. National Treasure
6. Labou and the Quest for the Lost Treasure

The number of pirate maps, scavenger hunts, and secret codes I've been asked to assist with has dramatically increased.

How about you? Any big summer adventures this year? Tell me all about it, so I can live vicariously through you.

*Although we did get to take a couple of weekends off from the work to watch some of our people get married. Congrats again, Juls! You too, Mack!

Friday, August 15, 2014

I Think I'll Name It Chuck.

Let's not talk about boxes today. Oh, okay, one quick whine about the boxes. This is my view from here:

Alright. That's out of the way.

So. I haven't mentioned it, because I've been too busy whining about the boxes, but I have a new love in my life.

I have always preferred a paper book, so much that I've resisted getting an e-reader. There's something about physically turning pages that I appreciate. I am an enormous fan of the public library and always have been. At our old place, the library was a quick walk away, and I was there at least twice a week.

Here, the library is a not so quick walk away; and while I know my kids could totally do it, whether they could do it without whining and arguing is another matter. Suddenly e-readers are looking more appealing.

So I was thrilled when my friends at Staples asked me if we'd like to test out a Kindle Fire HD.

It was fairly easy to set up, once I realised I needed to set up an Amazon account (even if you only ever plan to use it for free apps...), and I'm about as tech savvy as a pencil.

You'll also need an app for downloading books. I went with Overdrive, which thankfully has many step by step instruction pages out there (here's one). I also had to set up an Adobe account so that I could read the books once I had them. Phew.

Once I had all of that set up, I went straight to the library website and managed to download three copies of the same book because I couldn't find it on my "bookshelf". (I've gotten better since then.)

It's not entirely intuitive, especially the book borrowing, but once you've got it, it really is pretty easy. I've found there is quite an extensive collection of both e-books and audio books to choose from, and you can even place holds on downloads. 

I also put Netflix on it. The screen is amazing. I've watched movies on my iPad, and I'll tell you, the Kindle (while smaller) was much clearer. The sound on this thing is fabulous too, not the least bit tinny.

So I've found my new best friend. I was sick in bed for a couple of days, and I was not bored once. I read a book, played some games (Temple Run 2 is super fun) and chewed through season three of Downton Abbey (Waiting for season five is going to kill me).

I love the idea of having it loaded up with books for everyone. We're the type of people who like to have a nice variety of things to read at any given time, and having one small item rather than a bag of heavy books is so nice that I'm wondering why I resisted for so long.

I've even let the kids use it.

Of course, now there's a new problem. Whose turn is it to use the Kindle?

*Staples Canada provided me with a Kindle Fire HD for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Totally Called It.

He caved.

(Of course, it's been raining for two days, so our lawn still looks like wilderness; but soon, neighbours. I promise.)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Rose, By Any Other Name, Still Needs an Accurate Label.

You know what seemed really funny at two in the morning the night before we moved? Labeling boxes like this.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Another One For The List.

Husband is out playing baseball, the kids have been in bed (and actually quiet) for about an hour. I am sitting on the couch, reading a book and ignoring the boxes glaring at me. All is quiet. All is calm.

Sadly, my book isn't all that good, even though I enjoyed the first ones quite a bit. It takes something really special to make a seven book series interesting. I find that they veer off into the absurd around book four. You get the feeling that the author was going somewhere definite, but got sidetracked by watching the nature channel, so now the book about dragons should also be about polar bears, and things get a little confusing...

I jump, startled to hear a rather loud click from upstairs. I'm not entirely used to all the house noises yet, so I'm still surprised every once in a while.

I go back to my book.

I hear a thump, from the vicinity of the click.

I put down my book and tiptoe to the doorway to peer into the darkened hall.

I hear a scuffling noise, and some grunting, coming from the top of the stairs.

I grab my phone and clutch it to my chest, as I rack my brain trying to imagine when someone (thing?) could have gotten into my house. While I was putting things away in the playroom? While I was tucking in and singing lullabies? Could someone have been in here since I left the door open while I brought the garbage cans in this afternoon?

Damnit! How, in all of my considerations about moving, did the increased availability of hiding spots for serial killers not enter my mind?!

I need to be brave; my babies are up there!

I bravely tiptoe to the foot of the stairs, still clutching the phone, and peek around the bannister. Nothing. Dimly lit hallway. 

There it is again. I steel my nerves and start up the stairs.

Suddenly, a misshapen figure lurches into view. It grunts and stumbles into the wall.  I scramble back down the stairs to flip on the lights.

A startled eye blinks guiltily down at me through the tufts of golden hair poking out of an opening in the side of a fuzzy orange blob; a small arm waves limply through the hole in the top.

Not an axe murderer after all. Kee had gotten stuck while trying to get out of the two-years-too-small Halloween costume she'd decided to wear as pajamas, and now needed an intervention so that she could use the toilet.

Just one more thing I never thought I'd need to say to anyone: "No. You may not wear your pumpkin to sleep in."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Danny Does the Weather?!

I like the outdoors as much as the next person, and I'm enjoying exploring the neighbourhood and playing with the girls, but the only way I'm going to get any of these boxes unpacked is to sit them down in front of something engrossing for a bit.

Did I mention that we're not getting cable? We're going to give it a go. We looked into packages, and the amount they charge for the privilege of having your shows interrupted by advertising every few minutes is astounding.

The first day we were here, Kee wandered into our bedroom and asked if she could watch some shows. We explained that we didn't have TV. She argued we did have a TV. We said that we had a screen, but we didn't pay for the cable to hook up to the screen, so we don't have any shows to watch on it. They haven't really mentioned it since.

What we do have are DVD's of their favourite movies, and thanks to finally getting the internet hooked up, Netflix.

When I watch movies, or shows, I tend to get stuck on a track. Like, I'll watch a movie with Ryan Reynolds in it, and then every movie I watch needs to have Ryan Reynolds in it*. Until I come to one with him and Sandra Bullock, and then I'm off on a Sandra Bullock Tangent. Until I come to one with her and Melissa McCarthy in it... You get the picture, right?

Ross Hull, erstwhile scary story teller, current weather guy.
Well, this month, our tangent has been Canadian Content. We were watching the weather one morning before we moved (when we still got the weather channel) and there was Ross Hull.

Not familiar with Ross Hull? Well, if you were a kid in Canada around the time of Student Bodies, then you might  have, like me, fallen off the couch yelling "It's Chris Sheppard!"

Which of course meant that I had to run to Netflix and see if any of his stuff was on there to make my kids sit through it. No Student Bodies, sadly (I loved that show!), but there was a full season of Are You Afraid of the Dark?. When they were done with that, they moved right along to Goosebumps, and when we've worn them out, the Stream Team has helpfully suggested a whole raft of titles to help me out with my Canadiana kick.

“Canadiana” Netflix Titles

Big Kids

  1. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  2. Johnny Test
  3. Black Hole High
  4. Alpha and Omega
  5. Goosebumps
  6. Erky Perky
  7. Eliot Kid
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Don't worry, if your kids aren't quite ready for scary stories or the "cheese touch", there's lots there for you as well!

For the little guys:
  1. Caillou
  2. Franny's Feet
  3. The Busy World of Richard Scarry
  4. Super Why!
  5. Animal Mechanicals
  6. Monster Math Squad
  7. Team Umizoomi
  8. Thomas and the Magic Railroad

So how about it? What were some of your favourite (Canadian or otherwise) shows growing up?  The Odyssey and Student Bodies were a couple of my faves.

*Really, most movies could benefit from a bit of Ryan Reynolds, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Apparently, I Lack Upper Body Strength.

We owned our house for a while before we actually moved in. It's not super far from our old place, but it is far enough that it wasn't really feasible to come up in the evening just to mow the lawn. When we were coming up on weekends, we spent most of the time painting and sorting out things inside the house, so the yards got pretty much ignored.

Which resulted in a waist high jungle of a front lawn.

When we finally got around to taking care of it, we decided to get a push mower. You know, because it's quieter, more environmentally friendly, cheaper... all good things.

Of course, mowing waist high grass is hard.

The first time we got out there with our push mower, we had offers from three different neighbours for real lawn mowers. Three. They nodded their heads, and knowingly asked if we were first time home owners.

We said thank you, and borrowed a mower to take care of the grass, because it was pretty obvious that our mower was, literally, not going to cut it.

The next time we tried again with our push mower. We found out a few things. Using a push mower is hard. Mowing on a hill is hard. Mowing weeds is hard. Mowing weird tufty grass with the tensile strength of airplane cable is super freaking hard.

Which is why the back yard has a rough square mown for the kids to play in, surrounded by tall grass and weeds, and the front looks like this: 

So, if you live near me, I apologise for my unruly lawn. We'll get the hang of it, promise.