Byte Size Blog #6

Friday, December 14, 2012

Good Morning. Today I bring you Byte Size Blog #6 to catch you up on what's been happening. Since I'm leaving town in an hour and I'm not ready to go nor is anyone else awake, it ought to be a quick one...
  • The dogs got their Christmas presents - new beds - early. My living room is no longer a playground of stuffing and fluff from the old bed. An unexpected development: daily games of Musical Beds. Very amusing.
  • Christmas cards have been mailed and gingerbread baking has begun. I've also decorated the house and will not do anything else to make things look festive. Except get a Christmas tree. We'll do that on Sunday.
  • Off to the City today with Mr. A. to finish up our Christmas/Birthday shopping. As we only have a little bit of shopping to do this year, it's more like a date.
  • Christmas knitting continues. One Holden Shawlette is done and blocked. The second Holden is on the needles. This is a very gift-worthy knit. Today, two hours of driving for Mr. A. equals two hours of knitting time for me. I'm thinking of adding a knitted hat for my dad to the Christmas knitting list (which really wasn't very extensive to begin with...)
  • School work with the kids continues. I had planned to be done today, break for almost a month and then start up again the second week of January. However, since I am a sloth and it takes me forever to insist that the kids finish things...we'll be continuing throughout the coming week. I am encouraged as The Boy Child has actually finished a project and The Girl is tackling some task writing - not happily and under direct supervision, but she's doing it.
  • Because I am a grown up, I went to the doctor's this week and updated my tetanus. On purpose, before I had to due to injury...which has been the case in the past. What was I thinking!? Two days after and I still can't lift my arm above shoulder height and I feel like I've been hit by a truck. Perhaps I didn't notice the effects of this vaccination before because I was laid out on the couch dealing with what I thought was injury recovery.
Byte Size Blog #6 is now concluded...I'm off to get everyone up and out of the house - a novelty for those of us who homeschool and work from home.

Mrs. A.


My Weekend In Pictures

Monday, December 10, 2012

Friday: The 'Before' - kitchen is cleaned out in praparation for a new countertop, long awaited and long overdue.

Friday: During - coffee station is fully operational throughout the entire countertop replacement procedure. And my kitchen has been emptied into the dining room.

Friday: Still During - At this point, the children and I left for holiday festivities and Mr. A supervised Fred the Countertop Replacement Man.

Friday: After - Other than the sink being replaced front-to-back, the replacement was a great success and we now sport a lovely new, non-rotting, firmly attached countertop. But you may notice the cupboard doors are missing...

Saturday: After the After - since we had to caulk the edges (Fred was lacking the caulking and said he'd return 'next week'...I grew up with an extended family of contractors; I know what that means) we went to Home Depot for caulking. $100 later....

Sunday: Still After the After - a very calming neutral bluey-grey called 'Horizon'. And our new faucet! See how it's not leaky?! You may notice the lovely 20th century design feature of the single lever rather than the two taps. I can now touch raw meat without contaminating my entire kitchen!

Sunday: About When Mr. A Started To Get Annoyed - The Blue Eyed Bandit has 'helped' with the cupboard doors.

Sunday: About When Mr. A Was Definitely Annoyed: Photo Bomb by The Boy Child.

Sunday: The Final After - Coffee is ready to go. The yellow under the stove hood is the glow of the light.

Sunday: The Fnal After - I will miss the old cheery yellow. But it definitely had to go. It was old and dirty and clashed with the rest of the main living area.

Sunday: The Final After - The new colour is calm and quiet, much like the colour we painted the main living area last year.
Mrs. A.


Byte Size Blog #5

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Today is Byte Size Blog #5, with photo so as not to create feelings of awkwardness.
  • Today I bring you evidence that Christmas is approaching in our house! I have broken out the Christmas coffee. A friendly neighbour was so kind as to bring over some homemade Christmas biscotti which is lovely when dipped in your Christmas coffee.
  • Today we are off to the local homeschoolers' Christmas party. The Girl Child has created a playlist as she has been asked to provide some music and I have crockpot meatballs cooking. I know, not a very Christmas-y contribution to the pot luck Christmas lunch, but my kids wanted something they liked to eat and something warm. Meatballs it is.
  • Today is day#3 of Backyard Cat Watch. A cat in the window well in the backyard will make your blue-eyed husky very determined to spend all day outside staring into the - now empty - window well. When not allowed outside, the determined blue-eyed husky can be found camping on the backyard door mat, waiting until she is allowed out again. The determination with which the blue-eyed husky stares into the window well will not be diminished even when the bigger, braver, brown-eyed husky jumps into the window well and digs up the leaves to prove to the blue-eyed husky that the cat is truly and completely gone. I know, a picture of this would be much more interesting than my Christmas coffee, but have I mentioned how much I enjoy my coffee?
  • Today my extended family is off to the Family Christmas Party in my mom's home town, four hours away. I am the party pooper who is not going. Again. I average attendance once every five years. My grandmother, the kids' great-grandmother, even made an unprecedented visit to my house last week. I was given the what-for, like a guilty ten-year-old, about not attending. Still, we're not going. I regret the time missed with my two grandmas, but I don't regret missing the Christmas Party. I should tell the whole story to the Internet one day. The Internets love drama and idiosyncrasy.
  • Cristina would like to see the new Canadian bills. I say bills because if you're curious to see the $20 bill, then I can only assume that the $50 and $100 would be equally as interesting. If I ever have any money ever again in these denominations, I will be sure to blog photos. So far, the bills are sticky and hard to count quickly. Very difficult to be discreet about your wad of cash at the cashier. They don't fold very nicely making your wallet unwieldy and wanting to flop open all the time. However, they do seem to launder nicely (an accidental experiment) and they seem to be impossible to rip (a not-so-accidental experiment).
  • Knitting on the first Holden Shawlette has begun. The black hole of increasing-every-row stockinette has begun to open. I suspect I will need to bring this project along with me every where I go in order to be done in time for Christmas gifting. My goal is to have one Holden done and the other well under way by the time of my next Knit Night, Dec. 18. Stay tuned for future updates.
This concludes the fourth edition of Clip Blog, brought to you by the break-dancing Blue-Eyed Bandit at my Backdoor as well as The Kids Are Up and Ready For The Day And I'm Still In My Robe.

Mrs. A.


Adventures in Knitting

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's here! My Cyber Monday Sale order! I'm a little excited.

I ordered on Cyber Monday (that was November 26) and my box of goodies arrived at its final destination on the 30th (that was last Friday). I didn't dash out to the depot to get it as we are waiting on another package. Not yarn, but important nonetheless.

Yesterday (Monday...a whole WEEK after I ordered!) my mom stopped by to visit (very uncharacteristic of her) and during our conversation, I learned she was headed to the UPS depot where my box of yarny goodness was languishing. So, details in hand, off she went to pick up both her packages and mine.

Hours and hours later, mom arrived at my knit night to deliver my Knitpicks box. It seems that most of northern New York State and a everyone in south eastern Ontario has had packages shipped to this particular UPS depot. The lineup to get your package is two hours long. People were wrapped around the building into the parking lot. In the rain. And according to the UPS employee, the lineup looks the same at 7am as it does at 10am as it does at 4pm. Mom, with my sister, waited in this two hour long lineup for four packages. They were damp and hungry when they got back.

At knit night is the best time to open a big box of awesome. Yarn was passed around the table and squished and fawned over. I may have converted a new knitter or two in the process. We'll see.

Just in case you're interested (and even if you're not) here's what I got. (Pretend it's an Eye Spy game...)
  • Set of Sunstruck Interchangeable needles for The Girl Child for Christmas
  • 3 Harmony (purple!!) circular needles so I can finally get going on my Rams & Yowes
  • Chroma Fingering in Grey and Midwinter for Deep In The Woods mittens
  • 2 Stroll Tonal in Thunderhead (grey) which will be 2 pair of socks at some point
  • 1 special buy Stonewashed (also Stroll tonal)
  • 2 Shimmer Lace in the colour 'Spice' which will hopefully be Holden Shawlettes by the 24th
  • 7 Shadow Lace in Garnet Heather with a skein of Shimmer in 'Sherry' for the Classic Lines Cardigan. For me. For Christmas. So I can't play with it yet.
I'm all motivated to knit. First up is the Holden Shawlette (more like a scarf). Mr. A and I wound the first ball of Shimmer lace last night and as I cast on, I realized I've never knit a triangle lace thing yet. I hope it works out...

After the Christmas knitting will be Rams & Yowes and a pair of the grey socks for The Girl Child once she chooses a pattern. The mittens and my socks will wait.

There is talk of a spring Knitpicks sale on the Ravelry forums. Why did I not know of this? A sale is a very motivating force. I will hope to knit up a good portion of this newly arrived box by spring. I might definitely will need sock yarn by the spring...don't you think?

Mrs. A.


Street Faire Success!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

After a month of preparations, our Street Faire experience was a success. (Please excuse my shoddy photography skills - it was busy and I was a little stressed. Really, the table looked lovely.) We sold glitter snowflakes, puzzle piece gingerbread men and knitted gnomes.

I'm quite pleased with how all our ornaments turned out. I think the kids were happy that all the work we did resulted in a nice table with lots of sales. Our knitted gnomes were $2 each and the other ornaments were $1 each. The kids insisted on this pricing as I was wanted to charge $.50 for the snowflakes and gingerbread men. It turns out that this pricing strategy was perfect. I'm glad I listened to the kids.

We sold cider for $.50 a cup. The Boy Child was in charge of this and he did a really good job. Before the sale, the class in the hall ran late cutting severely into set-up time for the vendors. The Boy had to do all the prep and set-up for cider on his own as The Girl Child and I were frantically busy with getting the table ready.

We had a little helper all day. She is very cute and very fond of my big kids. She was responsible for hanging all the ornaments and helping with pouring the cider.

As far as the business end of things went, we spent a little over $30 in supplies. Our profit was a little over $40 after we covered our supply cost. We sold about $80 worth of ornaments and cider. There was a little deal-making and bartering that went on which accounts for our difference.
Sales were good, but I prepared many ornaments and now have all that I need as gift toppers and for family. Amazingly, that means I planned ahead and got a Christmas project out of the way in November. I love it when I surprise myself with being organized!
Mrs. A.


Geology 101

Thursday, November 29, 2012

 Just a quick blog today to share some pictures from our program yesterday. The kids were quite excited to be on campus. And a busy day on campus it was. Students everywhere. It was a grey cold day and I have to wonder about all those students' well-being attending a university during the coldest, greyest days of the year surrounded by big grey buildings...

Miller Hall houses the School of Geology, obviously. The kids were very entertained to see classes in action. Upstairs (why, yes, we did explore and poke around before our class...) the kids saw students working independently in large empty classrooms, profs meeting with students and some really old display cases with rocks in them. Miller Hall also houses a very nice museum (including an interactive room complete with sandbox) where we could see lots of rocks; many interesting and unique pieces from our area.

The curator of Miller Museum delivered two programs. The first was a discussion and overview of geology, "An interactive overview of rocks, minerals, fossils and Earth processes illustrated with many touch samples (including a meteorite, a dinosaur bone, examples of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and mineral ores)".

Lapis Lazuli in its natural habitat.
Coral Fossil
Fossilized Shells shown during discussion of early life on earth
Sample of Carbonized Leaves
Lots of hands on time.
A specimen from Canada's fossil forest 1000km above the treeline in NWT. Nothing like fossilized (not petrified!) wood in Canada's north to teach us about Continental drift.

Our second talk was titled The Earth Through Time. "While seated along an 8 meter-long geological time scale graphic, students hear a 50 minute lecture about the major changes in the Earth's geosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere since its formation. The talk is illustrated with rocks and fossils spanning the entire 4.6 billion years of Earth history including meteorites, the oldest known terrestrial rocks, the appearance of life and its progression from exclusively single-celled organisms in the beginning to the complex life of the present day." The Curator pulled out some rare samples that were very impressive.

Impressive fossil of a lizard like creature from 250+ million years ago.

Also on the camera were a collection of pictures my kids are becoming known for. Picture after picture of samples of rocks in cases. I have a catalogue of the Gems exhibit at ROM in Toronto as well as a good record of the Smithsonian's rock collection in Washington. I can see us going back to Miller Hall just to hang out when we are in the city.

The Museum is a wonderful mix of 1930's original display cases and more modern methods of imaging and display.

A recently donated collection.

The Boy Child's favourite.

Mrs. A.


Byte Size Blog #4

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Today is Byte Size Blog #4, also known as Blogging Without Photos Is Awkward And Unnatural.

  • Blogging without sharing a photo feels awkward and unnatural. Kind of like you just have to take my work for it. Without evidence.
  • I love my Keurig. Have I mentioned we're on Keurig #2? We wore out the first one. There's also a Mini Keurig on my pantry shelf to be used in case of travelling. We like our Keurig that much. Coffee Pods for the Keurig are a treat, though. Twice a year, we order some from the States and it's a big treat to have fancy flavoured coffee pods come to my door in a big box. Cheaper than take-out coffee, they are pricey compared to regular grocery store ground coffee. BUT. A new personal brewer coffee shop opened not far from my house. They sell even more kinds of flavoured coffee...and tea and cider and hot chocolate...than our online store sells. I'm already a 'Loyal Customer' which comes with a 10% discount, but may need a part time job soon. I feel like I should apply at this new coffee supply store.
  • A cup of grocery store ground coffee costs $.40-$.46 a cup. A Keurig coffee pod cup of coffee costs $.64. A take out coffee at McDonald's is $1.56. (Hydro, gas, milk and sugar not included.) Just so you know.
  • We're off to a local-ish University today for a couple of classes at the School of Geology. I hear they also have a very nice Geological Museum that we'll see while we're there. Since I have a pre-Christmas haircut planned for close to our planned departure time, the kids will be responsible for packing supplies and lunch as well as getting their book work done before we go. I am responsible for some banking, dropping by my parents' place, picking up a display stand and getting my hair cut (it's really a safety issue as my bangs have now reached hazard length).
  • The new $20 bills are a lovely green colour...but I think they seem a little like play money with their clear peekaboo window and their plastic feel. Also, they don't rip. Same category as toddler toys, I tell you.
This concludes the fourth edition of Clip Blog, brought to you by The Kids Aren't Up Yet...Again and 2(3?) More Days 'Till My New Knitting Supplies Arrive!!


I've Fallen...

Monday, November 26, 2012

I've fallen in the virtual yarn shop and I may have dropped my credit card. But I must say, it was a great way to start Christmas shopping.

At least, it was great after I had a glass of water and my heart rate returned to normal. It seems I need practice shopping with the masses, virtual or not.

While I was recovering, Mr.A did his own damage shopping for The Boy Child's Christmas gifts at Amazon and the juggling shop.

The Girl Child is proving to be somewhat more difficult to shop for. Having a part time job and a healthy fashion-conscious enthusiasm, she has developed a Christmas liswot hat reads like an airport bookstore fantasy novel.

I'm looking forward to finishing the bulk of our shopping this week. We're having a very streamlined holiday this year which goes right along with my positive, confident approach to the holiday.

We've all decided to have very few gifts under the tree in order to enjoy a family gift this year. We'll be setting up a family membership at a local gym instead.

Ordering much of our shopping online, Christmas or otherwise, means more fun for me. Instead of shipping packages to our door, I have many of them shipped to a receiver in the States, 20 minutes from home. I cross the border, enjoy an afternoon Stateside, and return home with my treasures.

Now, hopefully we've shopped carefully enough that there is only one pick-up trip required. Goodness knows I can't afford to fall down and drop my credit card too many more times this season...

Mrs. A


Homeschoolers' Street Faire Preparations

Later this week the kids and I will head out to our day of homeschooling activities. Part of the day will include a Street Faire. A Street Faire is a new idea for our homeschooling group. A hall has been rented and tables have been booked. Some people are crafting, some people are selling services and some are hoping to sell their used books and supplies. Buskers have been scheduled - any homeschooler can have a 20minute block of time to entertain any way they please.

I'm encouraging my kids to take part and the process has been not unlike molasses so far. I suggested we make Christmas ornaments to sell. It's something we do every year for family (except we don't charge family members for the Christmas ornaments they receive from us, of course) so it wasn't a big leap to start a bit early this year and have a load of ornaments ready for the Street Faire. We thought of a few ideas and talked around costs for materials. We planned the set up for our table and agreed that presentation and a 'nice looking table' was important. We got our materials and I suggested a schedule so our supplies would be ready in time.

I encouraged the kids to think of something they liked or enjoyed to share at the Street Faire. The Boy will be selling cups of warm apple cider. Cider was a hit at the homeschoolers' Thanksgiving Pot-Luck so he is hoping that is a sign that it will be popular at the Street Faire. The Girl thought about baking her gingersnap Christmas cookies but then decided against it. I've been knitting up wee gnomes in spare moments to go with our 'ornaments' theme. Not sure if they'll sell or not, but some of the homeschooling mamas that have seen them in progress seem pretty excited about them.

Knitted Gnomes

The ornaments we decided to make are a crafty Gingerbread man and snowflakes. In the photo are the puzzle piece ornaments I made for family in 2007. The ones we're making this year are a tiny bit different and I haven't come across them on Pinterest yet. I think I'll keep them hidden for another couple of days. I don't have a good photo of them yet as their 'icing' is freshly finished and still drying.

Ornaments in Progress

I'm very pleased with the snowflakes we've made. They're made of hot glue then sparkle-ified to be festive. I got a little worried that the 'suggested schedule' was not inspiring enough motivation for the kids, so I spent the weekend exhausting my hot glue sticks. The kids popped in and out, helping with Modge Podge and sparkles and string.

Finished Sparkly Snowflakes
We now have a full inventory of Sparkly Snowflakes (71.5 snowflakes and two numb fingertips can be had for three small packages of Dollar Store glue sticks) and Puzzle Piece Gingerbread Men (42 of these little guys as that's how many of the little head pieces I could afford to buy at Home Depot).

The kids and I are still disagreeing about the selling price of the ornaments. I say $0.50 and they say a full $1. The Knitted Gnomes are to be priced for more, perhaps $3 each or 2 for $5. I'm discovering that I'm not very good at asking for money for our crafts. I'm feeling a bit of stress. Even though the event planned is expected to be a place where money will be exchanged. I suppose we'll get it all sorted out one way or the other. Mr. A will be very upset with me, though, if I give these things away for free!

Check back at the end of the week and hopefully I'll have happy stories to tell about our very first Homeschoolers' Street Faire!

Mrs. A.


Byte Size Blog #3

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Guess where the puppy was laying?
Today, I bring you Byte Size Blog #3 aka 10 Minutes Until I Should Be Waking Up The Teenagers , sponsored, again, by Point Form.

  • The Puppies (dogs, really) are good. Above photo was snapped earlier this month when the Blue-Eyed Bandit was lying in the leaves on the patio stones in the backyard. The Brown-Eyed Beast continues to be jealous, needing constant confirmation that she is 'first'. The Blue-Eyed Bandit gets her treats stolen a lot. And she seems to have grown an extra large pad on her right back foot. (Cristina, there might be something to your theory, after all!!)
  • Homeschooling today will consist of helping my very good (blogless) friend move house. As the new house has been available for a month, things have been moved as time permits; decorating, cleaning and updating has also been coming along. However, Friday is the last moving day and there is still much to be done. I believe my kidlets and I will be using our car to help move their school room, friend and I will be unpacking and organizing the new kitchen and the kidlets (mine and hers) will be moving a mountain of packed things into the appropriate rooms. Fun times.
  • My proactive approach to planning my Christmas this year has resulted in 4 Christmas parties to attend in 7 days. All will require creative and festive food contributions except one, the dress-up party, which requires an extensive overhaul of my self so I look dressed-up and socially acceptable. I may need to re-examine my enthusiasm.
This concludes the third edition of Clip Blog, brought to you by My Coffee's Done and The Kids Aren't Up Yet And We Have To Get Moving (literally!) Today.

Mrs. A.


Byte Size Blog #2

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Almond Tree Sprout
To prove that I have not fallen off the face of the blogosphere, I bring you Byte Size Blog #2 aka Some Current Thoughts Since Catching Up Will Take Far Too Long, sponsored by Point Form.

  • The above almond sprouted after being wrapped in a damp papertowel and left in a zippy bag in the French cube of the school shelf, forgotten for a month. Leaning to the foreground you can see the first shoot (top killed off due to my black thumb) which was quickly replaced by the second shoot. Almond Sprout seems determined to like it hear as evidenced by the lovely leaves it is showing off. Rumour says (ok, the front page of a Google search) that almonds coming to Canada are pasteurized, so exactly what sort of genetically mutant specimen I have growing in my living area I'm not sure.
  • Christmas has begun to be planned without undue amounts of teeth-gnashing and marital strife. (Mr. A. has the patience of a saint.) It has been decreed that this will be a cash-Christmas. My family has agreed to forgo the usual pile of presents under the tree in favour of a family gym membership. This is an experimental project relying on everyone's willingness and Mr. A's ability to stick to a commitment. I have displayed some measure of grown-up-ness by proactively planning our Christmas season calender instead of employing my usual reactionary approach of cramming in things at the last minute after repeated calls and emails from concerned family members who believe my children would not have a proper Canadian holiday without their efforts. Yay me.
  • The Boy Child has a Man Cold. I have to believe there is an actual concern about the genetic mutation of certain germs since the common cold that The Girl Child had last week has somehow morphed during its trek from bedroom to bedroom across the upstairs hallway. I know it's a Man Cold by its symptoms: moaning before and after coughing, inability to speak 2 sentences without mentioning one's 'illness' and a marked lack of energy for everything except one's screen time and Hallowe'en candy.
This concludes the second edition of Clip Blog, brought to you by Blogger's Guilt and Early Riser's Opportunity.

Hoping to make it back here again this week,

Mrs. A


Byte Size Blog #1

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Access to the PC continues to be an issue. I suspect that it is a direct result of me being 'too nice' since my kidlets are (usually) kind, considerate folk who don't mind letting their mother have a turn with the Internet.

Also inhibiting my blogging mojo is my new best friend, iPad, his evil cousin Internet and the well-known super hero, Ravelry.

To prove that I have not fallen off the face of the blogosphere, I bring you Byte Size Blog #1 aka What's Been Going On With Me, sponsored by Point Form.

  • It's bloody windy. I was in Kingston this morning (the eastern most point of Lake Ontario) and small people under 100lbs needed to be firmly secured and towed to cover. Seriously.
  • No significant knitting progress has occurred in a month. This is disturbing as I have Rams & Yowes waiting in the wings, 2 babies in holding patterns ready to be called to the landing stip at any time, mittens on my needles and a year of stash to get through.
  • I donned my Confident Mother guise and told The Girl Child's fencing coach that even though she may be talented and full of potential, this was not the year for her to be involved in every tournament and training camp within a 7hr drive from our home just so she can experience the 'cultural opportunity' of competing in the Summer Games. Although Coach is the epitome of understanding and support, there is another fencing mother who is quite upset that my very grown up, personal, none-of-her-business decision means that her daughter may have to compete in the 'individual' category rather than as a 'team' entry. Really? High school histrionics now? In my 30s? I wasn't good at them as a teenager and I certainly haven't gained an aptitude for them since.
  • My mom is out of town taking care of her mom, my grandmother, as she recuperates from a car accident. This is fairly significant as Mom pretty much quit her job and left her 4 (almost 5) grandchildren do so. The simple act of my mother going away for the weekend usually sends my dad into a tail spin and this time is no different. Add the extended time he is expected to be a bachelor for and his impending knee replacement to a super high blood sugar situation and we have a tail spin in a basket case on my doorstep. And my phone. Two or three times a day. I'm counting the hours until my mom arrives for dad's procedure on Tuesday. Because although I try, I just don't have all the superpowers my mother possesses.
  • After adding a DVR to our collection of household electronics, I have been continually amused by the convenience of my favourite shows. On the other hand, I have forgotten to keep up with the changing seasons and have no clue about any of the 'new' shows. I am wondering how I should file this one - under 'B' for blessing or 'C' for complaint.
  • If I had told my 20 year old self that I would immensely enjoy buying a stuffed squirrel at Winners and then giving it to my lawfully wedded husband to fling about the living room for the entertainment of the dog on a Friday night I probably would have had my 20 year old head examined. The 37 year old homeschooling housewife totally gets it.

This concludes the inaugural edition of Clip Blog, brought to you with the help of my new bf, iPad.

(pretend there's a little heart here: x)
Mrs. A.


Happy Birthday To Me!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

There was quite a ramp-up to my birthday this year. Shortly after Christmas, Mr. A. decided that I needed to have a birthday party. He also decided to plan it - all by himself.

The actual party was to be modelled after a birthday party which we had recently attended. My niece turned 2 and the theme for the adults in attendance was 'pizza and beer'. (The kids who were there didn't notice as they were distracted by the fancy Dora cake and the Toys R Us explosion that they call their 'living room'.)

I found it all quite amusing. In the month leading up to my big day, Mr. A. took every opportunity to sneak in a secret whisper about some aspect of my birthday whenever my back was slightly turned. He dropped hints and made me guess and even roped the kids into his shenanigans over the gift I was to receive.

He took a half day off work while the kids were at a drama workshop the day before my birthday. We spent that afternoon going all over town picking up food and drink and party things. Not only was there going to be pizza and beer at my party - we were going to surprise everyone with a loot bag.

The morning of my birthday, I had been instructed to stay in bed. So I did. In my mind I was thinking that perhaps coffee would be delivered. That would be a nice birthday wake up. Not so. I needed to stay in bed so that I could be invited down to the living room once 'things were ready'.

Things were ready at the bright hour of 7:30, thanks to the dogs and much to the distress of The Girl Child. Mr. A. had prepared a treasure hunt for my birthday. There were rhyming clues - wrapped in birthday paper - and I had to go about the house searching for the next one until finally I found the 'treasure' in the potato bin.

My family had worked extra hard to drop hints in such a way that I was to think, perhaps, that I might have a lovely new Kobo to call my very own on my birthday. Sure enough, I unwrapped my treasure to find a nice white box with a picture of a Kobo and all the other appropriate labelling on board. Imagine my surprise when I uncovered a fancy iPad under all the packaging!

So much excitement and all before 8 in the morning...on a still-dark, pajama clad Saturday morning. I know, you're welcome for the photos!

Later on, when it was dark again (love me these Canadian winters...) my extended family arrived for pizza and beer and celebrating. There were even balloons and streamers. I tell you, Mr. A. pulled out all the stops for my party. He even managed to get 37 candles on a cake.

Missing from the celebrations were my two brothers who considered an overnight in Algonquin Park courting moose and barely-hibernating bears a priority. That's ok. They're jealous because they didn't get a loot bag.

So that's the short and sweet story of my birthday last weekend. There were some other lovely gifts and cards that really made my day. I don't usually enjoy this time of year as it's always so weary and dreary and dirty and gritty and cold and icy and everyone's so tired of winter and cooped up and miserable. This year was surprisingly refreshing. Not only due to the very strange, seasonaly surprising, mild winter weather we've been having but because of so much silliness and carrying-on as my birthday approached. Mr. A did a super good job keeping everything light and fun and stress-free. And surprisingly, I didn't really mind all the extra attention after all was said and done.

Here's to another trip around the Sun,

Mrs. A.


Free Prime Ministers of Canada Unit Study

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Every now and then I come across something to order on a federal or provincial government website. Honestly, I don't specifically go cruising their websites. But sometimes I'll come across the mention of a resource or someone who says they found a useful tidbit...for FREE! It's the 'for FREE' part that most people get worked up about.

This time I found a Canadian Prime Ministers package. A coil bound volume contains a complete unit study with handouts and activities designed for high school student to 'explore the role, responsibilities and lives of Canadian prime ministers'. A CD ROM of 'archival documents' is included. I expect this is where the handouts are hiding, too.

A folder in the back of the book contains a poster and a 3-page biographical pamphlet for each of Canada's 22 prime minsters. It's a very current resource with the current idiot prime minister in office included.

Before we get into this unit, I'm going to take it to book club. A funny thing to do, perhaps. One of the ladies who comes has a wonderful knack for picking out bias and it's something I'm dismal at. So I love putting things in front of her and then, after a bit of discussion, understanding how the author is trying to brainwash me. Not that the Canadian government is awfully biased, but there is a marked conservative bent to everything.

I like finding resources that are aimed at older students. Our local  area is having a surge of new homeschoolers with younger children, so that is where the conversation has been lately. This resource will be interesting to get into on a couple of different levels. It may count toward The Girl Child's 9th grade history credit or I will save it for the 10th grade civics credit. The kids are so excited. (sarcasm)

In case anyone pops by and in interested in which government website I ordered this from, it's published by the Library and Archives of Canada ( However, I can't find a link to the material there. It's at the Government of Canada Publications website here. Check it out. Order something. Your kids will be reaaallllyy impressed (also sarcasm).

Mrs. A.


Of Sheep & Swords

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rams & Yowes by Kate Davis
Look what's arrived! I'm very excited about this 'gift' my husband bought me.

You see, no sooner had I hit 'publish' after deciding to knit from stash this entire calendar year then I found Rams & Yowes. I thought the Universe was being incredibly unfair testing my resolve so soon. Seriously seconds after I made the deal with myself, bragged to Mr. A about how my knitting wasn't going to cost him a cent this year and blogged about it, Rams & Yowes was prominently displayed on Ravelry's Top 10 Patterns page. To add insult to injury, we've recently painted our main living area - where I usually spend most of my 18 waking hours - a lovely grey colour. It's called White Rabbit and there's a darker wall of Urban Grey. I've not let anyone hang anything on the walls or buy any household accessory unless it meets the strict decorating standards I've set. And guess what?! Rams & Yowes qualifies!!

Mr. A, being the upstanding kinda guy that he is, jumped in and spent his own money on the pattern. We printed it. We spent a Saturday morning in the basement filling printer colour cartridges with toner. We printed the pattern again. It was my bedtime reading for a couple of days. The fact that Rams & Yowes is a small lapblanket (3'x3'), contains stranded colourwork, a giant steek (in which you take a pair of scissors to your lovely knitting and cut the finished product straight up the middle) and a border in which you have to pick up close to 1000 stitches on one needle (most knitters have trouble counting to 8) I'm still going to do it.

Shortly after I was stalking the yarn the pattern called for at a lovely Scottish shop where they work very hard to preserve the traditional yarn making process. The pattern is written to be knit with Shetland yarn from sheep that run about on the very islands they were named after. It is undyed yarn gathered from sheep that are various shades of brown, grey, black and white. In fact, they come in 9 various shades. All of which appear in the blanket. For a short time, I considered picking out some yarn so that I could tweak the colour scheme to include a purplish tone that would match the warm tones of the hardwood floor and the leather couches.  Mr. A said that was a stupid idea. The pattern should obviously be knit with the yarn that it called for especially since the Shetland yarn was in the same ballpark price-range of the KnitPicks yarn (about a $16CDN difference). So I was enlisted to load up an online shopping cart at Jamieson & Smith or risk Mr. A doing it himself. And 11 days later, a lovely squishy package arrived for me. I'm calling it an early birthday present.

I'm a little scared to start knitting it as I'm woefully inexperienced with stranded colourwork. So my February stash-busting project is a pair of stranded colourwork mittens I started last November. That knitting should give me enough practice to be up to the job of the blanket. In the meantime, my Shetland yarn sits in its basket at the end of my bed. Well away from the Skittish White Dog who, apparently, would like to eat Shetland Sheep. Or at least snuffle them to death.

In other, more exciting news, The Girl Child has been up to something new since September. On Saturday, she had the opportunity to attend her first tournament. Three local girls who are all learning the same sword (sabre, in particular, which is one of 3 swords that are used in fencing) went to this tournament. The group of 19 competitors were women aged 12 to 34. Many were university students and just my Girl Child and another of the local girls we travelled up with were rookies. The 3rd girl of our group has been fencing for 4 years. She placed  5th in the Under17 group and 3rd in the Under15. Not that she mentioned it, I had to look up the results this morning!

It was a day of ups and downs for The Girl Child. In her own words, she placed 'dead last'. But I keep reminding her that she didn't go to win. It's all her coach had been telling her for weeks. I think she's proud of herself. At least she's saying that she's happy she went. As she's not wanted to be involved in group sports before, this is really huge for her. To be willing to put herself out there to be scored and evaluated is quite a big deal for her perfectionist, self-conscience tendencies. I'm looking forward to her continuing to develop as a fencer as I think it will really help to boost her confidence and self image much better than anything I could say.

Onward to a new week! Up this week is schoolwork and more schoolwork. There's fencing and art class for The Girl and soccer and hockey for The Boy. Both have a drama clinc all day Friday - they're preforming in a homeschoolers' production of A Midsummer's Night Dream in May - and then we'll wrap up the week with a birthday party for me on Saturday.

Mrs. A.


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