What My Girl Did On her Summer Vacation

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Girl Child made it home from her adventure at fencing camp on the Prairies. She had a wonderful time and is now looking for a job that will earn her enough money so she can return to camp next summer. 

Just about everything that could have happened, happened. All the good: food, friends, fun, admirable fencing foes, tomfoolery and shenanigans. And what we're calling 'challenges'. Namely a very interesting sports injury and unexpected travel interruptions on the way home. 

On her last day of camp I received a call from the coaches. They wanted to let me know about a situation they were having 'difficulty' dealing with. The Girl Child had developed a most vigorous case of muscle spasms while on the piste. They'd moved her (a project involving a ladder and six young men) to a salt bath, but six hours in and she her muscles were still seizing. A most painful and exhausting situation. 

The staff had consulted the knowledgeable head coach and trainer. Another coach went to the nearest pharmacy for rehydrating salts. A massage therapist made himself available to her. What else was there to do?

She managed to get some sleep. In the morning - her travel day - she packed up early, with help, and headed to town with her coach and the camp's head coach. A carefully timed massage and a trip to the pharmacy where muscle relaxants were obtained. As long as she didn't move very much, the spasms weren't too bad. Her calf muscle had settled and most problematic were the quad and glute on her right side. 

As her coach was flying out an hour after she was, she had company at the airport. Then a bunch of fencers showed up. They were also flying home. 

But then her flight was delayed. So much so that her connection would be missed. Once we convinced her that it was more important to take care of her flight than it was to wait with her new friends at their gate until they boarded their planes, she managed the situation well. 

She obtained a new flight and a different connection. The longest leg of her new flight ended up being first class. On the same plane as her coach. Serendipity if I ever saw it. 

I had great fun tracking her flights home. When she made her connection at Pearson International in Toronto, we waited until it departed its gate before heading out to meet her at the Ottawa airport. The plane arrived as we were parking. Perfect timing....for once that day. 

She was tired and sore, limping and her glute was still having spasms. We made jokes about her 'twerking' at the baggage carosel. But her spirits were good and she was looking froward to bed. 

I'd planned a welcome home dinner for her the next day...the same day, really. My family and her boyfriend came. We had BBQ corn and chicken kabobs and for The Girl Child, a giant pot of comfort food: Mac and cheese with peas. 
So her first 48 hours home were filled with taking care of her. As much food, drink, rest, massage and salt bathing as she could handle. And sure enough, the muscle spasms slowed down and stopped and today she is back to regular activity, next week she's back on the piste. 

Mrs. A


Sunday, August 24, 2014

I was trying to sleep in. Although, that's hard with dogs. But sometimes I can trick them into thinking there's still half an hour before they have to get up and go outside. I was hoping this morning might have been one of those mornings. 

Not to be. 

I was lying there in bed, holding my eyes shut, hoping sleep would come back if only the intermittent honking would stop. Not regular car honking though. This was a boat. And it would not. Shut. Up. 

Every minute there was a Seaway freighter blowing its bloody horn. And someone was hauling on it pretty insistently. How do the people in my family sleep through these rackets? I think they're pretending so I have to be the first one to get up....the one to take the dogs out. 

Living here, on the edge of nature, the River is that much closer and there's a fairly clear path to the water - no downtown traffic, buildings or highway to buffer the watery going-ons. Not that it's usually very noisy. It's a lovely river. 

But it is a working river and every day the Seaway is open, many large cargo freighters go by. We've always called them freighters....most locals do. They don't very often blow their horns.

I wondered if one got stuck. It happens every so often. The water was very low the last couple of years. A sea going freighter got stuck around Montreal. One headed to the Great Lakes ran aground in the islands just west of town. Much local excitement ensued. Another ran aground east of the closest lock station. We couldn't drive by and see that one. It took a couple of days to get it unstuck. 

However, this is where my mind goes. A ship is blowing its horn and I wonder if it's stuck....in the very deep and clear portion of the river we are near to. Also, I was annoyed. It's Sunday morning. I've slept for 4 hours after a long day. 

So I popped into my little car and took a little Sunday morning drive down to the river's edge. 

It looked lovely....in the fog. 

Normally, we can see New York and not just two feet past the rocks at the river's edge. 

Of course the poor ship was blowing its horn every 100 meters. You can't see a thing out there this morning!!

I drove home for coffee. But I thought you might like to see a snap or two of my new village. It's pretty and historic and I love the old parts of it. 

We have a tower. It's awesome. 

We have a beautiful Anglican church with the most lovely graveyard. 

One day I'll walk about and take pictures of all the lovely old things in the village. Not this day, though. The boat has moved on to annoy the next town to the east and I have planned a Welcome Home corn roast for The Girl Child to be held later today. She arrived home in the wee hours of the morning after a Friday of managing a most curious sports injury situation and a Saturday of travel complications, cancellations and delays. 

I'm off to clean the pool, husk the corn and dig out the Thomas trains and Playmobil for the wee cousins. 

Mrs. A


One More Sleep!

Friday, August 22, 2014

One more sleep and my Girl will be home! She's having a great time. She reports the food is good, a massage therapist is helping to manage the hurting muscles, she's not sick of the people and she didn't get caught being out after lights out Tuesday night...unlike a few others who are enjoying a 9pm lights out for the remainder of the week. 

The Girl Child also reports she gave a talk about the importance of having and using a training journal. I knew this was important to her coach, but I did not realize that she herself was qualified to educate others on this important training tool. I love it when my kids surprise me. (If I had told her there would be 'required public speaking' at camp alongside the good stuff she was anticipating, she never would have gone.)

Coffee this morning is being enjoyed beside the dining room window. This is where I identified a new-to-me bird with a handy app I have on my iPad. The app comes with examples of bird song and calls which I played while sitting at the window. The Blue Eyed Bandit has been staring at the window for almost five minutes since the bird songs, waiting for the bird to appear. She can hear it. Now she wants to see it. It was a White-breasted Nuthatch, in case you were interested.

Miranda's comment earlier this week is good food for thought. For years now I've been thinking about amalgamating my blog posts from over the years into one platform. For reasons of privacy in a small town where my extended family is well known, I went fairly anonymous a few years ago. And before that blogging change, I had found myself blogging on what turned out to be a strongly religious homeschooling site. It wasn't a good fit and I moved. So my project this weekend will be to look at Wordpress, as Miranda suggests. I expect less hands on teaching time with the kids this year and a good use of that extra time would be to get all the homeschooling records together - and that includes these meandering blog posts. 

Yesterday was 15 official years of marriage for Mr. A and I. We had a quiet working day at home, having had a special date last Friday which we called our Anniversary Celebration. 

On the schedule for today is a stop at the post office to mail off my mini-skein swap packages. 

Inside is lovely sock yarn for 8 Americans, a Scot, someone Down Under and a lady down the road in Ottawa. I'm hoping the lovely lady at the village post office is helpful and kind as many involved in this swap have had problems mailing off their packages. 

As well, I'm supposed to call the people at the local quarry and get a load of gravel delivered to the house. I was supposed do it yesterday so the gravel would arrive today, but they're calling for rain and the only thing I can image that is worse than shoveling gravel in the first place is shoveling gravel in the rain. Also, if the gravel comes on Monday, The Girl will be home to help letting me 'manage' the project. Here's the driveway before:

We've been torching and trimming the weeds and will do another good treatment before the gravel comes. I'm debating weed cloth around the edges where the weeds are the worst. Hopefully I've calculated enough coverage to stop the grass from coming through. It really bugs Mr. A. 


Mrs. A


Byte Size Blog #9

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • I so appreciated the comment the other day in regards to stepping back from my local homeschooling efforts. It's nice to know there's others who know how I feel. 

  • Somehow I fell into the role of dealing with the garbage and recycling at our new house. This means a dump run this morning. 

  • The Girl Child is alive in Outlook, Sask. She was told to maybe focus a little more on the camp experience and a little less on keeping her friends informed by text messages and it seems my punishment is no update phone call. I did learn that there was a walk to the convenience store during which The Girl saw a buck on someone's lawn. She must be on the edge of very big nature out there. 

  • Yesterday was a dentist trip that normally is an hour's drive there and an hour back - it took twice as long as usual due to construction on the roads. 
  • Due to the construction, shopping time was eaten up and all I had time to do was to dash into the mall and - after placating The Boy Child with a booster juice smoothie - run into Lush to buy a tiny pot of shower gel. I'm looking forward to trying it. It smells like citrus and FRESH!!

  • Today is a local trip to the optometrist for The Boy. Since he won't wear his glasses, he's going to ask about contacts. 

  • In an effort to break the monotony of the recent Byte Size Blogs, I am blogging not by app, but through the browser. This means bullets and maybe even a pic. 

  • Except just then I pushed the little picture icon and crashed my browser, so a picture will be a little more involved than I thought. You might just have to appreciate the bullets. Which are more populous than I had initially intended. 

  • In the end I had to revert to the Blogger App. You can't imagine the back and forth it's taken to get this wee post published. Fun times. 

  • Mrs. A



Monday, August 18, 2014

Way back in December, we began planning an adventure for The Girl Child. 

We felt it was time for a her to have an opportunity to use all those life skills she's been collecting, excercise that independence she's got, have some fun and broaden her horizons, if you will. 

Yesterday we took her to the airport and sent her across the country, out West, to the Prairies. I think she'd had just about enough adventure by the time she reached airport security and realized Mr. A and I wouldn't be continuing through with her.

She quickly rallied and got into the groove of traveling. We left her to wait at her gate until departure - two hours - while we drove home to take in The Boy Child's soccer tournament. We knew she was fine because she texts a running commentary of her life to me at the best of times. This time was no different. 

She's a very funny girl who likes making us laugh. Also, bagels at the airport cost $2.79, not the regular $2.09 that she is used to paying. 

I may have found an online tool that tracks flights. Because we all know that tracking her flight online makes for a safer journey, right?

She arrived and all the plans put in place were executed nicely. She found the people she was expecting to find. She travelled to her destination with another bagel and a Booster Juice in hand. She settled in and met all sorts of people she's excited to get to know. She commented about the landscape and told me all about just how big the sky can be. 

This morning Fencing Camp properly gets under way. At the end of the week, she'll reverse her travels and arrive home with a big experience to tell us about. 

In the meantime, I'm glad she's away. I'm glad she's excited about this experience. I'm glad she's trying something new, meeting people, being independent. It's different without her at home, but I'm not sad. I'm happy that this separation comes when she's ready and willing and feeling equipped to take care of herself. I know she'll come home having learned more about herself and feeling confident because she's done real, big and sometimes difficult things. She'll have made great connections in her sport. She'll be excited to think about the future because she knows there's a very big sky out there since she's seen it for herself and she can get back to it - or anywhere - if she wants to. 

Mrs. A


Happy Weekend

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's been a wee bit dismal here this week.

We froze at The Boy Child's soccer game the other night. It's jeans and hoodie weather this morning. Two mornings ago there was a break in the week's rain and the neighbours on three sides all rushed out to cut their grass. If this keeps up, we're going to have to backwash the pool just to get rid of the excess water. 

Coffee this morning was terrible. My fault. A brewing disaster obviously. The remedy is to brew another cup properly. Coffee #2 has commenced. 

A coworker of Mr. A's dropped by some homemade hummus with pickles and olives. He even called beforehand to see if we had pita on hand. We did not so he brought that too. This is a traditional Syrian recipe and it is so good. If I want, I can have a cooking lesson. I am the only hummus eater in residence, so I've been eating this for lunch the last few days. Such a treat. 

I ran into a couple of local homeschooling moms at the library this week. I really like them but I have confirmed I'm finished with my organizational efforts on the local homeschooling front. I've put out a few feelers and even a firm poke in the hopes of passing off my responsibilities with little success. People seem to want local homeschooling supports but are putting little effort forth to plan or help with them. I've learned that when all the planning - for anything, really - falls on one person, eventually no one is happy. 

It's time to me to step all the way back. I think I may have said this last year at this time. I remember planning an August open house for local home learners and those interested in homeschooling. I said at the time it would be my last one. I did the bare minimum September picnic planning. I told people far and wide that I'd book the space and advertise, but if anyone wanted events or a schedule or activities for the kids they'd have to step forward and plan it. Next week I will pass the real job in our homeschooling community - the local email tree - off to a very nice mom who is willing. Others will be unimpressed because she's not local but somehow I have a problem giving weight to their argument when they're not willing to step up and help out. I've passed responsibilites for program planning and drop-ins to the Children's Librarian, the Museum Educator and a children's Theatre group. I've made sure the Facebook Group is linked to other area groups and has a variety of administrators. 

At this point, I'm more interested in hibernating in my own little microcosm than participating in our local homeschooling community. Is that bad? I feel like a bad homeschooling mom. I'm excited to just be the manager of my own kids' learning. This year I will be approaching administration on many fronts and I think that's plenty for me to juggle with the kids' high school course load. We're looking into a semester of high school in a brick and mortar, co-op, dual credit with the community college and varsity sports at the University again. I did a bunch of pre-planning back in the Spring which will get the kids going and occupied with independent, self-managed courses. I'll be spending my time setting up the above learning opportunities and fleshing out their course load with interesting and/or necessary material. 

So, while I wrap my head around those plans...what else is going on? 

The Girl Child flies out to attend a fencing camp tomorrow morning. That should be a week full of adventure for her. 

And there's a pic of some yarn that I have to get ready to send out. One to Scotland, one to Austrailia, one to a Canadian city an hour away from me and the rest to the USA. I should be getting the same amount back should all go well. That will be my own end-of-summer adventure...all those little surprise skeins in my mailbox. 

The only other activity of note is The Boy's end of season soccer tournament tomorrow. I have to track down a local family member to drop him off at the field as Mr. A, The Girl and I will be at the plane station. I wonder if I can convince Mr. A to make a side trip to IKEA while we're there...Should make for an interesting day.

Mrs. A


We Have Proper Chairs!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Coffee this morning is Raspberry Chocolate Truffle. It's good. I picked it up at the local Winners so I may never have it again. I try to make sure I enjoy it while I have it. The Winners always have a selection of flavoured coffees, but you can never depend on repeat appearances by the same brand. For the same price as boring grocery store regular coffee, I get to try fancy flavours. Adventure. 

The dark blob is my resurrected Age of Brass and Steam. After finishing my Henslowe with its knitted on edging (I feel so accomplished) this one seems basic. I tracked down some modifications to the free pattern on Ravelry to make it a little bigger - the pattern is written for DK weight yarn and I'm knitting it up in fingering - and to make a little embellishment at the corners. 

Onward to the real news....we have chairs! The Unfurnished Room is no longer. Now I must come up with another name for it. The Bonus Living Room? The Dogs' Preferred Lounging Area? The Sitting Room? 

This is how we used to use this room. Very casual. Definitely not a place for anyone over 40 to relax in.

Mr. A's trip to Ikea fell on a day when we had visitors. So the kids and I stayed home to entertain and Mr. A got to go to Ikea on his own. With extra people about, there were many hands to get our new chairs unpacked. 

Not much is left to the imagination when it comes to Ikea. 

So there you have it. A lightly furnished room. The chairs were supposed to be grey, but at the last minute we chose the brown. Now all that is left is to properly decorate. A coffee tray, a couple of throw pillows, a blanket. Perhaps I could get around to finding a place to hang the pictures instead of having them sitting on the hearth. Although, they're the only thing keeping Mr. A from having a fire and since it's still summer, they need to stay to another couple of months. 

The ottoman was also a last minute decision. A good one, though, as it is used a lot. I figured it matched and served a purpose and it saved me from finding a side table or footstools.

I think that's the last bit of furnishing to do in our new house. Now we move on to decorating and cosmetic updates as money and time allow. First up though, I need to get our school year planned and prepped. Then I will have the headspace to lend to decorating decisions. Saying that, I am considering decorating The Girl Child's room while she is away at camp next week. The poor child has a stash of boxes she is refusing to unpack until her room is 'done'. 

Mrs. A


Summer :-)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Goodness, it's been two weeks since I checked in! I would have bet money that it had been only a week.

It feels as though I've had a bit of a summer vacation. That's novel, because we don't really holiday as many people do. 

So...what's been happening on my summer vacation? Many adventures. Not really. But I'm loving having a house and a yard that's mine. It's like being at the cottage. 

Mr. A Breaks The Car One morning, shortly after my last blog, I got up early, packed Mr. A's cooler and sent him off to go fishing for the day. Not an unusual occurrence. What was unusual was the phone call I received an hour later. The car had stopped working while he was parked on the boat ramp. The men, trucks and boats collecting to use the ramp were very understanding. A tow truck came and brought my car home. 

Mr. A stayed at the lake and fished for the day since the boat was already in the water. Luckily, his fishing buddy for the day had a hitch on his truck and he brought Mr. A and the boat home that evening. 

I Made Steps Last blog I showed you a piece of the garden I had started to reclaim. I got a little excited about the possibility of having my own compost heap, so I decided to make the area a little more user friendly. 




Summer School Complete! The kids are officially done their summer school course. It was a steep learning curve, getting used to the requirements and demands of a condensed course. I think both kids were super successful. After a weekend of no assignments and a bit of studying, there was a final review lecture on the Monday. Tuesday afternoon was the exam. It needed a proctor so we booked the quiet study room at the local library and did the exam there. 

I learned that final marks will be mailed to the students. That's fine, just a little surprising given all the online communication for every other aspect of the assignments and grading. I wonder if they're mailing back the $50 'deposit' I paid for the free course?

A Celebratory Pool Party 

The kids' pool party looked doomed. The morning was rainy and awful. We prepared anyway - no sense cancelling since it's so hard to get people together in the summer. I fully expected to be indoors which would not have worked out very well as Mr. A finds it difficult to work when the house is full of OUR teenagers with free time...goodness knows what would have happened if I'd packed the house with extra teenagers!

So there we were, vacuuming the pool in the rain. 1 o'clock - arrival time - rolled around and the sun came out and we had a perfect afternoon. Much fun had by all. 

Book Club Sleepover My book club is awesome. One of the ladies hosted a book club dinner-sleepover and I went. I wasn't going to sleep over, because that seemed weird to me. But after a couple of glasses of wine, sleeping over didn't seem like a weird idea at all. 

Dinner was awesome. We had roasted chicken, a warm pasta dish with baby potatoes, fresh pesto and green beans and this amazing Cobb salad. There was wine and dessert and before all of it there were amazing appetizers. I think we mentioned the book we were supposed to discuss. It was 'Zetouin', non-fiction, an account of the flood in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. I didn't like the ending and was even more disappointed after learning the fate of the main character's family. 

Gardening In the garden, I'm quite impressed with myself. I've brought tomato plants back from the brink of death. I've fought off digger wasps - seriously, google Great Black Digger Wasp, they're huge and remove a great deal of earth in a short amount of time - both black and red varieties. 

I've also been able to identify Jewel Weed growing behind our seperate garage. It's a native plant with a beautiful flower. The whole plant is tall, spindly and has a translucent quality to the stalks and stems. The flower is a hanging orange pitcher type thing. Hummingbirds apparently like them. 

Once the flower is done, a small pod of seeds hangs there. When you touch it, it explodes. It's alarming if you're not expecting it. The pod bursts so fast you can't even see it. The seeds spray all over, many feet away. I like cupping my hand around the seed pod and collecting the seeds. The pod becomes this little curly bit of nothing and you're left with a few black seeds. I am playing Mother Nature a bit by spreading the seeds to an area where they will hopefully grow up next season. Jewel Weed does not like to be transplanted and does not have a very robust root, so it's best left where it grows.

The Kids Leave For Days Family friends took The Girl Child and The Boy Child camping. They have a beautiful pop-out trailer with every convenience so it was 'glamping' more so than actual communing with nature. We dropped them off at the campsite in New York State one evening and I went to pick them up three days later. It was the longest I've been childless since I became a parent. 

Our friends spoiled the kids silly. There was a field trip to a dam and lock system on the St. Lawrence River but the outing that most amused my nearly grown children was the trip to the Price Chopper, a grocery store. It seems 'Pop Tart' is a food group and they discovered 3Litre Pop bottles, not to be seen in Canadian stores. 

Knitting As August got under way, I remembered I was supposed to be participating in Stash Dash 2014. This is a personal challenge where you try to finish projects that amount to 5 kilometers of yarn. I'll have to blog about this separately, but I failed dismally. I prefer to think about it as 'setting a benchmark' for future years of Stash Dash challenges. I think I may have knit a single kilometer's worth. 

I knit these 14 Hexipuffs, 2 pair of summer socks, the Sweet Poppy baby jacket and a Henslowe scarf that has not yet been photographed. I started my Rams & Yowes blanket and another scarf called The Age of Brass and Steam. 

Wrapping up my Couple of Weeks That Felt Like A Vacation was yesterday's surprise trip to the yarn shop. Mr. A has been doing his best to take care of me since I've come down with a terrible cough and sore throat. Two consecutive nights of 'sleeping' upright on the couch does not make for a very energetic Mrs. A. So Mr. A put me in the car yesterday afternoon and we zipped up the road to the little village with a wonderful yarn shop. 

It doesn't look like much, but the wonderful things in my chair show that Mr. A has been paying more attention than I thought. While I was busy squishing yarn, he was casing the joint for a swift. He grabbed it and added it to our purchase at the very last second so I didn't even see it coming. He asked the shop lady if she had any blocking wires - they're in the brown tube - and we also picked out a most amusing yarn cake. 

The yarn is 480 yards (440m) of 4ply cotton fingering. There's hardly any twist to it. I love the colours and I look forward to seeing if there are simple colour changes or if the yarn blends through a gradient, light to dark. The yarn is Shirley.Brian and there is a maddeningly short supply of information online about them. I believe they're a local independent but it's hard to say. The search for an appropriate pattern for this yarn has begun. 

I've gone on long enough. I have other adventures to tell, but I will leave things here for now. I feel as if the summer has crested and today begins the downhill run...and it's quickly gaining momentum to the end of summer, school year planning, part time jobs, extracurricular activities and a new season in our new home. 

Mrs. A


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