Thursday, December 23, 2010

Making Christmas Traditions

Last year we braved a 45 degree temperature change and 32 hours of travel time to make it home for Christmas. Despite the cold and the long flight, it was so good to be home with our family and friends for the holidays. This year we staying in Brisbane. I must admit - it feels kind of weird.

I guess part of the problem is that it's been hard to get my head around having a "traditional Christmas" in a place where people go to the beach Christmas day and where a "White Christmas" is some fake snow that's part of an amusement park gimmick.

But whatever the situation, I love Christmas, and so I decided that I'd do my best to get into the spirit and bring some of our traditions down under.
First, I put up the lights on our house. Usually we'd be freezing not sweating while doing this task so that was definitely a positive. Our lights aren't really very impressive but they're already better than most of the houses on our block (except our Canadian neighbours - I still think Don "borrowed" my candy cane lights so that I wouldn't outshine him - lol). Most people just don't decorate their houses here but we found a few neighbourhoods that do go wild. To get my family into the Christmas spirit I grabbed the list from the newspaper and insisted on doing a light tour. The lights were actually pretty impressive - Griswald worthy even. The only thing missing was a stop at Timmy's for a peppermint hot chocolate and a donut afterwards!

Next came the Christmas baking. I make cookies every year (and every year try to stop Paul and the kids from eating them before Christmas!) This year was no different. With the help of the internet I found my usual Canada Corn Starch shortbread recipe. It's the one I've used since I first started cooking and seems very Canadiana Christmas to me. I also made my usual gingerbread cookies. As I was decorating them I felt the urge to give them a bit of a twist. My gingerbread men turned into gingerbeach people complete with bikinis and "budgie smugglers!" That's when I decided that I could keep some traditions, build on some, and add some new ones.

So as a result, we kept our usual tradition of turkey and stuffing for Christmas dinner but added prawns and a pavlova. We had Christmas crackers, wore those unflattering crowns, scratched "scratch'n wins", and ate until we were stuffed. But we also had a morning swim (o.k. some people were pushed in), floated a Christmas tree in the pool (thanks to Don the engineer), and left Santa a sausage instead of just cookies (he asked for one in his letter to Jack).
And although we didn't have our family here to celebrate with (and we really missed them), we did spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day laughing, eating, and making traditions with some new friends.
Now, if I could just get that Shaw crackling holiday fireplace on the T.V. !

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Gambler - Pool Edition

Now, we've had many a "boy's poker night" hosted at our house. As my husband and his friends have gotten older, their poker nights have evolved. Their snacks have gotten fancier - hot wings, shrimp dips, snack trays, etc. versus just chips, their bets bigger (though coming from someone who cashes out a $5 win, I may not be the best to judge), and their set up more professional (no more plastic poker chips and card tables). But even with the evolution of their poker nights, I must admit that I didn't see this coming! Somehow I don't think this is going to be as popular when we're back in Calgary!

Check it out:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Banana Cream Pie Birthday

My Dad loved sweets. Much like my son Jack, who once told his Grandad that he "loved him more than candy." That was a lot.

So when it came to dessert - my Dad could always be counted on to dig in. And for birthdays, we always had our favourites. My Mom's is Black Forest or red velvet cake, my brother likes white cake with butter cream icing (preferably from Glamorgan bakery in Calgary), mine is chocolate fudge cake, and my Dad's was not cake at all, but banana cream pie.

Banana cream pie - it covers all the food groups doesn't it? Fruit, dairy, protein, cereal - yes, yes, yes, and yes! Not that my Dad really cared - it tasted good and brought back memories of good times.

So especially in the last year, when he was in pain, dealing with chemo, or I just wanted to cheer him up, I'd make him one. Whatever the other effects of the drugs he was on, my Dad kept his appetite for good food.

I haven't made a banana cream pie since he passed away. Maybe it was too soon for me to think of making one that I couldn't share with him. But I think tomorrow, on what would have been his 67th birthday, I might be tempted to make one again. Because I loved him more than dessert - and that's a lot.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Giggle Till You Tinkle

Driving home from downtown Brisbane I expect to see signs or banners advertising whatever events are going on in the city. There are plenty of signs for Ekka (their Exhibition), for Mamma Mia and for Wicked, and for Daffodil Day. But when I saw the sign in the picture here I couldn't stop laughing.

Yes, I know it's not a laughing matter - or maybe it is - since sometimes that's just when it's a problem. They don't tell you that after you've had kids you're going to be sentenced to crossing your legs whenever you giggle! (O.k., I've probably turned off any men that actually read this blog - but you know what I'm talking about girls).

After seeing this sign for Weak Bladder Week I decided that I just had to have a picture of it for my blog. So, in the interests of safety, I enlisted my friend Shannon to take the picture while I drove. I wanted the best picture possible of course. However, that meant Shannon actually had to unbuckle, put her head and the camera out of the sunroof, (or risk decapitation by the cars on either side of us), balance precariously on her seat in her high-heeled sandals, and manually focus my camera. Let's just say I almost peed myself in the process! Maybe I better write down that number!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Jack!

Our Jack turns 7 today. Seven! Seven seems so old. I know it's not - he's still at the age where he wants to live with me forever. Or at least next door.

But still, it seems like just yesterday I was out having dinner with friends for my baby shower. Even then Jack liked to do the unexpected. Thankfully, I was sitting on a separate chair and not the bench at our table - or at least, I'm sure the other girls were glad that I was! Let's just say - water breaking in a restaurant during a baby shower - it doesn't just happen in the movies!

After the excitement of his early birth, Jack has continued to amaze and entertain us. Sometimes it's how he seems to have the wisdom of one so much older. Like when Paul and Fred were trying to move our couch using our Hyundai Santa Fe. They had decided it was not going to fit. Jack looked at them, waved his hands in the air, and said "Guys, you gotta have faith!" It fit afterall.

Other times, it's how he can make us smile. You only have to read some of my previous blogs to be familiar with my many Jack stories. His cheerfulness is infectious. Who can resist his red curly mop, sliding down glasses, and constant chatter?
Admittedly, Jack can be somewhat blunt. Like when he told the bagpiper at the park how his Uncle Robb taught him (Jack) how to play the bagpipes, and how maybe Uncle Robb could give the bagpiper some lessons.

But, he is also a very sensitive and caring little boy - remember his New Year's resolution of "more hugs?"

We couldn't imagine our life without him. Happy birthday Jacko!! Bring on the hugs!! And Jack - I won't hold you to your promise to live with me forever, but I will expect you to call me at least once a week!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I know how important it is to have open lines of communication with your children's teachers. After all, they are like your child's second family. I just never expected that those lines would be so busy when it came to Jack!

I'm not saying that Jack is a bad student. Academics seem to have been the last thing his teacher and I have been discussing. Jack is just a continual source of amusement to us, his teachers, his classmates, and their families. "Jack from Canada" is well known at school. Though famous or infamous I'm not sure.....

The first time I got the call in Grade 1 was a bit of a sticky situation - literally. The class was doing an art project and Jack somehow glued his fingers together. Who knew glue sticks were that powerful? I don't know why he didn't just wash his hands or get his teacher's help. Boys' minds just work differently I guess. No, instead Jack and his friend decided - as only two 6 year old boys could - that the best course of action would be to cut his fingers apart. I asked Jack why he would let someone else near him with scissors. He claimed that after their first failed attempt he had expressed some doubts, but decided to go ahead anyway. Not surprisingly, his finger got cut. On his way back from getting a bandage at the office, he ran into the gym teacher who thought he looked a bit pale. (He did admittedly look a little Edward Cullen-ish, but do you know many redheads who aren't pasty white?) She asked him if he was o.k., to which he replied that he was going to explode. She took that to mean that he was going to spew everywhere. In actuality, it was just my dramatic son's way of saying that his heart was racing. (Probably from the sight of the blood - he is his mom's child). I got the call to pick him up from the school. No one wants a kid that's going to puke! The next day several curious moms wanted to know if the story of the glued fingers was true. I guess when they asked their kids "what happened at school today?" Jack's episode rated higher than the usual "nothing".

Not long after, I got an email from his teacher. She was trying to verify Jack's birthday for a class project they were doing. Jack was adamant that his birthday was in July but all of the school's documentation listed August. I replied back that his birthday was indeed in August. When I picked him up that day a laughing Miss Wilson beckoned me into the classroom. It seems that when she told Jack his birthday was in August he simply nodded his head and informed her that because of the time difference, his birthday was in July in Canada but August in Australia. Who knew there was an international birthdate line?

My latest chat with Miss Wilson was really quite hilarious, though embarrassing. It's not everyday that you get to discuss flatulence with your child's teacher. Apparently, the kids had been sitting quietly on the carpet listening to a story when Jack let out 3 (the # is subject to some debate) rather large, loud rippers. When the dismissal bell rang for the day, out ran one of Jack's friends, making a bee-line for me. Will couldn't wait to explain how Jack had been sent out of the classroom because he had "fluffed" 3 times. (I find it strange in a country where they bluntly call restrooms - the "toilet" - that kids here refer to "farts" as "fluffs. But I digress). Will's mom told me she had heard 5 fluffs when he was relaying the story to his family later that night. Luckily, Jack didn't actually get kicked out of the classroom. His teacher thought it best that he excuse himself and take a visit to the toilet, as he obviously had some stomach issues. Afterwards I clued into the fact that pepperoni and Gouda cheese sandwiches might not be the best lunch combination in the future - at least for the good of his classmates.

With 5 more months of school left I'm sure Miss Wilson and I will have many more conversations regarding my accidental comedian. I just hope she doesn't have to put me on speed dial!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sporty Sports Day

The kids were walking home from school recently and their conversation went something like this:

Caitlyn: "These Australians are really serious about their sports!"
Jack: "Yeah, they are so super sporty!"
Josh (their Canadian friend): "They are like outside all the time running around! You know, we Canadians are like, happy to sit in front of the T.V. every once in awhile."
Then they all nodded in earnest agreement.

A couple of weeks ago Caitlyn had her "Sports Carnival." Although the kids had fun, I would agree that it was far more serious than the Sports Days of our Canadian past.

In Calgary, some of the kid's favourite sports day events weren't really even true "sports". While technically running is a part of "duck, duck, goose," I don't think any of the kids actually realized they were exercising. And the reason that particular game station was so popular - the person who was "it" got to drench the "goose" with a wet sponge.

My personal favourite was at Caitlyn's grade 1 sports day, where all of the kids fought for their turn to roll down a hill in an empty refrigerator box! Classic!

I guess I expected a less competitive edge to Caitlyn's Aussie Sports Carnival. Maybe some races of the wheel barrel, egg on the spoon, potato sack, or three-legged variety? Instead the day was filled with shot put, long jump, high jump, and a 100 metre sprint. It was like a mini-Olympics! The kids were all divided up into their school houses with the goal of winning points for their teams. Chants and house songs filled the air. I had to stifle a giggle when Caitlyn's team did their chants - her house has the unfortunate sounding name of Meibusch (pronounced "my bush"). I know, I'm juvenile!

They had fun cheering for their teams, wearing their House colours, doing their House chants, but it was definitely a competition. Caitlyn gave it her best, and that's all we asked. She was disappointed with her performance but soon perked up upon the presentation of a special treat. No... not a medal or even a ribbon... she was happy with a cupcake (or two) from the bake sale table.
So, while some of us Canadians are not so "super sporty" we will give it a go when there's chocolate at the finish line!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pick and Chews

(This was written before Jack's tonsillectomy but I'm posting it now anyway!)

Jack has recently picked up a bad habit - literally!

My son is a nose picker.

I've noticed his fingers rammed up his nose more and more lately. As gross as that is, it's not the worst part. It's what comes after. (Sorry, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth!) Nuff said!

I've looked at a bunch of parenting sites on how to stop this bad habit. One of the main things they suggest is that it could be related to allergies. I'm not sure that Jack has allergies but he's definitely a congested little man. I'm hoping that once he gets his tonsils and adenoids out this week that his nose won't be so plugged. Unfortunately, he has been doing it enough lately that it seems to have started to become an unconscious thing. So, even if his nose clears up I'm worried that may not stop him from drilling for nose candy!

Before you suggest it, I have given Jack tissues to carry with him. The problem with that is he's kind of a wild blower. It goes everywhere. And then, he leaves Kleenex in all of his pockets. Not good if you miss one and it goes through the wash. I may have to resort to the old fashioned hanky (though that in itself kind of grosses me out too).

So, I've decided to try some of the other suggested strategies. The first is a reward system. Stickers instead of boogers. After so many pick free days he'll get a little reward. He seems interested. We'll see how that pans out.

I've also put plan two into action. We covered a few of his fingers with bandaids. The bandages make his fingers too big and scratchy to fit into his nose. However, I forgot to tell him to keep the reason for his "plasters" (as they call them here) on the down low, so he wouldn't feel embarrassed. Well, I needn't have worried. Jack doesn't do embarrassed. That morning he sat down and started reading for one of the moms before class. Before he got through the second page he felt the need to stop and tell her exactly what his new bandaids were for. Repeating several times, he demonstrated how they were on his "picky" fingers! She smiled at me and laughed, I laughed and blushed, and got out of there before Jack revealed any other family secrets.

As a parent you have to pick and choose your battles. I just hope we can win the battle of the pick and chews! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I just can't wait for.....a tonsillectomy?

Who, besides maybe Heidi Montag, looks forward to surgery? The answer: my crazy son Jack!

He has been going around the house the last 2 weeks singing "I just can't wait till Thursday!" Thursday - the day he gets his ginormous tonsils out.

His tonsils are quite literally the size of golf balls. Paul has taken to calling him the "house elf" lately, given his funny muffled voice. While it's sort of cute, I must admit that I've had trouble understanding him the last couple of months. So, I'm not sure how his teacher and classmates have been able to grasp what he's been saying - what with his "hot potato voice" and Canadian accent. Not that no one understanding him would stop Jack from talking.....

I guess maybe I would be excited too, since the poor kid has been suffering from some serious sleep apnea, snoring that rivals my Grandma Currie's (I had to wear ear muffs when I shared a room with her), and swallowing with what seems like two giant moth balls in his mouth. However, the top reasons he is excited about Thursday are the perks that come as a result. In case you can't understand him in the video, he is looking forward to getting his new Mario pillow, a Yoshi stuffy, eating ice cream, and having his favourite soup (Ichiban). I'm sure the 2 week break from school has nothing to do with his happiness - not!

While Jack is excited about tomorrow, Caitlyn is the exact opposite. Caitlyn, my little mini-worst-case scenario mom, is very worried about her little brother. As a result she has decided that it's her job to let him know just why he's delusional to be happy about it. Initially she believed that the doctors would be cutting slits on either side of his throat, and she shared this theory with Jack! Luckily, that didn't even phase him. She also heard that people who get their tonsils out often lose weight. So this past week she's been like a little Italian grandmother - trying desperately to fatten Jacko up. "Eat Jack!" she says, following him around with extra food. Yesterday she grabbed the anesthesiologist's info sheet off the counter and started reading it, and making notes! I had to take it away from her - she was making me nervous. "Mom," she shouted, "did you know they are going to make Jack unconscious? How is he supposed to breathe?" "Mom, did you read this - make sure you don't give him nurofen!" It's sweet she's so worried about her little brother, but she's scaring me!

We have been so blessed to have such happy, healthy kids. I know getting your tonsil's and adenoids out is a pretty common procedure but it will still be hard to watch them take my little baby into the operating room. But, if Jack can face this with a smile I guess I can fake one!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Love at the Library

Paul and I met at the University of Calgary library. We were studying. Really.

O.k., not really. That's just the story we told his mom and dad. In actuality we met at a bar. A bar called Coconut Joe's. On Electric Avenue. In Calgary. I still have the dress I wore. A little black velvet Esprit dress. My Grandma thought I should wear it with a sweater. I didn't. It's actually in the kid's dress-up box. I probably could fit into it again - if I removed a few ribs.

At the time Coconut Joe's was one of "the" places to party. Now it's a daycare. Kind of makes you feel old!

The whole meeting wasn't as sordid as it sounds. I'll admit to writing my phone number in lip gloss on a piece of paper tablecloth. But I didn't have a pen. And, it was New Year's Eve. Isn't it kind of romantic to met your true love on New Years Eve? We were dancing when they started the count-down. Paul gave me my first kiss of 1989. Then later, he asked me to dance again. I wish I could say that we danced to something romantic and sweet. I just don't think you can classify "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back to My Room)" that way. Needless to say our friends took great delight in requesting that song at our wedding.

In a way we did kind of meet at the U of C. Paul called me for our first date after running into me at school. If meeting at a bar wasn't something he wanted to tell his parents, our first date was even more awkward. He picked me up for our date from a hotel where I was dancing. But to clarify, I was Highland dancing at a Scottish Ceilidh at the hotel! I'm not sure his friends heard those important details!

Well, yesterday Paul and I celebrated our 18th anniversary. So, I guess you can find love at a bar. Or at a library. Yes Caitlyn, there are lots of nice boys at the library!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Love You Forever

I was contemplating what to write about for Mother's Day when Robert Munsch's story "Love You Forever" popped into my head. It's a story about a mom who sings a special song to her sleeping child throughout his life. She sings:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.

Even though the time where she climbs into his window when he's an adult to sing to him strikes me as a little creepy, I must admit that I can rarely get through reading the story without getting a bit choked up. The part that always gets me is when he sings back to his mom when she is too old and sick to sing to him:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My Mommy you'll be.

That book, Love you Forever, reminds us how as parents, and as children, we are tied together in such an amazing and eternal bond. Your child will be your child no matter how old she or he gets, and you will be their Mom, even when you are gone. Cherish each other.

Sure, there are times in life when that bond is tested. There are times when as children, and even as parents, we may love each other but not necessarily like some things the other half has done or said. We need to appreciate that being a Mom can be one of the easiest but also one of the most difficult things to do in the world.

The easy part is how much love as a Mom you can feel for your child. You just have to look at them (sometimes on a rough day, it's best when they're sleeping) and that warmth swells up inside of you.

And it is the most difficult thing when, as their parent, you have to let your child make their own way in life, see them hurt by others or even by themselves.

No, I'm not perfect and not likely up for "Mother of the Year," but Jack and Caitlyn know I'll love them forever. And, I have a homemade Mother's Day card and a video slide show to prove that they love me too. And that's enough.

Monday, April 26, 2010

White Pants After Labour Day?

O.k. fashion police - I need a ruling! Growing up in North America, there was an unwritten rule about not wearing white pants/shoes after Labour Day. Well, now what am I supposed to do? Labour Day here is next week - not in September like in Canada! And even though it's fall here, the weather is still sunny and 25C.

I realize the "no white rule" is probably more a practicality in the Great White North than bad fashion sense. Who wants muddy slush stains on your white pants or shoes? My question is - does the rule still stand in a warm weather place? And if it does, when exactly can you start wearing white again? That's always confused me. When does it go from "after" Labour Day to "before" Labour Day?

I've also started thinking about whether there's really a rule anymore? Is it more a suggestion than law? Or is the whole no white after Labour Day a thing of the past - something that only our grandmothers still follow? I know my grandmother would have advised against white - in the name of decorum. The same way she thought that "nice" girls didn't wear red shoes.

Unless the fashion police set me straight I may just have to chance it. I have a pair of white Banana Republic dress pants that I love and darn it, I'm going to wear them! But don't worry Grandma Currie, no red shoes!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Legacy of Love

When a parent dies, it doesn't matter what age you are, you can't help but feel like a lost, scared little kid. Today is the second anniversary of my Dad's passing. It's still not easy.
I know I was luckier than some. I got the chance to have my Dad walk me down the aisle, to have him hold my babies, to ride Thunder Mountain together, to say good-bye. I am thankful for those gifts. Still, I can't help but wish that he was here to see my kids grow up, watch Jack and Aidan play hockey, cook us his famous pineapple sweet and sour chicken, or flash me one of his amazing smiles.

Even though I miss my Dad everyday, I know he is not lost to us. I see him in my nephew Aidan's passion for hockey, Caitlyn's attachment to pens and notebooks, my niece Ainsley's love of reading, and Jack's infectious smile. I see him when I look at my brother and the devoted father he is to his children. My Dad lives on in us and in our memories.

Although I debated whether I should share my grief about the loss of my Dad in this blog I decided that all too often we hide our emotions, afraid of what others will think. Feelings aren't things you should have to hide or be ashamed to express. That was just one of lessons I learned from my Dad. He was the type of person who would rather hug someone than shake their hand. He expressed his love for his family and friends on a daily basis. Growing up that way meant we always knew we were loved, and that whatever we did, my Dad would be there for us. And it also meant that there wasn’t anything left unsaid. I'm thankful for that peace.

Today I tried to focus on all of the good memories - to celebrate my Dad. I cooked his pineapple sweet and sour chicken for dinner, laughed with my kids about some crazy Granddad stories, and let my family know how much I love them.
And his legacy of love lives on...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Man Cave

O.k., my existence is slowing deteriorating into life in a "man cave."

Our good friend Fred is staying with us right now until he gets some furniture for his own house. Fred's wife Shannon is back in Calgary packing up for their move to Brisbane. I really don't mind having Fred stay with us. He's an easy going guy and not very demanding. Fred's like a second brother to me - but one who doesn't comment on my wild morning hair or lack of makeup. He'll eat just about anything, though I have worked to make my menus a bit fancier since he's arrived. No more frozen meat pies shoved into the oven last minute - yet anyway.

So it's not really Fred. It's more the increase in testosterone in the house. Having Fred here seems to give my husband an excuse to go golfing, watch more sports, and play lame fantasy computer games. In the past week the "boys" have started playing World of Warcraft together. One sits at the computer nook in our family room while the other relaxes on the couch with his laptop. Being ignored each evening is the least of my problems. No, instead I can barely concentrate on reading or watching T.V. because all I hear is them (o.k. mostly Paul) bicker back and forth about where to go, who caused who to die, who is still looking for his body, etc. (If you ask me, all they seem to do in that game is die, run around looking for their bodies, then run around, fight and die some more. Clearly, I am not a role playing game affectionato). My only enjoyment has been razzing them about whether they are playing their male or female characters together. That and writing this blog about them (which they aren't too happy about either).

Last weekend the "man cave" grew darker - for me. At least when the boys play their "games" I have some control over the channel changer. Saturday night they got my hopes up by flipping to "Four Weddings and a Funeral", only to dash them by changing the channel to the Masters recap. I wasn't thrilled about the golf but then they started taunting me by flipping between that and a women's lingerie football game. Seriously??? Women playing football in bras and underwear? No thank you boys!!!

Enough was enough! Today I broke free from all of the male bonding. Caitlyn and I went on a girl's date this afternoon. We did a little shopping and then we went to a movie. No, not Clash of the Titans (like Paul dragged me to when we had a date night with Fred babysitting), but a true chick flick. We laughed, we cried, and we cuddled watching Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, and Liam Hemsworth in The Last Song. Yes, it was sappy but we enjoyed seeing it together. After the movie we discussed how Paul, Fred, and Jack wouldn't have liked it. As Caitlyn commented, "boys don't like to show their emotions."

So, after my girl time with Caitlyn today I feel like I can survive the cave a little while longer. Now if I can just survive Paul's man cold....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The icing on the cake

I'm one of those people who firmly believes that you cannot have a birthday without the cake. Home-made or store-bought, chocolate or white, candles or sparklers, as long as you have a cake it feels like a celebration.

This year Caitlyn's birthday started and ended with cake. For breakfast I served up a piece of homemade chocolate banana cake. (O.k., it was Duncan Hines but I did change the mix by adding a banana instead of one egg and applesauce instead of oil. And I cooked it in the oven - so it was definitely homemade!) Seeing Caitlyn and Jack's eyes light up at the idea of cake for breakfast made me feel a little giddy too. Not to be a bad parent, I did follow it up with some scrambled eggs. That wasn't the best taste combination. Next time I'd skip the eggs!

I'll always remember one of the cakes my Mom made me when I was young. It was shaped like a little girl and was almost as big as me. It had gumdrop buttons and licorice hair, and a pink icing dress. I'm sure I didn't fully appreciate it then, but I recognize now the hard work and love that went into creating that perfect birthday moment.

When I was baking Caitlyn's cake the other night, I started thinking about another cake from my past - the money cake! Remember the days when moms used to bake nickels, dimes and quarters right into the cake batter? Kids didn't just lick the icing off that cake. Oh no, each piece was demolished and chowed down in a frantic treasure hunt! If you were lucky the coins were at least wrapped up in wax paper so you'd get a bit of a warning before swallowing. Otherwise you'd find your treasure when you bit down on the cold hard cash - and hopefully spit it out in time! We were tougher then - those were the days of no car seats and cement under the monkey bars - and the thrill of finding money far outweighed the risk of choking on it.

In our more safety conscious world, and without waivers from the parents, I have yet to resort to making my own money cake to excite the kids. Instead I have iced my fair share of Nemo, Mr. Incredible, Buzz Lightyear, Indiana Jones, butterfly and giraffe cakes. Hopefully when Caitlyn and Jack grow up they too will remember some of those cakes, and understand how much love I baked into them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Caitlyn!

I can hardly believe that nine years ago today I was getting ready to head to the Spa for a girl's weekend at the Banff Springs Hotel when my water broke. Ten hours later our precious Caitlyn was born! (Thankfully it was then and not on the highway to Banff, though, I would've had three nurses in the car with me! That would have been a real girls' bonding experience! Yikes!!)

Caitlyn came into the world at 2:42 p.m. on April 7th - more than one month early and a mere three minutes before my scheduled pedicure! Needless to say I never made it to Banff that day, and my Obgyn was kind enough not to mention my unwaxed legs and un-manicured toes!

Though some people have called her my "mini-me," (there is definitely some physical resemblance) I think Caitlyn's the real thing on her own. From the moment of her early arrival, Caitlyn has been a joy. Even before she used to eat crayons at her Auntie's house, we knew she had an artistic edge. When Caitlyn insisted on her and Jack being called LavaGirl and Sharkboy for months, we knew she was an adventurous, imaginative creature. And a mini-McGuyver too - creating time machines, churches, secret agent kits, and booby traps out of mere paper and tape! Our Caitlyn is the kind of girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, and who never goes through a day without telling us how much she loves us. She worries about other's feelings, helps those who need it but doesn't announce it to the world. She's our quiet, but goofy, intellectual.

For her birthday present this year, her only request was to spend a day with just Paul and I. I think she's really giving us the present.

Happy Birthday sweetie! We love you!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Easter Bilby

Usually my kids end up having three Easter egg hunts. (I know they're definitely spoiled!) One with my family, one on Easter morning at our house, and one with Paul's parents. That's a lot of sugar!! This year the chocolate high was a bit more contained - with only one hunt, in our hotel room in Cairns. I might have been tempted to hide some eggs outside but it was pouring rain, and given that it was still 27C outside, they would have quickly become Easter blobs. (Not that my kids are that picky, melted blobs of chocolate are still chocolate!) So, the hunt on Sunday had them checking around behind cushions and under tables in the small living area of our hotel room. Not too challenging, but they didn't care. This year we also went Australian. No Easter bunnies here! Going along with an apparently growing trend, their chocolate prize at the end of the hunt was an Easter Bilby! I guess since rabbits have been viewed as pests here in Australia, some people have tried to push bilbies as the "greener" option. Who knew chocolate could get so political! All I know is, whether it's a bilby or a rabbit - I'm still eating it ears first!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lights Off!

Earth Hour
Lights out
Up the stairs
By flashlight
Three in a bed
Watching shadows
Deers and dogs
And monsters battle
Giggles erupt
Cuddles ensue

And one mama monkey falls out of bed

Power saved?
Haven't a clue
Memories made?
You bet you!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fair Dinkim Adventures

Part of the reason for my lack of recent posts was a terrific six week visit from my Mom. We had such a great time together and I was very sad to see her go home. And no - not just because she felt the need to do 3 or 4 loads of laundry a day or because she insisted on making my kids' lunches for school - she was my partner in adventure!

The dictionary defines adventure as "an exciting or very unusual experience." Well, we certainly went some unusual places and made our own excitement. More importantly, we shared quite a few laughs along the way.

Ipswich - Ipswich is a city just outside of Brisbane. We actually ended up there by accident. My GPS wasn't working that day and I'd just missed the turn-off for the second time to check out New Farm (one of Brisbane's suburbs). Driving down the wrong road, we saw a sign for Ipswich. It was like a beacon calling out to us, inviting us to go somewhere new. We thought - why not? After about 45 minutes, I pulled over at the Ipswich Tourist Information booth. The ladies there seemed very excited to have some Canadian visitors (in hindsight I think they were just happy to have any visitors at all to Ipswich!) Coral, one of the tourist info ladies, seemed extremely intent on getting us to go to Queens Park to see the bilbies (some kind of marsupial that looks like a cross between a rat and a rabbit). I'm sorry, but when a "ratbit" is your main draw you really need to start upgrading your town's attractions! I asked whether there was a cute shopping district. Coral seemed somewhat flustered at first by the question (could have been my accent) but recommended a visit to Brisbane Street. Looking back, we should have noted her hesitation and gotten out of dodge. However, the guide magazine we picked up described the area as a "lovely precinct," a "treasure on your doorstep," with "funky cafes, original heritage architecture, and an array of shopping delights." Deciding to skip the bilbies and instead check out the shopping we found a parking spot and started walking. We had passed a somewhat sketchy looking section of the street looking for a place to park, so we decided to walk in the opposite direction. After a few blocks lacking in any "treasures" I decided to ask someone where the shopping precinct was located. They pointed back up towards the block we had purposefully avoided. Apparently "funky" and "delights" mean something different to Ipswichians - like a parole office and an adult sex shop. We did check out the strip of stores (skipping the "Love Shop" - my Mom said she didn't want to have to explain anything to me... ) to see if we had missed something worthwhile. Let's just say... we should have gone to see the bilbies!

Mom with her stuffed bilbie!

Fair Dinkim Bargain Store

"Fair Dinkim" is Aussie slang for "genuine" or "true". I haven't heard an Australian throw this term into an actual conversation but some stores seem to think it's funny to use it in their advertising. After escaping Ipswich's seedy shopping district we came across Fair Dinkim Bargains. It seems that what Ipswich lacks in quaint shopping it makes up for in bargain stores. If you know my mom and I, you know about our love for a good dollar store! I'm not sure that Fair Dinkim Bargains was quite up to my Dollarama standards (there were things over $2.00) but it was as close as I've found so far. Plus, "fair dinkim" is a term that just makes you giggle. Go ahead, say it a few times and try not to smile! (We also found a salon called "Hair Dinkim". That made us laugh too but I don't think we would've let them touch our hair!)

Wet n' Wild - The kids really wanted to show Granny one of their favourite amusement parks here - Wet n' Wild. My mom was willing to give it a go even though water parks aren't necessarily her favourite thing. Last summer, my mom and I took all the kids to Sylvan Lake's water slide in Alberta. She was brave enough to try a ride with the older kids but fell off her tube and ended up getting crashed into by the woman behind her. After that I think her favourite ride there was the hot tub. In an attempt to break her in gradually, I suggested that we start at Calypso Beach. All you had to do there was lounge on a tube and let the river take you around a gentle winding course. She liked that. Then, Jack wanted her to try Mammoth Falls. Mammoth Falls is a giant tube that 5 or 6 people climb into and ride down a series of water falls. I was a bit worried about my mom's ability to climb up the tower stairs, get in and out of the tube, and how well she'd enjoy a ride that makes you feel like you could tip over at any moment. She loved it! O.k., maybe "love" is too strong a word, but she was laughing for the majority of the ride! Seizing on her excitement, I then dragged her to the River Rapids ride. The kids and I had been on it before and it seemed pretty mild. As a bonus, I remembered that there were no stairs to climb. Unfortunately, I forgot about the big hill you had to scale instead. Part way up my mom offered to skip the ride, but I told her it'd be fine. After finally making it to the top, Caitlyn decided that she wanted to go in one of the covered tubes, and she wanted Granny to go with her. Jack and I opted for our usual open-air slide. Well, who knew that the closed tubes were faster than the open ones? I guess if they don't have to worry about you shooting out the side, they can make you go as fast as possible. My mom was the last one down and I would have loved to have had a camera to capture the look of sheer terror! She shot out of the tube, panicked slightly before realizing the water was only up to her waist, and then gave me "the look." Somehow I knew that I'd better not take her on the Kamikaze next. Though it took her a bit to stop trembling, we had a great afternoon getting wet and wild! I'm sure she'd agree - right mom???

Jumble Sale - While driving past one of the churches near our house, my Mom got all excited. The sign read "Jumble Sale, Wed. 9:15 a.m." I personally have never heard of a jumble sale but apparently in my mom's English mystery novels they're a common occurrence. Perhaps she envisioned herself on Antique Roadshow showing off a vase she'd bought at the jumble sale for pennies and worth thousands, or just for the heck of it - whatever the reason, my mom thought we'd better check this sale out. So, after dropping the kids off at school, we arrived at the church ahead of schedule. There was already a line forming. This was serious business! We took our place in line. My mom chatted with the elderly ladies behind us (who kept inching their walkers forward - ready to make the dash when the doors opened!) Meanwhile, I was deciding on strategy - mom was to check out any furniture and I would head for any mirrors or wall hangings. Our neighbourhood is pretty affluent so we were expecting great things. Well, while I did get Caitlyn a couple of books and a skirt for $2.50, the only thing priceless was the look on our faces when we saw the hall. It was a jumble alright - a jumble of crap! Nothing was sorted and the majority of stuff was still shoved in boxes. Even though we didn't find any treasures, our morning at the jumble sale was rich with laughter.

We had lots of other adventures too. My mom pulling out Jack's first tooth on the beach at Tangalooma, getting knocked over by the waves at Byron Bay, doing the Rainforest Skywalk in the Tamborine Mountains (actually more of a skyrun than walk since Caitlyn turned out to be afraid of heights and bugs), avoiding the giant lizards running around our feet at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and so many more fun memories. I can't wait till my mom comes back!

So, if you come to visit us here in Brisbane I promise to take you to all the touristy spots and even the not so touristy ones. And if it's laughter you're looking for, there's a fair dinkim chance we'll find it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pet Shop Girl

First - there was Rufus the Cat. Rufus was Paul and my first pet together (pre-kids). He seemed docile enough when I picked him out at the pet store (Paul had steered me into the pet shop trying to avoid a "sidewalk sale" - big mistake!). Turns out they must have drugged the cat. By the time we had him in the car going home he was already clawing his way out of the box. And just a day later he was clinging to my bare back like one of those Garfield the Cat car window stuffies. I'd just come out of the shower and was toweling off when he pounced, claws out, onto my back. It took a lot of squealing and twirling before I managed to dislodge Rufus. Yes, Rufus was a feisty cat. Many called him "mean", "psycho", "crazy", and "possessed." I just called him mine and loved him in spite his faults. Although, I admit that at the time I worried that my troubled cat (seriously, he was put on kitty Ritalin) reflected badly on my future parenting skills. Maybe it was because he had been a "latch-key" cat while we were busy working, or maybe it was the name I'd given him - would he have been a nicer cat if I'd called him "Mittens" instead?

Next came Brie. Brie was a yellow lab that I brought home to keep Rufus company. My secretary in Texas had lab puppies. My mistake was to go with her on our lunch breaks to check on them. I couldn't hold a precious little puppy like that and not want to take it home with me. Paul thought it would buy him some time on the baby front. I thought it would be good practice for a baby. We were both wrong. A few months later I was pregnant with Caitlyn. And, if she turned out like Brie - we were in trouble! I took Brie to puppy school where she proceeded to pee in the doggie tunnel (closing it down for the other students), bite through a harness (not even ours), and poop on the floor at graduation. She wasn't much better as she got older. She would only listen to Paul, growled at strangers (I thought labs were supposed to be friendly), and ate anything leather. Where was the "Dog Whisperer" then?

In the end our vet recommended that we have poor Rufus put down because of his aggressiveness. It was a sad day for me but we couldn't risk poor Caitlyn getting bit. And Brie went to live with Paul's parents when we moved into our new house in Calgary since we didn't have a fence. Now she's living on a farm chasing cows around. (When his parents told us they had given her to a farm many of our friends thought that I was being naive and that Brie had actually "bought the farm!") Not true - she is alive and happy.

Our post-children pets have been limited to Siamese Fighting Fish. That is if you can really call those things pets. It's not that I don't like aquariums. I like Nemo and all. It's just that fish are pretty boring. After the first week of excitement, Caitlyn and Jack no longer wanted to clean the tank, feed the fish, or even acknowledge their presence. And in spite of my less than stellar fish care, those suckers refused to die. Once we were finally rid of the last one I decided that avoiding pet shops was the best option. That worked until recently.

After visiting their cousins at Christmas my kids were intent on getting a new pet. Luckily this kind did not involve toilet training, paying for a friend's antibiotics after getting bitten, pooper scooping, or picking pet hair off my butt. And, from what I could tell, they didn't seem to have the long lifespan that I hated with the fish.

Hermit crabs.

My nephew bought three of them with his Christmas money. Unfortunately he was down one crab just three days later. We all attended Pincher the Crab's funeral where he was fittingly eulogized by my nephew, niece, Jack and Caitlyn. Songs were sung and tears were shed as Pinchers was described as a "being like a brother" to Aidan. (I felt bad for Aidan but I admit that I had to stifle a giggle at that part in the ceremony). Jack said that he was sad that it was a closed casket (he'd never had the opportunity to meet Pinchers) and wondered if there would be a cremation. Despite the loss (another one died a week later), both of my children hoped that the pet stores in Australia also stocked hermit crabs. To their delight, my Mom bought them their own two hermit crabs - Link and Zelda.

So far (knock on wood), the two are still alive and well. In fact, Caitlyn is busy organizing their wedding. (I'm not sure if it will be a same-sex one or not as I have no idea how to check out a hermit crab's "parts"). The wedding is scheduled for this week and she's already invited guests and made a chapel.

The kids are older now and have been good about taking responsibility for the crabs. At least I can't be blamed now for any issues with these pets. So, here's hoping that when the crabs exchange their vows on Wednesday the two have a little time together before "till death do they part."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love Potions

Being away on a romantic holiday with Paul has me thinking about Valentine's Day. If someone was to whip up a Love Potion for me I know just how it would smell.

The scent of crisp Macintosh apples, freshly sharpened pencil crayons, Jean Nate (the body cream I remember from summer days with my Grandma Currie), campfire mixed with pine needles, my sleeping babies' breathe, a new plastic raincoat, and a juicy cut lemon. Those are my "happy" smells.

What aromas would your love potion emit?

Luckily Paul doesn't need a potion to get me to love him. He doesn't even need to buy me perfume or fragrant flowers for Valentine's. All he has to do is not laugh when I steal the body lotion from our hotel!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blog Round-up (Mini Memoirs)

If television shows like Oprah, Dr. Phil, and the rest of them can devote a whole episode to following up on previous episodes, then I thought I can do it here too. Here's a bit of a summary of what's happened since I've posted some of my entries.

Jewellery Making
Here's one of the pieces that I completed in my 9 week silversmithing course. It's my stackable Love Faith Peace Ring. I did manage to light one of our wood stands on fire, and I couldn't go the bathroom during the three hour class due to a large toad living in the toilet, but all in all the class was a lot of fun. I've started to slowly get over my fear of working with a torch but please don't tell Paul because he'll expect me to light the BBQ now! So I've signed up for the next level to learn how to set stones - think I'll stick to cubic zirconia for a bit....

Thanksgiving Dinner
I did make the pumpkin pie - from scratch. I'll pause for the applause...... From someone who wouldn't consider making a cake from scratch, it was a bit of an undertaking! The baking process involved buying 3 pieces of pumpkin (because they didn't seem to have one whole one available), nuking the crap out of it, scooping all the gunk out, and then beating it into a puree. Unfortunately I probably should have spent a little more on the beaters I purchased for the job. The set I bought seemed to have only three speeds - fast, faster, and tornado fast speed. That meant I had pumpkin spray on the floor, the counter, the back splash, and on me. Luckily there was still some pumpkin left to make the pie. It tasted pretty darn good - Paul even said that it made one of the top 5 pies he's ever eaten. As good as the pie was - I may be willing to part with $24 next year to buy pumpkin puree at a specialty store downtown. In my opinion, as long as you cook it in the oven - it's homemade!!

Brisbane Baywatch
I'm still doing my 5:00 a.m. swimming sessions and haven't drowned yet, though I did break a finger (back stroke accident). Actually it's getting easier and I don't feel like I've swallowed half the pool. I still dread getting out of bed at that hour, but like most exercise, I do feel great afterwards. Now I just need to get my name on the board for the fastest adult woman swim time. I know for my mornings I am the fastest but sadly, I'm still slower than the swim club's 12 year old girl!

The Crocodile Hunter
Well, my Bindi costume must have worn off a bit on me. I have managed to capture 4 more geckos/lizards - abet not all successfully (one got a bit of shaken lizard syndrome) and not without some squeals! I still hate them in my house, even the baby ones. The other night there was a gecko in our bedroom. Paul wouldn't catch it for me and I only succeeded in chasing it further up the ceiling. Needless to say it was an uneasy sleep. I dreamt it landed on my face and I swallowed it by accident. I haven't seem him since - yikes!

Well, that's my blog round-up for now. Not as exciting as a Montel - who's the real father DNA followup - but I'm just a geeky girl....

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ich Bien Heiß

Yes, I know it's -27 C in Calgary, and many of my friends would give their last Coach bag to be in Brisbane's warm, sunny climate - but that's not going to stop me from whinging (that's "whine" in Aussie-speak). I'm hot!!!!!!

When I say I'm hot, I'm not saying "ich bien heiß" - like I did in Germany. (Apparently when I told my cabbie that in downtown Berlin, I was telling him that I was "hot to trot" - an entirely different meaning!)

No, these past few days I have been "hot" as in my makeup is melting - beads of sweat are rolling down my back - I feel like a dog stuck in an overheated car on the verge of brain damage - and it's the 25th hour of my 24 hour deodorant - hot!

Our air conditioning has been broken for the past week. That wouldn't be horrible, except that January and February are the hottest months of the year here. Yesterday it was 32C outside and 34C inside our house! Forced to wait for the air-conditioning repairman to finally make an appearance, we have been subsisting on a diet of Popsicles and ice water. My lips are cracking from dehydration and my delicate pale skin is erupting in an attractive heat rash. (Definitely not looking sexy/hot!) Even my Mom, who is like the energizer bunny of cleaning, has abandoned her post - she's actually sat down!

If we'd have been in Canada, we would have slept outside, but the thought of creeping lizards or biting ants sneaking up on us while we slumbered was more than I could handle! I know I could never make it on Survivor!

So, until they get our a/c fixed I think we may be forced to eat out, spend quality time at the mall or movie theatre, and maybe go to an air conditioned hotel for the weekend - hmmmmm - why am I whinging again????

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Aussie Aussie Aussie Oye Oye Oye

Today, January 26th, we experienced our first Australia Day.

Given that we've adopted this country as our home, at least for the next couple of years, I thought we should get into the celebrations. My Mom and I hit the Bargain Store and picked up some necessities. Flag tattoos - check. Flag bandannas - check. Mini flags to wave - check. Flag hat - check. Flag rally sticks - check. Flag bikini - uhhh no! Instead we opted for the giant flag blowup hand - we didn't want to look tacky you know.

One of the parks in Brisbane was having an Australia Day festival, with music, movies, and some other family friendly events. I tried to persuade the kids and Paul that we should head there for a few hours of fun. But, for Paul, wandering around in a big crowd is his idea of hell, and the kids just wanted to hang out by our pool. I guess I couldn't blame them - it was 35C. It probably would be considered child abuse to stick them in some bouncy house sauna. So, in the end, we just hung out together at our house and Jack got to use his giant inflatable hand as a floaty. And we ate some Anzac cookies (sorry no Vegemite for this family!)
I guess that's what Australia Day is all about anyways - relaxing, while spending time with your family and friends. And, fireworks - which we did go see. We stood on the Goodwill Bridge downtown tonight and watched as the fireworks lit up the river. And watched the bats fly through the brightened sky. It was beautiful.

In many ways it reminded me of our own Canada Day celebrations - we were just wearing a different flag on our heads, faces and hands. So while we will be showing our red and white pride next month for the Olympics, we were happy to go Aussie today to celebrate a really great country. Aussie Aussie Aussie Oye Oye Oye!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brisbane Bound

Well, we made it back to Brisbane! Twenty-seven hours of travel time, eight suitcases, three planes, three rugs (of the living room, not hair variety), two adults, two children, a "murse," and one missed flight!

Coming to Calgary, the kids had brought their Princess and Toy Story roll-on bags onto the plane filled with crayons, paper, books, and their Nintendo DS games. But - thanks to the moronic underwear bomber - Belle and Buzz were now viewed as potential instruments of terror and no longer welcome on board. That meant we either had to hope the kids could stuff everything into their pockets for the ride home, suffer 27 hours of boredom, or find Jack a "murse" (a man purse). Luckily he consented to carrying his new "murse" (with a Canadian flag on the front) onto the plane - quite proudly in fact. Maybe "man bags" will come back into fashion?

We arrived 4 hours early for the Calgary to San Francisco leg of our flight since there were so many warnings about the length of time it would take to clear security. Hey, why not add a few more hours to our journey! I think my mom was hoping to get her pat down from the cute male Mountie at Security. Unfortunately, he was only in charge of male passengers. While Mountie Mike was cheerfully joking and chatting with the men he had to frisk, we were subjected to Sour Sue. I'm sure it's not a thrilling job - feeling up strangers - but she could have put a little effort into easing the awkwardness of the moment. Instead, it was like a mini- mammogram - but without any of the calming pleasantries! Actually, Sour Sue did crack half a smile - when I couldn't stop giggling as she frisked me under my arms. (You don't want to be the one giving me a pedicure - I'm surprised someone hasn't lost a tooth!)
The plane ride from San Fran to Sydney went pretty well. The kids were really great and slept most of the time. I won't candy coat it though, for those who may come to visit, not a lot of leg room. Once you've been in a first class sleeping pod (one that folds down to a bed) it's very hard to go back!! This girl is not made to travel economy - why can't they see that!

Worried about quarantine in Australia, I had limited the amount of wood and food products I brought in, and put the few things that I did have into one bag. I thought I could minimize my time in customs if I could just open up the one suitcase. Of course they ignored that bag and had me open up Jack's suitcase in which I had stuffed my bra and P.J.'s from the night before. As my bra tumbled onto the table, Jack (who is very possessive of his belongings) shouted - "Hey - who's bra is that in MY suitcase!!"

By the time we reached Sydney we were closing in 24 hours of travel time, only to miss our connection to Brisbane because there weren't any buses available to transfer us to another terminal. Eventually they brought in some new buses and we were herded like cattle onto them and dropped off unceremoniously at the Terminal 3 ticketing counters. We struggled as we wrestled our 8 suitcases off the bus and into the next line-up.

I will admit that at this point I started feeling a bit ornery about the whole flight thing. Usually this mood is referred to in our family as "Airport Paully". Now, I love my husband, but he is not the best traveller with others. A frequent business flyer, he sometimes forgets that it isn't the same travelling with kids and a spouse. As he dashes through security and speeds to the gate, he's oblivious to the kids and I running behind trying to catch up. So, I admit, I was a little snappish and my "Airport Jenny" was rearing its ugly head. (Sorry Mom.) I certainly wasn't feeling like the perfect mother telling my Jumpin' Jack that he could not go poop until we got tickets to the next flight.

We did make it to Brisbane finally, and I was feeling much happier. I knew my husband, who was picking us up, would probably not appreciate our 8 suitcases, but I was willing to cab it, if necessary, with whatever luggage wouldn't fit in our car. You see, being the good Scot I am, I found some great deals on rugs at Homesense. The rugs I had seen in Brisbane were double or triple the cost. I knew Paul would roll his eyes, but I was determined to bring back my Homesense rugs. Hey - they were thin!

We managed to stuff 6 of the bags into the back of the SUV, one in the front on my lap, and with the flexibility of a Cirque de Soleil performer my Mom wedged herself into the back seat with the kids and and the last bag. We were home free!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Eat More Chips!

I guess I could work at setting some realistic New Year's resolutions now that 2010 is actually here. There are plenty of articles out there to aid me on my way - but why bother? If I was good at setting New Year's goals for myself I would already be a size 0, Mother of the Year, and would have published eight blog posts by now!

When I asked my husband what his resolutions were for 2010 he told me the same things he says every year; "to play more golf, drink more beer, and play more poker with the boys". Not to worry - he is not a big drinker and he's left most of his poker and golf buddies back in Canada - he just likes to see my reaction. And - he knows that I prefer to offer "suggested" resolutions for him, as opposed to him coming up with his own.

Funny, he didn't like my version of his resolutions: putting his plates IN the dishwasher instead of leaving them directly ON TOP OF the dishwasher, dislodging his Blackberry from his hands when he comes home from work, and buying his wife flowers as a surprise.

Luckily I have taught my daughter well. I didn't even have to "suggest" what one of her resolutions should be. She opted for the "get along better with Jack" resolution before it even came out of my mouth. And though I may have had some ideas for Jack's list, he stopped me short by telling me his resolution was "more hugs". Giving them or getting them, I'm not sure, but it was good enough to make me keep my mouth shut. Because, what Mom doesn't want more hugs?

I guess coming up with resolutions for my family probably isn't the way to go. When you start thinking about things you'd like to change in others it can feel like you're suggesting that you don't like who they are already. And if you think about it, some of our flaws or quirks are often what make us real and like-able. Sure there are things we should change, bad habits or bad behaviours, but those kinds of things take more that writing a new date on our cheques to influence us to push forward.

So I will work on being the best mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and person that I can be during the whole year - and there may be times that I don't meet my own quality standards - but I'll do my best.

Personally I like the resolutions on the table napkins that a friend brought to our New Year's Eve party last year. "Eat more chips, nap more, work less, and gain ten pounds - resolutions you can keep!"

So Paul, I'll leave you to make your own resolutions, just be sure to put your beer glass in the dishwasher when you're done!