Hey, look, I know things are a mess. I took a hiatus from blogging and decided to switch up my design before returning. Please be patient, because if you can wait out the mess it means REGULAR POSTING WILL RETURN SOON! :D

Hooray!

Friday, February 27

Friday Fill-Ins

ffi

1. I'm trying, I'm trying very hard, I still can't come up with good fill-ins for these blanks.

2. Why do I have sewing machine and not a love of sewing?

3. How does this Canadian government work, anyway?

4. Every morning, I put a clean diaper on my baby (and repeat as needed).

5. I consider myself lucky because because my husband changes diapers willingly.

6. One day we’ll see what color eyes and hair Lucy will have.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to nothing in particular, tomorrow my plans include finally finishing up all my thank you cards and birth announcements and Sunday, I want to get to bed early because I have to be in Calgary by 9 the next morning!

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Thursday, February 26

Big Brother Is Watching You

And by "Big Brother" I mean "me." I've been watching you, my dear readers. And here is a sampling of what I've learned...

  • Most of you are using Firefox to browse the internet (though a few need to update to the latest version). Internet Explorer is the second most popular browser (which begs the question: why aren't you using Firefox yet?). And a handful of you use other browsers (such as Chrome, Opera, Safari, etc.).
  • Some of you have found me via Google searches for terms like "peter pan from the perspective of tinkerbell," "menggu grill," and even "trouser coughs at home" (I don't know what you were trying to find with that last one).
  • Most of your are in the United States (though I do have some international dust bunnies).
  • My "Works For Me Wednesday" post seems to be the most popular post lately. "Hands Off" comes in second place. I guess the posts I think are funny may not be so funny after all.
  • 17.6% of the time you spend longer than an hour reading my blog. But then...59.7% of the visits to this blog are less than 5 seconds long (depressing.) Not that those of you spending that little here will ever read far enough into this post to know I'm talking to you.
  • 216 of you have your screen resolution set to 1280 x 1024.
  • Most of you use Windows (like me). Some are using archaic versions of Windows, but Windows nonetheless. One of you is geeky enough to be using Linux. And for your geekiness I commend you.
  • I even know your IP addresses and internet providers (seems a lot of you like Comcast).
  • Some of you are reading my blog when you're supposed to be studying and some of you are reading while you're at work. Tsk tsk tsk (ignore the "tsking," keep reading)!
Don't worry, I don't know anything dangerous or embarrassing like credit card numbers, or that one of you is spending an awful lot of time on another site at www.ihaveacrushonmymotherinlaw.com). Or do I?

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Wednesday, February 25

MS Month

March is Multiple Sclerosis Education & Awareness Month. Every Monday in March will be MS Monday (starting next week on the 2nd). MS awareness and MS research are issues near and dear to my heart. My mother, probably the classiest lady I've ever known, has progressive MS. As I've grown up I've watched her take the cards life has dealt her and make the best of them. Her strength never ceases to amaze me. She is the reason that I did the MS Walk in 2007 and she is the reason I'm doing it again this year.

I'll be doing the 12 km walk and you can read more about the walk and make an online donation here (I've already pledged 3 months allowance so I hope you'll join me in this cause)!

You can look forward to more exciting posts with more information about MS and about the MS Walk and how you can help (there will be contests and prizes)! Monday might not necessarily be the only day with posts relating to MS Education & Awareness Month so be sure to check in often.

And here are a few links to tide you over until I announce some of the fun currently in the works.

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Determination

When a girl has got to get out, she's got to get out! No mere cold-weather phenomena is going to stop her! She's going to bundle up her baby and herself. She's going to enlist the help of her hubby. She's going to strap on her tire chains for shoes. And she's going to go for a walk dagnabit!

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Works For Me Wednesday

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An allowance doesn't just have to be for kids. Adam and I each receive a monthly allowance. We're free to spend it on anything we want. We can save up for big purchases or fritter it away on little splurges. Why do we get an allowance? Because having money that is "mine" instead of "ours" allows us a little freedom. Our allowance is small (because our income is small). But we can use it to buy things just for one of us without the other feeling resentful that "our" money is being used for a purchase that is not also "ours." It also gives special meaning to gift giving. When I use "my" money to make a purchase just for Adam rather than "our" money then I have given of myself. Finally, having an allowance keeps fun spending under control by having a set budget and by having the freedom to make small fun purchases so that we don't go crazy by from never spending any money on wants. When there's no freedom in the budget one often busts the budget completely from too much restriction. It works for us!

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Tuesday, February 24

Harumph

While some people may have taken vows to not complain about winter weather I have not. So here I go with the complaining:

STOP SNOWING ALREADY!!!

*sigh*

I've been going a little stir crazy. The weather had warmed up just enough that thinking of going for a walk wouldn't get one committed. The snow had melted just enough that going for a walk would be feasible.

But I had no stroller.

And my baby sling was the wrong size.

And while the ground was less snowy/icy it was not such that I felt comfortable just carrying Lucy around in case I slipped.

So we got a stroller.

Last night we got a stroller (with bucket seat!) for $150 (oh how I love clearance)! See, the stroller cost $50 bucks. But the stroller is not approved for babies of Lucy's size unless you have a compatible bucket car seat to snap onto it. So we got the car seat.

All in all this was a good thing! We were really not happy with the car seat we had previously purchased (don't get me wrong...3-in-1 seats are great...but not in the middle of winter with a newborn who does not like being unbundled to be buckled up). And the price was definitely right (I had checked for used strollers but found no good deals). The only problem (albeit a tiny, shallow one) is that the stroller (which was one clearance) does not match the car seat (which was not on clearance). But I'd rather have the extra $50 than a matching travel system.

Anyway...getting back on track...

Here is where the "harumph" comes into play. Adam got the stroller built and ready to go last night. I went to bed looking forward to going for a nice long walk with Lucy. I woke up excited for the walk.

Unfortunately I also woke up to a fresh, deep blanket of snow. The kind of snowfall that precludes going for a walk unless your stroller has 12 inch wheels and four wheel drive.

So I'll say it one more time.

Harumph.

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Saturday, February 21

Death and...

One should never get a tax refund. If you get a refund it means you gave the government an interest free loan. Just think, you could have invested that money and let it earn interest all year long.

That said, if you get a new job in a country and you are unfamiliar with the tax laws of said country you may inadvertently end up with a refund the first time you file your taxes. How do I know this?

I'm just really smart.

Yeah...

It has nothing to do with the fact that Adam filled out our Canadian tax return this past week and we're apparently due for a $2000 refund.

Did I say "nothing?" I mean "everything."

That's right, we should be receiving a $2000 (CAD) refund. If we can figure out how to get Lucy's consular report of birth abroad and a Social Security number in time to file our US tax return I believe we'll qualify for a $300 (USD) stimulus payment. And I might mention that we'll also be getting $100 (CAD) per month for Lucy, a hefty refund of sales/service taxes, and an even heftier payment under the Canada Child Tax Benefit. I won't go into details about how much because it might make you non-Canadians envious. And you should be envious, because guess what...we also pay $0 per month to insure our little family.

Why am I telling you all this? I dunno. I guess it's just because I think it's so awesome.

Now, assuming I am allowed to leave the country and return legally then it looks like I'll be able to visit my family sometime this year after all. And that makes me very, very happy.

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Friday, February 20

I Get It Now!

For a while I've had only a vague understanding of the financial crisis that's happening. Every time I'd try to read about it my brain would kind of fog up and my eyes would glaze over. The cure? A fancy, animated video of course! Here's an explanation for those of us who are ADD (video from Vimeo via The Consumerist).


The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

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Friday Fill-Ins

ffi

1. Give me liberty and I'll still have to take death someday.

2. Whenever there's a light spot or reflection on the wall Girla (the fat cat) goes absolutely beserk.

3. I wish Lucy would stop growing so quickly (she's nearly 10 & 1/2 pounds now)!

4. Jared's pizza was the last thing I ate that was utterly delicious.

5. To live in this world is a gift I intend to enjoy.

6. Other than this one, It's The Thought That Counts is the last blog I commented on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to doing nothing inparticular, tomorrow my plans include a free workout at Curves and Sunday, I want to get some reading done!

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Tuesday, February 17

Hands Off!

I know I have a cute baby. As her mother I'm well aware of this. I mean, I sometimes just sit and stare at her because she's so gosh darned beautiful. So when people want to take a peek at her in public I understand.

But stop. touching. my. baby!

When Jared took us out to eat there were (I kid you not) three separate members of the restaurant staff and one customer who came and bothered us. And when I say bother I don't mean the usual, "Oh she's so cute! How old is she?" kind of bothering. I mean the kind of bothering that inspires an inner dialogue not unlike the following:

"Um...could you not touch my baby? I don't know you and you did not ask if I'm OK with it. And, excuse me but I don't get out of the house enough as it is and when I do get out with my husband and brother in law I don't want to spend that time listening to you talk baby talk to my baby I want to spend that time WITH MY FAMILY. And, gah! Why are you still touching my baby! Um...no strange lady I've never, ever met you may NOT hold my baby while I pick out my food. Geez! Why are you touching my baby! You do realize I had personal space and while you're violating my baby's personal space you're also violating mine? Um, wow...thanks waitress. I really wanted to know all about how your daughter sasses your ex husband and how gleeful that makes you. STOP. TOUCHING. MY. BABY!!!"

Or, you know...something like that.

Next time this happens I'm gonna have to not be such a wuss and actually tell people (as politely as possible) what I'm really thinking because the idea of spending another meal feeling harassed and uncomfortable when I should be laughing and enjoying time with my loved ones makes me want to not get out of the house after all.

But the food was good!

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Uncles Rock

I kind of idolized my uncle when I was a kid (the man built a sort of go-cart out of lawn mower parts...what kind of kid wouldn't idolize him?). I think, generally, that kids like their uncles (they're just so much cooler than mom and dad or something like that). Well, Lucy isn't quite old enough to appreciate her Uncle Jared (though she eventually started making eye contact with him) but we sure appreciate him!

He got in to Medicine Hat Sunday afternoon and left this morning. Frankly, the visit was too short for our taste. It was fun talking, going for a walk in the coulee, watching Firefly, listening to him jam on his unbelievably gorgeous guitar (the one he made) and just hanging out with him.

Sunday night he took us to the local Mongolian grill. So yummy!

Yesterday he made pizza.

Now, let me explain something. Jared cooks. Jared cooks very, very well. When we were in Kingston for Christmas/our wedding and he was there he made this unbelievable seafood curry (with lobster)! Ever since then I've been looking forward to an opportunity to have him cook something for us again. So you should understand that this was no ordinary pizza.

When we make pizza we use canned spaghetti sauce.

When Jared makes pizza he makes a sauce himself with white wine, diced tomatoes, fresh garlic, and, I'm pretty sure, magical fairy dust because it smells and tastes so good there's no way a mere mortal makes it without some sort of supernatural assistance.

When we make pizza we use mozzarella.

When Jared makes a pizza he uses mozzarella...and goat cheese! And can I just say that I now LOVE goat cheese?

When we make a pizza it turns out OK.

When Jared makes a pizza it turns out like something you'd get in a snooty restaurant staffed by supernal chefs who spent 7 years developing the perfect pizza pie.

It was awesome.

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Monday, February 16

Photos (as promised)

I know I've had a lot of photo intensive posts and the prose has been minimal lately. But I promised to share some photos from Lucy's newborn photo shoot so forgive me.

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Sunday, February 15

What's Happening

It's been a while since I've posted about what's going on in my life. So here are the "fascinating" details of my life lately.

Adam's older brother Jared is visiting us (he'll arrive sometime soon and stay through Tuesday). We're really looking forward to visiting with him. And having him come stay with us has motivated us to clean house! Hooray!

I'm starting my first book for the 2009 Banned Book Challenge. I'll be reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman after all. I've decided I perhaps judged him unfairly.

Today we're getting the files from Lucy's newborn photo shoot. Hooray! I'll be sure to post some of the pictures soon.

Lucy is growing and growing and growing. She has actually outgrown a few items of clothes. It's exciting to see her become more and more a little person instead of a blob (blob of cute!) but it's sad to see time slipping away. I'm savoring every minute because she will never be this tiny again.

And that's about it for now. Hope everyone has a great week!

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Lucy's Room

Remember what a mess our place was before the landlords fixed it up? Remember how I promised "after" photos? Sorry it's been so long in coming, but here are some pictures of Lucy's room. It wasn't quite ready when she arrived 10 days early and then we were busy taking care of her. It wasn't photo ready until today.

View from the door. The walls are actually a minty green in reality, not nearly as nice as the photos make them look.

The blank wall. Eventually we'll put a toddler bed against this wall but for now Lucy sleeps in our room.

The pictures on the far wall. Babies love high contrast.

The changing area. The dresser is from Ikea. We've had it for a while.

Close up of the mobile (same picture cards as in the frames on the wall). Lucy likes to look at this while we change her (unless she's got her eyes closed because she's crying).

The closet, and wall organizer (which isn't very organized right now). The big black bin is for dirty cloth diapers, the little black bin is for trash.

Inside of the closet. We got a hanging bar cheap at Wal-Mart.

One of the many decals. There are also decals above the closet, around the window, and on the door.

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Saturday, February 14

Results May Vary

Remember how I got all excited about making Valentine's cinnamon rolls?

See the inspiration rolls here.

See my results (the only roll that looked remotely like a heart) below.

Might I recommend using the Pillsbury Grands rolls instead of the regular ones? The regular rolls aren't really spirals so much as disks with spiral shapes pressed into them. It makes unrolling and reshaping quite difficult. Oh well, they still tasted yummy!

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Friday, February 13

The 2009 Banned Book Challenge

"The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame."
- Oscar Wilde
If you're a bibliophile like me then you've likely read a banned book or two or three or four...and so on. If you don't think you've ever read a banned (or challenged) book, think again. I bet you've read them without even knowing it (peruse lists here, or here - you might be surprised). Often it is the best books that are banned, the books with the most potential to make us think and to change the world. That's why I've decided to launch the 2009 Banned Book Challenge. To participate read and follow the rules below. If you successfully complete the challenge by the end of the year I'll have a winner's badge for you to put on your blog.

Rules:

1. Read at least 5 of the 10 Most Challenged Books of 2007.

  • And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
  • The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
  • Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
  • The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  • TTYL, by Lauren Myracle
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  • It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
  • The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
2. Read a book by 5 of the Most Frequently Challenged Authors of 2007.
  • Robert Cormier
  • Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
  • Mark Twain
  • Toni Morrison
  • Philip Pullman
  • Kevin Henkes
  • Lois Lowry
  • Chris Crutcher
  • Lauren Myracle
  • Joann Sfar
3. Read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

4. Read any other four banned books of your choosing.

5. To accept the challenge comment on this post.

6. When you've completed the challenge comment again and provide a way for me to contact you so I can send you the winner's badge.

Extra Credit: Post the Challenge banner on your blog. Blog about the challenge and the books you're reading. Encourage friends and family to participate. Read this list of quotes about censorship.

FAQ:

What if I don't have a blog?

Then don't worry about the extra credit (though I still recommend reading the quotes and encouraging your friends/family to join in).

How do I put the challenge banner on my blog?

Copy and paste the code underneath the banner (to the right) into a HTML widget.

Do I get anything for doing the extra credit?

Yes, you will get a different winner's badge.

Will there be any "real" prizes?

Perhaps. But, as cheesy as it sounds, reading these books is its own reward.

Can I double up on requirements (i.e. read The Golden Compass to fulfill one of my five authors and one of my five from the 2007 Most Challenged list)?

No. 15 books may seem like a lot to those with busy schedules but it really isn't, especially since plenty of these banned books are childrens books/YA novels and won't take that long to read.

What if I've already read some of the books?

That's OK. You can read them again. But you can't count them unless you do, in fact, reread them.

Do audio books count?

Heck, yes!

Do movies of the books count?

No way!

How will you know if I really completed the challenge?

We're using the honor system. I'll take you at your word.

What if I can't find any banned books I'm willing to read because they're all offensive?

Then I'm afraid I can't help you. But you might want to try re-evaluating your world view.

What if I have a question you haven't answered here?

E-mail me at hollyvangogh at gmail dot com.

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Friday Fill-Ins

ffi

1. It seems like Lucy waits until just after Adam walks out the door to need a diaper change.

2. Bury your litter box business when you're done, please?

3. If I thought you liked my blog I'd be very pleased with myself!

4. Your sense of humor is what I think of most when I think of you. (I'm talking to you Adam!)

5. To me, Valentine's Day means pink!

6. Talking through things gives me strength.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to playing games with Adam and/or watching a movie, tomorrow my plans include making Valentine's Day cinnamon rolls and Sunday, I want to talk to my mom!

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Try This!

I'm a big fan of The Masked Mom. She and her blog are good motivators for getting stuff done and she shares lots of clever ideas like the most adorable Valentine's Day breakfast EVER! I am SO doing making those tomorrow!

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Thursday, February 12

My Little Valentine

Because I'm a mom who thinks she has the cutest baby in the world, and am convinced everyone loves seeing pictures of her as much as I love taking them...


Can't...handle...the cute...chubby...cheeks...*implodes*

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Don't Forget!

Valentine's Day is Saturday. Hence the temporary change in background. Are you ready? I'm not. Do you have a card, maybe some chocolates or a small gift prepared? I don't. Just a friendly reminder to get ready if you haven't already. Do as I say, not as I do.

And now for my gift to you, dear readers. Here, for your enjoyment, are some Valentine's Links.

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Monday, February 9

Because I Love My Mom

When Grandma demands pictures of the grandchild who am I to leave her unsatisfied? Here's to you, Mom!


This one is older, but a good example of how well Lucy holds her head up.


When your pot is boiling over and you need to put the baby down in a hurry there is no shame in putting her on the floor (it's not like she's going to get into anything at this point).


Awwww...



Dreaming of playing guitar hero? Check out her hair (which has been falling out/growing back in).

Hey, she loved it!


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Adam, The Mighty Hunter

Let it be know that my husband is, as I type, out stalking the mighty "electronic mammoth."

Remember this post?

Adam is out seeking a suitable replacement for my sorry excuse for a computer (which gets slower and slower every day and I swear freezes just to make my life miserable). And by "suitable" I mean "as cheap as possible."

We wanted to wait as long as we could before replacing the thing because, well, we don't like spending money. But Fidel (yes, my computer is named Fidel*) has sapped our patience. I waste so much time dealing with his sluggishness, random crashes, and physical shortcomings that simple tasks (such as posting pictures of Lucy, surfing the web, etc.) which should only take a couple of minutes take far too much of my precious time. Not to mention I can't actually use my computer at my desk because of the situation with the broken screen. Plus we bought Fidel used, so he wasn't exactly up to date to begin with. Adam wants me to be able to play certain multi-player games with him during his free time, games that refuse to even install on my computer because I don't meet the minimum system requirements. And since we're able to get a *new* computer for less than we spent buying this used one we've conceded defeat.

So, Adam phoned around town asking about specs and prices. Unfortunately it's not as easy to find a cheap computer in Canada as it is in the US. I would just have Adam build me a desktop (to save $$$) and forgo the portability of a laptop except that the shipping Adam would be charged getting the various components to Canada would make a desktop equally pricey if not more so (and, according to Adam's research, the in store desktops are no cheaper than the laptops).

Now I've just got to figure out what to do with Fidel after I transfer all my files, try to sell him for an insanely cheap price (i.e. $10-$20)? Scrap him and sell the parts? Give him away? I don't know. I've already got a bunch of items we no longer need that I plan on posting for sale on the local swap group so it wouldn't be too much trouble to post Fidel as well...but seriously, who would buy him?

Anyway, provided Adam returns home victorious then by this time tomorrow I'll be blogging on a new computer...who, I might add, will need a name.

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*I named it Fidel hoping that since Fidel (Castro) seems to be defying death than maybe my computer might defy it and live forever as well...I was wrong.

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