Thursday, August 27, 2009

Testing Flikr account


Kindergarten Kamden and Grade 3 Jack

The boys are at their first day of school. What's a mommy to do on her first morning alone but do a post?

This little munchin,

Kam riding horse

has turned into this handsome boy.


And this little chub,


has morphed into this handsome young man, seemingly over night.


Grade 3, seriously?


I am going to miss them. A little. But I am also focusing on the fact that I can get my work done while they are at school and we can have more time together as well as the fact that in only ten months we get another two months together. The way time is flying that will feel like tomorrow anyway.

And in case you were wondering, I almost didn't cry this morning. I was fine, until I read the note from Kamden's teacher along with the kleenex and tea bag, yeah, that got me teary eyed for sure. I made a quick recovery and in a mere 20 min I will pick them both up for lunch.

It's the end of an era and the start of a new and exciting one. Right? RIGHT?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Roots

This weekend we took a trip out to where my parents grew up, my mom in town and my dad on a farm. A farm that my cousin still lives on and farms along with my uncle (his dad).

I have many memories of "the farm". We have always referred to it as "the farm". Not my grandparents (as it once was), not Perigord (the community in which it resides), not Ceslak's (my maiden name) but just the farm. We spent many a Christmas noshing on Grandma's homemade perogies and cabbage rolls waiting for Santa to drop the gifts of the roof. As an adult I wonder how they decided who had to climb up on the roof in the dead of a Saskatchewan winter to do the "delivery". Draw straws? Last one to arrive?

Just driving into the yard brings back a flood of memories. So this time, I toted along my camera and my renewed passion for improving my photography skills.


A sunflower in my mom's garden - had to sneak this one in for a bit of sunshine. Seriously, does a sunflower NOT brighten anyone's day?

This barn, it is the trademark of the farm. To me, it is unique. Unlike any other barn I have ever seen. It's the first thing you see when you turn into the long narrow driveway. The peak just visible through the bluff of trees surrounding the road and as you approach, you see more and more of it. It is one of my favourite things.


Apparently, it was built before my Grandpa purchased the farm way back when (guessing somewhere in the 1940's) and has had very little work done to it since. They don't build them like that anymore. Actually as I look at the photo above I recall a big jagged hole right below the peak which someone has patched.

I had fun with the weathered boards, they were a nice prop to practice with.


So many happy memories of a wonderful childhood for me, that's what these pictures invoke. This barn is part of the tapestry of my history. A history that goes back through my dad (I am guessing he milked many a cow in this very barn) to my Grandpa who cleared much of the land surrounding the yard with a small bulldozer which coincidentally my dad has in his barn.


I remember my Grandma milking cows in the left hand side when I was a kid. She had a little wooden milking stool that ended up on the house after the milking went by the wayside. It sat in the corner of the kitchen and she would often sit on it when there were more people than chairs at dinner.


Dinners of fresh green beans and potatoes followed by raspberries with sugar and cream. Somehow, the simplier it was, the better it tasted. I loved being at the farm during harvest and watching all the men come in, dirty and sweaty from the field to eat the delicious, hearty fare served up by my Grandma. She was never happier than when she could feed hungry men. I think it made her feel useful. It was her role as a farmer's wife and she relished it.

Now I am hungry. I may have to go up and eat some of the leftover raspberries that my aunt graciously allowed my mom and I to pick from her garden. I made jam a plenty yesterday and there is a raspberry/stawberry/rhubarb pie cooling as I type this.

Before we went out to the farm, we stopped in town to visit the graves of my maternal grandparents and my mom's oldest sister. I didn't know my grandparents because they both died before I was five. However, my mom's oldest sister, my Auntie Vickie I knew very well. She was like my Grandma and I have many wonderful memories of her. Being around her, you couldn't help but laugh. She had the uncanny ability to call inanimate objects idiots and get away with it. She was vertically challenged and made no bones about it. When she had to get something from the top shelf of the cupboards she would say she had to go up to heaven. My brother and I still utter Auntie Vicki-isms and then laugh hysterically.

She was a hoot. And loved us like we were her own.


Rest in peace dear Auntie Vickie, now that you are up in Heaven, no chair required.

It was wonderful to go back and show my boys the farm they have heard so much about. I think they were just in it for the tractor ride though, Jack exclaimed at one point, "Mommy, why do you have to take so many pictures!?"

Just because, that's why.

There are more photos on my Flickr account.


Friday, August 21, 2009

My most amazing discovery, yet

This week I made a huge discovery. I have been frustrated lately with how blurry my photos appear when I post them here. It's almost made me make the switch over to Wordpress but then that led to whether to self host or not and then my brain spontaneously combusted.

But other day, after I posted our Flikr and noticed how poor the quality was compared to viewing them directly on my laptop, I had an epiphany. My life is nothing if not full of excitement.

I remembered my Flikr account. The one I hardly ever use. I know other bloggers who use that site to upload photos to their blogs. I did some playing and discovered that I can get an html link for the photo off of there and low and behold, crystal clear pictures. Behold, exhibit A, uploaded directly through Blogger:

It's alright but it's no where near as clear and crisp as when I view it with my photography software directly on my laptop.

Now for Exhibit B, embedded html code from Flikr:


And you might think, well the Flikr version is larger, of course it's more clear. Exhibit C, Flikr in a smaller size:


I may or may not have been so excited by this discovery that I phoned Jay at work, breathlessly screeching incomprehensibly.

I then went and used Flikr to better my lake photos because it had to be done for my own happiness.

The other most notable advantage to using the Flikr html code to put in pictures is twofold. One, it takes 3 seconds to copy and paste the code and two, I can put the pictures in whatever order I want. I don't have to upload them in the correct order - has anyone ever figured out exactly how to upload them in the right order using Blogger? I sure haven't. And the time it took to upload them for the love of Pete.....cue Jeopardy final question music. Ugh.

I'm giddy with excitement and it just may have renewed my desire to work on my photography skills.

If you are wondering why in the world I was using Little People as my photo subject, I have a post up about Mr. Slick, salesman extraordinaire over at Canada Moms Blog. Slick was pretty slippery but we managed to slip right out of his grasp.

We are sneaky like that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The shot I've been after for years

As Jack and Kamden have gotten older, they are far less interested in having their picture taken or alternatively far too interested such that they made the most ridiculous faces known to man.

Sometimes, if they are busy doing something, like say teetertottering (how is that spelled anyway?), I can sneak up and catch a natural smile. Like this one.


I have been trying to get a shot of his gorgeous smile for years. It makes me proud, matching buck teeth and all. I know he'll grow into those teeth.

How do I know? Um. Well. Let's just say that I know exactly which parent those bad boys came from.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Canadians go North for Summer, news at 11

Anyone who follows me on Twitter may have noticed me grumbling last weekend about packing to go further north on summer vacation. Yes, us Canadians are crazy like that. We already live in the Arctic so for vacation we go further north into the Arctic. I think the cold is getting to us, don't you?

The summer here has been, well how can I say this without cursing? Awful. Cold. Fall like. And some other expletives that aren't appropriate for this here family site. As a result, I packed our winter jackets. Yes I did. I didn't do it without grumbling under my breath about why in tarnation we live in this God forsaken place, though, believe you me.

But then we got there and I saw things like this:





And I remembered that this place that has more winter than Antarctica (had to give the South pole some air time, can't play favourites), well it's pretty damn beautiful.

And you know what also helped? The hot, hot gorgeously hot sun. That's right folks, we had 5 (FIVE) hot sunny days. In. a. row. Stop the presses. This is big news from the Khlopchyk house. And at some point I will pick myself up off the floor from the shock of it. Mostly likely when I look outside tomorrow and see the cloudy rainy day that is predicted for the duration of the last week of school holidays.


We also consumed a few bush pies. If you want to know what in the world those are, refer to last year's trip.

Did I mention that both boys, (yes that's right, my baby is going to freaking kindergarten), start school in 11 days?

If you are looking for me, I'll be in the vodka.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Subjects that don't make faces

Last weekend, Jay and I had the pleasure of looking after one year old twins while their parents went out for some much needed couple time. Rachel and Alex belong to my good friend, Candace and are so. much. fun.

They also hold still long enough to let me get a picture without making a face. Bonus. So while they were playing, I pulled out the old camera and set about snapping like the best of 'em (well not really like the best of them at all but a reasonable facimile thereof). Because I might look a little freakish hanging multiple photos of someone else's kids in my house, I am going to post them here. So not the same thing, right? RIGHT?

Here, Alex is laughing hysterically at his big brother (Oh yes, Logan and Hannah were also here, the twins older siblings - they, however, do not hold still for photos). There is nothing like the belly laugh of a baby. Nothing.

Rachel did not appreciate us keeping her from going outside to climb up the slide. She walks right up it like nobody's business. Did I mention she's one. As in 12 months. My heart could not take it.

Kidding, like I didn't have both hands on her the whole time (neurotic, yes I am), we kept them in to save them from the blood sucking parasites, aka mosquitoes. And I know what you are thinking, "you could deny that adorable face?" What can I say? Heart of stone over here.

This one was really hamming it up for the camera. This just shows how different their personalities are. Alex is all about the hamming. Rachel, the climbing. Hamming fits perfectly with the camera, climbing not so much because it requires both of my hands on her, at all times. Ain't no broken bones happening on my watch!


Dude is going to break a million hearts one day. Those blue eyes go on for miles and miles.

This one just cracks me up, she's all, "What you lookin' at Willis?"
Why don't my double chins look this adorable?

Together, these two are going to rule the world.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bedtime, it's all about routine

Today I have a post up over at Canada Moms Blog about

Don't hate me because bedtime is peaceful and relaxed in our house, m'kay?


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Something is Everything

“I am only one. I cannot do everything but I can still do something. I will not let the fact that I can’t do everything stop me from doing the something that I can.”

- unknown author

These words are so powerful to me and sum up how I feel about my Mother Earth Crusade. Honestly, I do get overwhelmed with the futility of it all. Sometimes I feel like whatever I do is so overshadowed by what I see so many people around me doing. I won’t lie, I get angry and have been tempted, on more than one occasion to pick up the cigarette butt tossed out the car window at a red light and return it to the owner who “lost” it. But in the essence of safety (can you say road rage?), I haven’t. Yet. Only the good Lord knows what the hormones might make me capable of in the future though.

If it happens, I’ll try to alert the media, you know, so I can link the footage of my arrest here for your entertainment pleasure.

In all seriousness, it’s been awhile since we made any changes to the cause, the clothes line has been working out really well except for the lack of, you know, SUMMER weather. Not that I am bitter or anything. Turns out clothes dry on the line in fall like temperatures even in August, in case you were sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for the verdict on that.

It’s time to get some composting going around here because about 60% of our trash is compostable materials. Throwing that into this pile is just wrong.

Photo courtesty of 123RF
On so many levels.

PS the votes have been tabulated:
stay long - 8 votes
something in between - 4 votes
buzz it - 4

And because yesterday was a stellar hair day, I think I am in agreement. We'll see what I tell the stylist to do when I get there later today.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Hair, Hair, it's all about the hair

Last March, I decided that I liked my hair, that I was going to keep it the way it is because clearly, based on past results, it was the best "look" I had going for me. And I have come a LONG way, trust me (click if you need a good laugh).

Recently, thanks to my long-time stylist, I discovered this Redken product and I am loving it. I am not really a salon product kind of girl because I find that they work worse than drug store brands and I have to leave behind my first born as payment. This one, however, lives up to the $20 per bottle cost.

Last week, Amy challenged her readers to take a photo, right out of the shower. Here's me after my hair air dried. Brace yourselves.

No makeup either proven by the glowing orb that plants itself in the middle of my forehead.

Now to get the after shot. Yesterday, Jay and I had a date night out (Thanks Candace for watching the boys) so I set up the self timer and attempted to get one without a flash. Someday I am going to conquer the manual settings, clearly based on the following, it just won't be today. Here's me after take 1,500:

My eyes, my eyes! Mental note: metal glasses and a flash creates retina burning images. Your welcome for that.
Try again. A little less glare but why oh why does the camera focus immediately when I push the button so that by the time I get posed it has focused perfectly...on the wall behind me...

Alright, not such a bad shot of the back of my hair. Now let's do the front - take 1,765.

Too dark. Use flash.

And then I spontaneously combusted. Too bad I didn't get a shot of that, huh?

But really, the hair doesn't look any different from the before picture and really it's not other than I ran the curling iron through my bangs to straighten them. Not that you can tell. And the floofed the back a bit and scrunched with hair spray.

And I put on buckets of makeup. Don't I look like a hoochie mama? No? Right, you can't even tell I spent 20 min trying to get pretty for my date. I look the same. *throws all her expensive Arbonne cosmetics out the door* I'll keep the skin care line though because it must be doing something if I look the same before and after.

Which brings me to the point of this post (yes, there is a point, alleluia!). My hair is getting boring after five years of the same old same old. I have a hankering to go back to this style that I had around ten (10? when did I get old enough to say that?) years ago. Excuse the quality of the photo, it has been riding around in Jay's wallet for ten years.

I have a hair appointment booked for Thursday. What do you all think?
PS Jay is silently wishing you all vote for it to stay long, just so you know.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Why I should go to NYC

So I mentioned how I might want to go to BlogHer last week, but how I am all kinds of scared it would be recurrent of high school. Because I am woman, hear me roar, I also have the distinct right to change my mind, right?

After hearing that this
lovely lady, whom I just recently met in real life, is going to BlogHer 2010 in New York City, I am very strongly rethinking my fear. But I read this and this, two very different takes on the whole to go or not to go and what to do while your are there topic and I get even more confused.

Luckily, I have the privilege of knowing
Angella in real life and Elaine, Tracey and Karen MEG on line. How do I decide such a momentous decision (you know besides begging Jay that we really need to take a trip to NYC next year, say around August 5, 6 and 7th, 2010)?

Well I interview these lovely ladies of course!

Here is what they had to say to my amateurish questions (FYI interviewing skills are not taught to accountants, generally speaking):

1. This was your first BlogHer, what made you decide to go?

Tracey: I have been blogging for almost 3 years and have been watching the connections made by everyone who attended previously. I was SO jealous that it burned me up! I managed to save enough money from ads on my site and articles for magazines to pay for 80% of my trip. It was my first time doing anything by myself, FOR myself. I felt it was my time.
Hmm, while I am ecstatic for Tracey, I am not sure I can get away with the never taking me time excuse, because, um, well, I pretty much get my fair share of me time me thinks. I am super lucky, that I know.

Karen MEG: I went because I wanted to meet my blog friends, that's for sure. And last year I attended as a head on the Immoral Matriarch's popsicle stick, so I felt obligated to bring the rest of my body this year. But seriously, BlogHer is something completely different than I've ever experienced. It was a challenge for me and something I wanted to "conquer"; I'm one who finds it almost terrifying to talk to people sometimes, and have rarely ever approached anyone I don't know, to talk, chat, whatever. It was a stretch for me to do something totally on my own for a change too; no husband, no kids, no colleagues and entirely UNrelated to work- out of my element. Granted I had met a couple of the bloggers before in Toronto, but it was still intimidating, I mean we're talking 1500 bloggers en masse!

Karen, you and I are a lot alike me thinks and I think it’s high time I conquered this too, what you say, you, me and a few martini’s?

2. Were you all kinds of nervous? Was it anything at all like you expected?

Elaine: I actually was not that nervous. I think it was really cool that the first night OhMommy recognized me first (it was probably mostly the belly, but still...) and I sort of regard her as a bloggy "celebrity" but I immediately felt comfortable talking to her, just like I have in comments and emails via her blog and mine. Since that happened within hours of my arrival I was more laid back about it all after that.

Hmm, mental note, maybe grow a belly before next year so someone (anyone!) will recognize you? Scratch that, my glasses will do it. I hope.

Karen MEG: Well, it was a little as expected, in terms of being completely overwhelming when I first arrived. And I also expected it would be a bit like high school, or even a reunion, because you're always looking around for a familiar face, hoping that you'd recognize someone from their tiny avatar. There were tribes, groups of people milling around together with familiarity, much like you would see the "popular" kids, you know? Because for many it was a reunion. I found the sheer size of it, though, was what made it difficult. As you're only there for a couple of days, you're hoping to find/meet as many of your blog friends as possible, and I found it a little tough as you're feeling very thinly spread. And I hope to heck I didn't act rudely because of it, as it was so easy to get pulled in various directions as you'd see familiar faces go by who you didn't want to miss. There were some that I saw only at the beginning and then at the end, so although I got a hug, there might have been very little conversation and interaction, which was a drag. I did surprise myself, however, at my ability to shout across the room, across a sea of strangers to yell at a face I recognized, and fling myself with open arms into the comfort of those I'd only seen on my laptop screen. I'm a nut, I know. But you gotta do what you gotta do :).

See this is what I imagine and it terrifies me, I am not the type to yell across a room (no one would hear me) but maybe I could run across the room?

3. I am considering going to NYC next year, why should I go?

Tracey: There are a million reasons to go. The main ones, for most of us, is to hug that person you have talked to online. We all want to hear the cadence of the voice that is behind the written words we've enjoyed. The sense of camaraderie was definitely something I hadn't experienced in a long time. I mean, everyone there (except the sponsor/promo dudes) was a writer. We all love to write and read and comment and connect. We all understood the draw that a good blog can have.

Angella : It's NEW YORK. Aside from that, I know that you have a lot of blog friends who you are close to that you would love to meet. Plus, considering that you and I didn't get our work meet up in Vancouver this year, we may have to rely on BlogHer for the chance to say, "hi." :)

Reason enough for me.

The one and only reason I would go would be to meet some of the wonderful women I have connected with online. Because many of them live far far away from the quasi Arctic (have I mentioned they are also very smart?) the opportunity will not arise unless I buck up and head to this here event everyone has been talking about.

Will I go? I still don't know. Obviously it would be expensive to get from here (flip flapping Arctic) to NYC so it's a decision Jay and I must make together and if I told you now, what would I blog about in the future?

I'm nice like that.

But here's the deal, if I go, you go, capiche?*

(certain exepmptions can be made, approved only by me - moohoohahahaha)