Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Good Old Winter

It's the dead of winter up here in Saskatch-E-WONe (typically how non-Saskatchewanians pronouce it, the proper pronounciation is Sask-ACH-e-wan), which is no surprise to any of you. And the fact that we got dumped on with a good old blizzard this past weekend should also not surprise anyone ('cept those of you from the Southern U.S., y'all ain't never seen the likes of this).

What is surprising is that the school buses have not run for the last two days and apparently won't be running tomorrow again. You see, us Prairie folk are hardy. A little snow never stopped us. Frankly, if life stopped everytime it snowed, we would be house bound for half the year. We actually mock other cities to the west and east of us when they get what we consider a normal amount of snow because they practically declare a state of emergency. For us, that's just another winter day. But to be fair, given that we experience such levels of snowfall so often, we have the resources to clear the streets much more so than these cities which we will not name.

Here is our front yard (notice how high the bank is - a good 4 feet) after Jay shovelled, and shovelled and shovelled the driveway, sidewalk and street in front of our house (the snow that you shovel has to go somewhere so it is normally piled up on the lawns).

Snow banks

Yes, I said the street. There was so much snow that it was causing cars to get stuck and given that we live on a quiet (relatively) residential street, we knew the plow would not be by for several days. Turns out the plow came by on Monday. I was praising the snow removal of our fair city until Jack and I went out later that night only to discover some main roads had yet to be plowed. Huh? Our quiet street has but not main road?

They must have seen poor Jay out there shovelling the street and took pity on him.


Monday morning dawned bright and clear. I walked with Jack and Kamden to school on account of the risk that there were hip deep drifts to plow through. They were not hip deep but definitely knee deep. Poor Kamden kept falling over. That's why I went along, getting up in knee deep powder is quite a challenge. I was just happy I never bit it. Now there would have been a sight to behold: 35 year old woman breaks hip while trying to dig herself out of snowbank. On second thought, let's not wish that on our worst enemies.

We actually had quite a good time plowing through the drifts. It is really kind of fun to thrash about in it and marvel at the power of Mother Nature.

By today, the plows had cleared the streets and everyone and his dog had dusted off their snow blowers. The dudes had this path to walk through today.

Snow plowed

Easy peasy. However Old Man Winter is now back to his old tricks with cheek biting windchills which are all the more fun when he throws some snow into the gale. There is nothing quite like the sting of blowing snow on cold cheeks. Remind me again, why do I live here?

Just to give you an idea of how much snow there actually is, I took a picture of these benches. The snow is the same level as the bench.

Park benches

And this is not piled up by the plow, this is what fell and/or was blown in by crotchety Old Man Winter. He was in hibernation there for a bit and he's awoken much like a Grizzly bear does in the spring: hungry, grouchy and ready to spread the misery.

But what else is new? Just another Saskatchewan winter day.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

No Players in This House

It's no secret that we are Canadian, here at the Khlopchyk house. And it's also no secret that Canada equals hockey. My parents hail from a small town in Saskatchewan known as Canada's hockey factory having produced at least six NHL hockey players (Wendel Clark, Kerry Clark and Barry Melrose to name a few).

Playing hockey is the norm for boys and many girls here in Saskatchewan. In fact, I would venture to guess that the majority of boys play and that number of girls playing is increasing exponentially by the year.

With a house full of boys, you might think that we live at the rink. But we don't. In fact, until last weekend, we hadn't set foot in a rink since sometime during the winter of 2007/08.

You may or may not know that I spent a good deal of my teen years on figure skates. I loved it. I vowed that while my kids did not have to follow in my footsteps (blade tracings?), they would, as proud Canadians, know how to skate.

We started off well with Jack, enrolling him in skating lessons during his Kindergarten year. Then we slacked off so much so that Kamden, who is halfway through Kindergarten, has not really been on skates, unless you count the three times when he was three. I tend not to.

This winter, while it has had it's cold spells (do the words -952 ring a bell from last winter's rants?), has been unseasonably warm since January hit. We don't get the kind of winter where we can enjoy the activities you tend to associate with winter, sledding, skiing and skating, you know on account of liking out limbs enough not to want to freeze them off regularly. While the weather was warm (hello blizzard of epic proportions today!) we got inspired and got the kids suited up with some second hand skates and hit our local outdoor rink.

Skater boys

('twas night and my nighttime camera skills, well, I don't need to tell you, the quality of this photo pretty much says it all, but the subjects are sure handsome, in my bias opinion)

Today, we had plans to meet some family at an indoor rink but given that it snowed buckets in a blizzard like we haven't yet seen this winter, we stayed home. Shoveling the driveway is a fun activity too (not for me, I stayed in).

The kids really enjoyed renewing their skating skills and we won't talk about how I almost bit the rhubarb when I tried to show them a simple spin. Suffice it to say I am not 16 anymore. We plan on hitting the indoor rink more often this winter and if the Quasi Arctic stays away a bit longer we might even hit the outdoor one again too.

While I doubt either one of my boys will play hockey (Jay never did either), I still vow that they will be able to hold their own when they strap on the old blades. It's just the Canadian way, eh.

(Has anyone missed my infamous winter rants? Without the ridiculous weather, I have nothing to complain, I mean, write about)

Friday, January 15, 2010

We Love Superheros

My boys, in the last year or so, have become obsessed with all things superhero. To me, that is part of growing up boy. I have never considered otherwise. They fight evil. They right wrongs. They bring justice to the galaxy. To me, it is teaching them about the world but in a way that is fun and right up their testosterone alley.

We have not let our kids watch any of the blockbuster superhero movies. Jay and I watched a bit of one of the Transformer movies and felt it was a bit too violent for our boys. Someday I am sure they will watch them but for now, they are quite content with TeleToon Retro's reruns of Spiderman, Batman, Transformers and Justice League.

Boy Power

The point is that I cannot imagine life in our house without superheros. My boys play together for hours with their action figures. And Kamden and his buddy, Logan, would be lost without their PowerRanger alter egos. That reminds me of when they were three and they were going to be Buzz Lightyear when they grew up. That's the thing, it's part of them. I can't imagine squashing that interest. Rather, we talk about what is real and what isn't. It works for us.

Today, I am talking about Superheros over at Canada Moms Blog. Swing by and check it out, if you are interested.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Behind Those Hazel Eyes

The other day I was playing with a friend's new 50mm lense. I was trying to get a picture of a superhero (the reason behind that will come to light in a later post) and Kamden popped into the room. He was willing to pose. The original photo included a Batman action figure but I loved how his hazel eyes popped so I cropped Batman out. I was pleasantly surprised that the resolution was maintained.

Hazel eyes

(Also of note, the ketchup on his left cheek leftover from his lunch of a grilled cheese sandwich and my silouhette reflected in his eyes.)

This lense is now on my wish list. I also really need to get outside to use the 50mm - 250mm lense I got for Christmas. Work keeps getting the way. Work Shmerk.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Importance of Mom

Once, my Auntie Vicki (my mom's sister) got my mom a shirt that read:

Mother and daughter by chance, friends by choice.

This statement pretty much sums up my relationship with my mom. A relationship that has grown and evolved (I still think Darwin was on to something, yo) over time.

In the beginning she was on a pedestal. I was four and she knew it all.

Then I was 14 through 18 and what did she know?

Then I was 24 and darn it all if she didn't seem to know more than I once thought.

And at 27, when I became a mother myself, she was my rock. I think she wondered where her rational, level headed daughter went since a neurotic first time mother replaced her for a bit.

As my boys get older, I find myself uttering the very same things I heard in my childhood:

"Why don't you sit with us here at the table instead of at the neighbors."
(pull your chair closer to the supper table)

"Close the door, were you born in a barn?"

"The cupboards are flying away again, why can't you shut the cupboard doors after you are finished unloading the dishwasher?"

Okay, so I haven't yet uttered the last one but I foresee it being said in the near future. Basically, I am my mother incarnate. We both get riled at certain things, different things for sure, but when we are riled, the world will know. She doesn't have a blog but damn if she did there would be some stellar rants, let me tell you. I have her gift of that I am certain.

The moral of this post, (can I pretend that I have the skills to include a moral into my post?) is that I have had an amazing role model in my mom. She is always true to herself. She refused to take the easy way out when raising us. I, for one, think she did a stellar job.

And for all of this I am thankful for many reasons. For one, that she gave me the skills to be an independent resonsible adult and because by being a great mother to me, I have the skills to give it my all as a mother to my boys.

This post needs a picture and I vow that soon, I will get a good one of the two of us because be darned if I remember a picture of just me and my mom. I definitely don't get my narcissistic need for self portraits from her.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Kamden's Wish

Kamden made a wish on a falling star (insert Jack vehemently clarifying that there are no such things as falling stars, only meteors and meteorites) awhile ago. As Christmas came closer, he commented on several occasions that his wish still hadn't come true.

We kept reminding him that sometimes wishes take time to come true and to be patient. With Christmas coming, we assumed that the wish of a five year old would involve a toy or movie.

Were we wrong or were we wrong.

The day before New Year's Eve, as we solidified our plans for the big night, I commented that it would be a late night. That's where Kamden yelled out, "That's my wish! I wished that I could stay up as late as Mommy and Daddy!"

Let's all pause to so I can drink up the pure sweetness that is my youngest son.


Okay, moving on.

And he did indeed stay up as late as us. We celebrated at 11pm because that's when the ball drops in Times Square in our time zone. And by midnight we decided it was time to go home to bed (read: Mommy was about to turn into a pumkin).

As he gave me his last hug for the night, he said, "Mommy, can I sleep in tomorrow?"


I chuckled, and looked at the innocent face of my sweet boy and said, "I certainly hope so."

(Really more for his safety than anything - Momma needs her sleep.)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

It's a New Year

The holidays (aka eat fest 2009) are over and they were great. Christmas is so much fun when you have kids to kick up the excitement factor 400%. Jay and I had a lot of fun shopping (that was sarcasm) for the boys. It seems that as the boys get older and have very specific wants, we have more fun (sarcasm again)with the shopping. I guess leaving it until mid December wasn't so smart. It appears that all the good stuff sells out and all that is left is random Transformers no one has ever heard of. Maybe it's just me who has never heard of them, since I have never seen the movies but then again neither have the boys. So why do they love them so much then? That leads me to why in the name of all that is good and holy, they market toys to kids for movies that are not appropriate for said kids. That's another post. If I ever get around to it. Don't hold your breath.

We started off the festivities at Grammy and Granddaddy's (Jay's parents) with the boys helping to make the stuffing for Christmas Eve dinner. Jack has been helping with this task since he was old enough to tear bread and Kamden joined in as soon as he was old enough.


We also celebrated my Dad's (aka Pop) birthday on December 23rd. Also an annual tradition (shocking, I know).


Apparently my kids are coming out of their shells. Look at them stealing the thunder from their cousins. Which is funny because you should have heard the groans when I asked them to pose for a picture.


Kamden decided that snacking on an apple should be more than just eating. He is nothing, if not goofy. We kind of love him exactly like he is.

And right after I finished my Mommarazzi gig on Christmas Eve, my camera battery died. Guess what I forgot to pack? That's the battery charger for $1,000, Alex. I hijacked my Dad's camera on Christmas Day but then promptly forgot to transfer the photos to my laptop before we came home. But if this is my biggest goof, I am going to pretend that I am doing okay. Shh. I like the bubble I live in.

We also did some tobagging at Grams and Pop's (my parents) but it was bitterly cold so we just did a few runs and then headed back to our positions by the toasty warm fire. It's another Christmas tradition that we had to partake in. In your face Quasi Arctic weather.

New Year's was spent at a family party hosted by some friends. We ate, and then ate some more, and then more. Isn't that what the holidays are for? Once the men had finished watching the Canada vs US World Junior Hockey game (Canucks won in overtime - three rounds of shoot outs - or something like that, what do I know, I think Lanny McDonald was a kicker for the Roughriders) we broke out the Wii for some Rock Band.

I sang "Can't Buy Me Love" by the Beatles (I only had one "leaded" drink, I swear) and got 100%. I think they better have their Wii serviced, it's got to be broken. And Kamden and I sang Taylor Swift's "Picture to Burn". I wouldn't say I love it, but once I hear it, I sing it at the top of my lungs in my best country twang. Have I mentioned that I can't carry a tune if my life depended on it?

This practice is also called Torturing your Children Needlessly.


In other news, our Elliptical, my old friend, the one that got me back into shape over the last 3 years, broke. The tension quit so while you could still use it, it wasn't much of a workout. Jay is hoping he can fix it but parts are not available until sometime next week. We have been tossing the idea around of purchasing either a treadmill or a home gym (not sure where we would put that in our small house but details, details...). While at Costco purchasing the goods for our New Year's potluck dishes, we bought a this bad boy.


(Note the Christmas PJ clad dude doing bench presses? He loves to "workout".)

I guess if you are going to impulse buy, a treadmill isn't the worst thing you could buy. It's a 3.0 hp motor and solid as a rock. I can jump on it and it doesn't move. Related: it's very heavy. Assembling it was a strength training workout for Jay all on it's own. I can "help" but let's be real, I ain't much of a "help". I am awesome at supervising though. At least I think so.

We haven't decided if we will keep the elliptical or sell it. I am not sure I can part with it, it's got a special place in my heart since it's what got me motivated to get fit.

So that there was our Christmas season in a nutshell. May 2010 be filled with joy and blessings for you and your family!