Thursday, September 25, 2008

No, not the baby.


I'm attempting to wean myself from the computer.

It's perfectly amazing how this little machine, that 5 years ago I didn't even own, has imersed itself so firmly and seemingly irreplacably in my life. It was about 5 years ago that James and I broke down and got the internet (at the time, the absolute cheapest dial-up service available). We had had it before, living in Stoney Creek, and before that in Chicago, but we had cut it for while to try and get a handle on our budget.
But people without the internet now are definitely in the minority. And considered weird. And are harassed by family, friends and co-workers until they give in and make the call to Rogers. Or whoever. It's true that one significant reason that we got the internet back then was because it was the chief way one of my jobs communicated to it's staff. So on came the email.

And then a few years ago I started this blog. And another. And another. Blogs need to be updated, and as you can see, I'm not so hot at it.....I'm getting to that.

Then there was the Facebook stint. I've had about 45 seconds of regret that I got away from that.

Recently I got into MSN. It was a quick little phase, still used sometimes, but man, that one is a real time snatcher. It's like the livechat function my budgeting program, Mvelopes uses. You can't just phone up a tech person if you're having problems, you have to do a live, msn-style, chat with a tech. I find that I'll be on for at least an hour, or a good part of one, and when I read back over the conversation, it takes me about 1/4 of the time it took to type it all. And I'm a pretty fast typer.

Tick, tick, tick.

Not that some of my time spent on the computer isn't completely useful. Like I said, there's the email for work purposes. And my budgeting on Mvelopes--completely online. There's always the odd google search for map directions or definitions of "eye twitch" to help me figure out if I have a brain tumor causing my eyebrow to quiver all the time. See? Useful stuff.

And who knows what powerful forces in my life would be non-existant if I didn't spend time on the computer. Like knowing about this Kirk Cameron movie that I'm dying to see and have woefully realized I'll have to wait until the dvd comes out. Or the many blogs my mom points me too about homeschooling or interesting devo's. Good stuff.

But here's the bottom line: I have four children. One is an infant. One is a tyrant. Ok, maybe that's a bit harsh. Let's just call her, "my adventurous one". One is, well, fairly normal. The other needs much more of my attention than he usually gets. He needs to get toilet trained. He needs to learn to speak more clearly. When he says grace it sounds like:

"Mm-mm-hmmm" (Dear Jesus)
"Mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm" (thank you for my food)
"Uh-men" (You can figure that one out)

I'm homeschooling them.
I teach 2, soon to be 3 choirs.
I'm helping run the children's program at church. (http://www.mountainkidsministry.blogspot.com/)
I have a horrendously messy house. I'm trying to get in with Flylady. (What constitutes 'trying'? Hmm, wishing? Thinking? Planning? Am I fooling myself?)
I have a husband. He needs....attention.
I have a Lord. I need my relationship with Him to be stronger.

I'm a big proponent of simplifying one's life. I plan to fight tooth and nail before I'm racing my 4 kids from activity to activity day in and day out. We'll see how that goes, eh?

And so, back to weaning.

I'm thinking of giving this blog up. And likely the kids' one too. This is kindof a hard decision. I love to write, love to have a creative outlet. But I scrapbook too---I could just pick that up again. And I can journal. As my mom would say, there you go.

I just feel like if I have one more thing hanging around my shoulders that's calling out, pay attention to me!! I need to be updated/cleaned/worked on/read/filed/putaway/wiped/changed/taught/corrected/run after/rescued/washed!---I might, well, to quote my SIL, jump out a window!?

I met my husband at the door yesterday and said, "Sometimes I wish we were still 17". He chuckled and asked why. "Simpler?"
I nodded.
"Then again", I added, "When we were 17, we couldn't imagine there would be a time in our lives with more stress and concerns than we had then". Such a vicious cycle.

So read and enjoy, if you commonly do. I don't think leslife-morelife will be here much longer.


One of those moments...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

There are some posts where I extol the virtures of my beautiful children. Like most families, we have many wonderful, exciting, happy times where I think "This is why we're doing this". You know those moments.
And then there are the moments where I want to crawl under the nearest table, or perhaps rush back out the door of the restaurant....

Yes indeed, I had one of those mortifying moments....much worse than Verity continually announcing that her bum hurts at the family dinner table (that would be my parents' dinner table, you know, with all the siblings and spouses and boyfriends sitting around...).

Yesterday was grocery day. When James got home, we needed to go out and get groceries, an adventure that the kids love and look forward to; a harrowing torturous experience that James and I are growing to dread every two weeks.
The biggest problem yesterday is that the larder was empty. I'm not sure what happened our last grocery trip because we horrifyingly went over our budget by fully a 1/3, but by yesterday there was absolutely NO food to prepare for supper. We couldn't even do pancakes because we had no eggs. I do plan a menu, but I never actually plan out 14 meals, usually about 10 and then leftovers and a few dinners at my mom and dad's takes care of the rest.
So when James got home, we sat and talked for a bit (mostly about how tired we had been all day from staying up until 1am watching Lord of the Rings the night before--go ahead, give my hand a slap) and then decided we would hit Pizza Hut for a quick dinner before we went to the grocery store. Truthfully, we didn't really have the money to do that, but we didn't have the time to make two trips to the grocery store for something to make up for supper and then head back out for the big haul.

Alas, the Pizza Hut was closed for renovations. So down the road we went and spotted the East Side Marios. I LOVE East Side Marios, but I always feel a little guilty going there because it's a little expensive. But we decided we'd order a pizza there and nothing extra (sigh, no salad or garlic bread) and then it would probably be no more than Pizza Hut would have been.

The kids were all very excited, especially Verity. In fact, she was a little off the wall. As we all walked in and the Hostess appeared, she immediately went running up to her and started screeching away about something in one of those so-excited tones of voice that you could hardly understand what she said.

But I understood what she said.

Our server was a beautiful, very dark skinned young woman with many braids. She was one of those black people who you can truly call black. To my horror, Verity looked at her and said something along the lines of "You're brown!! I don't like brown!".

At first I wasn't sure she actually said such a horrible thing. She came spinning around to me and I caught her by the chin. "Verity", I said, "WHAT did you just say?". But she was too excited to comprehend and I was trying to speak on the quiet side. I waited until we got to our table and then a got my face into hers.

I determined that yes, my ears had heard correctly. I was so stunned. Why in the WORLD would she come out with such a thing? How could MY child have said something like that?

When I sat back down, James and I looked at each other with concerned looks. We discussed whether I should take Verity over to apologize to the hostess. James thought yes, but I was unsure because frankly, I didn't think the woman had heard or comprehended what Verity had said. But after a minute, I decided that she needed too: even if the woman hadn't heard it, Verity had said it and she knew she had. This apology would be more for Verity's benefit than the hostess.

So I put Verity on my hip and explained what we were going to do. She seemed agreeable. I went over to where the hostess was setting a table and told her that my daughter needed to say something to her. She was gracious and smiling, clearly touched at the cutesy apology of a three year old. I don't think she had quite heard what Verity said originally, but that was ok.

It's still a mystery why she said that. I think it was a combination of typical not-thinking-before-she-put-her-mouth-in-gear, intense excitement and perhaps a little awe over being so close to someone with such dark colouring.

But jeepers I hope that doesn't happen again!

New from Kirk Cameron

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I HAVE to see this movie. It looks AMAZING. And so close to my birthday....(wink, wink, nudge nudge)....wait, my husband would have to read my blog to see that......

Not the Same

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm at camp and I miss Neesha.

...and Sarah and Phil and Melissa and Jeff and Karen and Ron and Josh and Greg and...

We live in Hondaworld

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ever since we were expecting our fourth, I've been eyeing a new van. We got our first mini-van after Verity was born, in 2005. Before that we all fit into our Accord wagon. (We're somewhat fond of Hondas). (Ok, we're Honda fanatics). (Blame my uncle, he started it).

But when I had to ride squeezed into the 10 inch space between the girls' carseats in the back seat of the Accord, we realized we needed to give in and get a minivan. An Odyssey, of course. There didn't really seem to be any way we could afford that though. The Accord had come second hand from the aforementioned uncle who gave us a sweet deal. But I looked at the autotrader anyways. To my surprise and excitement, there were some old Odysseys out there that we could possibly handle purchasing. We went out to the Kitchener area to check out the cheapest. This 95' was going for about $3500 and once we got there it was obvious why. As I went to shift into gear during a test drive, the gear shift got stuck and wouldn't move. The salesguy nervously suggested that I just needed to really reef on it. Ok...buh-by now.

We ended up buying another 95' (earliest year Honda made the Odyssey) from some little place in TO for 5K. We were thrilled.

Now, this isn't actually our Odyssey. I realized when I went looking for a photo of big red, that we got our digital camera after that point, hence no pics of our first minivan. But google obliged me with this pic, quite close to ours. Except we didn't have a sunroof. Or those funky visors over the windows.

I'll bypass our unfortunate Hyundai experience...(You stray from the formula, you pay the consequences) and move onto the next Honda purchase, a little civic for James to take to work.

Unfortunately, we made the mistake of buying privately and that wasn't so rosy an experience. By now however, I would think you're starting to see our trend....

So back to the present. I got pregnant and we realized that our decision to buy a van with two bench seats was not so practical for 4 kids in carseats. Space overall became a bit of an issue, as the early Odyssey's were quite small. And I was having heartattacks in every parking lot with three kids trying out their independence on a four door (read: no sliders). So last week I started looking at Pilots. My brother had been razzing me that we should get a Pilot next, so I went to the Honda site to check them out. I clicked away, deciding that nope, I still liked the Odyssey better. On I clicked to autotrader and what did I find?

A mere 5 minute drive, over on Upper James, this 2000 (Yes!! Into the 2000's!!) Honda Odyssey was going for $5449. It wasn't red...but I didn't care...could we do it?


I want......this one.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Friday, June 13, 2008

I've recently made a couple posts on the kids' blog....

You should really hop over and see.



Thursday, June 12, 2008

These are taken by my friend Leanne. Very Ann Geddes-like, non? Thanks Leanne!

Say it ain't so

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The other night I was at my moms, looking over her shoulder when she was checking her email, and my eye caught a news story on yahoo that made my heart sink.

Last Saturday, James and the kids and I spent a good portion of the day at a friends house, celebrating her youngest child's birthday with a BBQ. There were lots of friends over, and James and I met and spent some time talking with a couple who had two teenagers. We talked about all sorts of things, one of them being a discussion about our children's names, what they meant and why we had chosen them. Our new friend, who had a rather unique name himself-----Gideon--- joked that just as his daughters name----Hannah--which had been fairly uncommon when she was born and now is not, our children's names might someday be commonplace as well. I laughed and thought in my head about how completely impossible that was.

And then Jessica Alba had a baby. Do you know who Jessica Alba is? I think she might have started out as a pop singer, kind of like Mandy Moore, but turned actress and model. She's quite gorgeous. I remember her best from a fav movie, Never been kissed with Drew Barrymore. She played one of the stuck up popular kids, who dressed up as a Barbie Doll for the themed high school prom, and got in an argument with her equally popular and ditzy friends about which Barbie doll she was (Malibu Barbie? Disco Barbie? Truly mindboggling stuff).

I'm sure by now you're getting the idea, if you didn't see it on the news yourself.

Honor Marie 'Looks Just Like' Mom Jessica Alba
Originally posted Tuesday June 10, 2008 06:55 PM EDT
Jessica Alba and Cash Warren Photo by: Alex Berliner / Berliner Studio / BEImages
tiiQuigoWriteAd(757767, 1348046, 240, 190, -1);

Jessica Alba has passed on her natural beauty to 3-day-old Honor Marie Warren, according to the star's brother, Josh. "She is gorgeous. She looks just like my sister," Josh Alba told E! News of his newborn niece. "Jessica did everything natural ... It went really well." Born June 7 in Los Angeles, Honor Marie is the first child for Alba, 27, and husband Cash Warren, 31. In recent months, Alba has been in full nesting mode, and now that the baby is here, the Alba family couldn't be happier. "We are all just ecstatic," Josh said. "She definitely looks like an Alba to me."– Arnesa A. Howell


Sure, she spells it American, but still, this spells death for the uniqueness I've cherished in my babies' names. Ach, I'm probably overreacting....but I guarantee there will be a few more Honour's out there in the next few years. Alba might not be a superstar like Julia Roberts or something, but a quick google tells me that she's got a significant following.

Sigh. Maybe she'll pop out 2 more kids in the next 2 years and we won't hear diddly about her...she'll slowly fade from the public eye......Is that an evil thing to wish? So sorry.

The early weeks

Saturday, May 31, 2008

As you can imagine, I haven't had a whole lot of time these past few weeks to blog. But, it's Saturday morning, James is holding the baby, the kids are watching Dora....so I have a few moments to myself....incredibly.

First off, I wanted to post to extend my condolences to the Allen family. Ronalee (who you might notice has left comments here as of late) is a good friend of my moms. Tragically, she was killed in a car accident yesterday. Her soon to be adopted baby boy was with her and he is apparently at McMaster right now; I don't know what his status is, but I'm sure he needs your prayers. Ronalee leaves a husband and I think 4 other children; one grown daughter and others younger. They were well known at Fair Havens. Please pray for this family.

I'm going to tentatively say that my family is finally well.....knock on wood....First I continued to fight off a wicked cold that I had before the baby was born. That took a good week and a half after Afton came. Then last weekend, about 3am Saturday morning, Verity woke me up by throwing up all over her bed. This continued for the next 12 hours. When she started with a fever, I had James take her to Mac. 6 hours later, they were home with the diagnosis of a stomach virus. Brilliant. We had been planning her birthday party for that day--she turned 3 on the 20th, and we were supposed to be going to Barrie on Sunday for a family shindig. Instead, I sent the older two to my parents, hoping to shield them from the germies....and give us a break. With a tiny baby who, as my babies tend to be, doesn't sleep for long periods and doesn't care to sit by herself, tending to a vomiting toddler was tricky. I couldn't sit in Verity's room to watch over her with the baby in arms, because then I couldn't jump up and help Verity when the next wave hit. So it took both James and I...which was leaving the older two roaming the house stealing food from the pantry. (Ok, that's just Jairus). (Who does that even when his parents aren't preoccupied with his sisters).

I had hoped that the virus would be a 24 hour thing, but instead it just kept progressing through phases....I won't detail those. But most disturbing was just how much pain she was in. At times she was rolling around on her bed, wailing about her painful tummy. Finally, on Tuesday morning, after a couple hours of her wails I decided to take her back to the doctor. As my family doctor didn't have any openings for a week and a half, I took her to a local walk in clinic. Even though the vomiting had pretty much stopped, what do you suppose she did all over me while we were in the waiting room? Of course, because....that's what kind of week I was having.

The doctor dismissed us with the same diagnosis. I asked him how long it should be lasting and he said 36 hours. I leveled a look at him and said it had now been 3 days. He didn't have any good answer for that.

Meanwhile, I had dress rehearsal on Monday night, a concert on Wednesday night and tonight is our final concert. I would have been somewhat stressed about that anyway, never mind doing it with a newborn in tow and a sick girlie at home. It was difficult to get my mind on my job, which is my excuse for why I led the choir off the stage on Wednesday, completely forgetting to sing the last song, an acapella canon. My kids (choir kids, that is) were absolutely gleeful to catch Mrs. Kent in a huge blunder. Oh well, I have tonight to make up for it.

I prayed all week that none of the rest of us would get this, but internet searches on gastroenteritis and it's highly contagious status were not giving me much hope. Sure enough, on Thursday afternoon, Jairus refused his lunch and went to bed instead, crying and pointing to his tummy. I sat on his bed and cried with him. Got him a gravol and he went off to sleep.

And then that evening, a sense of dread began in my gut when the baby seemed a little warm. Her diapers started looking a little....odd (I'll spare you any further details). I took her temperature and it was a little high. We went to bed and I woke around 3 to change and feed her...and her temperature was higher, nearly 101F. I called the midwife in a mild panic and she told us to take off a layer and get her some tylenol. We did both and I was relieved to see the temp come down....but why was it up in the first place? She couldn't possibly have the virus too....NOOO!!

The entire next day I took her temps hourly, logged every feed and detailed every diaper change. Perhaps I was being a little overly paranoid, but after the week I'd put in.....and with her only being 3 weeks old....sigh.

But today seems better. Her temps have stayed down without Tylenol since early evening last night, and she's not complaining as much. Jairus also perked up without any further signs of virus. I'm SO thankful. Yesterday was Verity's first normal day, with only one or two wails. Now I just have to remember to sing that dang canon tonight and I will be on top of the world!!

Here's another picture of my newest girlie....taken yesterday when she was not feeling so well....I think it shows!

Afton Leah Kent

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ok, so two days past due is acceptable....

Little girl was born at 8:19pm last night. I woke up about 4:30am with contractions about 10 minutes apart, but not very long. To my disappointment, by the time my midwives arrived, around 10am, things had slowed down even more then that. I spent most of the day walking....inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs, trying to get them going strong (when else do we try to bring on pain...?).

I think it was some homeopathics that finally did the trick---don't ask me what they were, all I knew was that when the midwife offered me something that could possibly start labour strongly, I jumped at it...and they worked. Meanwhile, I got both doses of the antibiotic in that I needed, being Group B Strep positive. I wondered if perhaps subconciously I caused things to go slowly until that was done...

Once things picked up, it was rip roaring to the end though. I took those homeopathics around 5 I think, finished the antibiotics at 7 and less then an hour and a half later, Afton Leah made her appearance. The midwife gathered her up in the weigh sling and asked us to guess...we were all in the 7 pound range.....(buzzer sound) All wrong! She beat out Honour by one ounce--8 pounds, 6 ounces, 21.5 inches long, which makes her my biggest baby. Jairus was the same length, but only 6 pounds, 7.5 ounces. I was pretty surprised. She's doing very well and even gave us a nice block of sleep last night. As you can see, Jairus, Honour and Verity are thrilled...

By the time she was born, we had James, my parents, two midwives, three kids, 4 sisters, one boyfriend and a partridge in a pear tree in the house.

I'm so thankful that it's all done, thankful to God for the strength get through yesterday, thankful to my husband, who as usual was a wonderful support through it all, thankful to my amazing midwives who did a fantastic job and thankful to my mom for her presence and comfort through the hardest parts. Thank you!

Fifth Babies have no business being overdue.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Need I say more?

Photo Shoot

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I was reading over my last few posts and thought...'Man am I a complainer!!'.

So for a change, here's something slightly more interesting....pictures of a nine month pregnant lady. (!!!)

Our good friend Dave from church offered to do a 'belly shoot'. Never fear, no actual pics of my belly (scary prospect), but lots of me and my fam. Here's a few of the favourites (out of nearly 150 shots!)

T Minus 6 and counting

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Little update...no baby yet.

There are times when I don't understand how I could feel so miserable and not be in labour. Yesterday was a good case in point. I had an AWFUL night with very little sleep and continued to feel rotten all day. Usually I go out around noon to do some vocal coaching at an elementary school, but I just could not make myself do it. My good friend Sonia, who normally watches my kids at that time, came over anyway and made the kids their lunch....ah, good friends are so lovely....

As evening came, I dreaded having to get myself out for choir rehearsal. I really do wonder how much this babe weighs now, as there are times where I feel like I'm carrying a couple dumbells in there. The only thing that got me out of the house was the prospect of seeing my chiropractor first. As well as my usual adjustments, she did a few things that might apparently get labour going....but no luck yet.

I still find my hand gravitating to the top of my belly a few times a day to check for head/butt status. Still good I believe.

Made it to the homeschooling convention this past weekend, which, as much as I hoped to go into labour early, was still a goal. It was a good day. James and I went out to breakfast for the first time since....we lived in Chicago, I think. I had very yummy waffles with strawberries. We made it over to the convention centre in time for the first set of workshops and spent the day taking in various seminars and perusing the large room of booths with all manner of homeschooling resources.

So today I see my midwife and perhaps have a little procedure to get labour going. Never pleasant...but worth it in the end!

So far, so good

Friday, April 18, 2008

It seems that so far, little one is sticking her nose where it belongs.


I saw the chiropractor again today and she's keeping my bones and muscles in good working order so that the baby won't have any reason to go flipping around again. I'll be 38 weeks this weekend and the end could not come sooner. Today would be nice.

So otherwise, not a whole lot going on. I've got all the baby clothes washed, folded and mostly put away. I seem to be missing a fair bit of newborn size stuff, which perplexes me....I'm pretty sure I didn't loan anything out. But for sure I normally have many little newborn hats, and I can only find one.
The homebirthing 'kit' is stocked and ready....except for the baby hats.
The new cloth diapers are washed and in a neat stack on the baby's dresser/changetable. I need to get a diaper pail though.

Today I'm wearing one of my husbands shirts. I feel very....unattractive in it, but when I pulled on a maternity top, you could see every little crease and cranny....also unattractive. Maternity clothes are so small these days. Really, I mean, not just because I'm about as big as I'll get---I've noticed that the trend in maternity clothes since my first few pregnancies has changed. Why Old Navy thinks that your stomach slowly becoming the size of a beach ball is something we pregnant women want to show off from top to bottom is beyond me.

I mean, I know alot of young women, or even young-to-getting-older women like me (can I still call myself a young woman? I'm 33) have this issue with clothes and they feel they are just not attractive unless much of their clothing is superglued to their bodies. They're the teenagers that never end. Maybe I have an advantage having been a teenager in the 80's (the late 80's, I'll grant you) when loose and baggy was totally the trend. I became comfortable in that.

Now, even my non pregnant clothes have moved beyond that level of balloon style pants, cinched at the ankle (although, have you noticed? Tight ankles are back in now). I'd like to think that I'm somewhere between the two extremes. But I digress. The point is, that these women who don't feel attractive unless we can see every bulge get pregnant, and expect to wear their clothes the same way. So maternity clothing companies respond. But they forget that most of us, especially near the end of a pregnancy value comfort over style any day. I have been so uncomfortable this pregnancy because the style of pants now is to have a large swath of elastic material that goes around the bottom of your belly, or perhaps pulls halfway up, before you're too large. I carry low and out front, always have. There's not a whole lot of room there for the waist band of my pants. And to have even that much more pressure in an already tight spot is tremendously annoying. I used to have a few pairs of stretchy cotton leotard-style pants that pulled right up over my belly. Unfortunately, I loaned them away, never to be seen again. The few pairs of 'old fashioned' above the belly waist band pants I still had only lasted me to about 7 months. I sit today in the one pair that I got from Value Village. I feel rather untrendy in them, as they don't have flared cuffs (alright, I will admit that one fashion weakness). But I'm comfy. And I don't care who sees me in them.

Anyways, enough babbling. I'm ready to go. Going to take the kids to the park in a few minutes, hoping the walk will do me good---good, as in, gets me closer to labour. I'll let you know!!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

....she's flipped back. Last night---not that I felt anything, no, she's now moved 360degrees in my belly and I had no idea. I thought I would be vastly relieved, and in a small way I am, but now I'm just worried she'll do it again. Even though I've been seeing a chiropractor regularly, and it's likely the adjustments she made yesterday morning that allowed the baby to turn again, I can't help but think that any moment, little missy could decide she's not comfortable down there again and then we'd be back to square one. I've been feeling my tummy so often that now I don't know what I'm feeling. 2.5 weeks seems like a VERY long time....

Breechy Little Monkey

Monday, April 14, 2008

So last night I was feeling really achy, particularly just inside my left hip. I felt like ligaments stretching so I wasn't really concerned, it was just annoying. Even more annoying was that it wasn't going away easily. Usually just positioning to take the strain off the ligament is enough to relieve it, although I have had a few times recently that it lasted for an hour or so.

Well, 4 hours and a bath later and I was still feeling like something was odd. We had been at my parents for the day and we headed home about 10pm. When I got home, I got right into bed, but lying down, as it had earlier in the evening, made the pain worse. After tossing and turning for a bit, I finally sat up in exasperation, wondering if I was going to need to sleep sitting up that night. The baby was quite active and I put my hands on my belly.

Lo and behold, at the top of my little basketball of a tummy, what did I feel?

A head.

I sat in the dark with a very confused look on my face for a moment. James came in and looked at me strangely. As I kept my hand there, the very hard, round shape I was feeling moved around quite a bit. More and faster than any little baby butt is able to move. On top of that, I could feel little pokey movements---not feet. Hands. I had to sit for a bit to get my mind around this. Then I got up and called my midwife.

Her student answered, as she was off for the weekend. We talked a bit and I told her what I was thinking, feeling a little foolish. What baby flips to a breech position 3 weeks before she's due? How is that even possible?

The midwife assured me that it was possible. I didn't find that assuring, actually. She asked me a bunch more questions and then said she was going to call my back-up midwife for advice. After about 10 minutes she called again. She would get me an apointment to come into clinic for the next day so they could check, and she mentioned the possibility of going for an u/s if there was some question. For that moment, I could take some Tylenol for the ligament pain, and hope to get some rest. At least that part worked.

I got in to see the student midwife, and my back-up for about 10:30 this morning. The student couldn't tell which way she was for sure. I thought the large round head shape at the top of my uterus seemed pretty obvious as I lay on the examining table. My back-up, Simone came in and started feeling around. She got a bit of a smirk on her face....she knew I was right. The baby had turned.

They got me an u/s over at St. Joes for this afternoon, just to be sure. At least I got to see her again. She's sideways, essentially looking at my right armpit, with her back down the left side of my belly. One leg is curled up with her knee at her chest, the other more stretched out into the bottom right of my torso, poking into my right hip----which made for extreme discomfort when I went to stand up from the u/s, after laying on my back for 15 minutes.

And now I'm home. Every once in a while, probably every 5 minutes or so, I feel for her head to see if it's still there. I got up early this morning and did a bunch of reading on the internet about breeches. Lotsa info out there. A few different 'natural' type things I could try. Which I will. I've already made an appointment with my chiropractor, who apparently knows some technique called the Webster that could help. Other sources talked about getting yourself into positions where gravity will encourage the babies head to go down. They say to do it for 15 minutes twice a day. At this point I'm willing to do it ALL DAY LONG.

I'm upset and annoyed and frustrated that I've made it through this pregnancy, which has been such a stressful thing, with this beautiful vision in my head about delivering this baby healthy and whole in my own bed, like the girls were. This is what I've held onto since the moment they told me that Hayden was gone. This birth was going to be the final bookend for the journey I've been on since that loss. I've actually been looking forward to this birth, relishing the thought of labour starting and working through that process again, until a little girl emerged, big and strong. I've been careful to answer peoples' questions about homebirthing with the caveat that I would homebirth if everything was going well. I finally made it to 37 weeks, when my midwife said I could stay home and now look what's happened.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's Tuesday. I get to stay home today. I both like that and feel tired by it.

I'm somewhere between 36 and 37 weeks. I'm really not sure how far because there's the dates my midwife and I established when I first started seeing her last fall, and then there's the date from my first ultrasound. I think one puts me at 37 weeks by the weekend, and one puts me at 37 weeks tomorrow. I wonder which one my midwife will accept if I go into labour before the weekend. I really want to stay at home, which I can't do until I'm 37 weeks. I almost wondered if something was beginning when I woke up this morning. Both my daughters labours started in the morning, as I was waking up, or shortly thereafter. This morning I was pretty uncomfortable, but then again, I usually am. This was a little worse though.

I'm trying a new quiet time plan out. It's become apparent that Verity is pretty much done with naps, with, I'm sure, a few exceptions from time to time. However, we (ok, I) need the break after lunch. Jairus still plays nicely in his room for the quiet time. Honour on the other hand had gotten a little annoying. She used to sit in the 'quiet chair' and look at books or listen to a book on tape or radio drama. Well, she's sick of the cds we have and isn't interested in looking at books for an hour. Sooo, today I brainstormed a new plan. Both the girls would have quiet time in their room (right, that'll be quiet). But they have to stay on their beds and they can only play with the small selection of toys that I keep in their rooms. Or look at books, which there's dozens of in their room too.
Well, I've already taken Honour out and restationed her on the floor of my bedroom because they started screaming at each other over some toy. And while they are supposed to stay in the rooms with the doors closed, except for bathroom or some other emergency, they've both come out once each for bathroom, once each for a drink and once or twice each for some other reason.

I've cleaned up pee from two kids already today. Sigh.

I'm eagerly awaiting our tax return. We'll be paying off my student loan (yeeehawwww!!) and establishing the all important 'emergency fund' that Dave Ramsey insists you should have. After trying to follow his and Crowns ideas for the past 3 years or so with some, but not all the success I would have liked to see, we're finally going to knuckle down and establish this fund as both sources say you should do at the very start of a financial/get out of debt plan.
With the remaining money (there'd better be remaining money....grrr) we can get a few baby things. We need a carseat, I'll probably just get a used one. We DON'T have to get a new co-sleeper as I thought we would, as James opened it up and tighted all the loose spots. Cool. We need to buy some cheapie Ikea mattresses, because we're putting the girls into bunk beds. We were given some bunks, but no mattresses and I wanted to get that done before the baby comes and hopefully give the girls a week or two in the new beds before another huge change hit the house. I was looking at Honour last night in her little Dora toddler bed and she just...barely....fits. It's time. And there's a few miscellaneous things---the kids and I all need hair cuts, we should really hire an exterminator because we have a little ant problem that I know will just get worse as the weather gets better...etc.

And I really have so many things to do that I shouldn't be sitting here blogging.

So see ya later.

Get with the times

Friday, April 4, 2008

I thought we were past the phase of political correctness.

I remember being roughly in highschool when even the phrase 'politically correct' became well used. And then there were the changes in peoples' speech patterns that followed---it was like a race to see who could identify and change the most inaccurate and apparently offensive terms in western dialogue.

I have to admit, I wasn't completely immune to it. Up until this time, we had always called my sister mulatto. It was after an Oprah episode when I was a teenager that I started calling her 'bi-racial'. And not knowing many other black people at that time, if I had gone to Chicago then, I might have been caught using the word negro. For a bit near the beginning of my time in the States I likely used African American most often, but by the time I graduated, it was black. And then I've already posted about my feelings concerning the word retarded.

But I've often thought it was much ado about nothing. And perhaps it's that my patience is a little thin these days, but frankly, I think the kafuffle raised over the Toronto councilman's lapse in pc-ness and now the poor guy out west is just eye rolling.

They crucified Councillor Rob Ford a few days ago when he had the 'audacity' to lapse into his childhood speech pattern and call Asians 'Oriental'. Frankly, while I recognize that using the word 'oriental' is old fashioned, I've never heard any convincing argument for why it's offensive. I mean, it's nothing like using the word nigger; 'oriental' is just a behind the times term. It's about as offensive as wearing fluorescent. And while in defense of himself, I thought he raised a couple good points about various other public sources that still use the word oriental (some university department--I only heard the broadcast once). Hasbro better watch their tails! Pretty soon they'll be forced to recall all the Monopoly games and reprint them with Asian Avenue! And his use of the phrase 'work like a dog' to describe the Asian community--give me a break! We all know it's true and we've all thought it before. 'Work like a dog' might not be the classiest way to compliment a society on their industriousness, but I guess Ford is not the classiest guy--I really wouldn't know as I'd never heard his name up until this past week. (And yes, a bit of googling turned up a few other 'foot in mouth' experiences--I just don't think the guy should be publicly flogged for having a bit of a red neck).

Now the uproar over Regina MP Tom Lukiwski's shameful past. I'll admit, it's slightly more concerning than a political figure that can't keep up with racial terminology. I saw this on the news last night and again I was thinking, 'is there nothing more important for these people to be focusing on?'.
My issue has to do with the fact that a) This was 16 freakin years ago! 16 years ago, I was in my last year or two of highschool. The whole gay lifestyle was just starting it's rise to public acceptance. Part of that rise was the gay community embracing the word gay---remember, it used to mean happy!! Faggot was another one of those words that they commandeered and decided that it was now a positive term, just another way to describe them. This may or may not be true today, but in the early 90's, it was well used by non-gays.
B), Did you notice what was happening in that video? It's obviously a mild party scene. People were drinking, hanging around, joking and laughing, it's obviously an 'off duty' moment. Are you telling me that a politician has no down time? That he is constantly on display? Surprise people, politicians are people that have their own thoughts and opinions, but may or may not support those in public.....I think that would be a big part of their job!

And finally, C) Why the heck was this brought out in the first place? Because some idiot out there was salivating at the prospect of making this guy look bad. The news said that the video had been left in some party headquarters for years and was just recently cleaned out....so someone found this video, popped it in, saw this guy making the comments and decided....what? That he/she just couldn't bear to toss it? That they just had to call the evening news and courier the tape right over? Please. I just have a real problem in ruining a guys life over a comment he made half a lifetime ago, in a down and possibly inebriated moment, using again, an old fashioned term, a barely-registering-on-the-insult-gauge term (I can hear it now, "yeah, well you've got dirt under your fingernails" will be ruling the schoolyard for the next few years), and a, well, truthful term. Do gays get diseases? They do. Do they transmit it to other people? They do. More than a straight guy married to the same woman his whole life? Indeed. Let the guy say sorry and get back to work people.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Whooo, got your attention, eh?!!

Ha, I did actually have a reason for that----it wasn't just for a jolt.

Quebec pulls sex ed

I'm just amazed at this article. They must really think we parents are complete idiots. To honestly think that pulling sex ed out of Quebec's public school system will leave kids 'groping in the dark' (oh, the pun) is just the ultimate in reliance on the government to do everything for us.

The whole homeschooling thing aside, I consider teaching my kids about sex one of the most important lessons they will learn from me, and I look forward to the moments where I will get to convey my beliefs to them on the subject. I relish the thought.

Quebec pulling sex ed!? Good riddance!!! The last line says that without a curriculum, alot of teachers will do nothing.....excellent!! Let them educate their own children about sex.

I will educate mine.

We are SO SICK

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The title says it all. We are horribly, terribly, overwhelmingly sick. James is the only one so far not suffering.
I am currently counting down the moments until I can take some decongestant spray.....3....2......1......hallelujah!!!!!

Verity started with a cough a couple days after family day. My SIL was pretty sick that last day of the renos and Verity was all over her lap, so maybe that's where it came from. It was one of those really concerning thick coughs and I was afraid it was going to turn into croup. So I took her off to the doctors where we had quite an adventure. Just as we were waiting to see the doc, the fire alarm went off and the whole building had to evacuate. The fire department showed up. It was the Shoppers Drugmart next door, but I'm not sure what exactly. Their sprinker system went off. So after 15-20 minutes we went back into the clinic and just as the doctor came along, the power went out. He still listened to her chest, there in a dark hallway with only the emergency lights on, and wrote me out a prescription by hand for some kind of steroid that would calm her lungs down.

It worked, but she still went on to develop a brutal cold with a regular sounding cough. Last Tuesday night, I started feeling a little scratchy in the back of my throat and woke up in the middle of the night with everything aching. I got into see my chiropractor Wednesday morning--whom I haven't seen for 2 months because we couldn't afford even the co-payment. I was desperate though. I couldn't sit and couldn't stand from the pain, especially in my hips. Feeling as rotten as I was, I still hauled the kids to Dundas to see her, and put up with THE most atrocious behaviour from Verity. I swear she was possessed.

She was horrible for the rest of the day and I figured something was up with her. Sure enough, just as we were getting her pj's on, she suddenly announced that her ear hurt very badly. So James took her over to the walk in clinic, just in the nick of time, and had her looked at. Ear infection.
By now, I was completely congested, to the point of pain throughout my head, behind my eyes, into my teeth. I'm used to pretty bad sinus problems, but this seemed worse. And now Honour was blowing her nose and coughing like a....I can't think of anything that coughs alot.

James went off to work on Thursday, but decided on his own (after hearing me on the phone, I would imagine) that he needed to come home. Just in time to take Jairus over to the clinic, as he was burning up and hadn't moved from the couch all morning. By now all four of us were pretty much camped out in the family room. I've never been so glad for the 5 channels we get, one which includes TVO kids.
James brought Jairus home with his diagnosis of inner and outer ear infections. He needed Tylenol and Advil for more then 24 hours until his fever of 104 came down. He's still rather lethargic and his eyes are swollen. Also concerning are his blue fingernails.

I started on a regime of Oil of Oregano, only to find out after 24 hours and 4 doses that I shouldn't be taking it during pregnancy. Rats. There is just NOTHING I can take to help this. I can't even take the extra vitamin C that I normally would because for some reason, the stuff I have warns that you shouldn't take it within 2-4 hours of taking another medication, and I'm still on meds for strep throat. If I weren't pregnant, I would risk it.....

And now my nasal spray has kicked in and I can close my mouth. What a relief. The Tylenol is still working, so I can sit here and type. And I double checked with my midwife, Tylenol is OK. Phew.

So now I'm just waiting for Honour to start with something....fever, sore ears/throat, on top of the hacking she's already doing. How about pneumonia? We haven't had that in the house for a few years. This is what I dread every winter: the moment when my entire household is sick. With 3 kids, it's just impossible to isolate any of them.

I really hope this all passes soon.

He's My Son

Monday, February 18, 2008

If you've never had the time to look at Jairus' blog, and/or just never really understood what it was he was born with, this video, created by a dad from the Pierre Robin list I've been on for years, might give you some insight. The details are a little different, but the emotions are the
same. I especially love the prayer he prayed over his boy. And that Mark Schultz song has been constantly playing in my head since I watched this.

February Sucks

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm in a lousy mood today. I'm hoping that blogging will lift my mood somewhat. But I have to get schooling done today, I've been sick lately and missed some, so I can't afford to miss today. So I'll type fast.

Yes, I have strep throat again. I had a sore throat all December, but because I was simultaneously having sinus problems, I just thought it was a sore throat related to that. Finally after like, the whole month, my midwife suggested I get it looked at. Some local clinic doctor took one look and dismissed it as a run of the mill sore throat, but took a swab anyway. A whole week later (cause it was over the New year holiday) I get a call....."Mrs. Kent, your throat culture came back positive for strep throat. Have you started antibiotics for that?".

Um, yes, because I would know exactly what antibiotic to prescribe for myself AND I could just waltz into a drug store and order it. What kind of lame brain question was that?

So, unhappily I started antibiotics for it. A five day power pill type antibiotic. After it was done, I felt better, but not all the way. So for another 6 weeks I ignored the sore throat and told myself it was just the dry winter weather and remaining sinus problems. Finally last Friday, the pain started getting worse so I went back to the same clinic, where a different doctor looked at my throat, declared it looked fine, but he would do a swab just to be sure. Of course, on Monday, I got a call that it was positive. More antibiotics. I've picked up some probiotics and am still taking grapefruit seed extract to combat it. This kills me. My insurance will pay for my prescription of a drug that I need to kill off my infection, but at the same time cause an imbalance in my system that could cause another infection. So I have to purchase excess remedies to combat this, all which cost me twice as much as the antibiotics, yet the insurance company wouldn't think of paying for that. How messed.

And how messed is PC bank? I am SO sick of them and I don't even bank with them. I tried them for a year a few years ago, just to save on the monthly fees but I ended screwing up my finances so many times because of how inconvenient they are, that I ended up paying fines that were vastly more expensive then the monthly fees from TD. I should have learned my lesson. But for reasons I won't get into--mostly financially based ones (as in, lack of money) I was forced to use my old PC account for a few things the last number of weeks and again, screwed up and was slapped with brutal charges for my mistakes. I've now paid to them twice the amount in fees that I would have paid to fix the problem I had in the first place that cause me to use them. I know that's kind of screwy sounding, but I don't want to get into details, so you'll have to try and muddle through that one.

My arm hurts because I had to get my RH shot yesterday because I'm a negative person. I mean, I have a negative blood type. On top of cold/strep symptoms this week, I've been feeling particularly big and heavy. Very uncomfortable. I wondered if perhaps she had shifted her position. Sure enough, at my midwife appointment, her head is now down. Which is why I feel like I can barely sit. I hope I'm not causing brain damage.

I had another dream last night. I won't get into it, but the gist was that I was at a highschool reunion. Strangely, it was at someones huge, grand house with a pool and everything. And Amanda Duern (now not Duern) was singing at the top of her lungs. She sounded pretty good.

And now for some exciting, positive news. Tomorrow we start redoing our bathroom. Sometime last year (and forgive me if I've blogged this---baby/strep throat brain) I announced to James that there was NO WAY my midwives were going to be coming into this house, and using our bathroom in the state it was in. Furthermore, there was NO WAY I was bringing my brand new baby into that bathtub for her first bath (a right-after-birth tradition) looking as disgusting as it was.
We knew that the bathroom wasn't the newest when we moved in. It was obvious that the fixtures and nearly everything in it was as old as the house---about 30 years. What we didn't know was how much had been covered up. The old people had painted....but likely hadn't thoroughly cleaned all the mildew or used the proper mildew resistant bathroom paint. So it wasn't long until we had a huge mildew problem--despite copious fan use. And the tub is slanted. It's an old metal tub, starting to rust in various spots, and it's not level, leaning down towards you if you're standing in front of it. Which means that during showers, water runs down it and off onto the floor. We tried numerous little things to fix this, all in vain. So slowly the wall next to the tub started to break down and destroy itself. And the linoleum beside the tub slowly discoloured and stained, indicating that the subfloor underneath was damaged. Then the taps started giving us a hard time, constantly leaking because of a botched repair someone before us tried to do. Then the sink, also metal, began to rust around the edges and drain. The sink taps became loose and wiggle everytime you turn them on or off. Many little things developed that made it into an unattractive and annoying bathroom. Plus, if we didn't fix some of the things, they would continue to rot until we had a huge, expensive mess on our hands. Something had to be done.

Problem A was no money. Even just to fix the things that were broken/destroyed would be way beyond what we could afford. Which was nothing.

Well, for reasons I won't get into, problem A suddenly had a solution. But it was a solution that I still felt meant that we would need to do this bathroom on the lowest possible budget. Habitat for Humanity, here we come.

I'd heard of lots of people donating things to Habitat---you see it on Makeover all the time. But I hadn't heard so much about people going and using things from Habitat. Still, we looked up the locations and found there were three within reasonable driving range. The first one we went to was right here in Hamilton.

We really lucked out there and found brand-new (donated demos) taps for both tub and sink for just over a hundred bucks. Then at the Burlington one, we bought a sink and toilet for 70$.

The last coup was when I checked back at the Hamilton one, still looking for a vanity. They had just gotten in a beautiful, brand new (but still discounted, of course) vanity that normally runs close to a thousand bucks at Home Depot. Complete with a matching framed mirror, we picked it up for 400$. It now sits in my living room and I cast many admiring gazes at it.

Oh, and my BIL is bringing us a tub for free. Perk of working for a home building company.

So after a trip to Home Depot the other night to pick up things you can't buy at Habitat (linoleum, a tub surround, paint, etc.) we are basically ready to start the attack. Tomorrow James stays home from work, my dad takes a day off and comes over, I take the kids to my parents, and they will take a sledgehammer to our bathroom. Ooooh, I should get some before pics now!!
My brother will arrive tomorrow night, my BIL will arrive the same time or the next morning, and hopefully the four of them will have this project done by the end of Family Day. How exciting!!!!

And now Jairus is hollering, so I must go.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

I have weird and vivid dreams. Anyone who knows me has likely been exposed to this. Sometimes, they're vivid, and make no sense, just a collage of scenes with people I may or may not know. But lots of times it's like I've woken up after watching a movie. Every once in a while (a very long while) a dream, or part of one comes true. Very weird.

Last night I had a dream that I died. Sort of. In my dream, when I looked in the mirror, it wasn't me looking back, but my friend Heather, who's wedding I sang at last fall. Instead of Jairus, Honour and Verity, I had three boys, but one of them was named Ashley, or some other feminine name, and he....dressed and looked like a girl.

I had been abducted, with the three kids. For a long time, I was held prisoner at some kind of abandoned campgrounds. Me and the kids thought we'd never get out. Finally, I had to take some kind of drastic and very brave action to get free---somehow it involved faking my death. I remember walking across a barren, snow covered field. There was a tombstone with a name on it. It wasn't my real name, but in my dream the name I saw there was mine.

Suddenly I was walking into a downtown building, like an inner-city rec. centre. I looked like myself again...at least, my hair was brown and I was wearing tattered jeans and other comfy, but very shabby clothes. There were a bunch of kids around doing all sorts of activities--like painting a mural. A pastor I know here in Hamilton was in charge, Pernell. I went over and talked to him and he was shocked to see me, because....I was supposed to be dead. He started telling me how this operation was going, because it was new. He gestured over to another pastor who was helping him, a guy I know in real life, another pastor from up north. I went over to talk to him as well, and he was really freaked to see me alive too. Gave me a big hug.

For some reason, I couldn't return to my family. I was totally on my own and basically had the clothes on my back.

Where does my brain come up with these things??


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A family from Fair Havens found out yesterday that the father has liver cancer and there is no treatment. I don't know how much longer he's expected to survive, but it doesn't seem long, perhaps only days.
Ken and Jean are friends of my mom and their 16 year old daughter was a beautiful little girl I remember teaching in children's chapel. (She's still beautiful).

Please pray for them.

Update: Ken died around 5am, Saturday, February 2nd,

Organizing, Digital Camers and Going Organic

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm feeling organized today.

I cleaned quite profusely (I was going to say, like a maniac, but that seems a little extreme) on Saturday night, so my house was still looking good by this morning, since we're never home on Sundays. The basement is still looking nice from our full frontal attack last weekend. Still a few more things to organize there, but I need some baskets from the dollar store and I don't have any dollars right now.
The dishwasher is on, the washing machine is on, one kid is napping, one is having quiet play in his room and one is working on an activity book at the table here with me. I'm wearing some comfy-new-(loaned)-to-me maternity clothes from my friend, so I'm excited about that. Less early morning searching for clothes. At least, until I get behind on the laundry again. I know, I should think positively.
I have choir tonight, and I actually got my plan made and sent out to my 'staff' by my deadline, Fridays. So now I just have to gather up stuff...oh and maybe I should look at some of the music I don't know....

Oh, have I got a story. So, if you've been reading, you might remember that our digital camera (Christmas 06 gift from my parents) was lost/stolen last summer. I searched everywhere....or so I thought. We gave up and bought a new one last month as our christmas gift to each other.

I was inspired to start scrapbooking again yesterday and hauled all my stuff to my parents. Besides my usual two bags of stuff, I had a few other bags of miscellaneous stuff that needed to be sorted and hopefully some thrown out. I hadn't scrapped since last summer, so I hardly remembered what half the bags had in them.
I ensconsed myself on my moms living room floor and opened the first bag to see what it contained...some blank pages, some page protectors, some cutting tools.....

And our lost/stolen digital camera.

In the words of the Genie....I feel sheepish.

Anyways, I got all my scrapbooking stuff organized so now I can get back at it and maybe get somewhat caught up by the time the baby arrives. At least enough that I can make a book for her too. I'm still determined to make sure baby #4 gets something comparable to baby #1.

And onto another topic...our great Organic Adventure.

Last summer, I read a couple books that really got me thinking about our food. Now, eating better, with less chemicals and all that is something I've been interested in for a few years. But these two books kickstarted me back into a much more intense effort to make changes. When the fall arrived, I had decided to start doing a few things differently
  • I was going to start buying our meat from an organic farm in rural Ancaster.
  • I was going buy our fruits and veggies organic, and all other things as much as possible, at our friendly neighbourhood Goodness Me, over on Upper Gage.

So that's what I started doing. After a few shoppings I started realizing what an impact this was making on our budget. Reluctantly, I altered the plan, and we started buying our fruits and veggies at Hamilton Produce, on Upper Ottawa. Although not organic, it was local produce, and pretty darn cheap.

The next thing to go was cereal. We are big cereal eaters in our family--always for breakfast and it's not uncommon for James and/or I to have another bowl at bedtime--especially me these days. The only sizes of cereal available at Goodness Me were itty-bitty. We'd buy 4-5 boxes, at about twice the price of similar sized boxes at Food Basics, and be out in a week. Back we'd go for more. James grumbled about this and compare nutrition labels. He was not convinced we were getting anything better at Goodness me.

After another month or two, we were still decimating our food budget. I had known that going organic would be more expensive, but I guess I just didn't think it would be that much, and that somehow I could compensate. It just wasn't happening. Every payday, when I would fund the food envelope, I'd first have to put some in to take care of the deficit and bring the envelope to zero. This was eating up alot of our overtime. I mean, Jamie's overtime.

So I made a few more concessions. I began going back to the Food Basics for a few things. This meant we were now shopping for our food at 4 different stores. 3 of them we'd try to hit in one night, and then the organic farm had to be a separate trip (by me) during the day. It was about 45 minutes of driving round trip.

Still spending too much.

I started buying all our produce at Food Basics too. I had realized that Hamilton Produce was NOT local stuff, and the extra trip was just too inconvenient.

Still spending too much.

We now limited our Nature's Goodness trip to dairy products only. I had early on decided that I disliked organic butter, so I was still getting that from Food Basics. This left cheese, eggs and milk, although we'd often get the same brand organic from Sobey's over in the Meadowlands, or Shoppers Drug mart nearby.

Still totally overspending.

Then came the new year and my finance reassessment, that I've already posted about. I did a report on the food budget for the previous months and was shocked at how much more we'd spent over those months. Anywhere between 30-50% more for the food budget.

Fortunately, by now, my intensity for the necessity of organic had waned. My alarm bells were not constantly going off. Besides the cost, it's just difficult to ensure that your family is NEVER eating non-organically. Snacks at church and friends houses, meals away from home--either at a restaurant or others' homes, I was making exceptions every time I turned around.

And now it seemed pretty obvious that we just could not afford to buy organic. How sad is that? That an average family who earnestly wished to eat better, without all the chemicals, additives and processing by-products simply could not afford to do it.

I still have one hold out...but that will probably stop too. I tried to replace our organic meat with the no-antibiotic meat at Sobeys. However, it's still more expensive, for smaller packages of meat, and with a very small selection. Out of 6 meat products I bought last grocery trip, there was only one to be found from that 'better' group. I ended up buying regular meat, at Sobeys prices, when I could have saved some by getting it at Food Basics.

So that's our sorry saga of trying to go organic. I suppose the bottom line is still that I'm preparing as much as I can without using processed stuff, and including fresh produce everyday in as many meals as possible.

But man, that family on the hamburger helper commercial sure looked happy and healthy.

It followed me home, can I keep it?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

When I was a kid, I had this t-shirt that had a big dinosaur drawn on it. It looked like a little kid had drawn it, and written across the front and sides were the words, "It followed me home, can I keep it?"
It was my favourite shirt and people would stop me all the time to read it and chuckle. I think that's why it was my favourite shirt. I liked the attention.

Well, now I've got a dinosaur following me, and I've tried everything I can to get away from it.

It's spam.

I know lots of people live with this and just write it off as a matter of living in the computer generation, but I really thought I could dodge it.

I technically have 3 emails. One is my 'real' email, that I get the majority of my correspondence on. One is my 'business' email, the one on my business cards and I set it up mainly for JK Soundstudios business, back when I was doing a little more with Jamies business. Then I opened up a yahoo account for all those times you have to submit your email for something halfway important--like opening up an ebay or paypal account. That one, I have no privacy expectations for, I regularly hand it out for this and that reason on the web (nothing frivolous, of course) and it gets loads of spam. Curiously, yahoo does a great job at winnowing out the spam and my trash folder is usually full of it. Once in a blue moon, I empty it just to feel organized.

Somewhere along the line, my 'real' email was leaked. I started getting spam for rolex watches and online pharmacies. Then it progressed to so called personal ad responses (as though I had something posted on a dating site), and then finally to the.....personal enhancement products for my husband.
When it got to the personal ad spam, I decided I'd had enough. We route our email through Jamies website (see sidebar) and that package comes with like, 20 email accounts. So I altered my address slightly, sent out notices to my address book and thought I had licked that problem.

Sigh. Not quite.

About 3 days ago, I was shocked and chagrined to see a spam come through on the new address. Shocked, because, I'd only had it for maybe 2 weeks and I was 99% sure I hadn't given it out anywhere that wasn't absolutely necessary--like my bank. Even more puzzling, was that the same spam was now coming in on my business email, and I am 100% sure I've never given that out, especially not in the last 2 weeks.

So all my finagling was for nothing. I'm still getting that small rush of pleasant surprise when I see Outlook downloading 5 messages....only to plummet to the depths of disgust when 3/5 are spam. And all they are is a single line with a link. As if I'm going to click on the link and go there. What is the point for these cyber-terrorists? Do they actually see some measure of success from this intrusion? Who are the people who click on the link and encourage them to continue? I'd like to whack them as much as the spammers.

But then, the ultimate in privacy intrusion....my cozy little home here on the web. Now, I have to admit, being here on blogger, where anyone and everyone could read what I write should not exactly ensure me of any kind of privacy, I realize this. But what happened after my last posting really caught me by surprise.

As you can read (and hopefully did), my last post was more of a rant against the bank1ing/m0rtgage system. (I put numbers in there in my paltry attempt to dodge the spammers).
Not 10 minutes after I had posted, I checked back on my dashboard and was pleasantly surprised to see that I had a comment that needed moderating. Someone was reading my blog already!
What I was astounded to read however, was not a comment, but an ADVERTISEMENT. Some realt0r in Toronto had 'found' my blog and posted that perhaps I should give her company a call for help with my impending relocation. Which if any actual person had read my post, would have realized that moving to TO would be absolutely NOT the answer I was looking for. This is when I realized the depth that marketing has gotten to.

I'm only imagining how it works, because I didn't even know such systems existed a few weeks ago. So this realt0r has some lackie in her office who's job it is to run searches everymorning---or maybe her computer just does it automatically---perhaps she's subscribed to a service that does this for her, and then spits out a report of all the blog posts that have mentioned something using the key terms of her business. Perhaps she then checks the list and chooses which ones are truly suitable (or perhaps that part again is all automated, considering how innappropriate her contact with me was) and sends out autoresponse comments to all those blogs. Oh, you've got this problem? Well, friend, I have a solution for you. Can you believe this!?!?!?!?

I think....it's inescapable. Unless I just got off the internet entirely. I gave up facebook--

---I could do it, you know.

(sinister chuckle)

And yet, I am blessed

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Then, there's always something to remind me how insignificant my problems are.


Hold on, this here's a whopper

I've wanted to post something new for a while, but just haven't gotten around to it. Kind of like I haven't gotten around to laundry, getting the tree down, picking up all the junk all over my floors....k, so it's getting harder to bend down. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it....

I wanted to be able to post pictures of our little reno project, but it's not quite done yet. Unfortunately, the only before pics I have really, are ones we took when we were buying this house, so it's got all the previous owners furniture in it....well, when I get them up, you'll probably still see what an impressive change has been wrought...

I wanted to post this really funny homeschool-version of the 12 days of Christmas....maybe I still will.

I wanted to post some funny pictures of Verity as she's been toilet training...but they wouldn't be rated for general audiences.

I wanted to talk about....so many things.

The thing most occupying my mind right now is our current housing/financial state. Without planning to, I suddenly one night started a reassessment of our finances. Maybe it was an end/beginning of year kind of housecleaning thing, but one night off the top of my head I just made a comment to James that we needed to take a serious look at our money, and we sat right down and did it. It was not such a nice picture.

Ever since starting to use the Mvelopes system, our finances have never looked the same (in a good way!). I crow about it to just about anyone who has the misfortune (not really, as being introduced to Mvelopes would be a great thing for just about anyone) to mention any kind of financial problem. Unfortunately, budgeting well is not the cure for all ails.

First of all, we had a number of cuts to our income last year. A few in particular have to do with the various Child tax benefits we get. I probably posted when the Universal child tax benefit was cut when Jairus turned 6, because I was just so annoyed about it. What exactly changed in our finances, or Jairus' need for clothes, food and housing, from March 29th to March 30th is beyond me. Why the age of 6 was arbitrarily chosen is a mystery equal to the Caramilk bar.

Some of the other cuts I don't really want to go into, but on the opposite end, we also saw some rises in a few key expenditures. For instance, our property taxes. Well, Leslie, you say, property taxes go up, it's a way of life. Yes, but our taxes didn't go up due to the natural inflation (or whatever economic term determines taxes going up), but because the bank screwed up. When we moved in 2006, instead of porting our tax account from one house to the next (keeping in mind that we kept the same bank so this shouldn't have been a huge problem from my perspective), they for some reason added the significant balance to our sale profit and handed it over as part of the cheque we got from our lawyer. Happily, we spent it on new hardwood floors and a new Ikea kitchen....having no idea that we were spending money that should have been going to the city of Hamilton 2 months later.
Come 12 months later, the bank finally realizes that our overdrawn tax account was just not magically refilling itself. So out comes a notice that they would be raising our tax portion to the tune of 100$ a month.

Shortly after that came another large cut in our income (the one I don't wish to discuss). We did see some small help throughout the fall with James training in the reserves, but it didn't cover the operating deficit.

I kept telling myself I needed to sit down with my excel spreadsheet that maps our income and reassign some stuff, as every month through the fall our mortgage plus taxes payment was always overdrawing the envelope from whence it comes and I was scrambling to cover the deficit. But I didn't get around to it until last week. The total numbers I was staring at, considering the cuts to income, and raises in expenses made for a depressing evening.

I went to Crown to use some of their calculating tools to try and figure out where we could improve. Instead what I found out was that despite living in what I believe is a fairly modest home, we are using about 20% more of our income for housing then Crown recommends in order to keep a balanced budget.

How could we have reached this point? Why were there no indications before this? I laid awake that night, and woke up early that next morning with those questions burning in my mind. And moreover, what could we do about it?

Well, first off, I set about cutting a few corners here and there. I called our internet company and switched our phone service over to them, taking advantage of a bundle deal. That saved 40$. I called the bank and asked if we were in any position to lower our mortgage payment. We do pay biweekly, which is a plus in the banks eyes. I breathed a sigh of relief when she said it could be done without penalty. Another $100 a month freed up.

The immediate problem of our deficit taken care of, I turned back to the long term issue of living beyond our means. I thought we had dealt with this particular downfall. I love to tell people how when we started budgeting, we disovered we were spending 1000$ more per month then we were making. (Why I love to share that, I'm...not...sure). That was a huge you-are-living-way-beyond-your-means kind of slap in the face. Since then I thought we had nipped that. Finally the question of who came up. Who told us we could afford to live in this house.......?

Why, the bank, of course.

We did what every responsible couple does when starting to look for a new house, we went to the bank and got a pre-approval. And what did the bank base this on? What they always do, our debt-to-service ratio.
Well, it so happened that after a few years of careful budgeting, we had manage to lower our debts. We had actually been quite pleased with the amount the bank told us we could afford on a new home. Considering the prices on the west mountain where we had decided we should live (mainly so James could quickly hop on the 403 to get to London), the number the bank told us was great. We'd surely be able to find a home for that price. And we did. In fact, I was quite smug that we had found a house for about 15 thousand less then what the bank said we could spend. Surely we'd even have extra money now. Hhhhyeah.

This line of discovery only solidified something in my mind that I've been slowly discovering about many industries in our world: they are not on our side. They do not have our best interest at heart. You'd think someone in the banking world would have looked at the thousands of people declaring bankruptcy and losing their houses and figured out that this could possibly be a reason. I'm sure they have. And they've done nothing about it.

So now, it seemed, the solution was that we needed to move. This certainly seemed drastic. I mean, we just moved a year and a half ago. It's a huge deal. Honour was traumatized for months and still to this day will once in a while announce that she liked our old house better. Moving would involve consideration of many things. We'd still need to live close to the 403 so James could get to work. A job in Hamilton would be amazing, but we've been looking for years and nothing has worked out. This would limit our housing area. And the purchase price would need to be significantly less then what we paid for this house, to lower our mortgage. And while we could likely determine beforehand how much a monthly mortgage payment could be, the other housing costs could be more or less depending on many aspects of the new house: we put a new furnace in last year--that's made our gas bill less. Property taxes could be higher, insurance costs could be higher, electricity costs could be higher....it would be almost impossible to foresee an accurate monthly housing amount before we actually bought another house.

Why is our system set up this way??!

I still look on mls just to imagine. Last night I found maybe four possibilities, but all had significant problems. There was only ONE house on the entire mountain that fit into the up front purchase price range. It had no basement. Hmmmm, been there, done that. West Hamilton seemed a possibility, that yielded two-three possibilities. But resale in that area, my mom pointed out, is getting difficult, as so many houses are being turned into student housing. In fact the 3 houses listed were former student housing....which was why they needed significant repairs.

I don't know where this leaves us, except frustrated.