29 May 2011

Never Cry over Spilled Soap

Silas is such a helpful boy. When he sees a problem, like a dirty kitchen floor, he tackles it head on.  Like the evening he emptied an entire bucket of dishwasher soap across the kitchen floor.  His sweet cousin Mari was an accomplice, but she got off easy because, well really, who could blame a face like that? And let's face it, Silas has never been known for his ability to resist dumping whatever he can find.  When I came around the corner and said, "What's going on here?"  Mari started crying immediately. She knew she was in trouble.  Silas, on the other hand started laughing and pointing at his art work. I said, "No one move, I need my camera."  By the time I got back Mari was really sure she was dead meat, and Silas was still laughing.  There was soap everywhere, including in the dark recesses of his diaper. At least the floor is clean!





Here he is actually trying to clean it up.  He was so cute, clutching the soap in his sweaty fists and dropping minute amounts back in the bucket.  

27 May 2011

Stress

You know you're stressed when:  You put your underwear on inside out and backwards and don't realize it until the evening when you finally go to the bathroom without being accompanied by two littles under your feet.  (Does anyone else no longer know the meaning of the word privacy?)

You know you're stressed when: When asked, you can't remember your anniversary date or how to spell your darling second child's middle name.  Seriously, I had to pull out the important documents file to check.

You know you're stressed when: It takes you an entire weekend without your purse, which has all ID, money, credit cards, gift cards, anything important in the world, to remember what the heck you did the day you lost it.  Honestly, last Thursday was gone for four days. 

You know you're stressed when: You let your son fall asleep on the floor rather than clean off the bed that currently rivaling Everest in altitude.




The good news is, I got my underwear sorted out, I remembered my anniversary after just a little thinking, and looked up Silas's middle name: it is spelled Jeremiah, I found my purse, and Eli is asleep.  And, I made yogurt tonight. I love yogurt. Half full, that's right, half full

24 May 2011

Dreams

The other night, just a few minutes after Eli fell asleep he woke up and said, "Mom, I'm having a good dream. It's about a tower of cups, but the cups are actually elephant noses. And it's an octopus made out of cups and a Santa Clause hat. And it's a Santa Octopus. And it's a person's project. Isn't that cool?"

Then his head hit the pillow and he was asleep again.

But, perhaps he wasn't quite asleep, but only in that between awake and asleep place where you can kind of control what you're dreaming, but it's still just as fantastical, because a few minutes later he sat up again and said, "Mom, what are bumblebee's stingers made out of?" I told him I didn't know, but if he wanted we could look it up the next day.  He said, "Well mom, since you are on your computer, why don't you look it up and tell me when I wake up."

And again, a few minutes later, "Mom, that would be great if we had clocks on our shoes."

Um, I pretty much LOVE what my three year old comes up with.  And, I love Santa Clause Octopi.

19 May 2011

People Are Good

Yesterday I called for help for the people of Slave Lake, Alberta, who have been displaced from their homes because of wild fires on Sunday.  It's been amazing to see how people have come together to offer that help.  I've had phone calls and emails and visits to my home from people who want to help.  I love being able to watch it!

For those looking for an update, the town of Slave Lake has released a damage assessment of the town.  Being the technical genius that I am, I can't figure out how to put the image on the blog, but go to this link, and you will see it. Katey's home, luckily, is green. Green is good on this map.  The light pink is okay too, it just means taht your house is damaged, but it's still there.  The darkest pink: bad.  Those houses aren't actually there any more. They're gone. Destroyed.  Katey's is green.  That's good. But, here's the image showing you just how close she was to being pink.



See where the little computer hand is?  (Yes, I took a picture of my computer screen - maybe I am a genius.) That's where Katey's house is. Dark pink on one side, light pink on the other.  Katey said that the tree outside of her house is still standing and green.  However, no one has been back in to see the state of the contents within.  Smoke can be terribly damaging.

Looking at that damage assessment, you can see just how much need there is in Slave Lake.

If you missed it, I'm collecting donations for the people in Slave Lake.  Katey, specifically, and beyond her family, the entire community.  Katey's husband is in a position to be able to distribute the donations, so you know it will go to those in need. You can drop off any donations at my house in Calgary, or you can make monetary donations to my paypal at jennyvangy@gmail.com.  I will make sure that 100% of the donations get into the hands of those in need to rebuild what they have lost. You can also email me at the same address if you have any questions.  I have already been so impressed at the hearts of the people who have read my blog and reached out to help, and as I continue to pray for the people who have lost so much, I know I will continue to be amazed!

18 May 2011

Call for Help

This past Sunday, May 15, the small central Alberta town of Slave Lake was engulfed in a wild fire that spread through the entire community destroying more than 40% of the buildings.  Their library was burned to the ground, their town hall decimated, the local radio station destroyed.


All 7000 residents were evacuated safely and are waiting impatiently to find out if they are among the lucky ones who have a home to return to.


My dear childhood friend Katey and her family are only a few of those residents, waiting in nearby Edmonton for official confirmation that their home still stands.  From aerial view photographs, and confirmation from a volunteer fire fighter, Katey is confident that her house is still there, but she has no idea the extent of the damage to the contents within.



Check out this facebook album to see more of the gravity of the fires.  I honestly am just so sad for all those people who have lost EVERYTHING!



I'd like to make a difference here, help out the people who have lost it all.  I have spoken with Katey, who is feeling lucky just knowing her home is still standing, but she will still be displaced for who knows how long, and she knows many people who have nothing to go back to.

So, I am starting an unofficial Slave Lake Fundraiser.  Please, this is the time to help out some people from your community.  I need to help, and this is how I can do it.  Are you in?

This is how we'll do it. I am happy to be the drop off point in Calgary for anyone able to part with some clean, nice clothes, bathroom and other necessities, and even fun toys, to be sent up to Katey and her community.  I am specifically thinking of Katey, who has three boys (who are 1, 3 and 5) and even though she knows her house is still there, she has nothing with her and will surely not be allowed back in for a long time.  I would like to make sure she is well taken care of.  I will ensure that the donations make their way to Katey next week, who's husband, Jason, is a member of the Branch Presidency (our church's congregation in Slave Lake), who will make sure that they are distributed to those in need in Slave Lake.  Go through your closets, your bins of clothes in your basement, call on your neighbors for help too.  Let's pull together to bring these poor folks some of the things that they have lost.  If you can't donate things, but have a few dollars to spare, please donate some money.  I will make sure that 100% of the money gets to these families. You can bring me a check or cash, or send me money through paypal.  My paypal email address is jennyvangy@gmail.com  You can get a hold of me at that same email address for any other questions regarding this fundraiser or to find out my address if you don't know it.   

This isn't a tragedy that has struck in some distant land. It isn't just something on the news. It is something that has happened to our neighbors and our friends, and now is the time to do something! Please, let me know what you can do.

17 May 2011

Putting the "All Creatures Great and Small" Creed to Test

With Jared starting school, the boys and I inevitably had to start adventuring all on our own.  You see, I like Jared. I like him to be around. I don’t want him to miss out on anything.  That and, it’s just plain easier to adventure with him.  Our first major outing without Daddy, however, was fantastic!  That is except if you count Walmart as a major outing, which I guess it kind of was when Silas turned into the Monster from the Great Abyss, screaming constantly at every little thing he wanted in the most annoying high pitched scream he could muster.  But besides that little joyous moment, our first daddyless outing was fantastic.  We ventured forth and visited the world famous, highly acclaimed, superific, Victoria Bug Zoo!!! 


Settle down now, I’ll get to the goods. 

The day after a rainy day with little to do (we didn’t think to bring umbrellas or rain coats to Victoria... what were we thinking? ...and we have no toys, because they wouldn’t have fit in the car) I figured I needed to come up with something triple wicked awesome, so as much as it gave me some wicked creepy crawlies just thinking about it, I loaded the littles and off to the Bug Zoo we headed. 

Eli was in HEAVEN!!!  I continued to be creeped out.  Silas didn’t really get it.

While I’m sure your imaginations are running wild with how incredible it must have been, the Victoria Bug Zoo was actually kind of cool.  It was a large room with a bunch of aquariums that housed hundreds, if not thousands, of different creatures.  Okay, there were only about 40 different bugs, but if you count all the individual ants in the largest ant colony in CANADA, I’m sure there were several thousand!  The greatest part was that they had "tour guides" that were there just to tell us about all the different bugs, and they took the less dangerous ones out for us to hold and touch (and when I say "us" I actually mean the tough one amongst us: Eli.)

Don’t ask me what that is. A cricket of some sort with enormous wings that sing.

That is a millipede, which, incidentally, only have 400 legs, not a million, or even a thousand, as their name might suggest. 

Possibly the one that grossed mom out the most.  Ewww!

Not wanting to risk any torn off legs, Silas’s attention was easily diverted to the bugs behind glass:







This one no one was allowed to hold.  Apparently she is shy.

And so no one thinks I’m a total wimp:
I promise I’m not as happy as I look.  In fact, I’m kind of squealing through that grin.

And that was it.  Eli didn’t go to bed with any declaration of "but I only got to hold the largest bugs in the history of EVER!" and I only had a few night terrors that night.   

16 May 2011

Don’t Pick the Flowers!

Note: This post is going to blow your mind with the amount of pictures.  But how can I narrow it down. I can’t. Accept it.


When you think of Victoria surely one of the first things you think of is the Butchart Gardens.  Well, perhaps if it wasn’t before, now it will be.  My wonderful sister-in-law, Jolayne, sent us two tickets to go see the flowers at the Butchart Gardens. Thank you Jo! We snuck the kids in under our coats.  It was on our to-do list for sure, but with tickets in our hands we made it a have-to-do and went out on a journey. 

Being so enamoured with the sea, we tend to take the beautiful winding roads along the coast wherever we got. This time, however, we decided to discover what all that land between the sea holds, and we weren’t disappointed.  We got to see farms, and horses, and beautiful homes, and did I mention horses?  I guess it’s official: I could live here. We stopped at a great country market on the side of the road that actually turned out just to be a fa├žade for a pretty conventional grocery store (they sold Grapples -- genetically modified apples that taste like grapes... or is it grapes that taste like apples???)  Then we pulled over at a farm advertising that they sold organic eggs and bread. When we went in there was no one there, just a room full of goods with prices on them.  By the door was a note book and some money.  As far as I could tell, protocol was just to write down what you took, and leave your money.  I wrote: a half dozen duck eggs - $2.50.  It was awesome!

We pulled into Butchart Gardens and it felt like we were driving into Disney Land. It was so beautiful, perfectly clean, and there were people every 10 feet wearing white gloves directing us to where we should park. 


It may not surprise you to know that I tend to like the wild kind of beauty a lot more than the manicured kind.  Yet, I can’t even describe to you the beauty of this place.  It was like walking through a painting of the most vivid colours. There were thousands and thousands of flowers, perfectly planted and so amazing.  My favourite part was the Sunken Garden.  Pictures won’t do it justice, but I’ll post them anyway. You walk into it from above and look down into an old limestone mine that is now the most vibrant garden you have ever seen!


We were little out of place, not being in our Golden Years, wearing attire better suited for golfing, with cameras worth more than our car, but enjoyed it just the same.  Next time, and for any of you who might venture here, if you bring your littles, bring a stroller and treats.  Eli was really, really good, but he never understood why he couldn’t pick the flowers, and he did get a little restless by the end.  But, it wasn’t all for naught for the little ones.  They did have a carousel that went surprisingly fast (and I’ve stood next to many a carousel horse to make such a claim!)
And some pretty cool totems.
And then there were the frog fountains. 
Let’s not leave out the stepping stones.
Or the many statues.
Okay, I take it back, it was even more awesome for Eli than it was for us. What was he complaining about?!

Because I can’t explain it any better than the pictures, here’s our attempts at National Geographic.








And finally, we cajoled a nice stranger to take a picture of the four of us, a rarity. 


We went home, cooked up some duck eggs for the boys and fell asleep very easily.  Right before Eli dozed off he did sit up and exclaim, "I didn’t have any fun. All I saw was a lot of flowers!!!"  Sleep well my little one.

15 May 2011

Lessons from my boy

At precisely 10:20 am, dressed in our very Sunday best, we pulled into the parking lot of the local meeting house of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   At precisely 10:21 am we realized that we were precisely 51 minutes late for church at the said building.  Yes, it was the same building we went to church at last week.  Yes, we were on time last week. Yes, I feel foolish.

But, could we walk in 51 minutes late?  Seemed a little silly to us at the time.  So we promptly pulled out of the parking lot and drove away, escaping the embarrassment of our predicament. 

Perhaps on our own Jared and I could have ended our attempts at piety there.  But we had two little boys in the back of the car who wondered when we were going to go to church.

"Well, we don't want to walk in late, so we aren't going today."  "It's the thought that counts, right?" No, that just wasn't going to cut it.

So, we drove home to regroup, recharge (with some delish raw tacos I made up, since I didn't bring any recipe books to Victoria) and find another meeting house where we wouldn't have to make such a grand tardy entrance.

At precisely 1:02 pm, still dressed in our Sunday best, be it a little worse for the wear, we pulled into the parking lot of another church building, and only 2 mintues late we hurried in while the opening hymn was still being joyously sung.

After such an ordeal (getting the boys in shirts and ties, keeping them clean while they ate tacos and getting to church AGAIN is an ordeal, let me promise you) we had this silly notion that we would only go to Sacrament meeting (the main meeting where we partake of the Sacrament) and skip out on the other meetings (Sunday School/Primary and Priesthood/Relief Society). Silly us.  After Sacrament we were making our quick, subtle escape when Eli conspicuously said, "Hey, ask that guy where my class is!"

"Well Son, we thought we'd just go home."  "Actually, we aren't going to go to all of church today."  Nope, that wouldn't cut it either. 

So, I asked that guy, and he told me exactly where to find Eli's Sunbeams primary class, and he ran straight there. 

At precisely whatever that time happened to be I learned a good lesson from my three-year-old.  Church isn't about how tired you are, how hard it was to get there, how far you are from anyone who would know if you went or not.  Church is about going and worshiping and learning about the gospel, no matter where in the world you are.  And guess what Eli learned.  "Joseph Smith talked to Heavenly Father, and Heavenly Father talked to him, and that's how we know he's a prophet."  I guess it was worth it.

Thanks, Eli.  I love you!

Throw that skalleywag in the brig!

I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that I have been to the eastern most point of Canada, and the western most point, and on both those points they have abandoned naval bases.  While I agree that Canada's threat is minimal, I've seen the run down remains of Canada's coastal defenses, and we don't stand a chance against an army of mosquitoes!  I didn't lose sleep over it though, so I guess I'm not that worried.

We went to see the remains of Fort Rod this week, Canada's Pacific defense.  Eli thought it was great and as he says, "I love weapons."



So does Jared.




Pretty sure they just forgot these behind.


Whenever I see places like this, I often wonder what it must have been like in it's hey day.  I can't even imagine what some of the spaces would have been for. Like this, for instance:





We even sneaked through the fences (like I said, mosquitoes) and went shell hunting on the beach.


 


Then, in the same park there was a old lighthouse we got to explore.  While I think remains of war are interesting, I LOVE lighthouses!  This one was pretty cool.

 


I think I would have made a great lighthouse keeper.  Eli would make a great captain, once he grows a few inches so he can see over the helm (is it called a helm?):


All in all, another exciting day here on Vancouver Island.  What will we see tomorrow?

14 May 2011

I’d Like to Be Under the Sea

Wow. Maybe it’s because I am seeing all these things through the eyes of my 3 year old, but every day we spend here I find I am more and more in awe over how incredible our world is. 

Eli literally asks every day if we can go to the beach.  He would rather dig for crabs than almost anything else. So many days we've found ourselves on the beach, and on this particular day, dig for crabs we did!  We actually went on a great little educational tour, where we went fishing for all sorts of sea life in the tide pools and shallow waters.  It was cold out, but so much fun!

Check out Jared’s outfit?!  Ya, we did not come prepared.  Eli is so incredibly cute.  We’ve done a bunch of the group tours, and Eli is perfectly happy to just shove past all the bigger people and get right in on the action. As long as he knows we’re near, he is totally part of everything that’s going on. I love that kid!



Eli’s pants are actually not that colour. He fell in the mud on the hike to the beach. We’re over it.

And this one says it all:

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