Friday, October 5, 2012

Life Skills 101

It would be really nice if the schools would incorporate some life skills into their syllabus. These are some of the valuable lessons that I would like to see:

1. Pantry Science: In this course, students will learn how to roll a cereal bag and secure the box to ensure freshness. There will be a (taste) test of both fresh and stale cereals. Advanced course includes cracker boxes, bread bags and cheese packages. There will be a field trip to the fridge.

2. The Art of Garbage: Students will learn that less is more while picking up wrappers and emptying the overflowing garbage cans in the kitchen and bathroom. Final project will be a curbside gallery on Thursday mornings.

3. Laundry Geography: Upon completion, students will be able to locate the laundry room and demonstrate the correct usage of a laundry basket. Sorting and classifying clothing artifacts and proper drawer placement will also be learned.

4. Passenger's Ed: Students will learn appropriate foot placement and food etiquette in a vehicle setting. Integrates with the Art of Garbage (trash removal) and Laundry Geography (clothing and footwear retrieval).

5. Bedtime Math: In this course, students will be responsible for calculating the correct amount of sleep required, and scheduling bedtimes and waking times with the family's schedule. Course materials include pillow, blanket and alarm clock.

Happy Friday! Class dismissed!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Conversations with Dogs

All the leaves are brown. And the sky is grey. I've been for a walk...well, not really. I got up and took the dog out for a pee at 7 am and I had to stand out there for 5 minutes before she would go onto the wet grass. Shoeless, braless and with a mop of bed-head, I stood there arguing with the little blonde doggie who kept giving me the eyes.

"I don't have to go. Really," she said. "Let's go back into the house."

"Nuh-uh," I replied, "I know you have to go." It's like watching a three-year-old do the I-gotta-pee dance but they insist they don't have to go. "Go do your pee!" I pointed to the grass. She walked back to the door. I picked her up and put her on the grass. "Go pee!"

"Too wet!" She whined, as she skittered back to the cement.

"Cinnamon. Get out there and do your pee." She sat down, refusing. I picked her up and put her on the rocks, which are less wet. She has short Shih-Tzu/Yorkie legs so I understand not wanting wet grass tickling her tummy. She ran back to the front door. I sat on the bench and sighed. "I'm going to sit out here until you go." She called my bluff and sat on my foot.

The wind picked up and I shivered. Should I go in and get a sweater and shoes? No, the dog will follow me. "Okay, that's it. You're going pee." I scooped her up and dumped her back on the lawn. She ran up the incline and squatted. Yes! A few seconds after peeing she took a huge crap, then bounced back to me, ears flapping.

"You would have done that in the house, wouldn't you?" She looked up at me and wagged her tail. "Yeah, I know." I opened the door and she scampered up the stairs. "Damn dog," I chuckled affectionately.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Back to School...Finally!

Okay, the girls are now fully entrenched in their school work. Thing One from home, where she is getting the hang of self-managing the courses she can do on her own (PE, journaling for English, pre-reading Science) and Thing Two at school where, despite the late start, she is caught up on her classes, making friends, and keeping on top of her homework. I'm very proud of them. It's a nice change from last year where it was like pulling teeth to get anything done.

The good news is that with both girls in high school, the school supplies required have decreased dramatically. Yay! We pretty much had enough leftovers from the last few years to get us going. And what I did buy, I bought after the first day of school when everything was on sale. Like 16 cent packages of lined paper! Woohoo!

It's hard to walk through the school supply aisles without scooping armfuls of fresh erasers, pens, notebooks and binders into my cart like I won a shopping spree. My excitement grows and my endorphins go crazy with each funky eraser, cool-coloured pen, and wildly-coloured sticky note. Eeeeeeeeee! So it was hard to restrain myself and to come to grips with the reality that all we needed was some paper, a pencil case, a sketch pad and some pens. Maybe we didn't need the 24 pack of coloured Sharpies but they are a good doodling tool and we might need them for art. We probably didn't need the package of neon sticky notes in all sorts of sizes, but they are so handy for marking things in textbooks. And the erasable gel pens? Well Thing One is always erasing and re-writing her work so those will be useful. And the Wacom Splash drawing tablet...well the girls put most of the money together from odd jobs and chores. I only paid the taxes. So that doesn't really count.

Maybe we will run out of something and I can justify another trip to Staples....

Friday, September 14, 2012

We Interrupt This Program...

You would think that as a parent I would be used to interruptions. And I am. How many times have I gone into the bathroom only to have a knock on the door and a "Mom..." or a "Hun..."? Gotten up in the middle of  a meal to fetch a drink or a condiment, answer the phone, or see who's at the door? Woken up from a peaceful sleep to comfort someone or check outside for the source of a noise? Too many to count. This is probably why I am good at multi-tasking. And why I don't always get a good night's sleep!

I am used to putting things aside to help other people or to get something done. But in all honesty, when I'm at work it would be really nice to have fewer interruptions. I am the resident problem-solver. Can I answer this question? Can I fix that computer? Do I know how to run that report? Where do we keep the envelopes? How do I make a table in Excel?

Yes, I can and yes, I do know how. That doesn't mean I'm going to drop everything I'm doing so that I can fix everyone's problems. Was I born knowing all the answers? Of course not. Is there another way you can find the answer? Of course there is. Where do you think I got all this coveted knowledge? Well, I'll tell you.

As the poem says, "All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten". Naturally I learned some things in school but not enough to do my job well. So if you didn't learn how to create a pivot table in Kindergarten, read on.

1. Identify the problem first. Take a step back and assess the situation before panicking. Collect relevant information that will help solve the problem. Rather than saying, "I can't print!", let me know that there are sparks and smoke coming from the printer where you spilled your coffee into it. Then I know that the printer is the problem, the drivers are fine, you do actually possess the knowledge of how to print, and that you are a colossal klutz. You may find that once you know what the problem is, you even know how to correct it.

2. Trial and error. Believe me, I've made a lot of mistakes. But I've learned what not to do, what doesn't work and what does. As Yoda said, "Try, you must!" Be creative with your solutions. Think outside the box or think like a computer. Be the computer. Restart the computer. Try something and learn from it.

3. Open your eyes and look for it. That pencil is not going to jump out of the drawer and say, "Here I am!" There are precisely 6 drawers in the work area. Open them. Nearly all the office supplies you seek are stored within, and organized to boot! Look for things before you ask. The answer may take me only 2 seconds but I then need to backtrack 2 minutes on my work to re-focus.

4.  Read the instructions or check the help files. Nearly everything comes with some sort of manual or tutorial. Except for babies. You're on your own there. See #2.

5. Consult the experts. And by experts, I mean people other than me. Google it. Look for a Youtube tutorial. Call the customer support line. I guarantee you there is someone out there who has had the same issue. How do I know this? Because that's where I go when I don't know the answer. Cut out the middle man and save me some time. The Googles know everything.

6. Pay attention. When someone is repairing the copier, changing computer settings, resetting the router, or programming the phone system, watch what they are doing and ask questions. Next time you have that problem, you may know just how to fix your wagon!

7. Prioritize your questions. If you are bleeding from the head, I will give you first aid right away. If you are trying to scan your personal photos, ask me at lunch, coffee break, or after work. Or at least make it worth my while (chocolate is a great motivator, I'm just saying).

Learn to be self-sufficient. I promise you this will help you in life. When you have made an attempt to help yourself, I will be much more willing to put aside my work to address your problems and questions. It's not that I don't like being revered as the Office Guru or the Smart-Ass Who Knows Everything. I would just rather be the Office Hobbit and revel in the peace of my office without constant interruptions to my plans of world domination paperwork.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back to School...NOT!

It doesn't really feel like Back-to-School time. There is no smell of freshly purchased school supplies in the air. At least not in our house. Because

a) I haven't purchased any (years of over-achieving school supply lists have left us with a plethora of unused supplies) and
b) the girls are not going back to school tomorrow.

Thing 1 (the youngest) is going back to the home school program (called Distributed Learning, which means you follow the curriculum set forth by the Ministry of Education but from home). There is a teacher that she reports to but no interaction with her peers, which suits her introverted personality just fine.

Thing 2 does not want to return to our catchment school and also does not want to do the home school program so we have applied for a cross-boundary to another school. However, all the schools are quite full and they will be processing the cross-boundary applications near the end of the first week. So we won't find out if she can get in until the second week of school! If she doesn't...well then we move to plan B. Don't ask me yet what that is. I'm still formulating a plot.

So the good news is that we will do our Back-to-School shopping AFTER school has started, AFTER the lines have dissipated, and AFTER everything goes on sale. Woop woop!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto.

I might be a robot. There, I said it. Is it just me or are the "prove-you're-not-a-robot" Captcha codes getting hard to decipher? I'm all for cutting back on spammy McSpam but come on. You know what I'm talking about, right? The ones that look like this:

WTF does that even say???
 The pictures of the numbers are easy enough to read but the words? Well, they're not even words sometimes! I can't pick out all the letters and I have no word-recognition to help me through. And no, I don't need glasses. I'm wearing them and they're not even smudgy! So I must conclude that I am most likely a robot. And not just because I've got some junk in my trunk! I need to go power down and let my fuel cells recharge. Good night!

Aunt Fanny

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Key to Vacation Travel

We went away for the long weekend (BC Day - the first Monday in August). My sisters and I flew to Smithers for a combination memorial/family reunion and my husband and daughter drove up in the car. It's about a 14 hour drive but it saved us from having to rent one there and my daughter is not a huge fan of flying anyway. So the first thing I did when I got to my cousin's house was to pull my car keys out of my purse and put them in my suitcase because frankly they are heavy and belong to the car at the airport, not the one that was being driven to Smithers.

Fast forward 5 days and my husband offers to take my suitcase back in the car rather than having to drag it around and check it. Do you see where this is going? Yes. They departed at 10 am. At 6:45 pm I was on my way to the airport when I had one of those "Oh" moments. "Oh shit, do I have the keys to the car?" After frantically scrabbling around my purse and backpack twice, I was forced to conclude that they were in my suitcase, in the trunk of the Nissan, which was three quarters of the way home. YVR (Vancouver International Airport) is just over an hour from our house, which would have made my poor husband's trip an extra three hours longer if he were to bring my keys to the airport and return home. His ass said "no way" and I could hardly blame it.

BCAA could only offer a tow (only the first 5 km are free so it would have been $200) or a locksmith (on a statutory holiday, after-hours). My feasible options were to stay in Vancouver for the night or to have someone bring the spare keys to the Hyundai at least half way. By the way, it is interesting to note that Vancouver International Airport is not in Vancouver, but in Richmond. Anyway, I digress. My lovely sister-in-law drove my keys to Vancouver and we took the Skytrain out to meet her and retrieve my keys. Then we took the Canada Line back to YVR, got on the shuttle to the long-term parking lot, and finally found Elaine (my Elantra) in A5. By the time we made it home, it was 1:20 am and I didn't make it to bed until 2. Naturally I was not in the mood to get up at 7 for work, so I extended my holidays one more day and went back to sleep.

The moral of the story? Never put your car keys in your suitcase and always leave a buffer day before returning to work. :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Look! A Deer!

Went for a walk in the forest (I know, so unlike me) and happened across this little fellow. He was totally nonplussed by our appearance and continued eating around us. At one point he walked right toward us and I said to my husband, "What if he charges at us?" I'm such a city girl...

Oh hey! A human!
When I say "in the forest", I mean a few feet.
Don't you just want to touch his furry antlers?
He was totally not camera-shy and I snapped a dozen pictures as he munched away. So cool!

Cone Bra of Shame

I just found a sunflower seed in my bra. And I ate it. The three second rule expands exponentially when you find food on your person, right?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Welcome to Camp Gogina

I am not a camper. I dislike nearly everything to with camping. The dirt. The bugs. The smoke. The packing a million supplies. The unpacking dirty, smelly supplies. The dew in the tent. The outhouses.The only two redeeming qualities are wieners on a stick and marshmallows on a stick.Anytime you're putting something edible on a stick you're looking at some good eatin'. Therefore, my idea of "roughing it" is staying at a hotel with a kitchenette. 

Anyway, we went to visit a friend and his son at their campsite recently. We had marshmallows and wieners with us so I was willing to endure some campfire smoke on my clothes and hair. Two hotdogs, three s'mores and two burnt marshmallows later, I had to admit that it was pretty nice. For one, there were miraculously no bugs. No mosquitoes, no flies, no wasps. Very unusual. We went for a hike through the woods to the lake (not the beachy part but the rocky mountainy part) and the view was just gorgeous. The kids decided they wanted to go swimming down at the beach. My friend's son lent the girls his swim trunks and they disappeared for an hour while we visited with a neighbouring campsite. I visited the washroom which had toilets of the flushing variety and even a hand drier. Pretty swanky.

So hold onto your bucket hats. I am actually considering going camping.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Turners

Every day at least 6 people drive into our company parking lot to turn around. AT LEAST. We call them The Turners.

"We got another Turner."
"Someone's here...oh wait, just a Turner."
"Is that a courier? Nope it's a Turner."
"#$%^ Turners!"

We are in a slightly industrial part of town. It is not a terribly busy street. It is not a cul-de-sac. There are not many businesses nearby. Our building is clearly marked with our business name. We do not get walk-in traffic as everything is shipped to our customers by courier. So who are these people and why are they turning around? Where are they trying to go? Every day? Every single day?

You cannot confuse our driveway with a road as there is a piece of machinery at the end and a gate (that must remain open for couriers and trucks to come and go). None of these Turners have legitimate business here. They do not need to drive right into our parking lot to turn around. They do not need to drive down the side of our building to turn around. They do not need to pull into our driveway at all to turn around. The wide street has ample space for a large vehicle to make a legal U-turn.Or they could make a right or left turn at the end of the block and go around for heaven's sake.

What. The. Hell. Is wrong with these Turners?

Short of laying a remote-activated spike belt, I don't know how to deter them. I just want to run out there waving my hands like the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons.

Don't even get me started on The Lunch Eaters.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Oh Internet

There's nothing you can't do.
I'd be lost without you.
Your maps and directions,
Your movie selections,
Your current events,
Your houses to rent,
Your places to vent.
Oh the money I've spent!
On toys and on clothes,
And electronic prose
For my Kindle e-reader.

What would I do
If I didn't have you
To find things on craigslist?
Would I know what exists
to be purchased on eBay?
Or Amazon? No way.
Would I have games to play?
Could live just one day
Without email or Google?
Would I be just as frugal
Without online coupons?

Could I share my pics?
Watch YouTube? Netflix?
Could I diagnose those
Spots on my toes
Without WebMD?
Where would I be
If I couldn't see
My Allrecipes?
Or search Wikipedia?
Or look on Expedia
For my next vacation?

Oh Internet
Without you I'd bet
I'd be lost and alone
With my tv and phone.
I'd never know where
I could find the best pair
Of shoes or swimwear
Or the way to get there.
I'd feel disconnected,
Cut off and affected
Without my Internet.

© 2012 Miz Dinah

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Such a Diva

I'll admit it. I have become a Diva...cup user. When the doctor suggested I switch from tampons to pads, I felt like I had been tossed back to the stone age. Bad memories of high school and leakage came flooding back (pun intended). I tried the Today (TM) disposable cups and they worked pretty well but didn't have the capacity I needed and I felt bad tossing them into the trash. I did recall some hippie-sounding reusable menstrual cups so off to the Googles I went.

I found the Diva Cup (TM) web site and read the product information and testimonials. Intrigued and still a bit skeptical, I sussed one out at my local London Drugs. It took a little bit of practice to get the insertion and removal just right, but after 6 months I am a happy convert. It comes with a cute little drawstring cotton bag for storage and a Diva pin which is now adorning my winter toque (hat for you  non-Canadians). Cleaning is simple with the natural Diva Wash (TM) that I also purchased, but it also cleans up fine with water when I'm out. In a pinch, when there are multiple stalls and a penguin walk to the sink is not really kosher, I empty it and wipe out with toilet paper before reinserting. It was worth the investment (around $20, which is about 3 months' worth of tampons), easy to pack, easy to use, and I feel better about not tossing and/or flushing wrappers and products. And I didn't have to break out the love beads and patchouli either.

Oh, and they're made in Canada! Happy Canada Day from one happy Gogina.

Monday, June 25, 2012

And So But Then What Happened?

If conjunctions are your thing and you fancy a bit of writing fun, check out Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? This an opportunity to influence the story of Arthur Buttersby, who at first glance appears to be a bit accident prone. Submit your entry and wait with baited breath to find out if you will be The Chosen One.

"I have been chosen!"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

For Sale - One Soul. Comes With House.

Well, we just listed our house. I guess I just sold my soul to my employer for 25 years. Booyah!

We've been here for almost 9 years and even though it's a nice big house, I crave more. More rooms in a different layout so tv and music and work and quiet don't interfere with others' enjoyment. I always feel like we are one room short of places to go. Plus it will be convenient to be closer to work (for me; the man works from home now).

Naturally the houses we are ogling are of greater financial commitment. Go big or go home, I say. Or go to a big home. It's hard not to covet more square footage packaged up in dark hardwood and granite. I have champagne tastes...what can I say?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Walnut Mice, Felt Birds and Snowflake Ornaments...Oh My!

I had a great time making Christmas crafts for the school's Winter Craft Fair this year. I only wish I had started sooner. Next year!

So the first little guys I made were little felt owls. Here are the first two before I put the hanging ribbons on. I actually forgot to take pictures of my creations until halfway through the event and the 4 owls were snapped up right away. So I didn't get a picture of the pink and burgundy ones.

Check out my hooters!

Penguins seemed like a natural choice for my next birds. I sewed 3 of these little guys and remembered to take pictures before they sold. Yes, that is an Angry Bird in the bottom corner, and unfortunately I didn't get a pic of them either. My sister made those when she saw how much felty fun I was having.

Then we pulled out some flour and whipped up (okay, kneaded) some baker's clay to make the little mousie heads for the walnut mice. Our mom made these when we were kids and they are so friggin' cute.

The mice are snuggled up in little walnut beds with felt blankies. I could go so many more places with this: quilts, knitted afghans, little curly tails hanging down. But for now, with the craft clock ticking, I'm keeping it simple. As simple as it can be with molding and baking little heads, painting and varnishing them, cracking nuts, making little beds and gluing it all together. Y'know. Simple.

Oh yeah, try as I might, I couldn't get the whiskers and lashes right, even with my thinnest brush. But you know what works like a hot damn? A fine-tipped Sharpie! I used my (never to bloom again, I'm sure) orchid to display my mice on my table. I took these pics with my Blackberry when there was a lull in customers so they don't show all the detail. But rest assured, they were friggin' cute. I sold all but one and that one went on my Christmas tree.

I actually had some felt ornaments left over from the year before: mittens and tuques (that's the "Canadian" word for winter hats, rhymes with flukes), and I made a few embroidered hearts. My sister made some felt gingerbread houses and men.

I really wanted to make some baker's clay snowflakes that would look like gingerbread but a) baker's clay tends to puff up unevenly and b) I wanted it to be brown. Every search turned up a strange recipe for applesauce ornaments. Applesauce. For real. You know what the other ingredient is? Cinnamon. How perfect is that? So I mixed a jar of applesauce with a few cups of cinnamon, and then another cup, and after trying to roll it out on parchment paper, scraped it back into the bowl and added another cup. And a half. I dunno how much cinnamon I put in actually, so let's just say a lot. And a bit of white glue, which is supposed to keep it from being to brittle. I probably should have strained the applesauce, because when I rolled it out again, it still wasn't the right texture to hold together. Being midnight, I left it rolled out on the counter overnight and went to bed! The next morning the texture was perfect!

I cut out all the snowflakes, made holes with a straw, and peeled them off the parchment paper. Now you can let them air dry for 2-3 days but the craft fair was the next day so I baked them on low for a few hours. The house smelled so much like cinnamon it made my mouth water. Who woulda thought you could make dough out of applesauce and cinnamon (and a dash of glue)?

Looks like cookies, right?

When they were cool the girls and I decorated them with white puffy paint to look like icing and sprinkled sparkles over them before they dried. A little bit of ribbon and voilĂ ! Looks and smells like gingerbread but lasts much longer. I suppose you could eat one if you ate paste as a child and you like sparkly poop, but they are, in fact, not intended to be edible.

Don't eat me! :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Post-Christmas Postage Posting

Here's my shame: I never finished my Christmas cards this year. What with being busy and then sick the week before Christmas (and let's not forget my penchant for procrastination), I just didn't get around to addressing them. Really they are a vessel for school pictures but also a nice gesture to show you are thinking of someone during the holidays. I pawned some off on my aunt to deliver for me when she returned home. I distributed some pictures to the few people we saw this past week. Should I finish and mail the remainder now that it's January, or should I just mail the pictures? Decisions, decisions...