Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Live Your Life on Purpose

While pondering what my New Years Eve blog should be I decided that I wanted to avoid anything too cliche and perhaps focus a bit more on the personal for 2009.

2008 has been a wonderful year for me, perhaps even one of my favourites. It has been a year full of opportunities, adventures and growth, family, fun and friends. In a sense, a near perfect year.

As I gaze upon 2009 there are some thoughts that I have for myself, and one of them is that I would like to be more forgiving. Learning to forgive through out my life has enriched me, my experiences and my relationships in so many ways that I can only be grateful for that first awkward attempt at real forgiveness - an action that brought my best friend of 24 years back into my life after two years of bitterness. All in all I think most people I know would call me fairly forgiving already... but it really is a "work in progress." Just before Christmas I heard a story on the radio about an Amish family who publicly forgave the man who killed their children AND went to his funeral. Knowing what resentment remains in my heart means knowing I have a long way to go to being a forgiving being. I'd like to work on this.

When I think of the people who inspired me in 2008 I find Randy Pausch and Barack Obama topping my list. What I learned from both of these people, for different reasons, was to believe in myself and dare to dream, for if you neglect the dreaming part of life you really can't get where you want to go. My motto for 2009 should be "follow your dreams, they know the way."

The source of my content joy and happiness this year has certainly been my family. We have all grown up in some fashion but have been able to grow together at the same time. Our bonds have grown stronger and that is something I would like to continue building on in 2009. Life has shown me that no matter what else you have going on in life if you don't have your family close to you there is no such thing as true happiness in your heart. This year I got a job that I thought was my dream job and was everything I had been waiting for, but when I saw how much time it was taking away from my family I chose my family. And that should be the case every time: Family First.

As I said so eloquently to Edmonton's Brittney LeBlanc, if I were to describe this year in one word it would be "Change - for good or bad, or perhaps even both, 2008 was about change." Now, as is the result of opportunity that change brings us, 2009 will be clearly what we make of it.

I wish you all a safe and peaceful year in 2009. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It Makes a Difference to this One

A few days ago Raven and I were returning home when we noticed that there was a fish tank set out beside the big garbage bin. Even though it was -25°c I trudged over to investigate - mostly out of curiousity more than anything else. as I got closer I noted that there was still some water in it and when I lifted the lid off I was horrified to see there was a goldfish in there - nose down and barely moving in the freezing water. I picked the tank up and struggled back over the snow and ice to my home, where I put the tank on my table for it to warm up and hoped that it would be enough for the little guy to recover.

I don't understand how someone could do this. To me it seems a horrific disrespect for life - to leave an unwanted pet outside to freeze when I am sure, with a little bit of effort, a home could be found. It's a act of cruelty devoid of compassion. Sure, it might seem like one tiny insignificant life, an inconvenience easily discarded... but the reality is that we are no more or less important than that one fish. We all go through life depending on the generousity and care of others, and we all have opportunities presented to us to help those we meet along the way. No act of kindness is ever to simple to make an impact in some way.

This reminds me of a fable I heard recently. "As the old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. He asked him why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left until the morning sun. The old man politely pointed out that the beach went on for miles and there are millions of starfish, insinuating that the young man's efforts were futile. The young man looked at the tiny starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves. It makes a difference to this one, he said."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Make Glad the Heart of Childhood

Another Christmas Zooms Past

This has been a great Christmas Season - good times full of friends, family, celebrations, traditions and food. I love the Christmas season and look forward to it for most of the year; things like decorating the Christmas Tree, sending out Christmas cards, seeing the winter come alive with bright lights, and most importantly, the excuse to spend time with friends and family. It's those memories that I will cherish always. For me, that's what Christmas is all about.

Luckily I have a generous amount of holidays, which means time to relax, get reacquainted with my family, read some books, play some games, travel south and hopefully, take some pictures. Speaking of which, my Christmas Photos can be found here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mommy, Santa Came!!!

I woke everyone up this Christmas morning

When my kids were tiny the best part of Christmas morning was being woken up by their excited declarations of "Mommy! Santa came! Santa came! Mommy ... WAKE UP!" I would drag myself out of bed, watch them go downstairs and see their faces light up when they saw the presents under the tree. If I was lucky there would be just enough time to get some coffee while they unwrapped items found in their stockings. I'm so not a morning person.

Christmas morning activity naturally evolves as children age, but the biggest change to my Christmas morning came seven years ago when Duncan joined our family. You see, Duncan does not usually sleep on Christmas Eve, being excited enough for all the children in the Northern Hemisphere. Our very first Christmas together he awoke at 4:30am and begged to wake the kids up - I resisted of course, but my resistance only bought me a couple of hours more. Fast forward to last year, where Duncan didn't really sleep at all, seems to me like he asked me every 10 minutes if we could get up... I don't know how I survived the next day! I usually employ some sort of blackmail/bribery to try to ensure my long winter's nap but it usually falls on deaf ears.

So this year I made it clear to everyone that we were going to sleep... at least until some time after a six registered on the clock. After making all the usual Christmas Eve preparations I went to bed quite late and I was looking forward to my four hours of sleep.

This morning I woke up with a painfully advanced cramp in my leg muscle - I tried desperately to hop around the bedroom quietly (I had every intention of going back to bed) but to no avail, I awoke Duncan (who had no interest, since it was 6:05am, in going back to sleep). My muffled cries of twisting agony also woke up Wesley who wasted no time in waking up his sister.

And so, ironically, did Christmas morning begin in our home this year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Warmest Season's Greetings from Canada!

Bright Nights at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton, Alberta

We are celebrating Christmas Eve tonight with a lovely dinner (Duncan made a Roast Lamb!), some fresh Christmas baking, tracking Santa, carols and a sleigh ride through Candy Cane Lane. Our family would like to wish you all a happy and safe Christmas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Chance To Be A Little Less Alone

"... and uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?"

Adventures in Edmonton

It started innocently enough… but then, isn’t that always the case?

A woman in a semi-frantic state approached us at a store in Terra Losa while I was picking Duncan up. She said “My kids are in the hospital. It’s an emergency, can you give me a ride?” We were only about 5 minutes from the hospital so how could I say no to that? We weren’t in the car for more than 45 seconds before she asked me if I could cash a cheque for her. I said “No, I can not” in my best Hillary Clinton voice.

What I should have asked her was if she needed a ride to the hospital, because, well, I just assumed. When I got to the hospital and went to turn in she told me to keep going as she actually wanted to go to a house a couple of kilometers away. That irritated me a little but it was cold out so I figured a couple of kilometers couldn’t hurt.

It only took me a few seconds to change my mind. She looked at me and said “We know each other... the last time my kids were kidnapped you gave me a ride. We went to California.” I glanced at her, thinking this was going to be the longest two kilometers I had ever driven, and decided there was something very wrong with her but that she wasn’t much of a threat.

When we finally got to the street she wanted it was kind of dark and a tad bit too deserted for my liking. She said to keep going to a house down the street with a light on where people were “waiting for her.” That was enough for me; I pulled over and told her this was as far as we were going. She did get out then but walked up to a different house. We kind of had a chuckle at her crazy antics, until I got home and found a cheque book belonging to some guy on the floor in the back of the car. It had a few cheques in it written out for 1000.00 each, obviously forged. So in addition to being used as a free taxi (or perhaps a get away car) Duncan and I had to spend a good portion of our evening in the community police station relaying the story to an officer whom I am sure has heard it all.

Best reaction to my story so far goes to Adam B. who exclaimed “Geez Allie, you’re like frickin’ Gandhi!

Maybe I am too nice.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Alberta Meteor Event

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Mickey!

Eighty years looks good on you!

PS I miss you. We should reconnect soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In the Service of Peace

In the Service of Canada

In addition to remembering our Veterans today my thoughts drift towards friends and strangers serving in Afghanistan who are on the front lines of what has been Canada's most dangerous United Nations Mission to date. My thoughts, prayers and thanks are with you all.

Last Post.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Basement FINALLY Reclaimed!

It's been a project months in the making (from first conception through actually cleaning out six years of household accumulation) but we have basically reclaimed the basement, just in time for the winter months where we are all confined inside!

The Warhammer Space

This space was previously occupied territory: bikes, boxes of Christmas decorations, and some stuff that was so important it hadn't even been unpacked from our move almost six years ago! Now the boys have a 4 x 6 Gaming table for their shared Warhammer habit and I get my kitchen table back. The table and the area around this will continue to be developed over the next few months, but they are down there right now playing - success!

The Art Studio!

My daughter is an artist and art needs a space all of it's own. Space can be at a premium in a 3 bedroom home that houses 4 people but I was more than happy to allot this space just for her. It is also a developing project - she still needs a large easel, a chair (apparently) and many more types of materials available for creativity and production.

As for me... I guess my space is the laundry part or the Food Pantry! Hmmm, that doesn't sound like much fun... I think I deserve a wine cellar!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Why is the Sky Red?

During the day the sun warms the surface of the Earth and creates wind which lifts dust particles into the air and upper atmosphere. The intense red and orange hues of the sky at sunset are mainly caused by the scattering of sunlight across these particulates floating around. This phenomenon can be further explained through scientific understanding as the process of Discrete Dipole Approximation, the Mie Theory or in some cases by the Rayleigh Scattering of sunlight by air molecules rather than dust particles (Rayleigh is responsible for why the sky is blue).

Sunset goes through many stages of brilliance as the sun disappears. Some of them most intense moments only last for seconds - after I had got back in the car from taking these photos all of the dark reds and oranges had already faded. You can see more of my sunset and sunrise pictures here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tired of Discrimination Blamed on God

Ignorance and hate does not come from the heart or spirit of God. This is my favourite West Wing moment - it always drives me crazy when holier than thou scripture adherents pick and choose which laws they will follow and which laws they have decided no longer are valid in today's society. Especially since they use this as an excuse to bully, hurt, judge and condemn other people.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote NO on Proposition 8 in California

Proposition 8 in California is a terrible thing to have to contemplate in this year of 2008. All you have to do is insert "interracial marriage" into the argument where instead they say "homosexual marriage" and already you will recognize that the the argument is wrong. However, many people have presented these kinds of ideas in the blogosphere and I am not wanting to add to that today.

Instead I want to talk about our rights as people and what they mean to us. I am a strong believer in equal rights for everyone. When it comes to the core fundamental rights that we all enjoy, fair is fair. If they are not equally distributed then they are not rights but more like rules for a privileged sect of people.

When a group organizes to remove some rights from another group that they themselves wish to continue enjoying I get concerned. And maybe even a little angry. This is what is happening with Prop8 in California, entitled "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry." If passed, the proposition would "change the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California."

Our rights are things that we should cling to and uphold for everyone. If one group of people can have their rights eliminated then whose rights, pray tell, are safe?

Our rights are either equal or they're just not rights. They have to be applicable to everyone for them to have any real meaning. If you can allow one group of people to eliminate the legal rights of another then you must know in your heart that your own rights are a little less secure.

When Martin Niemöller wrote his poem in 1946 he was describing this kind of phenomenon with the hopes that it would never happen again - that people would heed his words, learn from his (and others) mistakes and have the courage to stand up for what is right, not just what they want.

I've heard all of the arguments, both for and against, and I understand where people are coming from even if I don't necessarily agree. I know there are some people out there who really want to vote Yes on Prop8 but have the nagging thought in the back of their mind that this proposition is unfair and wrong. Please, trust your instincts and Vote No on Prop8.

Vote No on Prop8.

Beware Canadian Paintball

I ordered something online from Canadian Paintball. The shipment arrived on Friday - and one of the products (the most expensive one of course) had a small but important piece broken off. I looked in the box for it and it was not there. It is obvious that this product was broken before it was shipped.

I emailed them immediately, with no response. Today I emailed their Sales asking for directions to return it for new product or to get a refund as this item is totally unusable without this part. Their website has all sorts of guarantees to make you think they are a legitimate business yet when faced with this type of problem their response was it's not their responsibility, it must have happened during shipping and the best they can do is advise me to file a claim with Canada Post.

This post might evolve as the interaction with this "company" unfolds. Obviously I will file a Paypal dispute as I am tired of internet rip off artists taking my money (hundreds of dollars in this case). Anyone considering buying online with Canadian Paintball - my advice would be to pay a little extra and actually go someplace reputable where you can see the product before you pay for it. Buyer beware!

Update: Canadian Paintball informed me today that they have no intention to participate in the Paypal dispute and have ended it. There will be no refund or exchange. I shall leave Canada Post to it's investigation of the the situation regarding the insurance AND surprisingly enough I am starting to find others on the web who have had issues with this company.

Last Update: We will never use Canadian Paintball again. For anyone looking for Paintball products and materials in Edmonton and area I wholly recommend PaintBall Action Games where we had wonderful hands on client service and they fixed up everything that was wrong with our faulty marker, for free!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Front Row to History

As Election Day in the USA quickly approaches I am finding myself holding my breath, excited to see the results. I have long learned not to under estimate the american voter but if is right with their electoral simulation predictions, then Obama will be the next President of the United States. Indeed if their predictions are correct then, even with 46.6% of the popular vote, McCain has only a 3.8% chance of winning.

History will ultimately be the judge of the next POTUS, but I believe that one voice can change the world; I dream it will be for the better, for everyone every where. Certainly the last eight years has not been that great.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I have uploaded the pictures of our Halifax trip in August of this year. You can see them by clicking here: Nova Scotia 2008.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Heaven isn't so Far Away as People Say

It may seem like a cliché but I love the seasonal oranges and reds that is fall in all its glory, especially when I catch those colours in a spectacular fall sunset. A perfect few moments before the dark comes.

It's getting close to Halloween now and it feels like it - the frost has finished off even the hardiest summer flowers, the leaves are gone from the trees and there is a chill in the air that carries the promise of snow. Another winter is almost upon us but not even nature feels a need to rush into it - All good things in their time.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


We celebrated Duncan's 30th Birthday today at the traditional location. This is birthday number six at Hooters and peeps are starting to refer to it as an "annual pilgrimage." I personally enjoyed all of the interesting concoctions that people came up for Duncan to drink - including something called the Boiler Maker. Yum!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Public Service Announcement, with Guitar!

The National Do Not Call List is now operational. Once you have registered your number(s) on the National Do Not Call List most Telemarketers will stop calling you. There are some notable exceptions which you can read about here.

There is a 30 day grace period for Telemarketers to update their lists and during this time you might get some calls. When this happens you can ask to be placed on the company's own Do Not Call list - however I have noticed they don't always comply (I have asked Telus three times not to call me anymore) and then you might actually have to file a complaint against them.

Now if only we could have a National Do Not Email list!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Politics is no place for grown-ups!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Love the Whole World

I really do.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Here Comes the Fall

First Red Leaf of the Season

Snapped this on one of my walks in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax. I was honestly surprised to see a red leaf on the ground so soon, but I guess the summer actually is over. I love the colours of Fall so I always look forward to it, even if it is with a slight bit of sadness that I bid goodbye to summer.

As another sign of summer ending, I started my new job today. I am really excited about it and enjoyed myself today. Can't wait for tomorrow!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Sea Bound Coast

How High are Your Tides?

Our first day in Nova Scotia we drove out to the Bay of Fundy, which was beautiful despite the rain and fog that day. We ended up at a place called Harbourville, with lovely colourful homes, dramatic cliffs and views. The Bay of Fundy is home to 50 foot tides and St. Croix Island, a small island in the bay that became the first European settlement in North America in 1604.

The Birthplace of Hockey!

How could we resist visiting Windsor - the cradle of hockey. Nova Scotia is full of important Canadian historical events, but can any be as important and world changing as the moment some people decided to drop the puck on Long Pond (c. 1800)?

Sunset at Peggy's Cove

We visited Peggy's Cove, a small fishing village founded in 1811, on our second day in Nova Scotia. The famous red and white lighthouse on St. Margaret's Bay was originally built in 1868 and then modernized in 1914 to the current lighthouse. We loved Peggy's Cove so much we went back a second time just to sit on the point and watch the sun go down! Romantic or what? As we sat their with the sky turning orange we also watched the full moon rise across the sky.

Bluenose II - Canadian Icon

The Town of Lunenburg (1753) is a lovely Atlantic village that is home to the tallships Bluenose (sunk in 1946) and Bluenose II. We had a lovely meal of Lobster and Haddock at the Grand Banker.

One of the most popular beaches in Nova Scotia

On the way to Lunenburg we enjoyed driving through Mahone Bay (which has more churches then anywhere I have ever seen) and we stopped for a short while to splash in the surf at Queensland Beach. The drive along the Atlantic Coast is beautiful and the stop at the beach was a perfect interlude.

On History's Doorstep

A visit to Pier 21 allowed us to do some family research and learn more about how integral Halifax is to the immigration and war history of Canada (immigrants, refugees, troops, wartime evacuees, displaced persons, war brides and their children all passed through Pier 21). I found the exhibits moving and the staff at the Research Centre to be very helpful. After Pier 21 we walked over to the Keith's Brewery and took the tour - likely one of the best tours in Halifax (highly recommend). We finished off that night with singing at the Lower Deck in Halifax's Historical Properties, and drinking more Keith's (of course).

Lighting the Way

The George's Island Lighthouse (1876) is easily observed from the the Halifax Harbour. I took many pictures of this lighthouse while walking up and down the harbour front but I chose the night time shot for the blog since I spent a lot of nights on the harbour. George's Island is part of the fortifications in the defense of Halifax, in conjunction with the Citadel, Prince of Wales Tower, and the Point Pleasant, York Redoubt and McNab Island gun emplacements.

A Clearer View

It wasn't until I neared the end of our trip in Halifax that I discovered the extent of the pollution in the Harbour (200 years of raw sewerage). A massive clean up effort resulted in the beaches re-opening for swimming in June of this year but they were already closed again when we were there (due to high bacteria levels). Luckily I had resisted the urge to paddle around in the water! After disembarking one of the harbour tours I took I noted some of the locals peering into the water exclaiming how clear the water had become. When I stopped to see what they were looking at, these sea stars were what I saw.

To the Lighthouse...

The McNab Island Lighthouse as seen on my journey to the Atlantic Ocean (aboard the Sea Tiger) in search of whales. In the end there were whales that refused to surface to give us a show and then the weather changed suddenly making the calm ocean breeze bitter and cold. But before we headed back to Halifax I was able to also photograph the Devils Island Lighthouse, which made me happy. Maybe even the happiest person on the boat.

Lost in the Titanic Disaster

The history of Halifax held my imagination this whole trip and I couldn't resist the lure of the Titanic graves. I visited the Fairview Cemetery on my last day in Halifax, as well as the churches that held the Titanic Memorial Services. I think that the graves at Fairview, which hold the largest number of Titanic dead to be found in Halifax, is a fitting tribute to the victims and I enjoyed visiting them. I took many pictures that can be seen on Flickr with much more detail (about the people themselves).

Here's the usual Hooters pic (Dartmouth).

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Our "Near Tornado Experience"

Kids splashing as the storm rolls in

We got more than we bargained for when decided to enjoy the hot weather at Gull Lake (Aspen Beach Provincial Park) this afternoon. By the time we made it to the lake it was obvious a storm was rolling in... but we had enough time to enjoy the water and what was left of the sun.

Then, as the storm moved over the lake, Duncan and I looked up at a strange rolling cloud formation directly above us. "Are clouds supposed to do that?" he asked. I said something like "I think that's what is called rotation" and we agreed we should be leaving.

Before we could even get out of the water a great roaring occurred - a swirling wind cloud kicking up dirt, tree parts and other debris just off the beach - I've never heard anything like it. I yelled for the kids to run, but it was unnecessary. We all made it into the car just before the view was obscured by dirt and sand. We drove away, still wet and shoeless, eager to leave the adverse weather far behind.

We stopped briefly at a roadside pull out on the highway to change clothes and grab towels etc, but the wind caught up with us and we set out once again for home. We made it back to Edmonton a few minutes before the storm did.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I Hope You Can Hear Me

I miss you...
I miss you so bad
I don't forget you, Oh it's so sad
I hope you can hear me
because I remember it clearly

The day you slipped away
Was the day that I found
It won't be the same

I didn't get around to kiss you
Goodbye on the hand
I wish that I could see you again
I know that I can't ooooooooooooh
I hope you can hear me
Cause I remember it clearly

I've had my wake up, Won't you wake up
I keep asking why, And I can't take it
It wasn't fake, it happened - you passed by

Now you're gone, Now you're gone
There you go, There you go
Somewhere I can't bring you back
Now you're gone, Now you're gone
There you go, There you go
Somewhere you're not coming back

I miss you...

-Slipped Away by Avril Lavigne

Come Out Wishing Star

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

63 Years and 1000 Cranes Later

"I will write peace on your wings
and you will fly all over the world
-Sadako Sasaki

An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted their greatest wish. Sadako Sasaki’s wish was to recover so she could run again, although destiny had a different path for her. Sadako continued to fold her cranes even as she became sicker, until she died.

Her story became one of hope and inspiration symbolic of the desire for peace felt by her friends. As part of her legacy, children from across the world still fold cranes for Sadako and send them to Hiroshima to be placed at her memorial in the Peace Park.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I Dreemed I had Cheezburgers...

more lol catz

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thank You Dr. Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch, Oct 23, 1960 – Jul 25, 2008

"Cancer didn't change me at all. I know lots of people talk about the life revelation. I didn't have that. I always thought every day was a gift, but now I am looking for where to send the thank you note."

Dr. Randy Pausch’s message gave my family a perspective from which to begin solidifying our own dreams and goals. We were inspired to record our dreams, list our short and long term goals and to even start a "bucket list" that we have begun working on fulfilling, right away (because, well, why wait?).

Today I feel that is I who overwhelmingly needs to "send a thank you note" to Dr. Pausch. In just one year, he has had an amazing impact on our lives. If I could, I would say thank you for reminding us that we can and should dream big, that we can always work for what we want, that good things will come our way if we remember to live our lives the right way and, especially, thank you for showing us that true grace, happiness and bravery is within us all.

People like Dr. Pausch appear to be rare, yet he taught us that we are all just like him. And he made us believe it. In a world full of all sorts of people wanting to cram their advice and opinions down our throats – Dr. Pausch's enduring gift to us really was, simply, faith in ourselves.

Goodspeed, Dr. Pausch. And Thank You.

An Enduring Legacy (CMU)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spectacular Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset
We get some amazing sunsets here in Edmonton in the summer but not often are they so deeply vibrant. This sunset in particular has had people talking for days, and I was lucky enough to have the camera in hand to capture the most vivid moment of the evening.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Adventures at the Dog Park

Good Dog!

Having a car has dramatically increased our dog's quality of life - Luna loves the freedom of running around off leash at the dog park. So many dogs to meet, so many trails to explore and so many things to smell; I think she thinks it is more like dog heaven then a mere park!

I have to admit that while enjoying the sun, the silence of trees away from the roads, the gentle breeze and the sounds of the river I felt more relaxed than I have for a long time. I've been looking for a place like this to get away to, away from the noise and bustle of everyday city life. It's great that this is close and the dog can come too!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

15 Years Ago Today I Was 21

... and giving birth to my firstborn child - a lovely, happy bouncing baby boy weighing in at 7lbs 10.5 ounces. He was 21.5 inches long and fit in the crook of my arm. A lot changes in 15 years!

Like I think I am shrinking!

Happy birthday Wesley! I know you'll rock your 15th year in style!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The New Car...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Left Me Wanting...

We saw "Wanted" last night. I still feel assaulted by this movie, and have a few thoughts to share.

First, when trying to entice an audience into suspension of disbelief you need to build into the plot something we like to call believability – that’s an element that you can't replace with special effects. Second, plot is usually developed in movies to allow the actors to act. Good actors can't carry a bad movie, try as they might.

It's true that the movie itself doesn't really aspire or claim to be anything great, and I'll confess that my expectations were high so disappointment might have been inevitable; but too many times in this movie I had my head in my hands wishing for it to be over. It's been a really long time since I've been in a movie where people have walked out (starting just over half way through) and I wish I had left when Duncan asked me to.

Read the end of the Wanted Wikipedia entry for the "Critical Reception" before you go see it and you'll have a valid frame of reference for watching this movie. However, I recommend giving it a pass.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Our Fourth Wedding Anniversary!

2004 - Wedding in Edmonton, Alberta

2005 - Niagara Falls, Ontario

2006 - Washington DC, USA

2007 - Hoover Dam, USA

2008 - Florida, USA

It's been four years full of fun, adventures, laughter, love and friendship!

Happy Wedding Anniversary Duncan! I'm so glad that you are a part of my life!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Yes, I am a Geek

And I think this might be the only time I have been really (consciously) involved in setting a world record. According to Firefox they had 8,002,530 downloads of the new Firefox in 24 hours.

If you missed your chance to download the newest version of Firefox with the rest of us cool kids, you can still get it here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Strong and Free

Happy Canada Day!

We spent Canada at the Alberta Legislature grounds, with almost every other Edmontonian. The weather was gorgeous, the grounds were beautiful and people were happy - couldn't ask for a better birthday Canada!

Monday, June 30, 2008

One Extreme to Another

Feels like 33°C! Tonight it will cool off to 27°C, which likely means I will be sitting outside again watching Jupiter and the Northern Lights at 3:00am instead of sleeping! However, I like this weather better than our coldest winter temperature last year, I am definitely a sun worshipper. Duncan said it best on his twitter - "Todays Forecast: 31°C; Chance of showers: 0%; Chance of work: 0%; Chance of Beer outside: 96%."

Make that 100%!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

School's Out for Summer!

With a sigh of relief we bid goodbye to another school year that has come and gone! Here's what the end of school looked like this year for us:

Wesley Graduated Grade 9! Look how grown up he looks, like a proper young man. Since this year he got his drivers license, held two jobs and grew more than 5 inches (to surpass us all) I guess he really is a young man!

Wesley received his Diploma for finishing his IB Middle Year Baccalaureate Program, which included an extra personal project on top of his regular school work load. Now on to High School IB!

One of Ravens Arts this past year was Dance, which means she danced as part of the school's year end Dance Collective. The picture is not great, sadly, but with her moving so fast (she's the blurry one in purple in the back) in low light (with flash photography restricted) it was the best shot I got.

Raven finished Grade 7 this year with an Honours Standing. I'm bragging here, but Raven has won this award every year since grade 3.

Congrats to both my kids on another successful scholastic year! I am really looking forward to spending some time with them this summer and I hope we all have an amazing break before school starts again.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Longest Day of the Year!

I live in the Northern Hemisphere, so today we celebrate the Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year. It was a lovely, vibrantly sunny day that I spent mostly outside on patios. I adore this time of year (I find the winters this far north to be long, cold and dark...) and would love to find a way to spend every minute of it outside. I do think there is a certain beauty at Midwinter... but it's one I view from the doorway!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Its Not Over Until ...

What’s worse than privately musing about your leading opponent’s death?

Using your outside voice. In public.

More than once.

It seems that Hillary Clinton has been using this soundbite since she first went on record with it in March. These are calculated, practiced words that she chooses to say, again and again, for a reason.

To an outside observer it appears somewhat pathological.

Consistently referring to this particular political assassination in order to justify the continuation of her failing campaign is, well, distasteful at best. However, considering that her opponent has been favourably and repeatedly compared to Robert Kennedy by his supporters makes the sub text much more sinister.

With Hillary’s faulty memories, opinions about American heros, imaginary friends, ex friends and Freudian slips I am starting to get a clearer picture about what kind of candidate she really is.

Ever wonder how the Republicans could possibly win back the White House in 2008 after the near disastrous reign of George Bush?

Two words: Hillary Clinton.

If she doesn’t step down soon the Democratic Party might find that the damage she has done is irrevocable.

Someone get that woman an Exit Strategy!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Girls Can Be Ruffians Too

I was born during an exciting time for horse racing, with three Triple Crown Winners within the first six years of my life - Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed – and me being born a girl did not need much prompting to fall in love with horse racing.

But it was a different horse altogether with which I actually fell in love with – Ruffian. The perfection of beauty, she was magical to me, a once in a lifetime thing. Ruffian won every race she ran, save her last, including the Triple Tiara of Thoroughbred Racing (the Filly Triple Crown equivalent) in 1975. If you’ve never seen her run – winning by 15 lengths in her debut race – you can take this opportunity to watch her here, here and here.

I can’t help but imagine, if destinies had be different that day, what greatness might have come of a Secretariat and Ruffian combination… but, I digress.

Today is Preakness Day and I will be watching with interest to see if thus far undefeated Big Brown will put himself within winning distance of the Triple Crown, something that hasn’t been done since 1978. The possibility excites me. But really, since the Derby and Eight Belles' nightmarish accident I have been thinking more of Ruffian and the short life that touched mine so long ago. Sir Winston Churchill once said that "there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man..." I don’t know if it can be said better than that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I'm the World's Best Mom

My Mother's Day 2008 Minnie Mouse

When I was a little girl I dreamed of doing all sorts of things - being an astronaut, a horse jockey, a jet fighter pilot, a hockey player and traveling the world - but what I wanted more than anything else was to be a Mom. Jobs and careers have always seemed to be trivial things in comparison, things that helped meet the financial requirements of the kind of life I wanted. I was fairly young, but the moment I knew I was pregnant my life changed and I knew without a doubt that I was doing exactly what I wanted to do, what I was meant to do.

Mostly everything I have done in my life since has revolved around the best interests of my family (I am Mom to the World's two best kids), with the exception of some selfishness along the way and together we have created a life that is the meaningful fulfillment of my childhood dream. I know my purpose in life and I love being a Mom! Thank you to my kids for being both wonderful and understanding - they know me well and still put up with me!

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

But Possibly the World's Worst Daughter

Life made me an only child

I still haven't called my Mom yet to say Happy Mother's Day.

I am dragging my feet this year more than usual. I know I need too, and I even want too, but today is a painful reminder that I am the only one left to call her to wish her well on this day. I am sure it is the same for her and I hate the thought of making her feel that way, of having a conversation where we both pretend that everything is ok when we both know what is missing from this day.

Happy Mother's Day Mom. From the both of us.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gimme Shelter or I'm Gonna Fade Away

When Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar on May 2 it hurled a 12 foot high wall of sea water, called a storm surge, 40 kms inland. Winds up to 129 mph flattened the lives it found in its path.

Today the death toll looks likely to exceed 100,000 people – and the storm has left an estimated one million people homeless. Many people do not have water, food prices (where food is available) have risen 300% and further deaths from disease and starvation are inevitable, especially without help.

The International Federation of Red Cross has launched a preliminary emergency appeal for $6 million. All funds raised will be used to provide survivors with basic supplies, emergency shelter, and to ensure people have access to health care and clean water. I have chosen to support the Red Cross because they already have volunteers on the ground in Myanmar and are able to get the aid directly to the areas that need it without interference from the Junta.

You can donate as well – there is no amount too small! You can select to have your donation ear marked by selecting "Myanmar Cyclone" in the online option or by writing it on your cheque.

Online: Red Cross Online Donation Page

Phone: 1-800-418-1111

Canadian Red Cross National Office
170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2
Cheques payable to the Canadian Red Cross

In Person (Edmonton): 9931 106 Street NW, Edmonton (click here for map)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I can ride my bike with no handlebars

Listen/watch Handlebars here.

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars, No handlebars

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars, No handlebars

Look at me, look at me
hands in the air like it's good to be ALIVE
and I'm a famous rapper
even when the paths are all crooked-ly
I can show you how to do-si-do
I can show you how to scratch a record
I can take apart the remote control
And I can almost put it back together
I can tie a knot in a cherry stem
I can tell you about Leif Erikson
I know all the words to "De Colores"
And "I'm Proud to be an American"
Me and my friend saw a platypus
Me and my friend made a comic book
And guess how long it took
I can do anything that I want cuz, look:

I can keep rhythm with no metronome
No metronome, No metronome

I can see your face on the telephone
On the telephone, On the telephone

Look at me, Look at me
Just called to say that it's good to be ALIVE
In such a small world
All curled up with a book to read
I can make money, open up a thrift store
I can make a living off a magazine
I can design an engine
Sixty four miles to the gallon of gasoline
I can make new antibiotics
I can make computers survive aquatic conditions
I know how to run a business
And I can make you wanna buy a product
Movers, shakers, and producers
Me and my friends understand the future
I see the strings that control the system
I can do anything with no resistance

I can lead a nation with a microphone
With a microphone, With a microphone

I can split the atom of a molecule
Of a molecule, Of a molecule

Look at me, Look at me
Driving and I won't stop
And it feels so good to be
Alive and on top
My reach is global
My tower, secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure
I can hand out a million vaccinations
Or let 'em all die in exasperation
Have 'em all healed from their lacerations
Have 'em all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison
Just because I don't like 'em
And I can do anything with no permission
I have it all under my command

Because I can guide a missile by satellite
By satellite, By satellite

I can hit a target through a telescope
Through a telescope, Through a telescope

and I can end the planet in a holocaust
In a holocaust, In a holocaust
In a holocaust, In a holocaust
In a holocaust, In a holocaust

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handle bars, No handlebars

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars, No handlebars

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Happy Bloomsday!

Bloomsday 2008 Finish Line

My daughter ran the 12km Bloomsday Race in Spokane Washington today - 1hr and 21 mins! Her overall place was 10,401 out of 42,697 people, running at a pace of 10:55 per mile (avg pace for 12 yr olds was 15:44). I am tremendously proud of her and can't wait to congratulate her in person when she gets home.

Watching the race starts on TV this morning was very exciting but nothing can top her call after the race to tell me that she had finished! She's even excited and ready to go for next year! Go Raven!

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Matter of Offsetting

It took me a while to warm up to the idea of paying to offset carbon emissions that we create while taking trips. I'm not really sure why though, since we do everything we otherwise can to decrease our carbon footprint; I think my skepticism revolved around an unregulated market and the wide variety of companies claiming to provide this service. It is certainly Buyer Beware - and I was specifically interested in Canadian green energy investment or reforestation.

After some research I have found a company I am happy with - ZeroFootprint. They are a Canadian NFP (certified by ISO 14064-2) that helps sustain and support Canadian forests by planting trees and fighting deforestation, biodiversity loss, and watershed degradation. I found them via AirCanada who partners with them to offset air travel emissions and I recommend anyone considering offsetting check them out.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Here we are now! Entertain us!

Minnie and Mickey Mouse

The Magic Kingdom was our first destination in Walt Disney World, and my favourite for sentimental reasons. It is truly a place of magic, dreams, childhood fantasies and imagination. When I look back on our trip I am struck by the amount of effort that went into making me feel this way - in every Disney park - I was definitely being entertained and I was never disappointed. Of course, for me it is enough that this is classic Disney; Minnie and Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Winnie the Pooh! Even though we were there for eight days I was not ready to leave (didn't help that while we were enjoying the +30° Florida sunshine it was -10° and snowing back home in Edmonton).

Space Mountain

Just the sight of Space Mountain gets me excited. It was the first coaster I ever rode at Disney (in Disneyland) and I love it! I'd have to admit though that I enjoyed it much more at Disneyland - the music makes all the difference for me. I love Roller Coasters and I adore the lengths that Disney goes to with each theme. In Magic Kingdom there is also Big Thunder Mountain Railway and Splash Mountain (Raven's Favourite) that we enjoy quite a bit.

Space Ship Earth at EPCOT

Never having been to EPCOT before I was skeptical as to what kind of experience we would have there with teenagers. However I was delightfully surprised - we all loved it there. The park's dedication plaque says it all: "Epcot Center is inspired by Walt Disney's creative genius. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, the wonders of enterprise, and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all. May Epcot Center entertain, inform and inspire. And, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere."

End of the Line? Think Again!

Vying for the title of my new favourite Disney ride is Expedition Everest - an awesome roller coaster that was a fabulous first ride experience and didn't disappoint with repeat riding. There is so much at Walt Disney World to compete for my attention, but when I recall the thrills this is the ride I think of. Animal Kingdom is the newest of the parks and certainly one that we had a lot of fun in. When I finally get the pictures up on Flickr they will be a testament to the variety of experiences we found in this park.

Hamming it up at for the Camera

Here's Mickey posing for me to take his picture while we were eating at the Garden Grill Restaurant (I have a thing for rotating restaurants). I love Mickey but don't tell him that Minnie is actually my favourite - I even saved the first page of my autograph book just for her! My first sight of Minnie Mouse (and Mickey, to be fair) always transports me back to my wonder filled childhood years. That's really what is so special about Disney, the stories are a part of who I am.

The Adventure of a Lifetime

We spent a good part of a day at Islands of Adventure which was full of amazingly cool rides like the Incredible Hulk, the Dueling Dragons and Spiderman. If you love Roller Coasters then this is the place for you! When I rode the Hulk for the first time - it launches you into several inversions - I found that place I love to be; the place where there is no fear, excitement or other emotion filling you up, just the thrill of living in that exact moment. I am alive!

Fried Pickles are Very Addictive

We couldn't pass up the opportunity to add a Florida Hooters to the list of Hooters we have visited across North America, especially since there was one so close to our resort. Also, the American Hooters are the only place I can get those fried pickles (had them first in DC, can't stop thinking about them!). My mouth is watering even now.

Here's the customary Hooters pic.