Saturday, January 29, 2011


I have never been good at enforcing chores. Often times, when the kids are wanting something at the store, I'll tell them that if they want to do some chores, they could get whatever it is they are wanting with the money they earn. The chore duty lasts maybe a day, if that. The kids occasionally will tell me they want an allowance. I tell them that they can earn an allowance if they do chores. Well, as stated before, that doesn't seem to last long. I am never good at following through. It also doesn't help that I never have cash on me, in this debit card world. Well, that is going to change with the banking we have here. We have to pay for a certain number of transactions per month, and if you go over, which we have, you get charged $0.55 per transaction, and apparently $0.75 for checks that clear when you have gone over your allotted number of transactions in a month! Because of that, we are going to switch over to cash. We can't switch over to credit cards at this point, because if we use our American credit cards here, we get charged a foreign transaction fee. We also have had troubles trying to get a Canadian credit card. I know Scott has spent several minutes on the phone a few different times trying to get one. So, until that happens, we will be using cash. Good news in the allowance department!!

In our new house, we have alot of carpet. Well, okay, it's not alot, but it's light colored. Pets, kids and carpet don't go together. I also am not a big vacuumer. I want to be, but again, another chore that gets put off and eventually neglected. I don't want that to happen here. And so far, it hasn't. Mostly because with this carpet we have, you can tell that it needs to be vacuumed, and then once it has been, it looks so much better. The carpet we had in Bismarck looked the same, whether it was vacuumed or not, which also added to the problem of neglect.

After moving here, I think I tried making sure the kids were happy by buying them a toy here and there. When we would make a trip to Winnipeg, all I would hear is "Mom, I want this....." "Mom, can I have that?" It was wearing me out. So, I was trying to think of a way that I could implement a chore chart that would last, and what chores would I put on it. Another issue was where to put it. Our stainless steel refrigerator is not magnetic, so I can't hang it on the fridge (a blessing in disguise!). I had an idea. I have a large bare wall in the laundry room, and I might as well put it to use.

Here is what I came up with.

Gage's chores are listed in green (G-green) and Emma's are in explanation needed. This calendar is also used to help me remember when certain activities are, eliminating the need to have a regular calendar hanging on the wall somewhere. I have ordered a "Chore Chart" from my sister's Uppercase Living Party, so when I get that, this calendar will be for school and activities and the chore chart will be for chores. I will also have a space for SCOTT! :-)

Since moving here, Brie has become a little more "high maintenance." Only because I want to save our backyard. We have a dog run that we are making her use for elimination. She doesn't really like this. She can't find "just the right spot" to go, making it a nuisance. She constantly needs to go out because she might not have found "the spot" to go, and just decided not to. Really, she needs to be walked, which isn't happening. Scott is not good at that. Neither am I, but she's not "my dog." Maybe I will add that to Scott's chore list? Anyway, it became a fight, as to who had to let Brie out the next time, and the next time. I told the kids that if they would help me with the task of letting her out every 10 minutes (yes, I am exaggerating just a little), they could get a tally mark. Tally marks mean "extra" chores were done. You can see those in blue at the bottom of the calendar. (Now you understand why I have recruited help with this job! UGH!)

Anyway, the chore chart is WORKING! Of course we haven't had a payday yet. The kids want paid per chore, right after they finish doing it. I told them that's not how it works. We decided that PAY DAY would fall on Scott's pay day. That should work. We should have some money to pay them, right!? ;-) For some reason, they didn't get paid on the 15th, like they should have. I guess they didn't ask, and I didn't think about it. Their first pay day is coming up tomorrow. I haven't decided yet how much they should get paid. Today I told them that tomorrow is pay day, and they should do their best to do as many extra things they can. This is what I got out of Emma!

I swear I didn't suggest this to her. As a matter of fact, I was looking for her in the house, and after hollering a few times and she didn't answer, I had a surge of panic run through me. Then I noticed her coat and snowpants were missing, so I looked outside and found her hard at work! When she came in she said, "How much is that worth Mom!?" Hmmm.............good question Emma! Aren't those rosey cheeks adorable?
Maybe you could give me some allowance tips? Here are their chores for the week:
Sunday: Take clothes to the laundry chute.
Monday: Put clothes away
Tuesday: Empty all garbage cans except the big one in the kitchen
Friday: Vacuum bedroom
Saturday: Gage vacuum upstairs stairs; Emma vacuum stairs to basement (they switch each week because no one likes to vacuum the stairs to the basement. "It's freaky down there Mom!"); Clean bathroom sinks.
For the month Emma has approximately 35 tallies, plus shoveling snow. Gage has approximately 30 tally marks.
What do you think all of this is worth?
And, all of the chores were done. Nothing was skipped. Now, it's my chore to keep this whole operation working!

Friday, January 28, 2011

I want a new car!

Well, it doesn't have to be NEW, but I want a DIFFERENT car. I hate my van. I didn't hate it until the start of the winter season. I think I can still count on one hand (just barely) the number of times I have been stuck this year, which has never happened to me before. What a helpless feeling! It's an even more helpless feeling when you are in a different country, your husband is traveling out of town and you practically know no one. (Okay, so I do have a set of wonderful neighbors who are totally awesome and would come to my rescue if I were to call them, but that would make the story less powerful!)
So today we wake up to more snow! SURPRISE! NOT! It was such a pretty snow too, until later in the afternoon, when it was time to go pick up the kids.
Scott came home for lunch because he was getting ready to leave town for the weekend. Thankfully he was kind enough to break out the snowblower before he left. I don't know how to run the stupid thing, and if I did end up getting it started, I'm sure I'd have the snow blowing right in my face. He also cleared out Brie's dog run of snow. Hey, that snow blower doubles as a shit blower! Who knew!?!
When he came back inside, he tells me that I should probably walk to school to get the kids. WHAT?!?! Are you SERIOUS?!?!? The snow is knee-deep and it's a little over a mile (I know because I clocked it). I'm not stupid. I know that if I walk a mile there, I will also have to walk a mile back IN KNEE DEEP SNOW! NO THANK YOU! Plus, I'm sure I would end up carrying the kids' backpacks and whatever else crap they hauled to school today for beach day. Great day for beach day, by the way!
Just before 3p, I decided I best get the car backed out of the garage and warmed up a bit. Oh, guess what!??! SURPRISE! The snow plow had been up our street. Guess what that means? It means there is a 3 ft (I don't know how many stupid centimeters that is, but I do know it's ALOT!) tall drift that is about 3 feet wide! WTH!?!? I got the snow shovel out and started to whittle away at the snow in a desperate panic, thinking "I am never going to make it to school on time to get the kids." Thankfully, the "clean up crew" wasn't too far behind and must have saw the pitiful, panic-stricken look on my face as he came into the drive to clear it out for me. I mouthed him a big, heart-felt "THANK YOU!" So, at least I was able to make it out of the driveway!
Because I am new here, I don't really know which streets are the arterial streets, so I am a little nervous on my drive to school, because I don't know which roads are clear and which aren't. I got lucky and took the correct route. I did run into one unplowed street, headed towards Main Street, but thankfully I was able to make it through without much trouble.
As I am driving down Main Street, which hasn't been plowed..........go figure.............and looking for a parking space, I was lucky and found a spot I could drive right in to. Hmmm.......I drove right into it and SUNK! UGH! I knew at that point, I was in trouble. As I sit in the car and wait, I watch the heavy traffic plowing through the snow. Across the street, I see a nearly 100-year-old (okay, so she wasn't that old, but it makes the story much more interesting!) lady get into her small, compact car that was parked along the curb and start driving. Well, then she stopped driving. And she started driving again. I could tell she was getting stuck. I wasn't sure yet if I should get out and help, but I unbuckled my seat belt in preparation. I'm thinking, "There's no way she's going to get out of that." I was also thinking, "Maybe I won't make such a scene when I get stuck too!?" After just a little bit of backing up, then going forward again, she started plowing right through the snow! She made it out! NO WAY! You've got to be kidding me?! I see this happen to several more cars. Then I start to think, "Well, maybe I will be okay?" Finally, the kids get let out of school and trudge their way to the car. As they get in, I tell them not to get too comfortable, because I figured we would be walking. Guess what? I was stuck! I tried and tried, and couldn't get out. The kids know not to say anything to me, because this has happened 3 other times this winter season. Gage offered to get out and push (I think he really wants to do it, because he thinks it will be fun!) and after I snapped at him that he isn't big enough to do that, he sat quietly and listened as I repeat how much "I HATE THIS CAR! I HATE THIS CAR! AAARGH! I HATE THIS CAR!" I have finally inched my way towards the driving lane and have to stop for traffic backed up behind me. One man, in his big 4x4 truck, drives by. At this point I'm about to cry. I did have the smarts to write down all of my neighbors' phone numbers, but what good is that when I don't have a phone to call them!? Finally, a lady is stopped behind me as I spin and spin, burning the rubber off my tires. She was kind enough to get out of her car and walk up to my window. I roll it down and she reaches in, grabs my steering wheel and tells me, very kindly I might add, that I need to straighten out the wheel while she pushes. She and her teenage son get behind me and push as I step on the gas. They then proceed to the front of the car as I put it in reverse. They start walking to the back as I put it in drive and was finally on my way. As I drive by, giving her my most heart-felt "THANKS", she tells me just to drive straight and I will be fine. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I'm sure all of the other people that drove by me were thinking, "Dumb American.....can't even drive in the snow!" I can't wait to get my Manitoba plates. At least no one will know that I'm a dumb American by looking at my car!
We were able to make it the rest of the way home without incident. Whew!
I firmly believe, despite what Scott says, that I need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get around in this part of the world. I will have a 4-wheel drive vehicle before the next winter season..........even if that means I am driving Scott's truck, and he is driving the van!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hot Lunch Day

I was so excited a couple of weeks ago when the kids brought home a sign-up sheet for Hot Lunch Day, which actually took place yesterday! YEAH! I didn't know they had such a thing, but I knew I was totally going to sign the kids up for it! They brought home order sheets that had to be returned to the school with money. They were getting soup and a biscuit. It had a place to mark down what you wanted and then you totaled it up at the end. I didn't realize you could order more than just one of each item. I had ordered the kids each 1 cup of soup and 1 biscuit, which was $1.50 for each of them. That's what the hot lunches in Bismarck cost, so I was thrilled. I had it written down in big letters on our calendar so I wouldn't forget. I didn't want to accidentally send a lunch when I didn't have to! I did have to send a few other things for their snack and something else to eat with their lunch.
Yesterday when I picked the kids up from school I asked them how hot lunch day went. They told me they had it during their first nutrition break, which is their snack time, which is around 10:30am. WHAT? So, the kids ended up having their snack for lunch, which didn't consist of much more than a piece of Baby Bel cheese and pomagranate arils. I think I also sent a fruit strip, which is a healthier version of the fruit roll-up. Needless to say, they were hungry when they got home and ate a bigger after-school snack than usual. They were told that it didn't matter if they ate the hot lunch for snack or lunch, they wouldn't be any hungrier. I'm not sure that's true, but it wasn't a big deal.
As for sending cold lunches every day, I really thought I was going to hate it. It's actually not too bad. We get up between 7-7:20 each morning and my job is to get the lunches made. I started out just making the kids' lunches, then Scott would make his own. He asked me if I could make his lunches too, so I have been making his as well. Although Scott occasionally gets in trouble and has to make his own lunch. I'm so mean! I wouldn't do that to the kids though.
I was worried initally about making their lunches because I didn't know if I could figure out stuff to send that they wouldn't get tired of having every day. I was also worried because I can't send peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, because of the school's "allergy aware" program. We have been experimenting with some other things, like sun butter. It's supposed to be like peanut butter, but made out of sunflower seeds instead of peanuts, making it an "okay" thing for peanut allergies (of which we don't have!). Emma doesn't care for it, but Gage likes it. I don't care much for it either, but maybe that's because it looks like, and has the consistency of dog diarrhea. Some that I've unfortunately have had the pleasure of cleaning up. GAG! Anyway, Gage doesn't mind it, so I will occasionally send it with him for lunch. The first 2-3 weeks of school the kids were hooked on egg salad sandwiches. I then made some tuna salad sandwiches, with a to-die for recipe from my Carbohydrate Addict's recipe book. The kids really like that, but Gage was scared to have tuna at school, because there is a kid in the school with fish allergies, so he was afraid they would take his sandwich away from him. I assured him it would be okay, although I don't really know if it is. I will still make them on occasion and send them with the kids. If they get in trouble and get it taken away, I will have then learned my lesson. I don't think fish allergies are a contact allergy like peanuts can be? But, I guess I don't really know that for sure. I have also sent some turkey sandwiches. The kids seem to be eating all of their lunches. Either that or they are smart and just throw away what they don't eat at school so I don't know about it. But, I do think they are eating them and not throwing them away. Some of the other things I have been sending with the kids range from cucumber slices, carrots, broccoli. Apples, pomagrante arils, mandarin oranges, banana and pineapple are some of the fruits I have sent. Emma says that one of the lunch monitors has commented several times about her lunches being healthy and apparently she LOVES cucumbers and can smell them when Emma opens up her container of them. I always send a piece of cheese, yogurt and a fruit strip or fruit snacks. I have found some healthier versions of the fruit roll-up and gummy snacks at Costco, so I will send one of those with the kids each day as something "fun" for them. There are alot of kids that bring the fruit roll-ups, pop tarts, etc, which I refuse to buy. So, I will get these things for the kids so they don't feel so slighted.
At least I know they are eating healthier than they did with their hot lunches in Bismarck. This may not be as convenient, but at least I have an excuse for buying different lunch boxes, snack containers, etc.! I have a weakness for those things for some reason! I found a couple of little thermoses that are made for hot things like soup. Tomorrow I think I will try those out and they'll have a surprise of Kraft Dinner (a.k.a. macaroni and cheese in the US!) in their lunch boxes!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I am anal about my checkbook. Only one other time in my life was I not able to get it to balance to the penny. Last month, was the second time I couldn't get it to balance to the penny. I didn't give up trying to get it to balance, I just stopped trying. I thought I had figured it out, in my head, so I really didn't think I wanted to waste my time in attempting to balance it again. I figured I would just wait until next month, when we have alot less transactions taking place, which would make it easier. Well, that time is NOW and I still can't get the stupid thing to balance and it is DRIVING ME INSANE! I just can't figure it out. It's off by $43.13. Many people would just forget about it and write in whatever amount the bank says they have. NOT ME! Why can't I just be like normal people sometimes? I'm sure it is something stupid, but I will continue to work on this and figure it out..........eventually. Part of the problem is that the checkbook is shared with my beloved husband, who really doesn't know how to do it. Before we started sharing a checking account, he would balance his account by going through the ATM and printing out a balance slip, never taking into account what might be outstanding. He had alot of overdrafts during that time period and I told him I would not share an account with him until he learned how to take care of a checking account properly. Well, I don't really think he ever did learn, I just took it over. Every once in awhile he'll add his two cents worth, then I threaten to quit managing our money and hand it over to him. I'm not sure I could ever really do that. It would absolutely drive me nuts to not know what we really have in our accounts. And I know that if I turned it over, it would get to that point. Scott knows it too, which is why he never volunteers to do it. My Dad is the one who taught me about money management. I remember him always telling me to never get a credit card, because they are bad news. He always said to never join those book clubs or CD clubs, because they will just send things to you even if you don't want them, and then you have to pay for them. Well, I learned that that isn't entirely true. Credit cards are actually GOOD things to have, because you need them in order to establish credit. They become bad when you use them irresponsibly. I have always been a responsible credit card holder. Only one time in my life did I carry a balance on a credit card, and that is because I was in transition between jobs when we moved to Memphis and it took a little while to get back on my feet. And, when I got back on my feet, I paid each card off as I could manage. I also learned that those book clubs and CD clubs don't actually send you stuff without you knowing. I just learned that you need to watch your mail closely and be sure to check in the proper places in order to prevent an item being sent. I did learn, that you don't want to be in them because eventually you are spending money that you wouldn't normally spend on things you wouldn't normally buy. So, I stopped doing those. I also learned, from my Dad, to balance your checkbook every month, and by following example, I will work and work on it until I find my mistake. Thanks Dad!!!! ;-)
I always thought that maybe I should have become an accountant, because I like managing money. I know now, that I probably wouldn't make a good accountant, because if I get stuck on something. like trying to make my checkbook balance to the penny, I will get nothing done until I get it figured out. A good accountant would just figure out how to make it right and then go on to the next project. Not me.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Yesterday my neighbor invited me to go with her to Winnipeg to Costco. I jumped at the opportunity. It was a fun outing. I think I like Costco better than Sam's Club? I don't know if it was because they had a better selection, or if it was because, with having to make the kids' lunches for school everyday, there were more bulk items that I needed? A membership is required at Costco, which we don't have yet. Liz said we could put it on her card if necessary and then I could pay her back. As we were headed to the checkout, I asked her if she was sure she could do that, as both of our carts were nearly overflowing. When she got to the checkout, she asked the lady if we could scan separately and she let us! Even though they aren't supposed to do that. I was glad about that.......and I'm sure Liz was too! My best find there was in the produce section. They had a package of pomegranate arils! WHAT?!?!?!?! You mean I can enjoy a pomegranate and not have to spend an hour digging it all apart? SCORE! AND, it was only $6.99! There were at least 2 pomegranates in the package and sometimes they can cost up to $2-3 each. Having them already removed from the rhine and membrane is totally worth the extra couple dollars. TOTALLY!
Liz was born and raised in Winnipeg, so she was great to go with. She was telling me all she could. Unfortunately I know I didn't absorb it all, but I did learn that we haven't been shopping in the best area of Winnipeg. We will be learning the new area the next time we go. In fact the different stores in this area of Winnipeg have me very excited about my next visit. ;-) I think I also found myself a softball team to play on this spring! Liz coordinates the Friday softball league! SCORE! Now if I can just get volleyball on the agenda!
Gage and Emma were dying to go to Laser Jungle last night to play some laser tag. We finally were able to go after supper, but found out that you have to call ahead. We tried calling ahead, but each time Gage called, the line was busy. We just assumed it was because it was off the hook or something like that. No, it was always busy because other people were calling in to book a time slot. Apparently the weekends are always full, so you must call ahead of time. We'll be doing that the next time. There are people who drive here from Winnipeg to play! (It's not that far from Winnipeg, but because of all the activities that Winnipeg has to offer, that must mean Laser Jungle "kicks ass". Or at least that's what neighbor Liz says. ;-) Since we weren't able to stay and play, we rented some movies from there instead. We got Ramona & Beezus, Cats and Dogs and The Book of Eli. Ramona and Beezus was so cute. We all enjoyed it. However, I wasn't expecting that I would cry TWICE during the movie.
The Book of Eli was very thought provoking. I feel like I need to watch it again to see what I missed.
Cats and Dogs is the movie for Sunday morning. The kids are already down there watching it, so I need to go make them start it over.
As for Sunday, we haven't found a church yet. We went to the Knox Presbyterian church 2 Sundays ago. It was very small. Like 12 people or so there. There were only 2 kids, who were the Pastor's sons. They are a little older than Gage, but I figure if the kids don't both have other kids there that they can get to know, it will be a fight every Sunday morning. We will be checking out some more churches. We aren't able to today though, because Scott has some gathering that he has to give a talk at this morning in Winnipeg. Next Sunday he will be in South Dakota. Hopefully the following Sunday we'll be able to check out another church.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Unattended Children

I went to get my hair cut today. It was long overdue!!! I hate making appointments to get my hair cut. Usually, when I finally do it, I want it done NOW!!!! There is a hair place on the corner near the school that I drive by every day. I have memorized the phone number because I kept wanting to call and make an appointment, but then would forget the number by the time I got home. I have done that so many times that I now know the number by heart. It's taken me about 2 weeks to actually call the place to get an appointment, and when I called, she said she schedules appointments at least a month in advance and I couldn't get in until mid February. WHAT?!?!?!? I need my hair cut NOW! I told her I would see if I could find someone else. I sent a message to my neighbor asking her of places that do hair in town. I don't want to have to drive to Winnipeg for a haircut. She gave me the name and number of another place right on Main Street. I hadn't noticed it before. I called for an appointment and she scheduled me for the next day (today). One thing I hate about getting my hair cut is that I always want to try something new. I can never describe what I want and somehow I always come home with the same thing. When I went in to the salon, I had a few moments to sit down and look through some magazines. They had all kinds of hair magazines and I was flipping through as fast as I could to try and find something I liked before my name was called. I did find something I liked, but then thought to myself, "I've done this before, and it never fails, I get the same thing I had previously", so I didn't bother taking it with me to the chair when my name was called. Then comes the question, "What can I do for you?" UGH! I hate that! I told the lady that I always want something different and always end up with the same thing, and I don't ever know how to say what I want. She said, "Well, then, what DON'T you want?" I told her my Dad says that the only difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is about two days. She laughed. Then I told her, "You can't get it too short!" And away she went!!!!!!!!!! I've never had anyone brave enough to do that............and I LOVED it! She's never seen me before, so she had no idea what kind of hairstyle I usually have. She just started cutting away. She also used the razor alot, which not many people do. I grew up with razor cuts. My Mom was a beautician and she always used the razor. She loves razor cuts too, but not many people do it anymore. Anyway, the gal cut my hair. There was ALOT of hair on my cape, so I knew she was doing well. When she finally finished, she turned me towards the mirror. I LOVED IT! She did a great job. Mostly, I loved that she just did it without me having to tell her what to do. When I was putting on my coat to leave, I noticed a sign hanging on the wall that read, "Unattended Children will be given an espresso and a puppy!" I loved it! I will be going back there. Thanks to my neighbor, Liz, for the recommendation!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Obsessed with Haricots

Are you wondering what haricots are?? That is the French term for beans. I have never been obsessed over something like beans before, but it is driving me nuts that I can't find the ones I am wanting. Great Northern Beans. How hard can that be? We can't get much farther north without leaving civilization!

I think Scott is lucky that I have had a very open mind about being here, because if I didn't, his life would be very miserable right now. The grocery store would be enough to just put me into a big depression. As I said before, I am not into cooking. When I have a recipe, I follow it to the T. Very rarely do I substitute things, because I don't know if it will ruin it or not. I'm just not adventurous in the kitchen. (Nor anywhere else, for that matter!)

A stop at the grocery store takes me at least twice as long as it would normally. Alot of that is because I just don't know where everything is yet. However, another chunk of that time is spent wondering what I can use instead for the item that I can't find. This morning my list contained 3 items, and I was in there for at least 20 minutes. Of course I can never get out of the store with just the items on my list. However, the 3 items on my list were things I needed to add to the stuff I had at home to make homemade pizza (kind of.........if you call have the refrigerator pizza dough homemade (like I do!)) Do you think I can find pepperoni? Of course not! Or, at least not the way I would buy it at home. At home, you can buy it already sliced. I didn't even know you could buy pepperoni in the big tube-summer-sausage-like-casing. Good Lord! Does that mean I have to cut that entire thing into thin little slices? Apparently so! What the heck does a person use a thing of pepperoni like that for? I should probably get started on that now, as it might take me all day to do! Maybe I will need to invest in a food processor? AND, I had to buy raw white beans to substitute for my Northern Beans. I don't know if that is the right substitute or not, but I'm going to give it a whirl. I've never cooked beans from their raw state before. We could be in trouble. Maybe I should go buy some nose plugs? They probably don't have those here either.

Another obsession I have now is following the exchange rate. It is VERY disturbing to me that I am losing money by exchanging it over to Canadian. The lady at the bank says it's usually the other way around. Well, wouldn't you know it! I move to Canada and now the Canadian dollar is worth more than the US dollar. UGH! We have probably already just thrown at least $100 out the window in this exchanging (or selling) thing. That was another thing that I wasn't sure about when I went to the bank this morning. I wrote a check from our Bismarck account to our American fund account here and then asked her what the exchange rate was. She asked if I was buying or selling. What?? I'm just exchanging it lady. LOL! Okay, that is pretty dumb on my part, but I have just never been the one to deal with stocks/bonds or buying/selling. That is Scott's job. I know now, that I would be selling my American a loss! I am going to wait to do it, because I will lose about $30 on the $1000, or $3 on the $100. Even losing $3 disturbs me. I'm probably stupid not to do it though, because it could be worse tomorrow, or whenever it will be that I just HAVE to do it, in order to pay the mortgage. I am going to turn into a money hoarder. That's probably not a bad thing though.


The weather warmed up enough for school to be back in session today! YEAH! Although, I must admit that I'm starting to go a little stir crazy not having anything to do. Once I can get started on the office and organizing my scrapbook stuff, I will be good to go. Until then, I will just be bored. There's lots of things I can do. Just none of them are things I want to do.

I was thankful that my car started this morning. Or, more like I'm glad Scott's truck started thsi morning, so I had my car. When I was getting out, after backing it out of the garage, somehow I slammed my forehead into the edge of the door. MAN DID THAT HURT! I thought for sure I was going to end up with a black eye. I decided if it did, I would just tell anyone that asked that Scott did it, because the other story would be too hard to explain. Who believes the old story of "I walked into a door?" LOL! I've had a headache most of the day because of it. Not sure if I gave myself a concussion or not. I know I hit hard enough it's possible. I also bend the nose piece on my glasses, but thankfully I was able to bend them back in shape. I'm so graceful!

The kids had a good day at school. I'm always so excited when I pick them up to hear how their day went. There is almost always something interesting. Monday, Emma quizzed me all the way home on new French words she learned. Their brains are like little sponges. It amazes me. I keep waiting for papers to come home so I can see how they are doing, or WHAT they are even doing. They had spelling tests last Friday and I still haven't seen them. Gage said they keep them in their "duo-tangs" (plastic 2-pocket folder for you Americans!). Their spelling lists have been very easy so far, but Gage told me he missed a couple because he does his cursive O's different than they do them here. I told him to be sure and ask the teacher if any of these things are supposed to come home so I can see what's going on. Geez, I'd hate to get nothing and then go to parent-teacher conferences to find out they aren't doing so well! Especially when it seems that he's ahead of the 4th graders here. They start school here as soon as they turn 5. No waiting a year if you miss the deadline, like Gage did with his October birthday. Gage turned 10 in October and he was invited to another 4th grader's birthday party tomorrow, who is turning 9!! According to Canadian School systems, Gage should be in 5th grade. I'm sure he's smart enough to be, but I'm not sure I would want to skip him a grade. I think that would almost be like missing out on a whole year of his life. Plus, I'm not sure what would happen when we go back to the states, like if he would have to go back a grade?

Our furnace guy came today to replace the motor in our furnace. It's only 5 years old, so that is upsetting. I'm afraid to see what the bill will be for that part. However, I'm glad to know it's working correctly again, as it is supposed to be VERY cold again tomorrow. Like -33C, which equals about -27F, and that's not including the windchill! WOWZA! And I thought Bismarck was COLD! I'm anxious to see just how cold it's possible to get. Bring it!!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Great North is COLD!

Wow! It's cold! -27F with -50F windchills is a little much I think! Apparently it's a little much for everyone, as school was cancelled today, because of the windchill. We only had 1 or 2 snow days in Bismarck in our time there, which were last year. When I was a kid, I LOVED snow days. Now, not so much. ;-)

The kids have enjoyed their "snow day." We have a fort behind the chair in the living room, equipped with a security camera. I told Gage he should probably turn the video off on his camera, or he would most certainly drain them. I really don't think a security camera was necessary, unless that was there to deter Brie from entering. Apparently she's "gassy" today. Or at least that is what I've been told about 3 times. However, I do know that to be true, as I went downstairs and got a whiff of the wonderful aroma. UGH! We have had problems keeping her out of the basement and out of the cat food and more importantly the cat BOX! YUCKO!

In Bismarck, we kept that cat food on top of the refrigerator so Brie couldn't get into it. We didn't want to really encourage Grus to be on the countertops here, so figured we would try it in the basement. It isn't easy trying to keep it open for the cat, but closed off to the dog. I didn't really want to cut a cat door into the door at the top of the basement stairs because they are nice, solid doors. We decided to just take the door off the hinges so Grus wouldn't accidentally get shut in or out of the basement. Well, Brie has been finding her way to the basement, and today, we are suffering because of it. Enough about dog farts! Who wants to read about farting, cat-poop-eating dogs??

Let me get started on a different subject.

A year and a half ago, we started saving money for a trip to Disney World. You may remember this, as I blogged about it We finally made our savings goal and Scott has booked plane tickets for us to go in MARCH 2011! How exciting!! (and stressful!) After booking the tickets, we have been looking at many different options for activities. This is going to be our "trip of a lifetime", and because I know I will probably never get to go again, I want to do it all! HA! To do it all is going to cost WAY MORE than we saved! :( One of the top things on our list is to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is at Universal Studios' Island of Adventures. I know this is pathetic, but I really didn't know all of these different attractions weren't actually "Disney World"! I thought it was all together. I'm learning, in a hurry, that this isn't the case. Disney World contains 4 theme parks, Epcot Center, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Universal Studios is a whole different thing, which means a whole new set of tickets, which means we need a whole lot more moolah! If I had looked at this stuff BEFORE we booked the tickets, I think I would have put it off for awhile so we could save more money. However, I think it could be true that a person never actually has enough. You can find more and more things to do to spend more and more money. It's probably good that we know what our limit is. The bad thing is that it will more than likely be spent BEFORE we even get there, on plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc, etc. However, we are all very excited. We've never taken a real family vacation before. Gage and Emma think Clearfield, Iowa is a vacation destination. We did go to Colorado a couple of years ago, but that didn't really count because it was a business trip of Scott's, that we just tagged along on. That is the closest thing we've had to a real vacation, so we are quite excited about this. Planning a vacation of this magnitude is also very stressful! Thankfully, an old high school friend of mine read my plea for help on FB, and has offered her assistance! I had no idea she was a travel agent! She will most certainly be a lifesaver in this endeavor!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oh, Canada!

Well, it's about time, right? I can't keep putting this off. I need to get into the habit of blogging again. Today is the day to start the habit.

As most of you know, the Stephens' family has moved to Canada! What an adventure this is! I am learning all kinds of new things. I'm learning how to get out of supporting the Canada Post system by figuring out how to pay some bills electronically. I have many bills that I pay online, and have for several years. However, there are some that I have still written checks for and mailed them through the USPS. I was informed at the Canada Post that it is $1 to mail things to the US. WHAT!?!?! You've got to be kidding me! And, it's $0.57 per stamp to mail within Canada. So no more complaining amongst you Americans about the postage going up! Here in Canada we don't even get door-to-door mail delivery service! Because Scott's paycheck is in American dollars, we had to keep our American Bank Center chequing (learning a new way to spell too!) account open as DU is unable to direct deposit his "cheques" into a Canadian account. With our chequing account, we have a free service and can write electronic checks (I'm not going to get used to spelling words the Canada way!) and the bank will mail them to the address that I enter. So far, that is working swell. So, I will contiue to boycott the Canada Post for as long as possible! (Well, at least for mailing bills to the US) I can't completely boycott them, as I do enjoy getting mail. Even though it's much more sparse than usual at this point.

Another thing I am learning, is that they just don't have all of the choices in the grocery stores here, as we had in the states. I am not much of an adventurer, when it comes to the kitchen, so this is going to be hard to get used to. One thing that I cannot seem to find here, so far, are Great Northern Beans. At least not in the can. I've never used raw beans before, but I suppose it's time I figured out how to do that. If we want to continue having white chili, the way we are used to it. They don't have all the bean choices I want for regular chili either. :(

I figured Gage and Emma would be the only ones learning French. Well, I am also learning some french, by default. Everything in the grocery store, with labels, has English and French writing. We'll see how much French I can pick up in this manner.

The weather here isn't much different than what we're used to in North Dakota. We are still seeing lots of snow and bitter cold temps. Although, I can't really tell you what the exact temperature is, because it's recorded in Celsius here. I have finally figured out how to convert Celsius to Farenheit, and discovered how important that is to know when you need to read your thermostat and decide if your furnace has quit working or not! The math to do that; however, is about too much for my little brain. Maybe I'll figure it out. Maybe I won't? Time will tell.

Skype has become my communication of choice. It's free! However, I am going to have to get my hair cut soon, as it's looking pretty awful. Who'd ever think you would have to fix your hair in order to have a conversation with someone long distance!?