Halloween leftovers

Halloween leftovers, originally uploaded by neeroc1.

I've been borrowing Stella's 50mm/f1.8 lens for the past little while and I'm completely in love! Or maybe it's lust. But in either case I must have one of these as soon as possible. The big question for me now is do I go with the Sony or spend a couple or 300 more on the Sigma? The Sigma appears to be so very lovely, but I have no way of trying it before I buy which makes me a bit nervous....Anyway, here is one of the last pictures I took with it, my neighbours really should have started their Halloween display weeks before Halloween, this is so much better than a tidy pumpkin-man!


(no subject)

Our Halloweekend started off on Friday, V's daycare had a dress-up party so she headed out in costume #1. Yes, I am evil and sent my mud-playing, food-smearing child to school in a fluffy white costume:

Halloween Angel
First crap picture due to early morning shot and me forgetting that I'd set my camera up for super low light at the Wiggles. Grrr grainy.

I've come up with a sure-fire way to make a weekend seem extra long - start off with a run! Seriously, woke up Saturday morning, walked the dog, then headed out for a run. Got back and while it seemed like the day was half over, it was still o'cracken early. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with V and in the late afternoon we decided to make some cupcakes. Making cupcakes with an almost three year old is just as easy as it sounds...and almost as easy as getting her to pose for a picture:
Lil Cook


After spilled milk, batter-filled beaters being turned on (thank goodness she was wearing an apron!) and food colouring combining, we finally had 12 hand-dyed (I know. INSANE.) and 10 plain white (yep, an ice age would have happened faster) cupcakes in the oven. There was no way I could deal with icing those suckers too so they waited until the morning.


Sunday morning involved decorating:

Bling Ghost

Crying about the snow (me crying, not V. V was fascinated). Seeing as how we got ski passes as a family this year, I should be more thrilled by the snow, but I'm really, really not at all:
DSC04294 (not sure what he's so happy about!)

And sprinkles! Now sprinkles are something I can get behind:

Sprinkle monster


We then headed out for brunch with Stella and family at Merlot (the revolving restaurant at the top of the Mariott.) It is closing this month, to be reincarnated as conference space, so we wanted a last peek at the view:

I think they're open until the 14th and if you can swing it, I'd suggest you go. The brunch was fantastic and the staff were awesome with the kids. Three kids under the age of 4 and they were calling us the 'fun table' (and feeding them icecream *g*)

After a couple more family visits and a nap V hopped in her suit and hit the streets to beg for candy. Turns out her desire for free sweets well overrode her paralyzing shyness and she managed to grab quite a haul (booty if you will arrr). The excitement of meeting the peeps, stuffing as much candy as possible in her face and risking hypothermia (and the general nature of an almost three year old) meant she had absolutely no interest in posing for pictures. This is the best I could do:

Arrrrgggg. Pirate.
Arrrgggg. Pirate.

Oh! The other part of making a weekend seem long? Load up a bunch of activities Sunday afternoon and night. This pirate mommy was so exhausted she fell asleep on the floor beside her little swashbuckler, still in pirate costume. And hubby passed up the chance for blackmail pics, but it probably looked something like this:

Goodbye sweet Sasha-bear

I started writing the attached post in June. As a former foster and current adopter, I had been asked to write a piece for The Howler, the newsletter of the Alaskan Malamute HELP League. We knew at the time that Sasha's health was deteriorating and I feared publishing it, as it seemed disingenuous to write about Sasha as if all was fine.

Things continued to be 'fine' with Sasha until yesterday. As she got a bit older she was a bit slower, a bit more unsteady on her feet, but she was not in pain, and in no visible distress. The past few weeks I'd taken to carrying her down the stairs in the morning, the combination of her weak backend as well as her poor eyesight was too much for her to handle first thing in the morning and we need to navigate stairs to get to either door for a walk.

Nothing marked yesterday different from any other day. Sasha had a wonderful walk last night, then we left her and her 'brother' Chet while we did some running around. We were back two hours later and found her unable to support herself. She no longer had the use of either her front or back legs. She was able to move them but they were not strong enough to support her. We were concerned that perhaps she had fallen and tired herself out trying to get back up, so we placed her back on her bed and gave her food and water and lots of pampering. She continued to struggle through the night, and her breathing was laboured so early this morning we said our good-byes and my sweet, sweet dog passed away at the  Ottawa Animal Hospital.

Good bye sweet Sasha-bear. We only hope we brought you half as much joy in these last three and a half years as you brought us.


Sasha came into our lives on March 31, 2007:

Her arrival on our kitchen floor was the well orchestrated plan of our friends Duffy and Adrian, who felt that our lonely dog Chet:

(whom we found on the side of our cottage road in 2003) needed a buddy.

She was perfect for us. An older (read 'calmer') dog, good with other dogs, great with cats (although our Siamese might have debated that being licked by a Malamute does not constitute 'great') and she had no issues with children. This last point was to become very important to us as we found out we were pregnant 2 days after her arrival.

She came to us as a foster dog. We were dipping our toes into the pool of two dog ownership and helping out a great cause at the same time. I had sworn to my husband that caring for two dogs was no more trouble than one and now was the chance to prove it. She was coming from another foster home, and had been moved several times before that. We didn't know much about her, other than that she was around 8 and had lived with her brother. We do not know if her brother was abandoned as well, nor why she was turned over to the Kingston Humane Society.

We knew upon meeting her that she had some health issues. Several vet trips determined that she had nuclear sclerosis, and it was believed to be congenital. Her eyes were cloudy but her vision was minimally impaired and it was not progressing. She also had a weakened hind end. She appeared to have stiffness in her knees and was on a glucosamine supplement.

Neither of these issues stopped her from being a huge-hearted cuddle-muffin. Even with her bad legs she managed to find her way on to our bed every chance she could get. She was a great snuggler and only asked for belly rubs in return. After the first month of our fostering her we received a call asking us if we would like to adopt Sasha permanently. My husband took the call, and I swear Sasha knew what it was about. The entire time he was on the phone she turned on the charm, rubbing up against him and flipping over begging for belly rubs. And it paid off. Sasha soon became a permanent member of our family and a welcome addition.

She  was a sweet, gentle animal, moving through life as a graceful senior. But every now and then, usually when the weather turned a bit cooler she'd get the wind in her sails, and then look out, she was off! She loved to romp in our back yard, doing a circuit from one side to the other, sometimes chasing one of us, sometimes chasing her Chet, and sometimes chasing that imaginary bunny she just knew she was going to catch one day.

One of the most often asked questions we've received is how we felt about having a baby (and then a toddler) with our two huge (to most) dogs. They are both sweethearts with her. Sasha is my daughter's favorite pet, her 'Sasha-bear'. My daughter spent much of her early life having the top of her head sniffed by Sasha and repaid it with hugs and cuddles when she could. V often helped us walk both pups:

V walking her puppies

and they in return faithfully cleaned the kitchen floor after the baby attempted to feed herself.

An older dog, Sasha loved to head out to the back yard and hang out in the foliage. We often went on Sasha safaris, trying to find her latest hiding spot. Sadly, she had a terrible fear of thunderstorms, which caused her to pace around in circles until they have well past. Being up all night comforting her (and letting her out - why do you want to go where the booming is Sasha?) prepared me for all-night parenting like nothing else could have!

Within the past year we discovered that she was suffering from degenerative neuropathy as well. She was no longer able to walk the distances she once did, or keep up the same pace. We were very careful of her back nails as she was dragging her feet with each step. There was no treatment for her condition, but we were certain she was not in pain so we were determined that she would enjoy life for as long as she could and I think we succeeded:


The Good'ol days

While destroying evidence cleaning out my email at work today (yes, I kept EVERYTHING) I came across a bunch of ancient emails that made me smile and sadly nostalgic at the same time. I'm not sure if this post is about the good'ol times or the people I know. Or maybe the people I know are what made the 'ol times so which case I have to ask them who gave them permission to slack.

We used to work for a tiny company. The tiny company was acquired by a mega-huge company and we tried for as long as we could to pretend things hadn't changed. But things have changed. We've gone from a local office of about 100 people in one building to 5 sites in this city, with ~1200 employees...just here. The entire population of our company is larger than many small cities. But I still have these gems to remind me what it used to be like (and fill me with family pride, Stella is my sister):

>From: Stella
>To: Employees (Secure)
>Subject: Dinner at Mexis for Car and Lala???
>Date: Thursday, August 15, 1996 2:47PM
>Since Car will be leaving for Ral soon, and Lala is going away to school, we'd like to take them out for a farewell dinner.  If you'd like to join us, please ack by next thursday, so I can make reservations.

Date -  Friday Aug 23
Time - 6:30
Place - Mexi's at Dow's



>>From: Stella
>>Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 1996 6:27 PM
>>To: Employees (Secure)
>>Subject: REMINDER -  Dinner at Mexis for Car and Lala???

>>If you haven't acked, and will be going please let me know.



>From: Brainy
>To: Stella
>Subject: RE: REMINDER -  Dinner at Mexis for Car and Lala???
>Date: Thursday, August 22, 1996 9:57AM

>>OK, put me down.


From: Stella
To: Brainy
Cc: Neeroc ; Lala
Subject: RE: REMINDER -  Dinner at Mexis for Car and Lala???
Date: Thursday, August 22, 1996 10:09AM

ok - you're a lousy, sleazy, bottom of the barrel, elvis following, fart-monger!


(no subject)

The Sens may not be winning on the ice these days, but they are winning in my daughter's heart.  I have discovered that if there's one thing the Sens organization does well, it's that they treat their junior fans like gold. At SensFest we signed V up as a Sparty's Kids Club All-Star member. For $20 V received her membership card, a cool lunchbox, a shirt and cup...which I thought was a great deal itself.

A couple of weeks ago we received an invite to Sparty's party at Saunder's Farm in Munster.  Not only did V get in for free, 2 parents could go for the price of one! We took our free pumpkin coupon (from the Kids Club kit) with us, stopped for some fortification at Timmies and off we went.

V chatted the whole way there about the birthday party and was very happy to see the Sens booth set up when we arrived. She was even excited about the cardboard cutout Sparty. We soon learned that the real Sparty would be stopping by at noon, and headed into the park for some fun.

V spied some climbing structures and headed for them immediately. We then found our way to the pumpkin patch wagon ride and hopped on. Then off in the patch, where we tried to get some cool fall shots with the pumpkins. Unfortunately, V was chasing the pumpkins rather enthusiastically and tripped on a vine. Luckily her nose stopped the rest of her face from smashing into a pumpkin, but her first nose bleed sort of put a damper on her excitement. We finally found a great pumpkin to bring home and carve, and we hopped back on the next tractor that came by.

When we returned from the field we ran right into Sparty (as well as our friend Deb who was there with her own little one). V was so excited to get a card signed by him, and while she might have been super shy when she was right beside him, she danced a little jig for the next 10 minutes.

Lunch was up next, and that included some Sparty birthday cake! Finally it was time to head home. V made a brief dash over to the big mazes, but quickly realized just how chilly she was so we headed for the heat of the van. (Yes, hubby cranked it, yes she fell asleep immediately).

We didn't cover a great portion of the park and there were lots of activities for older children as well. But our tired little girl had a wonderful day thanks to Sparty and Saunder's Farm. I'm sure it will be a summer destination next year, V loves mazes and it looks like they have some great ones.


Chilly playground

Playground 1, originally uploaded by neeroc1.

Took V to the park on Monday and it was a sad, sad turnout. You can tell that winter's creeping closer - holiday time and not another child at the park. Grab one of those handles and you figure it out pretty quick. Brr.

The turn of weather means I have no more excuses left to put off training to run a 10k. I don't know what foolish things I was thinking or how I concluded this would be a good idea, but I've recruited a victim/running partner, downloaded the C210K app and there's no turning back now! 13 weeks to full-on insanity.



Turkey and family were the themes for today...with a healthy dose of cleaning and cooking thrown in. I took part in a photo challenge to take a picture every hour for 10 hours because it was 10-10 today (and you know, I had nothing else going on). Here are 13 of those pics, I actually made it to 12, the wheels fell off at #13 which was 15 minutes late, but I blame the tryptophan: