back to civilization

I was camping all last week. Yes, folks, that's the reason why your computers stopped smoking. I wasn't around to clog your twitter and facebook streams with my brain farts. Naturally.

I didn't mention beforehand that I was leaving because I didn't want to advertise that my house would be free for the drunks and rummies to rob. (In your face, drunks and rummies!) I also set up two scheduled posts here, as well as one for Canada Moms about my life in Hawai'i to publish the day we left, to reinforce the charade. Yes, I'm clever.
And stealthy.

On Sunday the 16th, we packed our tiny Toyota Tercel to overflowing and left Mittens in the capable hands of Harmzie's Norah to care for -- give food/water to, clean her litter box, and tell her she's a pretty cat. Then we hopped into the car and took off for Spruce Woods.

With my already spectacular view of camping plus the week-long forecast of rain, I was not optimistic about this trip. In fact, I was downright cranky and more than a little bitchy about it. Denied my chance to spend the week not-roughing it at the spa, I decided to make the best of it. It wasn't easy. Seriously, "Suck it up, Nenette" became my mantra.

So how did it turn out? Here are some highlights so you can see for yourself (Don't worry, I've kept the whining to a minimum)...

Day 1: Set up

We arrived at the site in late afternoon. The sky cleared up long enough for us to set up without getting drenched. Roomie put up the tents while I blew up the mattresses. Who knew I had so much hot air in me?!
This year, we went from a 2-person tent to a 6-person tent, meaning we could fit in 2 air mattresses and change clothes there instead of in the bathroom. Luxury. Ooh... Aah...

Day 2: The Great Carberry Blanket Conspiracy

It rained all night. Holy crap, it was like sleeping in a fridge!
See? We were cold! Okay, Roomie is more creepy-looking. But Mini looks cold... and cute.
Anyway, we realized we needed more blankets, so we went to Carberry, a tiny town about a half an hour from the campgrounds.

Would you believe they had no blankets anywhere?!!!
At least that's what they told us.

Okay, granted their "Downtown" was only 4 blocks long, there were no traffic lights anywhere, and there was only 1 gas station in the whole town, but NO BLANKETS?! We asked at every store we went into. Nothing. The townsfolk were all so friendly and kind, but still I couldn't help but suspect some weird blanket conspiracy.
Anyway, we bought a couple of sleeping bags, and we were warm and toasty the rest of the week.

Day 3: Reach the Beach

The sun finally came out, so we threw on our bathing suits and hit the campground beach. A picnic ensued. Afterward, we played a game of mini-golf, then had ice cream. I had fun that day! It was probably the best day of our trip.

Why, Nenette? Are you saying it was all downhill from there?

I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that, later that afternoon, the car hood latch unexpectedly broke. As did one of our lamps.

Day 4: Ray's Diner

Fixed the hood latch then back to Carberry. Well, they not only had no blankets for sale, they also didn't have naphtha lamps. But it was close to noon, and we were all jonesing for fries, so we stayed for lunch at Ray's Diner. Then we bought gas for the car. Oo, exciting. I know.

It was sunny and beautiful until we returned to the campgrounds for Story Time at the Park Center (it's also a nature interpretive center).
Yes, the kid beside Mini in the picture is still wearing her bathing suit. If Mini had a choice, she'd be in her bathing suit too.

Day 5: All Rain, All the Time

It rained all day, off and on. So, we were all stuck in the tent for a good portion of the day. The kids were allowed to bring their DSs for just such an occasion.

It was still cold and wet that night. Lots of rolling thunder. And whenever the rain would pause, the raccoons would invade (even with all the food and garbage packed away in the car).
With it being the middle of the week, we were the only campers in that section of the bay. Every little noise creeped me out. I cuddled closer to Mini for warmth and protection.

Day 6: It was so cold the nubbin broke off.

The forecast for this day was "sunny, 25C". Perfect beach weather. It was actually cloudy and cold. Not beach weather.

The kids spent most of the day playing on the play structure (near the Pine Fort -- home of the hot dog/fries/ice cream), playing in the car, and watching the park interpreters be zombies for Zombiepocalypse.

Back at the site, the streak of bad luck continued. My twitter for this day would've been: "- water jug nubbin broke today. camping vacay officially declared a disaster." (Click pic to enlarge.)

Day 7: Reach the Beach, Take 2

The sun came out today, so we gathered all of our beach crap. See? Here are the kids waiting for Daddy to finish washing the dishes so we could all go to the beach.
By the time we got there, clouds were rolling in and the wind had picked up. Didn't stop my kids though! They were in there, covering themselves in wet sand and running into the chilly water. Weirdos.

We spent our last night roasting marshmallows, popping popcorn, and eating chips. Then we made our way back to the deserted beach at 10:30pm to look at the stars.

Day 8: And NOW the sun comes out. CRAP!

One week without showering is gross. No matter how well you clean the "essential areas" every single day and apply deodorant religiously, you just never feel completely fresh and clean. (NB: Yes, there were showers there, but if you read my CMB post, you'd know how I feel about them.)
But for the last 3 days of the camping trip, my hair never looked better! I had huge thick waves every day. I looked like I set my hair in rollers every night. It was unreal.

Anyway, the sun came out and the temps shot up on our last day. DAMMIT. We packed all morning while all the other campers hit the beach. It was hot! Our traditional last day ice cream really hit the spot. As did the Slurpees and Iced Capps we picked up at Portage La Prairie on the drive home.

Verdict: So, was it all really as bad as I'd anticipated? Hell, no! I enjoyed this trip a lot more than I thought I would.
- The bigger tent, screen tent for bug-free dining, and camp stove made a HUGE difference.
- The lack of internet was actually a relief. The break was what I needed to do some thinking and make some decisions about my future online.
- We ate our meals together and enjoyed our time as a family, free from distractions.

I'm actually looking forward to next year. Cripes, who said that?!


If you're my friend on FB, be sure to check out my photo album for more pictures.

lam & pepper... and ants

One of the presents Lam got for his 7th birthday this year was an ant farm. He got it from his buddy Pepper.

See? This is Pepper and Lam being all weird at the party. They were all sugared up after having had some chocolate/vanilla ice cream cake. I think they enjoyed it.

Now, Lam and Pepper go way back. Back to the womb. At 8 weeks gestation to be precise.
I had just dismissed the hula class I'd been teaching every week to my girlfriends. As we were parting ways in the parking lot, I'd turned to Harmzie, and blurted out on impulse, "I have some news." And to my surprise, she said, "So do I."
And like a couple of souls bound by some weird pregnancy hormone thingy (yes, thingy), we knew exactly what the other was talking about.

Pepper was due on the 29th -- Lam on the 5th. Then they did a bit of a switcheroo with Lam coming early on the 29th, and Pepper coming fashionably late on the 10th.

Since then, they've been great friends and playmates. As evidenced by this picture* at Lam's 1st birthday party. Oh, such cute little babies!

They started nursery school together in the same class, which they totally loved because they'd been friends, since, you know, back in the day. Well, it wasn't before long that they got in trouble and had to be separated for hugging too much. Yeah, I know. Harmzie and I have done a lot of head-shaking, eye-rolling, and "what the hell?!"-ing about this. Even now 3 years later.

Whoa, totally digressing here... So, yeah, Pepper gave Lam an ant farm for his birthday.

All excited, we ordered the ants, and waited for their arrival. Well, half of them died, having gone unnoticed in our mail box on one of the hottest days of the summer. The other half seemed kinda weird and loagy.

For almost a week, they just stood there on the green gel, the carcases of their dead ant friends all over the place. I was thinking these were the strangest ants ever. Weren't they supposed to be busy all the time? I know bees are, but ants too, right?

Were they all frozen in confusion because they didn't have a Queen to order them about? Did these ants just smoke a doobie and were waiting for the earth to "just stop moving so fast!!!"? Or were they telepathically hatching a plot to take over the world? I don't know.

One day, we woke up, and they'd moved all of their dead to a pile at the back of the farm and covered the mound with the stuff they dug out of the tunnels. Or should I say "tunnel". Singular. They built one long tunnel up against the glass. It actually seemed kind of pointless.
Unless they were doing it do distract us while they executed their plan for world domination. "Here, foolish humans, watch as we dig." Then -- BAM! -- we're bowing to our new ant overlords.

Anyway, it's been a month now, and there's still only one tunnel. And the burial mound is looking kinda mouldy. Still, it's interesting to see them wandering around in there. I'm just wondering if we would've gotten better results if we'd not killed half of the ants...

... or just caught some from our garden.

* - Totally staged shot! No minors were given any alcohol, and no adults were drunk at this party. The children were well and properly cared for, and were fed yummy barbeque, cake, and lots of pansit noodles. They really liked the noodles.

blizzards in summer.

Nen's Hot Ass - 0
Children's Miracle Network - 1

Okay, it was actually more than 1. MUCH more than 1. And no, it wasn't just my hot ass.

You see, yesterday, August 13, was DQ's Miracle Treat Day. For every Blizzard Treat purchased that day, one dollar ($1) or more would be donated to our local Children's Miracle Network Hospital.

And lots of people did their part and put their asses on the line for The Kids.
Really. When we got there at 8pm, there was still a steady stream of folks going in and out. The fast-moving line-up snaked for about 5 metres outside of the shop. The fact that it was still hot and humid at sunset certainly helped.

As you can see, we were there, doing our part: Lam with his Oreo/Chocolate-Xtreme Blizzard, Mini with her Smarties Blizzard, camera dude Roomie with his Smarties/Chocolate-Xtreme Blizzard, and a Skor one for me. All sweet, all sticky.

These totally hit the spot for us. Our kids loved their treat on a non-Treat Day. And we all felt tres good about ourselves for our good deed of the day.

Yes, even my ass.

the great invasion of summer 2009: week 3.

And now for the final week...

July 28 - Tweet Up at Naru

It all started with a tweet by our very own local (and universal!) princess.

A tweet about sushi! How could I not respond?!

So, I did. Then there was this rapid exchange of sushi-centric tweets, and after all the dust settled, I found myself at Naru with Princess, ywgdana, missquicksilver, kylaroma, and my ever-present, online partner-in-crime, Harmzie. And it was a blast!

Princess did a fabulous recap post of the events leading up to and including the super-fun sushi event, so, instead of writing my own, I invite you to check hers out.

Two things I will mention though...

1) Winnipeg Blog/Tweet Up - Princess is planning one! So, if you live in or plan to be in the area in the near future and are interested in coming to the event, go to her post I linked to and let Princess know! I hope to be there -- it would be cool to meet you!

2) New Freebie Posts - Remember my Freebie Five post?! I know! Of course, you remember it! Well, we came up with some other fun variations on the theme of "Who would you do?". Princess wrote them all in her notebook, and gave us all our posting assignments. Stay tuned for these posts in the near future!

It was great meeting you all! I look forward to seeing you all again IRL! :)

July 30 - Renewing Friendships over Brunch

We grew up together like sisters. And thanks to her, I know way more about hockey than my husband, am a Grease 2 addict, and know the lyrics to every single song on Barry Manilow's 1981 album If I Should Love Again.
Sing *that* in the cargo area of a station wagon on a long drive from Canada to LA, and tell me it's not fun!!!

Edallie and I are now wives and moms, and even after not seeing each other for almost 16 years, it's like no time had passed.

On this short stay (where she mainly spent time with her Gramma), we managed to squeeze in a quick family brunch at Salisbury House and did some catching up, while our kids ran around terrorizing the other restaurant patrons. Ah, good times. :)

We look forward to seeing them again soon.

Thanks for the great visit, guys! We love you lots! ... And next time, it'll be on US!

July 31 - Rain can't screw up a day with Dear Friends

The call with our dear friends Norman & Su went something like this...

Them: "Hey, guys, we'd like to meet with you on the 31."

Us: "Yay! How long can we have you?"

Them: "We're free all day."

Us: "Oh, we can have you all day?! Awesome. What would you like to do?"

Them: "Um. Well. To continue the metaphor, we're easy." And of course, laughter ensued on both ends of the line.

Thus is the nature of our friendship with these awesome people. We've been through hell together -- all 4 of us -- having worked as engineers in Nortel BWA's software department here in town. They are now in Ottawa, and we still miss them a whole lot.

It rained cats and dogs outside, so our options were few -- the zoo, the playgrounds, and a stroll around The Forks were out of the question.
Our day ended up being very relaxed and low-key. We started with lunch at Boston Pizza. Su and I then left the boys and kids at the house to enjoy a few hours of treats and girl talk at Baked Expectations. On the way back, we picked up a couple of tasty roast chickens, and concluded with a relaxing dinner at home.

Thank you so much for spending the day with us! It meant so much to us. We hope to see you again soon.

what I would've tweeted today.

... if Twitter hadn't gotten hacked. Instead, I blah-blah-blah-ed this on Facebook instead. Which wasn't all that great because it suddenly got bogged down with everyone who would normally have been on Twitter.

In true Twitter fashion, the "tweets" are in newest to oldest fashion...

- twitter hates me... it really hates me... with a passion that echos through the ages...

@jmsacman - FoodTV is dangerous, isn't it? I saw him do a BBQ throwdown, and I almost sent hubby out to get us some!

- still at home... no zoo yet... it closes at 5:30... do we still have time? 3 hrs? yeah, why not...

- heading to the zoo today!

@zandralejandria- I'll give you a call at 9:00pm-ish my time.

- my kids are thinking of making a yahoo account for the cat.

- first twitter, now facebook is acting up too... it's a conspiracy I say!

the great invasion of summer 2009: week 2.

After a short rest over the weekend, we had more much-anticipated get-togethers...

July 22 - Hanging with the O's

Our friends the O's -- Zeus, Lor, and their little girls -- drove into town all the way from the west coast. Like our other visitors, they were here to see family, but we were so thrilled that they also made time to meet up with us!

We went to Sushi Ya, because they're quite family friendly. After a bit of a sushi mix-up (where I ended up with Zeus' sashimi), we finished our delicious meals and headed back to Casa AM. The kids bonded over toys and video games, and the boys chatted about stuff... probably freewill and determinism, as usual.

Being the clever girls we are, Lor and I took that opportunity to skip over to Baked Expectations for coffee and treats. Tee hee.

Seriously though, Lor and I were talking, laughing, and lamenting about our family woes as if no time had passed. It's those kinds of friendships that mean the most and last forever.

Thanks for hanging out with us, guys! We love you all. :)

July 24 (Lunch) - Bon Voyage to RC

When I found out my old -- and not at all sentimental -- friend RC was moving to Ottawa, I immediately arranged to have lunch with him.

RC's an old friend from university, and over the years, what started as an embarassing crush has evolved into a very dear friendship. As in me crushing on him. It was all very embarassing, and in retrospect, quite humourous.

Anyway, over sushi at Naru, we talked about his new job in ON, his sister -- my friend Rosanna -- who already lives in Ottawa with her husband and sons, and, well, bacon-weaves. I know! Of all things, eh? He asked me if I was vegetarian. I said I tried but my darling Roomie proved that my bid for meatlessness was futile after he made a bacon-weave. Damn you, bacon! You gateway meat you!!!

I then told him about the bacon-weave on ham that I made at Easter. Remember that? I told him it was an orgasm on a roaster. I'm not sure he believed me. Oh, RC, yee of little faith in bacon!

Best of luck, my friend! Keep in touch, and see on my next trip to Ottawa.

July 24 (Dinner) - Sushi Sans Larry

The 3rd Saturday of the month came and went, and no word from Larry. Jerk.

Seizing the opportunity to sushi with our soon-to-pop Myrtle before she popped, our buddy LRM took the bull by the horns, and in a swift "in your face, Larry!" move, arranged a sushi night for us all on the 4th Friday of the month.
See? There on the right is Myrtle, her belly camouflaged by table, sushi and green tea carafe. She's a super gorgeous mama -- Can't wait till we meet Baby #2. :)

The 7 of us -- including CB's baby EM -- enjoyed the ambiance of Wasabi Sabi, and the 6 of us -- not including CB's baby EM -- enjoyed the yummy sushi served therein. I had a sunomono salad, a volcano roll, and an e.carriere roll.

We all filled up rather quickly.
This is Harmzie -- with her sexy voice (she was sick) -- at her turning point. Should she go on force the last little pieces into her already full belly? Or should she stop? It's just a few pieces. OMG!!! WHAT SHOULD SHE DO?!!!

I think she had it wrapped up for home. Smart girl. Although I think LRM accused her of wimping out.
Yes, we're a loving bunch of friends. :)

Anyway, looking forward to sushi with 2 babies at the table with us! :)

Okay, thus ends the recap of Week 2. Stay tuned for the final installment of the Great Invasion...

the great invasion of summer 2009: week 1...

I'm sick. Again.
Not only do I feel like crap, I also know I'll move even further and further away from my dreams of bikini-hood.
Oh, you don't know? When I get sick, I eat. It's all really gross and horrendous. Truly.

Well, at least, my illness had the good sense and courtesy to hit AFTER we met up with family and friends. Although I think the busy month of constant dining out, plus the heavy Canadian Prairie Monsoons of 2009, may have pushed me a little faster into the sick bed.

Anyway, yeah, lots of friends and family. Luckily, they came one after the other, because I don't know what I'd do if we had to entertain them one on top of the other.

Or maybe I would... Heh, heh, heh.

Ahem. Anyway...

July 13 - Roomie's Sis and BIL

Roomie's sister and brother in law are a lovely couple, who came into town via train and ate falafels with us. Before they left, we enjoyed a big beautiful family BBQ at their brother Les' home.

This is Mini pressing her face into the screen at Les' deck during the BBQ. I'm not entirely sure why she's doing that. She might be just trying stuff. I don't know.

July 15 - The Dutch Descend

Okay, they're really more Canadian than Dutch, but because they live in The Netherlands, I'm sticking to my title. Yo! Anyway, our dear old friends from Engineering/Martini Nights/and so much more -- Casey, Kate, and their little ones -- came to town for a visit.

They, along with Harmzie and her brood (sans Max) and us, of course, gathered at our friends Mark & Sly's house, and it was like old times. While all our kids screamed and laughed, we adults "wined" and laughed. It was awesome.

I'd put a picture here of us, but I can't find one. I don't think we took any pictures... or maybe we were too drunk to do it.

July 16 - Cyndi and Mini-C

This was fun and sweet and lovely. If you didn't get a chance to read about this event, just go here.

July 18 - Zandra and the Wedding of the Year

The new Mr. & Mrs. Flores sure know how to throw a party! Reach back into the past to read about the drunken debauchery.

Okay, that's it for Week 1. Relatively tame. Stay tuned for Week 2 and the crazy sushi fest therein!