GIMME GIMME GIMME

6,30 am: I just dropped off our teenage son for a(nother) fun day out snowboarding in Whistler – as part of the BC school curriculum.

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7.10 am: Our youngest son got up crumpy because we didn’t wake him up earlier, i.e. deprived him of some serious pre-school gaming activity on the x-box (yes, we let him, it’s the last week of school before the holiday). Furthermore, he is pissy because we told him our Secret Santa is only allowed to spend $ 10.00 on a present. His comment: “You can’t buy anything good for $ 10.00!”

7.30 am: Our middle son shuffled in from up his man-den. After a thorough inspection of our cabinet (filled with pop tarts, bread, peanut butter, syrup. oats and honey), our breakfast shelf in the pantry (cereal boxes of all shapes, sizes and colours, nuts, granola), the fruit bowl and the freezer (waffles, ice-cream, fries, garlic shrimps) he shrugged and complained: “We never have anything good to eat.”

8.20 am: I time our school run so I can listen to the ‘sleeze “on Virgin Radio – my daily dose of gossip,Today, the breakfast team skipped my beloved feature. Instead, I listened to a heartfelt story of goodwill here in the Vancouver area. The radio team was on location to bring Christmas Cheers to a family in need. In their case it was a single father with four children. According to the report this family didn’t have enough food items in the house to feed a mouse, they don’t have proper beds or bedding, no propper winter jackets or extravagent toys – i.e. electronic devices for entertainment. With the help of money and food donations of a major super market, a furniture institution and volunteers Virgin Radio was ready to offer this family a Christmas to remember.

At this point it hit me: We live in British Columbia, named after the Goddess of Wealth. BC, the Canadian province of wealth (timber, water and minerals)! This province offers one of the most varied landscapes in the world, consequently, the outdoor opportunities for sport, fun and recreation are as varied and fantastic as nowhere else in the world. (Pleasde correct me if I am wrong)!

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It is the province of plenty – plenty for some, but not all. To live in this extra-ordinary part of the world doesn’t mean its residents live the wealthy lifestyle.

Awareness for the less fortunate is all around us. Newspapers and schools are bringing us up-to-date on how to bring relief for somebody in need. I am baffled by the extra-ordinary efforts institutions, stores, sport clubs and individuals are taking to collect toys or food. We are talking strip-athons, bra auctions, free train rides, tossing teddy bears on the ice after the first goal is scored at a major hockey game, fundraisers or good old money donations.

Yes, love and awareness is all around us and we are doing our best to let it show. Mysteriously, our emergency dinner supply – canned soups and pasta- disappears on a regular basis only to be found back as a donation for the Foodbank!

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Our children may not be aware-ye t- of their fortunate situation in life, but it starts with awareness and hopefully will end with appreciation!

12.45 pm: Back at school to help selling raffle tickets before our Christmas concert. We were selling tickets to help our school to purchase playground equipment; we were selling cookies to help ‘Bring Water to Kenya’.

We were ready to sell, our parents were ready to buy. We sold the lot! It was fantastic!

This is the real wealth of British Columbia: The willingness of many to create a difference in the lives of others either here or around the world.

 

 

 

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STAYING DEBT- FREE during CHRISTMAS TIME

Is this the impossible task or a mindset?

My legs were begging me “come on, let’s move”and my head told me “I need to think about something”. Therefore, I went for a run!

It was pouring down with rain, but the small gesture of tying my shoelaces only reconfirms the old saying:  Mind over Matter;  if we really want to do something we will do it -regardless of the circumstance(s)..

Yesterday was Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving. Two days ago my new neighbours across the border praised the Lord; Americans were thankful for what they have and were counting their blessings.

Yesterday, Canadians and Americans alike were counting their blessings for the opportunity to purchase consumer items tax free.Yesterday, we were grateful for the invention of credit cards and we praised our banks for their willingness to lend us money.

It is a crazy world we live in: We purchase in the name of ‘keeping up appearances’, in order to keep our children happy, to look good in front of our neighbours… or for whatever reason we decide to open our wallets for.

The real Christmas frenzy hasn’t started yet, but Black Friday is a good indicator of what to expect. Tempted by too many Special Deals and Big Savings for items we don’t really need we spend and spend. The sad, but true fact about money is, you can only spend it once! Therefore we should ‘hand it over’  wisely. Apparently not so. It is much easier to spend invisible money  (i.e. put it on credit) than real bills and coins because we can’t see and feel them.i.e. it is so easy to lose track of expenditures!

As a citizen of the modern world I own both, a credit- and a charge card. And truth to be told, I love them both! But, before I put them to good use I always think of my father. His philosophy on credit cards is:”Only charge what you can afford to pay back straight away. If you can’t buy it now, save up for it!”

I like this particular pearl of wisdom from him and live accordingly. The banks don’t like me much, but my frugal spending habits have served me and our family well so far.

BUY within your budget. Honestly, how hard is that? Such a simple formula, but so hard to live with!?

Everyday we are listening to radio and TV reports of how much the average US and Canadian citizen spend during the most wondewrful time of the year! There is more spending frenzy between now and Dec. 31 than at any other time of the year and the individual debt is pilling up.

Dominic came home the other day and gave me a big, fat kiss! The kiss was one of relief and happiness. He just listened to another disturbing report on the radio about the hardships individuals are facing when they can’t pay off their Christmas debts by next March or April.”I am so happy you don’t behave like the rest of this continent”, refering to my conservative, old-fashioned budgeting.

I liked this spontanuous and small gesture from my husband. And yes, during Black Friday I joined the madness. But, I knew my limit and stayed within it.

Ïf running in the pouring rain is a mindset, so should be  debt-free shopping. Both take discipline and a certain mindset – and this in today’s world seems extra-ordinary. Don’t you agree?

WHEN IN SEATTLE, EAT!

Here is my account of our road trip to Seattle. On our quest to take the children places, to widen their horizon and to appreciate city life, we discovered that it is the simple thing that kept our boys happy!

Here we go again: During the recent long weekend we took the opportunity to spice up our‘daily life’ and took our boys across the border to visit Seattle.  We like to describe ourselves as ‘cosmopolitan parents’: “It is our duty to take them places and to let them explore other cultures ( I am not sure if Seattle qualifies)”

If it wouldn’t be for the border control, Seattle is only a hop and skip away from Vancouver (i.e. a two hour car ride).

Seattle, the birthplace of our modern, coffee drinking civilization (i.e. Starbucks)!

The first ever Starbucks store!

The first ever store!

Seattle, the home of one of the richest man in the world. The man, who made sure computers are a household item (Microsoft)!

Thanks to the invention of TV shows (in this case I – Carly), our boys were familiar with the city and the Space Needle way before we arrived.

During this recent trip we took the Sumas border-crossing, followed by a beautiful ride through winding, picturesque countryside through rural Washington State. I always ‘make sure’ that our children appreciate the beautiful surroundings they find themselves in. During this trip it somewhat back fired on me: “You always tell us to look at mountains, they all look the same.” Or a better one is: “Everything is beautiful here!”

Can I blame them? Not really. We moved to B.C., one of the greenest, most beautiful places on earth.                                                                                                                                                                               For 15 years now we are in the parent business and we discovered it is much easier to go with the flow and the ever changing times than to bang our head against the wall – wishing the ‘good old times back’. Gone are the days when our –now- teenager was happy to draw for hours, play with his Lego blogs or stare out of the window to count cows during a car trip. Nowadays it is the screen in front of them instead of the screen ahead of them which holds their attention. It is the 21th Century and hand held devices rule when it comes to entertaining children during a car trip!

We arrived, fought for a parking spot and started our adventure!

First stop: Pike Market at the Waterfront

A very crowded Saturday

It is Saturday and very crowded. We are six, only two of us have a mobile phone and we are all wearing dark jackets – in case of separation we will have a hard time relocation each other again! Needless to say, I love all this hassle and buzzing around me –  our boys couldn’t care less. 

If fish throwing, singing fish mongers can’t hold their attention, what can? And guess what? They didn’t appreciate some of the advertising either!

The simple solution to a complex dilemma?   An authentic Gyros Food stall:  Give the children food and they will be happy and contend!

Second stop: Space Needle

It is a 41 second elevator ride to the top of the Space Needle. Once at the top you are rewarded with a 360 – degree panoramic view. This trip alone set us back $120.00! I personally have no problem spending all day at the top to make sure I get enough ‘views for my money’. Unlike our boy. Money doesn’t mean anything to them. If this isn’t bad enough, five minutes upon arrival and a sprint around the platform we heard the first:”Can we go now?” Followed by a: “Are we done yet?”

Parents can only take so much nagging, so we followed our credo: Go with the flow and give the children what they really want: Food. This time we landed in the massive Food Hall next to the Children’s Museum:  It was MOD Pizza for four of us, Subway for our oldest and Big Food (aka a hot pork sandwich) for Dominic.

Third stop:

With a tummy full of food it is easy to enjoy The International Fountain. The fountain spouts  water to the backdrop of classical music and finishes with a grand finale.  It is simply put, Spectacular!

Fourth stop:

As young as our children are, the already know the universal truth: Goods in the USA are cheaper than in Canada and the choice you have here is much bigger! Therefore, it was enough sightseeing for the day and we headed for the next shopping mall and outlet stores! Let me rephrase this: A nirvana found for parents and kids alike. During the next few hours all we heard was the happy chatting of four happy boys comparing the newest Halo games while trying on Nike shirts or searching for the perfect winter sweat-shirt.

It doesn’t need to be complicated, educational or eye-opening: When it comes to children and being an extra-ordinary parent, we keep it simple: we offer them what they want! Food and outlet stores! Quite simple, really!

LOVE IS IN THE AIR

It is official: Our teenage son has a girl-friend! After weeks of speculation, casual remarks about her, several visits to her house and late night text-messaging I finally – officially – met Mystery Girl!

Good Lord, our son has taste! (He probably got that from his father…) She is gorgeous! Everything about her is long: her overall size, her hair and her legs! If this isn’t enough, she seems to be very nice, polite, fun, well brought up and well mannered! It seems to be too good to be true, but pretty and nice can go hand in hand together.

Here I am, home alone with our teenage son and his girl-friend. They went up to his room – and from then onwards, silence! What are they doing? Actually, I leave this to your imagination and mine! I did what (hopefully) every mother would have done: I avoided the upstairs – in fear of being accused to spy on them! Instead of sorting through our laundry upstairs I decided to spent a delightful afternoon on YouTube, searching for the songs which would bring back vivid memories of my first kiss, slow dance and the other innocent, but still slightly naughty things I did when I was a teenager!

What was I worried about? A stolen kiss? Or that little bit more? I don’t really know!  Our teenager is fully aware of the story with the bee and the flower (i.e. reproduction). He spent his first ten years in the Dutch school system. A system were they don’t shy away from graphic illustrations when it comes to sex education and STD.  This country has the lowest pregnancy rate among teenagers in all of Europe! Need I say more?  Honestly, I am pretty sure our son knows more about any of the dating do and don’ts than I ever knew. So if it’s not the S.. I was worried about what was it?

From now on I am the mother of a teenager who has a girl-friend! This is a new step into unknown territory for me!   Am I the only one or do you agree when I say, as a parent you have constantly new territories to conquer? On the other hand, this new job-description is another opportunity to shine as an “extra-ordinary” mother (e.g. don’t spy on them).

Finally, after I relived all my first time adventures, the laundry couldn’t wait any longer.  Hesitantly I went upstairs only to realize the couple wasn’t around after all!  At that moment I figured I had to avoid our den. But, I am only human and a woman and my curiosity got the better of me. I went downstairs.

I was prepared for hot flushes and embarrassed looks! But all I could hear was rapid gun fire (good decoy) and laughter. Here they are, in front of our TV screen:  The gorgeous girl-friend was kicking my son’s ass on the Xbox!

So much for my vivid imagination! When I was a teenager we didn’t have electronic devices! We had to entertain ourselves with different objects of desire…

NO SEX IN THE SUBURBS

Written by  Miss Kitty, Suburbanville, BC, Canada

Here she is, my first guest contributor: Miss Kitty!

She is a self proclaimed expert in the field of cosmetics and beauty products! This is something I don’t know much about and therefore her assignment was simple: What are the hottest items on the market for both men and women at the moment?

But as you can read, Kitty had something else on her mind!

Happy reading!

Loss of libido is a common thing that happens to many women in long-term relationships.  Forty three percent of us have experienced this at some point in our lives. As you’re reading this right now, I’m willing to bet that the majority of you would prefer a nice glass of wine and a hot bath to a romp in the sack most nights.

Better than sex?

The question is: Why does this happen? I know that when I was in my twenties, (With far less of a hectic lifestyle) I couldn’t wait to play a game of “hide the sausage”. My sex drive was turbo charged. I thought about sex more often and was insatiable in my partner’s opinion. In fact in all of my relationships before I met my husband were like that.

So in spite of thinking that I know what has turned me off sex, why are so many other women in the same position?

Children, pre-imenopause, medication, and stress can transgress into a loss of libido while emotions are usually the culprit for younger women. When I was younger with my first real lover, he messed around with some bimbo in our parking lot. I was so angry and hurt that things were never quite the same after that. I kept analyzing all of the things about him that turned me off.

Moving forward ten years, my libido went into a complete funk after my son was born. I poured all of my emotion and affection onto him as I grew up in a very non- demonstrative family. Five years later when my daughter was born it became even worse, the thought of sex just seemed way too much of an effort and time consuming. Days were long and hectic with a full time job and having two young children. When I got home, I just wanted to relax and not have to think about pleasing another person.

When the physical side starts to fizzle in many relationships, the person who is wanting more activity in the bedroom, usually then will start lashing out, possibly having affairs, or think about leaving the relationship. Many of our couple friends in the last year split, a few had affairs, and some acquaintances even started swinging!

Not that I’m into that kind of thing, but I can only imagine that if I tried it, I’d end up with a balding guy with a ponytail and bad breath! Nope, not my bag, but it seems to work for some people! Honestly though I don’t really know the answer. Because so many women that I know in long term relationships feel the same way, I wonder if  mojo just fizzles out after seven years or so. The famous seven year itch…

Some women have had success with hormone therapy and have lit the sheets on fire once again, but am I on to something when I say that human beings just aren’t meant to be monogamous?

Signing off, Miss Kitty!

Hello again, this is Christina writing!  With this note I like to say a big “Thank You” to Kitty for sharing her ‘dilema’with us! Here is my thought: Isn’t it sad that sex in a long term relationship is the (extra-ordinary)  exception and not the norm?  Having sex should be like ageing: The older we get the better we become!? Just a thought…

TOO MUCH TIME

 RANDOM & (EXTRA-) ORDIONARY THOUGHTS during a bus ride

From Coquitlam to Burnaby

                                                                                                                                                       To fully appreciate Justin Bieber you need to be a teenage girl! Our male dominated household is a “Bieber-Fever – Free Zone!”

Blame it on my ears:  Katie Perry, Kelly Clarkson & Carly Rae Jepsen sound like one to me!

The movie”JACKASS” should be renamed into ‘Dumb Asses”.  Honestly, who comes up with this dangerous, disgusting stuff? Men?                                                                        While I am thinking about movies:  I don’t see the attraction of ‘The Walking Dead” either

 On the other hand, I think Peter Griffin is cool!  “Family Guy” beats “South Park” any day!

 What is it with men and their obsession with black socks?

 Forget about reading “50 Shades of Grey”. See what 50 shades of black socks do to your libido when you try to match them back together!

Best invention in the sock department: The ones with the names of the week printed on.    Or buy hiking socks.   They make it even easier to get the right foot into the right sock: They have the letters written on them!  This is a wonderful no-brainer for early in the morning.

The best invention for homemakers who are in charge of the laundry: Colour catchers! These sheets of paper changed my life! They save so much time and deliver what they promise!

Is it too late to teach our boys home etiquette? They need some fine tuning! Why can’t they compliment me on a job well done when I present a new dish? Instead they are yelling: “Don’t like it”.

Joey’s mom in Korea, (he is our exchange student) you did something right here: Your son would NEVER, EVER say something like that to me.  If he doesn’t agree with the new dish he quietly reaches for the ketchup bottle! He is a clever one.

 Mom was right when she told me fewer, but thicker rolls of toilet paper last longer than single sheet rolls.

Please anti-wrinkle cream – manufacturers, tell the truth, are your creams really working? I have reached the age where I want to believe your promises!

What happened, can’t “multi-task” anymore!.  I was able to read an e-mail, respond to it, answer the phone, watch TV and talk to Dominic – all at the same time!  Now I need quiet and peace to do one or the other! BUT, I am still able to make yoghurt and crunchy flakes at the same time!

Blueberries and pumpkin spiced lattes are an acquired taste.

Why should you drive with 16 and drink with 19? The other way around makes so much more sense to me..                                                                                                                                                                            Drink when you are 16, get shit faced many times over, puke and get it over with. Then become a responsible driver with 18. You won’t have any desire to drink anymore (or at least not so much).

I wonder where I will find Cruz’s well hidden birthday present. Probably at my next spring cleaning.

It was brilliant how Brando cracked the combination lock of our new suitcase. He watched YouTube got on with it. Scarry what teenagers know and learn from their downloads. But in this case, very helpful indeed – and easier than you think!

Wouldn’t it be nice to become Penny’s roommate and hang out with Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj? Would love to meet Howard’s mother …

Don’t know whom I am talking about? It’s the Big Bang Theory!

Would you like to add to this random rambling?  Please let me know!

DAVID BECKHAM COVER(S) UP

I know I promised you “Fright Night”, a haunted house filled with blood thirsty creatures roaming around during full moon, causing goose bumps, palpation and sweaty palms to every living soul. 

Unfortunately, this has to wait till the next time!  Something else came up and I need to get the following off my chest first. I am a woman- changing my mind / my script / or my intention is part of the gender description!

What or who spooked me? My de-railing comes in the form of Mr. Eye Candy, David Beckham.

Personally, I like his looks and I love the idea of him being a devoted (?), progressive father. Anyway, I spotted his latest picture in his undies for the H&M campaign (you’ve seen the one, taken by tourists in the tour bus?). This alone caused my housewife brain to go into overdrive.  Then I picked up a dated edition of “Hello’ magazine during my holy hour at the library! Here he is again, Mr. Handsome, besotted father with his daughter in his arms. I can’t remember the quote exactly, but it went something like this:

“Now that I have a daughter I can’t run around half dressed anymore”

Or did he actually say “naked”? Or was it “…in my boxer shorts anymore”?

Is he joking? Or does a prude lurk inside this well chiselled, well camouflaged body of his?

If this is the truth can I make the assumption that his three boys have never seen Victoria in her Eve costume? (This should read “Adams costume” actually. But you will only get this pun if you know her maiden name)!  

For Goodness sake David, get real! Your daughter has three brothers. Sooner or later, at one occasion or another, she will find out what that dangly thingy is you guys have and we girls don’t.

Of course, it is your own business how to bring up your children!  But wouldn’t you agree that it is much easier to let it all ‘hang out’ or simply grin and bear it – at least in your own home?  Confined to your own four walls? Let’s face it: If you can’t run around naked within your own four walls, where else can you?  And if you do, look what happened to the future Queen of England.

 If your children won’t see their own parents naked – how else will they learn about the small differences?  Where else should their see it or learn from? At their friends house (I hope not!), on TV (most likely), at a peep-show (Holy C.., better late than never?), on the beach (you have some explaining to do right there and then) or in some books and magazines (probably the safest bet).

As for me, I whole heartedly support the ‘no secret’ policy! –  That’s what we did (and still do?) in Germany.

My three boys know how I look like.  I never made a big deal about it. And the result?  They don’t really care about this whole subject on being nude!

 Do you agree? Is this part of being extra-ordinary? To me it is!

On this note, I wonder what is going on in Madonna’s house!

Happy to hear from you!