Saturday, December 31, 2011

What I Did on my Christmas Vacation

I was back in Saskatchewan for Christmas. It was lots of fun, even if my niece wouldn't let me bring her dog back to Ottawa with me. (She's mean like that.)

It was a good trip - Christmas shopping with my niece, laser tag with the extended family, mini-golf, hanging out with the dog, making my niece watch The Muppets, building a treasure box, seeing friends and family, and eating my year's allotment of cookies.

(As an aside, taking a dog for a walk makes you realize how incredibly interesting the world smells.)

Boxing Day
Boxing Day

On Thursday, my mom had to take her car in. Since we'd otherwise be marooned at home, my sister left her Prius for us.

My mom went to the dealership and said she'd call if she needed a ride. Half an hour later she called, so I got the key fob and put on my coat. Kasey the dog wanted to come too, so I grabbed her seatbelt and we went out to the garage.

That's when I realized the Prius was on the driveway. I closed the garage door and we got in. I buckled Kasey in the passenger seat and put the key fob into its slot. I pressed the "Power" button and the radio started playing.

Kasey Girl
So far, so good.

I put the car into "R". Nothing happened.

I pressed the emergency brake. Nothing happened.

I pressed it again. Still nothing.

I pressed "Power" again. This time, the dashboard lights came on. Back into "R", still nothing.

The dog was staring at me by this point, wondering why we were in the car if we weren't going anywhere.

I called my mom's cell. She didn't answer.

I started looking through the owner's manual. The answer was on page one hundred and something - you need to have your foot on the brake when you press "Power". This time it worked. Finally, we were on our way, Kasey standing on the seat beside me despite repeated suggestions to sit down.

The roads weren't great, so I took it easy, but at one point, I had to hit the brakes. Kasey slid off the seat. I reached down and picked her up by her harness, but I was losing speed fast and didn't know why. I found the hazard lights and turned them on and then put the car back into gear. Luckily, that worked and I was able to get back on my way.

We got to the dealership where mom was waiting, which Kasey explained was the most exciting day ever. (To dogs, every day is the most exciting day ever.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas To-Do List

  • Decorate tree ✔
  • Last Spark meeting of 2011 ✔
  • Buy gifts ✔
  • Last boxing class of 2011 ✔
  • Make gifts for coworkers ✔
  • Plan Boxing Day laser tag ✔
  • Prepare appropriate food & attend potlucks ✔
  • Make chocolates ✔
  • Arrange for coverage at work ✔
  • Get that cold that's been hovering since October ✔


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Losing my marbles

This year, I'm making marble magnets for my coworkers. I got the idea here. It seemed like the perfect idea - inexpensive, yet something I could customize for each person.

I started by picking up the basic supplies - marbles (small and large), magnets, and glue. I got two sizes of marbles simply because I wasn't sure how well the small marbles would work. I needn't have worried - there were plenty of pictures that worked at that size.

Most of my generic pictures (such as the stripes you see in the above picture) came from flyers and magazines around the house. Since I wanted to customize the magnets, I also printed out clip art from the internet - wine glasses, tents, running shoes, stacks of books, etc. to match my coworkers' interests.

As you can see by the above picture, I'm not great at cutting circles. That didn't really cause me any problems - unless the picture was really off, adding the magnet to the back covered any flaws. Since the marbles (purchased at the dollar store) are not uniform, I cut the picture to match the specific marble it was going to end up on.

Once the picture was cut, I brushed on some silicon glue, put the marble on top, then pressed the center of the marble down to work out any bubbles. (A few especially flimsy pictures got glued to some thicker paper, but most of the time I didn't bother.)

As a note, I tried the Mod Podge but found it left the picture too shiny, so silicon glue it was.

The next step was the hardest - waiting until the glue dried. Once it did, I used a glue gun to glue the magnet to the back, then used nail polish remover to clean any misplaced glue off the marble.

I tried two different kinds of magnets - from Michael's and from the dollar store. Interestingly, the dollar store magnets were cheaper and stronger. However, they were a smaller diameter than the marbles, and they're a little rougher. (I can hear scratching when I move the magnet on the fridge.) I definitely recommend the more expensive magnets.

In the end, I only made one of the bigger marbles, but if I were making these with children, I'd definitely use the bigger size.

I packaged the magnets (in groups of six) into baby snack containers and tied a ribbon around them, ready to take into work on Tuesday.

There were a few that didn't turn out - not centered properly, too many flaws in the marble, etc. When that happened, I simply removed the picture from the marble using the nail polish remover.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spoke too soon

Remember a few weeks ago when I was quitting boxing?

I'm moving up to level five. As soon as I heard that, all the bitterness and resentment disappeared. It started to be fun again.

This week, I got a plaque for finishing level four and a trophy for showing up for five years. It was a really good class - so insanely hard that at times I wasn't sure I'd be able to lift my arms again.

And now I'm registered for the next session - even though the only available class is on Saturdays.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Last night, I took eleven 5 & 6-year-olds to the grocery store.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

You see, my Sparks group couldn't meet at our usual meeting place, and our other ideas for field trips (fire station, Home Depot, Humane Society) didn't pan out. We've been talking about healthy food choices, so I said, "Let's go to the grocery store and let each girl choose $5 worth of healthy food for the food bank."

It probably would have gone more smoothly if one of my fellow leaders hadn't gotten stuck in traffic. If she'd been there, we would have divided into 3 group instead of 2. That would have made it easier - because, you see, kids that age look with their hands, not their eyes. If you have one or two, it's not bad. Three is manageable. Six is crazy-making.

Having said that, they were quite good (within the bounds of what is age-appropriate). Several parents stayed, so we had multiple adults with each group. The girls excitedly picked out canned fruits and vegetables, rice, pasta, tuna, juice boxes, rice crackers, and beans. They passed up cookies (albeit reluctantly). Each girl could point to the items in the cart and tell me exactly what she had chosen. And our total came to less than $47, so we didn't spend the camp money.

I didn't even see any other customers run screaming from the store.

Well, not personally.