31 December 2008

Rewind and Fast Forward through 2008

[I decided to save some creative time and edited our Christmas letter just slightly for my blog readers. Don't worry, I didn't trim out any of the "good stuff" -- besides, regular readers will have already read more detail in posts through the year!]

As you may know, 2008 was a busy year for Those DeWolfes. January turned out to be very busy at work for me as digitization projects started to (finally) roll in, complete with deadlines but it was also the month that Hubby and I both got new digital SLR cameras. In February, we tackled renovations of the bathroom in the townhouse which turned out to be a bit tricker than we had hoped and coincided with Hubby coming down with pneumonia. In March, Kiddo celebrated her 7th birthday with an hour of bouncing, running, jumping and spinning at Victoria Gymnastics. One of her gifts was a Wii, something that turned out to be fun for the whole family. A few weeks later, Hubby rang in his 40th birthday with a pub crawl and the gift of LEGO robotics -- he immediately set about designing a SwifferBot to go after cat hair and random dust on the main floor. May found us all working on various creative things -- some we started, some we finished and some we shared (Kiddo and I made a batch of recycled crayons and wrote up a tutorial that we posted online).

June was very busy for Kiddo, especially. She went go-carting with Hubby, had major dental work (some extractions and 8 fillings!), dressed like a pirate and walked in the Buccaneer Days parade, rode a ferris wheel for the first time (the only midway ride I can tolerate), and finished grade one! At the end of the month, I celebrated my birthday (turning 39) with a family brunch and a night out.

In July Hubby and Kiddo made a little stop-motion animation film based on Crazy Frog (it's on YouTube if you have yet to see it). After that, we took a much needed family vacation. In a little over a week we drove all the way to the top of Vancouver Island and back, stopping here and there along the way. The goal was for Kiddo to see Port Alice -- and stand in front of the "welcome" sign there. We did that as well as seeing many other communities that were new to all of us -- prior to the trip, the furthest north on the Island either Hubby or I had been was to Courtenay and Comox. It was a great trip, overall, though we were all glad to get home. Unfortunately, that welcome home turned out to be pretty crummy as the Strata had authorized someone to climb into our property and pressure wash the fence, destroying a few hundred dollars in plants and property in the process. Needless to say, that sealed the deal for our wanting to move.

August started with hiring a Realtor and looking at houses but after getting close to putting in an offer, we realized we needed to sell our townhouse first and thus began an intense six weeks of preparation. We packed, and packed, and packed until our storage locker was full. Then we had a home stager come in (a service provided by the Realtor) who told us we still had too much stuff. GAH! So, we got a U-Pack and filled it, too. Meanwhile, Hubby finished his sculpture of Cthulhu and we moved it to a friend's backyard for safe-keeping (there are photos a-plenty online and a video too if you want to get a closer look).

September started with painting and having the carpets replaced then we put the finishing touches on the staging and listed the townhouse September 15th. Inside a week we had an offer which we accepted and were able to use that to put an offer in on a lovely older home that had plenty of quirks -- just about right for us. By the first week of October, everything was signed-off and by Thanksgiving we were living under a new roof just as the real estate market was collapsing across the country!

With the new address came a new school for Kiddo -- she is now attending a traditional school which means wearing a uniform (though it's not terribly strict). She has adapted well and seems to be thriving in the split grade 1/2 classroom; she is now reading at a grade 7 level and is also ahead in math and science.

Right away, we started renovations, replacing the interior stairs (they were narrow and lacked sufficient clearance) and arranging to have the old asbestos-laced insulation removed from the attic and replaced. By late November we were able to get the U-Pack delivered! I did two craft fairs back to back at the end of November and beginning of December which we followed with a trip to the mainland (IKEA!) and then we all settled in to getting things settled -- putting up shelving, unpacking, sorting, and decorating for Christmas.

And then the snow-dump of 2008 hit we got a rare white Christmas in Victoria (in fact it was the first time since 1971 that there was snow coast to coast across Canada).

As always, thanks for reading; I'd like to wish you all the best in 2009!

27 December 2008

Rift in my personal time-space contiuum.

I cannot explain this any other way; perhaps it is just how one fractures as a parent. Today I have felt both youthful and also as old as dirt.

On one hand, I had a long chat with my niece (she is 16) via Facebook (I do this fairly often now as she is willing to talk to me that way and is frequently logged in), having a good laugh that we liked many of the same albums and artists. This -- along with staying in touch with pop culture in general (watching SNL, reading BoingBoing, etc.) -- makes me feel youthful.

A half-hour later, I was explaining to Kiddo how I used to sing the "Miss Mary Had a Steamboat" rhyme* at school while bouncing a tennis ball in a knee-high stocking on the school wall under and over my legs. Yeah... might as well have been chasing a barrel hoop with a stick, right? Old. As. Dirt.


.. .. .. .. ..

*This rhyme varies depending on where you grew up -- some will remember it as Miss Suzie, others as Miss Mary; some as a steamboat, others as a tug boat and so on. This is how I remember it:

Miss Mary had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell,
Miss Mary went to heaven, the steamboat went to --

Hello operator, give me number nine,
and if you disconnect me, I'll kick you right ---

Behind the 'fridgerator, there was a piece of glass
Miss Mary sat upon it, and broke her big fat ---

Ask me no more questions, I'll tell you no more lies,
the boys are in the bathroom zipping up their ---

Flies are in the city, and bees are in the park
where boys and girls are having fun, kissing in the DARK DARK DARK!

Here are some other versions along with some much ruder rhymes. Did you sing this one as a kid? Do you remember the ball-in-a-stocking thing?

25 December 2008

And so that was Christmas....


Down to three of us again. As Christmases go, this was a good one; it's so much easier without having to bundle up, load the van and drive to one house or another even if the trade off was cleaning, cooking and re-arranging furniture.

Hubby did all the cooking (thank you!!!) and I pitched in with clean-up and whatever else I could do (including shovelling a lot of snow and slushy ice off the road outside so that family had somewhere to safely park). We managed to (over) feed everyone and the gifts overflowed. I'm very thankful for everything I received -- including some Skull-candy headphones, an iPod touch, dvds, an LG Rumor cell phone, and a Fabricland membership that doesn't expire until the end of 2011. I am spoiled.

Kiddo put herself to bed not long after everyone left and is soundly sleeping while we watch some gifted DVDs and play with our toys.

I hope your Christmases were as pleasant as ours!

23 December 2008

Happy Christmas, dear readers.

(or Happy holiday of your choice, but this post is rather Christmas-y)

Our Night Before Christmas

On the night before Christmas, we're all settled down
as more snowfall warnings are threat'ning our town
Our pantry is stocked and our shovel is near
we're ready for family traveling here.

We've checked in with Norad and Santa's en route
(and while the site's cheesy we still think it's cute)
As Kiddo gets bathed and gets ready for bed
we're doing some challenging math in our heads

We have to seat ten for our family dinner
(is it wrong to wish we were collectively thinner?)
The table will have to be moved with some care
thank goodness that Hubby picked up extra chairs!

The ham is defrosting, the turkey is too,
and Hubby baked cheesecakes for everyone, WOO!
The rest of the spread will be easy to prep
(some peeling, some mashing, a few other steps).

The hand-crafted gifts I've been making are done
and I hope that the new owners think they are fun.
The rest of the presents are wrapped 'neath the tree
and stockings are hung in a row -- one, two, three.

"We're finished! We're ready, now what do we do?"
We'll curl up and watch an old movie or two.
We've downloaded Lemmings to kill the last hours
before we awake to the snow or rain showers.

But whatever happens, whatever the weather
we'll celebrate Christmas, at our home, together.
My last wish this season is for each of you
Merry Christmas to all and a fine New Year too!


(with apologies to Clement C. Moore)

22 December 2008

This is getting annoying.

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
OK, so, it's December 22. Exams are over. Classes are done. No one *needs* to be on campus and yet I made the trek into work today because the university is open. There is a message on the main website proclaiming that the campus has only closed twice since 1963 due to inclement weather. Great.

I wish I had brought more cookies. And more coffee.

The only silver lining on this big grey cloud is that the whole campus looks like a Christmas card -- all snowy and sparkling, with ample opportunities for photos like this one.

20 December 2008

More snow.

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Started snowing again around dinnertime and piled up fairly quickly... it is still snowing as I type. They are forecasting up to 20 centimetres overnight (almost 8 inches) which is really annoying on top of the four inches that had yet to melt from the last dump.

Kiddo is spending the night at her Granny's; we'll see how the roads are in the morning before we judge whether to drive, walk or bus to get her home.

We're hosting an open house here tomorrow so my day was largely spent tidying, unpacking, and stowing things but the weather may mean a small turnout.

16 December 2008

I am ignoring the snow

It's bitter cold here -- Victorians are actually having to use the words "wind chill factor" in describing the world outdoors and that's exactly why I don't live in the Prairies! So, instead, here are some festive links to warm your mouse-clicking fingers:

Despite his awesome PR, lots of kids are scared of Santa. Here's proof.

Crafting with kids indoors during the winter weather? Here's some ridiculously simple paper ornaments that can be made from anything from fancy scrapbooking paper to recycled flyers. Or how about a kid-version of these beaded napkin rings? Easily done with chenille stems and plastic beads.

On next year's Christmas crafting list (because I am out of time this year, damnit!) this cute little embroidered weiner-dog reindeer and these simple but so effective scrapcraft bird ornaments.

Is it festive downloads you seek? How about a stop-motion-animation Yule Log Screensaver by PES or a free mp3 m4a by the Barenaked Ladies? Or you can decorate your own Gingerbread (wo)man online care of Safeway.

And for my fellow trivia-lovers: 12 Things You Might Not Know about A Christmas Story. [Psst! If you don't own this most awesome movie, go buy a copy on Amazon! It is sooo much better without ad interruptions and network editing: A Christmas Story (Two-Disc Special Edition)!]

14 December 2008

25 Things About Me Meme

Someone tagged me on Facebook but I thought I would repeat this here even if most of you probably know these things, it saves me thinking about what to write :)

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged . You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

[My rule: I don't tag others so if you feel like participating, go ahead and tag yourself for me.]

1. I have worked for the same employer for 20 years, but the employer doesn't count the first four years of my time as a casual staffer.
2. One summer I worked as a janitor cleaning places as varied as the Office of the Premier to the public washrooms at Fisherman's Wharf.
3. During my four years at university, I moved 13 times.
4. I don't get along with roommates very well.
5. My nickname of "Triviaqueen" was given to me by a friend almost 20 years ago because my brain seems to hang on to otherwise useless pop culture trivia (one-hit wonders, cast lists from sit-coms, and random facts).
6. I have a B.A. in History and a Certificate in Entry Level Plumbing.
7. I usually have a dozen or more projects "in progress" from crafts to writing to websites.
8. My husband thinks I have an 8 day attention span on any given project. He may not be wrong.
9. When asked what my favourite colour is, I usually answer green but the colour that I seem to surround myself with most is orange.
10. I procrastinate constantly but sometimes I manage to get stuff done while avoiding other stuff.
11. I wrote and drew a single-panel comic called Procrastoman during my fourth year of University.
12. I chose the name Creative Miscellany for my craft business because I couldn't settle on one type of craft.
13. I drink at least 16 oz of coffee a day -- though usually I average about 3 times that.
14. I'm not picky about coffee but I prefer dark roasts with some cream.
15. Some of my favourite movies are animated.
16. I will tell you the glass is half-full but I am not an optimist.
17. I vote any time I am given the chance.
18. It took me three attempts to pass my driving test.
19. One of the failures was due to my inability to get out of a rare Victoria snowbank in which I had parallel parked.
20. When asked if I were a tree what kind of tree I would be, I answer Arbutus -- a twisty, broad-leaf evergreen native to the West Coast complete with a showy red curly outer bark.
21. I consider myself a cat-person.
22. I love to grow things in the garden but I have a laisez-faire attitude toward weeding and maintenance.
23. I wear size 8 1/2 shoes.
24. I am a fan of all things Google but secretly fear they have inched ahead of Microsoft, vying for the position of Global Digital Overlord.
25. My favourite treat at Dairy Queen is a Peanut Buster Parfait made with hot caramel sauce instead of chocolate.

Fun in the Snow

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Kiddo was up and outside before breakfast which meant we were too. But, it was worth it to see the big grin on her face. She even spent a little time over at the neighbours' place (once her Dad lifted her over the back fence) -- they have a daughter about a year younger than Kiddo. She tried to use her trike but that didn't work... so she made snow-angels, tracks, snowballs, and now she's outside with Hubby trying to build a snow-fort. Brrr.

I'm waiting for some ingredients to thaw then I'll be baking cookies. Mmmm.

13 December 2008


Yup. A day later than originally forecast but Victoria got snow late this evening. Pretty good chance it'll stick around until Kiddo gets up in the morning. Of course there is also a pretty good chance she'll be up around dawn.

11 December 2008

History for the finding....

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Today I was happy to attend the Times-Colonist/University of Victoria launch of BritishColonist.ca, two years of collaboration resulting in the digitization and mounting of the first 52 years of the British Colonist (later Victoria Colonist) newspaper. The coverage starts with the first issue, published December 11th 1858 and runs through to June 1910. It is fully searchable (by keyword or advanced boolean searches) or you can browse by year/date.

While I didn't work on this project, I hope to work on projects that will support that site or grow from it.

The event included refreshments (drinks, light snacks, and a cake) provided by Feys & Hobbs and I was definitely the odd one out among the "bigwigs." The Libraries were represented by 7 librarians, two PEA (Professional Employees) members and me; the University was also represented by one VP, a Dean and an Associate Dean and a handful of other faculty. The remainder of the attendees were largely Times Colonist staff and others involved in the project at the management level. There were also a handful of local politicians in attendance including MP Denise Savoie and a few local mayors.

There were also special appearances by Sir James Douglas, Amor de Cosmos, and some of their contemporaries -- or rather by actors portraying them.

10 December 2008

Ahhhh. Better.

Now that my sewing machine is working again (=ahem=) I can get on with Christmas gift giving. This is the first item -- a custom ballet Huggitz (named Tabitha) for my niece who is in ballet (if any relatives are reading, Shhh! it's a surprise).

I think I will make her some other things too, or maybe give her a family of finger puppets or a book.

I also realize I need to reconsider what I am charging for my Huggitz dolls. I actually paid attention to this one which took about two and a half hours start-to-finish (planning, hand-stitching, sewing, stuffing and finishing). I have been listing dolls this size at about $25 to $30 but I think I need to up that a bit so that I am making more than minimum wage. OTOH, I think that might be a fair wholesale price. We'll see.

I have a few more projects to sew before the 25th but this was the one I wanted to make sure I got done. Yay!

09 December 2008

I am a moron.

Update to my earlier post. I negotiated rush-hour traffic through the heart of the Colwood crawl, hauled my Soviet-weight machine into Sawyer's and plunked it on the counter. The repair guy came out, opened the cover, shuffled something aside and voilĂ . He deserves a round of applause for not laughing at me -- or at least waiting until I had left the store. I feel like a complete idiot/moron but at least my sewing machine is working and I can craft it up, woo-hoo!


I am feeling like December snuck up on me and I am panicking about what is left to get done, giftwise.

It doesn't help that somehow in the move I managed to lose the bobbin case for my sewing machine, rendering it useless. I have been trying to track down a replacement and, to that end, I will be taking my machine to Sawyer's Sewing Center tonight to see if they have anything in stock (they said they might be able to order a replacement for $40 -- about what my Dad paid for the machine in the first place). I've already checked eBay so if Sawyer's can't help (or if they have to do a special order) I will likely have to borrow another machine to put together the few things I was planning to craft.

Not even putting up the tree and watching Rankin-Bass specials seems to have put me in the mood... I am just in Holiday neutral this year. Sigh.

07 December 2008

Big City Getaway

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Thursday night we hopped on a ferry to Vancouver (well, actually Richmond). We checked into the Holiday Inn and relaxed before a full day of shopping.

Friday morning we hit Lansdowne Centre in Richmond (almost one-stop for house and home with Best Buy, Winners, Home Sense, Jysk, Ming Wo, Home Hardware, Future Shop and Zellers, among others) and filled one corner of the van. Next was IKEA .... three hours later (yes! three freaking hours!) we emerged with some Christmas gifts and several shelving and sorting solutions plus a few things we probably didn't need but wanted anyway. The receipt was over 2 feet long and when we were done, the back of the van was quite full.

After that drunken spree, we hit Free Geek for an LCD monitor then it was off to Granville Island for some shopping and playtime for Kiddo before dinner with a friend.

After dinner, one quick pitstop and it was back to the hotel for the night. Saturday morning we got up, hit Yaohan (for green tea!!) and Aberdeen (Daiso!!) then made our way to Port Coquitlam to see my brother.

Finally we were a ferry-ride from home but decided to do so via Nanaimo so that we could see the lights in Ladysmith. They were pretty and we were tired so with a detour for groceries we headed home.

Today we installed many of the shelves and then promptly filled them. Sigh.

01 December 2008

A couple of causes.

I don't often use this blog as a soapbox -- especially for more global causes -- partly because I generally don't like preaching but also because, let's face it, I don't have a high enough readership. However, I am sharing these two videos with you because they are well made videos, in addition to being public service announcements, basically.

First up is a video from EUtube (clever) called "AIDS: remember me?" I think it is especially appropriate for World AIDS Day in that it emphasizes the lack of education about AIDS in the Western world rather than in Africa which is what gets most of the press these days. [Warning: includes sexually suggestive scenes. Parental Guidance is advised.]

Next, on this first day of December, is a message from The Advent Conspiracy. The concept is simple: spend less on crap, give more to others. It comes from a Christian group (five pastors got together in 2006 to pool money to provide fresh water to a town in a developing country) and the message, while it includes worship, is more anti-consumerism than pro-church.

I really wanted this Christmas to be more about handmade gifts than plastic and wires but life has been busy. However, as I hung Kiddo's advent pocket quilt last night, I was wondering how I could better fill it with stuff she would like that won't end up broken in the bottom of a drawer. I am still thinking; I'll let you know how that goes.