Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Hallowe'en Riddle

Know what this is?

Yep, it's an almost-but-not-quite-perfect implementation of this pin.

Almost-but-not-quite-perfect, but not train wreck enough to qualify for the nailed it Pinterest meme.

Boo. (Boo... Hallowe'en... heh.)

But the boys like it.

Okay, so... any guesses?

Despite the Sharpie scrawled faces, this is the Lazy Mom's contribution to the classroom Hallowe'en party.

My kids are fixated on the healthy food propaganda going around--and that's a good thing--so they were thrilled when I suggested I buy clementines and draw Jack-o-lantern faces on them instead of bake cupcakes for the class shindig.

Yes, my kids would rather mini oranges than cake.

I'm on the fence as to whether they're actually mine--Mr Lannis' for sure, as he's a health nut, but there's never a day I'll take fruit over cake... fruit AND cake, and (perhaps) we're playing ball...

But the answer to the riddle? Those're bags of laziness. Which is fine by me.

With all the other stuff I'm up to these days, taking a moment to scrawl triangle faces on clementines is less time than that needed to bake and decorate cupcakes...

And besides, it's Hallowe'en. There's going to be enough sugar floating around tonight that my hips I don't need leftover cupcakes kicking around... heh.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Google Salad - The Boob Edition

As promised... we have a, um, special edition of Google Salad.

The boob edition.

I've had some, er, interesting keywords show up of late, so I've decided to compile this list a little earlier than previously planned (no worries, I'm sure the Internet will vomit forth more insanity with time, relax).

I knew when I wrote the Cancer Bombs series that I'd end up with bizarre keyword searches, but I... I just...

There are no words. So why wait? Let's dig in. Why? Because boobs. Duh.

breast exam

Yep. Been there, done that. Had more in two years than some ladies have in a lifetime.

tensor bandage for mastectomy

Yes! I lived in one for six weeks. I highly recommend 3M's Tensor brand.

exchange from tissue expanders to implant surgery

It's far easier than the mastectomy's surgery. Trust. And I hear from Mogatos that I should've had my surgeon take pics mid-switch. (Oops. Hindsight, alla that.)

prophylactic mastectomy d cup

That's kind of big. C is fine. As my uncle once said, "anything more than a mouthful's a waste." Heh.

rib cage jutting in armpit after mastectomy

Dude, that sounds painful.

surgical plastic teardrop shape behind eardrum

Um... you might want to get that looked at.

flat deflated tits pics

Nope. No pics. Mr Lannis prohibited them early on (wise man). Otherwise I'm sure there'd be plenty, because let's face it: I have no shame.

weird deflated tits pics

Again: no pics, though it might knock the confidence a touch to know that you were interested in perusing some wacko boobs and my humble pics showed up on your search... wait... no, no shame. Never mind. I don't care. Though for the record, the "weird" part of my boobs happened after they were no longer deflated... too bad I have no pics to show you. (Heh.)

www.boobs rest on the table

The fuck?! Okay, NOW I'm insulted! Never once did they rest on the table and who taught you about URLs?!

Really I'm just offended on behalf of the rest of the Interwebs. (You're welcome, Interwebs.)

zombie boobs

Yep, I've got a pair. If you got 'em flaunt 'em I say.

zombie tits

Yep, those, too. (Heh.)

boob internet sensation

Nope, no sensation, that's all gone thanks to the mastectomies, and I don't understand why the Internet would be involve--Ooooh! Oh, like fame... OH! Oh, aw shucks, now I'm plain flattered. Why, thank you!

Why yes, yes, I am a "boob internet sensation." ::snort::

I smell a new entry on my résumé... ha!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lost Arts

There are a lot of, too many, a stupid number of things in this world that blow my mind.

Lately it’s that homemade Hallowe’en costumes appear to be a lost art.

And I’m not ragging on parents who work long hours and in the interests of allowing their child wear the costume of said child’s heart’s desire, run out and buy it...

No. I get that.

And I understand that (apparently) the ability to use a sewing machine is a skill dangling off the bottom of the home economics resume on both sides of the gender gap.

I also understand that for some people it’s worth their money and not their time when it comes to Hallowe’en—they’re pressed for time and would more willingly part with money than create a Hallowe’en costume from scratch, regardless of sewing ability involved.

To be absolutely clear: this is not a rant about people who buy their costumes.

This isn’t even a rant about how all holidays are becoming increasingly soaked in consumerism—every atypical square on the calendar seems to be another reason to buy things. Ugh.

This is, however, a post about the reaction we receive from our homemade costumes.

People are flabbergasted.

Like, completely floored.

Absolutely effing shocked that I made the costumes myself.



This year my oldest wanted to be a chicken, and my youngest a Jedi knight.

I thought about what we already had in the house and cross-referenced it with what is easily found at second hand stores. There was a storm all up in this brain like no brainstorm ever before.

Thus, this year the Hallowe’en costumes here at Chez Lannis have been brought to us by an $8 Value Village ladies’ white hoodie, a pair of red jogging pants and three stained white T-shirts from our household rag bag, a plastic chicken mask left over from Princess’ wedding (as incongruous as that sounds), a lightsaber received one Christmas past, an old canvas belt, and the living room curtains.

Yes, the living room curtains.

Since I’ve painted the room, I’ve decided we didn’t need to put them back up. Which means I had six chocolate brown sun-bleached panels with nowhere to go... until this ulterior purpose arose.

So I bleached a couple of panels off-white, cream, a weird peachy colour. Using Mr Lannis’ karate gi as a model, I created a simple pair of glorified drawstring pyjamas for my little Jedi knight. Then I chopped a brown curtain panel in half, zipped a line up the back (so it was a giant hood) then cut two armholes at roughly shoulder height.

Jedi DONE!

For the chicken? That white secondhand hoodie got flipped inside out, and the red jogging pants were hacked and sewn into the shape of a chicken’s crown, stuffed with—yes—more red jogging pant material before being sewn onto the hood. The stained T-shirts were cut into rough wing shapes and hand sewn onto the hoodie’s sleeves before I cut them into long 2” strips that look suspiciously like feathers.

The handy dandy thing about t-shirt material: it doesn’t fray.

Chicken DONE!

Admittedly what sells the chicken costume is the latex beak mask, but that’s okay. And with his glasses, my oldest resembles Disney's Chicken Little more than a bit, to his dismay (he’s been given permission to go trick or treating sans glasses on All Hallow’s Eve).

And since we live in Canada, I ensured both costumes would fit over the boys’ coats.

Hallowe’en gets, er, chilly in these here parts.

The Jedi costume though... at our town’s local Hallowe’en shindig I had a woman ask if I had purchased my youngest’s costume online, because it resemble the one she knew to be $75.


Now, I’m pretty frugal (that sounds better than cheap) but there’s no way I’d be spending $75 on my kid’s costume, even when I know since it’s a Jedi costume he’d want to wear it every chance he gets, all the time, day and night, let’s face it: whenever he’s breathing.

But just imagine the look on this lady’s face when I finally flagged down the six-year-old Jedi (who was busy flipping around on the grass, swinging that lightsaber for all he’s worth and making the appropriate vocal lightsaber sounds), to show her the curtain panel’s pockets, hidden on the inside hem of his dark robes.

Yes, lady. This costume cost me NIL.

And apparently it’s a lost art.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Infamous Geek-O-Lantern

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on October 25th, 2011. And I still use carve at least one template pumpkin each year. And remember: points for geekery.]

Sadly, that title sounds rather vague, at least until you get a gander at this post. But the alternative title, A Pictorial Tutorial in Template Pumpkin Carving, just didn’t sound as snappy...

Since Hallowe’en is right around the corner, if you’re in this corner of the globe...

I wrote that, then realized neither the globe nor months actually have corners, but we’re about to see pics of when Mr Lannis let me use his power tools on vegetables! so let’s move quickly, shall we?

Basically, I decided to dig out the photos I took last year of my foray into template pumpkin carving to share with our schnazzy little group here at The Mrs.

Also? This entire post is highly geeky, so I’m inordinately (perhaps impossibly!) proud.

You’re welcome.

See? Wheel of Time related. Told you this would be geeky.

First, we need some tools. No, not people. Tools. Thank you, peanut gallery. (Editor's Note: You're welcome.)

Nothing special. Just a nail file, a paring knife, a chisel, and a screw. Not pictured: the drill Mr Lannis gave in and let me play with — whee! — but that happened, unexpectedly, later. Erm, and tape. You’ll need tape.

Now, empty out your pumpkin, hollowing out the choice carving side is a good idea if your pumpkin is extremely thick.

Next, choose your template. POINTS FOR GEEKINESS! — remember, this will look amazeballs regardless of how it turns out. And I’ve learned people (especially the kidlet variety), are easily wowed (those of the parental variety are, too, even if it’s only from fathoming having the time to do something more than, say, a few triangles and a gap-toothed smile).

Making a template is easy — the Internet and a printer and you're good to go. Wheel of Time chapter icons are excellent for this (obviously), but anything will do. For kids' cartoon characters, I'd look at free colouring pages online for decent black and white images. Be adventurous! Print out your choice as large as you can, providing it fits the carving space on your pumpkin.

Center and tape your template to the pumpkin, and you’re ready to pick up sharp things! Okay, maybe just the screw.

Using the screw (or a wide pin, nail, or anything sharp), punch holes to trace your template onto the pumpkin. Use LOTS of holes, because it can be tricky to see your guide lines if you don't.

See? Lots of holes punched.
Removing the template, use a sharp knife to cut along the dotted lines, but don’t cut all the way through your pumpkin! About halfway is good. You want to your candle to glow through the rind when it’s lit, not be seen through giant holes in your hollowed-out squash bucket (who came up with this wacko tradition anyway?).

I found it easiest to cut out small chunks and carefully remove the pieces one at a time. Yes, this is the time-consuming part.

Use the chisel to clean up the grooves. There’re no points for neatness — and if your neighbourhood is anything like mine, you’re basically competing with kindergarteners (read: yours will be über-cool, regardless, so no worries).

It was at this time that Mr Lannis took pity on my ambitious butt and suggested I use the drill to carve the pips of the die. It was that or he was tired of hearing me create swear words — and I can be pretty creative. (Editor's Note: She can. Trust me.)


(The winning toss! Or the losing toss... wait, erm, that doesn't sound positive at all... go Light!)

I drilled all the way through the pumpkin in the hopes that the pips would glow better. And in the way of jack-o-lanterns, they never look quite as good in a photo as they do in person.

We'll drink the wine till the cup is dry,
And kiss the girls so they'll not cry,
And toss the dice until we fly,
To dance with Jak o' the Shadows.

Sorry — can’t have a Mat-related jack-o-lantern without a little Jak o’ the Shadows to accompany it...

Now go forth! Carve your geeky WoT hearts content! Pepper your porches with WoT-y goodness! Revel in extreme geekery and know that you have the coolest jack-o-lanterns, despite how your husband rolls his eyes with that tone of voice.

Or, you know, you could use the skills in this post to carve another, equally intricate design to wow your neighbours.

I’m sure Disney princesses are charming.


But bonus points for unabashed geekery. It is hip to be square, after all.

Now to decide what to carve in this year’s squash bucket...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Never Stop Learning

Sometimes my kidlets are a walking lesson in lateral thinking. They come up with what I deem to be rather-random-but-it’s-logical-to-them solutions to everyday problems.

Case in point: how to transport caterpillars.

Not long ago I was working in the garage, and Mr Lannis had taken the boys on a bike ride. I was still puttering away when they returned (never ending furniture refinishing will do that do you), and my six-year-old was babbling about how many caterpillars they’d seen in the field grass.

And you know when the kids are rattling on and on and on incessantly, mind-numbingly, oh my lord just shut up already! What are you even saying...?!

(Just me? Okay. Worst parent of the world award. I’ll own it.)

Anyhow. He’s chirping away, and the content of what his piping voice is saying is vaguely registering.


To play with later...

But he was bike riding...


It’s about this point that I put two and two together (go me!), and out another Thing I’d Never Thought I’d Say (item #8975):

“Please take the caterpillars out of your pocket.”

My obliging six-year-old happily digs into his pocket and bodies of fuzzy, brown and black Wooly Bears begin tumbling to the floor.


Never in a million years would I have thought to transport caterpillars in my pocket.

Apparently I’ve been missing out.

Of course Mr Lannis shrugs and says he didn’t bother putting his foot down on the matter—yes, he’d been aware that the child was stuffing Wooly Bears in his jeans. Yes, he’d told our youngest not to do that, but he didn’t see anything wrong with it in the long run, as he figured the kid would learn why we don’t put caterpillars in our pockets...

Spoken like someone who doesn’t have to do the laundry, am I right?

Know what else I learned? As in, not just what bizarre phrases I never dreamed would pass my lips?

I learned that Wooly Bears in a pocket will poke their fuzzy spines through several layers of cotton (jean pocket lining and underwear) to leave a scratchy patch of let’s-hope-it’s-just-irritation on a boy’s thigh.


The things I never thought I’d know...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Home Away From Home

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on August 20th, 2011.]

Remember the lists pictured last week? No?

I can hardly blame you, what with that awe-inspiring image of armed potato men...

Those lists, though? They were my camping lists. My lists, because let’s face it, Mr Lannis (when not creating potato men) had been working all week and other than jotting a list over a cup of coffee in the hopes to outdo me (ha HA!), didn’t bother contemplating what to pack. His contribution? The only thing his list had that mine didn’t already?

Yogurt (ha HA! again!).

When I pointed out the ease of cheese-strings over yogurt cups, the yogurt was declared obsolete.

Items on my list and not on his? Plenty. And, granted, it didn’t rain and we didn’t end up needing the rain coats or boots, but it’s tricky to eat without plates, and we kind of need to remember that frying pan for the all-important bacon...

Oh, and we might want something to occupy the kids, too... you know, maybe.

How he managed to neglect toys is beyond me. A frog pond is great, but what’re they going to do on the five-hour drive?

Yep. Five hours. That’s with pit stops, but MapQuest tells me it’s officially 4:17 minutes.

This isn’t just any camping trip. Nope.

It’s family tradition.

Every summer our family makes a pilgrimage to Auntie’s house in gorgeous lake country to take advantage of her hospitality and fill up her yard with our tents and various sundry belongings (something’s always left behind, too — so far two mini butane tanks and a phone charger have made it onto my radar).

In the interest of full disclosure, this is not camping camping. But it’s sleeping in a tent for two nights and qualifies as such for kidlets. That’s what matters.

If you want to get down to it, my type of camping involves running water, satellite TV, and a fifth wheel trailer (thanks for spoiling me, Papa), but this is still far from roughing it.

And when I say “family” I mean “big crew.” Mr Lannis and I did a count, and it seems only three quarters of our clan made it up this year, and that still meant thirty people.

In tents. And campers. (Okay, twenty-four, because Auntie and Uncle had their house, and my cousin, her hubby, and their two little ones had the spare room.)

Want to see?

Of course you do! I’m going to show you anyway, because I’m a jerk like that.

Chez Lannis on the road (one tent for kidlets, one for parents):

Tents, tents, tents (as many as I could fit in one shot — there were more).

Papa and Gramma (my parents) had their fifth wheel, of course.

And one Auntie (my godmother) had her mini-camper trailer (can you tell we’re related?).

There was even an awning for adults to gather with lawn chairs kidlets to spread out their toys.

Can’t forget the lakeside pics — wonderful waterfront fun!

Including tubing!

Kidnapping four-year-olds.

Attempted frog capture (cousin Alan failed, or I’d have a better pic — boo, city boy, boo!).

A bit of child labour.

And answering important questions like: how many buckets does it take to fill a bottomless inner-tube?

We can’t forget the pyro/camping staple: bonfires. Have to cook food somewhere.

Or maybe the food was cooked here?

Only a little bit here, I swear.

(Yes, that might be a toaster oven you see. And a coffee maker. And a kettle for tea and oatmeal. And a whole whack of breakfast food already attacked or it would include far more fruit in that tray, stacks of bananas, and a carton of eggs that may have gotten hard boiled in that pot on the BBQ.)

No vacation is complete without plenty of junk food. Sez the kidlets. And S’mores pushers (Papa, I’m looking at you).

I don’t know about you, but I need a gratuitous shot of bacon. For memory’s sake.

And before I forget: ATTENTION PARENTS! No trip is complete without Monster Spray.

Yes, one squirt of this stuff (into a tent, out in the dark, on the path to the outhouse — or in closets and under beds at home!) will keep those pesky monsters at bay! Never leave home without it!

Of course, all the stuff that comes out of the van has to go back in, too... this would be about half of the load...

(I kept telling the boys to stay out of the van while I was packing and the four-year-old burst into tears because he was afraid I was going to forget to pack him! Ah, adorable innocence!)

The very best part of the whole ginormously packed weekend?

Hands down, it’s family. Always the family.

I already can’t wait for next year.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NAAMAH’S KISS by Jacqueline Carey - Book Review

Rating: 4/5 -  A satisfying read that’s worth every word.

Title: Naamah’s Kiss

Jacqueline Carey

mass market paperback

Published: 2009

Genre: epic fantasy

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Landed in my hands: via self-purchase

(from cover blurb):

A child of the Maghuin Dhonn, the fold of the Brown Bear, Moirin is raised in the wilderness of Alba by her reclusive mother. Only when she comes of age does she discover her own illustrious — and mixed — heritage: descended from Alais the Wise, princess of both Terre d’Ange and Alba, Moirin is also the daughter of a d’Angeline priest dedicated to serving Naamah, goddess of desire.

After undergoing the Maghuin Dhonn rites of adulthood, Moirin finds divine acceptance... provided she fulfills a mysterious fate that lies across oceans. Beyond Terre d’Ange, in the far reaches of distant Ch’in, she will need to survive the vengeful plans of an ambitious mage, and aid both a noble warrior-princess desperate to save her father’s throne and the spirit of a celestial dragon.


Jacqueline Carey has long since landed herself onto my shelf as a staple, and returning to Terre d’Ange with a new cast of characters felt like coming home. Her steady, melodic, and comforting tone befits this pseudo-European-renaissance world.

Regardless of the above statement, I was leery of returning to Terre d’Ange without Phèdre or Imriel. I really didn't know if it would be worth it, despite the fact that there have been three books published in Moirin's storyline. I should have remembered Carey’s ability pack amazing worldbuilding and magical charm into a novel.

Moirin is no less enchanting than Phèdre, and her quest to discover her destiny takes her far from home; across oceans and encountering strange peoples and magics. Carey has the ability to drop a reader into the realm of the mystical and make it real. Legend is tangible, and adventure is constant.

Aside from the classical epic elements that I enjoy in Carey's writing, what I find endearing in her work is her frank and poetic attitudes towards love and sexuality. Her characters have relationships of all different shapes and sizes, and while it is culturally accepted and revered (or not, in certain places, which creates its own issues), this naturally lends tension, conflict, and delicious romantic longing to the narrative.

One particular line which has stayed with me for its poetic simplicity and romantic weight, highlights the gravity of duty juxtaposed with emotion; it's the conflict of a woman torn —

    She loved them both.

    But she'd wed the King.

So simple, yet within the context of the story, it pulls the proverbial heartstrings.

(Oy. Where's Hopeless Romantics Anonymous when you need them?)

The scope and scale of Carey's imagination, coupled with her ability to pull off such a grand tale with elegance, is why I will keep returning to her writing. And now I get to return to Terre d'Ange for another two visits.

And when I am in need of romance, adventure — and comfort food — I'll do just that.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Pumpkin Pile

Every year we hit a local farmer's stand for pumpkins.

This year was no exception. They do up a fancy pants display for photography purposes, and they've gone above and beyond this year.

Like, waaaaay above... specifically a giant pile of vegetables taller than I am.

You can't make this up.

Naturally the kidlets were thrilled—I mean, what young boy doesn't dream of running around a mountain of squash?—and I now have many, plenty, more pumpkin photos than any sane person needs on my cell phone.


Including a gnarly cell pic of my box of squash—because when you're ::coughcough:: old enough to be the household grocery buyer you get more excited about cheap healthy food than a glorified pile of potential Jack-o-lanterns, natch.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Monster patches, those sexy beasts...

So it's that time of year—the time of year when the conspicuous presence of giant brown yard waste bags lining my street reminds me that my neighbours are far more savvy when it comes to reading the township's waste collection calendar, I'd better get my butt in gear and clear out our gardens.

(And no, my local would-be horticultural expert did not appear as I hacked away at my gardens "willy nilly" as she would say. Disappointing, as I was kind of looking forward to blogging about another eye-rolling encounter with her.)

Anyhow. We still have construction going on—the guys are now paving driveways and installing sod—my lord, we might look like a finished neighbourhood before the snow flies!—and as I'm puttering away with my clippers I can feel their eyes on me.

Not in a creepy way—okay, it was a bit creepy, but only because when I wave (I'm friendly like that) only about half of the guys return the nicety... so that's a little creepy, since I've clearly caught them staring and they're lacking the social skills to brush it off... unless their goal is to make me creeped out, in which case good form, gentlemen, your sociopathic endeavors have been successful...


Monster patches: construction guys find them sexy. Truth.

I'm going to pretend the stares are because they're oh so enamoured of the kickass monster knee patch on my craptacular old jeans I wear for yard work, and not, you know, because I'm female and bending over my front gardens at the waist, tuchus in the air, because I've inherited the rump-ups gene from my mother's side.

 Erm... yeah... I might need to get Mr Lannis to weigh in on this one...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lego Steampunk: Boogernaughts

Want to know what I learned this morning? The super cool new Steampunk Lego is unavailable in Canada.


I'll let you take a moment to read that again and mourn with me.

To be more specific, the Master Builder Academy designs that are carried in the US online Lego Shop aren't carried in the Canadian sister shop.

So that means I need to spin things so that this is not on the kidlets' Christmas wish list.

Which is unfortunate, because Miss Emilie Bush's awesome books have somehow resurfaced from the quagmire that is our kids' bookshelf, handily reminding the kidlets of the über-cool existence of all things Steampunk. (It's shocking they forgot, really.)

Specifically Steamduck himself, natch.

And thankfully we've got the old school Lego Technic pieces from my youth, so the boys definitely have gears enough to keep themselves busy, but... it's not the same.

What the hell, Lego?! I mean, I can understand why you might not ship to say, Angola, what with it being an undeveloped country and all, but why not Canada?

Boogernuggets to you, Lego! Boogernuggets, I say!


Or boogernaughts, I suppose, if we're talking Steampunk... heh.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The World We Create

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on October 29th, 2011.]

As a parent, we learn that lessons can take many forms.

Some, not so great. Others, absolutely charming in their surprise arrival.

Shortly before Hallowe’en, I took the kids on a jaunt. We needed pumpkins, and being new to the area, I’m still learning the local secrets. My neighbour helpfully directed us to The Place to go — down the town line and across a county road, to a farmer’s stand set up in the corner of a field.

My flimsy memory held that day, and believe it or not, I found our destination in spite of myself.

There were pumpkins. And pumpkins, and pumpkins. And gourds, and squash, and more pumpkins. Bumpy ones, smooth ones, squat ones... almost every shape you could imagine. And the colours! Oranges, reds, yellows, greens, whites — even blue-grey!

I wish I’d brought my camera. Lord knows I wish I’d brought more home.

Mr Lannis laughed at me when he saw my haul. And again when I enthusiastically described the massive tables laden with a vast variety of squash.

You’d think it was the first time I’d seen vegetables.

So pretty!

(Yes, I’m aware this is probably a sign I need to get out more. Probably? Certainly.)

At least I had had a passel of kidlets with me at the vegetable stand, not all mine, but all of whom were just as enamored as I was with the bounty before us.

We wandered the tables, talking about pumpkin-decorating possibilities, marveling at specimen every size, from our fists to prize-winning fair entries the size of our living room recliner.

I studied the educational display table, with helpful examples of different varieties, paired with signage depicting their name, their desirable qualities (colour, taste), storage tips, and the usual cooking method — or if they’re generally used for holiday decor only.

(Read: excellent for a doof like me who’s interested in sampling more than just the same old butternut squash at the dinner table.)

As I began choosing our haul, the seven-year-old began to panic, finally seeing more than just vegetables.

“Who’s selling all this?” she asked.

“A farmer,” I answered.

“But where is he?” asked my four-and-a-half year old.

Yep. It was an old-school set up. A lock box, with a coin slot.

The honour system.

The seven-year-old immediately latched onto the obvious. “But what if people don’t pay?”

“Well,” I said, “If this was your stuff, would you want people to pay for what they take?”

She rolled her eyes. “Of course.”

“Well, then we pay for what we take,” I said, stuffing folded bills into the slot.

“Why?” My four-and-a-half year old asked.

“Because we create the world we live in. This farmer is trusting everyone to pay for what they take. So we pay, earning that trust. And by doing so, we help create a world where people can continue to trust others with the honour system.”

One of my go-to parent lines (usually bellowed from the kitchen as boys pound on each other in the next room) is “if you don’t like it when someone does it to you, don’t do it to someone else!”

But sometimes it takes an outside example for messages to sink in.

Knee-deep in pumpkins, three motionless kids stood. With grins and unfocused eyes like saucers, they were clearly, excitedly, processing the social connection between actions and consequence — and a world of benevolent possibilities.

$18 worth of squash, some for decorating, some for eating.

All in all, a very cheap lesson, indeed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Good Food Box: Goodness me!

I adore our Good Food Box program. It's a foodshare program that helps the community in providing local farmers with business, and families with access to affordable fruit and vegetables.

And anyone can order a Good Food Box--it's not a program reserved for low income families. The whole point is to ensure everyone in the community has access to cheap healthy food.

(One of Mr Lannis' classic grocery rants is that it's cheaper to fill your cart with junk than with healthy alternatives. If I can record it, I will.)

Until recently, it'd been years since I've benefited from the program--you order your box in advance and go pick it up on a certain day. The last time I took part was ::coughcough:: umpteen years ago when I lived in university residence...

See? It's been a while.

Anyhow. Got on board last month in our new(ish) community, and when pickup day came around it felt like Christmas.

What comes in the box each month is a complete surprise until you pick it up...

Whee! <-- actual unfeigned glee.

Mr Lannis was far more enthusiastic for this endeavor after I tallied the contents of our $15 large box haul would cost us $34.20 at our favourite grocery store.

(Our box included a 10lb bag of potatoes, 4lbs of apples, 3lbs of pears, 2lbs of beets, 2lbs of onions, 3lbs of carrots, 2lbs of plums, a Romaine lettuce, a tub of mushrooms, a cauliflower, an English cucumber, uh... and I think that was it...)

And it's all as local as it can get--September and October being the best time of year to order the box as it's crammed full of in-season items... later in the year the produce just travels farther. Right about now it's all local and they're looking for places for it to go...

Anyhow, after writing that tally out and showing Mr Lannis the financial benefit of The Box, well, suddenly the inconvenience of ordering and picking up this box of produce was exciting to him, too... heh.

(I never quite understood his original lack-of-enthusiasm... since it would never be him in charge of order and pickup as it's exactly the kind of chore that falls under the category of sundry administrative items that occurs on my side of our partnership. But whatev.)

The thing about the Good Food Box, though, is that I always end up forcing us to eat a certain way in order to consume the box in its entirety before the next one arrives.

I'd forgotten this wonderful and frustrating fact.

And lately we've been in the habit of not eating potatoes. I know--weird, right?

Um. And beets. I can categorically say I've never purchased a bag of beets before.

But for the record, this hidden-beet red velvet bar recipe is not too shabby... heh. (Thanks, Dawn!)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Blackmail Archives: Blackmail the Fourth

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on March 3, 2012.]

Recently Mr Lannis and I went over my blackmail file of silly things our kids say, and well, really enjoyed the insanity I’ve managed to document.

In fact, we enjoyed it so much that he suggested I post more blackmail to share with you all.

And I’m happy to oblige.

In that regard, this post is brought to you by snippets of dialogue that actually happen in my household... been keeping this list for a while, because, well, let’s face it: I’m writing baby books that will hold a record amount of blackmail material (for previous posts, see here, here, and here).

(Seriously, I’m running at 13 pages of unintentional humour that’ll one day be printed out and added to their keepsake bins. They’ll thank me. Eventually. After they’re married and have managed to repress it all and/or have children of their own and can appreciate the sentiment...)

For the ease of reading, since this list began (literally) over a year ago, and up until this point I’ve been referring to my boys by their age, I figure for the Blackmail posts I’ll use their initials, R and L, for clarity purposes.

R is our current 6 year old (y/o), and L our 4.5 year old Casanova. Hopefully you’ll get a chuckle from at least one of these... enjoy!

September 2010

[After I’ve spent a day painting the powder room a nice dramatic chocolate colour.]
Me: What’d you think, Kiddo? Look good?
R [almost 5 y/o]: Yes, Mommy, poo brown walls make sense in a bathroom.

January 2011

[Chickadees and nuthatches are in the backyard.]
Boys: Mommy, Mommy, can we feed the birds?
Me: Well, see, that’s the thing about nature, boys. If we feed the birds, we’re really just feeding the cats.
R [5 y/o]: Shakespeare’s big enough. Can’t he stop eating now?

R [5 y/o; shows me pic in book]: Mommy, this is a picture of a mean girl.
Me: How do you know she’s a mean girl?
R: Because she’s delivering cookies that will electrocute you.
Me: Yep. I suppose she would qualify as pretty mean.

R [5 y/o]: Mommy, you’re a good Mommy! [D’aww!]
L [3.5 y/o]: Nope, she’s a long Mommy. [Stretches hands wide.] Lookit how looooooong she is! [Sigh.]

February 2011

L [3.5 y/o; finally making a decision about breakfast]: Mommy, I want toast with French on it.

[L crying; 3.5 y/o]
Me: Would you like to cuddle for a second?
L: No. I want to cuddle for one hundred seconds!

R [5 y/o]: Hey Mommy, lookit my guy! [Shows me toy.]
Me: Oh! It’s a little seal. Very nice.
R: No, it’s an evil seal that flies.
Me: Of course, how could I be mistaken? [Insert eye roll here.]
R: I don’t know. It’s soooooo obvious.

March 2011

L [3.5 y/o]: When hedgehog hits the ceiling, hedgehog gets hurt.
Me [eyeing hedgehog Beanie Baby]: Yes. So maybe we shouldn’t throw the hedgehog at the ceiling?
L: Then how will he kiss the ceiling?!
Me: That’s a good question.
L: Yes. Yes, it IS a good question... [Walks off mumbling to himself.]

L [3.5 y/o; looking at a Sesame Street activity book with a picture of The Count** on the cover]: Mommy, this at-tivity book has a grampire on it.
Me: You mean a vampire. Yes, it does.
L: No, Mommy. Papa does his voice. It’s a grampire.

Me [to L, almost 4 y/o, and WON’T SHUT UP!]: You are a very cute chatterbox.
L: Mommy, you are a very cute eyebrow.

April 2011

2011’s first lesson from Mother Nature:
R [5 y/o; playing in the backyard]: Mommy! We found a bird! It was sleeping, so we put it in a cup in the playhouse so it won’t be disturbed.
L [Almost 4]: Yeah! She’s sleeping! And soft!

R [5 y/o]: Sometimes, when people have fat bellies, they pop out a baby. That’s where babies come from.
L [almost 4 y/o]: Is Mommy going to have a baby?
R: No. No, that’s also why she doesn’t like birds.
L: Yes, she really wasn’t happy to see that dead bird...

And because I have to leave off with a geeky reference...

L [almost 4 y/o]: The Easter Bunny bringed us stickers from Star Wars the Vampire Strikes Back!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

SANTA OLIVIA by Jacqueline Carey - Book Review

[Note: This review was originally published on in the summer of 2011.]

Rating: 4/5 -  A satisfying read that’s worth every word.

Santa Olivia

Jacqueline Carey

Format: trade paperback

Published: 2009

urban fantasy

  Grand Central Publishing

Landed in my hands: purchased myself

Summary (from the cover blurb):

There is no pity in Santa Olivia. And no escape. In this isolated military buffer zone between Mexico and the U.S., the citizens of Santa Olivia are virtually powerless. Then an unlikely heroine is born. She is the daughter of a man genetically manipulated by the government to be a weapon. A “Wolf-Man,” he was engineered to have superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and senses, as well as a total lack of fear. Named for her vanished father, Loup Garron has inherited his gifts.

Frustrated by the injustices visited upon her friends and neighbors by the military occupiers, Loup is determined to avenge her community. Aided by a handful of her fellow orphans, Loup takes on the guise of their patron saint, Santa Olivia, and sets out to deliver vigilante justice — aware that if she is caught, she could lose her freedom... and possibly her life.


Carey has an amazing ability to plunge you into a narrative. Immediately I was invested in Santa Olivia. I was reading along, and it seemed a ton had happened already, so I glanced at the page count.

Page thirty seven? Seriously?!

Carey (and I know this from previous reads) is deceptively simple in her worldbuilding, able to quickly sketch a grand, grand scope. Santa Olivia is very different from her Kushiel’s Legacy series, and just as engaging.

I don’t know why, but I found this book very mellow — in a good way. Very calm, matter of fact, gritty, yet eloquent. Not flashy, even while the tension was building.

It felt real.

A realistic fairy tale of a girl born of odd origins who rises up to be the hero of the Outpost, a town on the edge of a military base that has been scorned by the bordering countries, where its citizens are the citizens of nowhere.

Santa Olivia has feisty, almost morbid humour, and is delightful in its nonjudgmental delivery of the story. So the priest isn’t really a priest — he’s helping people, so who cares? The community needs someone to organize charity and lead their faith, and he stepped up, so he’s the priest. It works.

And at the risk of that spoiler alarm wailing, it’s about boxing. Yep. When the subject first edged into the plot, I thought it would remain in the periphery, but I discovered, happily, that it wasn’t. It’s a true tale of the underdog, sweaty boxing gloves, split lips, and desperation.

Which is why — especially for those guys out there who are leery of delving into the urban fantasy genre for fear of accidentally stepping into paranormal romance — I’d suggest you pick up this book. Sure, there’s a romantic interest, but while it is important to the main character, it is not central to the plot. And if knowing it’s about boxing entices someone who would normally overlook Santa Olivia to give it a try... well, I don’t think it counts as a big spoiler.

And there is sadness

Because that’s what this story is, at its core. A tale of the underdog, who brings hope to the downtrodden. I’m interested in seeing where the tale goes in the sequel, Saints Astray, which is scheduled for release in October 2011.

The next book probably won’t have as much boxing, but I think I’m safe in assuming that Loup will be kicking some ass...
permeating this tale, plenty of loss and realistic good-old-fashioned human assholeness, and it makes you root for the underdog even more.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fresh Paint

Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my...

When I said in this post that I knew it would be a long haul to get this house painted, little did I know, exhausted days later, scratch all that—apparently I'm a sucker for punishment.

And I predicted it, so I have no one to blame but myself.

And possibly Mr Lannis, for once again letting me dive headfirst into the deep end before reminding me how deep it really is.

(Yes, he's laughing up this one, well and truly. Except for when I'm too busy painting to make dinner. Then he has to stop laughing to cook—now who's laughing, bucko?! HaHA! <--that'd be me, if it's not clear. Heh.)

As of this post, I have successfully finished the upstairs hall, the front foyer, the boys' toy area, the basement stairs, and the living room...

Which means all that remains are the kitchen, the staircase, and a fresh coat on the pillars(!).

Do I have photos of all this achievement?

Oh, yes...

Erm, but only of the before (for the most part).

I is lazy. Clearly this isn't the case as I've been systematically painting the interior of our house, amidst all the daily daily...

More accurately, the lack of after photos can be blamed on a pair of miniature tornadoes, hell bent on creating havoc every which way they turn—ways that usually include chaos in otherwise tidy areas of the house.

Enough that it seems a room is neat and tidy for its after photo for a mere millisecond before it's, well, just not anymore.

And then I just plain forget.

Or I'm busy painting another part of the house, and barking that whatever they do they need to stay out of the area being painted, for the sake of all things holy and Lego!

Anyhow. There will be more photo updates.  Trust.

For now, I have the foyer. Aside from the front door, the others are for the powder room, the laundry room, and the coat closet. Forgive the crazy collages... there wasn't a whole lot of forethought involved, hence everything's already in flux when the photos were taken...

Before. Kill me white walls. You can't even take a proper photo because of the glare.
But as you can see, the grey is a great update. So happy!

After: Sophisticated grey sanity. And plants. Lots of 'em. Okay, maybe they're repeated in the photos, but still...

And the after photo of the basement stairs—because clearly I'm too much of a spaz to take a before photo...
Yes, those are children's shoes stacked for playing in the basement. The concrete floor eats toes.
Yes, it's been a scattered September.

But shit, she is getting done! Wheeeeee!