Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Alberta has a Revenue Problem, Not a Spending Problem

The Alberta Progressive Conservatives could have avoided the current financial problems had they managed our resources correctly in the first place.

Check out this website which shows how much revenue could have been collected and where it could have gone.

General Observations While in Florida

We didn't spend much time outside of theme parks, but when we did, these were my general impressions:
  • I was always wary that there could at any time be a random shooting. This is part of the reason that I prefer not to travel in the US.  I never feel safe there because of their lax gun laws. I did feel a little better knowing that my brother-in-law was along, he's an RCMP who is part of the Prime Minister's security detachment, so I figured if something bad went down, he'd keep us safe.
  • I felt guilty all. the. time.  Here we were on a wonderful vacation and probably every person who waited on us at a restaurant or served us at a store was making minimum wage and living without a social safety net.
  • The palm and orange trees never got old, but the rest of Florida was pretty scrubby looking.
  • The beef was terrible - tough and chewy.
  • The disparity between rich and poor was much more obvious than here at home. Gated communities with large homes were next to trailer parks with crumbling single-wide trailers.
  • I almost never heard anyone speaking English.  Virtually every person I overheard was speaking Spanish.  Even the tall, blond, germanic looking people.
  • My husband claims that everyone was much fatter than Canadians, but I didn't notice a significant difference to be honest.
  • My husband also noticed how few people had tattoos. Once he pointed it out I saw it too. Unlike the Medicine Hat or Calgary Stampede, where virtually every person in a tank top and shorts has at least one tattoo showing, I saw virtually no tattoos on the people at the parks.  When I did, it was someone extremely tatted up who looked like they would knife you if you gave them a wrong look. I guess Americans are just more conservative than Canadians (as if you didn't already know that!).
  • We went to the largest Wal-Mart I had ever seen.  It was a 24 hour Super Wal-Mart.  (I must point out that I normally do not shop at Wal-Mart due to my issues with their employee policies and profit margins, however, there wasn't anything else near where we were staying and we didn't buy that much, so I'm giving myself a pass on this one.) When you entered the store, you couldn't see the end of the building and that is not an exaggeration. We were there to buy some groceries and since I purchase produce for the Good Food Club, I was curious as to the price differences.  I was shocked to see that produce prices were almost identical to what we pay in Medicine Hat, even the oranges! Processed foods, dairy, and eggs were where I saw the biggest price difference. They were so much cheaper.  I'm not sure the reasoning behind the cheaper processed foods, but I know that American dairy & eggs are cheaper because they don't have a supply management system in the US.  They also allow growth hormones in their dairy and egg production, which Canada doesn't.  This leads to increased production and cheaper product.
Here's a picture of a some alligators that I took at Gatorland and a sea turtle from the Clearwater Aquarium.




































Disney Won Me Over

In February we went on a family vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  I have to be honest here and tell you that I wasn't actually looking forward to this vacation, AT ALL.

My parents have been talking about taking the girls to Disneyland for years, but my youngest has had an overwhelming fear of people in costumes since she was tiny, so we've been holding off.  Every six months or so I would ask, "Are you still afraid of people in costumes?". Finally last summer she said that as long as she didn't have to stand by them, she would be fine, which was the greenlight to begin planning.  At about the same time, our niece told my mother-in-law that for her birthday she wanted the family to go to Disney World and to the Clearwater Aquarium, where there is a movie famous dolphin, Winter.

So we began planning, and planning, and booking, and more planning, and working ahead, and applying for passports, and so on and so forth.  You get the picture.

All I could think of was that we would spend all our time standing in line-ups in the heat.

We went for 9 days with my parents, my husband's parents, my sister-in-law and her husband and children. We rented a 7 bedroom, 5 bathroom house with a backyard pool in a gated community just 10-15 minutes from the parks.

And you know what?  It was kind of amazing.

Disney World is so clean and well-kept.  There are loads of courteous, helpful staff and the Fast Pass option prevented us from having to stand in line. My 9 year old and I spent 1 day at Universal Studios at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it was fantastic as well.

Also, the parades were the best I'd ever seen.















Friday, January 23, 2015

Sassiness

This is the insane level of sassiness that I'm dealing with when it comes to my 6 year old.

Me, "I'm getting real sick of the angry and whiny tone of voices you guys use when you're talking to me and each other.  It needs to stop."

6 yr. old, "Then why don't you just get rid of us and have a new baby?"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Kitchen Renovation - It's Finished!

I came home from work yesterday to find our kitchen finally completed (our contractor had an emergency appendectomy right before Christmas, with literally a day's worth of work left which pushed back the timeline)!  I can't tell you how happy I am about it!  I still have about 7 boxes of stuff to unpack, but the essentials are all out.

I should add a caveat to the pics though - Mike still has to do the baseboards and paint the board above the window that the blinds will be hung from.  Also, I haven't rehung my copper hanging baskets by the sink, nor put out my vintage copper & yellow breadbox.  It has rust on the bottom and is going to need to be sealed before it can sit on the white countertop.

If you would like to see the type and product names of the finishes we used, click here to see my Kitchen Renovation Pinterest board.  If you would like to see before pictures, click here.

Our contractor was Joe Reinhardt of Akzent Cabinetry.  He custom built the cabinets and was wonderful to deal with, very accommodating to my many requests.

Here it is: