We have a fridge, like most families.

It sits in our kitchen and is overdue for a thorough scrubbing.

There are twelve jars of olives at various stages of fullness.

There is apple juice, orange juice, milk and a jug of water.

There’s cheese, cold meat, vegetables, fruit, butter, eggs and condiments that require refrigeration. There may be some curry pastes that expired several years ago. I’m not proud of that.

To my knowledge, there are no secret compartments of any kind.

At least seventeen times a day, I get the following question with a hint of frustration, “Mom, where is the insert any item here?”

Last night, Hanna stood with the fridge door wide open and asked, “Mom, where’s the yogurt?”

I have no idea why I’ve committed the location of just about every item to memory but I quickly said, “Middle shelf behind the jam.”

A few minutes later Ellie asked, “Mom, where’s the jam?”

“Middle shelf in front of the yogurt.”

I think the kids (and Greg) now ask before they even open the fridge, “Mom, where are the nectarines?” “Mom, where is the cheese?” “Liz, where’s that barbecue sauce I like?”

I fear my family is losing the ability to find things for themselves because I’m doing it for them before they even try.

Chloe, our four year old stood with the fridge door open last night.

It was killing me not to help her because I wanted her to close the door before everything warmed up and spoiled.

I calmly asked her, “Chloe, what are you looking for?”

She replied, “My purple marker.”

Top shelf, beside the t.v. remote.

I never wanted the idea of going to camp to be a negative for my kids.

We have tried a few different day camps with the older two with some success over the years but we’ve never sent the girls to any overnight camps.

I guess because I am home with them, it didn’t seem necessary and camp was never a place I got excited about when I was a kid.

Yesterday, I was tired of watching the girls moaning about not having anything to do.

I was sick of hearing, “I can’t eat another sandwich for lunch. Can you not think of anything else we can have for lunch?” “Sandwiches again?”

In that moment, as much as I hated packing school lunches, I remembered the peace and tranquility of shoving a sandwich day after day after day into those lunch sacks and never having to be the one on the receiving end of, “Seriously? My Mom packed me another sandwich?”

And then I specifically called “No spillsies!” during lunch and there were two pretty impressive spills, dare I say, spillsies.

So I threw it out there.

“Would you guys be happier if I registered you for camp starting next week?”

The older two sensed this was a trap as it wasn’t coming at a fun, family moment over their favourite movie and a shared bowl of buttered popcorn. This was coming on the heels of several complaints and even more spillsies.

Chloe said, “Yes! That would be great Mommy. Can I go to rock ‘n roll or ballet camp?”

Me: Sure.

Chloe: Awesome! Daddy! I’m going to rock ‘n roll camp! When am I going, now?

While Chloe packed for imaginary rock ‘n roll camp, Hanna and Ellie put on their shoes and went outside.

And then something magical happened.

Ellie was wearing some sort of choking device around her neck and Hanna was barking orders at her.

Ellie was the family dog and Hanna was the impossible-to-please owner.

Finally, they’re playing and being creative.

Last night I commented to Greg on how much our ten (almost eleven) year old daughter has grown.

I had Hanna stand shoulder to shoulder with me as she is closing the gap—and quickly.

Ellie piped up, “Oh, do you know who has really grown?”

Hanna?

“Leo.”

Ellie: Leo has grown so much in the past few months. It’s unbelievable.

She went on, “Leo used to be this tall (randomly slicing the air with a sideways hand with a six to eight inch variance between chops) but now he’s like this tall.” (hand slices moving up as she climbs onto the ottoman for affect)

Before I could ask, “He used to be shorter than Adam, Bree and Chase but now he’s like way taller. It happened so fast.”

Ellie, who the hell are you talking about?

“Leo. Leo, you know, from the show Lab Rats?”

I had no idea my kids would learn all they needed (and then some) about labour and delivery from watching Animal Planet.

Hanna and Chloe spent the better part of a ten minute car ride relaying the following scene they had just witnessed on Animal Planet while I was obliviously showering.

“So there’s this Mother cat named Pitchopara” (it turns out, the cat’s name was actually Cleopatra).

“Piopartra (Cleopatra) goes into labour and is expecting a litter.”

At this point, we have never discussed birthing litters or human multiples, or the labour experience as a whole.

“Polopatra is in labour for so many hours, she’s in stress and the Doctors are worried.”

Huh. That does sound stressful.

“The Doctors realize she has just one cat in her tummy instead of 4 which is normal for a first litter.”

It is?

“Then she tries to deliver the cat the natural way. You know, natural?”

Gulp. I sure do.

“But she can’t because the one baby cat is way too big.”

Been there.
“So they have to do surgery on Pleapatra to get the giant cat out.”

Did they show you (the unsupervised television audience?) the surgery?

“No, that would be gross but we know what happens anyway.”

Um, err, you do?

“Then the baby’s born and the experts have to come in and feed it because the Mom is too weak.”

Enter the wet nurse.

“Preolatra and the big baby get together but the baby cat (can we start calling it a kitten so late in the story?) doesn’t know how to latch, you know, latch Mom?”

Yes, of course. Now I’m starting to feel insulted.

“It’s a happy ending. The big cat latches onto the Mom’s nipples or whatever (nipples or whatever is said with great speed and is slurred to emphasize the awkwardness) and they bond and recognize each other.”

Thank you Animal Planet.

My work here is done.

My daughter attended a slumber party a couple of nights ago.

It was your typical 5 or 6 girls telling their parents they had plans to sleep if not for that one girl who just kept the conversation alive until 3 or 4am and it would be rude not to listen and engage.

When my daughter arrived home the next morning, things appeared alien to her.

I know she didn’t know what time of day it was but I’m not sure she was aware of the month or the year either.

She was too weak to eat or speak but not too weak to moan out a few “Can we please close the blinds?” and tormenting her sisters while not as quick was still very much on the table.

Her hair had not been combed in what appeared to be several days. This is strange given I had watched her comb it before leaving the house to attend the party.

Her tongue was blue and not from brushing too much with blue toothpaste.

Her eyes darted around the room like a cat after a pen-light. I think the piñata filled with pixie stix powder managed to find a home inside her pillow case.

Her speech was slurred.

Her joints stiff.

She walked with some assistance and could eat only teaspoons of yogurt.

Slumber party success.

I never buy anything that requires alterations.

I know people think when you buys jeans, they’re not meant to fit at all, like not even close, so they spend twice as much as they spent on the pants having tiny elves (and a handful of mice) craft them to their exact body shape and size.

I think of clothes more as a basic, human necessity to avoid shameful, public humiliation and fall squarely into the category, “Does the zipper work? Good enough.”

I did however buy a dress that was a smidge on the big side a couple of months ago.

A smidge is usually something I can live with but for some reason, this smidge is gaping right around my armpit and what if I forget to shave just that side for a month? The smidge must be fixed to save us all from a lot of unwanted/expensive therapy.

So, I packed our three girls into the mini-van, gaping, arm-pit dress in tow and I drove to the one and only tailor within a thirty km radius.

This same tailor was recommended to me by the sales girl who sold me the dress (who clearly got a kick-back from all of the jeans she had sent to him and his mice).

That’s two nods to the same tailor, one from a local retailer and one from the internet.

Off we went.

By the time I found a parking spot (that I had to pay for), loaded one kid on my back whose feet were too sminky to walk on, rolled the dress under the arm for which it was meant to stop gaping, lead the other two mother-goose and duckling style a block away, I noticed a sign on the front window of the shop:

We are closed for holidays from July 1st until August 25th, 2014.

So the entire summer?

Do people not alter things in the summer? I guess there are no big events like oh right, weddings or gaping arm-pits in the summer.

I turned, careful not to slam my four year olds back up against the glass and deflated, started marching the littles back to the mini-van.

Hanna said, “Mommy, are you upset? Can I carry your purse? Oh, can I carry your purse is your phone in there? Are there any games on it?”

Chloe said, “Mommy, sorry your dress will be big still. Can you carry me in the front now, your neck is sweaty.”

Ellie had the best line of all. “Mommy, you can squeeze into one of my dresses. Any one you want.”

This made me smile. A lot.

Then I heard her whisper to the others, “Poor, old Mom.”

We noticed some droppings outside our back door about a week ago.

Not the nice kind of droppings like sprinkles or Easter eggs.

Animal droppings. An animal has been defecating outside our back door.

It wouldn’t have been that bad if the tiny creature had opted to dump its load in a corner or even a couple of feet from the door but this is right on the four inch trim around the door.

It’s actually quite gross and so very insulting.

I think there’s a country and western song (or there should be) “Don’t Defecate On My Stoop!”

We are pretty sure it’s a mouse but we are not so narrow minded to think it couldn’t be the mouse’s Transylvanian country cousin, the rabid, vampire bat, as there is a small overhang above the door, ripe for the hanging and plush for the dropping.

Greg set up a trap to catch the mouse which bothers me for a few reasons.

  1. The mouse lives outside. How can we try to catch and hurt something in its natural environment? I am totally on board if the mouse was in my pantry cupboard or bra insert but it seems unreasonable and unfair to attack it in its own habitat.
  2. What if the bat sees the small metal contraption smeared with peanut butter and thinks it’s a house warming gift?

I didn’t like it when neighbourhood cats would leave dead mice on our door step because I never understood it. While I appreciated the sincerity of gift giving, it made me feel as though I had to buy it something so I left small bags of catnip and scratching posts and we started this whole thing.

It also made me question why stray cats felt obligated to leave us gifts when to my knowledge, we hadn’t done anything to make them feel welcome or done them any favours.

It felt like a trick. Maybe they were leaving preemptive gifts to get the ball rolling. Maybe it was a gang thing and the cats were marking their territory by leaving mice at random doors, sending home owners a message; you stay away from our mice and we’ll watch your back when the birds start to fly towards your newly cleaned windows.

What to do?

You know when your kid is at a sleepover and you email the parents (because you told them if they needed to reach you if your child was scared or wanted to come home, you turned off your phones at 9pm and went completely off-the-grid until a reasonable hour, like 8am) just to check in and say hi and that you were kidding about that going off-grid thing and they don’t respond and you think to yourself, “What happened? Why haven’t they replied?”

And they’re probably thinking, “I really want to reply but I don’t want this freak of a Mom to think I’m sitting at my computer when I should be watching the kids and I thought she said she wouldn’t be available after 9pm, doesn’t that include via email? Is this some sort of weird test?”

Then I think about email and how easy it has made even staying connected with your child and the host parents at a sleepover.

On the ride over, I asked my daughter if she still stayed in touch with a friend who had moved out of town.

She said, “Not as much, Mom. Email just takes so long. It would be easier if she texted or face-timed. Then it would be instant.”

I told her I remember having to write letters and buy stamps.

She shook her head.

“What’s a stamp? Like one of those sticker-thingies?”

Yeah, it’s like a sticker-thingy.

Have fun at your sleepover. Be sure to face-time us. Just not after 9pm.

We spent a wonderful, relaxing week at the cottage with the family and spent many, many hours looking for beach glass with the girls.

The grand total for the week was 788 pieces of beach glass; four were found by me, two by Greg, the rest divided by our kids.

The best part was it was totally free.

It didn’t cost anything to go for long walks on the beach with our kids, organize our collection and spend time together as a family while I sang the song “Hot Blooded” but with new lyrics, “Beach Glassin’ check it and see….got a fever of 103….”

I also hummed the theme song to the A-Team a lot.

That worked too.

It’s no secret my kids (and husband) are afraid of dogs.

I believe this fear comes from not being around dogs, not owning a dog, never having a dog (or pet) in our home.

The only contact any of them have with dogs is when an unassuming puppy wanders over, ears down, waiting for someone to respond with an “Awe, she’s so cute!” Instead, my crew sprints in opposite directions, just hoping to outrun our slowest team member.

The other day we were out for a walk on the beach and a lovely, little dog came walking past with its owner.

The dog appeared old with subtle grey highlights in her beard.

She was wearing a life jacket that I found adorable.

When the dog approached Chloe, our four year old, she squealed and scaled my leg like it was the first branch on a thirty foot tree.

She yelped to get the fierce, bearded, life-jacket wearing, elderly pooch to carry on her way and said to me, “Mommy, I’m scared of dogs.”

We continued our walk and we talked about animals and how the dog just wanted to say “Hi” or “Wanna go for a swim? Safety first, I’m wearing my life jacket.” But Chloe wanted nothing to do with her.

We noticed something in the distance that had attracted a swarm of bugs and when we got close enough to discover a fish carcass that had washed on shore, it was a little gross.

The eyes were missing, the body was split open and it was being eaten by local insects. I almost couldn’t look.

Chloe knelt beside the dead fish and said to me, “Awe, it’s adorable.”

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