Browsing Posts published in March, 2011


Headlines like this were plastered all over the internet and newspapers yesterday. I first heard on my news radio station (after being given permission to turn off Bonnie Rait’s Something To Talk About by the two back rows in the van), there were “NEW” studies that could “potentially” link food colouring with hyper-activity in “some” children.

What year is this?

I think this was made evident in 1982 minutes after the McDonald’s orange five gallon paint pails were delivered to our classroom on hot-dog day (and no hot-dogs, you are not off the hook either) and the simple removal of the lid, tapping of the syrupy keg had kids skateboarding on chalkboard erasers. That was just the orange dye. Think of the red?

A friend of mine always had cream soda at her house and I’m fairly certain there was some sort of rule (likely sent in writing from my Mother) that I was not permitted to drink my own can but nobody said anything about having a sip of my friends’ radioactive red beverage.

I believe I mentioned being involved in gymnastics as a kid, never looked forward to competitions knowing breaking a few bones would be better than the humiliation of performing to The Muppet Show theme song with my underwear so far up my ass it sometimes never returned.

One sip of cream soda and I could do forty-one, consecutive, builder, back-handsprings in my friend’s kitchen while singing Corey Hart’s Never Surrender.

From Yahoo! News (dated today!): The FDA has so far said there is no proven relationship between food dyes and hyperactivity in most children.

I beg to differ. If our kindergarten class served a tray of bright red Jello with a maraschino cherry kicker most of those kids wouldn’t see first recess. Most.

The same article: But the agency has agreed with many of the studies that say for “certain susceptible children,” hyperactivity and other behavioral problems may be exacerbated by food dyes and other substances in food.

I am not a cream-soda-behavioural expert but I have spent some time around children recently and I believe there are only a handful of children who can handle small doses of the dye without being affected and not the other way around.

Those perceived as being “susceptible” look out! These are the kids who come to school with a strange grin on their faces, often drooling, some sort of tick, cap from their Ritalin bottles exposed out of a zipper wide open pocket on their Last Airbender backpacks. I agree, these kids could probably stand to skip the grenadine funnel but they’re not the only ones.

An item was left behind at our neighbourhood candle/cocktail /zombie party last weekend. It wasn’t a hair weave, pair of Spanx or “unwelcome” pharmaceutical. It was a pair of children’s slippers belonging to the little brother of a classmate of our five year olds.  

I’ll admit the clean-up didn’t happen that night but a little later the next day and the slippers almost got swallowed up by a vacuum hose I had shoved under the basement couch. Thankfully, it began choking up Smartfood and salt & vinegar chips and when I pulled it out to examine the salty obstruction, there they were.

I thought returning the Thomas The Tank slippers would be as simple as sending them in my daughter’s Mr. Zippy, a canvas bag housing her kindergarten essentials  (Powerpoint For Dummies, Justin Bieber bobble head) and handing them to her friend their first day back. I was wrong.

Ellie enters after school.

Me: Ellie did you return the slippers to your friend?

Ellie looking at me as if a ridiculous request had been asked of her: No Mom. I couldn’t.

Me (cool, calm): Was Katie not at school today? (The only possible reason she “couldn’t” return the slippers)

Ellie: No, she was there.

Me: Oh. Why didn’t you return the slippers? Did you forget? (also acceptable)

Ellie: Can I have a snack?

Me: Why didn’t you return the slippers El?

Ellie: Because there wasn’t time.

Me: So between the hours of 8:30am and 3pm you didn’t have a moment to spare?

This course curriculum is more demanding than any of us had imagined. No time to return slippers, what next, no Lord’s Prayer?

Ellie: When we come into the school, we put our coats and boots in our cubbies and then we go right to the carpet for circle time.

Me: So there wasn’t enough time to quickly toss the slippers to Katie as you sprinted to the carpet?

Ellie: No. And our cubbies are too far away.

Me: So it was a logistical issue? Is her cubby in the next town?

Ellie: Yeah. And it’s embarrassing.

Me: Embarrassing for you? For Katie? For Thomas The Tank Engine?

Ellie: They’re not even hers.

Me: No, they’re her little brothers and he needs them for preschool.

Ellie: Katie said he doesn’t want them anymore.

Me: So you and Katie had time to discuss the slippers and you two concluded they are no longer of interest to Katie’s brother?

Ellie: The other kids would wonder what we were doing.

Me: If you handed her a bag with her brother’s slippers they would need an explanation? Would they be unhappy with the story, they were left at my house and now I’m returning them?

Ellie: Well, they might want them or they might want to know more about why I have them.

Me: And there’s no time for discussion with that Ellie shaped space on the carpet?

After a long list of excuses, a cubby distance calculation, the promise of a written explanation if the teacher, students, hall monitors or janitorial staff grilled Ellie in any way over the Thomas the Tank affair, we agreed the only solution was to return the slippers to Katie the next day back at school.

Big Sister: That’s stupider than horseradish in May.

I have to agree.

We read today, someone in New York won $312 million in the Power Ball lottery.

Greg turned to the girls and asked, “If we won the lottery and you could have anything in the world, what would you choose?”

Seven year old: A cruise ship.

Five year old after a lot of thought: Can I have two things?

Greg acquiesced: Okay, two things.

Seven year old: Two cruise ships.

Five year old: Colouring book and trumpet.

For some reason, the corner of the baby’s crib sheet has been creeping away from the edge of the mattress at night. I have no idea if she is peeling back the sheet to check out the pattern on the mattress beneath or if it’s been washed so many times, the sheet to mattress ratio is no longer going to allow for full coverage. Perhaps she overheard me talking about Martha Stewart’s perfect way to fold a fitted sheet and like most of us, realized she was in way over her head and quit after picking up the first corner.

I fear things like bed bugs, dust, plastic mattress patterns on baby’s faces and if the baby falls asleep with the sheet corner pulled off I can’t rest until I know its back in place. What if her lips become suctioned to the plastic and she suffocates? What if the small incision through the plastic on the top of the mattress becomes exposed and she innocently glides her wee fingers over it giving herself the worst mattress cut in the history of mattress cuts? What if the sheet pulls off entirely, springs into fitted sheet form, encasing her like a caterpillar in a cocoon?

In order to right this terrible wrong, I must plan my attack and proceed with focus, precision and patience. This exercise involves a series of Mission Impossible style manoeuvres.

I begin by turning off any hallway, bathroom, back-lighting that might influence her REM sleep and jolt her awake from the slightest lighting change when I open the door.

I turn the doorknob over a thirty second time frame ensuring no sound could emanate from the cranking knob and if she did for some reason glance at the knob even just for a second while rolling over onto the exposed mattress, she wouldn’t be able to conclude the knob was in motion, perhaps the slow, hypnotic, circular movement would lull her into an even deeper slumber and she would quickly close her eyes and fall back to sleep.

Door is open, project crib sheet is in full view I walk towards it in a zig zag pattern so as not to disturb the movement of the air being blown by the fan whose purpose is to provide a constant hum drowning out background noise from giggling older sisters as they hork toothpaste all over the bathroom sink and counter and nowhere near the drain.

If my leg brushes against the floor heater and knocks it even an inch from the base, the fan belts out a blaring alarm louder than a jet engine and not only would the baby wake up screaming, my heart would likely stop and there would be a puddle of a do-gooder Mommy with a claw pick-up tool in one hand and sniffing salts in the other.  

I kneel in front of the crib and my knees crack like someone hammering a nail reminding me how old I’m getting. Deep breath, serenity now, she’s still sleeping.

I begin to shimmy, slide, pull and gather enough elastic to just barely reach the corner but need a bit more material in order to bring the sheet over the edge if there’s any chance at gripping. This will require me to shift some blankets, a pillow pet and a baby’s sleeping body.

There are days when this baby sleeps so soundly you could change her diaper, put her in different pj’s, bathe her, feed her a four course dinner and she would remain asleep. Others, the flicking of the hallway light switch to “off” for the first step in this exercise has her screaming to be freed from the confines of her crib. The risk is too great. I’m going to have to continue slowly pulling sheet while pushing the mattress to meet it until it finally springs into place.

The baby hovers her head slightly above the mattress. Her eyes aren’t open but her brows appear to be furled. This semi-conscious reaction indicates she knows someone is in her room, that they are up to something and if there’s any more shimmying of sheets she’ll have no choice but to commence wailing.

As I sit here in a huddled ball, on the floor of the baby’s room, cradling my legs, head down so I look more like a piece of furniture and less like an intruder, I’m really feeling a lot like the doorknob I spent the better part of a minute turning to open.

I always get told by parents whose kids are older than mine that they miss the baby stage and wish they could be there again. I bet they’d like to see a picture of my ball impersonation.

We took the kids shopping for dining room chairs today. Surprisingly, the huge showroom we entered wasn’t as anti-kid as I was anticipating. I guess other families sold their existing table and chairs on kijiji, inherited an antique table, wanted a more contemporary feel for the chairs and also set out with their families in tow.

 I saw two of those carts with the plastic steering wheels no child thicker than a shoehorn can fit behind. Likely stolen from a Home Depot in the area, those things are a coveted ride around a rather boring store so my kids kept a close eye on those lucky enough to be trapped behind the fake air-bag while grinning from ear to ear, waiting for their opportunity to toss the child from the moving vehicle and make this design floor the racetrack they’d been promised.

I suspected the kids would get bored and fast. I had a few tricks on reserve. A pocketful of Cheerios for the baby, a couple of barrettes for the five year old and a Littlest Pet Shop for the seven year old. Eating, primping in front of a showcase of mirrors and finding cute places to set miniature cats and say, “awe” would buy us about five minutes of solid chair-testing time.

The kids weren’t as excited to find the perfect chair as Greg and I. They quickly found the sign for the restroom and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to explore a new toilet, to squeeze into the family bathroom and ask louder than necessary questions about why Mommy doesn’t sit on the toilet seat but hovers just above it to pee. Those browsing in the Persian rug section had a giggle at my expense. I could hear them but it was nice for once to not have someone shoving their fingers under the bottom of the door so laugh away.

Greg made the mistake of mentioning to the commissioned sales woman we might also be looking for an ottoman and two Barcelona chairs.

Indeed, we had discussed purchasing these items one day but today’s priority (after Pet Shops in cute places) was chair shopping.

It seemed with every turn we were wandering through a new ottoman aisle and I was starting to lose patience. I had my metal tape measure to calculate the exact floor to cushion height to be able to slide eight chairs under the low apron of the table, I really didn’t want to touch the tufted buttons on any ottomans, nor did I give two toots about the coil and spring design.

We raced past a chair I thought might be great en route to nod with delight at the miniature, plastic toy cat sliding down a bunk-bed ladder, through a wall of mirrors, pause, pose, ottomans.

I even suggested we change our focus to just dining chairs after I noticed the Cheerios stash was nothing but halvsies and crumbs. We would soon be on borrowed time, meltdowns could creep up at any time, with no warning and I didn’t want to be inside a storage ottoman checking out the hide-and-seek comfort and lighting potential knowing I would be sitting cross-legged on the dining room floor, knife and fork cutting blindly above my head if we didn’t get this sorted out.

We found a chair we could agree on. Being in love with a chair and agreeing on one are two totally different things. Would I have loved the silver armchair that seemed to be shaped like it was asking me to hug it? Yes, but one Littlest Pet Shop dipped in frozen blueberry juice and they’ll go the way of the ottoman.

Eight, espresso, leather chairs with curved arms.

Eight because having dinner with two families of four is ideal, provided our baby remains in a high chair forever this will continue to be the dream.

Espresso because the table is walnut, 1840’s and colour matching would have looked forced. Also, think strong coffee, nobody is falling asleep at the table at my dinner party.

Leather, high wipability, until the kids are thirty-five, we really can’t have any upholstered furniture in this house. Spills are a fact of life and the Pet Shops prefer the smooth, sleek feel.

No ottomans were harmed in the making of this post.

Today was a Mommy and Chloe day. Sometimes I forget how young she is and without my friendly baby guide telling me when to introduce new things, I assume she’s capable of driving a motorized vehicle and ultimately, we end up in a ditch.

Too cold to play outside, I decided today was the right time to introduce mini-golf. Commence eye-rolling now. We have a foam and plastic set meant for children ages ? to ? Again, until Wikipedia outlines these things, I’ll continue to fail at this guessing game.

I set up the three arching circus animals with the loop around the base for the ball to hit and roll back to us (an exercise I would soon learn was never meant to be).

Standing next to Chloe for a demonstration, she seemed eager to enjoy this bonding time and looked at me with utter delight. I shot the ball two feet ahead into the hole and celebrated with a high-five and a little dance.

Next I handed her the club. She held it over her head and whacked me in the eye, an interesting start.

Eye-patch fastened, I showed her my putting technique again and handed her the club. She sat on the floor, turned it upside down and began to chew on the foam head.

When I tried to right the club she became enraged, biting the shaft while holding eye contact with me, her toothy grip spoke volumes, “this would be your arm if I didn’t already have a club in my mouth.”

She began to swing at the carpet fibres and insisted on golfing from a seated position, never once making contact with anything resembling a ball. If anyone has ever tried to golf sitting down I don’t need to tell you, it is impossible. Stopping only to fill her pants, there was no distracting her, not even long enough to tuck the set away until she’s three? Seven?

She kicked the circus animals where the balls should have been. They didn’t see it coming. Fallen arches, broken dreams, time to move on.

We then played a game Chloe invented called “Eat it or fling it” where her hands move calmly across her high chair tray, picking up bites of food and slowly tasting her lunch, moving one item to the next. When the mood strikes, for no apparent reason, with no rhyme or reason, instead of eating the next item on the menu, she flings it clear across the room before I can pounce and stop her.

Her arms are windshield wipers and peas and carrots are the storm littering my kitchen blinds and window sills.

Sixteen months: mini-golf—needs improvement, food slinger—top of the class

Dear Food Manufacturers,

When the directions read, “Cook from frozen” do you mean when the meat is encapsulated inside a fuzzy, icy glacier from living at the back of the freezer for four years?

Also, follow up question, does the same time and temperature setting apply if the meat is grey, steaming and odour producing? Please advise, I’ll hold onto these chicken fingers until I hear back. I really am looking “for best results.”

Our sting operation was a long time in the making, two years actually. Things finally came to a head this afternoon when there were five cats on our deck and for the first time, we were more afraid of them than they were of us. Four of them looked exactly alike and then sweet, little Hornsour staring in disbelief as if in a scene from Mama Mia, wondering if any or all of these cats were her cross-eyed parents.

We’ve lived among them for almost two years. Trying to infiltrate their lair wasn’t easy. We ate nothing but the juice from cans of tuna and scrapings from the bbq grill. We traded our mattress for a cardboard box and thought nothing of spitting up a frog or mouse whenever we felt the need to make our presence known and authentic.

Greg poised, his cat-like reflexes kept him calm, he set the trap (for the seventy-ninth time) and Hornsour finally walked inside. It’s a cage with some sort of trap door so Hornsour wasn’t hurt in any way, just contained in a box so she could be loaded into the van and be transported to her new area code.

This may sound cruel but what kind of life did she have? Freezing for two straight winters on our deck and spending her springs and summers fighting off the incestuous neighbourhood cats that attacked her nightly.

Will we miss the chewed refuse, a mixture of our compost and animal innards? Check.

Will we miss the howling, moaning and S-C-R-A-M sounds waking us at 3am most warm evenings? Check.

When you expose your bum hole and smear it on the glass of our patio door? Check.

When people come to the door and ask, “Awe, is that your cat?” and we reply, “No.” Check.

The meowing, the hair balls, the urine stains on our outdoor chair cushions? All of the above, check, check, check.

Perhaps one day, our reunion will be viewed by millions on youtube a la Christian the lion. For now, there isn’t enough Windex to scrub this door free of butt stamps but when I wipe it clean, I’ll smile and repeat…..Hornsour, Hornsour, Hornsour.

Hornsour the cat—June-ish 2009—March 2011 (unless the local coyotes adopt her as a mascot)

She left her mark on our deck. Just like she did in my van.

I can’t help but wonder if it’s a tad early to be opening, this just our second season in business but being new to the industry, I guess the neighbourhood cats will dictate when the shenanigans will begin and  will set the hours of operation for our feline deck brothel. It does make sense that March 21st (first day of spring) was what they were waiting for.

I am watching a disgusting looking, all brown cat moan from the top of the stairs while he or she wags his or her tail across the wooden floor. Forgive me. I’m not sure if the man does the howling or the woman, having been confused by the reproductive habits of seahorses on our recent vacation.

 Hornsour stays close to the door leading into the house. A door she will never enter, a house whose comforts she will never enjoy. She has lived on the deck for the better part of two years, perhaps this big, ugly, brown beast is one of her parents, perhaps a suitor, maybe it’s the cat version of Grace from Annie bringing promises of a better life, I have no idea. I do know, if a scrap of food is thrown to Hornsour, the bully comes running and robs her of whatever we burned for dinner. Maybe it’s Miss Hannigan and not Grace after all.

I was convinced (foolishly) the brown guy was just one cat. Then yesterday, I noticed brown guy standing next to his identical twin. They were both standing tall, not moving a hair their whiskers were touching, noses almost touching. I have no idea if this is a mating ritual or an initiation into Fight Club (the after-hours club also hosted here on the deck running anytime after midnight, closing up for romping hours sometime mid-morning).

There’s usually a loud skirmish over the noon hour and then again in the middle of the night. Perhaps an argument over someone wanting to drive and the others suggesting they call a cab, I wonder if Toonces the driving cat from Saturday Night Live is still on speed dial?

A third brown cat approached the pair of frienemies, Hornsour rubbing her exposed bum hole against my glass door staking her claim to urinate, shed hair and hurl portions of dead animals under our outdoor dining set. I guess a gig like that is worth defending.

When I’ve had enough, I walk out the door, Hornsour hides and the others run off. Within three minutes, they are all slinking back up the stairs thinking I’m far too stupid to look out the window a second time.

If we’re really going to allow this to continue for another year, I’m going to have to dig out the “No Vacancy” sign.

My five year old found a board game she hadn’t yet mastered today. It was tucked away behind a basket of remotes, all of which were functional at some point in the recent past, none of which we could pair up with an appliance and make work. For now, they will continue to rest quietly in the “we don’t know what these are for” basket until like so many other things around this house, enough time will pass and they will quietly disappear.

The game is Outburst and while there may be a version meant for children, this wasn’t it.

Frustrations grew quickly (on both sides). Ellie wanted to insert a card with a Top 10 list printed on it and have me guess the answers based on the category.

There were so many problems with this arrangement. For starters, she can’t read so she spells each word in the title aloud, “t-o-p-t-e-n-J-o-h-n-‘-s, What does that spell?

Me: Top 10 John’s

Ellie: Okay Mommy (looking in the distance as if she has her eye on a clock and knows how to tell time)—Go.!

There was no timer. She added her own sense of urgency for drama.

Me: John Travolta?

Ellie: How do you spell that?

Me: T-R-A

Interrupting Cow: No. None of them start with T, they all start with J except one that starts with H.

Me: Do they all start with J as in John?

Ellie: How do you spell that?

Me: J-O-H-N

Ellie: Wait, let me check.

Sipping my tea.

Ellie: Yes, except one starts H-U-G-H

It ended up being Hugh Grant. With this complex reading exercise, it didn’t seem the right time to spell out Hugh Grant’s prostitution bust and why he would be considered one of the top 10 Johns.

She had me convinced John Travolta had not made the list until it was time to call it quits and I looked over the card. He was answer number one.

Next up, my worthy opponent was assigned Top 10 sugary cereals

What are ten cereals Ellie has never heard of?

Her next turn, I found “10 bad things kids bring home from school” thinking this would be doable for a child so eager to play a grown-up game. I thought she might come up with a few correct answers on her own and the rest, I could give her subtle hints. When I reviewed; lice, germs, a bad report card, swear words, I figured we would get through this one without incident.

Among other things, Ellie guessed, “poop filled backpack,” “someone else’s used toilet paper” and “dead cat.”

Powered by WordPress © 2014 Tea and Snippets