Browsing Posts published in April, 2011

 We had our front hall and mud room closets organized yesterday with shelves, drawers, shoe racks and all the trimmings.

Once again I have been reminded we live like pigs and having to remove seventeen pairs of swimming goggles prior to construction simply confirmed what I already knew.

Having three girls is great in many ways—the big size is passed down to middle and later saved for the baby. Our problem is storing thirty-nine, mud-caked pairs of winter boots hoping that one of them will fit the baby during a winter sometime in the future but where oh where am I supposed to keep all of this?

After scolding the family for having so many goggles and storing them in bizarre closet spaces, I couldn’t get over some of the things I’m guilty of saving.

I bought a pair of DKNY shoes twelve years ago. Have shoe styles changed since then? I bought them to wear to a Christmas party for one of my first real jobs and spent over $100 on them. I had never spent that much on a pair of shoes in my life and I think I was holding onto them to remind myself what a big deal that was. What on earth was I saving them for, DKNY day? Pitched in the donation box.

Another organization challenge was Greg’s obvious, closet coat fetish—intervention pending. If you ever see my husband at a golf tournament, business meeting, trip to Vegas or otherwise and feel an inkling to offer him a jacket with your company logo on it, please know, I will hunt you down and leave a headless mouse on your front stoop. Enough with the ugly jackets! And why oh why do companies think they are making a perfectly nice leather jacket look better by embroidering their Kelly green logo on the chest. Why not quietly place your business card in the pocket and the jacket might actually see the light of day?

Duffle bags—I know we thought one day we would use each and every one of these bags. Sadly, the invitation to the duffle bag convention hasn’t arrived so I think I’ll toss a few of those too. I’m fairly certain in a past life I was deprived of a duffle bag because I’ve been hoarding hundreds of them, mostly for my embroidered company logo scrapbooking collection.

Hangers—I bought 72 wooden hangers to replace the mishmash of dry-cleaner wire we’ve been using. There’s not a recycling plant big enough to house the wire and plastics I’m about to bamboozle you with.

I found enough hats to outfit everyone watching the royal wedding.

Soccer shoes—more soccer shoes than games played, into the duffle bag box they went.

Please excuse any smudges on the pic. Those are tears of joy.

Ellie (our five year old) asked me for a dream catcher before going to bed last night. She explained while whispering and always beginning with, “Promise not to tell anyone?” I agreed and yet, here I am.

Ellie: I need a dream catcher because last night I had a terrible dream. I have to whisper it because it scares me to say it out loud.

Me: Okay El, what was the dream?
Ellie: I had a dream there was a wicked witch at the park and she was cutting kids in half.

Yes, I think a dream catcher and some hallucinogenic drugs might help along with a simple explanation as to where the dream originated. Number one, she watched Wizards of Waverly Place, her seven year old sister’s favourite t.v. show with some mature content and they were showing a magician sawing one of the lead characters in half. Ellie giggled as it was happening and we tried to explain, this is just a silly trick for the t.v. and nobody is actually being sawed in half. She looked at me as though I was crazy for needing to explain. Hmmm.

Number two, we have been reading too many Disney fairytales and to a one, there is a horrible, evil, stepmother or wicked witch trying to poison or kill the heroine.

Throw them in the blender and you have one night terror for an impressionable, little girl.

I dug up the old dream catcher earring and set it on her dresser and she fell asleep without incident.

It wasn’t until I went in to check her at 9:45pm that I noticed something peculiar.

I couldn’t see my child in her bed as she was buried beneath a crown made of giant, colourful pipe cleaners strung with the contents of at least a full box of Kleenex, Easter egg shaped erasers poking out of the crown points, she was wrapped in a princess robe that had every rogue puzzle piece we own, strategically placed along the hemline and out of the pockets were two Zhu Zhu pets (thankfully in the off position).

She was drenched in sweat and I’m still not sure if that was a result of fear or simply because she was layered in toys and several other articles that had no business being turned into clothing.

And then it occurred to me. Something extraordinary was happening. I was witness to the very first, human dream catcher and it was fantastic. Somewhere, there’s a market for this design.

Take that witch.

 Once again, I received some helpful parenting advice, this time about causes of tummy aches. I thought this was a great list in a rather obvious sort of way. I have a couple of additions.

• What causes tummy trouble in children?

• 1. Gastroenteritis or “stomach flu”

• 2. Milk allergy or lactose intolerance

• 3. Constipation and changes in diet

• 4. Upper respiratory illness

• 5. Appendicitis

• 6. Gas

While the above outline may apply to some common triggers, the following tummy ache culprits appear a lot more often in my house.

1. Music lessons, practising for music lessons, driving to music lessons, discussing past, present or future music lessons, music lesson re-enrolment form, the sound of a piano, The Sound Of Music, an ampersand that might be confused for a treble clef, anything to do with music lessons.

2. Foods they have never tried before based on sight and sometimes smell alone.

3. Dead batteries in the ipad forcing them to play with humans.

4. Foods introduced as “healthy” or “nutritious.”

5. School boredom coinciding with a stacked afternoon t.v. line-up.

6. When bedtime is called before a t.v. show and/or movie is over.

7. Homework—can escalate to severe ulcers if said homework is for music class.

8. Anytime someone is dangerously close to being tagged “it” in any game.

9. Hair brushing time and/or tidy-up time.

10. Notice of head lice in the classroom—this one applies more to Mommy’s tummy aches.

Our nearly 18 month old has not yet held onto a blanket for more than twelve seconds, has had no connection to a stuffed toy or chewy giraffe. She’s been content with the toys that make up her surroundings and her entertaining playmates, her sisters.

I wondered if she would just be one of those kids without that one special toy to slobber on, take with her for long car rides, or cuddle with when she’s feeling under the weather. Then this week, I introduced Chloe to a new pair of fleece pyjamas from Carters with frogs on the pants.

Clearly, the p.j.’s were what she had been waiting for. Don’t ask why a pair of pyjamas, why frogs, why fleece because your guess is as good as mine. The bond they have is real and it’s ridiculously cute.

She’s just tall enough to stand and stick her nose into her pyjama drawer after a bath and select the sleeper she wants to wear to bed. Don’t give her too much credit, she just grabs the one on top and slams the drawer shut but feels victorious when she hands them to me as if she’s negotiated a major business deal in her favour and her footed prize will keep her warm tonight.

Earlier in the week, she had selected her sleeper for the night and just before I put it on, I held up the froggy p.j.’s to see if she was ready for them yet as they were on the large side. She grabbed the familiar sleeper from my grasp, tossed it fifteen feet away and ripped the frogs from my hands, hugging them and attempting to ribbit while she danced around the room in her diaper.

Me: Chloe, would you like to wear these frog pyjamas tonight?

Chloe: Azuba zube. Azuba zube. Azuba…

I know, zube.

Sometimes when she wants to be taken seriously, she sticks her pointer finger under my eyelid to be sure I’m paying attention and with purpose says, “Azuba zube.” It’s the modern day equivalent of “You’ll rue the day” if you don’t do what I’m asking. I think in this case she meant, get these p.j.’s on me right now so I can hop down the hall and dance around like a princess and make it snappy.

She rubbed her hands back and forth on the fleece as if it was a yard of the finest silk money could buy. She yanked at the frogs, throwing her head back and laughing. Frogs on my pants, are you guys catching wind of this? She was delighted. Continue reading “Frogger….” »

If I haven’t said this before, kids and parents alike are simply happier beings when we’ve had the chance to play outside.

This morning, we spent three hours playing at the park, climbing trees, exploring nature, watching someone fly a kite. The girls gathered leaves, mud, sand, pinecones and grass clippings to be magically converted into a five course meal in their make-believe, drive-thru window restaurant.

Courses included; licorice soup and my favourite was when the executive chef announced the following; “Madame, your steak with cock sauce is served.”

I’m going to assume they’ve heard something being served with cocktail sauce at some point and I decided not to challenge them on the choice of name, lest the cock sauce be repeated on the playground with a less forgiving audience.

From pirates saving the one armed surfers in the water from sharks (thanks Soul Surfer) to explorers climbing to the tops of trees and overlooking the baseball diamonds and public washrooms spotting sparkly treasures (probably foil wrapped chocolate eggs…the only ones our baby hasn’t attempted to eat), they were happy. There they were, best buds, the Three Amigos, spotting each other on the monkey bars, chasing each other with fewer instances of “T” which is the quick version of yelling “time out” usually involving a disproportionate number of tears by the person who has been “it” for the duration of the game.

Returning home was a different story. From outdoor treasure hunters, friends of the environment, the inventors of cock sauce began to bicker.

They had simply run out of ideas. The outdoors offered endless opportunity for being creative, walking in our door, they had seen it all before. In case you were wondering, with boredom comes mischief, so today for example, the baby discovered a new roll of toilet paper can be pulled from its home in the girl’s bathroom, down the hall into our family room with paper to spare. Thanks Chloe. When I knelt down and looked at the tp’d hallway, I locked eyes with her and firmly said, “No.” She stared back knowing she was being disciplined for doing something she shouldn’t have and I awaited my “ug” from a remorseful baby. Instead, she swatted me across the head and waddled quickly and with purpose, giggling into the other room.

I liked it better outside.

For the second time this week, our almost eighteen month old devoured a foil wrapped chocolate egg, foil and all.

I believe the expression goes something like, “foil me once….”

We were sitting around our family Easter table enjoying lunch, trading Chloe between Daddy and I knowing we are always on borrowed time when it comes to quietly eating a meal and the time she will decide to a) soil herself, b) squirm out of her high chair, c) throw a tantrum for no reason other than to deprive us of the basic necessities of life (in this case, ham and scalloped potatoes), d) eat a foil wrapped egg.

With Chloe on Greg’s lap and Greg and I sitting next to each other it was difficult for either one of us to get a clear view of what was keeping her so quiet while we actually engaged in conversation and chewed our food into swallow-worthy sizes as opposed to our usual approach; taking a chance we might survive if we just open the gullet, swallow without chewing and hope for the best.

The foil eaten egg was an interesting case study in human behaviour. Of course because of the obvious, baby eating tin foil but if we peel back the layers, something noteworthy was taking place.

There were many people sitting around the dining room table all with a clear shot of what our baby was doing. With the exception of Greg and me, everyone could see what was unravelling in front of them. A baby drooling chocolate, chewing foil and dribbling brown liquid and green, reflective paper bits.

The reactions were telling.

Those at the table without children found it bizarre we would allow our baby (or even intentionally feed her) to eat foil wrapped chocolate eggs.

Those who had kids of their own thought one of the following; a) this is hilarious, how obtuse are these parents, let’s see how this one plays out, b) these two are the worst parents on the planet allowing their not yet 18 month old  to indulge in foil wrapped chocolate eggs.

Laugh all you want. She lives to see another day and I’ve yet to be beaten by a diaper in the almost eight years I’ve been changing them. If there is an extra layer of metallic green, shining back at me tomorrow morning then happy extended Easter to me!

When I make the bed (properly) in the morning, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment.

When I walk past the same bed ten minutes later and it’s been transformed into a fort by my three kids I have an unbelievable sense of accomplishment (and a super cool place to sleep).

We went on a “nature hike” today to find something extraordinary on a crappy, dull day and nature came through in a big way.

We stumbled upon an injured bird.

Hanna with her no-stone-unturned attitude found a juicy, ripe worm and approached the wounded sparrow. She tossed the worm and the bird lifted her wings ready to attack the human who dwarfed her by at least a thousand times.

Ellie began to cry. “Why are we hurting nature! Stop hurting NATURE HANNA!!!!”

I explained that Hanna was helping nature and Ellie shouted back, snot running down her face and onto her lips (why does that still disgust me?) “What about the worm? He’s part of nature too!!!” She went on, “Why should he have to die? That’s not helping anybody!”

I knelt down beside Ellie and tried to explain that by feeding the bird the worm, the bird would digest the worm, poop him out onto our plants to be used as fertilizer and we would grow delicious fruits and vegetables.

Ellie enraged: THAT ONLY HELPS PEOPLE!!! THAT DOESN’T HELP THE WORM!

So she’s officially perfected vegetarianism and we are well on our way to full-on veganism.

She marched home to fetch some seeds to feed the bird and a scoop to put the worm back under the rock from which he came.

She wanted to do this alone, fearing the rest of us meat eaters would screw up the plan and accidentally kill the worm, eat the seeds meant for the bird or eat the bird and use the sticks it was sitting on as toothpicks.

Then, something truly amazing happened. Basically, the bird attacked Ellie exposing four eggs under her body.

Ellie tossed the seeds and ran crying towards the house. She yelped, “The bird started screaming ‘bleek, bleek, bleek’ and pecked at my feet! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!”

I checked out the bird-to-English dictionary on Wikipedia and “bleek bleek bleek” means “Giant human with pink-polka-dotted, pom-pom on the top of your hat, back-the-fuck-off!”

She cried and cried but after I washed her face with some warm water and gave her some juice-water, she hugged me, still crying while I explained the wonderful lesson in nature she had just witnessed.

Me: Mommies will protect their babies with ferocity no matter what seemingly insurmountable object might be in her way. Imagine a bird that’s smaller than your thumb willing to stand up to big, human you?

Ellie nuzzled into me and said, “Mommy, thanks for taking care of me. I hate birds.”

Me too Ellie and worms.

I often receive information about how to raise a happy baby, how to be a better parent, how to find that coveted “me time” I keep hearing about. I’m not sure why I get these direct emails. I don’t remember signing up for any of them. Perhaps when you give birth your name is added to some sort of database?

That, or someone saw a train wreck in the making and decided to anonymously add my email address to several spammers to teach me how to parent and keep things in check.

I received one of these easy-to-follow daily schedules, an hourly guide to get through the day with your baby and it caught my interest.

Suggested Hourly Activity

7:00am—Tummy Time 

9:00am—Stay close, carry baby around in an infant carrier showing them the sights and sounds in her environment        

10:00am—take a walk   

12:00pm—high chair time. Have the baby look at a book while you prepare lunch, engage in conversation with the child

1:00pm—set your baby in an activity centre for no more than 30 minutes to encourage leg movement and curious play

2:00pm—nap time

4:00pm—solo play. Place your baby in a play yard to amuse themselves

5:00pm–dinner

Reality

7:00am—Sneak around the house hoping the baby doesn’t wake up just yet

9:00am—remove the shot glasses from the baby’s hands she found in the liquor cabinet and load her into the car to buy milk for the third time this week

10:00am—take a walk down the hall and find the raccoon baby behind older sibling’s door eating the mosaic stickers off the homemade poster

11:00am—look at your watch and then look at it again. How can it only be 11:00am? We’ve read Violet’s House forty-eight times, baked some muffins, burnt some muffins, thrown out some muffins, eaten some muffin paper? It has to be at least 3pm.

12:00pm—lunch time: avocado, lean turkey breast, Polly Pocket shoe, cantaloupe, pita

1:00pm—fold the laundry while the baby stomps on the neatly stacked piles and dives into the basket. Use the basket as a boat and/or train to push up and down the hall while the baby tosses the clean clothes into the “water”

Once you’ve kicked yourself for even attempting to fold the laundry while the baby is awake, now you can try that infant carrier suggestion, giving you the opportunity to scarf down a sandwich. Try to refrain from using sauces that might drip onto the back of your baby’s neck. This will be far too tempting to lick off when you are back at the grocery store later because you forgot the milk and nobody needs to see that.

2:00pm—negotiate, beg, plead with the baby to rest or at the very least, enjoy some quiet time while you search the house for the diaper you thought you threw in the garage garbage bin but that lingering, rank odour suggests you instead set it down while en route to the garage and it’s somewhere hiding in the house.

2:30pm—wake the baby who has been asleep for no longer than three minutes and pick up older siblings at school

4:00pm—call Poison Control (speed dial 4) to see if it’s okay that the baby drank a bottle of purple food dye and ate a foil-wrapped, chocolate egg, foil included, in the same week

5:00pm—dinner: hummus (to be smeared on face and in hair only, not for baby consumption but a good boost to trick the parent into thinking you’re feeding her all the right things), mango, eraser from big sister’s favourite pencil, rice.

6:00pm—bath, stories, cavity search to find small, missing toys but more importantly to remove anything that might disrupt an otherwise restful night’s sleep.

7:00pm—bed

8:00pm-Haagen Dazs ice cream bar, Modern Family, have husband carry you to bed and try not to drool on the hardwood floors on the way there.

Hanna noticed two mints in my purse last night on the way to swimming lessons. Funny how I can’t find my gloves, box of Kleenex, condoms, or tire iron in there amongst the rubble but a kid and her candy, there’s a connection I simply can’t explain.

I’m still unsure if they were mints or fruit flavoured candies. They came with our bill at a restaurant and they were individually wrapped, tri-coloured; red, green and white.  The candies supplied to all family restaurants. I tossed them into the bag thinking the next time I saw them would be when I emptied the purse during my annual purging or the bag developed a small hole and the mints fell into my folded up pant leg on the school playground, whichever came first, both scenarios possible.

My kids can’t eat candy without savouring every sensorial treasure including the way it looks, before texture and finally taste.

Hanna: Ellie, the white part is for those soft, cuddly kittens on the Royale toilet paper commercials. Do you know them Mommy?

 If only they knew I spent the better part of my childhood campaigning to adopt one of those adorable little gems but was told they were cat actors and lived on the road.

Ellie: Green is for trees and plants.

Hanna: Did you know the trees give us oxygen so we can breathe?

Hanna:  Red is for….

Ellie: Red is for hearts and love Hanna!”

Hanna: No Ellie, red is for Jesus’ blood. He died Ellie and there was blood everywhere.

Awesome. Grade two learns about Easter, let the night terrors begin.

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