Browsing Posts published in May, 2011

Finally the rain got sick and tired of itself and took a short hiatus, long enough for me to walk around the block with the baby.

I noticed something odd about the front yards of a few of the houses on our street and those surrounding. Some were filled with bright yellow dandelions smiling at us, following us as we strolled. Others looked like pristine golf courses, immaculately maintained without a weed in sight. Hmmm.

I guess I’m confused. I thought we were in agreement, no more toxins in our fertilizers, they have been banned for a reason (or several) and we are all just going to have to live in harmony with lawns that have more yellow than green. Tiptoe through the tulips but wear a thick shoe and weave in and out of the prickly patches just like the song suggests.

I’m on the weed ridden fence over this one. I too would like to have a cushiony blanket of green to play on but I don’t want to do it at the expense of my children’s health. But then I remember the Weed Man having his own apartment at our house as a kid as there was never a day I didn’t see that green and yellow truck parked out front with flashy white flags indicating our lawn had just been sprayed so keep your weeds two chevrons back suckers. And yes I had a tail but it fell off just before my sixteenth birthday just like the possible side effect warnings promised.

I watched a neighbour with her Weed Whacker chopping the tops of the dandelions off, I guess assuming if the yellow was gone, the rest would just melt back into the ground. While I like this “off with their heads” approach, I just don’t see it as a viable solution.

So the question needs to be asked, “What is the magic solution? Who is using what fertilizer? “ This beet and corn based stuff sounds tasty but given the influx in giggling dandelions, I’m thinking it’s not as effective as the dousing vegetables want us to believe.

A good friend is in the soy business and sings the praises of soy-based products but I’m not sure filling the spreader with a handful of beans (unless they came from an impoverished farmer with the promise of a better life) will do the trick.

Just out of curiosity, has anyone tried breast milk? It works on everything.

We crowded around the family room window and watched two robins peck each other in a duel over one of the juiciest worms ever to surface this side of the 401.

The kids giggled wildly at the closest thing they will ever see to a UFC fight and Greg used his quit wit and brutal British accent to provide voice over effects that would add to the laughter.

Through all of the chuckles, one of the birds pecked away at his opponent losing sight of the slimy prize.

Ellie cheering: He’s an IDIOT!

Everyone stopped.

I looked at Greg and he at me, we both tried hard not to laugh.

Greg explained that we don’t use words like that to our five year old and I did the same. We simply won’t tolerate anyone using words like idiot even if it was about an idiotic bird because one day that word might be used against a person and that is not okay.

Ellie’s eyes welled up.

“What word can’t I use?”

Greg and I: Idiot.

Ellie’s lip quivering: I said HE HASN’T ATE IT YET! (referring to the worm)

We opted to apologize rather than correct her grammar.

A lesson in parenting for a couple of idiots.

I’m a patient person in training. I’ve lived in Canada my entire life and have now seen thirty-six silver white winters melt into springs but this is not one of my favourite things.

For almost five days straight we’ve been stuck in the house. Yes it’s a house that love built but hugs alone can only keep me sane for so long. There are lots of activities, crafts and even electronic devices that get turned on from time to time when we run out of flour for baking, we’ve crafted until there was more paint than table, but the clang clang clanging of wooden spoons on metal mixing bowls that was endearing the first five hundred times has morphed into an exercise in torture the army should consider using on our enemies . Even the angry birds seem a little angrier, even infuriated these days and dare I say it, this constant rain is just freakin’ ridonkulous.

I miss our time riding bikes on the driveway. One little boy as recently as a week ago fell on his cross bar and groaned, “I just hit my petunia on the bar.” I’m not getting any adorable one-offs like that to get me through the day when I’m stuck inside.

I considered the dreaded, local playgroup which I have never taken our 18 month old to. I used to have my own parking space when Hanna was that age but I finally connected the instances of viral illnesses to playgroup frequency and once I killed the visits, the ear infections, mucus-filled coughs and scarlet fever made progress toward recovery. Other kids equal nasty germs, simple. No I’m not raising my kids in a bubble, there are plenty of germs in every corner of this house and when I think they’re a little too clean, I assign headless animal carcass clean-up to one of them or at the very least assistant-to-the-animal-carcass-cleaner-upper.

With the damp weather also comes spider season. I cracked the top of our treadmill this morning trying to balance and hit a spider on the ceiling that if I had a tape measure, I’m sure would have been equal to the size of the adult men’s gym shoe I was hitting him with….I mean, using to escort him safely back into nature. But I couldn’t because the wind knocked me back into the house so I really let him have it.

I got stuck inside and found myself reading some headlines, who has time for the whole article? Far too many about the Schwarzenneger scandal. This may seem obvious but has anyone looked at the ten year old child? I’m assuming he’s 6’5” with a huge gap in between his two front teeth. Sometimes those “tells” can confirm a paternity that was likely already in question.

We’ve also been running a bakery out of our kitchen. I guess because it smells good, the kids can participate (to an extent) and we can freeze the goodies. So to reiterate, rain equals fat arse.

Go play in the puddles? Sure. But most are too deep for the little ones not to have some sort of floatation device, oh and let’s not forget, a quick splash in a puddle is one thing, around here, the wet wind will hurricane you back into the house like a slingshot within seconds and then what? Now I’ve got another full load of laundry for a five minute wear? I’ll thank you to keep your ill-thought suggestions to yourself.

The sun did come out for about five minutes around 6pm last night. The timing was right. The rain people had just started to turn on each other.

I drove to school to pick up Hanna and pulled in behind a series of cars, trucks, vans in front of me and waited.

The baby was in the backseat yelling, “Up! Up!” she wanted out of her seat so she could walk to the front doors in the hopes of being hugged by her big sister who she missed all day, but more likely to dodge the flurry of kids that burst through the doors seconds after the bell rings and like the running of the bulls, my 18 month old stands frozen as they race past her towards the brightly coloured buses.

Today however, I was unable to get Chloe out of her seat after a wave of nausea hit me from out of nowhere.

I am not pregnant.

The flu has been going around and as recently as last week was back in our house so I feared it was my turn. I also worried death by slowly poisoning someone a recent plot on Desperate Housewives had gotten into my kitchen.

Still five minutes on the clock I was wedged in between two blue-tooth chatting pick-up parents, wondering if maybe they were talking to each other and several others who had a clear view into my front seat. I feared I was going to throw up in front of a larger than necessary parking-lot audience and with modern technology, this episode could go viral.

I fashioned together a couple of cloth grocery bags thinking I would just hurl into the bags, rather than leaping from the car and throwing up outside for the world to film and cheer me on. It wouldn’t matter that the bags are made of mostly cheese cloth. I’m holding onto that car detailing gift card for when I need it most. Alternatively, I considered revving the gas and jolting forward about 100 metres, hoping I wouldn’t spew until I was safely parked out of sight but this one had an element of danger I wasn’t physically capable of exploring.

The wave passed but I knew I was on borrowed time. Hanna spotted the van and we raced home.

I made an announcement to the kids that I wasn’t feeling well and I needed their help in playing or plotting my death quietly while I sat for a few minutes and hoped this would pass.

Minute 1: Chloe climbed down the stairs, burst through Greg’s office door while he was on a conference call and started shouting, “Do Re Mi” over and over again. Mommy to the rescue.

Minute 2: Ellie walked downstairs to retrieve the ipad so she could knock off a few angry birds before dinner but returned upset because, “Daddy is watching a scary show where bad guys were giving away a baby.” I guess Y&R wasn’t one of the cancelled soaps?

Minute 3: Ellie wanted to print some hidden picture puzzles off of the computer and screamed, “Mommy! Help! Help!” I whispered back, “Yes Ellie?”

Ellie: What do I type?

Me: www

Ellie: Wait……w, now what?

Me: w

Ellie: I already did that

Me: Another w

Ellie: w, now what?

Me: w

Ellie: I already did that!

Me (my head is spinning): There are three w’s

Ellie: w, what next?

She finally typed in the url necessary to retrieve her pages but…

Ellie: It didn’t work! Now I’m on my music homework!

Me: Coming.

Minute 4 Ellie: I just peed my pants. Sorry Mom. I’m really sorry. (now crying, there’s a pee path from the dining room to the bathroom).

Minute 5: On my hands and knees with a bucket of vinegar and a very upset child sobbing from the bathroom.

Chloe: Up! Up! Up!

She’s removed her socks and is dunking them in the vinegar/pee bucket making a slow moving cyclone.

When I tell her to stop, she senses I’m weak and continues with an evil laugh.

If I had walked in the door five minutes earlier and asked someone to pee on the floor, someone else to dunk their socks in it and someone to traumatize a child with a daytime soap opera, I’m not sure my wish would have come true.

I am inundated with information about how to raise happy, healthy kids. Some of it is informative and some I question how it could have made it past the most basic spam filter on any household computer.

Recently, I’ve noticed a disproportionate number of suggestions for tried and true recipes, sure fire menus your kids will love and I find myself shaking my head.

I have found a couple of things work well in our house. Using simple, whole foods, little to no spice and serving the kids whatever the adults are eating rather than spending my day prepping menu items a la Mommy the short order cook. Smiley faces and fancy gimmicks never seem to work unless the food the smiley face is made from is a known substance and one they already know they like. Simple.

Why then have I sifted through buckets of suggestions for kid’s menus that include some or all of the following;

1. Onions. Many of the recipes I’ve examined include not just a small, minced onion hidden somewhere in a sauce but rather a generous smattering of onion chunks. I have yet to find a child who enjoys the flavour an onion brings to a sauce, quesadilla or otherwise, in fact, I have two adult brothers who still pick through their food to remove the onions and gag at the sight of them.

2. Bringing the kids into the kitchen to help. While I absolutely agree kids should be a part of the dinner making experience and chances are better they will eat something they’ve had a hand in preparing, don’t rule out the idea that kids shouldn’t necessarily be touching all of the ingredients that are making their way into your meal despite the nudge-nudge, wink-wink hand-washing they adamantly swear was thoroughly adhered to, nor should they be permitted to over-stir muffins so they won’t rise. Moms are shaking their heads at me for shooing my kids out of the kitchen when it comes time to stir the batter but would you rather have a tasty, onion-free treat or a sad little pancake of a leather muffin with an icing sugar frowny-face?

Perhaps you should bring the kids into the kitchen to prep the onions. If they didn’t like them before they joined you in the kitchen, have them cut a few and see if that doesn’t change their opinion.

3. Tomatoes. I love tomatoes so this isn’t an attack on tomatoes and I think most kids enjoy tomato based sauces, I know they love ketchup but a slice of tomato thrown into a meal just doesn’t seem to add anything but a headache. If you are shouting, “My kids love tomatoes, I can’t be the only one!” You are.

4. Spices. Again, there’s nothing better than a spicy Indian or Thai dish for the adults in your family and many kids will attempt to taste it but it rarely goes beyond wanting a bite to show how brave they are in front of their siblings or friends and receiving assumed permission to drink directly from the water jug without repercussions. There are a good number of recipes that sound fabulous until I get to the blurb about tossing in a handful of turmeric, fresh cilantro, cumin and a dash of nutmeg. They simply aren’t going to get eaten. Instead, I’ll hear through plugged noses, “It looks good Mom but I can’t eat it because it smells too gross.” Best saved for date night.

5. Cookie cutter shapes. I don’t own any cookie cutters. If that takes me out of the running for mother of the year then I respectfully decline the nomination. It seems foolish to start buying now. This year’s silly band cutter is going to be old news before next year’s Zhu Zhu pet cutter which will be obsolete before I can shove the dough into the spinny wheels lest they get caught in my hair (again). I enjoy looking at the adorable clown head with matchstick carrots for hair, olive eyes (because all kids love olives) and red pepper stick smile but there’s a fine line between a stylist making a happy clown face sandwich for the cover of a magazine and my rendition, resembling a scary, serial killer clown who haunts children with shaved onion hair, tomato eyes and a sprig of thyme smile.

Here is my favourite suggestion of all. A dish called Shakshuka. That’s right spell check, no such word. Kids just love things they can’t pronounce. I’m not suggesting I wouldn’t eat this dish myself, but nowhere in the list of ingredients does it scream, “kid friendly.” Even if my daughter’s name was Shak and our last name was Shuka, I still wouldn’t be able to get my kids to eat it.

Shakshuka!

1 onion chopped (onions check!)
3 or 4 cloves of garlic minced (mmmm kid’s favourite bulb)
a really good sized glug of olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika (spices check!)
1/2 teaspoon cumin (more spices)
1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes (tomatoes check!)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
good pinch of kosher salt and pepper
5 or 6 eggs
1/4 cup crumbled feta (great on cookies)
chopped basil (or parsley)

I took the baby for a walk around the block hoping she would fall asleep in her stroller, intoxicated by the fresh air, also hoping I wouldn’t fall asleep by the same logic. She did (I didn’t) and I opted to park her just outside the front door, enter the house through the garage myself so as not to wake her with the squeaky mechanics of a heavy garage door.

I noticed when carrying her through the front door something strange etched in the paint. An upper case letter A about the size of a large pizza, a series of scribbles and a few other letters, perhaps from another alphabet, I have yet to decipher.

I was going to have to use the divide and conquer approach to find a rat willing to tell me exactly who was responsible for the graffiti requiring a new paint job and what they were hoping to achieve with these gigantic scarlet letters.

Ellie, do you know who might have scratched the letter A on our front door?

Ellie very quickly responding: I have absolutely no idea Mom. No idea whatsoever. None. No idea at all.

Hmmmmm.

After school, I asked Hanna the same question.

Hanna: Well, wait a second. Do you mean the front door? Like our front door? Or do you mean the side door because sometimes we call the side door the front door so I’m just a bit confused by what door?

Me: The front door. The one we always call the front door. The one we never call the side door.

Hanna: Oh yeah. That was me and Ellie. We found a bone in the garden and we were drawing with it.

I decided to ask Ellie again after Hanna’s confusing confession, first letting her know that her older sister had already explained the finding of the bone and the conversion of said bone into a writing utensil (why I haven’t questioned the bone yet will remain another mystery).

Ellie: Oh, I thought you asked about the letter E. Yeah, we wrote an A on the front door. I’m pretty sure you asked who wrote the E on the door. Not us Mom. Not us.

Me: So when I asked you if you knew who scratched the letter A on the front door…..

Ellie: Oh, I thought you said in China or something like that.

There was an interview this morning on the news with some Americans about their thoughts on security in Canada.

One man suggested our security is so lax, Bin Laden could fly into any airport in our country, introduce himself as “Osama the tent maker” and then wander into the U.S. whenever he wanted.

A couple of problems.

  1. Bin Laden is dead, he is no longer making tents.
  2. While I’ll agree, Canadians do have a soft spot for camping and camping equipment, for Bin Laden to at least identify himself before entering Canada seems there was some sort of screening process. I would be more concerned about him being able to “wander” into the U.S.

I just ate a piece of bread off the baby’s high chair tray thinking it was untouched. Turns out, she had chewed it and spit it out. Wrong way Mama bird. Wrong way.

A busy day outside to clear our heads progressed to barf and by midnight it was just a head in a bucket.

Me: Ellie, did you eat anything strange today?

When the kids are out Funkenhauzing, you never quite know who will eat what (or whom).

Ellie: Yes. Remember at lunch when I asked you how many carrots I had to eat and you said, all of them? Well one of them had a brown spot at the end. I think that’s what made me sick. It’s your fault Mom.

After playing outside all day; bike riding, stealing rhubarb, kicking the soccer ball, picking dandelions while being told they were collecting a bucket of beautiful yellow flowers and whoever had the most was the winner the kids were thoroughly exhausted. We went back outside for more fun after dinner came in for a bath and after the bath the following conversation had me chuckling.

Ellie: Mommy, my tummy hurts.

I think I said something about her being a great actress and this provoked a series of rage infused rants.

Ellie: Look at my face! This is my face when I’m sick (frowny face). This is my face when I’m pretending to be sick! (same frowny face). The resemblance was uncanny.

We walked down the hall almost side by side but she scurried past me and ran for the toilet and that’s when I knew this was the real frowny face, not the imposter. She was gagging and I was trying to tie her hair back but it’s in that in between stage of not quite long enough for the barf pony so I just made a half-assed smoothing motion.

I was planning to sleep in the girl’s room but what if Chloe got sick? Spoiler alert! She did.

We opted to shuffle around with the following totally logical over-tired moves.

I would sleep in Hanna’s bed Hanna would sleep in our bed. This way, I would be close to frowny face but wouldn’t be able to hear the baby through the monitor. Plan A was quickly scratched. Plan B. I would camp out on the baby’s floor beside her crib and could hear Ellie from the other room but be close to the baby as well. This plan didn’t help anybody because I was still too far from Ellie and if the baby threw up in her crib what difference did it make if I was ten seconds too late?

I moved my barf supply kit into my own bed, Greg opted for the couch and the baby came into the bed with me. I realized trying to get her to puke into a toilet made little sense unless I could hang her upside down by her toes. Why a toilet when there’s a perfectly semi-clean pair of frog pyjamas to spew on? I laid next to her wondering which of the many yawns would become an explosive up chucking spit across the old towels we were uncomfortably nesting on.

Greg entered the scene like a fish out of clean water and as usual tried his hardest to participate in the clean up. He froze a couple of times just staring at what was unfolding in front of him. He barfed in his mouth at least twice but was distracted when he realized the rags were his missing once white undershirts which kept him busy slinging questions about when I decided to make the conversion from shirt to barf catcher and why didn’t he have a vote?

Ellie: Help! Help!

While puking, she was racing to get something off her chest. Sure the illness was overwhelming but nothing could squash this kid’s eagerness to participate in a theme day at school.

Ellie wretching: MomcanI….blaaaaaaaaaah……..gasp…………..stillgotocolourday!!!blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

It took me a moment to realize, in between choking on bile, gasping for air, close to passing out from exhaustion, water streaming from her eyes, trying to operate on a total of twenty-three minutes of sleep, her delusional gibberish translated into a vomitous plea begging to be able to go to colour day at school in the morning.

This morning, I headed over to my brother’s house to steal rhubarb from his steroid induced, larger than life, redder than ripe for the pulling rhubarb patch while he and his wife were at work. It’s really no problem, they hate rhubarb and the crop will replenish itself before they make it home for dinner.

We took the back roads and came across a re-enactment of some kind. There were people dressed in pristine equestrian attire, riding horses alongside about thirty bloodhounds, being led by someone who appeared to be in a borrowed, red, Santa’s suit jacket.

Our five year old had a lot of questions so I pulled over to the side of the road to watch things unfold.

Ellie: Horse—nay, Dog—woof. (We have a car game, when you see an animal you have to shout it out followed by the sound it makes. A game introduced by our children and one that is a life saver when you are nearly nodding off and someone shouts from the back seat, “Crow—CA!”)

Mommy, what are they doing?

Once again hit with a question I’m really not sure how to answer, checking the clock, it’s 10am. These brain teasers are starting earlier every day.

I started to explain a hunting re-enactment, not completely convinced that was actually what was happening. I couldn’t fully dismiss the idea that we had stumbled upon a group of lost hunters from the early 1800’s and some combination of the t.v. show Lost and the space time continuum was unravelling right before our eyes.

I told Ellie that a long, long time ago, in a land before Zehrs, people had to hunt for their dinners. I knew I was on thin ice if I mentioned anything about an animal dying and risked adding two years to her refusal to eat meat alongside the rest of the family.

Ellie: So they’re bad guys?

Me:  No, they’re not bad guys. These are people who love to ride horses and wanted to play pretend, re-visit a time before they were born.

Ellie: What did they hunt? Did they hunt nature?

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Me: Well, I think they hunted birds. (Nervously aware of using words like; chicken, duck, turkey or anything I might one day try to re-introduce to her dinner plate)

Ellie: Birds? What kind of birds? They killed nature? Bad guys!

I started talking in circles trying to point out the beautiful clothing, the elegant horses, the pack of dogs sniffing the ground as they made their way into the Bermuda-triangle of bushes.

Ellie: You mean they were hurting nature?

Me: Let’s wave to the nice, animal loving actors.

Ellie: Bunny—pfffft pfffft

Me: Are you going to help me with the rhubarb Ellie?

Ellie: Wow Mom. That reminds me. I have a lot to learn about birds.

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