Browsing Posts published in October, 2011

Going away for a weekend typically means our two priorities are sleeping in and dining out.

A few observations from our restaurant meals.

There is an underground culture of servers I will affectionately refer to as “Tray People.” These are apron wearing servers working at delis and restaurants where customers order their sandwich and pickle from a counter and are handed a number. This number is your ticket to food. If you lose it, you starve and the tray people move onto the next number.

Tray people emerge from swinging kitchen doors like robots. Their mission is to deliver a bowl of French onion soup to whoever holds the coveted number 72. If 72 is not hoisted high in the metal holder at the edge of the table, the tray person retreats back into the kitchen, just long enough for the door to reopen and his tray replenished with a chicken salad. French onion soup guy goes home hungry, chicken salad guy places his 73 where tray person can see it, no glances or meaningful exchanges are encouraged and lunch is served.

We had dinner at a seafood restaurant that had been recommended to us. It had all of the Long John Silver elements from my childhood I was hoping I would never need to revisit. Netting above the tables, bathrooms named “Gulls and Buoys” and mostly plastic cutlery, paper napkins.

I asked the server how the mahi mahi was.

Gull: It’s our best item. I’ve never had one sent back.

It bodes well for any restaurant when the best item award is based solely on how many times it’s returned uneaten or exchanged for haddock.

Fritters were offered as an amuse bouche. They were corn and blueberry with powdered sugar on top.

I can’t be the only one who found a basket of sugared Tim bits a strange start to my meal.

I excused myself to visit the little Gull’s room where a net got caught in my hair. I noticed one of the tray people taking a break, head down (so there was no chance at getting help untangling) hands in the sink, clearly consumed with quantitative thoughts. 

I pulled a 72 out of my back pocket and the two of us shared a hot bowl of French onion soup.

I received an email from a friend the other day that made me nod at the screen, “Been there. Man have I been there.  We’ve all been there.”

She had been invited to go out for a night with a fairly new group of female friends and was stressing over what to wear.

It made me sad that this great friend who is funny, smart, sarcastic (which I thoroughly enjoy) would question her place in this new group based entirely on wardrobe and yet, we are all guilty of judging one another and of feeling inadequate if we leave the house looking like we’ve been baling hay all morning. But why?

When I mention this strange, albeit incredibly common insecurity to my husband it’s not that he doesn’t understand it’s that HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND. He leaves the house wearing shorts until the 1st of November, Crocs year round, sometimes buttons are missing from his shirts, sometimes he has them all. His wardrobe has no bearing on how he feels about himself as a person, as a Dad, as a husband or as a friend.He oozes confidence, the smaller his swim suit, the more he struts. He simply can not understand why women put so much pressure on ourselves when it comes to the clothes we wear.

I found it funny that the reason I opened my email where I found my friend’s note in the first place was to send her a message describing my fabulous new rain coat.

I purchased a coat that was exactly what this mother of three has been looking for. First of all it had a manufacturers suggested retail price of $100. Yowza! This always grabs my attention. The actual price of the jacket was $26.99. Score. It is reversible which as you can imagine is a must-have item for all of the fashion houses this season and the tag had clearly been torn off (leading me to believe this item had been returned–their loss!) and the new tag was hand-written in fairly sloppy printing, “ladies outerwear, rain slicker.” A slicker! Sweet!

So, tomorrow I plan to wear my Beaver Canoe sweatshirt and Cotton Ginny sugar bags with my slicker. Spoiler alert, I’m going to wear the black side out. Please don’t judge me. Ladies, we’ve got enough to worry about, like why this coat was ever returned. What’s not to love?

Every once and again, I hear a song I can’t get out of my mind.

This week, my five year old began to ask questions about the human body and why on earth some people have hair in places the rest of us don’t.

I heard her singing a song she co-wrote with her eight year old sister. An original score to be sung to the tune of Skip To My Lou.

Hairy in the area doo doo doo

Hairy in the area doo doo doo

Hairy in the area doo doo doo

Hairy in the area of your butt.

I may never forget the lyrics.

This weekend, I plan to do a little clothing shopping for myself.  I figure if I put it in writing, I will resist the temptation to shop only for the children.

As usual, I will spend 99% of my time in the children’s section of the store before dragging a cart (bum wheel implied) full of girlie goodies over to the women’s “active wear” section and wait for it…..pour through racks of long sleeved t-shirts until I find exactly what I’m looking for, or until I find something requiring a minor repair job or with the tag sewn upside down discounting the items heavily. I’m really not that picky.

I stopped shopping for “pretty” things a long time ago. I’m not suggesting you can’t be a stay-at-home-mom and be pretty. For me, it’s a practical realization that my new job requires me to wear stains, spills, finger prints, toothpaste smears so why wear raw silk or faux fur vests when it all ends up in the same chalk outlined heap on the laundry room floor at the end of the day?

So my pretty things hang on a lonely rack in my closet, tags still on but my long sleeved tee collection—that’s where the magic begins.

I wear them because they’re comfortable and my kids (for the most part) don’t judge me based on what I’m wearing the same way my old cubicle did.

I can move freely about the play-doh table (when the play-doh ban has been lifted) without the hassle of tassels.

The long sleeved tee is more versatile than you might have thought. I can wear a different coloured tee for each day of the week but wear the same pair of jeans, thus mixing up my fall collection creating the illusion of something new each day.

You can sleep in the long sleeved tee, confusing your kids about the boundaries between pyjamas and daywear.

You can add jewellery, macramé a fake pocket or wear them under a smart looking blazer.

Move over closet full of long-sleeved tees, company’s coming.

More long sleeved tees.

Yesterday was like any other day.

Greg was in Mexico for work and had been away for four days. A hurricane threatening to hit the coast was also threatening to keep him there for another day–I don’t think so Rina, but nice try.

I was packing a swimming bag, witch and Cinderella costumes, on-the-go sushi bento box of California rolls for dinner in the mini-van, negotiating with Chloe to remove the bathing cap she has been wearing as a winter hat and painting Ellie’s nails blue because that’s Cinderella’s favourite nail polish colour according to Ariel (Little Mermaid) whom she met at a friend’s b-day party. Like I said, it was just like any other day.

I began a search for bobby pins in various cupboards and drawers around the house because Cinderella’s hair has to be flawless. I remember one of us had a bun being held up by at least three hundred in the not-so-distant past. Had I pitched them all or were they somewhere, clumped together with mouldy hair products hiding in an undisclosed, sticky location?

Cinderella’s upsweep was a disaster and I really needed those pins to make some sense of the nest protruding from the tippy-top of Ellie’s head. She was dressing as Cindrella for a post-swimming lesson, violin lesson requiring a costume. Thanks to all for your Halloween enthusiasm on this, the busiest day of the year.

I decided to look in my bedside drawer. It is a drawer seldom used and even I don’t really know why I have a night stand aside from needing something to house my heated mattress pad remote and my porn collection (obviously). Clump of gooey bobby pin house seemed as good a guess as any.

As I pulled the drawer open, my eyes focused on anything that resembled a small, pointy, narrow object, with preference going to things not yet glued together with hairspray. Ellie over my shoulder yelped, “Mommy! The Tooth Fairy left my treasure box from my first tooth in your drawer!”

As I removed the treasure box, the sound of a rattling tooth inside caused a bead of sweat to drip from the tippy top of my head to the tippy top of Cinderella’s dishevelled bun. I tried to run out of the room and pretend she hadn’t seen it but remembered she was five, not blind.

I carefully removed the tooth, shoved it into my pocket and tried to change the subject. If she knew the tooth was in there, I was dead in the water. This one might require actual fairy dust to pull off.

You’re probably wondering why I kept the tooth in the first place. In that moment, I had no recollection of what I did with Hanna’s first tooth but pictured a box with “baby’s first tooth” on it somewhere in this house. The image was so vivid it sits next to another box containing a lock of her curly, red hair, which sits next to a box of porn (of course). I feared if I kept Hanna’s tooth, I would be in serious trouble if I didn’t keep Ellie’s so I held on until I could make sense of it all. Then, not unlike my bobby pin collection, I forgot all about it.

I imagined being pulled over for speeding en route to swimming, violin, LCBO or otherwise and being asked to empty my pockets while being pressed up against my mini-van with a half eaten California roll stuck with seaweed to the side of my mouth.

Officer: Ma’am, do you know you have a human tooth in your pocket?

Me: Yes sir, I am aware. But did you know there’s a hurricane keeping my husband in Mexico and my daughter’s bun could scrub your pots and pans, my baby’s hair is growing through and around a bathing cap and I can’t find my bobby pin collection?

Ah Wednesdays.

My daughters have been invited to a few birthday parties for cousins and classmates over the years so you might think I would have become skilled in the area of shopping for kid’s birthday presents. For some reason, I turn into the great Aunt who has never had children of her own and lives out of the country so has no connection either by geography or physical awareness of what other children might have on their wish-lists so I purchase items like pens with a Canadian flag floating in them or t-shirts, four sizes too small with Mickey Mouse & friends or scrapbooking supplies or bird feeders or shot glasses with the Eiffel tower.

I know what my own kids would like so you think this process would be simple. Pick something my kids would like, buy it, wrap it, slam dunk.

Oh look! A feathery-pink boa, my daughters would love that. But maybe little Kayla is allergic to goose down so instead I’ll buy her this practical, beige journal with a zebra on the front.

I found some adorable turquoise crocheted hats with a flower protruding from the band and bought one for each of my girls. Surely Kayla doesn’t want to be matchy with my three kids on the playground. Instead, I’ll give her something quite the opposite so there’s no confusion in the school cubbies (read, lice). Yep, this one with the deer antlers will do nicely—the beige will also set off the neutral tones in the journal.

I took note at Hanna’s birthday party many of her friends bought her clothes. I guess that stage in between dollies and make-up lands parents in the clothing department. That or parents and kids have noticed my kids dress like we found a bag of clothes at the side of the road and made a few simple bedazzled patches to make them our own.

What if Kayla already has a faux fur vest? Better stick with something less in-your-face, a beige sweater it is.

Hanna suggested buying her friend make-up and earrings, the ones with the ladybugs. I’m assuming the ladybug reference was to the earrings and if she’s recommending ladybug earrings, chances are good, with such a specific bug, it’s because she has seen Kayla wearing ladybug earrings already. Make-up is something I don’t want bought for my eight year old so I tend not to buy it for other same age girls. It’s messy, it’s Toddlers & Tiaras and did I mention they were eight? Hallowe’en slippers with bats on the front, into the cart you go.

What we have now is a typical mixed bag of useless birthday presents I will wrap, climb to the top of the closet to find a used gift bag that does not have a) Christmas decorations or b) new baby with rattles or black & white photographed baby feet all over it and will present Kayla with the following terrible present; hat with antlers, Mr. Furley’s brown cardigan, ladybug earrings which I will notice at the party she’s already wearing and fear not, a journal with a zebra on it to document the entire crappy haul from her now ex-friend.

Watching a child learn to read when they make those first connections and things start to click is beyond exciting.

I remember a scene with Hanna playing out much like today’s with Ellie where I would present Hanna with a word, any word that started with H. Let’s say the word was “hat.” She would stare at it, over think it, scrunch up her nose before shaking the letters around in her mind and shouting, “hamburger?” She knew it started with the right sound but the piecing it together part had not yet been perfected.

I giggled across from Ellie today who stumbled over the word “peanut.”

She quickly abandoned the key steps to sounding out a word as she was anxious to get through a sentence. She read the few words that lead up to peanut and then pointed at it with no effort made to sound it out. The pointing was her way of saying, “tell me what this word is” so I can move onto something less likely to kill someone in my class if I bring it in my lunch but I wasn’t going to let her off the hook.

I told her to look at the picture—a giant peanut in a shell and sound out each letter.  Aside to illustrators—kids don’t often see peanuts in the shell the way they used to on the floor at the saloon. Perhaps a peanut without the shell might be less confusing?

Again, with haste, she opted to shout things (not unlike her older sister hamburger) instead of trying to carefully shape the word.

Ellie: put peas in the pot?

Me: Try again

Ellie: putting peas pot?

Me: You’re getting some of the sounds but this time start at the beginning and sound out each letter–slowly

Ellie: Putting nut?

Me: You’re getting close

Ellie: Pudding nut?

There were several variations with nut at the end and even a few with pea at the beginning but nary the two shall meet.

At some point a parent assumes the kid is simply messing with them and has no choice but to tickle the child until they clearly enunciate the word peanut before being permitted to move on.

And that’s exactly what we did.

  1. Waking up to complete darkness
  2. Eating dinner in complete darkness
  3. Darkness
  4. The kids wanting to play outside, but it’s dark
  5. The kids expecting their brilliant and crafty mother to have a day’s worth of fun, indoor activities at the ready
  6. Having no choice but to offer play-doh as a craft option and then spending three days watching it ball up and dry so I can pick it off each carpet fibre individually
  7. My Mom sending me “easy do-it-yourself play-doh recipes”
  8. Scraping the car with my wet mitten because the scraper is hanging from its assigned hook in the garage
  9. Hot chocolate burning my tongue, over-marshmallowing and not being able to enunciate anything for ten minutes
  10. Cooling tongue on metal pole
  11. Wanting to warm up in the hot-tub but not being courageous enough to make the trek through three feet of snow to get to it
  12. Being invited to watch someone’s 5am hockey game
  13. Eating seven Christmas meals on the same day and having no other food in the house for a week because the store is closed due to special holiday hours. Leftover fruitcake.
  14. Winter weight gain, winter guilt about said weight gain, eating out of frustration–in the dark, because it’s dark
  15. Being storm stayed while visiting someone who does not have kids of their own
  16. Knowing I have to get out of bed but the air out there, oh so cold.
  17. Mostly re-runs on t.v.
  18. Playdates—applies to all seasons, but in darkness?
  19. Drivers who make it their life’s mission to find me and spray me with sludge
  20. An ice cold beer just doesn’t taste the same

Today was Hanna’s third basketball practice.

After negotiating her extra large team jersey atop a bedazzled, pink, tank, we made our way into the gym.

We tried to keep the baby occupied by pointing out things like the big clock, score board, other kids, her sister’s shirt dragging on the ground like a nightgown and quickly realized, we forgot her books, toys and “merkers” for drawing “peeturs” and would spend the next 1.5 hours cursing our mistake.

The final ten minutes of practice is reserved for a three on three game. It became painfully clear the other two athletes on Hanna’s team had played the game before, knew the rules of dribbling, blocking, running and shooting a ball at a net. Hanna seemed distracted by an uncomfortable bead poking through her jersey and the other girls used every opportunity they could to pass the ball to each other rather than choosing Hanna. Thankfully, neither of us knew the rules of the game so we weren’t bothered by the girls in-the-know exemplifying all that is right with the sport—throwing the ball in the direction of a teammate who knows what they’re doing.

At one point Greg encouraged, “Come on Hanna. Be an outlet!” and perhaps a gentle knee squeeze wasn’t warranted but I was combining my fear of not understanding the game with Hanna’s lack of interest in dribbling with my confusion over what the hell he meant by being an outlet. Did he mean she should stay “plugged in” to the flow of the game? Was he referring to an outlet mall? Cheap, free, stay open?

Somehow, late in the game, I’m not going to suggest this was a beat-the-buzzer kind of moment, the ball rolled awkwardly off of someone’s pretty, sparkly court shoes and arrived at Hanna’s feet. She bent to pick it up and in an effort to release the ball, thus relieving herself of possession as quickly as humanly possible, threw it in the direction of the net. IT.  WENT. IN!!!! The crowd (Me, Greg, Ellie and Chloe) went wild!

Hanna ran over as though the game was over (it wasn’t) and delightedly squealed, “That was sick!” Which I think means rad. That or she might be coming down with something.

Proud Mommy—it really was sick. Like totally dude. Gnarly you might say.

Sometimes I worry my eight year old is growing up too fast and she’s slipping away from us.

Then, she lines up for an airplane ride and all is right with the world.

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