Browsing Posts published in February, 2012

 “Attention everyone! I have another great snow day menu idea!” I confidently announced to the kids after finding what I thought would be the perfect comfort food on a blustery, wintery day.

I found a crock-pot recipe for white bean risotto. It had all of the makings of a filling meal, infused with flavours and jam packed with vegetables. A sure winner in a house even more jam-packed with picky eaters.

To the inventors of white bean risotto—I would like for nothing more than to watch as you are hauled off while I laugh and laugh wearing my crock-pot lid as a hat and my computer (where I sourced the recipe) as a shield from the bean balls I plan to pelt at you.

My kids started making gagging sounds after seeing but not yet tasting the risotto.

I explained, “It’s rice! Try it.”

Hanna actually convinced her body to heave (a good one) making us all believe it was possible for a person to barf on the dinner table without having actually eaten anything on her plate.

Ellie saw Greg was eating apple sauce with his sliced pork tenderloin (the lack lustre side dish to the heavily tomatoed entree). She too retrieved an apple sauce from the cupboard but not with the intention of eating it, I think it was meant to act as a catch basin for whatever might come hurling from her mouth after she asked, “Is this gooey thing a bean?”

So, on this snow day, leap year no less, I would like to go back in time and with the white bean risotto recipe on my screen, gently place my laptop inside my crock-pot, crank it up to high and watch them both disintegrate.

To be served on a bed of white beans.

I can not stress this enough–photo is a likeness.

When I pick up my kids from school, our first exchange in the parking lot or front foyer (on bitterly cold days) is usually the same.

Me (so excited to see them having missed them all day): Hi Sweetie! How was your day?

Followed by a big hug.

Hanna: Great! I’m tired. Can we go home and have a snack?

Or, “Great! I’m tired. Can we go home so I can go to the bathroom?”

Or, “Great! I’m tired. Do we have piano tonight? Because if we do, my stomach hurts.”

I guess that’s why today’s conversation caught me slightly off guard.

Me: Hi Sweetie! How was your day?

Big hug.

Hanna: Mommy? What’s a condom?

The crowd’s reaction was telling.

A synchro-gasp. So we agree—this had shock and awe written all over it. One woman covered her daughter’s eyes. Was I going to pull one out of my purse and demonstrate how to put it on a banana?

For the record–No.

Thankfully, right after she asked, Hanna was whisked away on an ambush play date having cornered both myself and the unsuspecting host mother with “Can I go to Sally’s house?” right in front of Sally’s mother who graciously agreed to the self-invite.

Normally I get annoyed at this approach but in a moment of desperation, if I was going to avoid the condom talk, I opted instead to nod staring straight ahead in agreement and send her to someone else’s home. Maybe Sally’s Mom has bananas? I’m not sure if I picked up her school things but I’m fairly certain I threw up in my mouth, more than a little bit.

I think after doing some research, some deep breathing exercises and hanging out on my labour ball for a while I’ll tell her the truth.

A condom is a dwelling that is independently owned but with shared facilities and monthly fees.

I was surprised to hear my five year old talking about a recent trip to Florida to a complete stranger.

First she sighed aloud, hoping to engage this parent at the mom-and-tot open gym time between racing to the wall and back against a surprisingly willing hula hoop.

“Ahhh. It sure was nice to go to Florida where it’s always sunny and warm.”

Stranger: Oh, you went to Florida?

Ellie: Yes, we fly there because we have money to fly. Other people that don’t have money drive there.

So, this began a conversation over lunch hour I wish I had never started.

Me: Ellie, I wanted to talk to you about your conversation with that woman at the gym today about our trip.

Ellie: Okay.

Me: Flying to Florida is something we do because it’s a faster way to get there than driving. It has nothing to do with money. There are a lot of people who have much more money than we will ever have who choose to drive to Florida because they have time or because they prefer the comfort of their car over a plane.

Ellie: Yeah, and?

Me: Well, it’s just not nice to tell people that you have money to fly and others don’t.

Ellie: Why? I think she had enough money to fly.

Me: That’s irrelevant. I just want you to know it’s impolite to talk about money (let alone my discomfort with her just yapping about our flight plans with perfect strangers). It’s called ‘bragging.’

Ellie: Huh?

Me: Bragging is when you tell someone you have something that they might not to make yourself feel bigger or better than they are.

Ellie: I wasn’t bigger than she is Mom. I’m a kid, she’s an adult. Hello?

Me: I realize that. I just think you are old enough for me to have this conversation with you just as I did with Hanna if she told someone that she had a piece of cheese in her lunch and maybe they didn’t.

Ellie: Nobody on our plane had any cheese, I remember that. And I’m pretty sure the Mom at the gym today had that lacto thing from the commercials where she can’t eat dairy…..so…..

Me: I will have this conversation with Chloe when she’s old enough to understand too.

Ellie: Oh, so you’re old and smart and she’s too young to understand? Bragger.

I’m glad we had this little chat.

Whether I’m going to the grocery store for an hour or planning to be away longer, I find myself repeating these same reminders to Greg. I thought it would make sense to put them in writing should anything ever happen to me.

  1. Make sure if Ellie insists on taking a shower, she actually gets her hair wet before lathering in shampoo.
  2. Make sure if Ellie insists on taking a shower, she wets her hair before lathering and that she gets her hair wet a second time to rinse out the soap.
  3. Please be sure to feed the kids at least two servings of fruit with breakfast and two servings of vegetables with lunch. Yes—raw carrots count as vegetables. No—pepperettes don’t count as food.
  4. If I’m gone—I mean, really gone, let the kids have a dog. They promise to walk it and take care of it and feed it and bathe it and brush it and love it. Please Dad, please!? (no mention of picking up poop you’ll notice—that one is always noticeably absent)
  5. Always carry a few Band-Aids, tissues and a box of raisins in your pocket. You won’t need them 99% of the time but the 1% you do, you will come off looking like a genius.
  6. Please stop letting the kids ride around on the lawn mower with you. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal but I’ve allowed it because it’s given me some free time. If you’re reading this, I’m no longer in a place where I require free time.Don’t let the kids drive on your lap in the front seat. Even though I wave to people as they happily drive by, I’m mumbling under my smile, “What the hell are you thinking?”
  7. Let Hanna get that make-up table. I know she’s only eight but she’s been clear on order of importance; dog, make-up table, food, clothing, shelter. If there’s no space in her bedroom, lose the bed. Again, see order of importance.
  8. Don’t push the potty training with Chloe. She’s the most stubborn human ever to be born. She will wave those diapers in your face until she graduates from dog grooming college if you push her. She’ll start using it again when we back up the bus and realize she’s been in charge from the beginning.
  9. When the girls ask if they can put on make-up just say, “okay, but Justin Bieber does not like girls who wear make-up if they are younger than twenty-one.”
  10. When the teasing and talking back becomes too much to bear, don’t be afraid to have the girls pack a suitcase and drive them around pretending to look for the orphanage. Wait—that didn’t work when you tried it last time. Find a new plan.
  11. When cooking raw meat, please use fresh tongs, cloths. Cross contamination is not a crazy witchy spell I made up and no, just because the food gets cooked and mixes around in your stomach doesn’t the same rules apply on the counter.
  12. Don’t discount everything Dr. Oz says just because he is my slam-dunk closer during an argument. He was hand picked by Oprah and hello, heart surgeon. I think if he tells us to smear cooked carrots on our thighs we best not question him.
  13. Stay hydrated (perhaps extreme for a grocery store visit)
  14. Stop rolling your eyes

I noticed a list followed by a series of checkmarks on Hanna’s dresser.

Hair—check

Costumes—check

Make-up—check

Magazine cut-outs—check

Cheese–check

If this doesn’t scream, “I’M RUNNING AWAY!” I don’t know what does.

I heard this is how Snoop Dog came to be.

When I was a kid and we had a supply teacher in our classroom, I used to cringe at the thought of how our eight hours together were going to unravel.

The substitutes who plugged in a movie or assigned “independent reading” were the ones who had clearly been in the industry enough years to have the good sense not to try to teach anything to anyone the day the regular teacher was away.

Something about having a supply teacher gave kids permission to act out.

It didn’t matter how engaging this person might be outside of the classroom which sometimes added to the problem because everyone in our small city knew each other and we often welcomed a former Sunday school/swimming instructor/Chinese food restaurant waitress as our supply teacher.

We might have exchanged pleasantries (or chicken balls) on the street moments earlier but when that person walked into our classroom the students were on the attack.

The supply always had an unpronounceable last name and went only by Mr. or Mrs. “G.” Now that I think about it, this discretion in revealing their identity might have been more about protecting their vehicle from a rogue egging.

Apparently, kids haven’t changed that much.

Yesterday, one of my daughters had a supply teacher in her class. I sighed and asked, “How was the day for your guest?”

Her response was no different from the days I remembered, “You mean, Miss ‘R’? I think it was okay. Two boys were playing with scissors. One snuck up on the other and cut his friend’s hair.”

Oh dear.

“Oh and another boy puked on one of his friends on their way outside.”

I wonder how many drinks it took poor, unsuspecting Miss “R”  to reconsider her choice of career.

I will admit, having three children, I’ve broken several of my own rules.

For example, Hanna was six years old before she had tasted anything made with even a dusting of refined sugar. I think the posters of the sugar cane enclosed in a red circle with a line through it supported our attempt at keeping our adorable, first baby healthy (and unsweetened) for as long as possible.

Skip ahead to baby number three and I’ll throw a cookie through her crib bars if it means she’ll hurry up and remove her diaper so I can get the garbage out on time.

Somewhere else I’ve completely changed my tune is at the grocery store.

I used to tell the two older girls “No” a lot. Of course they would grab, smell and sometimes suck the chocolate through the wrapper at the check-out but hearing “No” consistently enough times and they simply stopped begging for treats.

With Chloe, my approach to grocery shopping is a race against the clock. I have exactly one hour each week while her sister is in art class to zip through the aisles with my crumpled, illegible list, questioning why I would have written in yellow highlighter (again) which under the fluorescent lighting is essentially just a migraine waiting to happen.

Rather than saying “No” when Chloe asks for something, I say “YES!” to everything!

I’m not suggesting this is by any means the sign of a good parent, it’s simply what I do and it happens to work.

When the deli counter girl asks, “Would your baby like to try the bologna?” Hell no—shudder, but I do allow her to sample a piece of meat made with smaller doses of piggy bottom.

I promise to take her to the free cookie bin, a bin I didn’t know existed until the older girls started going grocery shopping with a babysitter and from that moment on they cheered when they heard it was grocery time. But I draw the line at buying plush toys or foods only a baby could love the box for.

There is no begging because my strategy is sound. I simply allow her to pick up whatever she wants, carry it around and when she runs out of limbs, inevitably, she sets down her least favourite, the item she has the least attachment to and moves onto the next.

Sometimes I can ask her, “Chloe, why don’t you put the stuffed birdie (that I have NO intention of buying but you’ve been chewing on for three aisles) on this nice shelf next to the bbq sauce?” and she does. Yes if you notice a bag of pink marshmallows next to the canned tomatoes, that was me and I’m sorry but did I mention I only have an hour and my kid is savouring the delicious bologna/cookie smoothie I’ve been force-feeding her?

I was shopping with my Mom this week and she couldn’t believe my crazy approach but it works and there’s no whining because I just say yes to everything. When I start depositing things around the store, Chloe has no idea and at two, no memory of the many things she had previously picked up.

Last night, I searched my pantry cupboard for the bag of trail mix with cranberries, pumpkin seeds, roasted sunflower seeds I was sure I had purchased. I even checked the receipt but I couldn’t find it anywhere listed.

Then I remembered, that was one of Chloe’s picks and it is likely sitting on a container of imitation crab meat.

Sometimes the plan backfires—I could really go for some trail mix.

Greg came home from work yesterday and announced, “Hey Guys, Daddy won a contest at work today.”

Before I could ask, “What was the contest?” “Who was involved?” “What was the prize?” the kids were quick to ask what was really important.

Pouncing on an opportunity when they heard one, they wasted no time appealing to Greg’s good mood, in unison, “Does this mean we can get a dog?”

We’ve started allowing our kids to answer the phone and make phone calls to relatives and friends.

Their recent display of phone etiquette or, lack thereof, isn’t entirely their fault. In fact, it’s not their fault at all. We haven’t taught them how to answer a phone properly or how to be a polite caller, but it has been funny to listen and observe the following don’ts when it comes to talking on the phone.

  1. Answering, “Who’s this?”
  2. Nodding for an affirmative answer as though the person on the other end has a camera and they can see your actions.
  3. Determining how loud they should speak based on how far away the person lives, escalating to a full-on shouting match to an unsuspecting Grandma and Grandpa answering from Florida.
  4. Calling a friend and never stating your name or purpose of your call just hounding the person who answers first with, “Who is this?” followed by, “Where’s my friend? Not home? Where is she?”
  5. Looking to me for answers when the person on the other end is being unclear and stating aloud, “I don’t understand what he means?”
  6. Answering the phone and responding, “No, she’s in the bathroom and the door’s closed so…..My Dad? He’s in the other bathroom.”

 

I think the best one I’ve heard to date was when one of our girls asked if they could return a call from a friend about a play date and the friend’s answering machine picked up. After a series of, “Ashley, are you there? Is this Ashley’s house? There was a beep but it didn’t sound like Ashley,” and me explaining they should leave a message I heard the following, “My Mom said she doesn’t like me to play with you because you’re always sick. Okay?”

Luckily, no names were mentioned.

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