Browsing Posts published in March, 2012

I have been vigilant in my efforts to report burned out street lights, watching and reporting vehicles that I don’t recognize as belonging to homeowners on our street. Again, I would like to publicly apologize to Gary Cartwright Construction Ltd. And the Charmer’s parents visiting from Minnesota but would it kill them to place a “we come in peace” bumper sticker on the back of their trucks to avoid any future hassles?

Then yesterday after pacing the halls I noticed something out of the corner of my eye on my front porch and I stopped, dropped and rolled my way over to it. It was a box the size of a Christmas Tree with “Big Daddy Office Chair” in bold letters across the cardboard.

How the hell did this get on my front porch during my shift? How did I not see the truck, the delivery guy(s) that hauled it up here?

This box could hold (among other things), two or three “bad guys,” weapons of mass destruction, fifty years worth of supplies for MacGyver, or a new office chair I was unaware had been ordered.

I can hear the conversation now, “CSI Hastings, you are so fired.”

The break-in was less than a week ago so I think it’s okay that the topic is still pretty high on our “the only thing we talk about” list. Now that the Leafs are out of the playoffs, there’s even more room to discuss beefing up our security system.

I receive no less than forty emailed links from Greg each day showing me pictures and descriptions of window bars, metal grills for windows and doors, fences, cameras, sadly no lasers, moats or dogs with an ear chip sending instructions to attack as they were cloned to live for nothing other than protecting our family—but fingers crossed, that’s coming.

I guess we have to ask ourselves, are we getting carried away?

We’ve added more sensors, motion detectors, flood lights that should really brighten things up for future thieves who might have struggled previously over which window to kick in.

“Glass break” despite being sold on the idea that sensors are a better alternative and burglars, “typically don’t break windows to enter your home.”That is interesting because we’ve only been broken into once in our lives and the burglar(s) did in fact break the glass. Things that make you go hmmm.

I’m beginning to feel as though I’m part of that joke about not having to outrun the bear chasing you in the woods, just having to outrun your next fastest friend and it’s a terrible feeling.

When I see a neighbour’s house with a sheet as a curtain, the helpful, neighbourly person I thought I was wants to ring their doorbell and show them the metal grill pamphlet and offer to help them install it now that we’ve got ours set and rigged with jagged, rusty edges protruding out the sides. Instead, I walk past and think, maybe my metal grill will send the bad guys to sheet house and my family will be safe.

 I am a terrible person.

Then I called the police because there was a pick-up truck parked in front of our mailboxes and when I marched over wielding a large kitchen knife wrapped in a towel, shouting obscenities, he took off! I called in his license plate and description of the vehicle but was politely informed burglars don’t typically drive company cars. How did I know it wasn’t stolen? I was ready to accept my hardware for solving two crimes in the same day. My apologies Gerald Cartwright Construction Ltd. But next time eat your lunch at a rest stop because someone on this street just got a whole lotta crazy.

Update on our stuff. I haven’t given a second thought to the things that were stolen last weekend. It’s interesting to look back and think there was a time I thought those things actually mattered. I could go the rest of my life and never wear another necklace.

Ellie and I worked on a quiet Littlest Pet Shop Word Search puzzle while Chloe napped yesterday afternoon.

The word she became stumped on was “furry.” I’m looking for an “F” and a “U,” she must have repeated a dozen times while I collected a few crayon wrappers from around the kitchen table area as Chloe prefers practicing her peeling technique rather than actually colouring. While other kids will perfect colouring inside the lines, they’ll be no match for the timed peel-a-box-of-Crayolas drill. We’re up to 64 at record speeds.

I heard Chloe yelling from her bed, “Chocolate almond!” which triggered something in my brain that we had in fact purchased chocolate almonds earlier in the day while grocery shopping and in a cruel twist of irony, I found myself in front of the bag helping myself hoping the baby who had been begging from her crib, wouldn’t hear the plastic bag crinkling in the kitchen.

I started down the hall toward her bedroom to peek in at her sleep status. Was she standing in the crib planning an escape? Staring at the ceiling about to fall asleep? Was she already asleep, dreaming about chocolate almonds? Chewing a book? Chewing crayon wrappers?

I snuck closer to her room, just as one of the many, many, far too many, (can there ever be too many?) chocolate almonds rolled from my greedy palm onto the floor and stopped dead centre in front of her open door. If that’s not the definition of a cruel parent, I don’t know what is.

I grabbed one of Ellie’s crochet needles from the bathroom and extended my invisible arm to fling the almond out of sight before she caught sight or smell of it just as Ellie claimed victory over her Everest of a Word Search.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!” I heard while kneeling in cat’s pose, golfing a chocolate almond into the next room. “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh” I whispered.

“Mom! F-U! F-U! Mom! F-U!”

F-Me indeed.

Today Chloe had her first major tantrum. Actually, I think it was the first tantrum of its kind for any of our three girls—most certainly the biggest. The biggest in the history of tantrums. It. Was. Epic.

I told Chloe we were going out to the store to which she usually responds, “Yeah treats!” and I say, “Yeah treats are great!” but there are never any treats so I have no idea why she associates stores with treats but it gets her in the car.

Today instead of saying, “Yeah treats!” she scowled and tore off her socks while running in the opposite direction of the coat closet.

Hmmmm.

“Chloe, come on, we’re going to the store.” (Yeah treats! I mumbled to just myself) and she tore back up the hall toward me waving her freshly removed socks now worn as hand puppets in my direction and shouting, “I not go to the store! I NOT GO TO THE STORE!” If she wasn’t giving me the finger under those puppets I have no idea what kind of threat she was making but it looked serious.

“Yes, we are going to the store for a few minutes. Let’s put on your socks and your shoes.”

Knowing I actually had to wrestle her socks, shoes, coat, hat and gloves on as it was freezing outside but I didn’t want to send her into a deeper downward spiral with the lengthy to-do list our preparation for the outing might provoke.

“I NOT PUT ON MY COAT?” “I NOT GO TO THE STORE?” “I NOT HAVE ORANGES?”

She was shouting statements at me disguised as questions. That coupled with the sock mittens and I too was beginning to re-think my next move.

So, I gently picked her up and attempted to carry her to find a different pair of socks, fully accepting the pair on her hands was there by her choosing and I was not going to ask them to be removed.

She pulled “limp baby” on me, shooting her arms straight above her head while the rest of her body turned into one of those rubber sausages from the novelty store that every time you remove a hand to grip, it slips further away. She almost fell on the floor but I managed to scoop one arm under and firmly tell her, “Chloe, we are going to the store.”

She started to cry.

Big pause Mommy, is this outing really worth it? I was torn because I didn’t want her to think this was the solution to life’s problems. Wear sock mittens, become a sausage and shout nonsensical factoids in the form of questions when things aren’t going your way.

I proceeded with my plan to dress her and load her into the car.

“I HATE YOU FOREVA!”

Wow. That was pretty strong coming from a two year old who had found a new use for her hand covers—tissue.

“Mommy, are you mad?”

“No, I’m not mad. Are you mad?”

Her face turned red and she screamed as loud as I’ve ever heard someone protecting her hands from her own erratic movements, “I’m not mad? I’m Chloe!”

Yesterday was the girl’s final swimming lesson until the next session ramps up.

I had reminded them to please get changed quickly after the lesson as the observation deck kind enough to host Chloe and I quickly becomes a dangerous jungle gym for swinging from the metal stands that will inevitably claim one or all of her teeth in a face to make-shift uneven parallel bar collision.

Both girls have asked on several occasions to get changed without my help which is fine with me for a couple of reasons. 1) They are learning to become more independent by rinsing, drying off, finding their locker and dressing themselves and 2) it saves me from having to open 500 lockers to figure out which one Chloe is hiding in before we can head to the car. Secret reason 3) I’m really, really tired.

I must admit this break-in business has been draining. I am not sleeping. I’m trying to remember everything that has gone missing for the insurance adjuster. I’m staring at a boarded up door wondering if I will ever feel safe in my own home again.

Exhausted, I proceeded with caution into the change room to collect my fully dressed girls and my happy baby who was not playing peek-a-boo from within a metal box with my soon-to-be inflamed ulcer.

Except I didn’t have a happy baby, I had a baby who was working a sock-to-rule campaign, refusing footwear of any kind for no apparent reason as she dashed barefoot to find her cubby of choice.

I didn’t have two independent, young girls shining from freshly cleaned skin, fully clothed ready to drive home.

I had one kid wrapped in a towel who looked at me stunned as though she had left any memory of her own name floating in the shallow end and one standing nude who tossed a pair of soaking underwear in my direction which I foolishly reached out for and caught with the finesse of a professional.

Me: Why are these wet?

Kid who will remain nameless (rhymes with Banana): I dropped them in the toilet.

Go team.

Our home was broken into on the weekend. This was a first for me and I am still unnerved by the situation, sorting through broken glass, missing pieces, holes in our system. I’m not quite ready to write about the experience and perhaps the world isn’t interested in reading about someone else’s misery. I for one would rather have a laugh or at the very least a crooked smile after reading someone’s post so for now, I plan to continue to keep things light.

Yes we have a sophisticated alarm system with motion detectors and door alarms. Yes they were rigged to work and no, they didn’t catch anyone with a fancy netting device like you see in cartoons. Our next stop is obviously the fire breathing dragon store. I’m just not sure if we’ll have to repaint the front door green so we don’t look too eclectic with the additional gargoyles rigged to explode if the UPS guy isn’t in his company assigned uniform. On an unrelated note, does one need a permit to shoot lasers across their yard? Is there a different form to fill out for urban vs. rural dwellings?

We decided immediately after calling 9-1-1 our family was together and all of us were safe. Stuff is stuff and it can all be replaced. Reading that back, it sounds a little Dr. Seuss-ish which was not my intent. So I’ll type and I’ll type and I’ll type and lament.

I’d rather focus my energies on what really matters. Through all of this, the girls managed to write a sentimental song about turtles and sang it to me while I attempted to smear some muddy boot prints on my carpet into a pattern that would set off the empty drawers.

To be sung to the tune of Amazing Grace (or hummed if you prefer to be in the back row of the chorus)

“There once was a turtle,

On the road.

It got hit by a car.

But it still survived.

We took care of it.

And we fixed it.

We fed it and it’s okay.”

Stuff can be replaced. Number one singles only come along once in a lifetime.

I love watching our two year old develop.

With each day, she seems to learn a new word, understand its meaning and use it accurately in a sentence.

For example, when I asked her to eat her apple slices she replied, “You’re a cheese box!”

Classic.

Greg then suggested she finish her milk.

“You’re a Jerk Monkey!”

What a delight.

I walked into Chloe’s room like any other morning.

I typically hear one of the following greetings, appropriate from a two year old.

  1. “Good morning Mommy!”
  2. “Can you read this book?”
  3. “Can I have some milk…please…beep beep warm?” (Translation—can you microwave my milk?)

This morning, I didn’t hear any of her regular greetings. Instead, her gaze went straight to the tea dribble staining my freshly laundered (who am I kidding, several days soiled shirt).

“Can you walk your feet to my crib?”

Gulp. I was surprisingly nervous to be summoned by a baby so early in the morning given the location I was asked to report involved a crib.

Her stare never left the tea mark as I slunk toward the “Godbaby”.

She looked me straight in the eye. The other one of course impeded by the bars.

“Are you need a bib?”

We. Quit. Piano.

Deep breath.

Well, it was a year in the making. I remember the excitement of that first week, ramping up, purchasing a keyboard, noticing for the first time how everyone in the family had exceptionally graceful, elongated fingers, perfect for playing piano, listening to demos on the keyboard followed by some serious dance parties to demos 1-5 and finally learning to place our fingers on the home row (?) Things kind of went downhill from there.

Hanna’s anxiety over practicing the piano became evident immediately after we said, “Okay, enough dancing to demo number three, let’s play a tune.”

I was virtually of no help to Hanna as she struggled through her weekly homework assignment. I could figure out the notes she was asked to identify provided I could hum, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. “ Before they started using words like solfege and si-fa-so, I was surprisingly helpful. I would smile, nod over her shoulder, make her snacks and cough out something while mumbling a mouthful of cookie, “I think the answer is smeary smeary” and she would look at me in disgust.

Two significant piano related incidents were the impetus for today’s resignation.

The first was the Christmas recital when a girl from Hanna’s class at school who began lessons six months after Hanna sat down to tickle the ivories in front of the crowd. I had politely suggested to Greg that this girl was just starting and likely wouldn’t be as advanced as some of the other students we would be hearing.

Jenna tapped her toe on the floor, then on the pedal twice as fast as I could snap my fingers and played what I might suggest is the best two handed rendition of Deck The Halls any of us had the pleasure of hearing.

Greg’s face said it all and as he mouth the words, “What The F%$#!” while glaring at me as though it was my fault Hanna was playing the “Smeary Smeary” Christmas march with a solfege kicker, I knew we were in trouble.

The second was when Hanna’s teacher called and asked us, “Does Hanna ever practice?”

“Sure! My goodness! Of course…does she? Practice? Are you…” What? Wait…piano? Um, er.”

I guess when the teacher loses faith and your child says the words, “Mom, if I fail my piano test, I don’t care.” These are some definite signs things are not looking likely for a place next to Jenna’s name on the solid gold Deck The Hall’s trophy.

As parents, we make mistakes.

Did we push Hanna into something she didn’t want to do? No.

Did she go into this experience with enthusiasm and a genuine interest in learning to play piano? Yes.

Did we let her give up too quickly? Perhaps.

Quitting doesn’t mean she will never take up piano again or another instrument for that matter. We weighed our options. We have a child who is busy at school and with extracurricular programs. I didn’t want one of her activities to hold her back, bring her down, weigh heavily on her eight year old mind or deter from the things that brought her joy.

It is for these reasons, I know, at least for now, we are making the right decision.

Yesterday was one of those days we were all still stumbling over our newly sandaled feet having woken up several hours too early the night before and then tried to adjust to this totally-welcome yet absurdly hot, March weather.

I think we were all feeling like daylight savings time when you have to walk gingerly and try not to operate heavy machinery except this felt like we had lost not just an hour, but an entire clothing season and there was no way to slowly show our bare feet to the world. The high boot Band-Aids were being ripped off by a perspiring weather man with a smug smile on his face.

We managed to get one kid on the bus, the other to art class and that’s where it happened. The idea of an online contest was introduced and Ellie’s focus went from non-existent to all consuming.

“Mom, can we enter the contest?”

“Sure honey, what contest?”

“The art contest online. We need to go online and enter the contest.”

“Deal. Let’s go home and put away the groceries and empty the contest…..I mean enter the contest. Did I say empty? I’m really tired.”

We arrived in our driveway after a lengthy conversation about turtles and contests. The driveway was Ellie’s hypnotic cue to ramp up her incessant questioning about the online, entry form for the art contest.

Maybe I was overtired, maybe the groceries were heavy, maybe I wanted to wash the cart handle from my hands, none of which was going to deter Ellie from riding my heels and asking to get cracking on operation “Online contest entry” aka “OCE.”

I pumped the hand soap, “Can we check the contest?”

I opened the fridge, “Mom, the contest.”

I experienced a satisfyingly long blink and felt my body sway to the side but was jolted awake by, “Mom, the contest! It’s going to be over!”

I turned on the kettle, “Hello? Contest?”

I grabbed a handful of sunflower seeds, “Mom I think the contest is ready.”

I shoved cotton in my ears, I put on a cucumber slice mask, I hummed, yawned, chewed and turned on some music while crinkling tissue paper in and around my head, still I heard, “We really should check the contest.”

If there’s one thing I love when I’m barely awake enough to hold a piece of tissue paper without using it as a drool-catcher—

And that’s a good old fashioned, online, art contest.

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