Browsing Posts published in May, 2012

Hanna had a two-part homework assignment.

The first task was to write a commercial to be presented to her grade three class of Pioneers attempting to sell them something that would have been useful for their Pioneer lifestyle.

The second was to create a poster about the product using items/tools that would have been used by the Pioneers.

Marks would be determined based on “pizzazz” of the presentation, authenticity etc.

Greg and I knew what we had to do.

We quickly set the kids up with a movie and met in the rear boardroom (back deck) to brainstorm ideas.

We concluded that we should burn the edges of a large piece of cardboard as the backdrop for the poster. Despite Hanna telling us three other classmates had also arrived with this fringed, antiqued look, we knew we were headed in the right direction and remembered making something similar when we were kids. It would be a slam-dunk A grade for Mom and Dad. Further, we proceeded to rub a used tea bag in an effort to nail those marks for authenticity. Sadly, the teabag broke open and loose leaves dredged the page. Not unlike the days of yore.

Hanna had selected ketchup from a list of possible products the Pioneers would have used.

Greg and I were quick to nix ketchup for fear it was a trick despite appearing on the list of potential supplies and simply didn’t offer that je ne sais quoi we were looking for. Instead, we settled on what we predicted would be a huge crowd pleaser and worked tirelessly on our Maple Syrup presentation.

Greg went to the candy store and found maple syrup suckers for all of Hanna’s Pioneer classmates so if she ever felt as though she was losing their attention, Shazam! Bribery with candy, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

We burned a cork and used the charred ends to write the words “Maple Syrup”—there it was—pizzazz!

Hanna attempted to write some key points on her poster but I erased them and re-wrote them in neater printing and beefed up the language changing all of her ideas tweaking the verbiage while ushering her back to the television so Greg and I could put some finishing touches on our project.

She appeared again to suggest we not use maple syrup as the adhesive to pin down our storyboard because it might be too sticky in her backpack. We were far too engrossed in a conference call with the Pioneer Village Deputy from his one room home to pay any attention.

I guess it hit me when I was printing in my best eight year old writing, “Maple Syrup by Hanna.”

We are the best parents ever.

You know when you first try to introduce exercise into your daily routine and almost all of your clothing items become excuses not to continue?

You go on a hunt for your Thorlo socks. Without Thorlos, you know you’ll get blisters which will result in countless hours away from the house at the spa while someone massages and files you back to health. Your mindset has shifted and you are no longer scouring for Thorlos, instead you are on the phone booking a pre-emptive pedicure.

Shoes—forget these old shoes with one lace that’s fraying. You favour one foot so as not to worsen the frayed lace which causes you to get shin splints in your opposite leg. The frayed lace remains in its original state. This will of course keep you off your feet for several weeks and the treadmill will once again be nothing more than a clothesline in the basement with Littlest Pet Shops magnetized to the hand rails.

Wrong bra—your “good” sports bra has been washed so many times it’s now a baggy pyjama top. To the mall to find something decent! (And to show off your newly painted toes)

I have to go to the bathroom. This always happens about six minutes into an up-tempo walk on the treadmill—just as things are starting to get intense. I guess I’ll just turn the machine off, visit the loo and forget what I came downstairs to do in the first place.

I forgot my water bottle.

I’m wearing my watch, damn! Now I have to disembark, remove the watch, walk over to the shelf to place it next to the video games which are in dire need of alphabetization and start over. It’s not even worth it. I might as well just eat some chocolate almonds after I finish dusting and arranging these Atari cases.

I forgot my chocolate almonds.

Headband—if it wasn’t for that one rogue hair brushing my forehead from an impossible angle, I could continue. If I had a headband, I could….wait! I do have a headband. Stop the leg presses! Now where is it? Two hours later I’ve forgotten why I’m cleaning my bathroom vanity.

An old, fake high school gymnastics injury that used to get me out of wearing a leotard in public is acting up again.

It’s not just me, Greg has the same issues. He heads out to go for a walk but his recurring complaints are that his shoes are too tight, too big, too orange, not enough Oasis on his ipod, chaffing, my God the chaffing, he stopped at a neighbour’s house for a beer with another husband who was “encouraged” to take a little time for himself and of course, he got lost.

I think the people I admire most are the ones wearing Vans sneakers, pyjama tops and a kerchief they think strangers will assume means they were cast members on the first season of Survivor. They sport gardening gloves, swimming goggles and the word Juicy or Bum written across their backside as they race past my house in a full sprint—I salute you.

By salute I mean, I stand in my front window flashing a chocolate almond smile and of course, my Thorlos.

I worried for months leading up to operation “Twin Beds” representing a huge adjustment for Hanna and Ellie who would lose their queen sized beds and the privacy of their own rooms.

I worried they would both blame Chloe who at the time was “the new baby.” The new baby meant Ellie having to leave the room she had known as being all her own. The place she moved out of the crib and into her big girl bed. The room where she learned to be brave at night, to leaf through books (usually upside down) before she could read them herself, the room where we rocked in that chair for countless hours as she reflected on her day—all of that changed when Chloe arrived.

We had a decision to make. Nobody was old enough to move down to the basement and with a three bedroom house it’s not so much as it was the easiest solution but really the only solution. The two older girls would bunk together until it made sense to move someone downstairs.

I thought of how poor Hanna, the oldest, must have felt having to divide her closet space, her dresser and lose her big bed, downsizing and gaining a chatty roommate who adored her older sister and hung on her every word.

Would they fight?

Would they keep each other awake at night?

Would they argue over nightlights, personal property and feel unfairly positioned in this new environment?

Would they become friends?

We are now two and a half years into this arrangement and I was delighted to walk into Ernie and Bert’s apartment yesterday to this.

Hanna brought home a permission slip from school the other day outlining the details of their upcoming class trip to a Pioneer Village.

The student cost was $19 which I immediately assumed was a misprint.

Typically, the outings (of which there have been some exciting and educational ones) run about $2.50 and I must admit I assumed that money went toward ensuring the bus driver had a sufficient supply of smokes to get him through the day.

I remembered visiting the Pioneer Village when I was a kid. I have no idea what the cost was to visit then but it couldn’t have been more than a jar of molasses and a home-sewn bonnet. This was of course before we knew how lice were spread at which time, the bonnet clause was lifted.

I found the trip lacked in bells and whistles and in an era before video games, we were all hungry for colour, high energy excursions and forward thinking information. Corey Hart’s “Boy In The Box” was suffocating. We were ready to break-free and explore our surroundings.

The idea of kneading spelt flour into bread which we may or may not have had enough time to eat after slightly burning it on some hot stones, barely held my attention. We were moving onto the next station—“The Trading Post” before we had the chance to digest our one and only over-baked, somewhat flavourless (not to be confused with flourless—there was plenty of that) snack. I also remember kneading the dough with twenty other classmates digging into the same raw ball on a giant slab of rock and even then, in a world before hand sanitizers and germ obsessions thinking “man, this is totally gross.” Actually I was probably thinking, “Billie Jean is not my lover.”

We were ushered into an old log cabin with some stuffed dummies lying on the floor simulating some sort of horrible “we all sleep in one room on the hard floor” life I was thankful to have no part of. Come to think of it, that might not have been a dummy. It could have been the bus driver having a snooze after eating the spelt bread leftovers we didn’t have time for. Again, this station didn’t seem to require anything more than some old nylons, newspaper and a cabin that was likely already on the land so why the high price tag?

So for $19 (assuming this includes the bus ride and smokes) what are the children paying to see?

Don’t get me wrong, I adore class trips, a break from the day-to-day desk work and I think it’s important to learn about our heritage in an educational way so forgive me for suggesting this. Aren’t the Pioneer Villages tripping over themselves to get schools to come and visit? Isn’t this basic supply and demand? Why hasn’t Groupon picked up on this and gone after a better deal than $19 to hear the most energy efficient way to roast a squirrel?

Have you been asked to pay an absurd amount of money for a school trip?

Hanna asked me if she was adopted.

I told her she wasn’t and she replied, “I’ll know if you’re lying.”

I then asked if the girls remembered me being pregnant with Ellie and then more recently with Chloe.

Hanna said, “Oh yeah, I remember, you were really fat when you were pregnant with Ellie.”

Ellie, “You were fatty, fat-pants when you were pregnant with Chloe.”

“Yes I was girls. Yes I was. But it’s not nice to say that.”

Ellie, “We meant you were really fat like super fatty-pants but also a little bit skinny.”

Phew.

 My Dad very graciously offered to hang a light in our hallway leading down the stairs to the basement.

He, like all Dads, seems to know exactly how to place a ladder on a steep, staircase angle and totally secure it while he climbs and despite not having a background in electrical engineering, just understands how this Dad stuff comes together.

His supplies; two diapers wrapped around the base of the ladder legs so as not to scratch the banister spindles, an old towel so the leaning ladder wouldn’t chip the paint (that he painted) leading down the staircase and a winning attitude as I watched in amazement at two diapers and one dangling ladder leg hanging, swaying in the wind.

Up he climbed.

I was an eager assistant, remembering the days I helped him build our tree-fort as a young girl. Wait, he did that with my little brother while I was away on a class trip. Hmmm.

When things got tense, he needed me more than ever.

“Pass me the straighty.”

He may have said “straight” but “straighty” is more in keeping with the vocabulary I’m used to hearing from the kids.

Okay, straight up Paula Abdul, straight up. Um, straight up gangsta, what is a straight(y)?

He waved toward the tool box so I figured that was where I should start.

A straight is apparently an end to a screwdriver. I passed him a couple of unacceptable straighties before he climbed down the one legged ladder, careful not to remove the diapers and found it himself.

Next round goes to Lizzy.

“Okay, I need a square head.”

Alright, square-bear, squarey, square…….head……square shaped square.

I found what looked like a square on the end of a screwdriver tip and handed it up the ladder.

“This is a diamond.”
Um, turn it sideways?

We agreed the appropriate length for the chain would be somewhere around fourteen inches.

After giving him the go ahead, he proceeded to hang the light at the end of a six foot chain and we both looked surprised at the end result.

We laughed and laughed at how funny it is to hold something heavy above your head for an extended period of time, knowing you would have to do it all over again.

Actually, he looked at me like I had said fourteen inches but handed him a diamond straighty with a pile of chain made from used diapers and suggested he use that as a guide to select a length we would both find hilarious.

My Dad is a patient man. He has to be with me as an assistant.

I took the girls to swimming lessons last night. The first time I had attended since the new session began.

Many times I wondered if my fear of my six year old drowning would ever go away.

Have they (the panel of celebrity/former Olympic champion judges who determine whether kids pass or fail from one level to the next) moved Ellie up the pool ladder too quickly?

I often felt as though I would need to hop over the metal waiting area fence and dive in to save her. How useless I would have been is irrelevant, I wasn’t going to let her sink without trying to help.

Each time she swam a length toward the ten foot depth I would discretely slip off my shoes and get ready to hurl myself onto the deck. Thankfully, that never happened.

Watching two kids in lanes five and two, two different age groups, two very different skill levels, once again, I saw two personalities, each wonderful in their own way.

Ellie with her I-can-do-it-I’d-rather-drown-than-have-my-mom-jump-in attitude made me smile.

Hanna cautiously glides through the centre of her lane, sipping martinis while floating on her back.

I can hear Ellie’s laboured breathing as I gear up for my rescue attempt.

Hanna is as quiet as a mouse. Not a swimming mouse. I suspect that would involve a lot of squealing.

Ellie put on flippers for a portion of her lesson. I worried they would weigh her down.

Hanna with flippers looked like a teenager listening to an ipod, chewing gum and ignoring the world around her.

Ellie’s coach said something to her at the end of a length which made her smile and blush.

Hanna’s teacher said something to her. I think she was asking what song she was listening to.

Ellie zig-zags.

Hanna is careful never to swim outside the lines.

One struggles but endures.

One finds it breezy but is uninspired.

One is determined.

One is cautious.

One swallows water.

One has remained mostly dry.

One is a risk taker.

One follows the pack.

One chews up the water and spits it out.

One is allergic to chlorine.

Both are better swimmers than their Mom will ever be.

On the way home, I remembered I had an emergency pack of gummy bears tucked in the glove box as a special treat. It was the perfect time to celebrate.

Ellie removed all the heads from each of her four assigned gummy bears and replaced them onto other bear’s bodies to create a new taste sensation that would take her the entire ride home to finish savouring.

Hanna balled hers together and swallowed them whole.

Huh.

I learned something new about Chloe last night.

It was a warm evening, the first of many I hope.

I decided to take her outside after her bath and just look around the yard at some of the flowers starting to bloom, check out some hot spots for the rabbits we see hopping around the backyard and soak in some of the freshly cut grass smell mixed with a light rain—the cologne of spring.

As I was pointing to our one and only purple tulip, Chloe flinched and started to shake. She squealed, “Ahhhhh, BUTTERFLY!!! I want to go inside! AHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Almost inconsolable, I calmly held her and explained to her that the butterfly was friendly, that he meant no harm to either of us. I told her his name was “Monarch” and that he was orange and black.

“His name is scary. He’s orange because he eats our cheese! Ahhh Buttefly!”

I talked to her about the butterfly’s migration habits to and from Mexico, a fictional voyage I may or may not have overheard while Greg watched a documentary and I sat next to him with my eyes closed pretending to be paying attention.

“Ah Mexico! I hate Mexico and I hate butterflies! They are scary! I want to go inside!”

Greg, Hanna and Ellie appeared from a nature walk where they had “found” some beautiful, cherry blossom twigs for a couple of vases.

Just as one might scream about an earthquake or announce that the world was about to implode, Chloe pointed at the wall and while running to safety within the confines of the house, she shouted back to us, “Daddy! Run! We’ve got monarchs!”

The UPS guy just arrived with my parcel according to plan.

He rang the doorbell, but before I could get to the door, was already half way to Tim Horton’s. I knew what it was.

My envelope had arrived—Pinkalicious!

Allow me to rewind a couple of days.

Chloe has been enjoying a book series for kids called Pinkalicious. I think it was Hanna’s set originally, then Ellie read them and continues to read them to her baby sister and now it seems Pinkalicious is at the top of Chloe’s request list when it comes to naptime and bedtime reading.

I thought her interest in reading Pinkalicious would give me a great opportunity to take her to the library to borrow any and all books in the series so we could Read! Read! Read! While introducing her to the exciting (and much cheaper than Chapters) world of book learnin’.

There were NO Pinkalicious books on hand at our local library–conspiracy? This only added to the excitement. Books were ordered we would wait for “the call” and when they finally arrived, we would hop in the car with nothing but our library card and a couple of bucks should there be any outstanding late fees and/or warrants  we hadn’t considered.

The excitement had sort of worn off for Chloe. Perhaps at two, she had both forgotten what we were doing and what a library was. She likely also forgot we read books before bed.

We approached the counter and Chloe very quietly said, “Pinkalicious” and magically, our local librarian returned with three Pinkalicious books. Chloe hugged them tightly to her body and was fairly certain, okay, she was totally certain these were hers to keep and smiled at the kind gift the stranger behind the desk had just presented to her. How could she have known?

The librarian commented that these books appeared to be brand new and that Chloe would be the first to read them. (And the last but neither of us would be aware of this yet).

Chloe and I discussed the nice lady at the library, the idea of “borrowing” how we must go to great lengths to take care of these books that DO NOT BELONG TO US. We talked about the mountains  we would climb, the valleys we would—you get the idea, to protect the books from spills and page wrinkling. How we would pile them neatly in a stack andstack them neatly in a pile separate from the other thousand or so books we had at home because these particular Pinkaliciouses were next to Godliciousness

Chloe agreed and we proceeded to her rocking chair.

The first book was about Pinkalicious visiting a pink pumpkin farm. An instant classic, we read it four more times.

The second was about Pinkalicious having a princess slumber party. While equally engaging, it was the pink pumpkin that had Chloe rocking her chair into the drywall so once more through the pumpkin patch.

When it was time for bed, I placed Chloe in her crib and over-emphasized the drama of how careful I was going to set the new books down so she could read to herself, review the pictures and give the inconceivable idea of a pink pumpkin some serious thought.

I waited in the family room for Chloe to fall asleep at which time I would retrieve the books and set them on the ottoman in front of her rocking chair so there would be no chance she could crinkle, crumple or puke up any pumpkin seeds while she rested.

Chloe called to me. I ignored her. I assumed it was to tell me all about the pumpkin farm, Pinkalicious, borrowing, the library and the slumber party. I paid no attention.

She called a second time. Alright, I knew she was excited and wanted to recap with her newly formed book club but I had to be strong and let her know it was time to rest.

A few minutes passed and I couldn’t hear her. She had fallen asleep successfully and I could sneak in and remove the books.

The problem was the books had already been removed–at least, portions of them.

I saw a princess in a sleeping bag in a wrinkled ball on one side of the room and a beheaded Pinkalicious holding part of a pink wand on another.

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This. Was. Bad.

I wasn’t going to wake Chloe up and I wasn’t going to clean up the mess so I waited until she woke from her nap.

When I heard her stir I raced down the hall.

“Chloe, what happened to Pinkalicious?”

Chloe: Chloe ripped it.

Me: Yes, I see Chloe ripped it. What are we going to do?

Chloe: We are going to read Pinkalicious

Me: No we are not going to read Pinkalicious. Pinkalicious is dead. What did you do?

Chloe: Chloe ripped it. Chloe ripped Pinkalicious.

Thanks Rain Man. I guess I was expecting remorse.

I collected the other books, drove them back to the library and placed them in the return slot. I told Chloe if we can’t take care of library books then we wouldn’t be able to borrow them anymore.

She was totally unfazed by the incident and was much more excited about the fact I had tic-tacs in the slot on my dashboard.

They weren’t even pink.

Ellie was invited to a play date yesterday at a friend’s house.

I love the stories the kids return home with including things like, “Mom! Their house is so huge, even the parents have their own bedrooms.”

Yesterdays retelling of the day’s events was interesting. Sure she finally talked about painting, playing a number of creative games, giggling with her friend over a snack of “pink raisins” but what Ellie found most interesting was that the host Mom spent some time ironing her daughter’s dresses.

“Mom, it was so funny to watch. She was ironing dresses!”

This from the child who has only ever witnessed her own mother iron when it was time to melt the beads onto the craft project.

Why on earth would anyone use an iron for anything else?

You’re going to meet a lot of different people in your life Ellie.

Some of them are going to be crazy.

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