Browsing Posts published in July, 2012

We played a game called “Flags!” on our last family road trip and the kids have become obsessed. I say “Flags!” because in order to do well at “Flags!” one must dominate their opponents both by seeing a flag on someone’s property and shouting “Flag!” but also by being boisterous enough to intimidate all other captains chair passengers.

What’s nice about “Flags!” is that a flag can pop up just about anywhere. Farmers fields, silos, wind turbines, “Free Puppies” stands. It teaches the kids about patriotism but more than that, it can startle you completely out of your seatbelt when you are having a quiet conversation about how a bill becomes a law when someone shouts, “Flag!” and begins their celebratory point tallying. This can only be a positive and undiscovered approach to weight-loss.

What I liked most about our last game is how Chloe reacted to the “Flags!” Firstly, we are uncertain at this point if she knows what a flag is, what it looks like or what it stands for. What she does know is we could be singing, “Twinkle Twinkle” and before anyone wonders what you are up above the world so high a voice louder than a movie theatre intro through a megaphone shouts from the back seat and high-fives anyone willing to accept.

“Twinkle Twinkle…. Flag!”

Chloe: ?

“Little Star…..Flag!”

Chloe: Guys, what are we doing guys?

“We’re playing flags Chloe.”

Chloe: Okay but guys, I don’t know what we’re…..

“Flag!!!”

Chloe: I am clapping for you guys but guys, what are we doing?

We walked Chloe through the process of looking out into field after field “Flag!” and finally “Flag!” after showing some “Flag!” understanding of what was happening, she “Flag!” got into the game. First by shouting “Flag!” immediately after someone else shouted “Flag!” making it seem as though she too was the first to see the flag and secondly by shouting “Flag!” randomly thus confusing the other players into thinking they might have missed a flag or even several hundred.

Then it hit me. The other night during the opening ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics the flags of the world were flashing on the screen the entire width of the stadium. I thought Chloe was going to have a seizure.

She shouted “Flag!” and clapped until her voice became hoarse. “Flag! Flag! Flag! Ffffffffffflag!!!!”

“Guys, are we still playing?”

After agreeing, Food Basics would be my go-to grocery store for the foreseeable future, I did a terrible thing. I couldn’t help myself. I had to sneak over to Zehrs, if just for a peek at the shiny fruit displays, the mile high stack of fresh produce, the Deli counter…ah the Deli counter.

 I have been enjoying the frugal pat on the back I have been giving myself after shopping at a discount grocery store. I always think, wow, only $93 for a week’s worth of food (excluding meat because I’ve got all the push-pins I need) but every now and again, when I run out of crumbled feta and my only option at the discount food chain is a block of floating feta in mouldy cheese water with an expiry date somewhere around last Christmas or when I want to watch an actual meat slicer cut the meat before my eyes so that I know it’s real or when I’m craving real ice cream, caramel, cashew, toffee, ice cream for almost $8 a litre and worth double that, I cave and go to Zehrs.

The other day when I watched my two containers of feta, my two pounds of sliced meat, my fresh, local blueberries, did you know they sold cream of tartar for my banana bread recipe in the bulk food aisle? run through the scanner, I noticed an item on the computer pop up on the screen at $6.42.

I wasn’t sure what it was. Perhaps the chocolate chips I would later use in some freshly baked muffins or maybe it was the sparkling water, some skinless, boneless chicken breasts.

The $6.42 line item showed up opposite “nectarines” on my receipt.

I bought four nectarines. Four. Just the four. Nectarines. Four of them. For $6.42. Nectarines.

I removed the hand that had been patting my back for weeks of savings at the discount store and placed it over my mouth to muffle the shouting.

While a part of me knew charging anyone $6.42 for four nectarines was outrageous, another part was even more excited for the prize that must be hidden inside.

Greg has been spending some one-on-one coaching time with our two year old in the pool introducing her to some basic skills; floating, blowing bubbles, butterfly.

The other night I asked her how her swimming lesson went and what she learned.

Chloe: I learned I have two nipples. Just like Daddy.

My kids were surprisingly observant as we watched the opening ceremonies of the London, 2012 Olympics.

“How can there be people from Equator (Ecuador) in the Olympics? They would be too hot!”

 “There’s a country called Hungary?” I would NOT want to live there. Is that why you said there are kids who are Hungary in the world?”

“It said that girl’s event is shooting. I would NOT want to be there for that one.”

“The people from Egypt look really pretty and nice. Why don’t they look like that on the news?”

“I love Mr. Bean—what event is he in?”

“Ha Fiji! I think they mean Kijiji”

Being the Queen would be awesome. You get to jump out of a plane.

“Mommy!!! Look!!! Everyone on the team from China looks Chinese!”

I was making a coffee cake with strawberries and peaches yesterday afternoon. I must have scrunched my face while creaming the butter, egg and vanilla together, smushing chunks of brown sugar with the back of my spoon reflected in my face.

Ellie: Mommy, why don’t you ever have any fun?

Me laughing: What do you mean? I’m having fun right now. (Desperately grabbing strawberries, dangling them under my ears making the illusion I had tasty, fruit earrings). So weak.

Ellie: You never have any fun. You’re always making us stuff or driving us somewhere or doing dishes or writing.

Hmmm.

Dear Ellie, I love being a Mom to you three girls. I enjoy every second of my time with you even if I don’t always smile while creaming ingredients of a coffee cake together. Sometimes I like to hang back and watch you three dance in the family room while I prepare dinner. I’m still in the room, still part of the action but I can happily watch you begin to sort through issues, whisper things you only think you’re getting away with, play cards with each other and say things like, “Take that! You just got dunked!” or, “You’re about to get flushed” to your opponent while you fight back the giggles.

  1. It may seem as though I’m always making stuff for you. The reality is, meals are something that take up a considerable amount of my time but it also means I get to be in charge of the good food you are eating so for that reason, I am having fun while I’m “making you stuff.”
  2. Driving you guys around brings me great joy. When I drop you at a friend’s house, it gives me a chance to miss you or one of your sisters or when all of the stars are in alignment—all three of you. I look forward to seeing your smiling faces at the end of a play date and hearing all about first the treats you ate and second the fun games you played. I love driving you to swimming lessons where I can come and cheer you on, to art class where I can await another masterpiece, to a day like the one we just had at African Lion Safari where I had all three of you driving in the front seat with me as we anxiously awaited (unsuccessfully) a pink-bottomed baboon to jump on the van.
  3. I do clean a lot of dishes. I guess I’m comfortable in the kitchen and hope that one day, you guys will join me and make this chore go by a lot faster.
  4. Writing—writing is something that I get to do when I’m all alone. It’s these few minutes each night, sometimes if only for the amount of time it takes for me to realize my hands are too chapped from all the dishes I’ve washed, the meals I’ve prepped or the horn I’ve been honking all day I can only type a few words. If I didn’t think writing was fun I wouldn’t do it. If I didn’t take the time to write, I would eat my body weight in chocolate almonds.

 

 Now that would be fun.

I took the girls to African Lion Safari today. We had a typical African Lion Safari related discussion en route.

Ellie: “Mommy, why does the Italy flag have the colours red, green and white? Aren’t those Christmas colours?”

Well yes.

Hanna: White is for snow, green is for Christmas trees, red is for the blood Jesus lost when he died.

Hmmm.

Ellie: No, red is for Santa’s suit.

Hanna: Yeah Ellie. Santa’s suit is red to remind us about Jesus’ blood.

Ellie: Is the Italian flag red for Santa’s suit or Jesus’ blood?

When we finally got to the park and someone asked things like, “Mommy, is that an elk or a mountain lion?” I was quick to steer the conversation back to Santa’s suit designed as a tribute to Jesus.

We did get to ride an elephant which was pretty cool by this stay-at-home-mom’s standards. All these years, if only I had known I could have the appearance of slimmer legs if I just hoisted myself atop the largest circus animal on the planet.

Another nice distraction was when Hanna told someone her Dad has lasers for eyes. She meant that he had laser eye surgery but the idea of having lasers for eyes once again makes him seem way cooler than Mommy.

Thank Santa in heaven he doesn’t have a red suit.

I am not a parenting expert. I really don’t think of myself as an expert at anything, except perhaps knowing the perfect ratio of ice to ruby red vodka to freshly squeezed lime juice to tonic.

In my almost nine years (wow!) as a parent, I try to keep up on current trends in parenting if in fact parenting can be viewed as trendy. I often come across professionals with the caption “Parenting Expert” next to their names and I wonder who deemed this person an expert?

I’m not here to challenge whether they are an expert or not, I just wonder who is giving out these rather seemingly, case-by-case credentials?

Is this person an expert in diapering a baby? In behavioural science? In special needs child rearing? In shopping with a child at Wal-Mart? Jenga Masters? Some of these so-called experts confess they don’t even have kids of their own. Hmmm.

I think back to a time when the baby pooped on her change table while her sister simultaneously choked on some “ahh minty!” toothpaste and spewed it all over the mirror while a third child proudly presented me with a Pioneer village crafted entirely of popsicle sticks, tripped and tossed villagers the full length of the now “ahh minty” hallway.  I thought to myself, if only I was a parenting expert, I’d have this scene cleaned up in no time and that popsicle hut wiped free of Colgate and nailed in place. We’d gather in front of a roaring fire (even though it’s July) and the crackle of the logs would send a gentle hum, a calming hug throughout the room and we would be at peace once again.

Why did I major in English Lit in University? The Wife of Bath has gotten me no closer to becoming a parenting expert than learning to shuck oysters. Yes I’m a wife and yes I give baths but that’s not even what the book is about.

I bet the experts never forget to leave money from the Tooth Fairy or brush their child’s hair 100 strokes before bed or rinse out the shampoo before drying it and pretending it’s “robin’s nest appreciation day.”

I did take a parenting class in high school. At least, I think it was called parenting. But that wasn’t realistic either and it certainly did not breed any experts. All of the babies bags of flour looked exactly alike and not one of them was screaming while I was talking on the phone to a friend in Australia or shouting at the dinner table, “This is so gross!” Sacky just slumped quietly in my locker wedged between some binders and a rotting orange and when she sprung a leak she was quickly replaced with Dusty.

What would the experts say?

Another reminder that our kids actually listen to what we say whether we think they’re paying attention or not.

My daughter told her play date that we were moving after I had purchased a newly renovated church for $49 over the weekend. Not exactly what I said but funny she picked up on me pointing out the low, low, low, three-small-instalments and it could be yours, price of a church on the outskirts of dog-f-nowhere. It was not $49 or perhaps I would have considered it. If for no other reason, I think I’d like to own a pew.

The Spiderman ball came to us via Dollarama. The $2 tag imprinted on the rubber is a slap-in-the-face reminder why I’m still miffed I was not notified by proxy vote about the increase from everything for a dollar to whatever the hell we feel like charging.

The Spiderman ball was chosen over a slew of princess balls, mostly because I have come to terms I don’t have any toys that boys might want to play with when they visit our house. I figured one rubber Spiderman ball and I now offer a multitude of toys for all the sexes. Just like that, I’m living guilt-free.

We quickly took a liking to Spiderman as a pool toy as it offered optimal, reliable floating power and was a surprisingly good size for water volleyball etc.

Greg developed a challenge (as he often does, once again proving to the world, he is by far the more fun parent) involving the Spiderman ball and forcing it down to touch the bottom of the deep end. In fact, he was so sure nobody would ever be able to touch Peter Parker’s finger to the cap at the depths of the deep end, he offered an ipod touch to anyone who could do it.

We learned quickly it couldn’t be done, except by Greg which bothers everyone who tries to no end.

I remarked to a neighbour after dehydrating themselves and nearly drowning after their third and final try, (as outlined in the contest rules and regulations pages) “This is the best $2 I’ve ever spent.” Despite the fact that it irks me to not be able to say, “This is the best $1 I’ve ever spent, now hand me my ipod.”

We have video footage of all of our family members (with the exception of Chloe) who sits plotting her technique for the day she breaks free from her infant floatie, trying but not succeeding at project $2 superhero-superball-dunk.

My approach seemed solid. I would shove Spiderman up my bathing shirt (that sounds weird), swim hard to the bottom and use my body any way I could to force the ball to touch the bottom and voila! I’d have in my possession another gadget I have no interest or knowledge of how to use.

The video diary will remain under lock and key following my death. What I can tell you is “operation Spidey-up-my-shirt” somehow landed me what I thought would be a bloody nose after forcing itself through the neck of my top, grazing second base and slamming me in the face.

I heard Hanna laugh and laugh as she told a friend, “Do you want to try the Spiderman ball dare? It’s the best $2 my Mom ever spent.”

I wonder how it’ll look in our new church?

It appears our two year old is in the “thank you and” phase of development.

Our conversations go a little something like this, “Mommy, could you get me some warm milk?” I reply, “Yes.” She responds, “Thank you and could you turn on the light?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you and could you get me my clothes?”

 “Sure.”

“Thank you and could I have Cheerios in a bowl with no milk?”

“Okay.”

“Thank you and can I ride my trike on the driveway but not on the road?”

“In a few minutes, after breakfast.”

“Thank you and could I ride my wagon too?”

“Yes that sounds like fun.”

“Thank you and could we draw chalk?”

“Indeed.”

“Thank you and could you tell sisters to play with me?”

“I will.”

“Thank you and could you sit with me and read to me Forest and lots of books?”

“Yes, we will read lots of books today.”
“Thank you and can we read them on the porch and draw circles?”

“That sounds like a great plan.”
“Thank you and can we have crackers and treats?”

“Yes to crackers, maybe to the treats.”

“Thank you for the crackers and what about the treats?”

“We’ll see about a treat a little bit later.”
“Thank you and is it later Mommy?”

“I will let you know when later is.”

“Thank you and can we have a juicey box?”

“Maybe.”

“Thank you and can you put the straw in my juicey box for me?”

“Yes.”
“Thank you and can you hold my juicey box for the first drink so it doesn’t spill on my dress?”

“You know I will.”

“Thank you and can we dance and sing and eat popcorn and use a mikorphone?”

“Yep!”

“Thank you and could you change my bum?”

“Go ask your Dad.”

Dear Bartender,

Thank you and can I have another?

We have just come home from our summer vacation and spent our final night jockeying for mattress space.

We started with the following predictable bedroom assignments; Bedroom 1: Mommy & Daddy, Bedroom 2: Chloe (age 2), Bedroom 3: Hanna (8) and Ellie (6).

In bedroom one, we had one queen bed. Chloe also had a queen bed in her room which made me a little nervous at first given she has just recently transitioned from crib to “big-girl-small-bed” and Hanna and Ellie had turned a comfortable set of bunk beds into a tangled mess of blankets, clothes, curtain tie-backs, dried reptile skeletons and a fairly extensive shell collection. Affectionately named “Fort Hanna” until some of the affection turned to rage and the name was changed to “Fort Ellie,” or, “Fort Why Do You ALWAYS Get Your Way?”

The week went by with just a few middle-of-the-night incidents. One night Chloe cried while her legs dangled from the edge of the queen bed like she was falling from a high rise balcony so I spent the rest of the night in her bed wearing a tandem five point harness.

Another night, Ellie’s sore ear bothered her so I brought her into bedroom 1 and my roommate from bedroom 1 shuffled into bedroom two to once again tether the baby safely in place.

Then last night, we started in our rightful positions but somewhere along the way moved Ellie in with Chloe as both queen bed supervisor and to move a little girl with a throbbing ear drum away from the bongos she could hear pounding deep in the heart of the jungle of a fort she was buried under.

Around midnight, I heard Hanna who typically sleeps very soundly but she was whimpering due to an ill-timed Just For Laughs-Gags episode where she happened to catch a scene with a scary man behind a mirror. She said she was picturing the man which would be easy to do given her cave-like surroundings so I climbed into the bottom bunk of Fort Nobody Sleeps and started down a path of first gasping for air under the suffocation wall and then unraveling Hanna from the upper body sausage skin she had created from our one and only shared blanket. She was wrapped from the top of her head to the middle of her torso but was surprisingly content and warm to the touch despite the rest of her body lying coverless. I shivered and wept as I thought of the Just For Laughs guy and how he would have totally loved this fort.

I then heard a shout out from bedroom two but I can’t be in two bedrooms that I was never meant to be in at once so Daddy came to the rescue of Ellie who was still suffering long after her Advil had been administered. He brought her in to take my spot in bedroom 1 and considered a suction cup device for Chloe’s shoulders to be mounted on the headboard.

We woke up in the morning with Ellie and Daddy in bedroom 1, Hanna and Mommy in bedroom 3 (Fort Hypothermia) and the baby slept soundly in the queen bed alone with no seatbelts and without incident.

I’m pretty sure Jack, Chrissy and Janet were in bedroom four but even though the sign said, “Come and knock on our door,” I didn’t.

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