Browsing Posts published in August, 2012

I made my rounds through the grocery store yesterday and stopped at the Floral Studio to inquire about a bouquet of helium balloons for Hanna’s birthday.

The Florist was all Edward Scissorhands in an arrangement of lilies, bows and twigs. We did not want to disturb the artist at work but our four pack of ice cream cones (with caramel and nuts) needed to make a smooth transition to their new home in our deep freeze.

Me: “Excuse me do you have helium balloons here?”

Edward S: Did you know there is a helium shortage right now? (without ever looking away from her masterpiece)

Me: Um, no (wait, is that what I asked?)

Ed: There is no helium anywhere in town. Anywhere. None.

Me: Uh….

Ed: We have the last of it.

(So there is some)

She pinched her thumb and pointer finger together proving she had a firm grasp on the amount of helium remaining in the city. Maybe she was holding it right there in her hand?

What this shortage meant to the world as a whole, we may never know.

Me: So, are you able to use what you have left or are you keeping it in case the Prime Minister needs a foil birthday balloon?

Ed: Silence.

Ed: Yeah, we can blow up a few. How many do you want, like three?

I was so tempted to say five hundred but three sounded as good a number as any.

Ed: Seriously, you could drive all over town and you wouldn’t find any.

I do love a challenge, if not for the ice cream….

After the fuss she made about the helium, she proceeded to lecture the kids about holding onto the ribbon like it was the heart of the ocean and the Titanic was sinking.

Ed: You wouldn’t believe how many kids come back into the store crying after they let go of the balloons in the parking lot and they watch them float away. They never come back you know.

I really wanted to ask, “And then what happens?” Does she replace the balloons or just document another one bites the dust in her floral journal and send them packing.

Ellie started to shake. Chloe was more eager than anyone in the history of helium balloon filling to let hers fly off and stomp out of the store like she could find helium just by running in a zig-zag pattern in the parking lot.

I tied Chloe’s to her wrist, ice cream melting, everyone was sweating, the stress of this one Hannah Montana balloon, one purple star and one pink sparkly was almost too much for anyone to handle at 9:00am. Also, I worried for the safety of the store clerk given her promotion to “Helium Keeper, Central Region.”

Ellie held the purple star balloon for less than a second. Something happened during a fumbled exchange between her and the clerk. Helium?

The balloon shot up to the ceiling of the grocery store and I nearly wet myself.

Oh. My. God.

The clerk shook her head in disgust. I thought she was going to smash her display of lilies on my foot. Luckily, I had some ice cream cones I could use to soothe any immediate swelling.

A very tall stock boy came over giggling and offered to help, but how?

He hopped up on the Florist’s counter and with the long handle of a broom started to swing at the long string at the end of the world’s last puff of helium.

What did he think he was going to achieve? Was the broom handle covered in crazy glue? How could this possibly work? Does helium have a magnetic pull towards wooden broom handles and my kids are about to learn a really cool science lesson?

Failure.

Edward weighed her options and disappeared behind a hidden door behind the helium tank. I’m pretty sure it was some type of helium inspired board room where the great minds of our time had met earlier this morning to discuss the preservation and distribution of this, the last batch of helium on the planet.

She emerged with another purple balloon, kept her eyes on the floor and began to fill it up.

“I’m really sorry Mom,” Ellie shuddered. I thought she might vomit.

Me: Ellie, it was an accident, it’s no problem.

Edward remained silent.

She would later steal our ice cream.

The girls and I headed to a store I loathe armed with our school supply list to check off everything necessary to get us through day one of grades one and four respectively before receiving a second, much longer, contradictory list.

Our first run went reasonably well and we left with just one extra pencil case for the two (and a half!) year old as she was really feeling left out of the whole back-to-school shopping experience.

I drove very slowly past the store next door where I noticed a sidewalk sale that caught my attention so, I unloaded the three girls for a second time so we could buy Chloe a lap desk for hours of circle drawing at the ergonomically correct two (and a half!) year old height. It wasn’t until we returned home, I realized we already had a desk but it had been swallowed by Toy Mountain.

It was at this time Ellie started to tell a hilarious story she remembered from camp last week about one of the leaders flirting with another leader but it took her a total of twenty-six minutes to finally spit it out with breaks for uproarious laughter and choking back giggles almost always on the words, “flirting” and “ooooooh you’re in loooooove”.

The girls spotted some magic beans at the check-out and put them on the conveyor belt signifying to the clerk we wanted to purchase them.

They were quickly instructed to return the magic beans both for the ridiculous promise in the name and for the $1.50 price tag as I knew Dollarama sold the very same beans for $1, much closer to what Jack would have been willing to pay.

The girls left discouraged, shaking their heads at the ground about their lack of beans. It wouldn’t be the first time.

We drove to a clothing store and found a couple of things for back-to-school and quickly spotted Dollarama. The beans were calling out to the girls so I decided to take the chance on one more unbuckling, never knowing when Chloe will decide she is going to protest climbing back into her five-point-harness and then we wait, wishing the magic beans would whisk us home on the horn of a unicorn.

Magic beans were sold out or not in their regular spot. Ellie still trying to blurt out the word flirt was beside herself with giddiness and appeared to be over the thrill of the bean. Hanna looked depressed enough for everyone combined but that’s always been part of her charm. She would later tell me, “I KNEW my popsicle was freezer burnt! I could hear the shrinkling under the wrapper!” How does one argue with shrinkling?

We walked out of Dollarama empty handed. Sort of.

About half way to the car, Ellie “the Narc” stopped laughing and started shouting, “Mommy! Chloe stole! Chloe stole those!”

You’d think I would have jumped back in horror but I was surprisingly calm. I was really hoping being so close to the car I would turn around to find Chloe with a free balloon someone was handing out or chewing something she had found on the sidewalk.

Instead, I saw two, giant, novelty address books or photo albums or binders covered with an almost offensive fuzzy, heart pattern in bright neons.

That’s a first. My child is a shoplifter.

I didn’t say anything other than “Ellie, please stop giggling and try to finish your story” oh and “follow me guys, we’re going back in.”

I tried to explain to the older girls how serious it was to take something without paying but wasn’t hard on Chloe because she’s just two (and a half!) and the books were as big as her entire body so what kind of security does this place have (if any)? And “she doesn’t really understand what she did.”

Chloe snickering: Yeah guys, I don’t understand what I did.

Then she proceeded to spell “Schlotzhauer.”

My prediction that this child was put on earth to mess with me, stands.

I can’t remember what began the argument but it seemed to last all day.

Maybe it was that I poured milk on her Shreddies and she claimed to have specifically ordered, “DRY SHREDDIES Alice!”

Maybe it was that I didn’t let her answer the door when a neighbour knocked to discuss Turtle Patrol fundraising.

Maybe it was that I wanted her to wear sandals that fit rather than crocs that do not.

Maybe it was when I tried to comb the fist sized knot from her hair while she ran in the opposite direction shouting something about soggy Shreddies.

Things finally came to a head after dinner, after the after dinner swim, after playing, after eating, after playing some more, after walking to the mailbox while Chloe sported yellow goggles and carried two containers of branded mints under each arm Greg had found in his office.

While neighbours smiled and waved at what appeared to be two crazies (I was balancing her trike on my head) on a five minute pass to walk to the mailbox unassisted by our caregivers, I said nothing.

Something snapped in Chloe when we made our way to the upper deck after our swim and she wanted to play with her Sesame Street book with the felt characters.

I wanted to bring her inside and warm her up with a bubble bath and she would have none of it.

She became delirious and I couldn’t figure out what had set her off. I don’t think it was my suggestion that Bert’s placement so far from Ernie might make him miss his friend but you just never know.

I found it difficult to keep up with her tantrum but I do know I laughed that in the same breath as “sudsy warm tub-tub” came the words, “Oh no you di-int!” with a now classic finger wave in my face.

She was wearing a little swimmer diaper, still with the goggles, had lost the mints somewhere along the way (and maybe also her marbles) and would have been swearing like a sailor had she known anything nastier than “You’re a Jer!”

The silver lining? She’ll soon crash and when that happens, there will be a bed of dry Shreddies waiting for her.

This morning, my kids asked, “Mommy, we’re playing restaurant. Will you play with us?”

“Sure.”

Two kids in unison: YOU WILL?!!!!

Third kid with a ten second delay, in my face, “You will?????????”

I found their reactions strange given I “play” with them all day long. I’m a stay-at-home-Mom, of course I play with them. We’re together all day, every day.

But do I really play?

Let’s see, I know I get a lot of laundry folded while I referee a full-contact Connect Four match. I prepare dinner while Chloe colours circles at the kitchen table and I say, “Great job on those circles Chloe! Is it time to try an oval?” I watch the girls build a tower of blocks while I tidy the Littlest Pet Shop shopping mall that has been abandoned in the corner after Barbie and Ken arrived in the mall parking lot and things got ugly. I take them grocery shopping and ask them to help choose fresh produce or a box of cereal from the shelf and help me put the groceries into bags. That’s playing right?

It occurred to me in that moment, I don’t always get down on the floor and become fully engaged in their creative play. In part because I know I can use that time as an opportunity to get something done, to think about dinner options, to make beds, put away laundry, clean up a stain or sweep the floor. I can google things like, “how long does it take to sell a house after a lice invasion?”

I make excuses in my head like, “this independent play is a great way for them to get creative without me always being involved.” Or, “it’s a way for them to confront challenges and come up with solutions without the help of an adult coming in to save the day.” I feel better when I tell myself these things but the reality is my oldest is turning nine years old this week, time is flying by. Would it kill me to wait to change the garbage under the kitchen sink in fifteen minutes?

I sat down at the restaurant the kids had put together in the basement.

I learned a lot about my kids in just a few short minutes of make believe at Rosalinda’s Diner.

  1. They will over-salt the food of an ornery customer with an empty bottle of glitter glue. I like that they see salt as a way to poison people—they do listen.
  2. Before I had the chance to order, someone brought me a piping hot cup of “steeped tea with two milk” in a doll sized, yellow, plastic cup, just the way I like it. They know me better than I thought.
  3. There are two kinds of bacon; crispy and sizzlin’
  4. Asking what the difference is between crispy and sizzlin’ bacon will really annoy the chef. Just know there is a difference. A big difference.
  5. Hanna has 98 pieces of make-up and Ellie only has three. How did things spiral so out of control before being brought to my attention?
  6. Hanna was secretly awake last night when I came into her room and put her cozy blanket over her. She was too tired to say thanks but she was actually cold and was really happy I did that.

 

Sometimes we need to get down on the floor and play. One of us might discover what sizzlin’ bacon is.

My daughter who is about to turn nine has requested some rockin’ clothes to go back to school.

Of course she did.

I found myself shopping in the jungle-print aisles of various department stores but the clothes were so well camouflaged, I had trouble finding them. At one point, I found myself in the check-out line with a pair of tight fitting, gold, stretchy pants, a flimsy top with draped sleeves, some type of floppy wings at the sides. I then retreated, not to hit my head on the wall as you might expect but to pick up a LEOPARD PRINT SCARF and return to the check-out line to hand over money for what was arguably something Helen Roper from Three’s Company would have worn to a costume party.

I came to my senses and did not purchase the scarf. This outfit had cougar written all over it, both the animal and the lady at the end of the bar, specifically, the Regal Beagle. The only thing missing was a carton of Popeye cigarettes. Thankfully, those have been pulled from the market for being too dangerous to sell to children, the clothing manufacturers haven’t followed suit.

Really? Age nine and that’s what they’re wearing? That’s what the manufacturers are pumping out and  retailers are selling? I really felt as though I was shopping for someone’s dress-up bin and not for academia.

I felt so much relief to buy my six year old a fuzzy, cream coloured vest so I could pretend she still used a blanky.

My two (and a half!) year old is just happy when someone remembers to dress her at all.

Yesterday we hosted a pool party for my daughter’s 9th birthday. I can’t believe “9” isn’t a typo. I have a child who is turning nine. Where did the time go?

We have already deemed ourselves “Super Geniuses” for finally putting this pool in, never considering the ease with which we would forever host birthday parties as a factor when we decided to go ahead with it.

There will no longer be a need to come up with games we think will occupy a group of children for one hour intervals when in reality, they will play them to exhaustion before the five minute whistle is blown and stare at the host parents with that, “this party blows….just like it did last year…..and the year before that….and you’re not fooling anyone with your healthy snack alternatives.”

The pool party is a different beast altogether.

You really just have to pray to that woman who lives in a tanning bed, I call her “Goddess of the Sun” for three weeks prior to choosing a date as hosting a pool party could prove risky if you don’t have the right weather. Then you have no pool and you haven’t even bothered to plan your lame basement games.

The kids decorated pool towels with fabric markers which would then become their party favours along with a new water bottle to take back to school, in keeping with the watery theme.

Towel decorating—5 minutes

Eating pizza—3 minutes

Water balloon toss—1 hour to prepare, 1 minute to play to completion

Swimming—COULDN’T GET THEM OUT OF THE WATER!!!!

Greg and I just couldn’t stop patting ourselves on the back.

Pushing our retirement back at least ten years (well, Greg’s retirement…I’m already retired, shhh) was totally worth it for this one, fun, pool party in the sun.

I did have one back-up game where I blew up about 30 balloons and placed the word “Sorry” in twenty-nine of them and the word “Winner!/Gagnon!” in one. I hadn’t determined what the winning prize would be even after the party was well underway. I just thought popping balloons might get out some of that end of summer aggression I’ve been seeing on the streets as of late. Also, it gave me a chance to use the label maker which is maybe the greatest thing we own, second only to the pool…..and maybe that bug zapper that looks like a tennis racket but is really a lethal weapon.

The Sun Goddess (Tanny Mommy) came through in a big way for us, so much so, my balloons all popped within three minutes of the party getting underway. I found sad little notes of condolence “Sorry” all over the lawn and in the mulch surrounding the pool.

I cancelled the game which was just as well as I feared I would have to give up my label maker as a prize.

Then at the end of the day, when all of the cushions were put away, the empty chip bowls were washed and the overflowing fruit trays were returned to the fridge, I took a walk around the yard to remember the fantastic afternoon.

And then I found something that made me smile…..

This morning on our way home from dropping the girls off at camp Chloe from the second row of the van asked, “Mommy, where are the sisters?”

She had just walked both of her sisters into camp, hugged them, high-fived, told Mommy-can-never-know-I’m-whispering-this-to-you secrets before loading back into her car seat and heading to the grocery store.

Me: “The sisters are at camp for the day sweetie.”

Chloe: “Oh.”

Chloe: “Well, where’s Ellie?”

Ellie being one of the sisters, “Ellie is at camp today sweetie.”

Chloe: “Oh.”

Chloe: “Well, where is Hanna?”

Hanna being the sister that puts the “s”…make that, the third “s” in sisters. “Hanna is also at camp honey.”

Chloe: “Oh.”

Chloe: “Why isn’t Chloe at camp?”

“Well Chloe, when you are a little” (stopping myself) “When you get to be” (don’t go there) “When you have your birthday and you are” (tread lightly) “When you grow a little” (abort!) “When the time comes” (point of no return) “When you are bigger, you can go to camp.”

“I! Am! A! Big! Girl! I! Am! Big!”

Here we go.

“I can wear big girl underwear, I can swim with my dolphins, I can eat Cheerios on the couch!” (what? Who said she could eat Cheerios on the couch?)

“I can sleep in a “BIG GIRL BED!” I can go pee pee on the potty, I can…..

“Chloe, did you throw a pen in the washing machine this morning?”

“Yes.”

“When you stop doing that, you can go to camp.”

“Okay.”

Hanna came home from camp and asked me a few random questions about piercings. Camp. Has. Changed.

I feared she was going to push the “You can have your ears pierced when you’re twelve” agreement we signed, had notarized and store in an off-site, undisclosed location as three well disguised yet reputable witnesses can prove through video diary.

She asked, “Mommy, have you ever seen anyone with a belly button earring?”

I had, “I have.”

Hanna: It’s really, well, interesting.

I was hoping more for, “Mommy, I saw this girl with her belly button pierced and it was so sick and not in the cool way we kids are using the word sick these days.”

While I considered the right way to suggest piercing her belly button would result in immediate infection and likely future amputation of most of her abdomen, she came up with her own reason not to.

Hanna: I thought who would pierce their belly button? When the baby comes out, it would rip the earring right out and that would hurt.

So, we are now back to our original plan. We continue to tell the girls babies are born through their belly buttons until I feel better about this whole piercing thing.

For now, the original contract has three years before it expires and self destructs…..Gadget-style.

Yesterday I had started to read an article that caught my interest.

It began, “Breast Feeding Champion” and before I could find out who Sally Peabody had to beat to become champion, it was time to pick up the girls from camp.

Ellie made a decision early in the week that would put a damper on things.

Campers were scheduled to swim twice throughout the day. After a quick and easy test to determine those swimmers who would require life jackets for the week and those who could swim unassisted, the kids were allotted some free time in the pool.

For some reason, Ellie (and a friend) opted out of the test entirely, foregoing the right to swim without a life jacket for the entire week as the test was a onetime deal and no amount of muttering under my breath to the custodial staff “but she knows how to swim” was going to change the ruling.

I asked Ellie why she didn’t want to take the test and she explained, “I was a little tired.”

Okay. I thought this would teach her a lesson in how the decisions she makes have consequences and she would now be stuck wearing a life jacket for an entire week to paddle around swimmers who were permitted free time on the diving board and other water activities I know Ellie would love.

I pictured her sitting in a turtle pool on the deck with children in diapers watching her peers play water polo and perfect their synchronized swimming routines using she and her friend as props.

Day 2

Me: Ellie, did you go swimming today?

Ellie: No, someone pooped in the pool.

Day 3

Me: Ellie, did you go swimming today?

Ellie: Yes but just once, the afternoon swim was cancelled because….

Me: Someone pooped in the pool?
Ellie: They didn’t tell us but, yeah, probably.

I unpacked the swimming bags and noticed Ellie’s towel was folded perfectly the way I had sent it (okay, not perfectly so much as it was shoved in the bag in a recognizable scrunch) and her bathing suit was bone dry with no scent of heavy, public swimming pool chemicals or hints of camp related fecal matter.

Then I looked at Ellie’s hair and realized the lopsided pony tail I had sent her to camp sporting that morning was still very much intact.

Me: Ellie, did you go swimming today?

Ellie: Yes but just once…. (looking behind her to a mother holding her dry suit and neatly folded scrunched up towel)

Ellie: No, I didn’t swim today.

Me: Why not?

Ellie holding her cheek with an upside down, nonsensical finger positioning.

Ellie: Well, I have this…..bruise.

She quickly swapped hands to her other cheek and pressed firmly, I guess in the hopes of forming a bruise.

She is nothing if not resourceful.

We got home and had a nice family dinner, explained why her earlier decision to not participate has impacted her enjoyment for an entire week.

We had a swim in our backyard and Ellie started shouting, “Mommy! You’ve gotta see this! This really is a sight to see!”

I looked up.

Ellie: See the birds, there’s like FORTY!

Me: Yes, amazing.

Ellie: Like FORTY BIRDS! This is unbelievable! Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Four (she held up four fingers on one hand, I was curious if she knew the number forty comprised of a four, followed by a zero) with her other hand she made the letter “D” in sign language. “See Mom, Four-D!”

I couldn’t be too hard on her. She was obviously delirious from the bruise.

I realize many people registered their children for fall activities/sports/music lessons back in Jan. 2007 for this year, the same time they signed up for their prime camp-site locations and Justin Bieber tickets. I hope they knew enough to get on the day care list back in ’05 when the wait list was looking at a speedy seven year turn around for an opening.

I have been anxiously awaiting the girl’s swimming schedule for the fall as I have decided swimming will be a priority over weaving and t.v. watching this year, though, the girls have become masters at the latter.

Swimming will take place three days a week, a commitment I am totally on board for and one the girls have little to no interest in.

One of the practices will be Friday evenings. Again, my schedule appears to be wide open, this may not be true for the kids but it will mean they will forego any and all invitations for sleepovers, one for the pros column.

Another practice will be Sunday mornings, very…….very……..early, Sunday mornings.

To argue over this one seems unfair, almost cruel to those families with hockey players who are on the ice at 2am, some of whom I think just sleep on their covered porches, (some in their vehicles) with their equipment on and get potato sacked to the car thirty minutes before game time while parents insert a coffee I.V. drip.

My concerns?

Am I asking too much of a six and a soon-to-be nine year old to commit to this seemingly intense form of dunking?

What of the green hair?

What do I do with Chloe for three hours, three times a week while confined to the slippery viewing area of the local pool?  Would this inspire and peak the two (and a half!) year olds’ interests? Or would it instill in her a fear of water, waking early and bathing caps?

Bathing caps—there’s really no way to look good in one of those.

If one of the girls had told me, “I love soccer! I must play soccer! Mom I’m nothing if not a striker.” I would sign her up for weaving soccer. This hasn’t happened.

Instead, I have one kid who asks, “Can you sign me up for cheerleading, singing, dance, ventriloquism, tight-rope walking, drive-thru intercom speech therapy?” and another who submits, “Okay, if I have to do something and you are making me, I will be a gymnastics spectator or a ball girl for tennis.”

I like swimming because it’s a life saving sport, it’s great exercise and I think when they’re in the pool, they’re enjoying themselves.

Also, I can’t hear them complaining about the parenting mistakes I’ve made when they’re under water.

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