Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pachelbel Canon in D: Memories, Comfort and Christmas

I'm a huge lover of music and due to the wonderful magic of Christmas(!) and a baby that sometimes needs some help getting to sleep, I was re-introduced to a piece of music that recently opened a flood-gate of memories.

Background: I was in bed with the radio on, tuned (of course) to the all-Christmas station. I also had Colsen's monitor on. The radio station was playing the Trans Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Canon, the base of which is Pachelbel's Canon in D. In Colsen's room, Francine the fish (his soothing-sounds aquarium) was on and the 'lullaby' playing was also Canon in D. It was the weirdest thing to hear such a rich version layered with the Fisher-Price crap version (coming through a monitor no less). But they were dead on in tempo, key and location in the song.

The first time I remember hearing the piece of music was on an episode of The Wonder Years. (I'm old.) Kevin Arnold was taking piano lessons and this was the piece he was playing for his recital. I fell in love it with right then and there. I was taking piano lessons at the same time and immediately told my parents that I needed the sheet music so I could play it at home. I didn't actually have to play it as part of my lessons, but I just needed to have the music and be able to play it. We bought it and I did.

Thinking back about piano lessons was a trip down memory lane. My piano teacher, Jill Simpson (God love her), seemed so very mean but was such a good treacher. I remember taking an exam  (Grade 4 RCM - theory and practical) and thinking I blew it. Got the results and passed the practical First Class Honours with Distinction, and probably got about 95% on the theory (written) exam. Imagine my surprise. Even as a 13-year old, I recognized then how good she was. Definitely a "huh, go figure" moment.

Her house smelled like mothballs, she only ever had blue & green Christmas lights outdoors and white Christmas lights inside. She had both a grand piano and an upright in one room, and what seemed like hundreds of those Royal Doulton figurines all over the place. She was also a member of our church, but moved to another church because the choir wasn't good enough(!). I will always associate the smell of mothballs with her.

I remember procrastinating as much as humanly possible when it was time to practice. I was asked to practice 1/2 an hour per day and yet probably only managed 1/2 an hour per week (not including the actual 1/2 hour lesson). Jill was particularly cruel those weeks. The odd week I did practice 1/2 an hour per day the lessons were wonderful. Clearly the positive re-inforcement wasn't enough for me to keep it up.

I remember Scotty (younger brother) being put through the ringer with Jill Simpson. Like, terrorized. I'll just leave it that he did not have to continue his lessons with her, or with the piano.

I remember my Mom getting a speeding ticket when coming to pick us up one day. We sat on the curb waiting for her, just wanting to get as far away as possible from that house after a particularly poor set of lessons.

I also remember my Dad. Despite my plunking on the piano, likely sounding far worse than better in all my years doing it, he would often sit downstairs in the family room and just listen. He loved it -- wrong notes and all. Something about making something out of nothing. :) 

I will sign my kids up for piano lessons. Gaby be warned.

Here's the tune that inspired the memories. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Overwhelmed, grateful and determined

For the last few years, as our family (immediate and extended) has grown, we have moved away from purchasing Christmas gifts for adults and focused only on the kids. This means that each munchkin walks away with, literally, a mountain of toys. Although it's greatly appreciated, it can also get a little out-of-control.

So, this Christmas, we collectively decided to Adopt-A-Family and transfer some of that "goodwill" to a family that needs it a little more. The process was dead easy. Our adopted family consisted of a single Mom with twin baby boys. Their wish-list was provided and, can I just say, it was slightly heartbreaking -- baby spoons and bowls, bathwash, warm sleepers, a high chair, snowsuits, hats, mitts, diapers, a winter jacket for herself, etc. Bare necessities really.

We fulfilled as much of the list as we could and today I dropped off all the goods.

The agency was sooooo very appreciative of all the items we provided, it was a little overwhelming. Even being in the CAS offices was a bit more than I could handle. While waiting at reception, I happened to glance at the sign-in sheet and it was full of Mom's coming to visit their kids. I could hear babies crying and it almost put me right over the edge as the gravity of where I was hit me. I'd had a bad morning, too, and it made my frustrations so unbelieveably lame in the grand scheme of things.

As an outsider reading the news, dropping toonies in the Sally Ann container and contributing via corporate paycheque, I am so far away from it all it doesn't even register. Because of that it's easy to forget. Today, being so very close to the sincere appreciation and sadness of it all, it really brought it home. I will never forget that sign-in sheet.

I've been pretty lack about keeping New Years resolutions in the past (I think I've been resolving to learn how to drive standard for about 15 years now), but at some point in the new year I am going to volunteer locally to help families in need, any way I can.

We have so much and I am so grateful for that, moreso now than ever before.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good News / Bad News

Can you ground a two year old...? Just wondering. In trying to think postive about the morning we had, here's what I've come up with.

The Good News: Gaby is comfortable climbing to the top of the massively tall, fits-kids-only play centre at gymnastics.

The Bad News: She figured it out after all the kids were told to leave the play centre for their warm down, resulting in Mom chasing her through the friggin' thing for about 10 minutes, which -- trust me -- is a very long time for someone who is scared of heights and who, frankly, does not fit into it.

The Good News: Gaby can run, fast.

The Bad News: She decided to illustrate this skill in a PARKING LOT today, after being told umpteen times that she is never to run in a parking lot. Honest to God, like a bat-out-of-hell she was off like a shot. I know, I know... welcome to the next 15 years...

The Good News: She didn't get hit by any 20-tonne semi's (which frequent said parking lot).

The Bad News: She face planted before any trucks could hit her when she turned around to see if I was chasing her. I consider this fair punishment.

The Good News: I think Gaby is starting to love Christmas as much as her Mom!

The Bad News: She made everyone at Michael's aware of this by:

(a) Running through all the aisles screaming, "Mommy, I'll meet you in this aisle..." over and over again. (See the "running fast" story for how this one ended).

(b) Pulling just about everything off the shelves. Aside: I never realized how many small things Michael's sells... it must take them days upon days to unput all the SKUs into their system. Anyway, at one point I was literally holding her by her jacket hood. First time I've ever considered getting a leash for my child.

The Good News: Daddy bought three bottles of wine earlier this week.

Full stop.

Have a great, stress-free weekend!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Worth the three minutes... trust.

Another quicky post, courtesy of my sister-in-law... thanks Mon!

Give it a shot:

Magic Santa

It's worth the three minutes to input a couple pictures and your child's information. :)

This will definitely help with the "good girl" behaviour in the next month or so. Sweeeeeet!

I love myself!

Been awhile, but I have been writing. Check out my new post on Durham Region Kids! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Is Santa's hat with Santa at the North Pool?

I'm more excited than usual about Christmas this year. In a bad year, I'm absolutely nuts about Christmas, so this is serious. Many more Christmas posts will follow, I'm sure, and don't be surprised if one is just Christmas carol lyrics. I'm that bad. (And for the record, I am done 95% Christmas shopping - my agenda this week is to start wrapping and get the Christmas cards done. God, I love being home.)

The concept of Santa is much more prevalent in our house this year than it was last year. I'm a little embarassed to admit it, but 'Santa' is really helping keep behaviour in check these days. Honestly, Gaby is good 95% of the time, but you better believe we're pulling out the "Santa only brings gifts to good boys and girls" the other 5% of the time.

At this stage, Gaby is aware of the basics: Santa makes the presents; he only brings presents to good kids. She knows he lives at the North Pool (yes, she calls it the North Pool and I don't have the heart to correct her because it's so darn cute). For some reason, though, she believes that his hat lives somewhere else. After she asks where Santa is, she always needs confirmation that his hat lives there, too. So odd.

The first time she said she wanted to see him, I failed miserably as a parent. I wanted to do this right and not confuse her, so I said:

We'll see Santa soon. Right now he's at his house in the North Pole making all the toys for Christmas, but soon he'll be doing his pre-Christmas tour (!!!!) and well be able to see him then.

Pre.Christmas.Tour. Like WTF?! She accepted it at face value so I didn't push it.

In hindsight, I think I should've said that he'll be around soon to ask you want you want for Christmas, but I kinda messed that up by telling her that he's already making presents. Like, why would he make presents before taking requests?? I'm sure I'm over-thinking it.

I just hope that if she gets up the courage to sit on his lap this year, she does't start asking him about his tour and where his hat lives. He'll think he's more drunk than he probably already is.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kruisin' with the Kiddies...

I do most of the driving with the kids now that I'm home during the day. With something to do every day of the week, we spend plenty of time in the car.

In our household, there are three distinct steps to driving with kids...
(1) getting in the car
(2) driving
(3) getting out of the car

... and each bring their own adventures.

Getting in The Car
This could (and may) be a post on it's own. As Gaby gets older, there are things she wants to do for herself (i.e open the doors, climb into her carseat). This is all fine and I encourage it as much as possible, but given the three-act play in getting out of the house (see previous post re television), time really starts getting away from us.

What ends up happening is after 2-3 failed attempts at opening the car door, I help her with it. And after 2-3 failed attempts at climbing into her carseat, I pick her up and put her in. Had I left 45 minutes of leeway for her "car-entry development" we may be making more progress. Unfortunately, by the time we're out the door, we have about 45 seconds to spare before we're officially in danger of being late for our activity. Oh, and Colsen -- who's been patiently sitting in his carrier for a good 15 minutes -- is now screaming his head off (no doubt plotting how he's going to kill us both when he's old enough). 

Eventually, of course, we all make it into he car. At least one of the three of us crying at this point.

Once the tears have dried, driving is a fairly painless experience. Colsen tends to fall asleep quickly after the car starts moving so he doesn't yet have much screen time in our adventures. Gaby, on the other hand...

~ Music ~
She likes her music (just like her parents) and will tell you very quickly what she wants to hear (currently it's the Little People Christmas CD). I believe her collection has almost usurped mine on the iPod and that's no easy feat. It's taken me 20 some-odd years to accumulate my tunes, she's only been at it for two years. She's got some cool stuff on there... a couple of the Putayamo CDs and a phenomenal baby sign language song collection... and then some of the stuff that I grew up with -- Sharon, Lois & Bram, Raffi.

Old faithful would have to be the Annie soundtrack. Dear lord, I loved that movie and all the songs that went with it. "Maybe" (Andrea McArdle version) is her song right now and it literally brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Not because of the lyrics, but because that kid's voice is so utterly pure.

Of course, if she doesn't like the station or song you've got on, she will let you know. We've had, "I don't like that TV". (Originally dismissed as mumbling but then realized that she was equating changing the TV channel with changing the radio station - brilliant). Or, she'll just ask for what she wants... "I'll have my Christmas CD now, please." That's my favourite for reasons my closest friends will totally understand.

~ Kicking ~
I'm short so I'm spared this experience. When my tall, unfortunate husband is driving, it is a constant battle to keep her from re-arranging his spine. We can barely make it the 5kms to swimming lessons without having a domestic dispute.

~ Food ~
Car staples: raisins, grapes, rice cakes, animal crackers and, once in awhile, Timbits! More often than not, these food stuffs tend to make it onto/into her carseat rather than into her mouth. So, cheddar cheese powder stains, grapes turn into mush and then into raisins, and raisins look like bugs. *shudder*  And make sure those non-spill sippy cups work properly - can't tell you how many times I thought her diaper was leaking and it turned out to be a shoddy sippy cup.

~ Toys / Distractions ~
We don't have a whole lot in the car in terms of toys. Aquadoodle (travel size), an array of mittens and hats, the odd stuffed animal, markers/paper (not recommended) and the mirror so she can make faces at herself. The aquadoodle is great in theory, but the pen dries out quickly so if you don't have water handy or the ability to basically thread a needle while driving, you're SOL. Truth be told, the things she's currently interested in are beating the Olympic record for boot/sock removal and then crying because her boots are off (?!), pulling down the jolly-jumper window visor and trying to open the door while the car is moving. Fun, fun!

~ Shoutouts ~
Every kid probably has a few things they like pointing out when driving. Here are just a few of Gaby's shout-outs when we're driving:

Fire trucks, school buses, Nana's bus (all Durham Region Transit and/or GO buses), cows, Papa's house, dance class, more cows, swimming lessons, choo-choo trains (aka Shiny Dinah's), Canadian flags, blue sky, clouds, moon, sun, rain, any and all construction workers/vehicles (aka Bob The Builders), shapes (she can identify the Canadian Tire triangle), doggies and stables (she surprised is with this one the other day -- we never mention stables and she saw one and called it).

Getting Out of The Car
This is a bittersweet moment. You're off the road and into the comfort of your own home, but your kids are no longer securely strapped in and you have to come up with stuff for them to do (again, see television post).

In the event they are both sleeping soundly when you're on your way home from wherever, I recommend you hit a Timmies for a warm beverage and keep on driving until they wake up or you run out of gas, whatever comes first. I've discovered more of north Oshawa farm country than I care to mention in trying to keep Gaby asleep in that car.

So, if you pull up beside a car that's blaring "Maybe far away..." and the driver is crying while trying to pour three-day-old green tea into the Aquadoodle pen, by all means give us a sympathetic nod. And then get out of the way.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kiss my ass, BMI!

I could be projecting, but I have yet to meet a woman who doesn't have some sort of issue with her body. It's sad, really, but it's reality. This post is me taking an opportunity to pat myself on the back and provide a bit more self-motivation.

Prior to getting pregnant with our second child, I had joined Weight Watchers (WW) for the same reason every woman does. I had lost all the baby weight from our first child within the first few months of giving birth, but as that year of mat leave went on, so did the pounds. I believe by the time I returned to work, I was almost as heavy as when I was fully pregnant! Yah.

Not to worry, right? Going back to work was going to be a positive change. I thrive on routine, which I desparately missed when I was off work. A routine is what was going to get me back on track. Here was my plan:

1. I would walk from Union to the office in the morning and vice versa in the afternoon. It's a good 20-minute brisk walk each way. That quickly changed to doing the walk at least once a day, then once a week, and then it all fell apart as things got busier and busier. I remember talking to someone at the office who was equally as stressed and I believe our consensus was that we barely had the will-to-live in the mornings let alone the energy to make the walk from Union. (This sentiment was hilarious at the time, trust me.)

2. Our subsidized cafeteria was going to force me into eating better. They have a great make-your-own salad bar and they're committed to ensuring all meals are nutritionally balanced. What I forgot about was (a) their chocolate chip cookies and my afternoon cravings, (b) the Timmies at the foot of our building with their 9865-calorie hot chocolates, and (c) I would be bored of salad after a week and head out to all the yummy fast-food places within a stones' throw of the office. Oh, and the fact that things were so busy meant getting home at 8pm, which would include a trek through a drive-thru for dinner.

I stress-ate at an Olympic level those first couple months back at work, and by the time August rolled around (three months back) I was up to my highest weight ever.

Enter WW.

Six-weeks into the program I was down twelve pounds. Man, did I feel great! And, frankly, it was dead easy. Then, I got pregnant with baby #2 and the program was put on hold. 

I re-joined WW approximately five weeks after baby #2 was born and my weight was just under where it was when I put the program on hold. As of today (3 months later), I'm down almost 20lbs from that weight! Credit breasfeeding for the faster-than-usual weight loss as I haven't even started truly exercising yet.

I'm lighter than I was when I got married four years ago, and my energy level is getting back to where it was. Additionally, I've conquered a couple of my triggers: I can easily hit a drive-thru and NOT order some sort of burger/fry combo. I can go to Timmies and NOT grab a 10-pack of Timbits (which I'm embarassed to admit would take me about 5-minutes to polish off in it's entirety).

So I say to those Body Mass Index (BMI) tables... GFY. I am no longer obese in your estimation.

And, now that I've (more publicly) talked about my journey, I'm more determined than ever.

Monday, October 25, 2010

From the mouth of babes (Part I)

You knew a toddler-talk post was inevitable... :)

Although my daughter's grammar is somewhere on par with Timbaland's "The Way I Are" track, she tosses out a few gems once in awhile that just have us ROTFL'g, and I'm compelled to document them. (Again, these are funny to us... I understand completely if they mean nothing to you.)

I'm trying not to be the parent that thinks everything their kid says is funny (of course, it is), but I'll provide more as they come and if I deem them worthy of publishing. (Yup, she's already being pressured and judged... good thing we already know she's going to be a doctor/astronaut.)

Here are a few gems from the past little while:

Walking home from the park (about 7-8 blocks away) and Dad was carrying Gaby. We were almost home and clearly Gaby was getting a little heavy in his arms because he was grunting a bit. After one too many grunts, Gaby asks: "Dad, are you pooping?" We literally laughed out loud.

Colsen was wiggling around and my husband asked playfully, "Are you shakin'? Are you shakin'?" Gaby said, "No Daddy, he's not shaking, he's Colsen."

At the doctor's office, in the warm waiting room, I was fanning Colsen with a book that Gaby and I had just finished reading. Gaby watches for a few seconds, takes the book from me and say, "Mom, I'm going to put that away now. You're just being silly."

Gaby had bitten another little girl at daycare and on the way home we were discussing it:

Mom: Gaby, we don't bite people, right?
Gaby: Don't bite Mommy?
Mom: Right.
Gaby: Don't bite Daddy?
Mom: Right.
Gaby: Don't bite Colsen?
Mom: That's right, you don't bite people.
Gaby: Don't bite people... only food.


Gaby: Daddy scared me.
Mom: How did Daddy scare you?
Gaby: He was cleaning.

Although I know that Daddy had been vacuuming and it was likely the noise that scared her, I like her use of the word 'cleaning' instead of the more specific 'vacuuming' (which she knows). Daddy 'cleaning' would scare me too -- it happens so rarely. (Love you dear!)

We have home-made burritos every couple weeks and along side of these we have nacho chips. One day, Gaby saw the nacho chips but forgot their proper name and said, "Mommy, are you going to have some burrito crackers?"

And the heart-stopper... completely unprovoked and out of the blue at least once a week, "I like boys. Boys have penises."


If you want to share some of your toddler's chat in the comment section, that would be awesome!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fir$t vs. $econd Child...

I just wanted to break this down to see if any other two-kid households had this experience:


Child #1
Where to begin...

We started with a bassinet that did everything but feed the child. Played music, simulated the womb, and vibrated. She hated all of it. But, the bed part actually lifts out and doubles as a change table. Sound/movement features aside, it is one of the best purchases we made for the use we still get out of it. (Child #2 hated those features, too, btw.)

We picked up basically the most expensive crib/dresser set we could find. This sucker converts into a double bed, and then I think into a new car when the child hits 16 years old. An organic crib matress and organic bedding to go with that, of course. I'd be embarassed to state the price. A grossly over-priced Toys R' Us lamp. Six 8" x 10" paintings from Chapters and stick-on wall graphics from Baby On The Hip! Both Wee Gallery, and both not cheap.

Child #2
Not a single new item was purchased for Colsen, except for a piggy bank, blinds and paint for the walls. He did receive a new hand-made blanket from his Aunty Reni, though, which is gorgeous.

Ironically, in anticipation of Child #2, Child #1 got an even newer bed, a new dresser and nightstand, and new lamps!


Child #1
We walked into Sears to do our baby registry and saw a Graco suite on display (stroller, carrier, playpen, swing and high-chair) and said, "We'll take it." Apparently half of Durham hit that same store and saw the same display because I can't go anywhere without seeing at least five of those bloody strollers clogging up the aisles. Having said that, I'm very glad we didn't check out any higher-end baby stores prior to the Sears trip because I would've dropped 5x as much on the stoller alone. And, our ignorance regarding the superior-stroller-and-gear market allowed us to use those 'savings' on the 'reasonably-priced' crib/dresser set. Ha.

Child #2
Bought a used Joovey Sit-n-Stand courtesy of Kajiji to ensure Child #1 has the option of riding along if walking becomes too much of a burden.


Child #1
First sling was purchased from the pre-natal class instructor -- turns out to be the best sling we own. The second sling was puchased at the Mommas & Chicks show -- used maybe twice (didn't work for us at all). Third sling was part of a prize package I won for purchasing umpteen items at the Mommas & Chicks show (second sling included) -- also a damn good sling.

Child #2
Bought a second-hand Baby Bjorn from Once Upon a Child to tide us over until he's big enough to use the first/second/third slings.


Child #1
Each and every shopping trip during my time off with Gaby (usually to the Superstore) resulted in approx. $100 of groceries + $100 in baby clothing (and for those Joe shoppers, you know that $100 can buy like 20 items in the baby section). We could open a fuzzy-touque museum, seriously. Just so damn cute. Anyhow, I think we have about 18 diaper boxes of old clothes stored in the basement. It's a testament to those 10pm, Tuesday-night, hormonal shopping trips that nearly put us in the poor house.

Child #2
Key attire "investment" for Colsen is bibs... tons of them... 'cause he's a puker and our washing machine is tiny.

Not a single new item of clothing was purchased for Colsen until he was about 6-weeks old. These items included day-of-the-week socks *heart*, two pairs of stretchy pants and some "gently-used" PJs (again, puker). To boot, these were all extraneous items! An amazing amount of hand-me-downs from my husbands' friend will get us through the Colsen's first year life without having to buy him a sinlge item of clothing. This includes halloween costumes, winter jackets and shoes.


Child #1
Suite of BPA-free, colic-reducing baby bottles with full sterlization and cleaning kit. Made all baby food, 95% organic.

Child #2
Re-using all bottles (still labeled with my daughter's name, sorry bud) and... huh, whaddya-know... there's a sanitization setting on the
dishwasher... sweet! Did purchase new nipples, of course. I'm not that cheap.

I am looking forward to making all of Colsen's baby food, though, as it is an immensely satisfying thing to do. Can't say for certain it'll be as organic, though.


Child #1
Obscene. Just obscene.

Child #2
Accepting gifts. Nothing new purchased. His Christmas list is slim-pickings this year.

I'm sure I've forgotten more than I listed here, but this is a good start.

So, parents with one child, if a second is in the cards are you going to lavish #2 like you did #1? If you could go back, knowing what you now know, would you have spent that much?

Perhaps I'm naive, but marketing did a great job of making me believe that the more I spent on my unborn child the better the parent I would be. Turns out the only thing babies need in the first year of their lives is your love, attention, warmth, smiles and guidance, and that doesn't cost anything. Everything else is gravy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Twin Drama!

No, no... we're not having twins (I wish!)

I was browsing a gossip rag site and noticed a snippit on a new Sweet Valley High book coming out in early 2011... Sweet Valley Confidential.

Elizabeth and Jessica are now in their mid-20s and I *pray* they've lost some of their innocence (and their little red Fiat that always got way too much coverage, imo).

I read the Sweet Valley Twins and SV High series in their entirety a couple times when I was 12-13 year old. I loved both Wakefield sisters: Elizabeth for her fierce determination to school and responsibility (something I envied and was only able to acheive later in life) and Jessica for being the cool kid I always wanted to be (still working on that one). Like any teen book, compromise was always reached on whatever issue plagued them in that edition.

So, this new book (out in March 2011) has Elizabeth on the other side of the country in NYC and Jessica's still living in San Fran. And, they've had what seems to be a major a falling out. Drama!

What a great way to kick off the trashy spring/summer reading list!

Excerpt here.

Sweet Valley Twins!

Sweet Valley High!

Sweet Valley Confidential!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You don't say 'crap', right?

We've just entered the repeat-everything-you-say phase with our 2-1/2 year old.

The other day we were having dinner when something spilled on the table. My daughter slapped her forehead and said, "Oh crap!"

My husband, being the smart disciplinarian, was all over it: "Where did you hear that?! Gaby, you don't say that word, it's a bad word."

Supressing my giggles, I meekly owned up to it. "Uhh... that would be me." (To be clear, I don't use that word when I'm talking to her, but I have definitely said it in her presence when 'expressing frustration'.)

Anyhoo, showing a united front, I said to my daughter, "Daddy's right, we don't say that word. Mommy should not have said it. I am sorry and I won't say it again. It is a bad word. OK?"

She's a fantastic listener and we know she understands (to a degree) the concept of good vs. bad, right vs. wrong. We're pretty confident we've nipped this one.

Wrong. So wrong.

Not a day later, out of the blue, she says to me, "Mom, I don't say 'crap', right? Only Mommy says 'crap'? 'Crap' is bad?"

[Jaw hits the floor.] Three-for-three kiddo, good job.

After repeating the mantra from the other night (see above), she proceeds to confirm her question, "OK, so I don't say 'crap'". We then repeat this round of questions a couple more times during the day, for good measure.

I'm now positive that she's surpassed both myself and my husband in intelligence. Now not only do we have to deter her from saying 'crap', we need to deter her from asking about saying 'crap'. This will either open up a whole new line of questions about 'crap', or she'll shut down completely and never talk again.

Vocabulary Karma
When I was in Grade 5 (Mrs. Vandusen, God bless her) we did vocabulary units. One of the tasks was to use the word(s) we were studying in a sentence, with the goal of ensuring we understood its meaning and could use it in the correct context.
If I did not know the meaning of a word and was too lazy to figure it out (happened frequently), my sentence would be something like, "What does the word <rickshaw> mean?". If push came to shove, I could argue that I had provided a sentence with the studied word in it. Probably one of the reasons I almost had to repeat the fifth grade.

I think my daughter is doing a smarter version of the same trickery... she's getting around the issue on a technicality. She's not using the word in a bad way (which is what we reacted to), she's simply asking us to clarify our position - and how can she possibly do that without saying the word?

Smart, smart cookie.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guest Blogging on Durham Region Kids

Just a quick note today to let you know that I'm guest blogging for Durham Region Kids -- a great site dedicated to bringing local information to parents in the Durham Region. They're currently doing a 30 Days of Truth feature and my Television blog is part of that.

I will be a guest columnist on the site so you'll see more from me there in the future -- some original and some republished from the Snappy Naptime blog.

Check out the site and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Television... my kids... the truth.

Although I'm loathe to admit it, the TV is on. What can I say?

I had this conversation with a friend of mine the other day... Do we use it as a tool? You bet. Are we proud of that? Not really. But, the concensus is that we can be great Moms with the help of the TV or unpleasant stress-cases and keep it turned off.

When I'm in a non-negotiable position (e.g. breastfeeding/tending to our second child, preparing our super-healthy, wonderfully flavourful meals) the TV keeps our daughter from putting playdough in the fireplace, or testing the cat's neck for weaknesses (what is it about kids and putting their little hands around little necks?).

Between being food and making food, we're looking at about 1.5 hours a day. Let's call this "Mom's sanity viewing". We can probably add another 1/2 hour for just general "enjoyment viewing".

The math is not overly encouraging, I know that. I think can feel the judgement oozing through the screen. But, hear me out:

1. We're watching kid-friendly programming 95% of the time. God knows how many times the kids have been in bed for an hour before my husband and I realize we're watching those strung-out Waybaloo's doing meditation-yoga to morning trance. The other 5% of the time, I'm embarassed to say, we're watching the Food Network (you think I'd be a better cook) or Sex And The City. I know... but I can't help it. Hand to God, my two-year old has likely seen the entire, what, 6-7 seasons at least fifteen times, courtesy of Cosmo TV. Not so much worried about the effect it'll have on her vs the effect it'll have on my son (who's on his third go of the series).

2. We are at an out-of-the-home activity five days a week (music class, dance, gymnastics, sportball, art & swimming) so she's being exposed to a good variety of non-TV-related stuff, as well. And, weather permitting, we hit the local park one to two times a week.

I don't want to start bad habits, however, and I fear it's starting. For example, she no longer wants to go to her respective activities if it means turning off the TV. The conversation goes something like this:

Mom: Let's go, sweetie... get your shoes on. [Turns off TV]
Daughter: Noooo... don't turn it off, I'm watching that.
Mom: Nope... we've gotta get going or we're going to be late for <insert activity>.
Daughter: No thanks, I don't want to go to <insert activity>, I wanna watch <insert program>.

She eventually joins me after the final threat to leave without her. I fear the day she says, "Yup... you go ahead, I'm good here."

Additionally, she can almost turn on our TV! This may sound pretty straightforward, but we require three remotes to get it fully up and running (receiver, cable box, television set). It took me a few months to get it, so the fact that she's almost there is a little concerning. The PVR can't be far behind, and we're starting to worry about her cancelling some of our programs in favour of Peep and the Big Wide World.

Finally, it's only been two weeks since she's been home from daycare full-time and I'm already getting anxiety about her television habits. Winter is coming and activities aside, we'll be spending much more time inside than out.

So, cast me from the Mommy Blogosphere if you must, but first, please send me a list of things you do to keep your kids occupied when you need a little time for yourself (i.e. time for other family members). And, please don't include puzzles, books, dress-up, playdough, colouring, dolls, dancing, chasing the cat, climbing stairs and tidying, because they no longer hold her attention the way that crazy Mr. Noodle does.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Giving Thanks (for the long weekend)

OK, actually every weekend is a long weekend when you're home on mat leave, right supermoms?! Ha! Actually this being a long weekend, we are out two of our six weekly activites - art and swimming lessons. Luckily we're hosting Thanksigiving on Sunday, so Gaby can help us with the cleaning and cooking! She sings a killer clean-up song and can stir a mean pot of mac n' cheese. (To any inlaws reading this, don't worry - we're not having mac n' cheese. And, to judgy Mom's out there, yes, she eats mac n' cheese.)

Over the next couple days my husband and I are going to be removing the cat hair mixed with playdough mixed with baby vomit from our tacky beige carpet and couch. Having said that, the first thing I'm giving thanks for is our white-trash Leon's couch - a lovely microfibre piece, too large for the space, in the rocking un-colour of beige (to go with the beige walls and beige carpet, no less). It was, however, treated with some sort of fabric protector that allows you to literally dump a bucket of water on it and wipe away the mess. Good as new. So, I give thanks for that in times like these.

We'll also be cleaning out the local LCBO. I don't think I need to explain why I'm thankful for that.

Other than that, I'm pretty thankful for just about everything in my life. Family, friends, health, home and two beautiful kids - what more do you need?

So, if you're hosting this weekend - good luck. If you're visiting - be kind to the host, and enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gaby's first Thanksgiving (2008)

Colsen's first Thanksgiving (2010)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Today's post is brought to you by...

... the letters OMG, GFY and if I can manage to stay awake long enough, VQA.

Both kids woke me up, late no less, at the exact same time this morning. Never a good thing. He wants food, she wants to talk about cows and I just want to go to the bathroom. No one is in a good mood. After feeding the kids, I settled down with my toast and promptly heard the garbage truck. Bloody hell. Missed it completely. This hurts because three bags needed to go out, we're rocking two kids in diapers and hosting Thanksgiving this weekend. Not sure about your neighbourhood, but we get four bags per pickup, once every two weeks. I don't feel like paying for the extra, but it may be imminent. I think our neighbours across the road are about to set up a camera -- I've been dumping extra garbage bags on their side of the street for a couple months now. They only ever have two bags, what can I say... .

With the recycling thrown onto the boulevard, we got ready to head out and I realized the soother my son had been rocking for 1/2 an hour was in upside down. He didn't seem to mind, so I shook that one off quickly.

My daughter forgot her listening ears somewhere in the month of August, and I'm sure I could hear the Mom's in the viewing area laughing at me as I
chased her down the trampoline. My son wailed through the entire class.

Grocery shopping. Hit the Timmies for a pre-shop iced-capp and proceeded to dump it all over the shopping cart before we even got in the
store. Going back into the car for napkins, I whacked my head hard on the door frame while leaning in... smooth. Unemployed dude sitting in his 1987 gold crap-car thought it was hilarious. I nearly threw what was left of my drink through his window. In store, my daughter decided to imitate a water fountain as we were roaming through the meat section... classy. Covered in toddler spit and with a crying baby, the cute stock boy walked by... mortified.

Finally home, and finally naps, although not at the same time.

Late Afternoon:
After my daughter's nap we settled down on the couch for a cuddle. I let out a huge, heaving sigh and didn't even realize it until she leaned her head on my shoulder and said, "Don't worry Mommy, it'll be alright."


Love, love, love.

Oh, and Colin Farrell was on Sesame Street. *purrrrr*

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Bright Idea

I believe that everyone at some point gets a really great idea that if executed to perfection would be a huge success.

My bright idea came during the winter of my daughter's first year, while I was in the throes of making her baby food (immensely satisfying, btw). We were couped up inside and I was suffering from a bit of cabin fever as we really didn't get out much. One afternoon, with a craving for sushi, we hit a local place and sitting there in the corner was a noisy, messy, wonderful Mom & Baby group. Was I insanely jealous? Yes. Did I almost walk over and beg them to let me join? Yes. Instead, I reigned in the desparation and *bing* the bright idea hit:

A baby-food restaurant. Why should Mom's have all the food and fun?!

So, SWOT'g this puppy out:

Strengths & Opportunities:
The overhead couldn't be that much, right? A handful of steamers, food processors and some funky high-chairs and you're up and running. Operationally, my goodness, just think of the possibilities... 'bottle' service, designated VIP nap sections, cookbook spin-offs, loyalty programs (e.g. order 5 cubes of any green vegetable/pasta combo and get a free chick pea/blueberry mash), "Parents eat free!" Tuesday's, etc. So much potential. Finally... location, location, location... setting this gem up in a baby-booming suburb would ensure a steady, revolving door of clientele.

Weaknesses & Threats:
A cleaning bill that would likely break the bank in the first week. That pesky grocery-store baby food that costs, what, like 11 cents a jar (I don't even know)?! Crazed parents of infants that would not hesitate to torch the place if there was even one case of extra-runny poop after a dining experience.


As I am one of those crazed parents, I know better than to mess with them. Perhaps I'll just save the chick-pea/blueberry mash for my cozy, warm house this winter. We'll stay in.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blogger's Anxiety

I wonder if other bloggers had this worry... does anyone want to read the content I'm creating?

I am very much aware of my selfishness (yeah, I said it), but even I hesitated in letting others know this blog existed. Is it taking the selfishness too far? Does anyone even care about my life, or how I see it? I've always been a pretty good story-teller and can exaggerate at appropriate intervals to great effect. But let's face it, living in the suburbs with two young children does not make for many juicy stories no matter what the embellishments. I've even been spying on the neighbours for material, but they seem to have as little going on as I do, which is just sad, sad, sad.

For the most part, I think I just want to share the humour I find in everyday things. Despite being selfish, I'm at a point in my life where I can laugh at myself and it feels so good.

Perhaps this is also my way of capturing my kids/life at a given point in time (which I'm sure we'd all love to do). Having kids definitely gives you a different and refreshing perspective on everything. It's so cliche, but seeing the world through their eyes is pretty awesome and more-often-than-not hilarious. If I can make it even funnier, great!

Yes, I want to capture this stuff, and heavens knows I'm not going to write it down in a proper journal. Seriously, when was the last time you actually sat down, put pen to paper and wrote something? (Grocery lists, to-do lists, birthday lists, Christmas lists, bucket lists, etc not included.) Add to that: I type faster than I write, I loathe my handwriting, and we do not need anymore clutter in this house right now. So, blogging it is!

So, welcome to my life. If something touches you, great. If it makes you laugh, even better. If not, I'll pay you $0.0000000001* for every hour of your life you'll never get back while you were here.

* This is one of those exaggerations I was talking about. Funny, eh? Just to be clear, I will not make good on the aforementioned offer. I'm on mat leave. We're broke. Sorry.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Just how many...

'spoonfuls of sugar' are in children's medicines these days?? I'm commenting off the cuff here as I haven't looked at a box to see if sugar (or something ending in -ose) is the first ingredient, but there's gotta be an addictive element in there or my kid is a hypochondriac.

I know they're sweet, because (a) kids won't take them if they taste like 'medicine'; and (b) I've tasted it. When we give it to her, some of it inevitably ends up on her face, and in order to not get it all over my shirt/her PJs/the bed/the carpet (doesn't come out, btw) I wipe it off and simply lick my fingers. Seriously, it's like Redbull with a couple packets of Splenda thrown in for good measure. Ugh, just the thought of it makes me gag.

Anyhow, a mild chest infection currently has her taking that pink stuff that smells awesome and tastes like bananas (Amoxicillin, I believe). Honestly, it's heroin for kids. (Banana's themselves would be considered 'crack for kids' at our house, so I tip my hat to you drug companies, well played.) She takes it twice daily, and literally sucks it out of the syringe-y applicator like a vacuum. I'm surprised she hasn't just asked for the bottle and a straw. After each dosage she asks for "more, please".

On top of that, for the first few days we alternated Children's Advil (grape) and Children's Tylenol (mixed berry) to bring down the crazy fever that came with the infection. These melted-down-lollipops-disguised-as-medicine go down real smooth, as well. In a perfect world, I'd be able to count these towards her daily fruit requirements. Man, the drug companies would love that. 

Needless to say, she currently has a serious itch for this sweet, syrupy stuff. So much so, that now every time something happens to her... stubs her toe, falls, gets cold, yawns, runs out of grapes, sees the bottle... she asks for some medicine. For example, after swimming this morning we were getting changed and she was cold. Through her shivering teeth comes, "H-h-h-ave me-me-medicine at home...?" Like, COME ON!

With cold & flu season upon us, I'm going to do my very best to keep her as healthy as possible. For good measure, though, I may look into buying some stock in Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

(Aside: We prefer naturopathic remedies when suitable, but for severe cases like the chest infection and sky-high fever, we turn to the OTC and prescribed stuff.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Last Day of Daycare

Our eldest child finished off her stint in daycare on Friday (Oct 1). Yes, I'm on maternity leave, but we committed to keeping her in for the summer as it seemed only fair to her. Getting acquainted with our new addition + our neighbourhood still being a construction zone = limited fun and stimulation for an active two-year-old.

The daycare she attends - My School - runs a fantastic summer program so we bit the bullet for June, July and August. In September we dropped her down to two days a week so as to not shock her system. (Truly, it was more for the benefit of my system, but still...).

Now, I've got to give major credit where it's due. She is one well-adjusted, well-socialized, polite, observant and loving little girl. I'd like to think most of that comes from her amazing parents (my eyes are rolling as well, don't worry), but she was in the care of others for eight-odd hours a day from 12-months to 28-months of age. A lot of who she is right now comes from them, and I couldn't be happier. They were able to give her more stimulation than we ever could with our limited resources at home.

She had a very special bond with a number of the instructors at the school and it was quite the sob-fest during the drop-off on Friday morning. She was fine, of course. It was Mom and one of her special teachers that couldn't hold it together. Lord, we must've looked silly. Me even moreso when I returned to the car and cried for another couple minutes. Damn hormones.

The pick-up wasn't much easier. We actually pushed the end-of-day time limit to maximize her last day, so she could spend time with a special friend.

So, to all the instructors/administrators she came into contact with, I thank you with all my heart. We are so proud of our little girl, and I don't think she could've gotten a better start anywhere else.

To LS, you are a shining star in her eyes and will always be considered a friend of ours.

We look forward to bringing her back to her friends next summer, and we trust that you will be able to do for our son what you did for our daughter.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Faking Art

I don't actually suppose there's such a thing as faking 'art'. You create something and, in your eyes, it's art. That may not be the view of others looking at it, but as long as you're pleased with it, right? has 16(!) definitions for art... I like their first one for my purposes:

"the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance"

You will see why shortly.

Being on maternity leave for a second time a couple things have come to light:

1. We NEED to get some artwork on my eldest child's bedroom walls. The art we had in her 'baby' room no longer bodes well with the chosen wall colour. It has since been moved to our new child's room (well, his closet - pending mounting).

2. I LOVE arts & crafts. My daughter (just over two-years-old) and I are taking a Parent & Tot art class via the Town of Whitby, at the Station Gallery (hidden, unassuming little gem). And, although I've been telling people it's to stimulate whatever side of the brain is the creative side (right, I think), honestly she's just along for the ride. In our last class, for example, I actually handed her a pair of scissors and a piece of tissue paper and told her to go wild. She'd never used scissors before! Mom-of-the-year, right? Anyway, she had a blast for an hour, while I completed our cardboard stained-glass owl (of which I immensely enjoyed doing). And, to be told by the easily-ten-years-younger-than-me instructor that our owl was "so cool", was so very gratifying.

So, in searching for artwork for her walls, we couldn't get over the cost of the stuff that we really liked. We want bright and exciting, stimulating yet calming pieces that don't cost $90 for an 8-1/2" x 11" canvas.

Enter me: amateur artist (and that's being generous), a debit card, and a trip to the arts-and-crafts aisle at the dollar store.

I will post pictures shortly, but my first three items were all done during today's nap-time. And, as to the definition of art... well, these were produced with art supplies (the bottles said so) and I think they're appealing. Voila... art!

Sleeing Beauties

And, for good measure, the stained-glass owl :)