Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Things I never thought I'd have to say to my daughter, volume II

"Rachel, stop sniffing your sister's butt"

Rae really likes pretending to be a puppy. Good thing she isn't licking herself.


Monday, March 26, 2007

In which I realize I was really smart to stop at two

I had four children yesterday.

Well, I didn't *have* four children yesterday, as in I didn't unexpectedly give birth to quadruplets, but I did have two extra girls. And I am now bowing down to those of you who have four or more children. Or three, for that matter. I am not worthy (heh, I just typed wrong and wrote: I am not warty. Well, I'm not warty either, but I'm definitely not worthy.) You have greater stamina, patience, organizational skills, and perhaps access to stronger stimulants than I do. I am in awe.

I've had children over before, loads of them, loads of times. But this time I needed to get the groceries done, and, well, it was an afternoon the staff at Brown's Independent isn't going to forget in a hurry.

It all started when I was picking up Leah from a sleepover at her friend Ellie's. I was running late, and said to Heather, Ellie's mom, "Am I the last one?". She said, "No, Alora's still here." Alora's mom, Londia, is the wonderful person who took my girls overnight last weekend when my ex cancelled at the last minute, allowing me to go to a St. Paddy's Day party and have way too much to drink and swear off whiskey forever. As Heather and I were chatting, Londia showed up. She looked horrible. Her skin was grey and her eyes were sunken. My first thought was 'that's the worst hangover I've ever seen' (judging others by my own actions, you see), but she cracked open the door and said, "I'm so sick. I have the stomach flu. I'm just going to wait out here. Could you send Alora out?" We walked our girls out to the cars and I watched her trying to buckle Alora into her booster. "Is Ben home?", I asked. "No, he's out of town", she said.

"OK", I said, "Let me take the girls for you this afternoon. Go home and sleep." She argued with me for a couple of seconds and then unbuckled Lynona, who was in the truck, and we got them into my car. So there we were -- two seven-year-olds, two four-year-olds and me. "OK girls, we're going on an adventure. I have to go to the grocery store, but it'll be quick. A lightning strike. If you can all behave nicely at the grocery store, I'll buy you all treats for a snack." That oughta work, right??

Imagine, if you will, the Huns invading wherever it is that Huns generally invade. Laying waste and pillaging. Well this was the same, on a slightly smaller scale. With less pillaging. But more shrieking, giggling, running in circles around the cart, and hiding behind other shoppers' carts and bakery displays. The cart was piled high with discarded winter jackets, which made me think, oh yeah, I let Rachel dress herself this morning. There's three inches of fresh snow on the ground and she's in a turquoise tank top.

So I was trying to shop without a list and keep track of four little girls that were practicing guerilla warfare in the aisles around me -- hiding from me, jumping out and yelling at each other. Now these are all normally pretty good kids for listening, but some kind of critical mass was achieved with the four of them together and it was total anarchy and I was helpless in its presence. Apparently I am not an effective parent for more than two children at a time.

They calmed down somewhat, but then the whining began. I swear, I'd rather listen to country music than children whining (apologies to a few whom I know read my blog and are country fans, but I just can't help the dysfunctionality of my musical taste. ;-) ) Alora opined that this was taking pretty long for a 'lightning strike', which, to be fair, it was. Rachel pronounced herself bored. Leah had to pee. And Lynona was thirsty. And Mom? Well, Mom wanted to be on a beach in Mexico somewhere, with margaritas and cabana boys. But there we were in the grocery store in Stittsville.

Back at home, they settled down to play really well together -- some complicated game that required that all the bedding and pillows and stuffed animals and the Disney Princess play tents from both girls' bedrooms be brought into the living room and used to build forts. I hid in the kitchen and made cookies for the Huns. They ate pretty well at dinner and then a much-improved Londia showed up to pick up her girls.

They had a pretty good time together. I was exhausted. How do you do it, you moms of >2? Maybe I was just hampered by the fact that two weren't mine and couldn't read the 'Mom's about to blow' signs that my girls know so well. All I know is that I thank God every day for my two girls. And from now on, I'm going to thank God that that's all I have.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Real moms

Danigirl at Postcards from the Mothership tagged me with this meme. A meme where you use "Real Moms" as a writing prompt and go from there. It seems a deceptively simple idea at first glance, but not really. I've thought a lot about this over the last week or so, as I've seen this meme blossom and flow through the blogs I read, and I've come to this conclusion:

Real moms do the best they can with what they have.

It's not always easy. In fact, it's hardly ever easy to juggle the responsibilities of being the centre of a small person's universe and the demands of...well, everything else. Life.

Some moms have an easier or harder time than others due to circumstances largely out of our control: the job loss or promotion, the marriage break-up or happy, stable relationship. We do what is in our power and within our means to make life good for our children.

And we beat ourselves up for some of the decisions we have to make due to the exigencies of our budgets -- the money and time we have available for spending -- can we afford swimming lessons? Is private school an option? Should I skip book club to take her skating? Will he be devastated if we can't do camp this summer? And we shouldn't. We should learn that if we love them and spend time with them and encourage them, they will be fine, whether or not we can give them all that we wish we could.

We play the hand we're dealt, while still striving to do all we can for our kids -- to do better, to be able to provide materially and emotionally for them. To mix metaphors, it's a tricky tightrope to walk, and the crosswinds of fate and doubt are always blowing. But each step across the abyss brings us more confidence that whatever we are able to do for and with our children is going to be enough.

I have a little wooden sign that hangs in my kitchen. I bought it at a stall at the Carp Farmers' Market last summer. It's oval and green and painted with little flowers, and it says: "Martha doesn't live here.... Adjust." I thought I bought it because it made me laugh and would let visitors to the house know, if they hadn't figured it out already, that I'm not quite a domestic goddess. But I've come to realize that I really bought it for myself. To remind me of what's important. That I don't have to be Martha. That spending time with my girls (sometimes the only thing I have to spend) matters more than the clean house, the chores done, the errands run, the laundry folded.

Real moms leave the dishes in the sink and go tobogganing with their kids.

Now I'm supposed to tag five other people. So, let's go with the usual suspects:
Alissa, Briana, Susan, Stacy and Kimberly. I'd like to know what you have to say.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My laziness knows no bounds

And my plate is full at work and at home this week. So, another meme. I was tagged by Briana and Stacy to do this one, and since they both played along so nicely with my tag yesterday, here we go:

Alphabet meme

A - Available/Single? Hmmm, let's just say dating.
B - Best Friend? More than one, baby, more than one. In town? Shell. At work? Krista and Nat. Down East? Evelyn. Hometown? Nettie. Online? Bundles girls.
C - Cake or Pie? Raspberry pie. Warm, with ice cream.
D - Drink of Choice? Red wine, milk, tea, and Keith's. But not together.
E - Essential Item You Use Everyday? My computer or my straightening iron. But I don't use either every single day.
F - Favorite Color? Green
G - Gummy Bears or Worms? Gummy bears
H - Hometown? Windsor, Ontario
I - Indulgence? Dark chocolate and novels and red wine and Grey's Anatomy
J - January or February? Can I pick June instead?
K - Kids & Their Names- I have 2 daughters, Leah (7) and Rachel (4.5)
L - Life Is Incomplete Without? Books and friends
M - Marriage Date? October 16, 1999. End of marriage date: July 13, 2005
N - Number Of Siblings? 1 sister Lise who JUST TURNED 40
O - Oranges or Apples? Apples
P - Phobias/Fears? Spiders
Q - Favorite Quote? Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -- Groucho Marx
R - Reason to Smile? My girls
S - Season? Summer.
T - Tag Three People: Crap, all my blogger buds have already been tagged. This dies with me.
U - Unknown Fact About Me? I have a thing for Hello Kitty.
V - Vegetables You Don't Like? Lima beans
W - Worst Habit? Talking too much.
X - X-rays You've Had? Chest and teeth.
Y - Your Favorite Food? Caesar's salad, pizza, barbecued anything, Chinese food
Z - Zodiac Sign? Scorpio


I was wracking my still somewhat hung-over brain for posting fodder (just an aside, non-Irish people are not genetically evolved to deal with Guiness and whiskey in tandem. And being Scottish/Welsh is apparently not 'close enough'. I am old enough to know better. Or not, apparently), when Chantal tagged me with a music meme, saving me from further brain hurt.

Instructions: List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what they are. They must be songs you are presently enjoying. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.

Now, I don't have an Ipod or other MP3 player. I download music and burn CDs to play in the car and on the house stereo. Here are seven songs dowloaded and burned lately.

1. Lovers' Spit, Broken Social Scene
2. Over My Head (Cable Car), The Fray
3. The Cradle Will Rock, Van Halen (God, it's like being 17 all over again! Only without the bad skin and angst.)
4. Three Pistols, Tragically Hip
5. Another Place to Fall, KT Tunstall
6. Somebody Told Me, The Killers
7. Diggin' a Hole, Big Sugar

OK, so the next part is that I have to tag seven people to do this too. Hmm, I can maybe manage 5. OK, Alissa, Briana, Susan, Kimberly, Stacy -- you're up!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ran away

Yesterday, I took the day off work to spend with the girls. Since it's March Break, they've been cooped up in daycare all week while I've been working. So yesterday we ran away. We ran away from chores, we ran away from cooking, we ran away from daycare, and we had so much fun.

We got up early, and, with Connie from next door and her two girls, we drove to Smith's Falls and toured the Hershey Plant. We'd been there before, but always on weekends when the plant was idle -- you could take the tour and look down at all the interesting machinery, but it wasn't being used. Well, yesterday it was in full working mode. We saw the satiny glistening chocolate being mixed with almonds and poured into molds. We saw the 'faulty' bars being removed from molds, and the cooled, set bars shooting down the conveyer to be packaged. We also saw an endless stream of syrup bottle being filled and capped. The girls were spellbound.

Then came the shopping part. You can get chocolate really, really inexpensively there. I stocked up on chocolate chips for baking, and splurged on various things, and $15 bought so much chocolate that the grocery bag ripped on the way to the car from the weight. They always give you something free at the checkout, a chocolate bar or some mini-O'Henrys, but yesterday the give-away was a half-pound bar of milk chocolate with almonds per person. And the girls counted as people. I think I have enough chocolate now.

Then we headed back to Smith's Falls for lunch. This was a mistake. I swear, the counter staff of the Smith's Falls Burger King was very, very slow, in all senses of the word. Connie and I stood in line cracking jokes while they screwed up order after order ahead of us. The girls were oblivious, as they were all sitting in a booth playing together.

We drove home and ended up the afternoon with some interpretive dance to Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (Leah's "Funeral for a Friend" was particularly moving, by the way) and then pb&j for supper followed by a bath and a game of "Tragically Orphaned Teenage Manicurists" (my name for it, not the girls'; they just call it "Nail Salon") -- wherein we are teenagers whose parents have died and we support ourselves with our nail salon -- Leah's invention and favourite pretend game of all time. So today Rachel's nails are respelendent in Sandalwood Frost while her toes are Sapphire Blue. Leah's nails are alternating Silver Glitter and Tequila Sunrise. Mine are bare, as I couldn't decide.

It was a great day, and somehow makes being in work today bearable. That, and the thought of all that chocolate waiting at home ...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thanks, Waldo

Leah is totally nuts over those Where's Waldo books. In addition to the French books she brings home from the school library (just an aside here, with my advancing French training, I've got almost as good a vocabulary as my Grade One daughter, and I can totally kick her butt at passé composé, which is good because the last book she brought home, "A la magasin de jouets" was all written in past tense, something that would have totally puzzled me mere weeks ago. But I digress...) she's been bringing home those "Where's Waldo?" books.

For those not in the know, the books feature crowd scenes and Waldo is in each one. The trick is to find him. I nearly wore my eyes out the other night, as we were trying to make our way through the fiendishly difficult "Where's Waldo in Hollywood?". Finally I called a halt when we were both going cross-eyed trying to find the little guy with the red and white striped hat in a very busy crowd scene of a movie filming the fall of Troy.

But all that eagle-eye practice came in handy later, when I dropped my little blue birth-control pill on the multicoloured striped rug on the bathroom floor. Thanks to all my practice, I found it in less than a minute. Thanks, Waldo.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lucky me!

Grey's Anatomy is a repeat tonight! Woohoo!

Normally that wouldn't make me happy, but tonight it does. That means that I won't feel that pang of regret at missing a new episode of my addiction the show while I'm out at Scotiabank Place watching the Sens kick the crap outta the Leafs. *happy sigh*

It gets better. I have amazing seats in the 100s, just 10 rows from the ice on a corner, so the view will be awesome. And the tickets were given to me! My neighbour Jim (yes, that neighbour) phoned me up last week and said that a supplier from work had given him a couple of tickets to the game and since he had to curl that night, and his wife wasn't interested in going, could I "take them off his hands". I was nearly speechless. A sold-out game between the Sens and their arch-rivals, the whiny, sucky Leafs? Ummm, yeah, I think I could do that, lol.

And, I have a date for the game. It just keeps getting better and better.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I heart IKEA or Girls Rule

I put together an IKEA Noresund bed yesterday. It came as two very large, but flat, boxes; a long metal telescoping bar thingie; and two bundles of what looked like two-by-fours attached with ribbons so that they looked like those dodgy wood-and-rope ladders that you see strung across canyons in movies that the heroes have to cross while being pursued by angry, blow-dart-shooting native tribesmen.

But, here's the thing: the parts were packaged very well, the instructions were clear and easy to follow, and even with the 'help' of the girls, the whole thing was assembled and the mattress and box spring were on in less than 15 minutes. Seriously though, Leah was amazing at helping. Rachel....not so much. Rachel just wanted to put all the screws and other hardware in her purse and carry them around while hiding the screwdriver in her pants.

Leah helped me screw the frame together and put the knobs on the bedposts, and, amazingly, was able to help me slide and position both the box spring and mattress onto the bed. Crap, if I'd known it was going to be that easy, I wouldn't have been sleeping on the futon in the living room for the last 2 weeks while the bedroom was under renovations. The new dark red duvet cover is on, and the bedroom is almost ready for me to take the 'after' pictures. I just need to hang the mirror and move my bureau back in. And touch up a few tape-related paint boo-boos.

As Leah and I were standing there marveling that we had put the bed together and put the mattress on without having to ask the neighbour to come over and help, she looked at me and said, "We did it, Mom. Girls rule!". To which Rachel, sitting on the floor preoccupied with popping the bubble wrap that had protected the bed knobs, chimed in with "Yeah, and boys drool." And there you have it.