Sunday, September 30, 2007

assorted topics

About the new look - it’s quite dull but I haven’t had the time or inspiration to fix it up. There are not a lot of template options; I was thinking of returning to my original one. I’ll save that for my New Thing some week. I see I’ve done a great job of motivating everyone to try something new. Surely someone could take a new route to work or something. Maybe it was just an off week and you’re gearing up for something astonishing next week.

If every fall day could be like today, I might jump on the same bandwagon that everyone else seems to be on. How many times must I hear: “Fall is actually my favourite season. I just love sweater weather.” Now that I think about it, the best part about today was that it was tank top weather. So there, I’m not getting on the wagon just yet.

I was determined to paint the outside window trims today. It took way longer than I thought (the prep gets me every time) and it’s still not quite finished. Besides working on that, I watched a bit of my niece’s soccer game, Teresa and the kids came for a little visit, and I went for a massage. I hadn’t been for one for ages and I had a new girl, whom I loved. I was fighting back tears for part of it, but I even liked that because the pain made me feel like I was contributing to my physical well-being rather than just being indulgent. She said I should tell her if the pressure was too much, but I wouldn’t want her to think I’m a fragile little china doll. No idea why, I guess there’s a pride issue I should work on. Anyway, it was a gorgeous day and it was so nice to spend most of it outside. The ice cream truck even came by, which was a dream come true for my children. It was right at dinnertime, so that was an easy meal.

Here’s a scary dream Spencer had the other night (this is the condensed version): “We were putting nails and pennies on the railroad tracks, then we walked to Academy and got a frappucino (not scary yet), and then we got the trucks and pails from the sandbox and were playing with them on the railroad tracks. Suddenly we saw a train coming, so we quickly gathered our toys up. But Neve kept going near the tracks and the train was coming closer and closer…” Luckily the dream ended there. The bad news is I’ve scarred my boy. The good news is that he cares about his sister.

And the sister is now crib-less. I decided to leave Chloe in her bed for now, and dug out Spencer’s inflatable car bed instead. Neve was excited to sleep in it last night, but it was not a smooth night. She woke up sobbing twice during the night, both times crying, “Pee comes!” She still wears a diaper at night, and until last night, it was always wet in the morning. But now she has decided she wants to pee in the toilet at night, which is great, but it’s a bit of an interruption in my night. We can’t have that, so we put the potty in her room tonight and told her she could go by herself in the night. She thought that was a very bad idea and insisted we take it out of her room. So I’ll probably be up again tonight. Funny how Dale doesn’t hear her; it’s just like when we had a newborn. But back to the crib, when Dale took it apart and took it out of her room today, Neve cried. With the Ee-ee fiasco, I was getting concerned about her lack of emotion; I’m sort of relieved that she’s at least sentimental about her crib. I was sad to see it go too; we’ve reached the end of our crib road. One step closer to metallic furniture in black-painted rooms with heavy metal blaring and demented rock star posters on the wall. That’s it, I’m putting the crib back up.

The ice cream man's job satisfaction level doesn't seem high



Spencer's new dresser (shelf placement services provided by our own talented Shannon)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Thing Week 2

I’m happy to report the water was back on at 6:00 p.m. Monday and I haven’t appreciated running water so much since the renovation. When I picked the kids up from school and broke the news to Chloe that there would be no meatballs for supper, she was very disappointed (by the way, about two weeks ago she announced she was now a vegetarian. Not sure what happened to that). I told her we could go out for dinner or order in, but she was not happy about the situation. After I dropped her off at art class, I phoned Dale to tell him to stop at Safeway on his way home from work and buy some frozen meatballs. (And that was even before I saw Robyn’s comment – they really were good. After I read it, I quickly put the packaging into the recycling bin so Dale wouldn’t see the nutritional information.). Chloe was so happy when she got home and I told her what we were having. We ended up having a wonderful meal of spaghetti & meatballs, salad, garlic bread, and brownies with ice cream for dessert. That is the most extensive meal I have made in 3 months and I’m not exaggerating. And the meatballs and salad weren’t even homemade. I should cook more, but it’s a lot of work and I just don’t enjoy it. I am convinced it would be no more expensive to eat out every single meal than to buy groceries and keep the cupboards stocked. Some day I am going to test that theory. But for now, I’ll just wait for Darla to deliver those meatball trays.

I sometimes feel like I am losing my mind. Or maybe I have Mad Cow disease, as Denny Crane refers to his decreasing brain function on Boston Legal (season premiere last night!). It was probably from the meatballs.

But whatever it is, you’d think I would have learned from all my past parenting mistakes and would be perfect by now and never do things I’d regret. It seems not. Two days ago, Neve was having a tough time falling asleep at naptime, which is very rare. I could hear her playing in her crib, and eventually she started calling. When it got to the point where responding was less stressful than ignoring it, I went to her room. She told me she wanted to sleep in my bed. (“Me. Sleep. Mama. Bed.” She carefully thinks out each word before she says it.). I said no. Then she asked to sleep in Chloe’s room. I said yes. THAT was my mistake. She was delighted. She rearranged Chloe’s dolls and took Chloe’s Build-a-frog out of its cradle and put Pink Ee-ee in its place. After I got her all settled and tucked in, I could hear her walking around for quite some time, doing who knows what. But eventually she fell asleep. The next day at naptime, she didn’t even start off in her crib – it was straight to Chloe’s bed. She fell asleep pretty quickly. Then tonight, she cried and cried after I put her to bed. When I went to see her, guess what she wanted. I tried to calm her down and explain she could only sleep there at naptime. That didn’t work, so I told her she could have Chloe’s bed soon; we’d move it into her room on the weekend. This pleased her greatly (“Ki-ki bed. My room. Funny!”) and now I’m kicking myself. We have talked about this (getting Chloe a new bed and giving Neve her old one), but I know exactly what kind of bed I want to get Chloe and it’s going to take me a while to save up some money or to find a less expensive version. I was hoping Neve’s tiny brain would forget about it and not have a concept of what a weekend is. (She’s smart though; I was testing her yesterday by naming each person we know and asking her if they were a girl or a boy. She got every one right, even the ones I’m not always sure of. Pink Ee-ee is a girl, Brown Ee-ee is/was a boy. There’s probably more useful things I could teach her, but this was quite entertaining.) Anyway, as I suspected, her tiny brain is a lot more functional than my adult brain and when I went to check on her around midnight before I went to bed, she half-woke up, smiled, and said, “My. Own. Bed.”

And now for this week’s New Thing. After years of talking about it and feeling guilty for not doing it, Dale & I went to see the lawyer today, and we got a will made. Neither of us ever had one before and I always worried about it, especially just before the plane would take off on one of Dale’s & my rare childless vacations. I always vowed if we make it back home alive, we’d go straight to the lawyer and get a will done. And now, it’s done and I feel relieved and responsible. All thanks to the New Thing Challenge (NTC). I’m all about the acronyms now.

Looking forward to hearing your New Things…

Monday, September 24, 2007

Meatballs

I have been comforted by everyone’s comments and support in my time of loss. It’s still a mystery. I left another message today at the store. I know the lady there thinks I’m a lunatic, but she obviously doesn’t have children and never was one herself. But I’m trying to bravely carry on.

It’s been raining all morning, but ironically I have no running water in the house. There’s a water main break somewhere on our street and apparently that makes water stop coming out of my tap. According to the City Water Department (which I have phoned about as frequently as the store we lost Ee-ee in), we will probably not have water until tomorrow at the earliest. I was freaking out a bit on the phone and I asked the woman what we were supposed to do and where I was supposed to shower and bathe my children. She said, “Well, not at your house.” That ‘How to be Helpful’ seminar was a waste. I promised Chloe I’d make meatballs for her half-birthday meal today, but I either have to find rubber gloves to wear, or we will have to postpone the birthday meal. I hate touching meat at the best of times, never mind when I only have a baby wipe to clean my hands with after. Plus I won’t be able to wash dishes and scrubbing greasy 2-day-old raw meat utensils isn’t on my list for tomorrow. Maybe Chloe will be happy with a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti & meatballs.

What a gorgeous weekend it was. For our second weekly Friday Family Activity Night (FFAN), we had a soccer game in the back park. The kids lost interest quickly, but Dale & I were quite competitive. I won. He thinks he did. On Saturday I went to Lac du Bonnet with my female co-workers. We went for lunch at Christy’s (BEST burgers in the world), then to my boss’s cabin for the night. The weather was amazing, and we had a great time. We sat around the fire til 3:30 in the morning, which I am way too old to do but was too embarrassed to be the first one in bed. I wasn’t the first one, but I certainly wasn’t the last either. And my lovely boss (who deserves a medal for putting up with all of us and cleaning out sink drains clogged with …. I won’t even go there) assigned me a room to myself, which is a coveted luxury, and instructed me not to get up before noon. So it was a great break from hearing “MOM!!!” fifty times a day and cleaning up pee puddles.

The Helpful Water Lady told me there was a water tank somewhere on our block where we could fill buckets, so off I go to find some. I still don’t think I can do the meatballs though.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Missing



The unthinkable has happened. It’s been a dark day. I am more devastated by far than Neve. She seems unfazed. I’ve felt like throwing up all day.

Neve and I went to three stores on Corydon today. The last one we went into had breakable things on display and I realized right away it wasn’t a good idea to shop here with Neve. She wedged herself between a couch and a precarious stack of boxes with a heavy ceramic lamp on the top. The lamp looked expensive and I knew I had to get her out fast. So I put everything I was holding down on the floor: my purse, a bag from the first store we went to, and Ee-ee. Then I grabbed Neve, picked up my things and carried her out. We walked to our van, parked on Corydon about a block away. I buckled her into her car seat, gave her her blanket and looked for Ee-ee. No where. So I unbuckled her and retraced our steps. Just as we were about to enter the store, a couple came out, carrying a toddler. And the toddler was carrying an ee-ee.

I said, “Oh, did you just find that in here?”

They said, “No, this is her favourite toy. She carries it everywhere.”

I said, “My daughter just lost hers.”

They sympathized with me and told me they had two other ee-ee’s at home (I think they used the word ‘monkey’) as back-ups.

I could see its ear was a little unstitched, and I have no reason to believe they would lie about that, so I really don’t think it was Ee-ee. I’ve come across 3 or 4 other children who are attached to the exact same ee-ee. But it’s the weirdest coincidence ever. Our ee-ee was not in the store, nor on the sidewalk anywhere. I was starting to panic, but Neve seemed totally calm. She said “Buy new ee-ee. Pink ee-ee, baby Elle.” We bought baby Elle a pink monkey (identical to Neve’s brown one, only pink) about a month ago, and Neve has always been a bit sad that we gave it away. So I think she saw this as her chance to get the ee-ee of her dreams. She probably lost brown Ee-ee on purpose. When I ran out of places to look, we got back in the van and drove straight to Grant Park to A Child’s Place and went to the ee-ee section. Thank goodness it’s a mass-produced, still-available toy. She immediately took the pink monkey and hugged it. I showed her the brown one and asked if she wanted it, but there was no wavering. In my motherly wisdom, I secretly bought the brown one too, in case she suddenly starts missing her old one. Then I will pull out the new ee-ee, rough him up a bit, and say, “Look what Mommy found!!” But so far she is thrilled with the pink one, and I am the only one who is sad that poor beloved Ee-ee, who has slept in Neve’s warm crib almost every night of his life, is lying somewhere, cold, abandoned, and lonely. They say the first 24 hours are the most critical, so I haven’t given up hope yet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Children of the Corn

I’ve been delaying writing anything because I wanted to share an awe-inspiring first New Thing. I did do a couple of new things; but sadly there’s no awe involved. Especially after reading some of yours. I’m so impressed! Illegal substances, suicidal motorcycling, groups joined, courses taught, and cooking a roast – how can I possibly be expected to compete with that?! You’ve put me all to shame and it was MY idea. The bar has been raised and the challenge has been accepted.

I did go to some furniture stores that I’d never been to before, one of them being the Palliser warehouse in the middle of NOWHERE. I really wished I’d looked at a map before trying to find it. Ended up spending lots of time and gas in my quest, and didn’t buy anything. They had a loft bed for $79 (!!!) that Chloe would have LOVED and I would have bought, but they were sold out and weren’t getting any more. Even the floor model was sold, nevertheless it was still on display. They must have taken a page from Home Depot’s sadistic customer relations manual. So that just made me mad. In a happier story, I also went to the furniture clearance centre on King Street and found a dresser I liked for Spencer’s room. I’ve been wanting to get him a dresser ever since we finished the renovation, because he was using the big ugly white particle-board armoire that the kids used to have in their shared room and it totally overpowered his new room. So I saw this dresser, and it wasn’t a bad price ($220) but thought I’d check out a few other stores first. I went to United Furniture Warehouse, and there was the exact same dresser. For $600!! Turns out it’s a Hot Wheels dresser, but in a good subtle way, because I couldn’t even tell at the first store. At UFW, it was part of a whole Hot Wheels display suite. Dale & I went back to King Street to buy it on Saturday, and to our shock, just for asking if they were flexible on the price, the manager took another $30 off. We felt so proud of ourselves. Maybe a little cheap, but proud.

But back to the New Thing, besides the new furniture stores and bartering successfully, I guess my official New Thing would be starting a Friday Family Activity Night. Since we’ve enrolled the kids in basically no extra-curricular activities this fall, we’ve decided to dedicate every Friday night (or an alternate if we’re busy on Friday) to doing something active. So this last Friday we went to the Corn Maze and walked around for an hour or two. It was quite fun, even though it was a little chillier than we had dressed for. They have a little petting zoo too, with tiny little Shetland ponies scampering all over the place. They also had a mini-golf course which looked like something from a war-torn undeveloped nation, and the most fun of all, a barrel hanging from a tree that you could climb into and swing around. You had to be careful that it didn’t swing into the tree trunk, and it also scraped the ground sometimes, but it was enough to make Spencer happy. So that’s my New Thing. I will strive to improve on that next week. Does anyone have a pink tutu and a hang glider I can borrow?


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Something New





The nail and penny experiment was a raging success. To you joyless critics, I do recall hearing that playing on the train tracks is not a brilliant idea. In fact, they drill this into little school children’s heads quite forcefully. I’ve been wanting to put nails on the tracks for ages (ever since about 1979 when my sister got a flattened nail that looked like a sword from a boy in school who lived near the tracks), but Spencer was very nervous about it and begged me not to do it. “In Train Safety, we learned that a train could go off the track if it drives over something.” Finally I caught him in a weak moment and my dream was fulfilled.

TT (toilet training) Update: first & second day in underwear: dry. Third day (today): 2 accidents on the floor, a wet Pull-up at naptime, plus one incident when she was peeing on the toilet and her pee went horizontal instead of vertical (thought that only happened with boys) and got her underwear and jeans wet. That should make you smile on the inside, Shannon. Not only that, the redhead had at least four tantrums, one of which lasted ten full minutes. It started when I got her up from her nap and continued til we got to school to pick up the kids. All just because I wouldn’t give her candy. I was very much wishing I had just given her some, but after it escalated to a certain point, I couldn’t give in. Well that, plus I didn’t have any treats with me in the van.

I read an article in the paper last week about how September is the real New Years. So true. Everything starts up again, it’s a whole new year. Everyone makes unofficial resolutions, usually having to do with organizing their house and exercising. I have been in a nesting phase, trying to clean and declutter every room in my house. I don’t have a system; I just jump from room to room – here a drawer, there a box, here a cupboard, etc. Even with my lack of structure, I’ve gotten rid of two garbage bags of stuff this week. It feels SO good. I’m trying to take advantage of it quickly, before I lose momentum.

And there’s one more resolution I’m making and I’m challenging everyone to join me. Every week, I’m going to try and do one thing I’ve never done before. It can be anything, for example
- going to a restaurant you’ve never been to before,
- talking with a neighbour you’ve never really talked to before
- trying a new recipe
- going for a walk in a neighbourhood you’ve never been in before
- shopping at a new store
- read a new book to your kids

Your imagination is the limit. I’m going to force myself to do this by posting my “new thing” every week. And I’d love to hear your new things too… What do you think? Anyone interested?

Monday, September 10, 2007

train fun

For those of you waiting anxiously for a toilet training update, here it is (what, no one?). Neve really is proof that when they’re ready, they’re ready. Just like that. She’s been wearing pull-ups for over a week with only a few accidents, and yesterday she decided she was ready for panties. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that – the pull-ups give me a sense of security. But I don’t want her to get too comfortable in pull-ups, so I guess it’s good to move on to the next level. Today for the first time, Neve pooped in the toilet. She only goes once or twice a week, and the last time she did, she was wearing a pull-up. So she was pretty excited about that. And so am I - that’s one stage of babyhood that I am more than happy to leave behind. Thankfully, the toilet training process has gotten easier with each child; it’s almost a shame we’re not having any more (that’s not even funny).

And since I’m shamelessly bragging about Neve, here’s another cute thing she does. When she’s mad about something (like having to share a toy with a friend), she cries her head off. That’s not even the cute part. After a few minutes of screaming and crying, she sniffs and pulls herself together and says, “Happy now.” And just like that, the tantrum is over and she moves on. I wish I could be in touch with my emotions like that.

We all enjoyed the weekend after the first 3 days of school. We did basically nothing – it was nap weather so we did a lot of that. The highlight was putting a nail and a penny on the railroad track behind our house and waiting for the train to go by and flatten them. The trains run all the time, but somehow not this weekend. Finally yesterday we heard one and ran out, but it was on the wrong track. So we put another penny and nail on the far tracks and the kids are looking forward to checking that when they get home from school. It’s nice to have things to look forward to, even if it is redneck fun. Another highlight (since the other one hasn’t worked out so well yet) was having a family soccer game last night (the girls won) and then going to DQ for ice cream. And now it’s the start of a whole new week; the first full week of school. I’m curious to see who the novelty wears off for first - them or me. All I can say is I am NOT a morning person.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

every time a school bell rings, a mother gets her sanity back

The first day of school is over for another year. And they're all going back tomorrow. And the next day. I thought this would be harder for me, but I surprised myself with my callousness and lack of emotion. Could have something to do with the houseful of children and noise and mess I had yesterday. Six hour playdates (seriously) are just too long. Hello. Anyway, Chloe was too excited to fall asleep last night. She insisted I wake her up at 7:00 this morning, but I only got around to it at 7:40 and then she stayed in bed for another ten minutes. Spencer was pretty stressed, which is funny because he was excited last night. Despite that and an indoor/outdoor shoe dilemma, it all went surprisingly well. At least until we got to school and I watched Spencer’s class file into their room. Then I realized Spencer wasn’t there. I found him wandering the halls crying. Nice. When I went to pick him up, he came running to me crying because he lost his name tag. We found it, then he couldn’t find his outdoor shoes (why can’t they just wear ONE pair of shoes all day if it’s not raining or snowing?) and he started crying again. The teacher (who is young and sweet and beautiful – lots of dads will be volunteering to bring their grade one kids to school this year) says he was fine all day, so I guess he was just releasing his pent-up emotions. When we got home, Spencer said, “I’m happy to be home.” Chloe said, “I wish I was still at school.”

The picture I took this morning says it all (you can click on it to see Spencer's worried face in more detail). But it can’t have been that bad, because tonight Spencer told me he wants to go to school again tomorrow. I love fall.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

?

Spencer was playing in the sandbox with a friend today and he was singing a song he must have learned at school: “Yes, Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord.”

Friend: Stop, it’s getting annoying.

Spencer: keeps on singing

Friend: starts singing “Poop Lord, poop Lord, poop poop Lord.”

Spencer: Stop it – you’re making fun of God.

Friend: So?

Spencer: Well God decides when he wants you go to heaven, so when it’s your time, he KILLS you. So I wouldn’t sing that.

I didn’t want his friend going home telling his parents this, so I said, “He doesn’t KILL us, and especially not for singing a silly song.”

Spencer: Well maybe he doesn’t kill us, but he doesn’t help us either.

What do I say to that? He’s got a point. My cousin’s 8-yr-old son died this weekend in an ATV accident and while it sounds like I could have done a better job talking about it to the kids, how can anyone really explain that. I don’t know these relatives well, but my heart breaks at what they are going through.

Monday, September 03, 2007

anyone need half a bag of size 4 Huggies?

I can’t say I’m feeling any more organized yet. Just when my kitchen counters seem a bit less cluttered and most of our clothes are clean, I turn around and there’s another stack of paper and toys and junk, and the laundry basket is full of dirty clothes again. Why I bother, I do not know. But my anxiety seems to be under control, which is nice. Last week I had a permanent knot in my stomach at the thought of Spencer starting Grade 1. He’s excited to go and I know he’ll do fine, but he still naps! He likes to be with his mommy! He loves his gecki! He loves to sit and play with his Batman Lego for hours! He likes to play with sticks in the yard! How is he (I) going to manage?! But I’m coming to terms with it for two reasons. 1) Less people in my house all day equals less mess and cleaning up. 2) We went to church/school today and saw the bulletin board outside Spencer’s classroom. I’m not familiar with his teacher; my sources say this is her first year teaching, so I had no idea what to expect. I wish I’d had my camera with me so I could show you her bulletin board. It was a big 3D box of smarties with the teacher’s last name in place of Nestle and there were colourful smartie circles pouring out of the box with a child’s name on each smartie. I can tell it’s going to be a good year. Plus he shares a locker (the one closest to the classroom door) with a good friend of his. Chloe also has great teachers (from what I hear) and lots of her friends in her class. But I don’t worry about her; about three weeks ago she made a pipecleaner chain to hang by her bed so she could count down the days til school starts.

The much bigger news around here is that Neve seems to have toilet-trained herself. Besides my short-lived attempt when I bought the Pooh panties and the one accidental pee in the potty, no progress was forthcoming. I occasionally asked her if she wanted to wear panties in the morning instead of a diaper. The answer (mostly to my relief) was always a firm no. So Wednesday night, I had undressed her and was getting her bath ready. She starts whining and pointing to her bum, so I ask her if she has to go pee. She says yes, I put her on the toilet, and 10 seconds later she is peeing. We jump up and down and clap and phone Chloe (who is at Grandma’s) and give her candy. The next day I went to pick Neve up at Grammy’s after work. She is just waking up from her nap and I notice her diapers is dry. Again, she sits on the toilet and pees right away. This brings us to Friday. She insisted on wearing a Pull-up when she woke up and all day she went pee on the potty or toilet. In the middle of playing, she’ll say, “Pee comes” or “Peed out” and she scampers to the bathroom to get her potty which she carries to whatever room I am (this system needs a bit of work), insists on pulling down her pants and Pull-up by herself (“no, me!” If I pull down her Pull-up, she’ll pull it back up and pull it down herself) and goes pee. It’s a miracle. She has only peed in her Pull-up once (and pooped in it once) since Friday morning. She has amazing bladder control (some might call it stubbornness). Today we had lunch at church and while we were in the food line, she told me she had to go pee. Dale had just gone to get something from the van, so we waited til he came to take our place in line, then Neve & I walked slowly across the parking lot into the church to the washroom. And she peed in the toilet. I know the novelty might wear off and she might regress a bit, but I don’t care. My happiness and pride these last three days will live on in my heart forever.