Friday, December 30, 2011

Chocolate and Other Distractions

This time of year it's very hard to maintain weight loss/health.  I was doing so well in the lead-up to Christmas.  At my work, right at the beginning of December, it started.  There would be boxes of chocolates, shortbread cookies, candies, and so on left in the kitchen.  Every time I walked into the kitchen to get a coffee or tea, I would have to walk by these tempting treats.  I had to literally avoid looking at them and fix my eyes intently on the kettle, as if I was in a tunnel.  My will power only goes so far.  I'm pretty good if it's not around, but when it's right there it's much harder to refuse it. 

Instead of picturing the chocolate 'saying' such things as 'come and get me, I'm such a yummy, melt-in-your-mouth treat', I pictured it holding up a sign that says, 'do you want to gain 5 pounds?'  That worked well.  Obviously I have bigger problems since I'm picturing chocolate talking at all, but I think women everywhere will know what I mean.

Anyway, I managed to avoid the treats all the way up until Christmas.  At that point, with a tradition of Bailey's in my coffee Christmas morning, and other desserts, I said I would give myself one day of eating whatever I wanted.

One day stretched into three days, sadly. 

I even asked my husband not to buy me any chocolate/high calorie stocking stuffers.  And he didn't buy me much.  But the kids had tons of chocolate and candy, and it was lying around all over the house, and I ate more than I planned.

One good thing is that I have maintained my exercise.  I've been running and skipping and doing weights and other exercises.

But I'm going to have to up the ante.  Now I'm picturing the chocolate saying, 'do you want to gain 5 pounds, lose your fitness level and stop all your healthy momentum and feel guilty and mad at yourself in the process'?

That should help.  There's nothing like a good guilt trip to make you feel better and get you on track!  Oh, and right now I'm going for a run.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I love this video.  It shows a year in the life of a tree, with all the different seasons.

'Holiday Hell Moment'

There was just an article in the paper talking about this man whose wife had had a 'holiday hell moment'.  It didn't specify exactly what the wife did.  The husband was so devastated he had to go to his friends' home to recuperate.  The article was talking about how to avoid those moments, so the poor spouses wouldn't have to deal with them.

Let's step back a moment, here.  I mean, I'm not condoning that anyone have a holiday hell moment.  It doesn't sound very festive.  But I think we should ask the question about why the wife was having a holiday hell moment at all.

Is it possible that she is the one who is responsible for doing all the shopping for gifts for a long list of people?  That she has to shoulder all the baking, wrapping, decorating and cooking?  Card-writing and package-sending?  And the one that strikes fear into the heart of anyone with small children - holiday home cleaning?

I'm sure there are husbands out there who do some of these things, but can we generally agree that mostly it falls on the woman?

How festive can you be when you have so much stress??

Maybe more husbands should be asking their wives how they can help, and making tea and giving foot rubs.  Maybe THAT would prevent a holiday hell moment.  (Did I say tea?  I meant red wine!)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Yes, Mrs. Librarian, It Was The Kids!

I love the library.  I'll go even farther.  I think it's the greatest thing ever!  You can borrow books, and other things, for free.  It's amazing.  I don't know how I would satisfy my book addiction without it. 

However, I was starting to cringe whenever I heard the automated 'voice' of the library on my phone.  It had graduated to, "You have some items that are very, very overdue."  Not just very, but very very.

I couldn't find the books anywhere.  I had looked high and low.  I had taken every single book off each child's bookcase.  And that took me forever.  We must have almost two hundred children's books altogether, I swear.  (Hmmm.  Maybe I should be using the library more often!)

But this is the thing.  I get all these great books from the library, for me and the kids, and then they just disappear.  I even have a 'designated library book place' for them, away from the kids' rooms, so they don't just fall into some big black hole.  Apparently my four year old daughter disagrees that we need a designated library book place, because they never stay there.

I finally went to the library and threw myself on its mercy.  I told the librarian that I would just have to pay for the two very very overdue books, because I couldn't find them anywhere.  She looked at me as if I was a small child.

I started babbling nervously about how I have three children.  I thought that would have been self-explanatory.  But no.  I don't think she has children.  I mean, what am I saying?  Of course she doesn't!  Otherwise she would understand, right?  She looked at me skeptically.  "One of the books is an adult book," she said frostily.

I looked at her, aghast.  "I have three children who all like to move books around!"  I protested.  "They don't care what kind of book it is!"

Doesn't every child do this?  My children all seem to take particular delight in picking up random items in the household and depositing them in a completely random place.  This happens all the time.  Is it just me?

I've found library books behind couches before.  Why not?  Let's read BEHIND the couch.  Reading ON the couch is so yesterday.  I've found toys in tupperware cupboards and measuring cups in closets.  There is no rhyme or reason!

Anyway, then I went back home and I again tore the house apart, determined to find the books. 

Yes, I found them.  Stuffed into the drawer of an old secretary that we never open and where I most certainly would never have put library books.

That's right...it was the kids. 

Maybe from now on we'll just read the books AT the library and not bring them home at all.  It will be much less stressful.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Have A Life...Don't I?

I just received an email from the Chapters irewards program saying they had some book recommendations picked personally for me. 

I was so excited!  To say I love books is like saying the Pope is Catholic - it goes without saying.  It's a fact.

I'm a voracious reader.  When I don't have anything to read, in desperation I will read the backs of cereal boxes and - when it's an extremely serious situation - I'll read the sports section.  When my husband sees this, he'll mutter, 'uh oh' and veer away from me because he knows I'm irritable because I don't have any reading material.

So I was excited by the email.  I thought happily about all the good recommendations about best sellers or award winning books I was about to discover.

I opened the email to find they had recommended three books.  Strangely enough, they were all pre-readers.  That's right, children's books.  All three.  Mercer Mayer, people.

And hey, I have nothing against Mercer Mayer.  I used to enjoy his books very much.  When I was three years old!

The books were chosen based on my recent purchases.

Do you suppose my life revolves around my children too much?  Hmmmm.  The last movie I saw was 'Puss in Boots'.

Clearly I need to get out more!  I need to buy adult books and watch adult movies.  I mean...grown up movies.  Movies that adults like.  You know what I mean!

Listen, irewards people.  I have a life!  I think.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

At Least I've Still Got My 'Sanity'...Right?

This morning I dropped off my 6 year old son at school.  I waited until the bell rang, and when he got into line, I moved to hug and kiss him good-bye.  When he saw me coming, he stuck his arm straight out to stop me, and said, "Don't even THINK about it!"

(I need to take a moment.)

I won't overreact, or anything.  I mean, I've been down this road with my oldest son.  Been there, done that.  I'm so over it.  It's just that it has happened even sooner than with my oldest son.  I thought I had more time!

I decided just to go home and hide in the corner with a bottle of Scotch and a bag of chocolates. 

Hmmm.  I was just joking, but that actually sounds like fun.  Is that bad?  If everyone just left me alone, I think I could cheer myself up quite nicely!

No, I'll just talk myself out of it to preserve my 'sanity'.  My son is still very affectionate at home, all the time.

When he was sick last week, he wanted me to stay with him all the time, "because just being with you makes me feel better", he said.

And the other day, when his older brother wanted to battle me in a new video game, he looked worried for me, and said to his brother, "Just...go easy on her, okay?"

I'll take it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Parenting Perks

Tonight my son read to me.  And not only did he read to me, he chose the book.  And not only did he choose the book, but he chose Robert Munsch's 'Love You Forever'.  I know some people think this book is a little strange, with the mom driving to her son's house to rock him.  But I think the author took creative license to show the love of the parent, no matter what and no matter where the child is.  And it shows how love comes around, when he begins the 'cuddling song' with his baby daughter.  I always get a little teary at the end.  Anyway, having my son read this book to me, a book I have read so many times to each of them, was amazing.  He even made up a melody to go with the song when he sang it.  It was a great moment; a 'full-circle' moment.  It should keep me going for another several years, at least.  Maybe more.

My Powers Are Limited!

My daughter was being 'Super Hero Ella'.  She had on her brothers' blue superhero cape plus her sparkly pink ballet slippers.  My kind of hero.  Anyway, she was 'flying' around, asking all of us whether we needed any help.  She kept saying, "I can do ANYTHING, anything at all, anything in the world!"

Her brother asked her if she could stop her other brother from fighting with him.

Ella stopped in mid-flight, mouth wide open, with a shocked look on her face.  "I can't do THAT!"

So much for unlimited powers!  I guess we need Tony Blair in here, but it might be too much of a challenge for him.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Parent Interviews = Fun

I've never had a problem with parent interviews before.  They were fine.  They didn't cause me any stress or worry.  Until now.

I went to the one interview slightly, okay very worried, because I'd gotten a note home about behaviour in my son's agenda a couple of days prior.  I made him write a note saying sorry to his teacher.  And he has been doing great academically, so I was hoping this was just an anomaly.

It's not that he has ever been a child who behaved badly.  I mean, all children behave badly, but you know what I mean.  He is just very active, very energetic.  He is constantly on the move.  He stands on his head.  (Literally.  All the time.  And where did he get that?  My husband and I don't just stand on our heads.  I know that's surprising.)  And if someone asked me to just randomly pick an adjective out of the air to describe him, it would never occur to me to say 'obedient'.  However, I would say 'sweet' and 'smart'.  In any case, we had not had a single issue all through JK and SK, so I guess I became complacent.

Anyhow, I sat down in front of his teacher, full of hope.  And the first thing she says to me is, "Do you know what your son said to me today?"  I shook my head mutely.  She continued, "He said, 'whatever' and put up his hand (as in 'talk to the hand')."

I'm not sure I could have been more mortified than I was at that point.  And I thought to myself, "REALLY, honey?  Really?  Not the day before, not the day after, but the actual DAY of my parent interview, you have to be rude to your teacher?!  Your timing is impeccable."

I think the teacher could tell by the horrified look on my face that I was afraid things were really bad.  Luckily, she hastened to reassure me that she had a class full of boys, and he wasn't the only one she saw this behaviour with.  And he is doing extremely well in other areas.

Still, I wonder what I am doing wrong.  I feel like he should know that is completely inappropriate.  I'm always talking about good manners. I would like to think we have a pretty good discipline structure.  Yet he seems to always want to test all his limits out.  Sometimes over and over again!

The teacher said she has realized that he just needs to be constantly engaged.   At all times.  I agreed with her, and said, "Yes, please - just keep him busy.  Make him mop the floors or something."

She hesitated, "Um - I was thinking more along the lines of extra projects and things."

"Oh!  Of course, of course...that's what I meant too..."

(That was a joke about mopping the floors.  Although maybe that would make him think first before being impolite, and if so, hey - I'm all for it!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Parenting: Easy? Never!

I read an article in the paper today entitled, "Parenting Is Not Always Easy".  What?  That seems to imply that parenting is usually or even sometimes easy, when my opinion is that parenting is never easy.

And don't get me wrong. I love being a parent.  It's my most favourite job.  Is it completely worthwhile?  Yes.  Would I do it again?  Yes.  Is it often fun and interesting and wonderful?  Yes.  But easy?  No way.

It's the hardest job I have ever done.  Again, not because it's so terrible, but because it's so important.  We are raising these three little people who will become big people who we hope will be compassionate and positive contributors.  This is a huge job.  There are so many things that can go wrong!

And children are extremely vulnerable.  The worry alone is hard.  Worrying about whether they're eating right and enough.  Worrying if they're sick.  Worrying if they get a note from the teacher about behaviour and whether it will become a pattern....or maybe that's just me.

And there are so many details; so many decisions to make at all times.  You think planning a wedding is hard?  Try raising a human being!  The details never stop!  With every phase, they just change to different details.

Thank goodness we have the hugs, the 'I love you's', the holiday excitement, the fascination with watching little people learn and grow.

The worst part is that, although I want to do the right thing, it's not always clear what that is.  Most of the time you just take a deep breath and take a leap of faith.  You do what you think is right and you hope against hope that everything will work out okay.

All you parents out there, I think you know what I mean.  I've decided that the hardest jobs are the most worthwhile.  And anyway, easy jobs are for amateurs.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Voice Recognition Schmecognition Software

I had a question about some tickets I had bought online with Ticketmaster.  I was trying to reach a real person but this was seemingly impossible.  I was talking to a computer who was supposedly working with voice recognition software.  I was meant to say the number of my order into the phone, and it would repeat it back at me.  I said each number slowly and clearly into the receiver.  And, contrary to the usual background of screaming/crying/yelling kids, it was surprisingly quiet at the time.  That was because I was alone in the house.  Which almost never, ever happens.  It was a miracle, in fact.  However, that's another post. 

Anyway, the computer said, "This is the number I heard," and said a number.  Of course it was wrong.  It asked, "Is this correct?" to which I answered, "No!"

"My mistake," it continued pleasantly (for a computer), "please repeat the number."

So I did, this time enunciating even clearer and stating it very loudly and slowly.

Wrong again.  This time when it asked if it was right, my "No!" was a little testy.  But the time I'd repeated the very long number for the third time, I was starting to curse the automated voice in my head, and my tone was downright irritable.  I finally hung up on it, which didn't make me feel better at all, because it was a COMPUTER!  I didn't even have the satisfaction of annoying someone else the way they were annoying me.  Although I guess you can say things to a computer that you wouldn't dare to a human, like, "You are stupid!  Did you recognize that?!"

I mean, what about people who don't have English as their first language?  What about people who have a speech issue?  I haven't had a lisp since the fourth grade and I still have trouble.  How do other people deal with these voice un-recognition software things?  This isn't the first time this has happened to me.  I have tried them when I'm trying to find out the extension of a person working in an agency.  I'll say, "Jane Doe" and it will say, "I am connecting you to 'Frank Logan'."

"No!"  I will yell, "No, no NO!"

"I am connecting you to Jane Doe now..."!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Glen Hansard - Say It To Me Now

This is my new favourite song.  It's not a current song, but I've just discovered Glen Hansard.  I heard his music and then watched the movie 'Once' that he acts and sings in; it's based on his music.  I love the way he sings.  He really gets into the song.  His lyrics are great as well.


Who Knew Tinkerbell Had a Job?

My daughter loves Tinkerbell.  However, she has only ever seen Tinkerbell in a movie, not on TV.  So when she saw an ad saying that Tinkerbell would be in a new TV show on our channel, she was perplexed. 

"Mommy!"  she yelled, "Tinkerbell is going to be on my home show now!  I didn't know that.  I've never seen Tinkerbell on my TV before." 

She paused, thinking.  "Where has Tinkerbell been, anyway?"

She thought hard and then finally said triumphantly, "I know!  Tinkerbell has been at work!"

Tinkerbell - the Modern Working Woman.  She does fix things, after all.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Now That's Sincerity!

My sons were arguing, as unfortunately they do a lot.  My one son had written his brother a note that said, 'You are a big fat dummy!'  I was happy he was practicing his writing skills, but really... the content left something to be desired.  Deciding that a 'natural consequence' would be best, I told him he now had to write a note saying sorry to his brother.

He wrote the note and I took a look at it hopefully.  It said, starting off in really tiny letters that coincidentally kept getting bigger and bigger:  'I am sorry  that you are a BIG FAT DUMMY!'

Ah, sincerity.  It's a beautiful thing.  On to the next note...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Did You Just Say What I Think You Said?

I just took my daughter to get her hair cut.  We go to this great place called 'Kuts 4 Kids'.  She sat up on the rocking horse to get her hair done.  All of a sudden she states, loudly and clear as a bell, "Penis!" - just out of the blue.  Like it's okay to just shout out private body parts in public.  I just stared at her in shock.  She has never done that before.  The hairstylist and I were chatting, so I don't know if she was trying to get our attention, or what.  It's moments like these when the fact she has two older brothers is really obvious.  Anyway, as I was still staring at her open mouthed, and the hairstylist was trying not to laugh too hard, I guess my daughter could tell by the look on my face that she was about to get into trouble.  She thought quickly and said hastily, "That's a bad word and we don't say it, right, Mommy?"  Good one, honey.  A little late, but...good.  I mean, it's not a bad word, but it's a private word.  Okay?  Private!  Kids...

Rick Mercer Has It Right

I love Rick Mercer.  He's so funny and politically smart.  His rants are awesome.  This one is particularly timely.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mumford and Sons!

I went to a concert last night.  I haven't been to a concert in ages.  I love Mumford and Sons so much, and I didn't think I'd get a chance to ever see them.  I was so excited when I heard they would be right in my city of Hamilton!  Even though I was waiting for the exact moment the tickets went on sale, I still couldn't get very good seats.  Of course, their show was amazing, even from up high.  They're a band that sounds even better live.  Their music has so much energy.  The new songs they played sounded great; I can't wait for their next album.  It was an amazing experience.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Am Not, Repeat, NOT Cranky!

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  My son had apparently grown an entire foot since last winter, and I didn't have any warm pants he could wear, so I thought I would take all the kids to Zellers to buy pants.  I usually try to avoid taking even one child shopping, let alone three, so I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking but let's say I was extremely optimistic.

It started out well.  When I picked them up at school, they wanted to have friends over, so I said enthusiastically that we couldn't do that because we had to go shopping!  Surprisingly, they didn't pick up on my happiness.  They became very upset and complained loudly about it.  So we were off to a good start.

We got into the van.  My one son began going on and on about how the last thing in the world he wanted to do right then was go to Zellers.  I tried to lighten the mood by talking about my oldest son's birthday.  That backfired, as my daughter began crying because it wasn't HER birthday.  You can't anticipate these things.

I noticed I was clenching both my jaw and both hands on the steering wheel.  I said, "Can everyone just stop being so cranky?"

My son yelled, in the most irritable voice ever, "I am NOOOOTTTTTTT cranky!!!"

There was a startled pause, and then we all began laughing hysterically.

I felt much less cranky after that.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Trip to Cape Breton

Good stuff about camping:

Jiffy Pop (unless you leave the cardboard top on by accident and set the whole thing on fire - although I have to say it was the most exciting popcorn I've ever made)

Smores (who am I kidding - all the kids wanted to eat was the chocolate and marshmellow - hey, is there such a thing as a chocolate marshmellow?  If not someone should invent it!)

Hot chocolate

Fresh air

Being right in outdoors (and we were sun burnt and bug-bitten to prove it, but we were LIVING it!)

Smell of campfire

Snuggling in sleeping bags on cold nights in the tent


I would highly recommend a trip to Cape Breton.  It's unbelievably beautiful.


Princess Doll Cake and Sponge Bob Cake

These are the cakes I just made for my daughter and son.  I was happy with how the Princess Doll Cake turned out.  I was scared of using fondant, because I'd never used it before.  Luckily it was easy to work with and very forgiving (sign me up!) and that made it fun.  I was going to decorate the skirt more, but my daughter wanted me to keep it the way it was.

When I showed my son the Sponge Bob one, I said, "I know it isn't perfect, honey, but here it is."

My son looked at it and said, "It's perfect to me, Mom."


That's when I said, "I will make you any cake you want, every single year, forever and ever!"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

You've Got to Watch Those Dragons!

My oldest son was telling my middle son a story, the kind I used to read where you could make decisions about what would happen next, and turn to the corresponding page.  Except Colin was making the whole story up on his own.  He was saying, "You are walking your dog and it turns into a dragon.  What...Do...You...Do?"

My middle son, who was taking the whole thing very seriously, didn't blink an eye or miss a beat.  He spoke quickly and forcefully.  "I punch it in the privates."

This was an acceptable answer so my other son continued with his story.

I was laughing very, very hard.

I asked my daughter the same question, and she replied, "When it's a baby dragon we can hold it and rock it and sing 'rockabye baby'!"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

We All Need Food Ideas, Right?

What do you put in your children's lunches?

  • pasta and tomato sauce in a Thermos
  • macaroni and cheese (Thermos)
  • hot dogs (Thermos)
  • chicken noodle soup (Thermos)
  • sandwiches with bread, bagels or wraps - cheese, soy butter (nut-free), or leftover dinner meat such as ham or beef
  • hard-boiled egg with muffin or roll and some fruit

What about dinners that kids like?


  • homemade pizza on whole wheat dough (you can buy the dough at the grocery store)
  • steak, roasted potatoes and beans
  • ham, brown rice and corn
  • tacos or fajitas
  • whole wheat pasta with Parmesan and olive oil
  • lasagna
  • barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes
  • scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon, toast and o.j.
  • salmon, brown rice, mushrooms
What do you do?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ultra-Marathoner Envy

I want to be a 61 year old man.  That's right.  You heard me.  He's an ultra-marathoner.  I read about him in my paper the other day.  I think he has run over 84 marathons or something.  I admire that kind of discipline.  And his commitment to his sport - we all love men who can commit, am I right?  Not to mention that possessing that kind of energy level is truly impressive.  Some days I don't feel I have enough energy to sort socks.  Okay, that would be most days. 

I've run half marathons (21K) and several 25 Ks.  My next step may be the 30K Around the Bay race.  But eventually I feel I have to do a real marathon.  None of this half stuff - I want to do the whole thing.  It's a goal for me.  I may not do it until I'm 45, but now I've said it...and there are witnesses.  I want to be able to say that I've run a marathon.  Bring on the training!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Youngest is in Kindergarten - How Did THAT Happen?

My youngest child, my daughter, had her first day of JK.  There were nervous tummies and tears.  Okay, that was just me.  My daughter was fine.  I was worried about how she would separate from me because she has been really clingy lately (see recent post on Separation Anxiety).  However, that has been getting better.  And I took her to the school and we practiced her walking away smiling.  It also helps, of course, that her two older brothers go to the school and she knows it very well by now.  My two sons even had the exact same kindergarten teacher that my daughter now has.  And Ella wanted to go to JK when she was two, because she loved the classroom when we visited it with her brother!  So I guess I shouldn't have worried so much about it.  Did I mention she's my youngest?  When I tell people that now all of my three children are in school, they say, "Weren't you just off on maternity leave with her?"  Yes.  Exactly.  Anyway, she had tons of fun and can't wait to go back.  Whew.  And....sigh!

Running in the Rain - There's Nothing Better

I just got back from a run in the rain.  It was fabulous.  And I mean that sincerely.  As I was heading out, my husband pronounced me a 'crazy woman'.  He says that a lot.  He's so romantic.

I always feel better after any run, even if it's a hard run and I feel like I'm dragging myself along the route.  I feel better emotionally on many levels.  But sometimes there are runs in which I am really feeling those endorphins, the 'runners high'.  Tonight was one of those runs.  It felt so easy and effortless.  Even the hills felt good.  I kept catching myself grinning as I ran along, despite the rain pouring down.  I had my music on and I was happy.

Running in the rain.  Good times.  You've got to take your fun where you can get it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Love My GPS....I Really, Really Love It

 One of the greatest days of my life was when I got my GPS.  You think I'm exaggerating?  I'm not.  For my job I have to drive all over a large region, travelling to homes.  Some of them on little tiny back roads.  Some in the country, in the middle of nowhere.  I used to get lost alot.  Okay, constantly.  I added mileage to the car that was completely unnecessary, getting lost mileage.

I admit that I have a problem.  I am severely directionally challenged.  Honestly, I have a real deficit.  It was getting so bad that I would actually turn the opposite way to what I thought I should turn, just because I am so often wrong.  Anyway.  That didn't work out very well, either.

I hate to repeat this story (funnily enough, my husband loves it) of how once while navigating in Europe I directed my husband consistently away from Rome as opposed to going toward it.  My husband likes to talk about how we found the city of La Civita with a population of 15, but we were unable to find a city with the population of Rome.  Needless to say, it was my fault.  I ended up driving a rented standard car through the crazy chaos that is Rome traffic, while my husband navigated.  Would I do it again?  Any. Day.

And then I got my GPS.  It doesn't sigh loudly in my ear when I make a wrong turn.  It doesn't roll its eyes.  It doesn't mutter remarks about my problem.  It just calmly says, 'Recalculating'.  And then...'Make a U-turn as soon as humanly possible'.  It does that to everyone, right?

Anyway, it's so great.  It's much less stressful.  I still had to get used to it, though.  It had a woman's voice and I found her tone a little annoying. 

Once I was driving to Toronto to a workshop.  I was on the Don Valley Parkway and the power cut out to the GPS and it went black.  It wasn't pretty.  When I finally made it home the next day (slight exaggeration) I slammed the door and yelled to my husband, "The honeymoon is OVER!"

My husband looked surprised because at that point we'd been married for eleven years and really...he knew that already.  But it was a manufacturer's problem so we got it replaced.

And once I was late to a meeting because I took a wrong turn, and the woman said, "But don't you have a GPS?"

I laughed nervously.  "Um, yes...ha, ha....it's a long story."

The fact is my deficit is so wide and far-ranging that I had trouble when it would tell me to turn in 500 metres.  I wasn't sure exactly how much distance that was.  Often I would turn too soon.  Anyway, I've figured it all out now.  I've even figured out how to change the voice.  To an Australian male named Daniel.

Oh, and Daniel....love you!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's All About The Green

I was cleaning out closets today; always an inspiring task.  Although the kids had been playing outside for awhile, they were getting a bit, how can I put it nicely, rangy.  I was getting frustrated and it built until I was having what my friend and I call a 'drop-kick moment'.  I think the term is pretty much self-explanatory.  Anyway, although all my son wanted to do was play Wii, I dragged everyone out to a waterfall.  There is a trail through the forest first beside a creek and then you reach the waterfall.

I didn't realize how stressed out I was until I was on the trail.  I looked around me at all the trees and leaves.  It was like instantaneous relaxation.  I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  It was amazing.  And I had an epiphany.  This isn't a new thought, of course, and I've had it before - but it just really hit me today that we need more beautiful things, more green spaces, in our hurried lives.

This is why I love cities like London, England and Paris, France.  In London there are huge beautiful green squares right in the middle of a busy city.  In Paris, there is beautiful architecture, art, and food.  You will be walking along a beautiful cobble stoned street and all of a sudden you will find a statue or a fountain.  Quebec City is also beautiful, so it's not just Europe.

But imagine if we had more of these green spaces all over the cities.  Imagine if the highways could incorporate aspects of beauty.  I love it when the highways have a strip of wild green space in the middle - true green space left to go wild, because no one can do it like Mother Nature can.  When it's left truly wild, there are many different heights and textures and colours of wild greenery. 

When I was at the waterfall trail today, I don't know if it was all the shades of green on the leaves and the moss on the rocks, the calming browns of the tree trunks, or the sound of the rushing water.  But I felt very calm and relaxed and happy.

The kids loved the trail.  They went up close to the waterfall and felt the cool spray of water.  They walked across the bottom of the waterfall on the rocks.  They built a bridge over the creek with logs.  We had to tear them away from it, in fact.

I said to my son, "See?  You can play in a video game or you can come outside and experience life firsthand!'

He looked at me blankly and said, "Can I play Wii when we get home?"

Sigh.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Raising Two Boys and a Girl - Equal, and Different

A couple of people lately have asked me what it's like to raise a girl, and if girls are truly different than boys.  "Is the Pope Catholic?" I'll reply.

I know that each child is completely unique, and some girls are much more active than some boys.  I only have my experience to go on. 

My daughter is a complete girlie girl.  And I'm surprised that she is, because she has two older brothers and she has been surrounded by all things boy from birth.  Yet she wants to wear dresses every day.  She loves to play princesses and babies.

She carries a baby doll around with her everywhere.  She covers all her babies in blankets, feeds them, cuddles them and talks to them.  Once she was playing at a park, and she was pretending a pile of sticks was her baby.  A pile of sticks, people.  When I told her she had to leave it at the park, she 'tucked' the pile in and then when she ran away she kept looking back and blowing kisses at it. 

My boys use sticks for swords and light sabres.  I think it's the testosterone.  They are both very different in personality, but they still love playing 'war' and 'attack'.  They beg me to let them wrestle.  They love to play the 'pile on me' game - always a favourite at adult parties, also.  They seem to be constantly in motion, and I swear it is impossible to wear them out.  I love their quick laughter and exuberance.

My daughter is much more sensitive than the boys.  If you even raise your voice or use a stern tone with her she is likely to cry.  The boys don't seem to notice when I yell right in their ears.

Once I took one son and my daughter to my work, optimistically sure that I could keep them quiet for 30 minutes so I could finish a few things.  The entire time my daughter lay on the floor and coloured quietly.  My son was climbing my chair, climbing on my desk, opening all my drawers and cupboards and literally bouncing off the walls.  Never again.

I hope all this will help with being well-rounded, because although Ella knows every Disney princess, she also knows all about Pokemon and Star Wars.  And she'll play those things with the boys, but then they have to play with her as well, and have tea parties too. 

And although the boys chug their tea and it runs out of their nose and then they burp, I'd like to think they are getting the hang of tea party etiquette.  Slowly.  Okay....not at all.  But still, they know what tea parties are, and they enjoy them.

Another good thing is that boys don't faze my daughter in the slightest.  I loved it at my older son's birthday party, when she was the only little girl sitting there with eight other big boys.  She looked at them all and said, "So, guys, what are we going to play now?"

He Does Love Me!

My eight year old son broke my heart today.  He had worked out a plan in which we would bike together to Staples to get some supplies for school, and then bike to Booster Juice on the way back.  As we were about to leave this morning, he said to me, "You know Mom, we hardly ever do anything just the two of us...it's too bad."

That was when my heart broke.  He's the oldest of three and in school every day, so whenever he's home on the weekend he's always with his brother and sister.  And often he goes fishing with his dad, or his dad takes him to hockey while I have the other two, so he's right.  It's really never just the two of us. I mean, it was for the first whole three years of his life, but he doesn't remember that.

It made me realize that I need to carve out some 1:1 time for each child, which of course is easier said than done, but still that is my new goal.  The one thing we do together is bike, although often I have my youngest in the bike seat and my other on another bike. I've been meaning for a long time to go rock-climbing with him too...so I've got to step up and just do it.  (That should be a slogan of some kind.)

It means a lot to me that he still cares about things like this.  He's the one who will no longer let me kiss him goodbye on the playground.  Or even accompany him on the playground!  But at night, after I tuck him in, he always likes to talk to me, just the two of us.  And he asks me where I'll be in the house, just so he knows.

It's nice to know that although I may not be able to hold his hand in public anymore, there's still a great bond there.  After he made that statement, I tried not to show how I felt, and I tried not to overreact.  I just said, "Okay, then...so we'll do this again in one hour, and then again tomorrow, and the next day...does that work for you?"


Monday, August 22, 2011

Low Tech....Very Low Tech

My friend and I were talking tonight, and she asked me how savvy I was about social media.  I said, "What's social media?"

Seriously, I admitted that I am extremely low-tech.  Embarrassingly so.  It's amazing that I have a blog at all, in fact.  You know what I actually said to my friend tonight?  I said, "Having my blog was a hard row to hoe."

I mean, what hope could there possibly be for me when I'm using agricultural metaphors?  (Is metaphor even the right term?  I don't know, and I'm too tired to look it up.  Remember: I have three children and I work part-time!) 

Anyway, I could have used more up-to-date terminology.  But words like bytes and ram and other high tech words don't just trip off my tongue.

It was hard for me to set up my blog at first, because I couldn't comprehend the blog vocabulary.  I had to learn all about URLs and labels and so on.  However, it was all worth it, and I learned a lot. 

I'm still not on facebook, though.  I go back and forth about whether I should be.  Obviously there are pros and cons to everything.  And I haven't tried it, so I can't really speak comprehensively about it.  Or rather, text!  (Did you notice how I slipped that in there?)

We also got to talking about how much social media our children should be allowed.  It's an interesting topic. 

I remember with my oldest son that he had never been on a computer prior to JK, and I was surprised to learn it was part of the curriculum.  You could say I was shocked.  Now, my youngest has been on the computer for probably a year already before she has even started JK.  I figure if she needs to learn it she may as well start young.  And all she has done is type letters onto a blank word document.  But it has gotten her familiar with a computer keyboard.

I went to a Literacy Presentation once, and the presenter talked about how literacy takes all forms.  We need to be opening doors, not shutting them.

So I let my children have a DS and a Wii.  They play on the computer (with a great many limits).  I limit all the screen time.  My children also read books, play board games, word games, and pretend games.  We go to the park and hike.  The kids know there will be Lego time and backyard and reading time as well as screen time.  But they do read on the DS and they have to read certain things on the Wii as well.  And it's all literacy.  I think if children like it, they will explore it.  If they relate to it, they will enjoy it.  As with everything in life, it's a fine balance (thank you, Rohinton Mistry).

I want my children to be well-rounded.  And to not have to use agricultural metaphors!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Running Rules I've Learned

I went for a long run today.  As I breathed my way through the humid forest, I started thinking about everything I've learned about running, and realizing it all applies to life. 

When you're a runner, you gain a whole new level of appreciation for gravity.  When you're running down a hill, it feels so good and effortless.  You can feel a breeze and it's so easy you feel like you could run forever.  When you're running uphill, however, it feels like your whole body has become weighted down, and you have to work so much harder and breathe so much deeper just to make it up that long incline.  So you learn to enjoy the downhills.  Don't think about the hill that's coming up.  Just appreciate the break you've been given, and make the most of it.

When you're running uphill, you learn to breathe.  You need to take deep breaths, relax, keep your head up, and realize it will be hard but that you can do it.  And you know that once you reach the top, it will become easier, and you might even get the reward of a downhill slope coming up.

I've learned that having a running partner or partners makes running much more fun.  And they might drag you out for a run on a day when you wouldn't have gone alone.

Setting goals is helpful in running, like signing up for a race, because it adds motivation to train and to improve before the race.  It's easy to get lazy about training but if you've paid money and entered a race, you generally want to do your best.  Not 'the best', but your own personal best.  I try to remember that I'm not running against anyone but myself.

When my friend and I have run races, we always say we don't care about getting the fastest time.  Our main goal is just to do the race and cross the finish line upright and smiling.  I think it was John Stanton who first coined this phrase.  I love this motto, because it means we try to enjoy ourselves.  We're not in it to completely wear ourselves out.  We want to be able to run again soon, uninjured. 

The other night we went out with friends and my friend said our motto for the night should also be to end the night upright and smiling.  Always a good plan in general!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good Morning...or Not

This is how my day started.  A doll was being banged on my head.  "Wha-at?  Stop doing that!"  I told my daughter.

She looked at me in wide-eyed innocence.  "But I'M not doing it, Mommy.  It's Baby!"

Okay.  I took a deep breath.  "Baby, stop doing that!"

Of course Baby started to cry.

Downstairs to breakfast.  My oldest son, who had woken up earlier, was eating Fun-Dip.

"We don't eat Fun-Dip for breakfast!"  I informed him, although he knew that already.

He thought fast.  "Well, I already had my breakfast."

"We still don't eat Fun-Dip at 8 a.m. in the morning."

Then I thought, hmmmm.  I looked around the kitchen.  It was spotless.  (Let me rephrase that.  My kitchen is never spotless, not with three kids.  But it was as clean as I had left it the night before, which was a dead giveaway.  My kids are seemingly incapable of having any kind of food item without leaving a complete chaotic mess in their wake.)

When I asked my son suspiciously what he'd eaten for breakfast, he said a waffle, but I knew there was only one left and it was still in the box.  Meanwhile my other son told me he wanted a waffle for breakfast, so I put it in the toaster.

Then I talked to my other son about how when he lies to me it hurts my feelings.  The usual parent stuff.  He said sorry and said he would have a waffle after all.  A real one.

I told him that his brother was having the last one.

He protested, "But that's all I want for breakfast!"

Other son:  "But I asked first!  I want the waffle!"

After an exhausting go around, my middle son said, "Oh, okay, I'll let Colin have the waffle - I'm going to have cereal."

I sighed and thanked him.  Finally, finally we had resolved the waffle issue.  Who wants to argue over waffles?  I can think of better things to argue about...like toast!

But no.  Colin said, "I don't want the waffle anymore anyway."

This is the part where I started banging my head on the kitchen counter.  I took (another) deep breath.

"I've gone to the trouble to make the waffle (okay, I popped it in the toaster - but still!) and SOMEONE IS GOING TO EAT THE WAFFLE!"

Ryan said he would eat both his cereal and the waffle.

You see where I'm going, don't you?  No one ate the waffle.

Kids are so cute and interesting, but they sure can drive you crazy, can't they?

I can't think of any other examples right now - oh wait, they're all coming back.

Like when we're driving to my parents' cottage and Ryan yells grumpily, "Are we THERE YET?"

"Umm...we haven't left the driveway, yet...so that would be a no," I inform him cheerfully (note that I'm still cheerful at this point).

Then he demands to know exactly how much longer to the cottage, in seconds, and when you do the math in your head and tell him because he insists he absolutely has to know the exact total, he starts counting. "1, 2, 3 ...." 

And you think, it is four and a half hours to get to the cottage.  And you realize with a sense of desperation that if you have to listen to him counting the entire time, you are not going to make it!

This is when I put the earphones of my iPod in my ears and when I notice gesticulating, I just mouth, "Can't hear you - I've got earphones in my ears!"  (It works like a charm - I highly recommend it.)

The other thing is when they want a snack so they'll ask me what food we have.  I will patiently list all the food we have in the cupboard and the fridge that they can have for a snack.  I will wait.  There will be a long pause, and when I finally prompt them with, "Well...what will you have, then," they'll look at me blankly and say, "What do we have again?"

My new answer:  "Food - go eat it! Oh, and....love you!"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Separation Anxiety: Or 'Clingy Like Saran Wrap'

My daughter is three and a half and she is extremely clingy right now.  I call her 'Saran Wrap' (lovingly).  She cries whenever I leave, even if I've been with her all day and I'm just going out for a run.

I knew it was getting bad when I tried to take a shower the other day, and she began crying.  Tearfully, she told me that she didn't want me to take a shower because she loved me.  I said, "Honey, I love you too, but I'm just taking a shower.  I am, in case you haven't noticed, still RIGHT HERE.  I'm not leaving the house; I'm just going behind this curtain!  It's not like REALLY LEAVING!"

She got into the shower with me.

I'm not really sure how to handle this, because I haven't had to deal with it for my two older boys.  And my daughter is extremely loving and nurturing and sensitive (not like anyone I know) and I don't want to hurt her.

Also, I know the boys went through so many phases and I'm thinking if I can just hang on, this will be another phase that will pass.

I have come to realize that (as my good friend said when I discussed the best way to leave her when she's crying): "It's like a band aid - the quicker you take it off, the quicker it stops hurting."

However, I also think about when she will be sixteen and how she might (sob) hate me and be embarrassed by me and never want to be seen with me, and then I feel like saying, "That's okay, I'll hold you while I make dinner.  I don't mind at all!  You want to hold my hand the entire day?  GOOD!  Let's do it!" 

You've got to get it while you can, right?

Friday, July 15, 2011

They Love Each Other....They Really Love Each Other!

We've just arrived home from a two-week camping trip in Cape Breton.  We drove down with the three kids.  A bigger update will follow but for now I'll just present one moment of the touching brotherly love my boys demonstrated toward each other during the trip.  The boys were getting on each other's nerves so I was trying to redirect by encouraging them to play a game.  They started playing 'Who Am I', where one thinks of a movie or book character and the other person has to guess who it is by asking questions.  My older son said, "I have someone in mind!  Who am I?"

My other son, still annoyed, crossed his arms and asked sourly, "Are you a dumbo stinkypants?"

Awww.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Triathlon - Tried It! 2011 Binbrook 'Give It a Tri' with Multisport Canada

I did my first mini triathlon at Binbrook Conservation Area.  It was a 400 m swim, 10K bike ride, and 2.5 K run.

On the day of, I was feeling nervous as I always do before races, and I had a moment in which I was wondering whose decision it was to do this anyway, and what had I been thinking, etc.  I did a 25K race in May and the triathlon was in June, and I felt like I'd been in training for a long time.  I like training - you could say I love it, actually - but there were things about the triathlon that were worrying me.  I was afraid I would fall off my bike, because of the crush of people around me.  I wasn't sure how the transitions would go.  I was wondering how crowded it would be in the lake as well.  Initially I wasn't sure what to wear, because many people wear wetsuits, but there are different kinds, and I didn't know whether to rent one or buy one.  I only had a mountain bike so I had to borrow a road bike and then tune it up but it still wasn't very good, so that was another issue.  I kept thinking longingly of how for running, I just needed shoes!  Although of course that's not really true either, because you can have trail shoes and road shoes, and the right socks and shirts, and things for the winter....the list goes on.  But when three sports are involved, the gear factor rises exponentially!

I did the tri with two friends.  It was the first time for all of us.

The coolest part was how they drew my number on my upper arm.  They also drew my age on my leg, but they put a happy face in the 0 of 40 so it was okay. 

I went right at the back for my wave start.  It was harder than I thought it would be to swim, because the water was choppy and every time I tried to do the front crawl I would touch someone's legs or feet in front of me so I had to stop and just do the breast stroke.  (I heard that two people had to be pulled out into a boat.  I don't know if they were panicking or tired or what.)  Maybe I shouldn't have been at the very back.  By the third leg of the swim the pack had cleared out and I could do the front crawl without running into anyone.  I was surprised when I looked up and saw how close the beach was; I put down my foot and I could touch sand so I just ran out.  But I was breathing very heavily, especially running up the beach to the transition area.

I had been worried about the rules, because you're supposed to have your helmet on before you unrack your bike, and you can't ride your bike in the transition area, you have to walk it out.  And of course I hadn't known any of these rules beforehand, and not all are just common sense that you would figure out on your own.

I put on my shoe at first before my shorts, but otherwise the first transition went well.  I hadn't worn a wetsuit and I was glad I didn't have to fiddle with it, and the water wasn't cold.  It took me over 2 minutes though, because I put on socks and had to tie up my shoes, whereas some people only used seconds to transition.  (My second transition time was only 44 seconds or something, because I just racked the bike and kept going.)

Even though my bike wasn't that great, I enjoyed the ride because there wasn't a big pack of people around me as I had feared.  It was pretty smooth sailing and we biked through some nice countryside so it was good.

We all realized how important a good bike is for the race.  My one friend got the prize for the worst bike.  She had borrowed her mom's.  Not that you could tell, or anything.  It had a bell and a red flag on it and was really heavy.  One guy was riding a mountain bike and lots of people were passing him.  My bike was better than that, but it still wasn't that great.  The gears were terrible and kept slipping out.  Several people passed me on the bike.  But when I saw someone pass me who was older than me, (because I could read the numbers on their legs) I cheered them on.  Honestly, I thought it was so great that women who were 44 and 48 were passing me.  I thought, "Go, over 40 women, go!"

Then for the run.  That's my strength and I felt pretty good, although tired and thirsty.  I was happy with my time as I did the 2.5 K in 12 minutes. 

The funniest part was the guy who refused to wear his swim cap, rode his bike in the transition area, refused to wear his helmet, and then swore at an official.  He was disqualified.  Thanks for coming out, sportsmanlike person!

It was a well-organized race, and I would recommend it.  We got a nice run shirt and a goodie bag, and free chocolate milk for recovery after the race, plus fruit and bagels. 

And after all my worrying, it went well.  Nothing bad happened.  I came in 5th out of my age group!  My goal had just been to enjoy myself, and I did.  And now that I've done it once, it would be so much easier to do it again.  People told me triathlons were addictive but I didn't think it would happen to me....except now I'm looking around for another one!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stop It, Mommy!

Once you're a mom, it's hard to turn off that mom voice.  Even when you wish you could.  Even when you can tell that you're annoying your child, but you just can't stop!  Heck, sometimes I'm annoying MYSELF, and I still can't turn it off.

I know I can't keep my children in bubbles, and I know they need to make mistakes in order to learn.  So why is it so hard to let them do it, then?

I think it's because we're also supposed to protect our children; that's our job too.  And I love my children so much that it's hard to see them hurt themselves or fail something.

They're young yet, as well.  I hope the 'letting go' will happen more when they're teenagers....because I need several years to practice!

My oldest son (eight) was at a track meet, and I was there to watch him.  I kept bugging him about drinking enough fluids so he wouldn't get dehydrated, and he kept brushing me off (rolling his eyes and walking away).  But I was persistent, unfortunately for him.

I followed him around, holding out his juice box.  "How about some apple juice?"  I suggested brightly.  "What about water?  Hmmm?  Some nice cold water?"

I suppose the key would be pretending that I didn't care at all, but by then it was too late for that.

"You need to drink enough fluids...." my voice trailed off feebly as my son literally ran away from me.

Later on I noticed that he and his friends were lying on their backs, having a chugging contest with their water bottles.  They were each trying to drink the entire water bottle all at once; that was the game.

You'd think I would be happy that he was finally drinking something.  Sadly, no.

I rushed over and in front of all his friends I said, "Colin!  You shouldn't do that.  You're about to run and you don't want to run with tons of water sloshing around in your tummy."

Again, the rolling of eyes and the sigh.  Poor kid.  I can't help myself!  I'm going to have to learn how to bite my lip and keep my mouth shut.

The other day my mom was admonishing my 32 year old brother about wearing sunscreen, and he rolled his eyes as well, just like my son.  I guess some things never change. 

As I was leaving the track meet, without thinking I yelled in earshot of all his friends, "Bye Honey! I LOVE YOU!"  

Oops.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sulphur Springs 25K Trail Run 2011 - Done!

I did it!  Yesterday I ran the Sulphur Springs 25K trail race.  The only other 25K I have done was last year's Run For the Toad (see earlier post).  It was raining for that race, and the conditions were extremely muddy.  The only thing I wanted for this year's Sulphur Springs was that it not be muddy.  Well - so much for that.  With all the rain we've been having and the cold weather, there were some very muddy parts.  It looked like the race organizers had tried to help by putting some gravel down in certain patches, but they couldn't cover all of the patches.  At least it didn't rain hard during the run - it was more of a light mist to start off with, which eventually disappeared.  The mist actually felt very good as I ran.  And it wasn't as muddy as the Toad, because there were lots of long sections which were perfectly fine to run.  But there were some long patches where the mud was so deep you were afraid you would lose your shoe to it, and then the mud would build up on the bottom of your shoes and you would be skating instead of running.  I saw one guy slide backward at least three feet and then fall on one hill.

Anyway, at the beginning of the race I came up with a slogan for the day: 'Embrace the Mud'.  So that's what I tried to do.  I just ran right through it.

Initially I was worried I wouldn't even be able to run the race, because my shins had started getting sore about 10 days prior, and they seemed to keep getting worse.  I was resting them from running, but I was still doing other things like boot camp.  Anyway, luckily my MMA and runner friend showed me how to tape up my calves and told me to get some Tiger Balm, and that felt so good - I highly recommend it.  The tape really helped and I ran the whole race feeling great.  My goal was not to get a fast time (which, okay, I probably couldn't get even if I wanted to - I'm not there yet!), but just to finish the race and not be injured afterward.  I like the idea of crossing the finish line feeling good and strong and still smiling.  I wanted to feel good and be able to dance at Lobsterfest that night and that's what happened.  I finished in 3:19 hrs.

I have some great memories from the race.  At the beginning of the race, the whole forest was very quiet except for the sound of runners breathing and the different noises our feet made when we would go from running on the hard-packed trail, to the mud, and then on to the gravel.

All the rain had made the forest very lush and green, and there was dark green moss and light green ferns everywhere, and huge blankets of blue and pink flowers around all the trees that were beautiful.

The mist made it feel like I was running through a rainforest, and it darkened all the bark on the tree trunks and etched out the lines on the green dripping leaves.

I really like how runners are so kind to each other; many of them yell to others as they pass: "Good job," or "Well done!"

We met one man who said he had run the trail previously as a blind runner but had just received a bionic eye and could see the trail well for the first time.  He said the trail was beautiful.  He was almost 70!

I met another man who was beside me as we ran/walked up Martin Road hill.  He puffed, "We're almost done.  We'll feel normal again in a week!"

I said nonchalantly, "Oh, a week - is that all? Pffft!"

The best remark came from another woman (who I can only assume was a mother) as we huffed and puffed, sweaty and muddy, up an incline.  She muttered, "There's got to be a better way to get some time for ourselves!"

I mean, some women go shopping.  And I guess some would compare the thrill of achievement of finding a great pair of shoes on sale to a 25K.  But although everyone can buy a pair of shoes, not everyone can run a 25K.

So I'll take my second 25K.  It was a great race!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Driving Me Crazy

This summer we're going on a road trip for two weeks with our three children to Cape Breton.  I'm really looking forward to it.  But I have done a couple of road trips with children in which I swore vehemently to myself as I was banging my head against the car door that I would never, ever, ever do that again.  However, the kids are older now.  And I told my husband that it would be fine to do it, as long as we install a three-screened DVD along with a Wii, a PlayStation, and an X-box in the van.  And a convenience store.  Just a small request.

But I remember what it was like when we drove our five month old son to Florida.

As we set off, my husband said cheerfully, "Okay, let's try to get several good hours of driving in before we stop!"  Ten minutes later, we heard a loud explosion from our son.  My husband's eyes met mine pleadingly in the rear view mirror.  Sympathetically, I shook my head.  "Sorry, hon, we have to stop - he pooped through everything, including his overcoat!  It's all up his back!"

By Hour 10 my son had thoroughly inspected, chewed on, rattled and waved around almost every toy and book I had packed, even the completely new, never before seen Last Resort Toy.  I sang songs until my throat was hoarse.  By Hour 12 I was fantasizing about forcing my husband to drive to an airport, so Colin and I could fly the rest of the way.

It got to the point that we began arguing over who got to drive, since the other person had to entertain Colin.

"Honey, it's my turn to drive.  You must be exhausted!"  I announced to my husband firmly, feigning concern for his well-being.

He shook his head.  "No, that's okay...I've still got lots of energy,"  my husband insisted, although he'd been driving for four hours.  He gripped the steering wheel tighter.  "Really, I insist."

I gave up being diplomatic.  "I'm driving and that's FINAL!  Pull over, mister!"

With my husband in the backseat, Colin began wailing. "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands,"  my husband sang optimistically.  Colin wailed louder.  The clapping trailed off.  I resisted the urge to giggle.  Now it was my turn to grip the steering wheel and surreptitiously turn up the radio.  As I avoided mammoth trucks and aggressive tailgaters, I sighed to myself.  What a nice break!

When it was my turn to entertain my son again (after a brief but spirited tussle over the car keys in the parking lot of a McDonald's) we had completely run out of diversions and Colin had decided he wanted out of the car seat NOW.  I began desperately searching the car for new items.  Water bottle, Kleenex, extra diaper, extra clothing...  Colin looked at me when the last Kleenex had been ripped apart.  He knew I didn't have any more distractions.  He began opening his mouth to yell.  I looked frantically around the car.  Aha - there was one thing left in the car that he hadn't played with yet.  Frantically I bellowed, "GIVE ME THE MAP!"

My husband paled.  He looked over his shoulder at me nervously.  "But honey...we NEED the map."

I scowled at him in the rear-view mirror.  "We can buy another!  Do you think my sanity is worth more than a map?  Don't answer that!  Give. Me. The. Map!"

My husband took a deep breath, began to say something, noticed the frenzied look in my eyes, and then silently and reluctantly handed it back to me.  There was a brief tug of war before I seized it triumphantly and deposited it in my son's lap.  I breathed a sigh of relief as Colin began happily whipping the map around, banging his fist on it and ripping it.  I leaned back in my seat.  Whew!

"You show that map who's boss, honey!"  I encouraged him.  "And when it comes back, you show it who's boss again!"

Anyway, the road trip this time will be much better, I'm sure...I'll buy several sets of maps!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Turning Forty - It's All Good

Today is the big day.  I'm officially 40!  And the sky has not fallen.  Everything appears normal.  In fact, I feel good!  Maybe not James Brown good, but still good.  Great, even!

We just had a party last Friday night, and I had a great time.  We danced until 2 a.m.; I had so much fun.  And I felt fine the next day, too, which was a relief - I mean, completely expected.

My son asked why my friends had left their cars parked in front of our house.  "Ummmm.....they're being environmentally friendly?"

I thought 39 was going to be the hardest, and it was.  Maybe that seems funny, but to me that was when I realized I was at the end of my thirties, that this was the last year of them and that was it.  And I got used to that, and now I'm ready to face my forties.  Head on, or at least with the help of a little red wine!

I think it helps that I'm very happy with my life right now.  I'm very happy with my family and my house, and I like my job.  Also I'm probably the fittest I've been.....ever.  I'm going to run another 25K soon and I'm training for a try a tri - a mini triathlon.  I feel like I've got some good momentum going.

As you get older you get more comfortable with yourself.  You accept who you are and you don't care as much what other people think.  Next year all of my children will be in school.  I have a little more independence and I can do things like staying up until 2 a.m., dancing and having fun with my friends.

At one point my husband asked me anxiously, "It's okay if I play hockey on your birthday, right?  The game isn't until 11:15 p.m. so you'll be in bed then anyway...right?" 

I looked him right in the eye.  "At 11:15 p.m. on my birthday, I might be curled in a ball, lying in a corner sobbing for all you know!" I informed him frostily.  My husband looked terrified.  I should say that my husband is three years younger than me, darn him.  Anyway, it's okay.  I will not be that person sobbing in the corner.  I'm content.  Bring on my forties!  Let the adventure begin!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Food, Wonderful Food!

At dinner I dripped sauce all over my shirt.  It reminded me of when my children were first introduced to solids.  What a great big mess - I mean, milestone! 

I was wondering how my son would do with solids, because he had already proven himself to be not a great eater, even with breast milk. I had tried many things, with not much success.  However, several other new moms had assured me that every child in the world loved Cheerios.  So I put some on his highchair and watched in happy anticipation for him to eat them and love them and instantly begin demanding an entire turkey dinner....basically, my expectations were pretty low and extremely reasonable.

Colin picked one up (I held my breath), examined it closely, and then leaned over and dropped it.  He liked what he saw, and proceeded to drop every single Cheerio (along with my hopes, but let's not be too dramatic - oh wait...too late) onto the floor.  I'm not sure...is it a step forward that he has graduated from merely stashing the food in the seat of his highchair to dropping it all over the floor?

My son's unique approach to food makes at least one resident of our household especially happy:  the cat.  Toby (aka "The Glutton") will be upstairs in a deep sleep, but if I so much as glance at the can opener, he will hit the ground running and be in the kitchen in one nanosecond flat.  The sound of the can opener used to be the only thing that could motivate Toby to move.  But now, as soon as he hears Colin getting placed in his highchair, he comes running as if all the catnip in the world is about to disappear.  He knows his food will be deposited shortly.  Is it wrong to wish my son wanted to eat as much as my cat does?

There is a lot of food for Toby to clean up, anyway.  I knew that children were messy eaters.  But I had no idea HOW messy.  Colin will be eating his rice cereal, lulling me into complacency, and all of a sudden a well-placed left hook will come out of nowhere, the spoon careens off-course, and there is cereal in my hair, on the tablecloth, on the adjacent chair, and behind Colin's ear.  It's amazing.  I think it defies the laws of physics, but I'm far too busy to pursue this groundbreaking phenomenon.  Does Stephen Hawking know about this?  I look at my beige tablecloth and wince.  Note to self:  buy dark coloured, washable tablecloth!

Colin also started hiding Cheerios in strange places, like in my shoes or in various drawers.  He is having a lot of fun putting objects in different places.  The other day I let him play with the cordless phone (I know, I know - a classic rookie mistake) and then when I needed it, I couldn't find it.  And I couldn't use the 'locator' button, because I had turned it off so he could play with it.  Note to self:  when the phone rings, it doesn't really help to yell in desperation into the air, "I'm HERE!"  Anyhow, I finally found it pushed way back under the couch.  I hope this is all contributing to his intellectual development in some small way.   Because God knows his nutrition isn't!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!  You know, the ones with spit-up in their hair.  The ones with glazed, half-open eyes who would give anything, ANYTHING, for a complete nap.  The ones who would be happy just to be able to finish a sentence without having to get a snack or soothe a crying child.

I remember when I first became a mom.  It's such an amazing experience.  I looked down at my first baby, swaddled in a hospital blanket and lying on the bed beside me.  The nurse had put him in the little crib thing at first but I wanted him right beside me.  I was so tired and sore.  I looked down at him and wished I could kiss him all over his face, fingers and toes.  And then I realized that he was mine, and I could!  It was a great feeling.

So many changes occurred after that.  I started to carry a diaper bag instead of a purse.  I realized how I had enjoyed unbelievable, humongous truckloads of time before I had children.  And I had wasted it!  I remembered the times I had whined about my homework with shame.  I was probably lolling around on the couch when I said it, wondering whether I should watch TV or read a book!  I was so naive!  All of a sudden I was busy 24/7. 

I remember my dental hygienist saying that when mothers told her they didn't have time to brush their teeth, she would think, "Yeah, right."  When she became a mother she understood.  I laughed and told her that when I was a new mom I remember very clearly thinking that I could either brush my teeth or wash my face, but I didn't have time to do both.  That's because my son would start crying like clockwork at 7 p.m. every night and I had to be ready for the onslaught.  And I guess I would have been ready before that, if I hadn't been breastfeeding, changing diapers, or playing with the baby!

I perfected 'the sway'.  I realized this at a Christmas get-together.  I was swaying gently from side to side, shifting my weight smoothly and humming softly, when I noticed I was getting a few strange looks.  I looked down at the cheese plate cradled in my arms.  Oh, that's right - my HUSBAND was holding the baby.

It became harder and harder to get it together.  I mean, after you have one child, you realize how you had tons of time before that.  Then you have two children and you realize you really weren't that busy with one child.  He napped!  For three hours!  What you wouldn't give for THAT kind of time when you have two children.  I won't even talk about the time factor with three children, because you get the idea...

I think we can all feel overwhelmed by the enormous demands of motherhood.  Maybe there will be times when you too will look at your disorganized house, your not-back-where-you-want-it-yet figure, and you will despair.  But I try to put it in perspective: those things are fixable, and not really that important in the whole scheme of things.  And I have three wonderful children who I love getting to know.  And maybe by the time they're ready to go to university....the house will be organized!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Tooth Fairy Lives....I Swear!

Last night the Tooth Fairy visited our house. 

I've had several ups and downs with the Tooth Fairy.  And that's only with one of my three kids!  The other two haven't even started to lose their teeth yet.

The first time my son lost his tooth, he was SO excited about the Tooth Fairy coming for the first time.  He was the last person in his class to lose a tooth, and he had been quite despondent about it, and became firmly convinced that his baby teeth were going to stay in FOREVER.

Anyway, the big day arrived!

It was the first time I had to perform 'Tooth Fairy' duty, and I was ready.  I had some money all prepared.  I was happy; I love to do these things.  It would be so much fun! 

My son has a double bed with two pillows on it, side by side.  That night his brother Ryan was going to try to sleep in the same bed.  We will occasionally let them do this if it's not a school night.  It never works out, though, and one eventually has to go back to his own bed.  That's what happened; Colin ended up sleeping alone.

I had to wait up late to ensure my son would be fast asleep, and then I tiptoed in and put the money under the other pillow, not wanting to wake him.

Well, in the morning I expected my son to be ecstatic that the Tooth Fairy had visited and left money, and I was excited to see his reaction.

He was in tears.

"The Tooth Fairy left the money for my brother instead of me!"  he wailed.  "And he didn't even lose his tooth!"

The sheer injustice of it all was mind-boggling. 

I was nonplussed.  I began sputtering, "But...but...it's YOUR bed!  In your room!"

He shook his head sadly.  "But it was under the pillow RYAN was sleeping on."

"Yes," I agreed wearily, "for about FIVE SECONDS!  And it's still your bed and your pillow!"

What a fun, happy memory this was turning out to be.

The next time I was determined to do better.  I placed the money directly under the pillow my son was actually sleeping on.  (Who knew?)

Anyway, the next morning, again hoping for all smiles and joy, my son once more greeted me with despair.

"The Tooth Fairy didn't come!"  he announced sadly, and then, without any melodrama at all, threw himself headlong on the couch face-down.

(I think he had looked forward to this moment for so long that it couldn't possibly live up to the reality.  Isn't that the way it goes?)

Anyway, I went to go 'help' him look.  Smugly, I put my hand under the pillow.  Nothing.  I searched around under both pillows.  I couldn't find the money either.  I began tearing at the bedsheets with a crazed look on my face.

I couldn't exactly yell, "I KNOW the money is here because I PUT IT THERE MYSELF!"   Instead, tight-lipped, I just began throwing pillows and blankets off the bed in a desperate frenzy.

Finally after several tense moments I found the money; it had slipped off the mattress and wedged itself between the mattress and the bed frame.

I held it up triumphantly, panting slightly but hugely relieved: "Here it IS!"

My son looked at me with a puzzled expression.  "Why did the Tooth Fairy HIDE it in my bed frame?"

I needed my coffee, I really did.  I tried to put a cheerful tone in my voice.  "That Tooth Fairy, she's pretty tricky!"

Was it all worth it, really?

Next, our neighbours' daughter, whose family has lots of money, told my son that the Tooth Fairy gave her $20.00 a tooth.  Then my son was really depressed.  "Why does the Tooth Fairy give her more money than me?"  he demanded to know.

I opened and shut my mouth a few times but nothing emerged.  "Hmmmm......."  I stalled for time.  "I guess the Tooth Fairy knows you don't need that much money!"  I answered finally, exhausted.

My son frowned and looked as if he really wanted to argue with the Tooth Fairy's logic, so I quickly slipped away.

Back to last night.  Right before we were putting the kids to bed, I whispered to my husband, "I don't have any change, do you?"

"No!" he whispered back.  I only had a $5.00 bill; Jerry only had a $20.00.  And neither of those amounts was going to happen.  We have a cheap Tooth Fairy, and besides, I wasn't willing to set that kind of precedent.  I have three kids who each have 16 baby teeth.  You do the math!

Anyway, then we both forgot about the issue in the tumult of putting three kids to bed.  My husband went to play hockey.

At 2:00 a.m. I woke up, gasping.  "Oh no!  The Tooth Fairy!"

I ran downstairs.  My husband had fallen asleep on the couch.  I woke him up and hissed at him, "The TOOTH FAIRY!"  

He looked at me sleepily, grunted, "Oh, right,"  got up and stumbled upstairs to bed.  Thanks, honey!  (In the morning he'd have no recollection of our little chat.)  I was hoping he'd gotten some change when he was out for the night.  So much for that.

Anyway, after reviewing my options, I did what any good mother would do.  I stole money from my other son.

Then, in the morning, when my oldest son retrieved the Tooth Fairy's gift, he sighed.  "I only got a dollar!"

I just lay on the couch with my eyes closed.  "Someone get me an Advil and make it snappy!"  I yelled.