Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thanks For Nothing, Santa!

It had all been a bit stressful, but with the help of online shopping and using every spare minute to get what I needed, I was all done shopping.  I was so happy!  I wanted to stop shopping and start drinking ... hot chocolate.

It had been challenging, but I felt like I had tried my best to make sure all the gifts were fair for each of my three children.  With different ages, this can be hard, but I felt like I had worked it all out.

And then it happened.

My daughter came home from school and told me excitedly that Santa had gone to her class that day.  She told me that she asked him for a Christmas Barbie doll, and that he told her he would get it for her.  She said, and I quote: "I know I'll get it because Santa said so."  She was very happy.

I, on the other hand, was not.

Let's just say I wasn't feeling very festive for the next few moments.

What was I going to do?  I had all the Santa gifts sorted out!  If I added one thing for one child, it would send everything off course.  But my daughter still believes in Santa and I'm not going to be the one to wreck it for her.

I finally figured out that I could have the doll be from her mom and dad, and just say that Santa knew she was going to get it so he didn't need to get it for her.

Then I went looking for the doll (which, incidentally, she hadn't mentioned wanting ever before).

And it was nowhere. Absolutely nowhere!  It was sold out in every store I tried.

One salesgirl told me that she didn't know if it would be in, but I should just continue to check back into the store every day.

I almost lost it.  I wanted to say to her, 'Do you honestly think I have time for that?  I work full-time and I have three kids and we live in every hockey arena in town!  Honestly!  We don't stay at our house, we just drive from one arena to the other and grab snacks on the way!'

Luckily for the salesgirl this all happened in my head.

Anyway, I was getting desperate.  I couldn't even find it online; it was out of stock everywhere.

Finally I had a friend who is a shopping whiz help me.

We managed to find it in the U.S.  I bought it for a ridiculous price even though I had to accept that it may not be shipped in time for Christmas.

Thank you, Amazon, because I received it yesterday.  I love you!

As for you, Santa - thanks for nothing!

Monday, December 17, 2012

That Would Send Me Over the Edge, But It's A Short Trip

I was at a garden centre getting some items to make my Christmas urns.  Yes, they still weren't done even though it was December 15th.  And the only reason I was finally doing it was because I had company coming over that night, okay?  I actually still had mums in my urns, that's how bad it was.
(In their defense, they still looked pretty good!)

Anyway, I was grabbing some curly willow (I LOVE curly willow) when I overheard a man asking for help from the staff.  Apparently he and his wife had agreed not to buy each other anything this Christmas; instead, they were going to make their gifts.  He had decided to make a terrarium for her.

I felt like saying kindly to him, "You don't have kids, do you?"  (Or they do, but the kids are in university, or living out of province.  Or perhaps they both just work at home and have tons of time.)

And maybe it's just me, but that would send me right over the edge.

I'm finding it stressful enough just BUYING all the gifts I have to get and do all the things I have to do for Christmas without making anything. 

I know it's environmentally friendly and more thoughtful, blah, blah, blah - okay, it's a good idea.

It still stresses me out!

(And no, the picture above isn't my urn.  It's someone else's.  Mine don't look that good.  But I did make them.  Maybe my husband would accept them as his Christmas gift?)


Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Love Tinsel, But This Is Getting Ridiculous!

I have always loved tinsel.  It's very festive, isn't it?  However, we haven't used it for years because of the kids.

As my one friend said, once your child starts getting mobile and putting everything in his/her mouth, you look around what you thought was a child-friendly home, and realize that the entire place is a death-trap!

That's why we stopped using it.  It's not very Christmasy when your child chokes on a piece of tinsel.

Now, though, all of our kids are old enough to know that tinsel isn't a very tasty snack.  (Although, probably if I served it for lunch, my one son would put ketchup on it and love it.)  But with it just lying on the ground, it's fine.

That's part of the problem.  The tinsel is lying all over the ground.

And the furniture.  And the cat. (He wasn't amused.)

I got out of the shower one day and there was some on my leg.  Maybe it was in my hair, which is entirely possible.  There's some in our bed.  It's an interesting phenomenon.

The best one was my husband, whose colleague at work finally mentioned to him at lunchtime that he had tinsel on his butt.  He was really happy that he'd been walking around all morning meeting with families with tinsel on his rear end.

It's all part of the Christmas fun.  Who's with me?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Worst. Parent. Ever.

I hate to admit it.  But I, after nine years of trying to protect my son from nuts due to his anaphylactic allergy to nuts, I gave him a chocolate with a nut in it.

It was an accident, of course.

I was rushing through the grocery store (I'm not kidding, I was literally running through the aisles) as we were on our way to a party and I had to get a few things.  I also picked up some Hershey kisses for the two boys' hockey teams.  I picked up two bags - the caramel and milk chocolate ones - read the labels, and then picked up what I thought were two more of the same bags.

We had the Christmas party that night, got home late, and had an early hockey game the next morning.  After the game I handed out the Hershey kisses.

My son said, "What's in the middle of this, mom?"

It was an almond.

I was freaking out as much as you can in a dressing room in a hockey arena, surrounded by kids and parents.

I could not believe what I had just done!  After all the labels I have read, the kinds of food I have checked, the things I have gone through! I prided myself on the fact that I could read labels upside down and in different languages.  Yet I had HANDED him a nut.  It was unbelievable.  He had never had an almond in his life.

The fact is, what he is really allergic to are cashews and pistachios.  But initially we were told to avoid all tree nuts.  And I still do, in case of cross-contamination.  Still, did I mention he had never eaten an almond in his life before?

After apologizing profusely to my son, and simultaneously checking off in my mind that I had two Epi-Pens in my purse, I asked him how he felt.

He said he felt fine, and he looked fine.  However, I know that allergic reactions can take up to two hours, so I basically stuck to him like glue for the next two hours. 

I was a real nuisance.  He would be trying to talk to his friends at the arena, and I would be hovering nearby, lifting up his tuque to see if his ears were swollen.  I kept staring at him in case he broke out in hives.

Luckily he was fine, and didn't seem to have an iota of a reaction.

The whole episode took years off my life.  Years.  Every time I talk about it, I get all stressed out all over again.  It's exhausting. I've got to go lie down.  (After I double-check more labels!)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hitting Stress Quotient Before 9:00 a.m. = Not Good

I hit my stress quotient before 9:00 a.m. this morning.  It wasn't pretty.

I have to take some responsibility.  I've been letting things slide in the morning.

I used to be really good about enforcing the rule that the kids have to have all their stuff done before they play video games.

My kids get up pretty early so it isn't usually an issue.

This morning everything seemed to be going very well.  (This should have been my first clue.)

I had even put beef stew ingredients in the crock pot AND remembered to turn it on (always essential).  I was congratulating myself on the fact that although I had to work that night, I had still managed to make dinner.  I know; pretty impressive, right?

Anyway, the time crept up on me.

Suddenly it was time to start the 'Ten Minutes Before Leaving Rush'.  I called, "Time to brush teeth everyone!"

Then I looked around.  There were no breakfast dishes anywhere!  Nothing was cluttering up the couch or the kitchen table.  That could mean only one thing.

No one had eaten breakfast!

That was when I started yelling. 

It just went downhill from there. 

I burned the toast (breakfast) while I was making the lunches.  My one son forgot his agenda.  My boot zipper got stuck.

As I was yelling that the next day nothing would happen until they were dressed and had eaten breakfast and gotten ready, my one son said to me, "Are you just cranky, Mom?"

I'm sorry to say that set me off again.

I need to start meditating. RIGHT NOW!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Online Shopping: Works for Working Moms!

I may have mentioned that I am slightly busy, working every day out of the home, as well as inside the home with three children.

(If you haven't heard this already, let me tell you all about it!  How much time have you got?  Oh, wait - I don't have enough time, I'm too busy.)

When I saw Christmas lights shining a few weeks ago, I actually felt a hearty dislike for the person who had put them up.  That's not very festive, is it?

I realized the issue was that I was suddenly feeling pressure.  I wasn't sure how I was going to get it all done this year.

Then it came to me: online shopping!  I had never tried it before in large quantities, but when I looked at how much time I had available to shop (i.e. none) I decided it made sense.

Also, I have been that person in the megastore Moonlight Madness who is standing there thinking in disbelief, "I am in hell on earth!  I would rather shoot myself than go through this again!"  This being the interminable lines, the pushy crowds and frantic gift-grabbing.

Anyway, it was fabulous.  I took some lieu time off from work.  I sat at home with my feet up and my playbook on my lap, and I shopped. 

Free shipping, and it was all delivered within a week.

I used Indigo Kids in Canada, because I like their stuff; it's pretty sturdy and well-made; it's not dollar store cheap plastic.  And you can't beat the free shipping!

I've got almost all of my Christmas shopping done now, for my kids and for my nieces and nephews.

Take that, people with Christmas lights up already!  I mean,  Merry Christmas.  And may your shopping be festive!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Raid the Hammer 2012

Well, what can we say.  We raided, but we didn't exactly hammer.

We thought we'd try something different, and we did.

On the morning of the race, we thought we were arriving early, but it seemed like every other team was there already, planning their routes.  We didn't know you could do that.

I think the majority of people doing this race have tons of orienteering experience.  We had one 10K race with not one navigation course.  I can't even read road maps with everything written on it.  How could I have hoped to read these maps?

There were thirty checkpoints to find.  It took us 5 hours to find the first 24.  We did find them (eventually).

This race is billed as Ontario's toughest running race.

I loved the trails.  We were dropped off in Mt Nemo and we had to run into Waterdown.  I wished I could just keep running instead of looking for those pesky checkpoints.  (It is confirmed that I'm a runner, not a navigator!)

I admit it was fun to find the checkpoints.  We did get lost a few times, and that costs lots of time.  We spent lots of time just staring at the map, trying to figure out routes.  This is not my idea of fun.

We still HAD fun, though.

We saw some amazing trees along the way.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.

At one point, one of our team members had run off in one direction to look for a checkpoint.  When he didn't come back right away, my friend and I thought we should try to signal to him.  I had forgotten my whistle, and hers was attached to the back of her backpack.

I said, "Do you want me to blow your whistle?"  As soon as the words were out of my mouth we both collapsed in laughter.  We couldn't stop for quite some time.  I still laugh when I think of it.

Another time, we had just found a checkpoint and we were deciding which way to go next.  My friend said, "We just have to go over that cliff there."

I responded, "That's not a cliff, it's the fricking Escarpment!"  (It was, too.  We had to go around.)

Anyway, after five hours we had exceeded the time limit and we knew we would be disqualified anyway, so we called it a day.

We learned more things.  We burned lots of calories.  We saw some beautiful trails.  A good way to spend a Sunday. 

Of Monsters and Men in Toronto!

I love Of Monsters and Men.  I love them.  They make me happy.  I love their music.  I love how the two lead singers' voices are so unique and go together so well.

A group of us saw them at the Kool Haus in Toronto.  It was a cool bar; not too big; good atmosphere.

I saw an interview in which the band said they enjoy North American audiences because we show our pleasure with the music; we sing along, clap and cheer.  In Iceland, apparently, people are much more stoic.  I saw a video of a concert there once and everyone was just standing there with neutral faces.

We are much different here.  We were yelling and clapping and cheering and singing the songs as loudly as we could!  I think they appreciated it.  At one point the lead singer, Nanna, yelled, "You guys are CRA-ZY!  I love it!"


Friday, November 2, 2012

It's Not Even Monday!

This is the way my day is going today.

I have multiple, visible runs in my nylons.  Yet I'm not fixing it.  Why?  Because I can't find any other nylons.  I'm hoping it will be viewed as a new, post-Halloween fashion statement.

I ate Halloween candy for breakfast.

I put chicken in the crock pot this morning so it would be ready for dinner and I forgot to turn it on.

However.  It is Friday, and I can see the sun for the first time in nine days.

I'll take it.

(P.S. I just poured beef broth into my coffee instead of almond milk.  It's not as bad as you would think.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Grapes of Wrath - Canadian folk rock band

I used to love the Grapes of Wrath.  I listened to their tape (that's right) over and over again.  I have now rediscovered my love for them.

I went to see them play at the Casbah in Hamilton.

They have so many great hits; even more than I remembered.

I bought their new CD, 'Singles'; it has all the old hits plus two new songs.

I've been listening to it over and over (just like in the late eighties)!

They got me through a lot of teenage angst.

Now they can get me through 41 angst.

Love you, Grapes!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Orienteering Race: Peak-2-Peak Enduro 10K

View IMG-20121028-00183.jpg in slide show(note burrs all over pants)

My friend and I just did the Peak-2-Peak Enduro 10K in preparation for the 25 - 27 K Raid the Hammer orienteering race in two weeks.

We did it because we're runners, not navigators.

And the funny thing is that we didn't have trouble with the running, only the actual orienteering.  Strange, eh?

We like to challenge ourselves.

And you know, it really puts things into perspective.

After the race today, after spending three and a half hours (yes, that's correct) running in the mud and a constant cold rain, it felt unimaginably good just to lie on my bed.  I hadn't quite appreciated before the level of softness and coziness that is my bed.

And just to be in a warm robe drinking hot chocolate after a hot shower; it was absolutely wonderful.  See?  It makes you appreciate things.

We naively thought it wouldn't take us that long to run 10K because we've done it in pretty short times running.  But, of course we weren't running.  We were trying to find the checkpoints!

You get a map with numbered checkpoints and you have to do them in order.  If you don't, you get disqualified.  Did I mention that we got disqualified?

There were 16 checkpoints.  We did great for the first 7.  Especially because neither of us is known for a good sense of direction.  Okay, speaking for myself, ANY sense of direction.  (Yes, I can hear you saying that and yet, we signed up for an orienteering race.  I know.  I like to think 'hard-core' versus 'stupid'.  Look, it's good to learn new things, okay?)

Checkpoint 8 really threw us for a loop.  All the other checkpoints had an orange streamer on a branch overhead with the checkpoint below.  We found a hilltop where we thought 8 was, and we found a streamer.  So far, so good.  But no checkpoint!  We kept looking around and around, thinking it must be near.

The race organizer told us later that he had put the streamer there, thinking that was the right hilltop, and then when he realized it was the next hilltop, he just kept going and didn't retrieve the streamer.

Anyway, eventually we ran into another team and they said the course was closed at 1:00 p.m. and it was almost 1:00 p.m.

We decided we were done anyway, since we couldn't find 8, so we thought we'd just do a few more and then call it a day.

Did I mention we were completely soaked through and freezing at this point?

We laughed quite a lot on the course despite the bad weather.  At one point we knew we had to cross a creek.  I crossed a little stream and then yelled, "Okay, we just crossed the creek!  It wasn't as big as I thought, I - (major soaker)...."Correction: we are now IN the creek!  We are IN the creek!"

The other funny part was that we had to go through an electrified fence on a farmer's property (I'm sure that was completely kosher).  A man we met up with assured us that if we went through the two green wires we would be fine.  This was a 'I can't believe I am doing this and yet here I go' moment.  Then we joked about how we were like Catherine Zeta-Jones in that movie where she evades the red laser beams.  We definitely looked the part, I can tell you, with us covered in mud, burrs and thorns, completely soaking wet.  Pretty sexy.

We did do lots of bushwhacking. And I mean, tangled up with thorns, unable to move bushwhacking.  I mean having to crouch down just to get through places.  And hanging on to trees to climb up places.  I'm talking having to take pieces of branches out of my hair, and having my legs covered in thorn scratches (through my running pants!).

Well, there are three things I know now.  1) we are in major trouble for the Raid the Hammer.  2) It was fun!  3) I need to learn to read a map better, but hey - I'd do it again!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Princess Doll Cake

Here is the Princess Doll Cake I made recently for my daughter's birthday.  Of course when I went to make it, I couldn't find the aluminum rod that goes down into the middle of the cake bowl.  I looked and looked, getting pretty agitated, blaming the kids for taking absolutely every small item in the entire house and hiding it in completely unforeseeable places.  Finally I gave up and decided to make my own with aluminum foil.  It was the only thing I could think of.  They're both aluminum, right?  It would have to do!  It worked well enough.  And of course, as I was baking the cake, I found the real aluminum rod in my baking cupboard where I had put it to keep it safe from the kids....sorry, kids!  Love you!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Daniel Craig - James Bond in SkyFall

What can I say except that I love Daniel Craig as James Bond?  I just saw the official trailer for Skyfall and it looks amazing!  I can't wait to see it.  Here is the link:

Also, there's a great article in Maclean's right now on an interview with him about the movie.  I like his personality.  If I could put a picture of his personality on the blog, of course I would.
(Too many photos?  I only put the swimsuit photo in because people would expect it.  Obviously.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mmmmm, Mindfulness!

I went to a workshop on mindfulness yesterday.  I think most people are afraid of things like this; they think they're weird.  I understand that, but really it's just simple relaxation.

And now that I'm a working mom - well I've always been a working mom, but now I'm basically full-time outside the house as well as inside - I could really use some more relaxation in my life.

It didn't start out well, of course.

The sessions were already running late, and I was running to the bathroom before the workshop began, but bathrooms on two successive floors were closed to cleaning so I had to run to a third floor!

And then I couldn't find the room.

So I was late and flustered.  When I finally found the room and barged in, I found everyone completely quiet with eyes closed, doing the first mindfulness session.  Of course I dropped my purse and a few things fell out with a crash, and I completely disrupted the whole zen thing going on.  (Sorry about that, fellow workshop participants.)

Anyway, I was definitely in the mood for some calm.  I ignored the dirty looks (that wasn't very mindful by the way!) and got ready to participate.  I was happy when we did another session at the end.

I had my eyes closed and I was focusing on my breathing.  I think I was doing pretty well.  But then I said to myself, panicking:  "OMG!  I forgot to turn off the ringer on my new cell phone.  I don't even know how to turn it off!  I can't possibly disrupt a session again!  They'll kick me out of mindfulness.  How will THAT look??"

And it's not really practicing self-kindness when you're kicking yourself and telling yourself what an idiot you are for not being technologically literate enough to know how to turn your !@#$% phone off.

Anyway, you can see that I need to work on this mindfulness thing a little bit.

When we were being quiet and trying to be aware of what was going on in our bodies, I realized that my face was practically vibrating with stress.  Just sitting there calmly for several minutes without any expectations, just focusing on being in the moment nonjudgmentally and without trying to list your groceries or all the things you need to get done that day - it was so nice.

The great thing is that even if you get distracted, you're not supposed to judge yourself.  You're just supposed to matter-of-factly bring yourself back to being aware of your breathing.  The leader of the workshop said that most people's minds are full of racing thoughts and that we are usually just carried away by them all the time.  That's me.

She said we need to practice 'kind patience' to ourselves.  Isn't that a great phrase?  I think we could all use more kind patience.

Mindfulness is really just taking time each day to calm yourself down.  It could be going for a nature walk or run.  It could be listening to a song that relaxes you.

You don't have to wear bells or tie-dyed shirts or chant while you're doing it.  It's just breathing.   Aahhhhh.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Don't Know How I Do It...Correction: I Am Not Doing It

I am now working both inside and outside the house every day (did you see how I phrased that?).  I have been part-time since our first child was born, but now all of our children are in school every day.  So it's back to work for me.

So far, so terrible.

It's like when you have your first child.  You think you were busy before, but then you realize that actually, you had all the time in the world and you completely and utterly took it for granted.  You had absolutely tons of time on your hands that you thoughtlessly and uselessly squandered.

Then you have another child.  And you realize that with one child you had loads of free time... and on it goes.

I thought I was busy before.

And let's clarify.  Of course it is busy for moms working outside and inside the home.  But I think we can agree that when all the children are in school all day, it is a completely different kettle of fish.  Or ball of wax.

(Hmmmm.  Neither of those sayings mean anything to me at all.  I can't relate in any way, so why do I use them?  Let's just say that it is a book of a completely different genre.  That's better.)

The point is that I would be ecstatic to have 7 hours every day on my own.  Alone.  Free from distractions.  Able to do errands!  Read labels and make decisions!  It would be a beautiful thing.

I could organize my house.  I could decorate it.  Heck, I could BUILD it.

Right now I am either at work or I have three children with me.  Yes, I have a husband.  But I think because I worked part-time for so long, and because I am a mom and it means the most to me, I have taken over all the kid-related things (except for hockey).

I do homework.  I set out clothes for them that I have bought.  I shop for toiletries.  I buy birthday presents for their friends.  I take them to all medical appointments.  You see where I'm going with this.

It doesn't help that all three children have activities and that my husband and I also have our own activities so it is a very busy household.

I find that little things can send me right over the edge.  Like the other day when I was trying to find socks for the entire family so we could go on a hike.  I couldn't find any that matched and didn't have holes.  I practically lost my mind.  I should have just said, "We're all going sock-less, and we're going to LIKE it."  These are the things I have to learn now that I am working every day outside the house.

I'm going to do groceries at 9:00 p.m. at night.  I'm going to be on close intimate terms with my crock pot.  And I am going to have to do things like stockpile birthday presents so I don't have to go out every time a child is invited to a birthday party.  And I'm going to spend enormous sums on groceries (last time I almost fainted dead away in front of the cashier when she told me the total).  But I will do it again.  Why?  Because I don't have time to do groceries more than once a week.  So I will buy extra bagels and milk and chicken that is already cooked.

I will absolutely cherish P.A. days and holidays.

And I will buy socks.  Lots and lots of socks.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Ancaster Fair Fun!

We went to the Ancaster Fair this past weekend.  We had a great time.  My children are all at good ages for the fair at 5, 7, and 9.  Ella went on the merry-go-round, the tea cups, and a 'fun slide' that she said was too fast and 'freaked her out'. 

The boys went on a roller coaster, the Sky Drop, and (above) the Zero Gravity. I thought for sure that ride would make them puke up their hot dogs.  It spins them around and then tilts up and down while spinning.  They're not even held in very tightly.  The ride operator said, "They're held in by centrifugal force."  Centrifugal force?  That's good enough?  They can't throw on a seat belt?  The entire ride I was saying to myself, "Bad Mom Award to you!  How can you even let your children ride this thing?  IF they survive, they'll get off all nauseous and sick and the Fair will be wrecked for them forever!"  (They had begged me for hours to let them do it.)   They got off the ride, eyes wide, and yelled, "MOM!  That was the most awesome ride ever!  LET'S DO IT AGAIN!"  Whew.   Dodged a bullet there.

It really made me notice again the differences between boys and girls.  And not that one is better than the other; of course not.  It's just interesting.

So all three did the fish pond, and got to pick out an inflatable.  My oldest son picked out a large sword.  My middle son picked out an even bigger 'Super Bat'.  (Like a baseball bat.)  My daughter picked out a 'My Little Pony'. 

Then, while we were waiting for something, the boys started whacking each other with the inflatables.  (Of course I had just told them NOT to whack each other, but they couldn't help themselves.)  Another little boy walked by and saw them.  He was holding an inflatable Spiderman.  He didn't know them at all, but suddenly he walked right into the middle of the whacking and joined in.  These three boys were all happily whacking each other while my daughter was sitting on the grass quietly petting her pony.  (She also fed it and put her brother's sweater on it because it was 'cold'.)

We also went to the Demolition Derby.  Again, I thought - boys:  driving falling apart cars around and banging into each other for fun; girls: a Fair 'ambassador' wearing a tiara.

Hmmmmm.  We sure do complement each other!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Supercrawl Hamilton 2012 - Hollerado!

I went to Supercrawl for the first time last night.  It's a street festival all about art and music.  A main street was completely closed to cars and there were vendors, open houses, music venues and art galleries everywhere.  It was amazing!

The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly.  There was a mix of all ages and people.

I saw the Hollerado show.  It was so high-energy and crowd-friendly; I loved it.

I was able to explore all these great spaces in Hamilton that I didn't even know existed.  We were able to tour the beautiful cathedral with intricate woodwork and stained glass windows.  Everything was free.

We ate fabulous samosas, enjoyed a decadent peanut-butter pop (PB covered in chocolate and skor bits), and had a taste of yummy green smoothie.

James Street - you'll see me again soon!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cape Hatteras - Pamlico Sound

We were just in Cape Hatteras, a place I'd never been before.  It's in North Carolina, in the United States.  We stayed in a big house on stilts with another family.  It was amazing!  It's a beautiful place.

Our house was on the Pamlico Sound, but you could walk to the beach.  I was glad we were on the Sound, because it was much calmer and shallow for ages which was great for the kids.

The Sound is great for windsurfing.  Our friends are big windsurfers.  My husband and I tried it and I liked it!  Once you got the sail up and in the right direction (which is harder than it sounds) the wind would take you and it was like a fun ride.

It was great to be by the water and under the big sky.  At night it seemed that we could see thousands of stars.  One night we did a midnight kayak.  You just have to do this to understand.  It's a great experience.

I've never seen so many crabs in my life!  We also went to the beach at night and there were lines of crabs standing there on the beach, staring at us.  Not something you see everyday.

The drive was long to get there - 15 hours.  There was a low point.  There always is, right?  As long as you have good moments to balance out the bad, that's really all you can hope for.

Anyway, one of my sons was whining because I told him to do something other than stare at a screen.  This was a huge problem, apparently.  I launched into a huge speech.  My voice rose.  I exclaimed, "When I was young we didn't even have DS's!  Or DVD players!  We played word games in the car!  We sang songs!  And played hang man!"  I warmed to my theme.  "We didn't have screens in the car and"  - I paused for the grand finale - "LIFE WENT ON!"

I sounded about a million years old.  And that's probably how long it will take before anyone listens to any of my speeches again!

Friday, August 31, 2012

That Voice in Your Head

I recently read an article on 'Daily Burst of Energy' about that little voice in your head.  Is it positive or negative?  Does it help you along or bring you down?

Sometimes we just take the voice in our head for granted and don't question it.

This article talks about how we often focus on what we've haven't done or haven't achieved yet, instead of focusing on the positive things that we have done and how far we have already come.

This was a good nudge for me.  Maybe it will be for you too.

Although telling yourself to shut up isn't really being very nice to yourself, so ... can't really condone that... but you get the point!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fifty Shades of Embarrassment!

I was in The Sweet Shop in Tobermory.  This is a very large candy and ice cream store filled with every possible kind of sweet thing imaginable.  And it is always very, very crowded.

My kids love picking out candy.  They always want different things, so I usually give them a dollar limit so it will be fair.

On this day I was occupied in the far corner of the store, checking out the many different options of salt water taffy they have now.  Lemon Meringue Pie and Root Beer Float - who knew?

Anyway, one of my kids approached me with a ton of candy in his hands.  I said that was too much.

I yelled, "The limit is $3.00, kids! $3.00!  And that's a HARD LIMIT!  A HARD LIMIT!"

As I was shouting this, I was wondering why that phrase sounded so familiar.

And then it hit me, as I was yelling it across a room full of children.

Yes.  It was from Fifty Shades.

Fifty Shades of....embarrassment!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Awenda Provincial Park - Camping!

Awenda, Site: 22, Image:2

We just returned from camping at Awenda in Penetanguishene.  It's a beautiful park.  Our campsite was surrounded by forest and was very private.  There is 30K of trails in the park.  There is a very long beach, sandy and with rocks.  It is a very interesting land formation.  There is also a lake that would be great to canoe or kayak around.  It's a beautiful, peaceful lake. 

The kids especially loved the camping.  The boys had their bikes so they could be very independent.  They made friends with other kids there and then spent most of their time together, biking around and going to the park.  It was great!  I mean, I'm not trying to say that it was great that they were hardly ever at the campsite!  That would be ridiculous.  Of course not.  It's just that they were occupied, and busy playing outdoors, so when we were busy making meals and so on, it all worked out.  (You know what I mean.)

Honestly, though, it was really good family bonding time.  We taught the kids some card games and had fun hiking and biking together.

There was one problem though: our air mattress.  The only way you can possibly be comfortable on this mattress is if all the people sleeping on it are the exact same weight.  And how often does that happen?  The heaviest person would sink the lowest and then the others would roll toward them.  Trust me, this is not good for a sound sleep.  Also, my head was heavier than my feet, so my head would sink lower than my legs, even with my pillow.  I don't know about anyone else, but I did not find this comfortable at all.  On one night when two of our children snuck onto the mattress in the middle of the night, I ended up sleeping with two kids right on top of me.  I kept trying to heave them off, but they would just roll right back on. 

I wasn't being melodramatic at all when I informed my husband that I would never, ever sleep on that air mattress again.  Give me a nice foam mat anytime.  Preferably alone.  In a separate tent.  Far, far away.  Excuse me while I go burn the air mattress.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I'll Take 'Supreme Commander' Please

My middle son has been going through a phase lately in which he is trying out different ways of addressing me.  He has tried 'lady' and 'woman' as two examples.  As in, "I'll have a toasted bagel for breakfast, woman!"  And: "Listen, lady, I'll clean up my room later!"

That doesn't go far with me.

He even tried 'crazy woman' which REALLY didn't sit well.  I think he's still regretting that lapse.

Where does he hear these things? 

He's really trying things out and testing the limits.  It's interesting.  It keeps me on my toes.  As I've said before, it's hard to be a 'good' parent because it's exhausting to keep on them all the time, but I think that comes with the whole job.

Anyway, I finally sat him down and looked him right in the eye.

"Listen carefully.  I answer to a few terms only.  I will accept Mom, Mommy, and Supreme Commander.  That's IT."

He replied, "You got it, Supreme Commander!"

That's right. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Literacy + Fun = Sigh of Relief

I had read that children's literacy skills often regress during the summer and I thought I would try to counter that by making sure we do reading and writing during the day.  We read every night, but the kids have been wanting to have a lot of video game time this summer and I wanted to try to balance it out a little better.

(Interestingly enough, there was an article in today's Hamilton Spectator that said that only children of lower-educated parents experience the regression of literacy skills.)

Anyway, I was asking (okay, forcing) the kids to write about what they had done on our camping trip or with their friends, etc.  It wasn't exactly fun.  Okay, it wasn't fun at all.  Not for any of us.

Today I was going through the whole scenario when my oldest son came to the rescue in the form of a great idea.  Instead of just writing down random things he suggested writing letters to each other.  He proposed being the 'mail man' who would deliver all the letters.

Everyone got into it, even me.  You'd receive a letter and then you'd respond, and vice versa.  The kids loved it.  They were laughing and giggling.  They were reading the letters and writing letters, and they thought it was a great game all at the same time.

Whew.  Thank goodness for sons with good ideas!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Let's Not Be Judgy, Joan!

I was in the grocery store with three of my children.  I will usually try to avoid this at ALL costs.  There are a million things I would rather do than go shopping with three kids.  I will do anything.  I have been known to shop late at night after boot camp is over and I'm all sweaty and tired and I really just want to have a shower.  But as long as I'm is TOTALLY worth it.

However, today I was taking the big chance because I didn't have a full list.  I was just getting some things for my son's birthday party.  It is still a big operation.  I have to try to keep each child occupied.  It uses every bit of my energy and all of my faculties.  I put the smallest one in the cart and usually shove a bagel in her mouth.  Yes, I do.  It works.  That's all I have to say.  I ask the oldest one to push the cart so it keeps his hands off his younger brother.  I ask my middle son to get me items off the shelves as I walk very, very quickly down every aisle in order to maximize the very small window of opportunity I have to stay sane in a store with children accompanying me.  As soon as I see my middle son starting to look like he's about to start knocking items down just for fun, I will say in as loud and commanding a voice as possible, "I need leeks NOW! Go! Go! Go!"  It's a pretty good strategy I have to say, barring a few bouts of wrestling in the produce section.

Anyway, this one woman was watching my kids and she told me that they were very well-behaved.  I looked around for the mom behind me who I knew she must be speaking to.  To my surprise, it was actually me who she was addressing.  I thanked her and prepared to move on.  I was thinking to myself, "We better get out of here fast before she sees what my kids are REALLY like."  (And that would be: normal, active kids who get bored in a nanosecond.)  Anyway, as I was leaving she asked me if they went to private school.  I replied that no, they just went to a plain old public school.  Let's not go there, I thought. 

Next she asked me if I had heard those other children screaming.  Yes, I had.  I think everyone in the store and within a half mile of it had heard these two.  They were two little boys with their mom and they were screaming very loudly.  To be fair, they were pretty young - maybe not even two.  I felt badly for the mom, because I have been there.  And it's not nice to be judged.  My youngest child was at least two years older than those boys.  Maybe that lady had never had kids or maybe she had forgotten what it was like.  Babies cry.  Kids scream.  They have temper tantrums.  They get tired and they can't articulate it and so they yell.  It's life.  It has nothing to do with private school.  And sometimes you just need to get your milk and bread before you get out of there.

No one likes to hear screaming but let's try some sympathy for the moms out there who hear it the loudest.  Who's with me?  You'll have to get back to me; I need to get my kids out of the store ASAP.

Long Point Camping

We just went camping with friends at Long Point.  The kids loved jumping over and into the waves.  And it's amazing how long playing in the sand can occupy kids.  My husband had to work so he wasn't there, and it was challenging to watch all three kids at times, but when they got to the sand play it was great.  I yelled in surprise to my friend, "Look at me!  I'm actually lying down!"  I was able to lie down in the shade of a sand umbrella and relax, while still having all three kids in my line of vision as they built sand castles and moats.  It was a beautiful thing.

There were many other good moments and one crazy moment.  The good things included:  being on the beach all by ourselves in the morning.  I had a mug of coffee and we walked along the water's edge.  The early morning sky was beautiful. 

It was also nice when we saw tons of lights flashing in the bushes and realized they were fireflies, and to hear the awe in my daughter's voice when she said, "Look at THAT, Mommy!"

Another nice moment was walking back from the camp bathroom at night after brushing our teeth.  We looked up at the stars and couldn't believe how many we could see.  We all put our arms around each other spontaneously and kept walking to our camp site.

And now to the crazy moment.  There's always got to be one, right?  And this was completely my fault.  Usually my husband packs up the tent and the trunk while I pack up all the bags and so on.  This time, of course, I had to do it all by myself.  I admit that by the end I was just stuffing things everywhere and shoving things into the trunk without being very careful.  And I hate to admit this, but as we were driving away from the camp I did notice the little red light on the trunk that said it wasn't shut all the way.  But we were about to stop for ice cream on the way home and it was only a minute away, and I told myself I would fix it when we stopped.  Unfortunately I forgot.

And then when I was on the highway, I suddenly remembered....because my trunk popped open and the cooler hit the highway with a loud crash.  And not just the cooler, but several bags also hit the road. 

I yelled, "OH MY GOD!" and swerved violently off the road.  I looked back at the kids, who were looking at me in wide-eyed shock.  "NOBODY MOVE!"  I said sternly, and then I ran out of the car to get everything off the road.  Thank goodness I wasn't on a busy road.

When I got back into the van, my daughter said, "Mommy, that was CRAZY!"

Yes.  Yes it was.  Note to self: never ignore a red light!  Most exciting trip home EVER.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins My Kids Love

Pumpkin Muffins

I love it when I find recipes that are healthy AND that my children love.  That doesn't happen very often.  These muffins don't have any white flour at all.  They are very moist and yummy, and we all love them.  I omit the raisins because my kids don't like muffins with bits in them.

From Smart Cooking by Anne Lindsay. Makes 15 Muffins

¾ cup Natural bran

¾ cup Whole wheat flour

¾ cup Granulated sugar

1½ tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp Baking soda

1 cup Raisins

½ tsp Salt

1 cup Mashed/canned cooked pumpkin

2 eggs Unbeaten (I beat them, because once when I didn't there were bits of egg white in the muffins.)

½ cup Vegetable oil (Crisco)

½ cup Plain yogurt or buttermilk  (I use Greek yogourt)

1. In bowl, combine bran, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda,

salt and raisins and toss to mix.

2. Add pumpkin, eggs, oil and yogurt. Stir just until combined.

3. Spoon batter into paper lined, or non-stick, muffin tins.

4. Bake in 400°F oven for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Do I Do With Them?

We all need things to do with the kids in the summer.  Here are some of our favourites:

  • bike rides (make the ride to a forest area and let the kids play there for awhile and it will last even longer)
  • picnic in the forest (let the kids play in a creek; bring wipes or an old towel; bring water and snacks and you can enjoy it more!)
  • mini-golf
  • bowling
  • ice-cream
  • library; get out some new books, graphic novels
  • try a new playground in a different neighbourhood
  • give the kids some loonies and take them to the dollar store and let them pick out some arts and crafts activities
  • water play: water gun fights, sprinklers
  • backyard play: bubbles, frisbee, soccer, boomerangs, chalk on deck, hopscotch, bocce, volleyball
  • get some neighbourhood kids together at the school for a game of road hockey or soccer
  • do a neighbourhood walk to a fun destination like a Chapters or a Booster Juice
  • go to a garden centre and enjoy looking at all the plants, flowers, and fountain or water features
  • go to an outdoor market and let the kids pick out some fruit or vegetables or a new kind of cheese
  • balloons can keep kids happy for hours
  • go look for frogs and dragonflies at a nearby pond
  • do a scavenger hunt for outdoor items like pine cones, heart shaped rocks, different kinds of leaves and so on
  • do backyard treat hunts
  • buy a new board game for rainy or really hot days
  • have the kids set up a 'store'; my kids love to do this with anything on hand such as a book store or a snack store (the best one they ever did was a pretend 'spa' in which they - voluntarily - gave me massages!)
  • build a fort
  • beach time - bring lots of sand and water toys to keep them occupied
  • camping
  • try to keep siblings from making each other crazy and make sure you add in some me-time!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy Canada Day! How Canadian Are You? Quiz

Maclean's has recently published a survey just in time for Canada Day.

You Can Do Anything You Want!

Last week it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks.  My days at home with my daughter, just the two of us, were about to be over!  She would be starting full-time school in September.  And soon her two brothers would be home for the summer.

I panicked.  My precious 1:1 time - almost gone?  How did that happen?  I needed to make the most of the time I had left.

I don't think I overdid it at all.  On one day alone, I took her to Tim Horton's, then for bowling, at which we had pizza and went on the bumper cars.  Then I took her to the Purple Pony for ice cream.  When we got home I was completely exhausted and all I wanted to do was lie on the couch with a book, but when my daughter asked me to play dolls with her I instantly jumped up and yelled, "Of course!  Let's do it!"

The only thing that kindof nags at me about that day is that my daughter beat me at bowling.  Fair and square.  Yes, she had bumpers and I didn't.  But...she is four years old, so....that pretty much cancels that out.  Oh well.  I just hope she had fun.

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's So Hard to Let Them Go, Isn't It?

My oldest child, my first son, is almost ten years old.  I find that he really wants to be independent already.  It's so difficult, because you want to keep them safe, but they also need to grow.  It's a very fine line, like everything else.

He wants to ride his bike to school, which I allow because he doesn't have to cross any busy streets to get there.  He loves being able to do this on his own.  I was talking with another mom about how she lets her child do this as well.  The husband jumped in, "And can you believe it?  She actually makes him phone her when he gets to the school!"

"That's absolutely ridiculous," I responded incredulously.  "I just go to the school and check that his bike is there so I know he arrived safely!"  Moms, eh?

But some of my son's friends live across busy roads, and now they want him to bike with them there.  I've had to do some safety training about how to cross the roads, and luckily he's cautious.  I hope he keeps that even when he's fifteen!  (He will, right?  Right?  Don't burst my bubble yet.)

Watching him bike away sometimes is hard. (Sometimes? Who am I kidding?  Everytime!)  He still looks so young and vulnerable.  Inwardly I rage at every car that drives too fast down our road, thinking, "Don't you know my son is riding his bike on this road?"

I remember when he was two, watching him walk over to Santa at a Christmas party.  I felt the exact same way.  I could tell he was scared (and who wouldn't be, walking toward a huge man dressed in red with a big beard?) but he walked over anyway.

I guess there will always be milestones like this; all you can do is hope you've prepared them properly.  Somewhat.  Hopefully.  I need a drink.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Anne Taintor Is Hilarious

what am I making for supper? why, sweetie, I'm making whatever the hell I want served with a side of eat it or starve

I dreamed my whole house was clean...

I love her captions so much; they make me laugh really hard.  Not that I can relate, or anything.  Because I can't.  No way.  Not at all.

Greatest Day of my Life!

This is the greatest day of my life!  I bought a plastic table cover for $8.00.  And it will be sooo worth it.

This was my life before:

1) launder tablecloth
2) beg children to please, please, don't spill anything on it for at least 30 minutes so we could have one meal with a clean tablecloth
3) barely smooth it over table before it is covered with chocolate pudding, spaghetti sauce, or covered in spilled milk
4) sigh
5) bravely remove tablecloth
6) add (while trying not to look at it) to large, unwieldy pile of laundry
7) return to #1

This is my life now:

1) launder tablecloth
2) cover it with the plastic cover
3) watch without any stress whatsoever as it is covered with food and drinks
4) make the kids wipe it off
5) smile

And the best part is that the plastic cover is just so classy!

Wintersleep at Burlington Music Festival 2012

Last night some friends and I saw Wintersleep at the Burlington Music Festival.  Wintersleep is an indie rock band from Halifax.  They were amazing! 

The festival had a great atmosphere.  It was a beautiful night.  The festival was mostly right on the waterfront.  The beer garden was right in front of the main stage; what great planning!  There were several sailboats anchored in the water.  There was tons of food and vendors.  There were many different music options all over the place.

As one of my friends said, it was nice to get out of 'Mommy mode' for a little while and enjoy some great music and a happy, lively atmosphere.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Proof that Baby Carrots...Aren't

I had heard that baby carrots weren't really mini at all; that they just took large carrots and cut them up.  Well, here's the proof.  We found this very large carrot in a bag of  supposedly 'mini' carrots.  It was a very exciting moment for all of us, which is proof that we all really need to get out more.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Great Song Lyric Quotes

Some of my favourites right now:

by Death Cab for Cutie

" as the flashbulbs burst/ she holds a smile/ like someone would hold/ a crying child"

Title and Registration
by Death Cab for Cutie

"the glove compartment is inaccurately named/and everybody knows it"

Of Monsters and Men

"the books that I keep by my bed/are full of your stories/that I drew up from/a little dream of mine/a little nightmare of yours" 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Second 25K - Sulphur Springs Trail Race 2012

I ran the 25K Sulphur Springs Trail Race held in Ancaster, Ontario on Saturday May 26th, 2012.  The weather was pretty much perfect; it wasn't muddy at all like last year.  There were several improvements made to the trails.  It was a little warm but not too bad.

I came in at 2 hours, 48 minutes.  This made me happy because I took 30 minutes off my time from the previous year.  I'm not doing the races for speed; I'm just happy to do the distance and enjoy myself.

Even though I was pushing the pace a bit this year, I still took the time to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the trails and I didn't completely push myself because I didn't want to get injured.

I saw several people trip on roots and I almost fell myself.  My friend broke his foot on a root, unfortunately.

I saw a male runner peeing right on the trail; he was standing beside a tree but the tree was literally on the edge of the path.  Hmmm...can women take a minute or two off their finish time for bathroom breaks that men don't have to worry about?

I only grabbed water from the aid stations.  I would have grabbed some food near the end if there had been any there, but there wasn't.  I don't know why.  I was glad I had brought some electrolyte tabs and sport energy beans in a pocket.  However, it's not easy to get small items out of a back pocket while you're running and I wouldn't really recommend it.  Although it's easier to face Martin Road if you have a little boost!

Overall it was a great race.  Beautiful trails, a personal best, and hey - the flip-flops with the race route on them are pretty cool too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Want to be Like Him, Too!

After a hike, I took my daughter and her friend out for ice cream.  They each got a large cone and we sat in the store while they ate.  They watched the male teenager behind the counter giving out ice cream cones and ice cream cakes to lots of different people.

Finally my daughter exclaimed, "Mommy!  I'm not going to be a Mom when I grow up anymore.  I'm going to be just like HIM!"

Forget raising another generation; who can compete with someone who has all the ice cream?

As we were leaving the ice cream store, we saw what looked like a bird with a broken wing on the pavement.  We were worried and so we went closer to check it out.  "Oh,"  I said in relief, "it's just two birds fighting."

My daughter remarked dismissively, "Oh, they must be brothers."

At least she'll have the ice cream.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

They Won't Be Like This When You're Here...I Promise!

We had a new babysitter over the other day to introduce her to the kids.  That was our first mistake.

We should have locked her in to a specific date without a visual of the children in question, and then just run for it the moment she arrived.

But no, I was trying to be a good parent by letting her meet the kids ahead of time.  I gave them a little lecture prior to her showing up about how they needed to behave.

I'm not sure what they were listening to, but it wasn't my 'behave or die' speech.

All three of them were sitting there like little angels until the doorbell rang.  Then all hell broke loose.

As I was trying to introduce the new babysitter, the boys started punching each other with wide sweeping left and right crosses.

Then they started running around and around the house (I instantly regretted that open concept floor plan).  At one point my son was hanging over the end of the couch while the other one slapped his butt vigorously.

I was trying not to die of embarrassment.  I was attempting to convey to the kids with a series of complicated facial expressions that they needed to start behaving yesterday but surprisingly they didn't seem to understand me.

I started stammering that they weren't usually like this and that she just needed to get to know them, although I was beginning to wonder if that was ever going to happen after this little display.

I tried to get things under control by telling them to get ready for bed.  My youngest immediately stripped and began running naked around the house.  I was glad we were starting to see some control happening.

When the door closed behind her, I rested my head on it for a few moments.  I was speechless.  I wasn't sure what had just happened!

I was only clear on two things.  One: we need to get out a lot more and hire babysitters every night of the week so the novelty wears off, preferably immediately, and Two: this was never going to happen because word would spread to every person of eligible babysitting age that my kids were irredeemably insane.  Fabulous!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Love Your Art! I Have Absolutely No Idea How It Got Into The Recycle Bin!

With three children in school, I receive lots of paper.  Work, tests, art, projects.  It's overwhelming, really.  I thought my laundry was overwhelming!  (Well, it still is...)

I do keep special pieces in a Tupperware bin.  The others I try to sneak into the recycle box.

I say 'sneak' because if a child finds one, there is one heck of a guilt trip happening.

"Mommy!  What is my picture doing here?  I made it for YOU!"

You see years of therapy bills ahead of you. 

You say, "Oh my gosh, how did that get in there?  It must have fallen in by accident.  Let's put it on the fridge at once!  You know, that big huge pile of artwork over there...yes, there actually is a fridge underneath it all.  But I'm sure there's room...somewhere."

Another mom I know told me that she puts unwanted artwork in pizza boxes!  I like it.  Why didn't I think of it?

It's getting complicated because now my oldest children are helping out with putting out the garbage and recycling.

I try to be a good recycler but occasionally, I admit it, I put things in the garbage.  As I do it, I whisper to myself, "This is a SANITY thing."

Sometimes sanity trumps recycling.  And for all you die-hard environmentalists, it's okay.  My sanity level is barely worth mentioning. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The No-Added Sugar Challenge - Another Epic Fail

In my newspaper, The Hamilton Spectator, there has been a series of articles about healthy eating.  The most recent one I read asked us to try to go without any added sugar for seven days.  This includes every possible kind of sugar and other things such as honey and maple syrup.

I thought I would see how I would do.  I was feeling pretty smug about it, to be honest with you.  I've been trying to eat very healthy foods lately.  I eat salads or vegetable soup pretty much daily.  I drink my coffee and tea black.

I still have treats, but I try to make sure they're not too bad.  I'll have maple syrup over fibre 1 cereal, or dark chocolate.  But I felt like I could try to avoid these things for at least a few days.  I've been really enjoying a snack of frozen fruit with walnut pieces on it, so I thought I could substitute that.  'No problem!'  I thought nonchalantly.

Anyway, I went to work feeling virtuous.  I sailed by the candy Easter eggs in the staff room and easily ignored the chocolates in the board room.  ('Pure sugar!' I thought to myself with disdain.)

I had an apple for my snack.  I had vegetable soup, nuts and a banana for lunch.  I was doing so well!  This was easy!

Then I had a Mento.  And it was all over.

I hadn't even lasted a day!  Not even 12 hours!

One small Mento and all my self-righteousness went down the drain, where it belongs.

Monday, April 23, 2012

50 Things Your Kids Should Do Before They're 12

My friend told me about this.  It's a bucket list for kids.  I'm not sure why the things are supposed to be done before they're twelve.  And I don't know what everything means.  What is sledging?  And how do you play conkers?

I don't know.  I do know that my kids have done most things on this list, which makes me feel like maybe I'm doing something right.  That's always nice, isn't it?   It's so easy to feel like you're making multiple mistakes with your kids.  My one son said an extremely inappropriate saying at the dinner table tonight in front of his friend.  This seems to be a fairly regular occurrence, so in many ways I feel like an 'epic fail' (as the kids would say) as a parent.  But at least I've introduced my kids to nature and luckily they've fallen in love with it.  They might never have perfect manners (who does?), but hey - they love a good hike!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Who's In The House?

There is a popular song out right now called 'Party Rocker in the House'.  The truth is that I don't even know if that is the right name.  I'm completely out of it.  I'm old.  I'm a parent.  What do you want?  That is what my kids call it, anyway. 

Well, the boys were having a great time coming up with other, extremely appropriate (aren't they always?) words to go with the song.  Their favourite was 'Party Pooper in the House'.  That struck them as very, very funny.  They are boys, after all.  These are the kids who think the word 'butter' is hilarious.  Any male probably doesn't need an explanation.  But for you girls out there, yes, it's because it has 'butt' in it.  All you have to do is say 'butter' and they roll around on the floor laughing.  Try it sometime.  Don't get them started on 'assembly', please. 

After seeing my boys laughing so hard, I told my husband that I'd just had an interesting glimpse into the male psyche.  He replied, "What male psyche?"

Anyway, my daughter wanted to get in on the action.  So she made up a song entitled, aptly enough, 'Princess Is In the House Tonight' and the words were, 'we're all going to be best friends forever and ever and all be happy together'.

Boys.  Girls.

Amazing.  Different!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Who's Stupid Enough To Fall Into a Giant Hole?

At my children's school, there is a little bit of forest around the playground with some trees and bushes.  And I do mean a little bit; it's a very small area.  However, the children have been told they aren't allowed to play in this area during school hours.  The rationale is that the children can't be seen so it's not safe.  I understand - I do.  But I think it's too bad that the kids can't play there.  The bushes and trees make a great fort with trails through it, and there are branches and stumps and things that inspire fun imaginative play.

However.  Safety comes first, I guess.

Then the boys started digging in the sand of the baseball diamond.  They had a great time.  They dug a huge hole in the sand and they played various scenarios with it.  I think you can see this coming, but now I hear that the school is going to hire a landscaper and change the sand into sod so no one can dig in it.

My son was upset when he found out about it.  He said with annoyance, "I mean, come on!  Who is stupid enough to fall into a giant hole?"

Unfortunately there are people out there who are stupid enough to fall into a giant hole.  You know who you are.  I mean, I'm not going to lie to you, it could be me.  But I would feel REALLY embarrassed for being so stupid!

And I understand the safety concerns that the school and the board would need to address.

But I also think that if we continue to sanitize the outdoors, why would kids want to play in it?  If we want them to be captivated by the outdoors and not be addicted to video games, we need to make them realize the outdoors is fun.

We need to relax the rules.  We need to let the kids explore!

Why not think outside the box?  We could have an area with a little fence around it in which children could dig holes.  We could have a monitor watch the kids in the itsy bitsy tree/bush area. 

Let's let the kids have a little fun, people!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Who's The Parent Here?

I remember the exact moment I had the epiphany.  I was in the park with my boys, and they were climbing this great big old tree with perfect, wide curving branches.  I remarked, "I used to love to climb trees, you know."

My oldest son said, "Well, why don't you anymore?"

I thought for a second.  He's right.  Just because I'm an adult, that doesn't mean I should stop doing the things I love to do.  So I hopped right up in the branches and climbed way above my boys (not that I'm bragging, or anything).  I started being a bit obnoxious, yelling, "Wow.  What a great view up here!  Look how high up I am."  My sons probably regretted encouraging me at all.  But I loved it.

Yesterday the boys and I were playing at a creek.  The boys walked in the creek and threw sticks and rocks in the water.  We all practiced walking along fallen logs, which I especially love.

I've also started playing at the playground.  I think, 'Why sit on the bench and watch when I can be part of the fun?'

So I swing on the swings and climb on the climbers.  Once I was standing at the top of a climbing structure when an adult walked by with his dog.  He called to me, "It's hard to tell who are the kids and who is the adult!"


You're Okay. I Promise.

I was in the schoolyard when the bell rang.  A little boy in my daughter's JK class started running to get in line.  He tripped and fell.  He was crying because he'd skinned his knee.  His parents must have left or were far away, because no one was comforting him.  So I went over to him and rubbed his back. 

When he looked at his knee and saw a little bit of blood, he became even more upset.  I said encouragingly, "You'll be okay."

He looked up at me and choked through his sobs, "But what if I'm not okay?"

It broke my heart.  Instantly I assured him that I knew he would be okay, that I was positive.

That seemed to make him feel better.  I passed him along into his teacher's hands and went on to work, thinking sometimes we all need someone to let us know we'll be okay.

The Man Hug

I've said before that my nine year old son won't let me hug him anymore at school.  I was hugging him this morning at home, thinking he really needs affection since he's older and doesn't often sit on my lap anymore.  I was really getting into it, holding him tightly and cuddling, trying to make up for it.  I was thinking we're at home, which would obviously make it acceptable.  I was thinking my poor, affection-starved boy must be thrilled that his mom is giving him some love.

However, as always I turned out to be completely clueless.  Why is it we know everything until we become parents ourselves?  He endured a few minutes of my enthusiastic hug, and then he stepped away from me so we no longer had body contact, thumped me briskly a few times on my back, and muttered, 'Man hug' before walking away.

I was speechless.  A 'man hug'?  Really?  How is that even in your vocabulary?  But mostly I was thinking, 'You do not 'man hug' your mother'! 

There's got to be a way around this.  I will figure it out.  I'll get back to you when I do.  (Don't hold your breath.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March Break Fun!

We had a hockey tournament in Niagara-on-the-Lake during our March Break.  The hockey was an exciting roller coaster ride of emotions.  And yes, there was a moment when I wanted to smack one of the other parents.  With deep love, of course.  But I took a deep breath and refrained.  And there were moments that took a few years off my life.  But there were also exhilarating times. 

The team bonding was even better.  Getting to know all the parents and children more was the best part of the whole tournament.  It was like a mini-vacation because we went to Niagara Falls as well, which is always fun.

We had a great moment one day in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  My husband and I went to a winery and did some wine-tasting while the kids ran around outside among the vines.  Then we took them to the park after a stop in town to buy chocolate and coffee.  It was a beautiful day; the sun was shining.  The kids were playing happily on the playground.  My husband and I were sitting on a bench.  I was eating chocolate, and it was good chocolate, too: dark chocolate almond bark with sea salt.  I highly recommend it.  It's a fabulous combination.  I was drinking my coffee between bites of chocolate; enjoying the sunshine on my face and the breeze in my hair.  It was a beautiful thing.

As a parent I've learned to take advantage of every moment like this, because you know that any second the kids will start fighting or someone will fall and start crying.  Or one of the kids will give the other one a wedgie, or a noogie.  Maybe that's just my kids.  Anyway, you have to take it all in and save it up as a great memory.  Ahhh.....

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mom of a Goalie

My oldest son has decided he wants to be a goalie full-time, so now I am officially the mom of a goalie.  And let me tell you, it's a lot harder than being the mom of a player.  That's my experience, anyway, having had it both ways.  Whenever a goal is scored, other parents look at you.  They don't look at the parent of the kid who didn't challenge the opposing player on the breakaway who scored the goal.  They look at you.

And it's much more nervewracking to be the mom of a goalie.  I'm basically a basket case.  It has got to get easier.  Tell me it gets easier!  Sometimes I literally can't watch the game.  I have to restrain myself from yelling, "Protect the goalie!"  And: "Where's the D?"  (Notice the hockey lingo I just toss out so casually now.)  I do yell things like, "Go, go, go!"  And: "Get it, get it, get it!"  (I'm pretty articulate.)

Maybe other mothers handle it better than I do.  But I remember a parent one year whose son was goalie for a game, and the score was 10 - 0 against his son.  I saw his face at the end of the game and he looked ill.  He passed a hand over his forehead and said he needed to go home and have a drink.  I completely understand his reaction.

I think every hockey parent should have a child who plays goalie.  Just once, so they can see what it's like.  And to have their child get shelled, so they can develop some empathy.

Maybe then we wouldn't have parents still cheering loudly and obnoxiously when their team is already winning 7 - 0.

Maybe we wouldn't have parents who jump up and run down to the glass and pound on it when their child gets a goal.

I'm all about cheering for the team, and the players.  But even when we're winning now, I stop cheering if the lead gets too large.  It's about sportsmanship, and not running up a score.  What does that teach the kids?  A win is a win; does it have to be a massacre?  And I think about the other goalie, and the other goalie's mom.  And I cheer for both sides.  A good save is a good save, and a good play is a good play.  Did I mention we're playing in houseleague, and not the NHL?

Today was very stressful because not only was it a playoff game for my son, but then he was called up at the last minute to play goal for an older league.  When he was on the ice with the older and literally sky-high boys, he was honestly half their height.  He looked like a midget.  I have never wanted to swoop down and lift him up and take him away with me more than I did at that moment.  He just looked so small.  Thankfully he's a laid-back kid and he doesn't seem to get stressed out at all.

I'm very proud of my son and I think he's an amazing goalie.  I'm glad he has found his niche and I think hockey is a beautiful game.  And now I need to go on a nice long run to try and relax! 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fun with the Flu!

All three of my children have just suffered through the flu.  And of course they didn't have it simultaneously; it was week after week after week.  I'm still suffering from sleep deprivation.  (I don't know how I did it when they were babies.  It was years of a big hazy blur in which my two main thoughts were: 'They're so adorable' and 'I'm so tired!')  Of course you want to be there for them so I would sleep beside them at their request. And then you're up taking temperatures and giving medicine and providing Kleenex and drinks of water.  And making soup and tea and giving crackers.  My daughter would be sitting on the couch, a miserable dripping mess, surrounded by piles of Kleenex higher than her head and still sniffling and looking pathetic.

It's funny how it changes your perspective, though.  I was particularly worried about my son because his cough sounded so horrible, and he didn't look good.  His colour was off and his eyes looked a bit glittery and he wasn't himself at all.  He would lie on the couch wrapped in a blanket.  This is my rough and tumble boy.  The boy who is never, ever, ever tired out.  The one who has so much energy he could power the whole neighbourhood!

One day he started acting out a little.  I was reading to him in bed and he started turning the light off and on even though I told him not to.  He wasn't listening to me.  Hmmm.  I started feeling cautiously hopeful.  Then he was fooling around and he fell off the bed.  Also he started making silly jokes.  It was undeniable.  He was better!  I was SO happy!  Finally he was back to his old self.  It felt fabulous.  Bring on the misbehaviour!

And I knew my four year old daughter was back to her old self when my husband started tickling her, and she responded in a way that just didn't seem to go with her glittery pink dress and her cute little ponytails tied with purple ribbon.  She instantly assumed an MMA fighting stance and yelled, "BRING IT ON, DADDY!"   My husband shot me a surprised look, but he kept tickling her.  Then she yelled even louder: "I'm going to take you DOWN!"

Ah, the joy of having older brothers!