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Aside from the odd glitter fiesta, my life is pretty vanilla, solid, stable. These are all words that should bring clam to one’s psyche. For the most part, they do. Though there is another side to me that yearns for living outside the box and wouldn’t mind stepping on a few cracks along the way.

I credit a portion of my vanilla-happiness to my partner in crime, my husband, who shares my sense of humor and supports me in most everything I do. I write “most” because there are times I serenade him with:

Did you ever know that you’re the devil? The evilest man in all the world? I could fly higher than an eagle, but you clipped my wings and I fell to earth.

Bette Midler, eat your heart out.

However, even the most annoyingly logical of husbands can surprise you on occasion. So can your childhood friends.

They are the reason I find myself having a million heart attacks as I step way outside my comfort zone in this, the infancy of my 37th year.

Mrs M, emailed me in February. The gist of her email was: Do you want to fly anywhere in the world Westjet flies with me? She works for Westjet and after a crappy winter, weather wise, the owner of the company gifted his entire staff with two free tickets. Now, that is a company philosophy that I can get behind.

YES! I wrote back, shaking.  I was having an out of body experience. How could I leave my children? I couldn’t turn down this opportunity.

We can’t go to Disneyland, our children will kill us, but we can go anywhere you see a red dot on the screen, she wrote back.

I studied the screen. There were a lot of red dots on a lot of exotic places. Places I always dreamed of going; places I’d forgotten were exotic.

Never mind our children, the safe bet was Disneyland. Mrs M and I had a hilarious time there in 1996: two carefree teens, fresh from high school with Fantasyland at our fingertips. But now we would be 37. Anything carefree had to involve some careful planning. Namely: who would look after my children?

My husband said ‘yes’ way too fast for my still spinning brain to process. There I was waiting for him to lower the boom; to clip my wings and make me fall to earth; and he gave me the easiest ‘yes’ to ever emerge from his lips. He’d take a week off work; take care of the kids, no problem. Where were we going?

Where were we going? Gulp. There I was, hoping my husband would throw a flag on the play and let me take the easy road, sorry I can’t leave my children, but oh-no, it was full steam ahead.

After salivating over the red dots, I had my favourite: San Francisco. Didn’t hurt that the opening to Full House was filmed there. Could I be more immature? Okay, adult wise, it was in the same time zone as my littles and the plane ride was quick.

Side note: I dislike flying. Ever since my plane to Costa Rica (in 2000) flew through a thunderstorm, I have much preferred roadtrips and boats. Ironically, Mrs. M, dislikes swimming, my profession, so we make a great pair.

Mrs. M and I narrowed the red dots to New York, San Fran, and Vegas. All amazing places, but I let Mrs. M choose, they were her tickets.

She chose Las Vegas. As a flight attendant, she’s flown in and out of Vegas but never stayed. She’d also heard it was cheap and fun from passengers.

How could I argue with that?  Sorry, Danny Tanner.

As our Mama’s week marches closer, I have to remind myself to breathe. I can’t prevent the big things from happening while I’m gone: major earthquakes. Nor should I fret upon the small things: girls going to school with daddy hair.

The truth is: I don’t need a break from my children and I’ll miss them something awful. For some, leaving your kids for an adult vacation is natural.  For me it feels like I’m petting a cat backwards.

However, when you’re a mum with littles, opportunities like this only come around a handful of times, if ever. So even if I lounge in bed, order room service and catch up on TV, all week (I won’t) I’ve got to go.  After all, how can I tell my girlies to grab life by the horns if I don’t practice what I preach?

So, here’s to doing one thing that pushes you outside of your comfort zone.  And here’s to adventure!

Miss S the Red.

Will it come out?  Am I sending her the wrong message?  Or is individuality a good message?  Four?  I’m considering doing this on a four-year-old?  At least it’s not for a pageant.

The turmoil churned in my head as my smiling blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty narrowed her eyes.  “I said, I want to dye my hair red,” she repeated.

“Why?”

“So I look like Ginny Weasley.”

“Okay,” I said, faster than any worry could react.  She wanted to look like a fictional character.  What was the harm in that?  It wasn’t like she asked me for a shell bikini like Ariel, or an Olaf tattoo.

Our girls, all three of them, are obsessed with Harry Potter.  They pretend they live in Hogwarts.  They use their wands to cast spells upon each other, and fly mail attached to a stuffed owl around their room. Even their Barbies get into the act:

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Harry Potter (formally Shaving Magic Ken), Hermione (formally Belle), and Ginny Weasley (formally Ariel).  I was tired of watching them play with a naked Ron and Harry.

As characters go, Ginny is a decent role model for a girl to have. She’s the younger sister, she goes to school, is adventurous, and (ugh) falls in love with Harry. Thankfully, we haven’t gotten to that book yet.

Since I didn’t want to make dying Miss S’s hair the holy grail of her childhood; something she’d fixate on forever.  And I’m not opposed to hair dye.  (Don’t currently do it, but have dabbled in it in the past.)  I bought the Kool-Aid.  Cherry flavoured.

I picked Kool-Aid because I didn’t have any beets, and didn’t want to use a boxed jobby on my baby’s tendrils. I also heard Kool-Aid washes out.  Lord, I hope it washes out.

Most blogs said to soak the hair for 30-minutes.  This wasn’t meant to be long-lasting, so I dipped, poured and massaged, but didn’t soak Miss S’s hair for any length of time.

“I’m Ginny!” Miss S declared, eyebrows raised with devilish delight.

Her hair was definitely a strawberry red.  Even with my dipping, pouring and massaging, the colour saturated her blond hair.  It suited her.

When Miss S was a baby we thought we saw red in her hair.  A factoid, Miss Q brought up after I finished blowdrying.   “I told her you thought she’d have red hair, so that’s probably why she wanted to dye it.”

Half way through my “words have power” talk, Miss S reiterated that she actually wanted to look like Ginny.  They still have power, Miss Q…

Though tasty, Kool-Aid sort of freaks me out. A one-year-old Miss S drank some and then peed red. And now it’s dried her hair out, so there is definitely deep conditioning in her future. Oh, and it did this to my hands:

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Red IS Best.  My hands are back to normal thanks to a healthy scrub with toothpaste and straight baking soda. Fewf.

“I don’t have to dye my hair, Hermione and I have the same colour,” Miss Q told me.  She wasn’t jealous, more curious, and happy her younger sister was finally looking the part of this character she insists upon playing.

For the record, my husband was the one who dyed Miss S’s hair first.  For crazy hair day at her preschool he dipped her pigtails into permanent red and green dye.  It was cut out by a summer haircut shortly after.

So why was I so nervous about this go-round?  Because of all the reasons above.  Because Miss S is more aware at four-and-a-half.  Because it’s nice that she glows every time someone compliments her hair; but what message does that send?  Do things for shock and you get compliments?  Your blond hair wasn’t good enough?

But perhaps those are adult questions.  For a four-year-old with Kool-Aid in her hair, it’s an extension of play.  “I’m pretending I’m on a train to Hogwarts,” Miss S told me as I drove her to preschool this morning.

If only we owned a flying car.

 

 

 

 

There was a splash.  Not a large kerplunk.  Just a partial dip complete with a self-rescue.

Yes, sigh, Miss C fell into the toilet.  But when I think long and hard, I didn’t expect toilet training with her to go any other way.

Part of the challenge is her mum.  I hate this stage of childhood.  It takes too much out of me.  All the pee checks, intimate moments in public bathrooms, fights with automatic toilets, loud hand dryers, jumbo seats.  “Don’t touch anything,” are always the first three words out of my mouth when we enter a public restroom.

To be perfectly judgy: I wish other mums subscribed to that motto.  Yesterday we were at a restaurant and there were two little girls, straws in hand, making a game out of crawling in and out of the bathroom stalls like they were in an army bootcamp.  To add to the ick factor, both girls popped the straws into their mouths after digging into the bathroom grout.  No, their mum didn’t bat an eye.  I’m so NOT that mum.

Watching my mama friends as they point out trees that need watering to their gleeful sons makes me suspect toilet training boys might be easier.  With girls there’s pants and socks and shoes and, well, the whole “give back to nature” seems to fall short.

Miss Q and Miss S were bribed with chocolate chips, sticker charts, and fancy pink Pull-Ups.  They also had the opportunity to “pee like a dog” in the cover of our own backyard, but it wasn’t the same as being at a beach and watering driftwood.

They enjoyed the chocolate chips, stickers and pink diapers; but didn’t perform like trained seals for them.  In fact, never once did either of them look down at their pink diaper and declare the pattern had disappeared or they felt cold.

In the end, time and cold-turkey were the only true yardsticks for success.

So now poor Miss C’s deprived of the pink diapers and is following her sisters down the cold-turkey path.

At first she was completely happy to start using the toilet like her big sisters.  Chocolate chips were munched after a successful trip.  I wasn’t feeling excessively grouchy about the hourly trips to the toilet. Nor was I grumbly about my sparkly-in-spots hardwood floors.  Harmony had been struck.

At first…

One day Miss C decided to forgo the small seat.  She wanted to use the toilet exactly like everyone else: on the big seat, no ifs, ands, or buts…even if she looked like a hummingbird perched at the edge of the Pacific.

Then the chocolates and stickers fell.  She wanted something bigger, something memorable.  If she was going to dance like a monkey, she was going to do it in style.  “Mama, I want to watch What Does The Fox Say?  Ring-a-ding.  Ring-a-ding.”

When you’re in the throws of toilet training you grasp at any carrot; especially if it’s quirky.

It was a slippery slope.

These days, What Does The Fox Say? rivals Let It Go.  I’ve had to move the location of the sing-a-long to the living room, after the deed is done, as the iPad’s placement in the bathroom on the now passé Mr. Potty was creating tension in the sisterhood – something about not everyone could see.

I’m not wishing for life to speed up; but I am looking forward to this stage ending.  One day I’ll have an area rug under my coffee table again. I won’t have to figure out how to squeeze an oversized box of diapers into the back of a stroller. And What Does The Fox Say? will fade to a kitchy song that we nostalgically reflect upon in thirty years.  That, or we’ll resurrect it at Miss C’s wedding.  Cue the foxes and toilet holograms floating around the room as she melts with embarrassment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, I Do It.

If your travels take you by our house during the day, you will hear the sounds of girls playing, disagreeing, singing, disagreeing (repeat).  You will hear one electrical appliance or another whirring, washing or spinning.  And you will hear our dog’s toenails click-it-y clicking across the hardwood floor as she navigates a path to her bed, weaving around doll clothes, My Little Ponies, and an occasional Monster High arm or leg.

If you happen to stop, and press your ear against a window or wooden door to listen to the rhythm of our life; the hum of humanity, you will hear it.  Yes, that’s it.  The screech of a two-year-old: NO, I DO IT.

Perhaps you didn’t have to press your ear that close.

We have entered the twos with Miss C, who is currently 29-months-old.  I wouldn’t call these months terrible.  They are more assertive, and independent, and funny, and willful than terrible.

For instance: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve arrived at Miss S’s preschool with a shoeless Miss C.  Fighting her for footwear?  Not high on my priority list for a short jaunt to and from school to pick up her sister; therefore she gets a natural consequence of cold feet, and possibly some satisfaction of pulling one over on her dear ol’ mum.

It’s not that I’m lazy, slack or exhausted.  Okay, I’ll give you exhausted. But as this is my third time sloshing through the two’s, I’ve really learned to pick my battles.  Especially since Miss C, like her sisters before her, has the golden ability to morph into a jellyfish: floppy, slippery with a snotty sheen, as soon as she doesn’t get her way.

NO, I DO IT, seems to be Miss C’s warning; her shot across the bow, telling her parents to back off.  Often it comes with a hand wave and body turn.  Unless she’s about to fall into the toilet, down the stairs, hurt someone or herself, my husband and I heed her warning and step back to watch the magic that is our determined two-year-old.

She can ride walk on her scoot bike, tuck her dolly’s in, dump ingredients when baking, and dress herself.  She’s quiet efficient at daily life.  Sure she’s got the benefit of older sisters to keep up with, but she could just as easily sit back and play the baby card.  Lord knows I’m the one clutching the remaining wisps of her babyhood with everything I’ve got.

But she DO IT.  So the other day, against all the warning bells from my cautious take on parenting, I let her put the cutlery away.  I cringed as I handed my exhuberant toddler the handle of a butter knife.

NO, I DO IT.  She refused to listen to my explanation on which direction the utensils pointed as she lay them in the drawer.

When she was finished, everything she had placed in the tray was pointing into the kitchen, where as everything I’d placed days before was pointing the opposite way; towards the backsplash.  “Why did you make them go that way?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” was Miss C’s sing-songy reply. “Because.”

When my husband’s grandma (Frances) was alive she used to turn all of her daughter’s (my mother-in-law’s) cutlery “the right way” around; which to her, Frances, meant everything pointed into the kitchen… just like Miss C had done… Coincidence?  Past life?  I digress…

I left Miss C’s cutlery work.  I don’t want to be that mum who undoes her child’s work because it isn’t “right”.

This isn’t to say I can turn a blind eye to everything my tenacious two-year-old does.  NO I DO IT comes at some pretty inopportune times.  Like when we’re in a rush to leave the house, and then Miss C insists on brushing her own teeth, or on bringing the biggest book from our home library into the car with her, as she did this morning before we left for field hockey.

Ugh.  Talk about a powder-keg moment.  One wrong breath and you’re locked into a jellyfish war with a girl who’s just trying to be like everyone else in the family.

Having a two-year-old in the house definitely slows the pace of life.  Miss C forces me to have time; patience; and keep my funny bone in tune.

But it isn’t all NO, I DO IT.  There are days like yesterday, when Miss C finally hit 25 pounds, meaning we could upgrade her car seat from a rear facer to a forward facer.  “I’m a big girl,” Miss C proudly declared.

“You are.  You’re just like your sisters,” we told her.

Less than five minutes into her inaugural forward facing ride she exclaimed breathlessly, “Watch out for all those cars, Mamma!”

I’ve got to watch out.  With her new pole position, the next, NO, I DO IT will be Miss C grabbing my car keys off their hook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Another Day?

Brace yourselves grumpy internet mom bloggers, another non-holiday is upon you: April Fools.  And while you’re frazzled and bemoaning the hype and pomp of monthly specials created by teachers, and or Hallmark, that are then fanned by over-zealous, too much time on their hands, pooing out rainbows mums, know that there is another side: mine.

Yes, I’m the one the internet warns you about: the mum with glitter and jazz hands.

But, unlike the Wicked Witch of the West, I’m not out to get you and your little dog. Nor am I out to shame you into baking, cutting, gluing or creating.

Life is busy, I know.  It’s a stretch to keep track of the big four: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Hallowe’en, let alone the rainbow of memos that flood into your home once you have school aged children.  Wear red for Valentine’s Day; pink for anti-bullying day; white, brown or black for the school musical; 100′s day, special foods day, Grandparents’ Day…  It adds up.

But here’s the thing, you have the power to say no, to pick and choose what your family partakes in.  Your kids won’t suffer.  They won’t.  Even if they announce that so-and-so’s Leprechaun left green footprints on the windowsill and a pot of real gold under a real rainbow, you still have the power to say, “Good for their Leprechaun” or “Maybe you should go live with s0-and-so’s family.”

This past St. Patty’s Day, I was sick, so my fun barometer was low.  The girls ate Lucky Charms for breakfast and I dropped green food colouring into the back of the toilet bowl while they were out with my husband.

While I was setting up my Leprechaun trick I wasn’t twirling the corners of my pointy mustache thinking:  Heh, heh, heh, the other parents are never going to match this.  I thought: This is going to be good.  And it was.

Being creative is part of my DNA.  I know there are others like me, others who enjoy adding purple, yellow and green food colouring to pancakes during Mardis Gras; leap at elaborate Easter Egg hunts; and watch Star Wars on May 4th. (May the fourth be with you.)

No, time isn’t always on my side.  But if it’s important, or I think it’s fun, I’ll make time.  Just because.  No evil Pinterest conspiracy theory here.

Life is short, people, so you might as well celebrate your authentic mum self.  Too Oprah?  Then just be the mum you want to be, and teach your children that each family has their own traditions; from going to church on Christmas to eating pie on March 14 (3.14).  You don’t have to hit them all, or rant about the ones you miss.

So on that note, since the saran wrap I placed on the toilet didn’t fool my husband, I’m off to wake the girls by shaking glitter on their heads and telling them it’s snowing. Happy April Fools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum Down.

Here it is: as a mum who’s been down and out with a fever and sore throat combo for the last 36-hours, read: sicker than she’s ever been in recent memory, the Nyquil commercial where the kids are lying in bed, declaring their mum is going to take them to the big game and the mall, thanks to the magic pill, is the last thing I want to be watching.  Never mind the ridiculous stereotypes of the boy going to the game, and a girl, who’s no older than our girls, going to the mall.

“So they can have a better tomorrow.”  Bah.

The commercial should say, “Hey Mums!  Pop one of our pills; become a lady of leisure for a day or two while your husband whirls the kids around the city.”

Husbands can manage running the household, so can seven-year-olds.  Here’s proof 2014 commercial makers:

11:30 Sunday morning, I’m sitting on the bathroom floor, knees against my chest, supervising Miss C, who has decide this is the moment she wants to start toilet training on the big potty.  I send an iPad text to my husband telling him he needs to come home.

He starts working on it.

In the meantime, Miss Q gets wind that Mummy isn’t feeling well.  Most likely tipped off by my request for her to pour me a glass of orange juice.  She walks in sheepishly handing me a glass-glass, saying it was the only one she could reach.

Then, feeling the power in our house has shifted slightly, she declares she’s in charge.  I teach her how to send her first-ever text over the iPad, telling her dad as much.

Miss Q’s first order of business?  Feed her sisters.

Out come the chocolate dipped granola bars (a big box jumped into our cart at Costco on Friday) and each sister gets two.  What do I care?  They’re being fed and loving the deviousness of it all.

Miss Q’s second order of business?  Read to her sisters.  She tells them to grab a book, loads them into the top bunk and half an hour of reading commences.

I lie like a flounder on the couch, not daring to move or turn on the TV, for fear the magic may end.

12:30, Miss Q’s reign as Queen of the Household is over.  She’s run out of things to entertain her sisters with, or so she says as her fingertips stretch casually towards the Wii controller.

Enter Nexflix and the second shift, a.k.a. my husband.

The remainder of the day/night is a blur of shivers, little voices and the odd pill or sip of orange juice passing my lips.  Thank goodness I trust my husband, that last sentence sounds like a line of script from 48-Hours Mystery.

The point of it all is: today, Monday, as the sun set on this side of the world, my husband had managed to keep our children alive without my help.  He fed them dinner, put them to bed, made them breakfast, and lunch, then took them for a Daddy Adventure that included ice cream, the ocean and a park where two of our kids zip-lined for the first time.  He also came back with plain, low-salt, potato chips for his feverish gal.

Clearly as mums, we don’t want to miss a moment of our children’s lives, but sometimes our body buckle to remind us a) to take care of ourselves; and b) why we picked our partners. Because of this guy, my partner in crime, my husband,  our daughters had a “better tomorrow.”  What a good lesson for them to learn.

Spring Break Rules

Discoveries at Willow’s Beach this morning:

1)  Wearing socks with Crocs is something we’ll have to ease Miss C out of this year.

2) Any carefully built sandcastle, or sand-Olaf will result in instant destruction – most likely at the hands of the person requesting you build them.

3)   Sand angels are just as good as snow angels – though the first will result in sand-scalp for the rest of the day.

4)   Throwing  rocks into the surf is fun, as long as everyone is out of the way.

5)   A piece of driftwood tossed into the waves makes a great target for the aforementioned rocks.

6)   It is easier to be a mountain goat in bare feet.

7)   Driftwood teeter-totters are ah-mazing, but danger still lurks.

8)   Splinters are inevitable when building a house out of driftwood.

9)   Mum’s clothes, it turns out, are an excellent place to wipe your sandy hands.

10) Salt air and sun cures all.

CM Footprint

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