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June 25th

It’s June 25th.  While other people are humming Alice Cooper, Miss C and I are listening to the Grinch – only six more months till Christmas.

At 2:44 this afternoon, Miss Q and Miss S returned to the nest. Needless to say this mama is content. The raccoons now have 10 glorious weeks to romp together before grade three, grade one and four-year-old preschool.

The day was an odd one for Miss Q. She and her friend were walking through the oak trees during recess when a crow fell off a branch and landed at their feet. Miss Q said the crow was bleeding from its beak and sort of breathing at first, but she didn’t know if it made it through the day once the janitor put it in a box. Chances are it didn’t.

I’m not sure what, if anything, one should read into a deceased crow falling out of a tree at an eight-year-old’s feet. But I can report: Miss Q wasn’t too happy about the experience. She said she was sad at first, forgot about it during the Fun Day events, and then remembered again when I was getting ready to mow the lawn this evening.

I gave her a hug and turned my attention back to the lawn – hey, people are all over blogs saying children should live like it’s 1970, I was taking it back to 1950. Actually, during my moment, my husband jumped in with a scientific explanation on why the bird appeared to be breathing when actually it was probably dead. No sarcasm: thank goodness for his biology degree.

Miss S saw the bird too, and said there was a lot of blood. Because Hope For Wildlife is one of their staple shows, the incident didn’t bother Miss S; she went to play with her friend on the monkey bars.

Miss S’s day started with a surprise announcement at 8:00 saying parents were supposed to come to school, decorate cupcakes and have a cup of coffee.

Okay, so I had read the note, but thought it was for the afternoon. A quick call to Granny, to see if she’d watch a feverish Miss C, and all was a-okay again. Granny dumped her freshly made pot of tea and umbrellaed over a-la-Mary Poppins in less than 30 minutes.

Reading books and hanging out with Miss S on her last day of kindergarten was a perfect way to end the year. Awesomer still because she won a book when her name was drawn during the morning announcements: Junie B. Jones.

Even though the attendance portion of their report cards teaches me we could improve upon our punctuality, this year can go down in the books as a complete success.

Miss Q found a kindred spirit in her teacher who, like Miss Q, loves art and animals. Miss Q has never been encouraged to draw so many pictures, write so many stories; or had anyone write so many nice things about her.

Miss S, too, had an amazingly supportive teacher who had the wisdom early on to give Miss S space to quietly figure out kindergarten. Because of her guiding hand, Miss S blossomed into a confident, spunky, ready to take on the world five-and-a-half year old.

So now the summer stretches in front of us, with camping and swimming lessons on the horizon.  Other than remembering to pack snacks for regular feedings, the trio and I are ready for everything!

Mum vs. Moth

It all began, as it usually does, the moment my husband retired to the den, leaving me upstairs with the trio who were supposed to be dreaming of sugarplums.

Cue the moth.  Mothman, actually.  When the first calls for help were transmitted, I did what any mum who was sinking into the first kid-free moments of the evening would do: called back, “You guys need to go to sleep now.”

“There actually is a giant bug in there.”  Miss S was suddenly by my side, back against the living room wall, looking sideways at the dark hall.

Putting down my tea I lumbered off the couch.  “Seriously?”

“Yes!” declared the Greek chorus.

“Okay, just stay on your beds, where is it?”

“It’s a giant moth.”

All thoughts of playing catch and release flew out the window when I saw the dark oval shape perched on their white curtain. They were right, the moth was massive; at least as long as the key to our van, and thick. “Why didn’t Daddy deal with this?”  He had been in their room no more than five-minutes before. Mothman looked like he’d been hanging out for five-hours.

“We told him, but he didn’t believe us,” Miss Q replied.

Convenient, I thought sizing up this latest motherhood challenge.  Deciding this was no time to be faint of heart, I opted for a combo trap: barehand + mug. Fast, simple, and I’d be back on the couch lickety-split.

I didn’t factor in wingspan.  The moment I dumped Miss Q’s bottle cap collection out of the mug, the lepidopteran took flight. Right at my head.

Survivor’s instinct made me duck… and yelp.

Two-thirds of the trio screamed from their beds.  The other third screamed from the hall closet.

With the option of trapping the fuzzy night flyer quickly evaporating, I went for the big guns: the fly swatter.  If I could momentarily stun it and then toss it out the window to a passing owl, the circle of life would be complete.

Predictably, my departure from the bedroom was met with panic.  Three escorts flanked me, as I strode to the kitchen. “Remember when we bought that for Daddy?” Miss C asked.

The inaugural swat and where was he?  Oh yeah, blissfully unaware that the three girls he’d left snug in their beds were now enjoying ring-side seats to Mum vs. Moth.

Back in the bedroom, Monsieur Moth was now resting comfortably on the wall above Miss Q’s bed.  She climbed her ladder.  “Hi Mothy,” she said.

The phrase Say good-bye to your little friend, seemed a tad harsh for the moment, but when, once again, the glowing eyed creature flew at my head, the game was on.

Waiving the flyswatter like Zorro falling off his horse, I found myself being simultaneously pushed out the door by two girls, fleeing like they were in the middle of a ‘B’ movie.

The last time I saw him, Mothman was flying through the whirring fan blades, dipping once, then regaining altitude; his wings pumping madly.

After collecting ourselves, the uninvited, now, missing guest became a teachable moment.  “If you didn’t have piles of stuff on your shelves, the moth would be easier to see…”

“Maybe it’s in my hair.” Miss Q laughed.

“Your hair is light brown, that moth was dark brown, we’d see it,” Miss S informed her.  Once her bed had been given the all clear, she’d emerged from her cocoon in the closet.

“I thought you didn’t like him?” I asked my perky eight-year-old.

“I was only scared once you started screaming and ran.”

“Yeah.” The ancient Greek chorus was back.

A final sweep of the dollhouse and I was almost convinced he’d been a hologram.  “Okay, sorry pals, I don’t know where he is.  Goodnight.”

“Mama I’m scared,” Miss S declared, as I left the room.

“Of the moth?”

“No Big Foot.”

“Big Foots don’t live in Victoria.”

“But they live in Tofino.”

“No they don’t.”

“You can’t say that for sure because you don’t know.”  And there it was: Miss Q, upping her mental game.

Clearly the fact her mother had just fought a mythical moth and lost was, well, lost on my little realist.  Immature Mum wanted to retort, “You’d have a better chance of having a bear walk through your campsite than a Big Foot in Tofino,” but thankfully she held her tongue and sang, “Goodnight.”

Suffice to say, camping next month will be interesting.

Miss C’s Songbook

The minute I start the engine, the sing-offs begin.  Lately it’s been Miss C vs Madonna.  The song?  Borderline.  Though I can’t hit my buzzer and spin around in my chair, Miss C definitely holds her own to Madge – there’s no constraining her lungs with a five-point harness.

Couldn’t be more perfect.  Except Miss C is three.  She doesn’t own a cone bra, but she knows most of the lyrics to Boom Clap, Everything is Awesome and What Does the Fox Say? – the latter is encouraged by a book.

Sure it’s darn cute to have my personal ghetto blaster belt,”Cuz you keep on pushing my love over the borderline…” as I shop the aisles of Costco.  But all I can think of is: how far we’ve strayed from Fred Penner, Sharon, Lois & Bram, Raffi, and Charlotte Diamond.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s comforting to be reminded that this blonde haired, blue-eyed beauty is this brown haired, hazel-eyed mother’s daughter.  Yes, it’s true, I have been known to let my inner songstress loose.  Like her mother, Miss C picks up songs really fast.  Unlike her mother, once she gets an earworm, she needs to let the whole world hear… maybe she and Barry Manilow should collaborate.

Though we’ve strayed, Fred, Sharon, Lois, Bram, Raffi and Charlotte aren’t forgotten.  Last Canada Day we sat on the lawn of the legislature and watched Charlotte Diamond, the Canada Day before it was Fred Penner.  We all saw Raffi in concert.  But now I feel like I’m defending the nostalgic music of childhood, when really, I should be saying I’ve dropped the age-appropriate music ball.

I have.  Poof.  Call it third child syndrome, or call it mama trying to keep up with the outside world, but somewhere between Miss Q and Miss C, I became sloppy.

Of course, the moment I let my guard down, and start listening to Top 40 in the morning, I have a child who is a natural songbird.

And while Miss C starts spreading the news, her sisters, are there to flash their jazz hands.  Unlike their father who turns off the radio the minute the song hints of country, they haven’t met a genre they didn’t like.  Full disclosure: I haven’t introduced them to punk or heavy metal, but they were dancing to Chicago’s rock ballads last night.

As with everything in childhood, there’s always room for some good ol’ fashioned toilet humor.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Miss S has relabeled Uptown Funk: Uptown Monkey Butt.

This morning she looked up from her toast and asked, “Is he saying ‘sexy pony’?”

“No, it’s ‘if you’re sexy than flaunt it’.”

“Oh, sexy pony,” she cackled.

For the record: life in our house hasn’t deteriorated so much that my five-year-old knows what ‘sexy’ means.

So what’s the remedy for a house divided: 1/3 preschool; 2/3 elementary school?  Keep it clean, but introduce them to a little of everything, I suppose.

Yesterday, as I drove them all home, I popped in Charlotte Diamond.  Miss Q’s grade two class sang Each Of Us Is A Flower in the spring concert, so she was excited to hear the CD again.  When La Bamba started to play there was silence, then giggling as they all chortled, “La bum ba.”

Is nothing sacred?

And so, I have to reconcile, once more, that Miss C is not getting the same childhood as her sisters.  But then again nothing stays the same, and if it did, we’d all miss out on: Uptown monkey butt, uptown monkey butt.  Uptown monkey butt, uptown monkey butt

 

One More Month

Okay Littles, it’s June. Let’s finish the school year strong.

I know, I know, finding a different outfit for five consecutive days in June turns you into Goldilocks: too hot, too tight, and too butt-cracky. But I promise, come July you can wear pajamas or stare into your clothes drawer for the entire day if you want. Pinky swear, you can – I won’t say a word.

You know what else you can do? Here, I’ve jotted down some measurable and achievable ideas:

1) We will not “accidentally” push our sister off the stepstool while brushing our teeth.

Even when I stagger your brush times, like baby raccoons you end up seeking each other out. Cute, until there’s blood.

2) We will wake like Snow White.

Does she hide in her cozy covers trying to block out the light or growl at the animals?

3) We will eat like Garfield.

He never flops his head onto the table and moans, “I just don’t know what I want to eat.”

4) We will skip out of the house like Wally and the Beaver. Too ancient a reference? How about we just hold doors open for our fellow sister?

I’m not saying your dear ol’ mum’s innocent in this morning melee. Getting out of bed before 7:30 might help; so would not rewarding you with Paw Patrol on days we’re ready early – I don’t know how you squeaked by without late-slips this morning.

Then there’s the business of packing decent lunches. Sure there was some tough navigation when you found ice cream cones filled with Nutella back in January, but in my defense, compiling 2 lunches and three snacks (depending on the day) five days a week for ten months is like an Abbot and Costello routine: Who’s getting the last granola bar? What’s going to happen if I don’t give you a vegetable/fruit? I don’t know if we have any bread.

I also promise to do less with your hair. If Toddlers and Tiaras has taught me anything, it’s knowing that when your kids are choking on hairspray, it’s time to quit. But fair warning: if the lice notices return, so do the updos.

In case you haven’t noticed, and for the record, I’m more of a natural consequences gal. I’m also a life happens kind of mum. So I’ll forgive the untimely bathroom breaks that leave us standing at the door, backpacks, shoes on; and you won’t find me yelling like a fishmonger because it takes you 30 minutes to put on a shirt.  But please know: being late is a terrible habit. It shows disrespect; that you think you’re more important than the person waiting for you.

So for the month of June, let’s keep our game faces on, our eyes on the 10 week summer prize and hold the late-slips at zero. We can do it.

Red Snapper

Well, it’s official. Miss S can now join me at poetry slams. My girl has learned to snap.

Her determination to learn this skill began during music. Her kindergarten class is learning a song for the spring concert. They have to move their arms up and down, snapping on the downbeat.

“I have to do this,” she said, doing three bicep curls.

“And snap?” I asked.

“Yes, but I have to do this too,” she said, doing the bicep curls again. Her fingers were pinched together like two chicken beaks. They didn’t move.

“Try to press the soft parts of your fingers together.” I demonstrated. “Then push your thumb towards the window.”

She watched, placed her fingers and pushed her thumb towards the window, but her fingers were too damp and she wasn’t strong enough to get a true snap.

“Keep practicing,” I told her, wondering how old I was when I learned.

Less than a week later, she proudly showed off her new trick. “I can snap and move my arms. Watch.” There she stood in our kitchen making sounds with her thumb and middle finger.

Miss S is now well on her way to snapping bottle caps, teleportation and keeping a beat during her kindergarten song. But above all that, she’s mastered the art of perseverance and that is the most beautiful sound of all.

For eight years children’s books have ferreted into our house. They’ve hidden in purses, and laid-in-wait in backpacks.  They’ve popped out of parcels and tumbled out of envelopes.

More than once I’ve given the stink-eye to a cover only to find a magical land hidden in the pages. Rarely have we found a book that no one likes. Having written that sentence, I’m actually not sure if we’ve ever found a book that absolutely no one in our house will touch.

While Miss Q hunkers down with stories of magic, unicorns, friendship, and animals, her younger sisters are all over the map.

Thanks to Miss Q, Miss S and Miss C were introduced to heavy subjects like Harry Potter and Monster High early in life. They’ve listened to Charlotte’s Web, The Wizard of Oz, and multiple Judy Blume books long before they knew how funny Fudge’s mum’s declaration of “eat it or wear it” really was.

The first series of books Miss S really sunk her teeth into was The Sister’s Eight. These nine books by Lauren Baratz-Logsted are about sisters, octuplets, born on the eighth day of the eighth month, whose parents disappear. Each month one of the sisters gains a power. Each book covers one month and captured Miss S in a way only she can explain.

Miss S was so smitten by these books that on her last school report card she gave her birthday as August 8th – the same day as the sisters.

Now that the series is over, Miss S has been flitting around our library, bouncing from Wonder Woman to Little House on the Prairie. But, what none of us knew is she was holding out.

There was one book Miss S secretly hoped would arrive.  One book she’d seen on a book fair flyer, mentioned to me in passing, but never seemed truly serious. Yet, all along, it was the one book she knew she had to read.

Enter Captain Underpants.

Yes, sigh, how could we have gone eight years without this beaut crossing our paths? Eight years of potty humour freedom down the drain.

My mum broke the seal, arriving last night to babysit with six gently used books in her hands.

Miss S’s eyes almost fell onto the floor with her mouth. “CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS,” she cried, taking the four underpant books.

“You have to start with the first one,” my mum encouraged.

To be fair, my mum had asked if I wanted the books before she came over. I typed, “Sure!” Not realizing four letters and an exclamation mark of permission would lead my middle daughter down the path to cray-zee.

I returned from 1.5 hours of work to find my Miss S sitting on the couch in her underwear.

“Well, we read the whole book,” my mum said.

“I know what I’m bringing for show and tell,” Miss S told me.

“What?”

“CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS.”

I apologized in advance to her teacher this morning.

“Why, is her show and tell alive?” Mrs. P asked suspiciously.

“No, she has Captain Underpants in her bag.”

Turns out, Miss S is on trend with the boys in her class who have recently learned to spell. Pictures of poo and the word poo are rampant in division nine.

Books two to four sit on our coffee table, and I see there are another seven in the series by Dav Pilkey. Clearly we’ve got a lot to learn about Captain Underpants, Professor Poopypants and the rest of the rag-tag crew.  One can only hope The Captain is flushed from our systems by the time Miss C reaches kindergarten.

If not, I will take pride in the fact the littles love books; and find comfort in the knowledge gleaned from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: Well behaved women seldom make history.

200px-Captainunderpantscover

It goes without saying, we will do anything for our children.  But when a friend goes to great lengths for your child, it means so much more.

A couple of years back, when our backyard neighbours’ daughter was cleaning out her room, Miss Q received four of the five books of Vicki Blum’s fantasy unicorn series.  The series doesn’t have an overarching name, but it follows a girl named Arica and her friendship with a unicorn named Wish. Back then, my husband and Miss Q read book one together and the incomplete series was shelved for older days.

Miss Q started reading the series this month, by herself.  Unicorns are her new favourite.  Don’t worry, she hasn’t turned her back on horses, cats and any other animal that crosses her path, but the mythical creatures now have top billing.

Wish Upon a Unicorn and The Land Without Unicorns appeared with Miss Q this week.  Exhibits ‘A’ and ‘B’. “I’ve read the whole series, and I sort of know what happens after the first book, because they tell you in the third, but I don’t really know…”

“So you need the second book?”

“Yes.”

It is here where I admit I have no idea what my child has been reading.  She and I could have endless conversations about the first four Harry Potter’s (5 to 7 seemed too dark and angstful to let her read) but unicorns?  This is foreign territory.

In my youth I was not a horse girl.

CM UnicornThe quest to find book two, The Shadow Unicorn, began.  I started with one of our local bookstores.  The woman there told me it was out of print.

Our neighbours didn’t have book two either.  Mrs. K suggested I try a used book store. But before I could follow up on that lead, Mrs. K had emailed one of them on my behalf.

She called across the backyards yesterday afternoon to say it was there and on hold under her name!  Within 24 hours of starting the quest, I found myself in Russell Books paying $1.99 for The Shadow Unicorn. 

When you move into a neighbourhood, the house and the yard might be perfect, but the neighbours are always the wildcard.  From the day we moved into our house ten years ago to present day, Mrs. K and her family have made us feel so welcome with their kindness.  They are the best neighbours we could have asked for.

Now, thanks to Mrs. K, Miss Q has a complete set and has started re-reading book one.

Apparently I ordered these incorrectly. Book One is Wish Upon a Unicorn Book Two is The Shadow Unicorn Book Three is The Land Without Unicorns Book Four is The Promise of the Unicorn and Book Five is A Gathering of Unicorns

Apparently I ordered these incorrectly. Book One is Wish Upon a Unicorn Book Two is The Shadow Unicorn Book Three is The Land Without Unicorns Book Four is The Promise of the Unicorn and Book Five is A Gathering of Unicorns

If you’re looking for another great unicorn book, check out this graphic novel:

Unicorn Book CMMiss Q has laughed her way through it four times this week.

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