Saturday, January 29, 2011

In Which I Make Bread.

We do our grocery shopping on Saturdays, so sometimes by Friday, we're almost out of food. Okay, not "food" really, but "food" as far as the kids are concerned. This Friday, I was out of everything that they might consider food. We didn't even have any bread. Luckily, I found this recipe hanging around on the computer desk and I had a couple of hours before I had to get dinner on the table.

[EDIT: I just realised the recipe in the photo is missing a step. (oops) After you let it rise for an hour, punch it down and form it to fit your loaf pan. Let it rise for another half hour before baking. Bake for 30min, at 350C]

Also luckily, I happened to have all this stuff.

And so...


My first attempt at making bread not only looked good, it tasted good!

Since it was my first try at baking bread, I didn't deviate from the recipe at all, but I think next time I'm going to add some ground flax seed and substitute at least one cup of whole wheat flour. It was so easy that I'm definitely going to do it again, especially since they asked for seconds.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is Is Just Me, Or Is This A Really Bad Idea?

Apparently, the Niagara Board of Education passed a vote to open the first low-income school on Tuesday night.

"Named the DSBN Academy, the school will be located temporarily at Empire School in Welland -- slated for closure in June -- although long-term plans for the school are to house it at either a Niagara College or Brock University campus.

With a focus on removing the poverty barrier that prevents students from obtaining their post-secondary education, the school will be the only one of its kind in Ontario.

The post-secondary prep school would offer a single-track curriculum of advanced courses to accelerate academic achievement for students from low-income homes. Plans for the school include an extended-day program from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., as well as breakfast and lunch programs, before-and after-school programs, and supports such as tutoring available on site. Upon entrance, each student is assigned to a teacher-adviser who will support them until they graduate."*

I think that the ideas for the programs they plan to run are sound; I have to question the implementation though. Is there really no way that they could offer these programs within currently existing schools? Does the board not realise that they will be stigmatising these kids? They will be marked, and feel marked, as the kids that go to "the poor school".

I would also like to know how this plan is "removing the poverty barrier that prevents students from obtaining their post-secondary education". Did I miss the part where they pay for University?

When I was growing up, we didn't have a lot of money. There were three kids in my family, my dad was going to school himself and my mum usually had more than one job. My mum made just enough money that even though we sometimes needed it, we didn't qualify for any kind of extra help. I wouldn't have even qualified to go to this school, though, because both of my parents attended University.

I am all for helping people who may be at a disadvantage, but I don't agree that this is the way to do it. This feels less like "helping" and more like a giant sociology project.

While I'm at it, can someone please explain to me why segregating by income level is any better than segregating by ethnicity?

*Full article in the St Catharines Standard

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Whaddaya Mean, The Internet's DOWN?!

If you had told me a year ago that being without internet for five days would feel like I was missing a limb, I probably would have laughed. However.

We were without internet for almost a week. It was surprisingly horrible. I'm not even a hard core blogger/surfer, and I was still bereft. I had no idea how many times a day I was on this thing. We don't have a phone book anymore; who needs one when you can just look it up online? Anytime we wanted to look up a number for take out, or find out who it is that plays Castle's mom, or who exactly it was who named their baby "Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily"... we couldn't.

Very limiting.

I blame my husband. I used to mock him for running to the internet every time he wanted some information; and now I'm the same way. It's amazing how used to something you can get without even realising it.

Oh - I know that I've mentioned my new love of Netflix and all it's lovely seasons and seasons of shows I haven't seen (Mad Men, I'm on Season 2 and completely in love with the clothes) and some that are awesome and I've never heard of (The Big C, which is surprisingly funny for a show about dying of cancer). Well, guess what else doesn't work when the internet's out?

The only good thing about not having the internet is that I've discovered Angry Birds.

Anyway - here's what I would have written about, had I been able, this week:

We had a playdate on Friday -- hastily arranged when the other mum and I realised, while waiting for the kids to come out of school on Thursday, that Friday was a PA day -- that had to be cut short because apparently, coffee accelerates my digestive system in a most unpleasant manner. I'll leave it to your imagination.

Beege has been chosen as one of the kids to do a speech for her school's speech writing festival. Which is great - don't get me wrong, it's nice to know that everyone agrees that she's as smart as I think she is. It is somewhat difficult, however, to sit a five year old down and get her to think of something coherent that she would like to say in one minute or less. Her first idea was to do it about her teacher. Turns out, that was his idea. So, moving right along, she decided that she'd like to talk about how lucky she is to have toys, and that she loves her family and that she likes school and that she likes polar bears and that snow is pretty and... you get the point.
We eventually narrowed it down to "Why I like school." I'll let you know how it goes.

Last, but certainly not least, our walk for the Ladybug Foundation is on Monday. Beege is totally excited. We actually managed to exceed our fund-raising goal! A mile won't seem that long to me, but I'm guessing it'll take us about an hour. (Her legs are short and she's easily distracted.) I even got us a couple of the Ladybug Foundation red scarves to wear as we walk. Her daddy took the day off so that he can be here to cheer us on when we get home and, hopefully, make us some lunch and hot chocolate. (*nudge,nudge*)

Hopefully, nothing contained in this post will anger the internet gods* and lead them to renew my banishment. I'm going to go knock wood and cross my fingers now.

*Special thanks to my husband, for figuring out the problem with our connection and fixing it, thereby saving me from my own insanity.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And Then I Lost It.

Today started out lovely. I woke up all on my own (by which I mean no annoying alarm clock or children jumping on my gut), which rarely happens. I made the kids breakfast. We read some books together. My Grandpa went off in an ambulance, but this time I was expecting it and I know it's an appointment at the hospital, not an emergency. Beege practiced some writing. Kee played dolls. I measured the girls for the princess costumes I'm going to surprise them with on "Princess Day". I even had a chance to make a cup of tea. Then I looked up.

It was 12:00.

I should have made lunch half an hour ago! Beege's hair isn't combed; hell, none of us were even dressed. I have to pee! Okay. Don't panic. They smell fear... just get up slowly, go to the bathroom and then make lunch. It will all be fine.

I stood up. I said, "I'm just going to the bathroom, and then we'll have lunch." Critical error. As soon as I said I needed to use the bathroom, Beege, who had denied needing to go potty all morning, jumped up and ran into the bathroom. Okay. Okay. It's still fine. Don't panic. I'll just make lunch first.

I made lunch, peanut butter for Kee and cheese for Beege. I got out her school clothes. I went back into the living room where Kee had climbed up onto the back of the couch and was throwing octopus arms across the room in my general direction. "Beege, hurry up in the bathroom, please. Kee! Get down from there!"

Okay. Lunch is on the table. Kee is hiding under the table, ripping pages out of my notebook. Beege is STILL in the bathroom. "Beege! Mummy NEEDS to use the bathroom, sweetheart!" I'll just pack the backpack and get their winter clothes ready to put on.

Finally. Girls eating lunch, I've finally gotten to use the bathroom, it's all good. It's 12:30. Okay. So we have to leave in 15 minutes, that's fine. It's all good.

I finally sit down to my lunch; cold tea. "Can you melt my cheese?" Sure. "Can I have some milk please?" Sure. "I wan appuh juice!" Okay. "I don like this cup." Right. "Mom, Kee doesn't like that cup." Yes, I know. Kee picked up her cup full of "appuh" juice and lobbed it at the couch, spraying juice everywhere. I got down on my knees to clean it up, abandoning my poor cold tea.

Time to get dressed. Beege, being extremely cooperative, gets herself dressed as fast as a 5 year old can. Kee, decides that today is the PERFECT day to run away from me as I try to wipe her poopy bum before getting her dressed to go to school. She insists on taking her clothes off after I've put them on, because even though I asked her five times if she wanted to dress herself she didn't.
After about 10 minutes of fighting her into her clothes, we're almost ready to go. So Kee launches herself at Beege, yelling "I'M GONNA HUG YOU!" and knocks her over. Beege starts crying, Kee starts crying. Me? I screamed. I balled my fists up at my sides, took a deep breath and screamed.

After this point, I think that I actually yelled everything that came out of my mouth, even though I didn't quite mean to. We actually got to school, miraculously, on time. I hugged Beege tight and told her how much I appreciated her being so cooperative today. "You're welcome, Mommy." Then I told her that I was sorry I'd yelled. "It's okay, Mommy," she said, patting my head. "You just need some time to be alone and calm down. Maybe you should play a video game." Thanks, kid.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Art Wall.

Inspired by Motherbumper's recent posts with her daughter's artwork, I'm going to put up a few of my own. First up -- Beege.

Last Tuesday, when my intestines blew up and exploded out my ass, I retreated to my bed to suffer alone (once the retching and sobbing in the bathroom portion of my day was over). It could have been a bleak day, had I not had these beautiful pictures from Beege, still posted on the dresser beside my pillow from the last time that "Mummy couldn't get up."

She said, "I drew pictures of things that make you happy, so that you won't get lonely. That's a flower, that's me - because my favourite colour is purple, and that's the sun." "Thank you honey, that's beautiful!... What's an 'ox mommy'?" Be nice, it was one of her first uses of 'ox' as 'hug and kiss', and I was medicated.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

That's Just Gross.

Top 5 Things You Shouldn't Bother Putting in the Fridge:

1. Leftover Kraft Dinner. Please. Do not put Kraft Dinner in the fridge. No one is ever going to eat it, but you all pretend that you might so I don't just chuck it in the green bin. It's gross the day after, let alone the week after.

2. French Fries. Or anything deep fried for that matter. It's disgusting. Deep fried things are actually pretty disgusting in general, but we don't have to confront that while we're eating them -- unless we're trying to eat them after they've been cold. The grease puddles and congeals and the lovely light texture of whatever it was has now turned hard and grainy. Don't do it.

3. Salad that has dressing on it. Nothing is quite as nasty as confronting a takeout container from who knows when. It's a special surprise when that container is hiding a melty, liquidy mass of green stuff with fuzz all over it that you just know used to be a really tasty Greek salad. It usually puts me off vegetables for a few days.

4. Half finished sandwiches. No one is going to take it out and finish it. They're just not. Your intentions might be good -- sure, I don't like to waste food either -- but what's the point? No one is going to look in the fridge and say "Gee, that half soggy, half rock hard sandwich with the bite marks in it looks yummy." So just forget it. Either eat it now, or start out smaller in the first place.

5. Half full juice boxes, cans of pop or cups of various drinks. When cups of stuff fall out of the fridge as I try to juggle making lunch with keeping the toddler out of the way, it's a little annoying. Also, no one will drink a drink that's been open in the fridge for a while because it "tastes funny." Well, of course it does. It takes on the taste/smell/pong of all the other crap that you stuck in the fridge that I told you not to bother putting in there in the first place.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some Kraft Dinner, half full cups and rotting vegetable matter to clear out of my fridge.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Think it's Time to Kinect.

I've had a Wii for a while, and I really enjoy playing the games in Wii Fit (and Wii Fit Plus). I don't like it when the balance board calls me fat, but that's another story. One of the big problems I have with it is having to hang onto the controller. Not that it's a huge deal, but it can get kind of annoying. Especially during the games that you're supposed to stick it in your pocket and you're not wearing something with pockets, so you end up jamming it in your waistband and then it gets jarred loose and falls down your pant leg.

For Christmas, Santa got my husband and I a Kinect. I have to say, it's pretty awesome. I love that there is no controller to lose your grip on. We did have to move a bunch of furniture the first time we played, but now that we know where we need to have clear, we're just leaving it that way. We spent New Years Eve playing Kinect Adventures and it was way more fun than getting drunk and doing a puzzle. (I'm a party animal, I know.)

We liked it so much that we went out and got a new game. Dance Central. In theory, I love this game. In theory.

My husband went first. Some of you may know him. He is a truly lovely man, but he's about as coordinated as a duck playing tennis; when he hasn't got a guitar or some drumsticks in his hand. And no, I've never seen a duck playing tennis, but I imagine it would be awkward. And he got 98% on his very first try!

I have to admit, I thought I'd beat him, no problem. I mean, duck... tennis.
I did not do so well however. I'm pretty sure I looked like the walrus the duck is trying to play tennis with. The worst part about it was that the damn thing takes video while you're flailing around like an idiot.

While I wouldn't recommend playing this with anyone but your closest friends if you're embarrassed easily - I loved it. Super fun. And it's a great workout without really seeming like one. And I'll probably love it even more when I have some practice and look less like Elaine.

Friday, January 14, 2011

You Snooze, You Bruise.

I hate the "snooze" button. I just hate it. I'm one of those people that actually wakes up when the alarm goes off and, if I'm the one who set it, then I -- wait for it -- get out of bed and start my day. Apparently, if I'm not the one who set it, then I lie in bed and seethe until someone finally gets up.

My husband is not one of those people who gets up when the alarm goes off. Our alarm goes off at 7:15. My husband does not get up until almost 8:00 most days. That is 45 minutes of inane morning show interspersed with grunting, groping for the button, and then silence. If I were really the violent person who sometimes lives in my head, I would punch him in the head every time he hit that damn button.

I suppose I could just get up when the alarm clock goes off the first time, but damnit, I don't want to! My kids sleep until about 8:00; which means that I don't have to get up yet. I have enough trouble sleeping through the night, that I would like to take advantage of every second of shut-eye that I can.

He gets up at 8:00. Why don't we just set the alarm for 8:00 when everyone actually gets up? A good question, my friend, a very good question.

Disclaimer: I do actually love my husband, he's a lovely man. I would never actually punch him in the head; especially for something so silly. I really do hate the snooze button though.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Love and Potato Soup.

My family is gone right now. My husband took the girls to visit his mum, and luckily, this time they didn't get to enjoy a ride in a police car.

I took the opportunity to clean my house. I know, sounds boring, but I can only do it properly when there's no one running around my feet or looking over my shoulder. I also took the opportunity to have some friends over and enjoy eating things that my kids don't like. And listen to music that they aren't allowed to. And just pretty much enjoy myself. Since I got the cleaning done today, I am looking forward to a day of enjoying myself tomorrow too.

The problem is this: I can't sleep. I can't hear the kids over the baby monitor. I can't roll over and poke my husband to try and get him to stop snoring. I didn't get a kiss goodnight from ANYONE!

No matter how much I want them to leave me alone, when they do, I cry a little. I actually run after the car waving. It's a little pathetic really.

Then I get over it. I get on with my day, and it's astonishing how much I get done without them here. I find that I can get three things done at once, instead of taking half an hour to do something that should take five minutes because I have to break up fights, find shoes and save breakables. I can plan my day and not have it thrown off course by a temper tantrum or spilled yogurt. I can leave a pen on a table and rest assured that the couch will not be covered in scribbles when I get back.

It's practically heaven.

Until bedtime. Then I go and stand in their doorway and look at their empty beds and say goodnight. I get into my bed and try and spread out as much as I can so it doesn't feel so big and lonely.

You know what would make me feel better right now? Potato soup.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lullaby, and GOOD NIGHT!

I have, in the past, complained about my kids driving me insane. Especially at bedtime. It's been getting progressively worse.

They've had me running back and forth for about two hours a night, just trying to keep them from killing each other. As soon as one of them quiets down, the other starts up again. It sucks. Like, really sucks. As a friend so succinctly put it to me the other day, "Sometimes, you just want to punch them in the face."

I think that these bedtime shenanigans are a very big factor in the erosion of my sanity. Great, the kids are finally asleep and I've still got time to scrub the toilet and throw in a load of laundry before bed. Awesome. What does my husband look like again?

And really? This non-sleeping crap can't be doing them any good either.

I have decided that I'm just not going in there after bedtime ever again. With special dispensations for illness/vomiting/bed-wetting incidents. They can't really help those.

Last night, they were laughing and wrestling (I'm guessing, from the monitor noise) when Kee let out a wail and screamed, "Beege! You HURT me!" I sighed, pulled myself up off the couch and headed down the hall.

Just as I was going to open the door, I heard Beege say, "I'm sorry I hurt you. I just wanted you to stop pulling on my hair, that hurts ME. If you show me where it hurts, I'll kiss it better." Followed by kissing better and giggling that Beege's hair tickles. They were quiet about 10 minutes later.

So, I'm standing by my new non-interference policy at bedtime, and am trying to stand back a bit during the day as well and let them figure it out themselves.

It'd also be nice if I could get them to stop dragging all of their bedding onto the floor and sleeping in a heap like animals, but at this point, I'll just take what I can get.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If I Can't Say Anything Nice.

This year.. Christmas just wasn't right. My Grandpa has been sick. He went into the hospital just before Beege's birthday for miscellaneous reasons, and came out diagnosed with cancer. They can't really treat it because he had a heart attack 4 years ago and with the current condition of his heart, they'd be killing the cancer, but probably him too. He went back in on Boxing day. We're still not sure when he's coming home.

I'd been joking, leading up to Christmas, saying that I'd been in the hospital for Christmas the past two years and I really thought that it was someone else's turn. I have to say, that I'd be really happy if it would have been me after all.

I didn't grow up all that close to my grandparents -- my mother has had her differences with them -- but they've always been there, especially at Christmas. Every year, since before I can remember, we've headed up here after a big breakfast and presents for the family dinner. For the past five years, however, we've been living in their basement apartment and I've been spending a lot more time with them.

My husband, the girls and I ordered a pizza and watched the Barbie version of "A Christmas Carol" on Christmas Eve. We drank hot chocolate and left Santa some cookies. We had a relaxed morning; my sister and her husband (it's still weird saying that) came over for breakfast. Kee got her Jenna doll under the tree and was thrilled beyond words; she was yelling things in a voice that only dogs could hear. Beege got a new watch, her first "real big girl" present. My mum and dad, brother and his wife came a bit later for presents with the girls. My Grandpa was home at the time and we had a buffet-style dinner instead of the usual sit-down thing we usually do, the whole family was here, and it was really nice.

And I haven't said anything about it, because I feel guilty.

I've had people that I love die before. But I've never lived in the house, I didn't see them getting sicker and feel like I should be able to do anything about it. It really freaking sucks. It seems wrong to just go about my business and get on with my life while someone I care about is going through something so hard. But. There are kids and dogs and jobs to be taken care of, and I don't have the luxury of sitting around hurting.

I realise that I've also started thinking of it in terms of "when", not "if". My grandpa is 87 years old. He's got a bad heart and cancer. Am I a horrible person that I've started to wonder where we're going to live if Grandma has to sell the house? Because every time I have a thought like that, I feel like a complete asshole.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Things I Learned.

So. 2010 is over. I'm glad that we have big parties and get the day off work, etc, or I would never know that the year had changed. But since it has, here's what (I think) I learned in the year gone by:

1. If I do not get time to myself (like, totally empty house alone), I go completely bat-shit crazy.

In the past (ie. before marriage and children), I've had occasion to spend a week or two completely alone. After the first day or so, I didn't really enjoy these times at all. I put it down to growing up in a house where there was pretty much always noise. We had several cats, a few dogs, three kids and my parents; there really wasn't much opportunity for quiet.

Apparently, I've changed. I need me time. I need it so badly that when I don't get it, I find myself wanting to ... kill people.

2. I do not need *stuff* as much as I need my sanity.

This one is hard for me to reconcile. I've always been the kind of person who collects things; not just for the sake of collecting, but for putting to some future use. I keep packaging that has interesting texture to be used in art projects, I have a box of "emergency" presents in case I find I need one, I've got about 800 journals and notebooks and I really do plan to use them all.

I've realised though, that the space (physically and mentally) that these things take up is much, much more valuable to me at this point. Kids come with a lot of stuff. If there is more than one kid, the stuff multiplies exponentially. We've got no room and it sucks. So, I'm going to try to be grown up about this and cull my art/craft stuff down the necessities. Of course, it could take me until next year to decide what the "necessities" are.

3. Cake, no matter how much I want it to be, is not a meal.

I love cake. It's right up there with bacon. However, I do not love the 20lbs I've gained since last spring. That's right. I said it, it's out there. So no matter how much I love cake (and bacon) I've got to eat properly. I know I should have learned this long before now, and for a while there I was doing really well with the healthiness, but I suppose I'm trying to make it stick by writing it down.

4. Yelling at my kids does not work.

Over the past year, it's gotten louder and louder at my house. Mostly because we've all got to yell to be heard over everyone else. I hate yelling, it makes me feel like an idiot and a bully and I want to stop it. Besides that, it doesn't work. My kids are not going to go any faster just because I start saying it louder. So I have to find another way. I think it's also partly because of thing I learned #1. I'm so much quicker to fly off the handle when I feel like the last ounce of sanity has just melted and oozed out my ears.

5. I can't write with other people in the room.

I wrote almost every day in November; actually pretty proud of myself for that. Then all of a sudden, Winter break happens, there are kids around all the time and my husband is home. Weird. And I couldn't write at all. Even if the kids were in bed, if my husband was in the room? Could. Not. Write. So even though I meant to sit down and write about 20 times in the last two weeks, it just didn't happen.

What all of these things seem to have in common is that I need more time and space. I dream, sometimes, of a studio. There's a big table to spread my work out on, lots of natural light, floor to ceiling storage, a lock on the door... it's beautiful. So at least now I know what to work toward for 2011; a room of my own. And eating less cake.