Monday, February 28, 2011

Shut UP, Dammit!

I am generally a fairly empathetic person. Generally. Apparently, at about 4:00 in the morning, those feelings of empathy are locked tightly away in my conscious mind. Because in that state halfway between sleep and waking, I am a full on bitch who just wants you to shut up.

Case in point: Beege has a cough. It's a really throaty wet sounding cough. It's the kind of cough that you can't just ignore, because you're almost positive that vomit will surely follow. We're not sure why, but for a few months every winter she coughs for about an hour a night. Usually it starts at around 4:00. Everyone sleeps through it; everyone but me.

Kee sleeps in the room with her and can blissfully block it out. Thank heavens really, because I wouldn't want to have to deal with her waking up at 4:00 in the morning as well.

My husband is partially deaf in one ear. When there's a noise on the baby monitor, instead of waking up to see what it is, he rolls over onto his good ear. Why, yes! I have angrily plotted his death in the middle of the night while changing diapers, re-making beds and cleaning up barf! I'm partially convinced that someone could have broken in and murdered me loudly in the bed next to him, and he wouldn't know until morning. Needless to say, he sleeps through the coughing.

Usually, after about half an hour of laying awake in bed fuming because I know (I KNOW!) that she's okay and she's really not going to barf and she doesn't need me, I get up and take her some water. More often than not, I wake her up when I offer it to her. Yes. She too, sleeps through the coughing.

Of course, on top of the coughing, there is also: snoring from upstairs, creaking from the furnace, ticking of clocks, that noise like a squirrel eating that the fridge makes, outside noises... the list goes on and on. Don't get me started on the random noises that startle me awake and/or convince me that there's someone creeping around in the other room.

I have been considering getting some earplugs or noise canceling headphones or something, but I can't get past the thought that my husband probably wouldn't notice me being murdered beside him. Or the smoke alarm. Or a child calling for help.

So, if anyone is wondering why I look tired and I'm a little cranky and I don't want to put up with any whining or nonsense; it's because I stayed awake to make sure my family didn't die in their sleep.

I'd like my medal gold plated, please.

Friday, February 25, 2011

In Which I Take An Art Class.

Every once in a while, I wonder what exactly I'm going to do with myself once both of my girls are off in school all day. I don't particularly want to go back to any previous jobs, so I've got to think of something else.

I sat down and thought of the things I love to do -- not just "like" to do, but love to do -- and here's what I came up with:

I love to make up stories for my children.
I love to draw/paint/create.
I love looking at books for children with beautiful illustrations.*
I love books.

Also? I've always wanted to write a book. So, even though it's giving me palpitations to write it down, I have decided that I will make a book for children. Then I will hope that some kids like it and that I get to make some more books for children.

I was discussing this decision with my husband the other day, and telling him that in light of my solidified aspirations, maybe I should look for an art class. Or several for that matter.

Next thing I knew, Beege called me over for an art lesson.

She had set up her craft table with a piece of paper on each side, some pencils, crayons and extra paper, and she was going to teach me how to draw the pictures that she had drawn for a book that she made by herself about a fish who is a bus driver.

I did what she told me to -- although generally lovely, my instructor did get a little shirty at any attempted deviations -- and ended up with a picture of her fish, the bus driver. I even got a "Good Work"!

Hopefully, the instructor for any class I sign up for will be just as encouraging. I wouldn't mind a more comfortable chair though.

*Books like: Bob Robber and Dancing Jane, by Andrew Mathews, illustrated by Bee Willey. The Spider and The Fly, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. If I Were a Lion, by Sarah Weeks. Zen Shorts, Zen Ties, and Zen Ghosts by Jon J Muth.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Funny Girl.

Beege likes to make up jokes. Most of them aren't all that funny because, really? She's five. She went through a knock knock phase that degenerated into just naming things around the house.

Knock knock! Who's there? Computer. Computer who? COMPUTER! *hysterical laughter*

Lately, she's hung up on 'what did the *blank* say to the *blank*?' kind of jokes. And this morning over breakfast, she was in fine form.

"I'm going to tell a joke to my class today, mummy!"
That's great sweetie, what's the joke?
"What did the blue pail say to the rain?"
I don't know. What?
"You're getting me wet!" Giggle.
Uhm. Okay.
"What did the ..uhm.. lamp say to the guy?"
I don't know. What?
"Thank you for turning me on!" Snort.
"What did the .. toast say to the kid?"
I don't know. What?
"EAT ME!!" Hysterical laughter.

Waitaminute! Did my baby just make a series of mildly off-colour jokes? What the hell? Where is this coming from? Are they letting the kindergartners hang out with older kids with no supervision? Who the freaking heck has she been talking to?

As I looked around the room, wondering how to phrase the question about who the miscreant was who was getting my girl to repeat these jokes a la "I was born on a pirate ship"*, I noticed something. There was a blue pail. And a lamp. And she was eating toast. These were not really off-colour jokes, they were just her regular naming stuff in the room jokes. So. My daughter tells perfectly innocent, unfunny jokes that could be taken as almost funny, more adult jokes. Great.

"OOOh! I have another one! What did the baby say to the cuddly toy?"
I don't know, honey, what?
That's the one. Go with that one. *relieved giggling* That's hilarious!

Kee, of course didn't want to be left out of the joke telling fun. "What did the toothbrush say to the scissors? Clean my floor!" Yeah... I don't get it either, but at least it's not dirty.

*For those of you who didn't have an older brother who liked to try and get you in trouble; if you stick your tongue out, as in the picture above, and say "I was born on a pirate ship" it sounds more like "I was born on a pile of shit." And voila, your sibling has made you unknowingly swear, at the same time implying that you smell like poop. Genius.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Plant Babies.

The other day I looked at my kitchen counter and saw about eight thousand little applesauce pots.

We use these for all kinds of things, painting, dipping sauces, dishes in the play kitchen... but the other day, they were the solution to a problem. I have a very prolific spider plant, and nowhere to put all those babies. The thing about spider plants is that they really like to be root bound, so you've got to start them in really little pots...aha! Instead of going out and buying a whole bunch of little pots with saucers, I did this:

Poke a bunch of small holes in the bottom of one pot; I used an awl, but a hammer and nail will do. (You may want to poke bigger holes for better drainage, but then you'll also need some screen or pebbles for the bottom to prevent the soil from falling out.) Because they nest so nicely, you can just use one with no holes to be the saucer.

Some of the pots looked like little barrels - perfect to be the bottom layer/water catcher; they're already decorative!

Throw in some soil and a plant - voila! You use up something laying around the house, and you don't have to spend anything on 'proper' pots. Plus, it's super easy, but you can still feel all good about yourself for making something!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Books...The BOOKS!

I don't know about you, but I find a lot of children's stuff as boring as watching paint dry. In the beginning, I was sometimes just holding on until we were out of the peek-a-boo phase, when it would be a lot more interesting (read: fun for me) to play with the kids.*

And, thank goodness, it totally is! We all play Uno together now, which is incredibly awesome, because not only are they learning to count, match and take turns, but I'm not so bored that I'd (almost) rather be digging at my eye with a spoon.

We play pretend; there are often pirates and/or princess and/or animals involved. There are shopping trips, tea parties, treasure hunts, sword fights, dragon hunts, mysteries to solve... it's awesome.

And I think that a huge amount of that wonderful imagination comes from the fact that all four of us love to read. My husband and I have always been readers, and it seems to have rubbed off on the girls - yay!

Now that Beege is reading to herself, she will read anything, from the ads that come in the mail to shampoo bottles on the side of the tub. Honestly, have you ever had anyone tell you "I'll be out in a minute, I'm just finishing reading the soap!"?

I do remember a time, however, before she could read when she would bring books to me. She would bring a book over, plop in my lap and "let" me read it to her. Sometimes she would make let me read it again, then she'd run to the shelf, pick out another book and bring it over for me to read. This could go on all day.

Now that Kee is approaching 3, she's developed the same habit. We spent 2 hours reading this morning, with the kids alternating book choices and sitting on my lap. I only have one rule. I will not read the same book twice in a row. If you want me to sit here and read to you all day, it at least has to be interesting, right?

There is one other little snag though. Now that Beege can read, she's noticed it, and Kee is starting to notice it too, with her darn steel trap memory. Sometimes, Mummy reads an "abridged" version. Or, just flat out makes it up. Daddy does not.

So now, sometimes, when I'm reading a book and a troll jumps out at Dora from behind a bush, or I skip a few lines about Little Miss Magic telling her toothpaste "Squeeze!", or maybe, instead of getting ice cream, Max just decides to go to bed, I get told off. Thanks a lot, Daddy.

*Not that I ever begrudged my babies their "peek-a-boo" time... I can peek-a-boo with the best of them... I just might have been doing it from behind a book.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Because I Can't Resist A List...

25 Things That Make Me Super Happy:*
(In no particular order)

1. Making Bread. I love to watch the yeast explode in the bowl, kneading the dough -- therapeutic! -- and the house smelling like bread all day.

2. The moment the sun hits the disco ball hanging in my living room window.

3. Watching my girls sleep. Although I love them all the time, it hits me so hard when they're laying there, cuddled in their blankets, that my heart almost explodes.

4. Putting on pajamas straight out of the dryer after a bath.

5. Finding myself with some time on my hands, a warm day with a nice breeze and a comfy place to sit.

6. Going to do the dishes and finding that my husband has already done it. (I hate doing dishes with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.)

7. Finally completing a (craft or other) project that I've had on the go for a while.

8. That moment after you've finished a really satisfying clean/purge, when you can sit down with a cup of tea and feel like maybe you can get things under control after all.

9. The song "What I Am"

10. Finding a really good deal on anything.

11. Actually getting the shot. Some day I'm going to buy myself a big girl camera, and then this will happen a lot more.

12. Being woken up by the sun instead of an elbow to the breast.

13. Being somewhere that's usually super crowded before everybody else gets there. Think Ikea on a Saturday.

14. Having dinner with friends.

15. Listening to Beege read.

16. When my kids actually play together; without throwing, wrestling or screaming.

17. Seeing my first spring buds.

18. Actually managing to grow anything in the garden.

19. Getting a good grade. (I know, I know, but it's part of what makes me me. 5 more exams to go!)

20. Finding a good seat in a little coffee shop to enjoy a book and some cake.

21. Back rubs.

22. Getting mail that's not a bill or an ad.

23. Making things for the kids.

24. Giving presents.

25. Swimming.

What are 25 things that make you super happy?

*Inspired by Motherbumper.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Books. Not Just For Reading Anymore.

Mosaic. By Kee. The artist prefers to work on a large scale.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pictorial Evidence.

These are the tools I spent most of yesterday afternoon with: the heavy, metal, ice chipper that I would not want to weather a winter without, the shovel to get rid of the ice that I've chipped, and the broom for when the shovel doesn't work because I didn't actually get all of the ice but I can't see what I'm doing. (And, yes, those are Christmas lights. I'll get to it!)

This is, unfortunately, about a third of the unwanted skating rink that is my very, very, long driveway.

This here? Why, this is three and a half inch thick ice! Yessiree!

Oh, this? This is why you should never have a beige couch and a dry erase crayon in the same house. Also? When you try and clean a purple stain on a beige couch? It shows you just how dirty your couch actually is. Looks like I get to make a slipcover.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Speech, The Weekend, and Valentine's Day.

I mentioned a while back that Beege was going to be giving a speech at her school's Speech Arts Festival. It was supposed to be on, what ended up being, Snow Day and got rescheduled to the 10th.

It went SO well, you guys. She was poised, and spoke clearly and didn't babble at all! She was also (now I'm just bragging) the only kid under grade 2 who didn't read it from a page in front of them. She's only 5! I am a very proud mum.

The best Valentine's day I've had in recent memory was the one where at about 9:00 I looked at my husband and asked "Aren't you going to be late for work?" To which, he replied "I took the day off!" Then he got down on the floor and made valentine's with, then, 2 year old Beege. Best day ever.

This year, since he's already taking Friday off to take Beege to the doctor, I certainly wasn't expecting him to be home for the day. I also wasn't expecting much of a surprise, because, bless him, he is not a planner.

On Friday, my brother called and asked us to dinner. At my mum's house. Without asking her first. All of which is weird, but good. So I called my husband to see if he thought we ought to go (and then planned to call my mum and make sure it was okay with her). He was oddly reticent. Then he spilled; he'd already arranged with my mum to take the kids for the day on Sunday so we could have a day to ourselves! While he was on ICQ with me, his phone rang - my mother - turns out, not only can we go for dinner, but we can leave the kids for the night! HUZZAH!

So not only did I get a day off, but I also got a night off? Awesome. Let's just disregard the fact that I spent my night off patterning and cutting the fabric for the princess dresses I'm surprising them with okay? Okay.

We spent Sunday just wandering around, dawdling through stores; which NEVER happens when the kids are with us. It was lovely. I also got to go to a place called "Genghis Khan's Mongolian Grill" for lunch. It was really neat. You fill your bowl with stuff, then you hand it to the chef who dumps it on a giant heated stone and moves it around with some long sticks. Once it's cooked, he gets it into a new bowl and gives it back to you. It was really fun watching the chef; it almost looked like dancing. Everything was delicious, so that was nice too.

And of course, whether you love it or hate it, today is Valentine's day! I fall mostly into the "love it" camp; February 14th also just happens to be the anniversary of the night that my husband and I decided we "LIKE liked" each other.

We're debating switching our "official" anniversary to March 10th, which is when I pinned him (yes, I really did) and asked him "So okay, if you were introducing me to someone, how would you introduce me?" and he said "Uhm... my girlfriend?"

So, whether you love it, or hate it, I wish you a lovely February 14th!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Internet? What Internet?

So, I don't know if you've been hearing anything about this "Usage Based Billing" stuff that's been floating around Canada. I mean, if you're from Canada, and you're on the internet, you're probably aware that the CRTC had passed some new regulations that made it legal for guys like Rogers, Bell and Shaw to put a cap on your internet use. With penalties of up to $2/GB if you went over your cap.

Now, this may not have seemed like an enormous thing to me before, because really? I'm a fairly light internet user. I mean, I've got my blog here, and I do love me some Zynga games... but I would hardly qualify as a heavy user, so it just wouldn't have been on my radar.

Then, last month, something happened.

I was happily playing some stupid game, when I was interrupted by a message from Rogers, helpfully telling me that I had reached 75% of my maximum usage for the month. Wait, what!? This had never, never, happened before. ...Netflix. Dammit.

I may have mentioned that my husband took my kids to visit his mum at the beginning of January? Well, what I didn't mention is that the whole time (the WHOLE time) they were gone, I was watching Netflix. So many movies that I haven't seen since the kids were born (because we just never leave the house anymore - anyone know a decent babysitter in North Toronto?) - all there, just waiting to be watched! Apparently watching 12 or so hours of movies takes up a lot of bandwidth. Then there's the watching Blues Clues with Keek while Beege is at school... oh, and Mad Men, and catching up on Drop Dead Diva.

Apparently, that uses up so much bandwidth that even though my internet was nonexistent for almost a week (!), I still used more than ever before. And really, I almost died when I couldn't get on the net for a week; I can't imagine being limited all the time.

So. What you're telling me, Rogers, is that I pay to use the internet, but only so much. I also pay to use Netflix, but only so much as Rogers will let me. I pay hideous overpriced premiums to use the internet, but you get to tell me how much. I seriously have to wait until next month to see what's going on with Peggy and the mystery baby?? So wrong.

Considering all the services that require the internet these days, from gaming to movies, to basic communication, there really needs to be an overhaul of the whole telecommunications pricing system in this country.

I never thought Hitler would make it onto my blog, but here he is, enjoy.

Oh - here's a good article: Paying so much for bandwidth, getting so little

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm About Ready For Spring.

Seriously. Before I lose my kids.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Random Smattering of Crap. Oh - And National De-Lurking Day.

The other day, when Beege and I were out for our walk, we really enjoyed just looking around. We found an old wooden bench that is usually hidden by a bush in more walk-friendly weather. We saw a whole flock of birds roosting in a hedge. There was snow covered beauty everywhere you looked. There was also a fairly large number of little bags containing dog crap.

Really? C'mon people. If you go to the trouble of buying special bags* for picking up your dog's leavings and go to the trouble of remembering to bring them and then bending down to pick it up, surely you could go to the trouble of finding a garbage can? Isn't the gross part picking it up in the first place? You must have realised when you got a dog that you'd have to deal with certain things... owning a dog is a responsibility; dispose of the crap.

I know for sure that I've never left a big smelly diaper lying under a park bench for you to enjoy.

Ooooh! Totally off topic, but did you know that there is a "National De-Lurker Day"? Well, there is! I missed it, of course, since I didn't even know about it until I read this post.

So - I'll have a late de-lurker day - it would be great to hear from you, even if it's just to say "hi!".

*Here are some that smell like lavender, in case that's the issue.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Okay, so it wasn't quite the "Snowmaggedon" that was predicted, but we did get a fair dump in my neighbourhood. (Even my husband had the day off due to snow; and seriously, his boss would NOT give him the day off under normal circumstances.) While the TDSB may have been a little overcautious in calling a board wide "Snow Day", I think it would have been worse if they hadn't and there had been an accident or kids snowed in at a school somewhere.

It was actually really lovely to have a day in the middle of the week with the whole family home. We played Uno, we read some books, we played video games. No one had to be anywhere so there was no rushing, no screaming about being late. I baked, I made chili, I made rice crispie treats for the first time ever (Note to self: hot marshmallows are a lot like napalm.) and even got to play outside with Beege.

My only complaint would be that I didn't get my standard daily allotment of "me time."

Here's some fun stuff to watch: Rick Mercer mocking Toronto, and "Snow in Toronto" a special report. I'm going to learn to embed these properly someday, I swear.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And So, We Walked.

Yesterday was a cold, cold day. Minus eighteen degrees Celsius, to be exact. (Which would be 0.4 Farenheit, apparently.) Normally, I wouldn't voluntarily go out in this weather for a stroll with my kids. However. Yesterday was the day of the Ladybug Walk that Beege and I signed up for to raise money for organisations that help the homeless; and so, we walked.

We were bundled up in many layers of clothes, scarves, hats, tights, snow pants, and still it was cold. Despite that, we had a lot of fun. It's not all that often that I get to just hang out with Beege anymore, so it was nice to be able to talk and not have any interruptions. I have a really cool kid.

We talked about her upcoming speech, we talked about school in general, we discussed how much better her behaviour has been lately and why; she's decided that she doesn't like being yelled at anymore than I like yelling and that doing what she's supposed to is just easier than not.

We also talked about how lucky we were that at the end of our walk we would get to go into our nice warm house and drink some hot chocolate and warm up.

On the one hand, I kind of hate that there are spots that I could step through in my kitchen and there isn't a proper door on the bathroom, but on the other I know how lucky I am to have somewhere warm and (all things considered) comfortable to live. I don't have to worry about where I'm going to sleep tonight or what I'm going to eat. I am PRIVILEGED.

I sometimes get bogged down feeling depressed about the fact that I can complain so much about my situation while there are people out there with nothing, people who live in war zones, people who've lost a child because they couldn't afford medical care. I feel like such an asshole.

In the end, this thinking does no one any good at all and, really, it's incredibly self indulgent. I'm so privileged that I have the luxury of feeling bad about it? At the same time, is it a bad thing to want a nice life? To want that for my children? That is, after all, what I wish I could help everyone else have.

I think what I'll work on is helping other people in any way that I can; and teaching my children to do the same. I hope that somehow, I can manage to teach my girls that we are incredibly lucky and that we should share what we can with others, without making them feel the guilt.

As I've told other people who were having the same dilemma, there is no point in feeling guilty to have had the good fortune to be born when, where and to whom we were; but it is our responsibility to take that privilege and use it to do good.