Mother Nature, you are a bitch

Hi, let’s just be ostriches and bury our heads, not even acknowledge how little I have blogged.  We will pretend that this break never happened.  We will pretend that I was in Provence, wining and dining for months on end.  We will pretend that I was hiking the Appalachian Trail for weeks and weeks, raising money to support the mental health of parents of tweens (it’s just so sad what they have to go through!) We will pretend that it was I who single handedly discovered the lost Franklin shipwreck, diving with dogged determination, not quitting until I found it.  We will pretend that I did not lose my effing my mind and add a puppy to my calm, serence life that includes 5 swim practises week, 5 tae kwon do classes a week, a full time job, a side business and a full on Homeland addiction.

Good.  So cleaning out my phone tonight I realized I took some photos with the intent to blog and educate the world. So here I go. Here is my “Why Mother Nature, Whyyyyyyyyy!!!!!” story.

Grace and I were out for a run a few weeks ago (yup, that there sentence is meant to make you feel inadequate as a parent.  What?  You DON’T run with your child on a regular basis?  Pffft, you probably feed them nitrates too.  You are a horrible person).  We were going at a pretty steady clip when Grace screeched to a stop.  After I yelled at her to stop for looking for excuses to stop running  (uh, yeah, running with your daughter has some stresses) she drew my attention to this:

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It’s a teeny tiny bird on the sidewalk! In distress! Well, we had to do something about this.  I went into full on Geenpeace-on-a-boat-saving-whales-mode (but really Oakville-mom-running-on-suburban-sidewalk-wearing-lululemon-saving-baby-bird-mode but shhhh, I have pictures in my head that make me happy about myself). Anyhoooo I started gathering materials necessary to get the baby bird back to its nest without actually touching it because we all know the momma bird would reject it she got wind of human contact. That was a very long sentence, sorry. Do you know how hard it is to gather materials like MacGyver in suburbia?  It’s hard – people keep METICULOUS lawns here. Grace stopped my frantic foraging with an “ew, what’s THAT” (said in a voice only a twelve year can tap into).  Upon closer inspection indeed the baby bird looked a little off.  With my science theatre background I immediately concluded that the baby bird was so new that the egg shell had not completely fallen off of it – awwww so cute. Grace who is perhaps more destined for a career in science than I, came to a different conclusion. According to her, it looked more like a growth, a tumor. Uh huh. That did make a bit more sense than my stubborn sticking egg shell theory. Well, still gotta get that baby bird back to momma bird, so I kept looking for solutions to get it up to the nest and Grace pitched in (and an image of the baby Jesus appeared on my toast – as if she helped!) Then it slowly dawned on me, the baby bird was probably shoved by it’s momma out of the nest because of its tumor and was not deemed worthy of the nest. That momma bird would be damned pissed off if I insisted on putting her baby back in the nest. It was kind of a profound moment, explaining to Grace survival of the fittest theories, showing off some On the Origin of Species knowledge I just happen to have (she wasn’t overly impressed) and how nature just takes care of these things.I chose to ignore her arguments to push her little sister from our brick nest because her fatal flaw is that she bugs her.

We left that little baby bird on the sidewalk and I felt just awful about it. I warned every pedestrian about the ailing little bird they would encounter and horrified Grace with my familiarity with every stranger encountered.

When we got home I told Jo all about it, showed him the slideshow and video footage I took (I’ll spare you).  Then I reflected on how grateful I was that I didn’t have Howie (the dog) with me.  He would have eaten it and that would have been gross.


 

The Kid is Alright

I’ve been so bad at blogging, not for lack of stories to tell, but for a lack of time, as well as having a bit of a struggle with what to write. As our girls grow older, I need to respect their privacy (much of my fodder to date has been stories from the minivan, featuring them them.  Awww shit.  Stories From the MiniVan would have been a kick ass blog name – oh well! It’s yours if you want it!)

I do feel justified in sharing Awesome though.  Grace is now twelve.  We argue everyday – that’s twelve for you, pushing boundaries, wanting to be older and act older, but still having moments of vulnerability.  Our arguments are the same as most parents likely have with their kids – how much time they spend on their gadgets and what they are doing on them.  Grace’s particular gadget is an iPad.  We have allowed her Instagram and she texts.  I don’t read everything she writes – I don’t want to because I know that I’ll forget that some of it is just normal 12 year old girl stuff and I will get all agitated.  I do check in on it without warning though, just because, well, she’s 12 and internet filters can’t protect you from everything. I have to admit when she’s on there, I tend to jump to the worst conclusions possible.  I think the friends she is texting with are all trolls, offering her crack cocaine and inviting her to the dark side (only once did I come across a friend who was way offside.  I dealt with it, she’s gone).

But listen (read?) this story.  It completely blows my mind to know that I have such a smart, practical kid.

The other day Pharrell was on Ellen, and he was amazing.  I even told the Facebook how amazing he was.  He was preaching about women’s rights and making some great arguments for gender equality and how he can’t believe the US can still be in the dark on matters pertaining to women.  Awesome stuff, he made me want to fist pump and jump up and down, it was great.  

Knowing Grace is up on Pharrell, and me always having to show her that my pop culture awareness does not stop in 1980’s (could have though, 80’s rocked) I mentioned to her what I saw on Ellen and how amazing he was and how she is lucky to be a girl in the 2000’s bleah de bleah bleah.  Know what she said to me after my Susy Sunshine Pharrell is awesome speech?  Without missing a beat, word for word:

“Then why did he do Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke”.  No question mark.  She made a statement.

Gah! I just think that is the most effing awesome thing ever.

 

Waiter, there’s something in my salad.

It has been really hard getting back into the groove this week after being off for two glorious weeks.  For two weeks, there was no work, no school (which really means no making lunches and supervising homework) and no extracurricular activities.  We had more than one pyjama day and with the exception of a possessed Furbie who seemed to follow me everywhere, things were pretty quiet in our household.  

I don’t want to bore you with the details, but since Monday it has been pedal to the metal, balls to the wall busy.  Homework ramped up, activities are non-stop (Grace is in the pool 5x a week now) and I feel like a phone is attached to my ear for 8 hours a day with work.  And the noise levels, my god the noise levels.  I posted on Facebook the other day asking the FB world if there is a volume control button on a Furbie.  I should have asked something similar about the members of my family.  They all talk sooooo loudly.  And they all talk at me.  And they all talk loudly at me all of the time.  And they all talk loudly at me all of the time AT the same time.  They are not even necessarily in the same room as me – they just randomly yell things at me from different rooms of the house.  Sometimes they don’t really have anything to say – they just yell my name to know that I am there.  The way they yell makes me think they have severed a finger, but when I react the news the have for me is usually pretty effing mundane. 

I just want to give you a snapshot of one day.  One freaking day in my household. You know what?  Not even a day.  Just see what I have to deal with in 5 short hours.

6 am.  The one quiet moment of the day.  I get my coffee, toast, log into work, read my emails prepare for the day.  Give myself some positive self-talk to start the day right.

6:45 am.  Right.  Forget to make lunches last night.  That’s ok.  Stay positive Karen.  This won’t take but a sec.

7-8 This part of the day has too many curse words, it basically involves waking the kids and getting them out the door.  They make it out alive, and sometimes that is the all the positive self-talk I need.  

8-3 Work.  I work from home, it’s lovely.  I have a beautiful office, my colleagues are wonderful, I connect with partners on the phone, I feel very in control and in charge of things.  

3-3:30 Continue to work.  Grace is home now, she is easy to manage, but part of my brain has shifted from work mode to domestic mode because……

Grace has to be at dryland training for 4.  Edie has be picked up by 4.  We are out of milk, a stick of butter and bread (where is that Sesame Street kid when you need him?) At 3:45 I get a call from a swim mom – her car has broken down off the highway, can I come get her kid and bring her to practise?  Go to Timmy’s to placate Edie, she likes routine and wants to go home.  Try to explain the good samaritan thing to her, how we help friends out in need, but I had her at sprinkle donut.  Get the friend, get her to practise, get home, hop back in car to pick them up 10 minutes later.  Edie, now sugar crashing, does not like this news one bit but sucks it up.  We go get Grace and her friend, get home, start Edie on her homework.  Usually she is a star at sitting down and doing her work, but last night she was bananas, bouncing all over place and being a real pill (ummmm, sprinkle donut anyone?)  And then the mother of Grace’s friend came and then Jo came home and…..you know what?  I’m going to cut to the chase here.  After all this we finally managed to sit down and eat dinner.  A beautiful, healthy dinner.  A mushroom quinoa soup and a gorgeous salad.  A moment for us to nourish our souls and come together as a family, chatter about our day and enjoy each other’s company.  That is always the hope.  Everyday I am optimistic (to the point of being stupid) that we will have a nice, calm family meal.  So, last night took the cake.  Here.  Look for yourself:

 

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Mmmm, yummy. Baby greens, hothouse tomatoes, avocado, and swiss cheese.  Delish.  Oh wait, what’s that?  Let’s take a closer look.

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Hmmm, something is amiss.  Something just doesn’t look right.  Let’s zoom in one more time:

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It’s an effing tooth.  It’s Grace’s molar to be specific.  Right in the middle of my salad.

Needless to say dinner was not peaceful.  Leading up to this incident, Grace was having a cow over her wiggly tooth.  Grace has a cow over everything these days so we generally ignore her.  Then she pulled the molar out (oops, I guess it was wiggly)- she was gracious enough to leave the table to do this, but not gracious enough to come back to the table waving the bloody, pulpy thing to show us.  Then, being Howard Hughes (that is seriously her nickname) she washed the molar vigorously with soap and water.  She insisted I take the molar for closer inspection.  While I was looking at it, Edie knocked my elbow and in slow motion we all watched the tooth fall and land on my plate.

I don’t really need to type anymore, do I.  This is my life people.  Tonight will be different though.  Tonight we WILL have a great family together, right?  Right?

I never claimed to be like the Mom in the commercials

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I wasn’t a diva growing up, but my chore list was minimal – I seem to recall only having to clear the table. It may have had something to do with growing at such a rate that rendered my limbs not moving quite in synch with each other. Doing dishes was left to my parents – we didn’t have a dishwasher and they adorably enjoyed each other’s company so much that they chose to do dishes together and catch up on their day. Us kids were left to lounge on the brown, fuzzy textured sectional, leaving us to watch Cosby Show, Family Ties and whatever else was popular at the time. (As the youngest in a most undemocratic household, I had zero choice in what we watched. As a result, I grew up wayyyyy too fast, being exposed to Mallory and Theodore’s antics at such a young, young age).

My Mom was a homemaker – she did it all. Except on Wednesdays. Wednesdays were called Doris Day. Our cleaning lady would come in and do a half ass job of cleaning our house (I mainly remember resenting her during the summer months and on sick days because she would monopolize our teeny tiny tv while she ironed, watching stupid soap operas). I really didn’t have to do much. My dad took care of outdoor stuff, looking positively pained if I attempted to mow the lawn – during my ska phase, I mowed it in a check pattern. I thought it looked great. My dad saw it as the one last thing he could control in his kingdom. His lawn was now also exploring an alternative lifestyle.

I am not judging them or holding any of this against them, hell no! All of this spare time I had was spent on serious experiments like the mint jelly venture* and trying to catch my teddy bears coming to life.

I have decided though to take a different approach with my kids. They are quite, quite soft and spoiled. I’d give them 5 minutes of survival in the jungle or in a mall where they don’t sell Beanie Boos or Teen Beat magazine. Edie’s idea of roughing it is, um, actually, I really don’t think she does have an idea of what it is! Poor Grace on the other hand is well aware of roughing it. Take for example the night her soft blanket was in the wash, and she couldn’t have it at bedtime. The horror of sleeping with the not- soft- blanket. It was truly tragic. There was also the time we ran out of frozen bananas for her smoothie, and she had to use an unfrozen one with slightly brown peel. Guys, four letters – PTSD, PTS effing D.

So the other day I went upstairs to get the laundry. I usually do this in a catatonic state, not really noticing what is in there and what isn’t (all 1D t-shirts look the same after awhile). As I was sorting the laundry though, I snapped out of my trance and became very, very lucid. Frightening lucid. The reality of what I was looking at shook me to the core. I was sorting laundry that had never soiled, yet was mixed in with the dirty stuff. My laundry life flashed before my eyes – the sorting, the Shouting out, the drying, the folding, the carrying upstairs and the hatred I feel for every step of it.

That’s when I snapped and declared that I was ON STRIKE! There was little reaction (to be honest, I go on strike quite a bit around here, it barely garners a blink). But this time I meant it. I marched her clean mixed with dirty clothes back upstairs and let her know that she could let me know when she wanted a lesson, because I was done with it all.

Fast forward a week later, Grace begged me to do her laundry. She was recycling clothes. No way, I stood my ground. She even got me at my most vulnerable, last night, upon her return from swim practise where she works so hard. She begged me, telling me she was too tired and needed to go to bed, but needed clothes for the next day. I steadied myself and held my ground. No way. She quietly went upstairs, brought her laundry down and asked me how to do it. Victory. She asked if I could “at least” put the clothes in the dryer. I suggested she set her alarm for early morning and do it herself. I heard her at 6:15 this morning loading the dryer.

The clothes remain in the dryer and I told her she has to complete the cycle immediately after school today. She gave me an eye roll only an 11 year old can deliver, but I think she’s going to do it.

I don’t win at much, and I don’t like to gloat, but …..

*http://meanoldmommy.blogspot.ca/2012/06/mint-jelly.html

Why can’t I ever find my phone????

This past month has been monstrously busy (pssst, I’m speaking with British accent in my head, try it.  You can get away with adjectives like monstrously much better that way).  And everybody I talk to is in the same vessel (gah, now I just sound pretentious, delete British accent).  Everybody is in the same boat it seems.  With or without kids, work demands, home demands and social demands – it’s just never ending.  My schedule is gross – our family Google calendar gives me a very bad case of the willies with all of our stuff.  Apparently Grace and Edie are Olympic bound with the amount of sport commitments they have, Jo is wining and dining with work every second night it seems and I am here and there, picking up pieces, trying to curate (haha, that’s for you CD) a social life for myself and work and exercise and cook and clean (well not so much clean, but you get the idea).

It became very apparent to me yesterday that life is too busy when I looked in my purse.  Now, I just switched my purse out last week, so this was a blank canvas,  there really should be more time than just a week for this kind of a shit show to erupt.  If my purse was found at the scene of an accident, I would love to see the profile the police would come with for me.  Picture dead me on the road with cops puzzling together just who this magnificent woman was based on the contents of her purse:

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Shall we start?

Toothbrush, floss and you can’t see it, but toothpaste.  Both kids had dental appointments earlier last week, as did I.  The kids haven’t asked for their dental swag yet (and you just KNOW that they fought at length over who gets what colour of toothbrush, making me use my whisper yell in the dental office). So in my purse it remains.

A rather delicate leather and silver bracelet – I prettied myself up for about 0.5 minutes when I volunteered at the school last week (sad statement on life when you get prettied up to go to the school).  The bracelet was attracting too much love from the kiddies so I had to take it off and shove it in my purse.

Barbie Uno – Edie gets schlepped around to a lot of Grace’s practises. If I don’t want my phone to meld permanently into her little hand, I bring along things like this to keep us entertained while we wait.  It’s a prrrretty intense game, not recommended for the faint of heart.

Orange ball – oh orange ball, how I love you.  I shall name you Ollie and keep you forever.  No, it’s not a sex toy, ain’t got not time fo that!  I use it to roll around on me muscles (ha! Cockney accent!) I roll it on muscles that are all knotted up and tight whenever I’m at a red light/waiting room/parking lot.  It is amazing.  It cost $10 and has pretty much replaced my ART therapist.  It is the best.

My S-M-R-T glasses.  Yeah, fancy designer ones that always elicit a Lisa Loeb reference by some drunk guy at the end of the evening when I pull them out because I’m the designated driver and need them to drive (read: I’m old).  When I initially received them, I mouthed a promise to the glasses that I would always keep them in their special case when not in use and clean them with the special cloth and use the special cleaning solution they came with.  Haaaaaa.  There they are, tossed right into the Petri dish I call a purse.

Burt’s Bees lip balm.  I will rise from the dead and grab this back from anyone who tries to take it from me.  This is my Holy Grail lip balm and this, if nothing else belongs in my purse.  No wallet?  Who cares, what else could I possibly need if I’ve got my lip balm?  No car keys?  Whatevs! I’m good waiting in the freezing cold on the side of the road for someone to save me because I have my lip balm.  Burt’s Bees should hire me to endorse their products.

The 5 other lipsticks in my purse.  You can’t see them all here, but in one week I managed to pop 5 lipsticks in my purse.  While Burt’s Bees may be my Holy Grail, you never know when you will find something even more awesome (good thing I don’t use that philosophy in other aspects of my life).  And sometimes to get fancy and all grown up looking you need a little more than a fried chicken sheen to your lips, thus the various coloured lipsticks. Hey, nobody can accuse me of not trying.

The eyeball.  Okay, this one is seasonal.  Next month there will be red and green pompoms and candy canes taking the eyeballs place.  Who am I kidding, the eyeball will still be there, and Christmas stuff will add to the pile.  It just so happened that I bought pack of eyeballs in a pre-Halloween frenzy last week (Must have more body parts!  Must have more eyeballs! THERE ARE NEVER ENOUGH EYEBALLS!!!)  and the pack exploded in my purse.  I fished them all out but whoops, must have missed one.

So I’m pretty sure that based on the contents of my purse, the cops would surmise that this marvelous woman just needed to be put out of her misery and it’s a blessing, really.  And then I would scare the living daylights out of them out by bolting upright, bloodied, neck all wobbly, and brush myself off because that little blue slip of paper in my purse is an appointment reminder to get one of the kids somewhere in five minutes and there is just no time for death.

You can tell a lot about a family by the clutter on their counter.

 There are many of issues in the universe that require my attention. Make that the world, the continent, the country, my own town and finally, my own humble abode.  All of these places could use my undivided attention and assistance because I am very smart and could potentially solve everything. Sometimes though, my funny little brain chooses to zone in on one particular cause, which may or may not register on your care radar.  The “cause du jour” (see, smart, two languages yo) occupying all of my grey (gray? Urrr, not so smart) matter is my kitchen counter. See, I have very few spaces in my home carved out for just me.  In fact, as I type this there are 40+ balloons billowing around my house – the kids thought it would be fun to blow up an entire package of balloons. So fun hearing them randomly pop and get under my feet at the most inopportune time – do you have any idea how silly it feels to curse out a distorted Sponge Bob balloon with his warped little face looking up at you? Verrrry silly.

But I digress. My kitchen counter.  It is my space. I want it clean and clutter free. I function well with no clutter and in the kitchen I need to function because this is where I pretty much live when not working.  So, I clean it constantly and have become ruthless in my dealings with the victims that find themselves on my counter. Rainbow Loom bracelet? Garbage. McDonalds toy? Gone. Baseball cap? Hidden somewhere it will never be found (which is in the basket in the front hallway WHERE IT IS SUPPOSED TO GO). So, here is a photo essay to demonstrate how my efforts and continually thwarted, patience constantly tested, and ultimately why I drink:

Fancy bottle of wine. This technically belongs in the wine rack, but think of it as a “Break in case of emergency” kitchen necessity.

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 My Lamp Berger.  This is my clutter, so technically it does not count.  It is also is subtle way of saying to the world “Hey world I’m not a great cook, I burn things a lot and need to cover up the smell”.

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 Why yes, these are 3-D glasses in water. This is one is courtesy of my oldest, who is currently running an experiment on creating x-ray specs.  She could not bear having them in her room (her personal space is more important than mine), so she plunked them down in my special space. While I applaud the spirit of invention, I cannot support this being kept on my counter.

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Sigh, the worm farm.  A neglected, ignored worm farm.  Abandoned by my  youngest, who in a fit of passion decided to save all the worms and love them/nurture them/defend them/save them from winter/feed them orange peels and keep them forever and forever and I shall name them all!  The passion lasted a couple of days, tops.  Again, I respect the process and enthusiasm, but they have not been watered in forever and I shudder to think what is going on behind that piece of black paper.Image

 The Hooters beer glass.  Oh sweet baby Harry Styles.  This, a joke (oh God I hope it was a joke) from my husband has taken residence on my counter.  Can you believe that these are actually made somewhere? Painstakingly hand painted by some poor soul?  And there is actually a warning to not put it in the dishwasher?  Feng Shui be gone, Hooters be in the house now.

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So, to summarize:

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 Huh, basically what I have learned about myself in composing this little ditty is that I am the most boring person in my family.  If you are looking for me, I’ll looking for something awesome to put on my counter.

 

 

Would somebody invite me to an effing garden party?

I just did a super clean of my closet. It’s late at night (late for me), I likely had too much coffee today and I decided that I wanted to simplify my life, and of course, the first step to simplify one’s life is to clean out one’s closet.  My buddy Dana and I decided last week that we are going to be all things French and Audrey Hepburn-esque and wear only simple, high quality pieces, adopt a signature fragrance and wear red lipstick (there is a red for every complexion, even translucent Scots like me).

I did this chore in my Giant Tiger track pants (for real, bought them in the summer 1991, I was working at a dry cleaners for minimum wage from 5:30 am to 2:30 pm everyday.  I was saving my pennies for university and didn’t want to spend a lot on a pair of track pants.  Why in my prime I wanted track pants so badly, God only knows, but they are the only pair of track pants I ever bought in 20 odd years.  This frightens me on a few different levels.  Level 1: I lived in a small town, therefore a very special trip to Giant Tiger must have been made.  Level 2: I feel like I have only washed these track pants a handful of times, because they are my lounge wear, and seemingly never get dirty.  I never considered that they are over 20 years old. Level 3: My husband still comes home at night, even though he knows I will probably have said track pants on.  I actually bought a pair of Joe Fresh track pants the other day (yup, still a big spender over here) and they suck.  It’s like I was trying to recreate the GT track pants – black – check.  Drawstring? Check.  2 sizes too large for comforts’ sake? Check.  Oh I’m sorry, I’ll stop there, this wasn’t meant to turn you on.  Anyhooo, they are too hot and don’t hang off my butt like my GT ones do, therefore they suck.  Thanks God I didn’t throw out the GT ones yet!)

But I digress (ha! that was a huge digression) Back to my closet. My rule tonight was if I haven’t worn it once in the past year, it gets chucked (you DO watch Breakfast Television right? )  I played the game tonight, ruthless.  Somethings were easier to throw out than others (they said that harem pants were making a come back yo’) but others more difficult.  I have this beautiful floral wrap skirt with exquisite detail on it.  When I bought it, I had a little fantasy of me wearing it at a garden party in Provence, laughing gaily and sipping rosé.  My hair was long in my fantasy and I was wearing my lost Ray Bans (my reunion with the lost sunglasses may or may not have been in slow motion).  I didn’t actually fantasize this.  That’s a lie, I totally fantasized this scenario, which is why I bought the skirt.  But the occasion has not risen for me to wear it.  But I don’t want to throw it out, so would somebody invite me to fucking garden party already – the skirt is on death row for one more year……