Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Behold! The beautiful Hufflings

Lettuce not speak of behaviour, of whininess, or of bad moods.  Lettuce just gaze upon x-treme cuteness.

Kitty nose and whiskers?  Check.  Tiara?  Check.  Freezie?  Tamsin's life is complete.

Also sporting nose-and-whiskers (different day) (it happens quite often), Ailsa creates a beaded necklace.

Vaughn's Handsome Shirt and his lego:  two reasons to smile!

Rarely seen in the wild, we were lucky to capture a hug of hufflings on film.

Best Bath Ever.  (note that a shower was required for actual "cleaning")

Monday, 16 June 2014

Time to rethink my life

I have decided that I need to seriously debate the wisdom of maintaining my current course in life versus becoming, oh, a crack addict.

The Things I Need To Focus On As a Working Mom
  1. Getting everyone up by 7.
  2. Putting a nice, healthy breakfast on the table.
  3. Hurrying everyone through breakfast.
  4. Making sure that two kids are dressed and beds are made; dressing the little one.
  5. Teeth brushing for four people.
  6. Getting out the door with two balanced lunches, rain gear, and a water bottle, to get to the school bus stop by 7:45.
  7. On the days that I'm at home, planning activities for the day, such as The Gym!  Costco!  The Pet Store!  Reading!  Hygiene! Math and Language Skills!  (this was all done today)
  8. On the days that I'm at work, being as productive as possible in 15 hours a week, to ensure that my boss doesn't pull the plug on my amazing flexible schedule.
  9. Keeping the yard neat, garden weeded, and plants (somewhat) alive.
  10. Coordinating babysitting and nannying.
  11. Staying calm, setting a good example, and teaching important lessons like, "Why whacking your sister(s) with a stick is not a good idea:  Three part series".
  12. Always remembering sunscreen and sunhats.  For everyone.
  13. Making dinner that is healthy and semi-edible while three maniacs scream around underfoot, to eat by 6 pm.
  14. Bathing (tonight with homemade bath paint!), readying for bed, and sedating (just kidding!  ha ha!) the kids by 7:30  (ha ha... ha...kaff).
  15. Cleaning the house from top to bottom, reshelving books, organizing toys, and getting meals prepared for the next day.
  16. Finding a nanny for the summer.  In the next two weeks.  After scrambling to fill in the time between now and the end of June for the next two weeks.
  17. Maybe showering and/or styling my hair for the next day.  Maybe.
  18. Getting to bed before 11 midnight 1 am.

The Things I Need To Focus On As A Crack Addict
  1. Getting more crack.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Original Thought

Hey, remember how enthused and appreciative I felt towards Google the other day?

I’m not sure that I feel awesome that Google is fostering a global connectedness to all other human beings, or not, but the other day,  I decided to look up a question that had sort of bothered me since I added an oral rinse to my dental regime.

For those who don’t know about my amazing teeth, they have always been crooked, crowded, snaggly, but cavity-free.  Cleanings took half the time of mere mortals, and in my twenties, my every-five-year dentist habit was met with disapproval, but a grudging, “you have good teeth”.  Apparently, I have been overconfident, though, as my last trip to the dentist was terrible.  The cleaning took forever.  It hurt.  And they found two occlusions.  Now, to be fair, an occlusion is just a pre-cavity (so my record stands!), but they booked me for fillings.  I showed up, ready and a little nervous, and they offered me the needle.  

"Um, do I have to?" I asked.  "I don’t like needles."

"You know what?" he said, “It’s just a small one.  You probably don’t need freezing.”


OH MY GAAAAAAAAAHHHHSHHHHH.  (the sound of me trying to yell with three hands in my mouth.)  Apparently, I do TOO need freezing.  And also, apparently, Marathon Man made far too big of an impact on me, as that’s all I could think about, despite trying to visualize nice rippling brooks over smooth river stones.*  I was tense, sweaty, and it took 40 minutes to do, since they had to keep stopping so I could start breathing/stop whimpering again.  No good. 

“We’ll book another appointment for the other one.” 


Two weeks later, I show up, already shaking and panicky.  I asked for the Mouth Needle this time.  

“It’s just a small one.  You probably don’t need—"

“Give me the damn needle!!!!”

Without living through it again, my hands were clenched together, my eyes were closed, and I held an isometric glute contraction for a full 15 minutes.  Then….

“All done.”

One eye slowly opened, then the other.

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

“That was… (long pause)… fine.”  And I meant it.  No pain, at all.  Even the needle part was fine.  What a nice dentist!  From all the tensing and worrying, though, I was super-shaky, and had to sit in my car for 10 minutes before I could drive.

But I digress.  Two (not really) cavities, two stressful chair sessions, and you-bet-I’m-buying-an-oral-rinse, so that I can add to my regime of flossing, brushing, and having Good Teeth.

Which brings me, finally, to Google.  I started to type a question about the aforementioned oral rinse.  I noticed that, when I spit, there are lots of blue... things... that come out.  So, I started typing, "what is the blue stuff that I spit out when I use mouthwash?" and the darn thing auto-completed it for me!  Not on the first word, but still.  

I'm torn between being reassured that there are millions of others is at least one other person out there who has the same questions, the same inquiries, the same concerns... and being slightly depressed that there is nothing that I can come up with that somebody else in the world (actually, in the English-speaking, computer-accessible world) hasn't already asked.  I tried.

In fact, without even trying, I read this the other day:

"Uniqueness, when it comes to human experience, is a fiction we tell ourselves. Maybe in combination the elements of your life amount to something one-of-a-kind, but you can be pretty sure that each of the elements is something someone has owned, done, claimed, crowed about before. So you can drive yourself bonkers trying to hunt down elements that are at least unique to your FB feed, or you can decide that your experience has value in its value to you." - Carolyn Hax

Again, reassuring that I'm not alone, but great, even my unique thoughts about uniqueness have already been uniquely thought and written about.  So, never mind, I guess?

Bleah.  Pass the floss.

* Come to think of it, the laughing brook thingy didn’t work during labour either.  Maybe my choice of visualization is the problem.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

We're baaaaack...

It's amazing how quickly one's perspective shifts when one realizes that what one didn't really want in the first place is now gone forever.

This can be applied to all sorts of things (not just dating, ha ha), but for me, it was Google maps.  At first, I thought it was sort of creepy, but then the magic truck* drove by again, taking new pictures, and little V and I were lost to the mists of time... until yesterday!

About a week ago, Alert Reader TP#2 sent me the following:
Google (GOOG) has updated its Street View feature so users can now travel back through time and see how places have changed since the mapping service launched in 2007. Users will be able to click on a new clock icon in the corner of the screen when using Street View, which enables anyone to explore roads and areas almost anywhere in the world. Clicking this new icon will then allow users to move a scrollbar, changing the year and even season of the area or building they are currently looking at to see how it has changed over time. (Bloomberg)
My immediate thought was, I can see my picnic with Vaughn again!

I rushed (by typing in a url, of course) on over to Google Maps, put the little man in front of Saamis Rotary park, and ... there it was, with the new splash pad.  No little V.  No picnic.  I remember how hard I had tried to do some kind of screen capture on the image** when I first saw it.

I remember the first time I noticed it was gone.

Then, two days ago, my dad sent me a link to some items that he's posted on kijiji -- that I accommodatingly store in my garage (since nobody in their right mind would drive out to North Gower for a gently-used telescope) -- with the link to my address on Maps.

"What are the chances," he asked, "that both your mother and I were at your house that day?"

Parked in my driveway is their white car.  Parked in front of the house is their minivan.  Judging by the "landscaping" (loose term) of the front yard, I guessed that the magic truck drove by sometime over the summer of 2012, when I was on bedrest, Chris was in the Hat, my dad was in full basement renovation/sawdust creation mode, and my mom had moved in to help out, despite my fervent, repeated, and desperate assurances that, really, I was fine, and I didn't need to suddenly live with both of my parents again.  So, to answer his question, the chances were great.  It would have been much harder to have found a time that I was alone.  Blessedly alone...

I kid, I kid.


Yesterday, I went to find something else on Google Maps, and I got a new screen.  And a little clock in the corner.  I caught my breath, zoomed in to Medicine Hat, then to my old park, and clicked on the clock icon, and ... there we were.  Vaughn was wearing the full-sleeved blue bib that now belongs to Tamsin and his little brown hat, and I had on my teal v-neck tee, that I still own.***  According to the date stamp, it was September 2009.  He would have been 8 months old, and I would have been -- just slightly -- pregnant with Ailsa, though I had probably just found out.

It's amazing how nostalgic I can feel for a time which was incredibly difficult (or so I thought at the time -- life has since taught me differently!); with Chris was travelling a lot, I was overwhelmed and dreading the return to work... and probably feeling nauseous.  (Just) one little one underfoot, who was going to be going to daycare, and how-could-I-leave-him!  I was probably wrestling him to stay still on our Elvis picnic blanket while we ate our snack, and wished that I had remembered to bring wipes or diapers or any of the trappings that weigh down my giant purse now.  But how sad I felt when I thought that precious moment was gone.  And how I ached to see it again.

Thanks, Google.  You rock.

* I'm assuming it's a magic truck.  I mean, it apparently drives up every freaking street in the world and takes panoramic images that they can splice together into a website (portal?), which some people (nerds) might call technology, but to me, is pure magic.  Also, if you zoom in, you'll see that I'm looking directly at it... but I didn't see it... so I'm updating its status now to an invisible magic truck.  Whoa.

** I, like, right-clicked at least four times.

*** I still have -- and wear -- that shirt.  It contributes to my inner monologue when I'm walking downtown and I see a panhandler, and I can itemize every article of clothing I have on, how much it cost, and how long ago.  My recent record:  blouse ($5.99, Value Village, 2010), pants ($19.99, Sirens, 2000)****, shoes ($49, Winners, 2008).

****  Lettuce take note:  this marks the first occasion where I've asterisked out of another footnote.  I'm not sure if that's an accomplishment or not.  But anyway, those 14-year-old pants (shiny grey, straight-leg jean cut) still look brand new.  Stop judging.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

School Fair!

Vaughn's school had its May Fair today!

First stop:  face painting.  The lineup was long, but luckily, there were friends and a playground to frisk about in while I waited in line.  The wait was worth it.

Tiger, tiger!
The happiest skeleton on the block

Tamsin refused service.

THEN, it started to rain!  Luckily, we were prepared with hats (to protect painted faces, of course), raincoats, and freezies.

Tamsin, though enjoying her little freezie, was not really amused.
The Three Musketeers waited out the downpour under some shelter.
The sun came out shortly, and we bought tickets for some games.  More lineups, but luckily, there was more fun to be had:  we made friends with a basenji (note:  we need a basenji), fished in the fishpond, did some beanbag tosses, then threw a bunch of stuff at a bunch of other stuff.
Vaughn has decided that he needs a nerf crossbow.  Awesome.

We tried to go see a reptile display, but they had already packed up.  Our last stop was the balloon animal stand, where the amazing Sandra made the kids a sword, a monkey, and a teddy bear.  
Tamsin was a little confused by this...thing...

All in all, a good day at the fair.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Never a dull moment

Another season of Karen vs. the Lawn has begun.

So far this year, I have raked, top-dressed and overseeded the front and back yard,  half-heartedly pulled up some weeds (which I was hoping were very lush, strong little grasslings but am starting to suspect are an army of maple trees), and watched anxiously for signs of buds on my crocuses (2 flowers from 7 plants), tulips (3 for 5), and daffodils (0 for 2).  The score so far:  my hosta is just starting to peek out of the earth, in tightly-furled purple points, but other perennials, like my hydrangea, are barely putting out tiny green buds.  The lilac turned into a lush, green tree sometime in the past week, and the peonies, echinacea, and bleeding hearts are already battling over which one gets to escape their little fenced-off area and overrun my yard.  (Answer:  none of the above.  The rhubarb has exploded into two giant ... red and green things ... and one smaller one.)  (Make up your own descriptor, please.)  Of the three "perennial" plants that I planted in late summer -- and even covered with protective cones, only one is showing signs of life.

We went to the New Edinburgh plant sale last weekend, and picked up some geraniums (coral and red; Ailsa's choice) for our front door hanging basket, and a flat of daisies, which are cheerful and easy to grow.  I also transplanted two shrubs of unknown type from small pots into my driveway planters - we'll see what they do with more space and some proper care, and once I figure out what they like, may well transplant them in the fall.

It's like this every spring.  So much green!  So much hope!  My garden patch is in desperate need of weeding, but I'll let it remain Vaughn's construction site for another week, at which time I can prepare the soil to receive, then kill, those hopeful little seeds.

But back to the lawn.  I am still determined to have a beautiful lawn.  To that end, I decided at the end of last year, that it was Time to Sharpen the Mower Blades.  I would go to Lee Valley, buy the kit, figure out how to do it and... was quickly talked out of it by my father-in-law.  "Why don't you find some travelling knife sharpener who will do it for you?"  I immediately saw the benefits:  after all, I had memories of the knife sharpener driving down our street as a child, and I could relive that.  I'd be saving time, effort, and probably several pints of blood and a few fingers.  Sold!

Surprisingly (to me, anyway), there is only one company in Ottawa that does mobile lawn mower sharpening.  I called the number on the website, and spoke to an actual person, who was also the owner and entire staff.  For $34, he would pick up my lawn mower, bring it back to his shop (his shoppe?), sharpen it, and return it a week later.  If I wanted it back within 48 hours, I'd have to drop it off and pick it up myself.  And it would cost $25, before tax.

"For an extra $5, essentially, it's worth the mobile service."

I agreed.

The directions were simple:  tape a post-dated cheque for $34 to my little push mower, leave it out of the garage (but not out in front where it would wander away*), and ... wait for it to be returned next Wednesday.  I put the cheque in a baggie, in case of rain, and then decided that my lawn would be a jungle by next week, so I mowed it quickly, cheque-in-baggie already attached to the handle and flapping jauntily in the sun.

We went to pick Vaughn up at school at 3 pm.  When we came home, the lawnmower was gone, and a receipt was in my mailbox.  What an awesome business, I thought.

Either that, or I just paid someone $34 to steal my lawnmower.

* see also, Vanier-is-up-and-coming

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Thanks.... I think...

Sunday:  smoothies and toast, groceries and the park.

A nice, simple day, and if I'm lucky, I get to nap too.

The kids and I love our local grocery store.  The days that they're super-good, they get to go to the child minding upstairs at the gym, and the days that they're not, they get to shop with me, eating samples of cheese, and conning the deli ladies out of ham and the bakery ladies out of cookies.  It's a win/win!

The bakery lady is lovely.  We talk all the time, with or without the kids in tow.  The deli ladies are always smiling and friendly (and sometimes give giant free samples), and there's one particularly amazing cashier who shares in the kids' joys and tells her own stories.  When she recently welcomed her first, long-awaited grandchild, she handed me her phone, full of pictures of the wee girl in Sweden.  She was so happy that I cried.

But back to the bakery lady.  She's a mom, too, and likes that I make the kids ask (loudly and politely) for their cookie, and that they bellow "THANK YOU!" when she hands it over.  She's friendly and funny, and the other day, she hit me with the best back-handed compliment that I've gotten in a long time.

"You look really good," she said, "for a mom of three."

"Um, thanks?"

"No, I mean, most women with three kids look TERRIBLE.  Really tired and, just, HORRIBLE."

"Ok, um..."

"I mean, you look tired, but not HORRIBLE."

And on top of that, "Tamsin's" cookie, which I usually get to eat most of, was eaten in full by the varmint.  Humph.

It got better later:  we went to the park after dinner.  Vaughn took the hockey sticks, Ailsa pulled Tamsin in the wagon, and we stopped on the way to visit with a nice doggie.  The owner looked at them, then at me.

"Beautiful children.  Are they all yours?"

"Yes, thank you!"

"All three?  But you're so young."

There "may" have been a strut the rest of the way to the park.  And back.