Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Making mountains out of anthills

We have an ant problem.

 I had a bad day when I was weeding the garden before I planted in June.* I dug up approximately six gazillion ant eggs and baby ants, which creeped me right out. Luckily, I was wearing gloves. And I had a shovel, a bucket, and a burning hot driveway. A small bit of me felt bad, but the rest just felt twitchy, itchy, and ready to stop weeding for at least the rest of the day.

Our clothesline, which I love, goes from our deck to a post in the back corner of our yard, just in front of our big boulder, which I call Pride Rock. There's a gorgeous lilac tree that's grown up around the post, and it is home to -- and I'm just estimating, here -- another four gazillion ants. They are super lucky to have our clothesline, which doubles as an Ant Highway between the tree and our deck. It's great, because not only can they have fun while I'm hanging/taking down the laundry (if you pluck the line at just the right time, the ants go ptoink, off into the air somewhere) (it's super fun!) (I should find a hobby), but also, at least 5 of the little buggers smuggle themselves into the house in the laundry basket, little stowaways inside wee little sockies and cute little shirts.

 Somehow, the bathroom has become the place to be, for ants. Five or six, everytime you go in. Oddly, five or six DIE everytime we go in. But there are always five or six more.

Imagine my .... there are no words for this one, actually ... when the kids hopped into the tub last night with their awesome new bath toys (coconut shells), and Vaughn saved a bathtub ant from drowning, and decided that he would play with him for the entire bath. Ant-thony** even had a little coconut boat! Vaughn was so gentle, letting him swim for a bit, letting him rest for a bit.

After everyone was clean and fresh, Vaughn gently placed his coconut shell on the edge of the tub. "Anty needs a rest." Naturally, I thought it was a euphemism for "I played with my ant to death". But nope, Anty was just ... resting... I could almost see him panting, in fact. 

"Mommy, can you sew Anty a blanket?" Um....no.

I talked him down to a small piece of toilet paper, carefully draped over the poor thing. (Swimming is hard work.) "Mommy, can you take him downstairs with you and watch him till you go to bed? What time do ants get up? Maybe I'll get up early tomorrow when he gets up and we can have breakfast together."

I quickly assured him that I was not going to babysit the damn ant. But that he'd have a good night sleep, and that, if he wasn't there in the morning, he'd be off doing other ant-ctivities (see what I did there?).

It is to my credit that I didn't pith the damn ant. I did check on him before I went to bed, and he had already recovered from what was probably the most exciting bath of his life, and wandered off to god knows where (not the Ant Highway; catapulty clothesline rides don't start till 9 am. Everyone knows that). Vaughn was quite complacent this morning. "He's probably with his mom and dad."

 So, to sum up, the moral of the story is: the boy needs a dog. Stat.


 * I was a little late.
 ** I tried, but it didn't catch on. Neither did Ant Tracey or ... nope, that's all I had. It was Anty, of course.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Regrets? I've had a few...

Alternate title: A Year in Review

Disclaimer: There is a seriously self-congratulatory tone to most of this one, but if you bear with me, there may be lessons learned and some self-recrimination too. See if you can hold on long enough to get to that part.


With Chris being home again, I suddenly realized that my year of hell freedom was over, and all the things that I could have or should have done, could now (probably) never happen.

Oddly enough, the ones that spring to mind are as follows:
Now I can't buy a box of Pot of Gold and eat the entire thing, while watching tv. ...actually, insert "tube of cookie dough" or "tub of Haagen Dazs" for "Pot of Gold", and I think that's about it.


Over the year* -- and here's where I pat my own back and toot my own horn -- I managed to keep all three kids alive, which, given their penchant for danger and adventure (and often, their screamy and disreputable behaviour), deserves, if not a trophy, then at least my own talk show and also an island, as a reward. I managed to get one kid off to school for the first time, and returned to work (part time). I developed and implemented a pretty fancy cleaning schedule that has kept my house cleaner than it has ever been before (not without thanks to our amazing nanny), and that I'm still loosely adhering to. The kids got attention (even bad attention is good attention, right?), outings, restaurant meals every second week, activities like gymnastics, soccer and dance, and no communicable diseases. The were clean, dressed, fed (very healthily!), and although are not yet the super-polite, incredibly respectful little beings that I'm trying to force them to be, at least haven't bitten anyone in public. Yet.

I have taught BodyAttack, faithfully, every Saturday morning, so I must have maintained some kind of fitness level, despite not being able to get to the gym more than one other time a week, ever. This can probably be explained by the 10,000 pushup/burpee/situp challenge, which NO, I still haven't finished, but I swear that I will. I also completed all levels of Dance Central 1 and 2 on our XBox, which kept me entertained for a few months, and I'm happy to say that my infatuation with Angel, my CGI Dance Central boyfriend**, has subsided since Chris' return. I also played ball hockey almost every Thursday night. The few times that no babysitters were available, well, I have to admit that the ensuing disappointment translated into wrath, landing squarely on the heads of three little hufflings. I mean, it's my One Night Out where I get to be a fun person again, not just a mom, not just a coworker, and if you take that away, I get cwanky.

The lawn has lots more weeds than usual (but still not a lot, unless you count the side yard, which I don't), and has only been fertilized once so far. The garden has two surviving bean plants (damn squirrels), several lush beet plants, lots of leafy spinach plants, and not one carrot. Not one! My tomato plant yielded one beautiful tomato, but was eaten by -- you guessed it -- the damn squirrels.

Around the house, the basement is 99.5% finished, with the last LAST last step being to finish painting/carpeting the basement stairs (they're (somewhat badly) primed, but look pretty good as is, considering that they're basement stairs). Over the year, I painted lots of trim and shelving. I had the main floor and stairways painted by professionals. I've reorganized the living room, and set up a lovely deck lounge. I even fashioned a very nice canopy out of fade-resistant material, to lessen the heat from the sun beating down on the deck, through the plexiglass roof on the pergola. I bought, built, and (mostly) installed an awesome new headboard that makes our bedroom almost look like grownups might sleep there.

I didn't drink very much (considering), because you can't probably shouldn't just drink a whole bottle of red wine by yourself while watching tv, folding laundry and doing burpees. I didn't often buy white wine, which can be put back in the fridge, so I'd save my red for when Chris was home, since it's never as good the next day. (Alone, doing burpees.) I had two perfect, beautiful, memorable meals: one was a lunch at Chez Lucien, the other was a four-course dinner at le Nordik. Both involved wine, and both were tables for one.

The inital transition when he left was hard. The kids were sad, there were too many changes, and too many things that I was solely responsible for. But I feel pretty good about how I rallied. I'm pretty sure that, even though I didn't come out of it with a(nother) Masters Degree (kaff), I learned even more than Chris did. I learned that I can be happily alone without being lonely. That I can do the impossible, and sustain it for months. This new transition, of having Daddy around, underfoot, interfering in Mommy's Way, is, in a way, even harder.

Looking ahead, I almost feel that I have to convince myself that it is good to have him back. Because now I can slack off on the housework a bit (and only be fully responsible for laundering kids' clothes and diapers). I don't have to plan everything to the nth degree, because I have someone to help. I can actually leave the house in the evening to go for a run or to the gym***, or pick up an extra class here and there. I got a haircut for the first time in 17 months. I went to le Nordik for a day of reward. There's someone in my bed at night and when I wake up.

But now there's someone in my bed at night and when I wake up. This impacts important activities like tossing and turning, turning on lights in the morning, snacking while reading, and/or doing my nails in bed. There's someone underfoot, helping me to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There's someone helping with the housework, meaning that the onus isn't solely on me, meaning that maybe the cleaning schedule has sort of fallen by the wayside. There's someone who wants a say (!!!) in what we do, where we go, what we eat, what we watch. After a year of autonomy and complete control, I have to compromise.****

So, for the next little while, I'll continue to try to find balance (the balance that I haven't had in a year, aside from Thursday nights), try to appreciate the extra set of hands, the opportunity to actually play with the kids again, instead of always multi-tasking, and maybe even get to sleep in once in a while. And maybe I'll even go out and buy myself some good drugstore bonbons and eat them all in one sitting, hiding in the basement. But probably not.



* *It was actually 11 months, but I deserve credit for at least a year.
** Chris wants me to point out that Angel is not only CGI (and therefore not real), but also gay. No he isn't.
*** This may actually happen! It hasn't yet, but it totally could.
**** Sucks.

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.


SEE????



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.”

Great!

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.” 

Boooo.

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.

Kaff.

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.