Sunday 29 September 2013

#6: Make Bedtime and Morning-Time a Calm and Pleasant Ritual

Number six of the 101 Things to Do for Children is "Make both going to bed and getting up a calm and pleasant ritual."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system first.


Your entire day is filled with calm routine that allows your children the security of knowing exactly what to expect at any given moment, and by after dinner they know that story time and brush-your-teeth time and snack time and potty-break time all lead up to bedtime, and they willingly and lovingly accept it all with great serenity.

In the morning, you cheerily open the door and call out, "Good Morning, Sweetie!" Your child then calmly rolls out of bed and goes to the bathroom on their own and gets dressed without complaint, and they are so cooperative in getting out the door that you actually have time to smile at your coworkers over a fresh cup of coffee (you even had time to make the pot).


You're on maternity leave. Your baby woke up every two hours last night, so you're really tired, and you're hoping like crazy that everyone will sleep in until seven so that you can sneak in a shower, but your baby wakes up at five and will only sleep if he's in bed with you; this means no to the shower, but hey, you get to be horizontal for another couple of hours. Make that one. Hour. You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

You have a poopy diaper to change and a toddler to get on the toilet before he pees his pants, and for some reason, everyone except for you is crying (you're by yourself because your husband works at four in the morning. Lucky bastard) and you don't know why. You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

The rest of your day is not securely filled with routine. You try, but depending on how much sleep you got, and on everyone's mood, you might go for a walk, or colour, or go to Strong Start, or just hang out on the couch and watch TV for a bit before you remember that you're going out for the evening (everyone!) and you're hoping that the diapers are dry by then. Oh, darnit. Apparently you need to do some laundry. . . . You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

Now you're back home and it's an hour before bedtime, but the toddler fell asleep in the car, so you know that when he wakes up it's going to be a disaster. He finally wakes up and he's crying but he can't tell you why, so he goes to bed, and when he wakes up he's so sad and sore, so he gets some ibuprophen, and you offer him a cookie but he doesn't want it, and he's beside himself with--I don't know what this is, actually--and when he finally does come out he's more than happy to play or watch TV for the "Fifteen minutes until bedtime, Buddy." When you say "Five more minutes until bedtime," he says "Okay." Liar.

It's now way past bedtime and the baby's finally done his last pee and poop so you know that he's ready (he's chewing on you; that's a good sign that he wants a bottle). Toddler, though, he doesn't want to brush his teeth (but he does) or go pee (but he does) or go to bed (but he does). As soon as you close his door and get settled with the baby, Toddler has to poop (but he doesn't), and he didn't get a snack and now he wants his cookie; uh, no, you can have some crackers (and he does); afterwards he still wants his cookie. Too late, Bud. You close the door and he has to poop (but he doesn't). Then Daddy has to sleep with him. His crying is keeping up baby, who is screaming in his crib. You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

Finally upon the threat of pain of a sound spanking (empty threat, but don't tell him that), Toddler goes to bed. And, he's sort of quiet. Quiet enough that attempt number two with the baby actually works. But now it's past your husband's bedtime (he gets up at three. Yes, that's A.M.).  You don't even get to watch "adult" TV together. You know, like the Simpsons. So now you're thinking that you're probably not going to get lucky tonight, either. So you sit at your computer and write a blog post, instead. You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

Reality is Improving:

Okay, really, it's not always this bad. When we do have our shit together and we have a nice dinner at home with bath time and story time etc right after, and especially if no one naps past four or five (and especially if the toddler doesn't nap at all), bedtime is easy. Well, easier. It's at least a lot more fun for everyone involved.

I do want to cry sometimes when I think of how it's all going to go down when I'm back at work in a month, but then I think, after a few days of getting up at six so that they can eat breakfast before heading off to daycare at 7:10, they're going to be so freaking tired by the time supper rolls around that they'll be happy to go to bed!

Or, what's going to happen is that because I'm going to have to get up at five, I'm going to have to go to bed at nine in order to be sane and functional. If they're still farting around after 8:30, they're going to have to fend for themselves. Or just stay the hell in bed! Ha. Ha. Ha.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Does Every Woman Have the Same Bullshit that They Believe about Themselves?

I watched the season premiere of "The Big Bang Theory" last night.

Howard's been rubbing high-estrogen cream on his mother's back for weeks, and he hasn't been wearing gloves. He gets a little emotional. He becomes the Comedic-Stereotypical-Female; you know the one: she listens to, and believes her, own bullshit as told to her by the Scared Little Bitch inside of her.

As Bernadette tells him that the cream absorption is why he's been "bloated, and moody, and a giant pain in the ass", and he hugs a pillow to himself while responding that he feels "so stupid. And fat," I couldn't help but think of how women not only Believe Their Own Bullshit, but we all believe some of the same bullshit.

So then I got to thinking, is it, then, Our Own Bullshit? Or is it everyone else's bullshit, and we're just following along with it because that's easier than Believing in Ourselves?

It then got me thinking about how a local drugstore used to stock women's magazines--you know, the ones with all the skinny/fit, hot, beautiful women who've been airbrushed to death on the covers--right across the aisle from the chocolate. It was like they knew that you'd look at these unattainable ideals, feel like shit about yourself, and then sooth your soul with boxes of Lindt truffles.

Then my thoughts went back to, Whose bullshit is this, anyway? There are lots of days where I feel like Howard; I just want to cuddle up on the couch with a pillow and a soft blanket, eat chocolate, and read a book so that I don't have to think about how fat and stupid I feel. Do I feel that way because "Cosmo" is telling me to?


I don't buy those magazines because I know that I'll never be 5'10", 110 pounds, and I don't want to try to kill myself (literally) to try and be that. I also know that I don't need to wear hundreds of dollars worth of makeup to make me attractive. Just because I don't feel attractive doesn't mean I'm not hot and sexy. Just ask my husband's penis.

I feel that way because of how I see myself in the mirror. Rather, it's how my SLB sees herself in the mirror. My Confident Believer sees my nice smile and beautiful hair, and I just need to teach myself how to listen to her more often than I do to the SLB.

My hope is that one day the SLB will be silent.

Then the show went on, and I was wonderfully distracted by the scene where Howard and Raj felt each other up. It was still a scene that was full of Our Own Bullshit, but I laughed so hard I missed some of it for the tears in my eyes. I've just watched it a second time. I'll have to watch it again.

Because these two scenes alone can show us how much bullshit about ourselves we believe, and how utterly ridiculous that is, and then we can laugh it all away and start fresh, and start believing the Truth about ourselves.

Friday 27 September 2013

A Missing Monkey Mystery

Sometimes I just want to give the kids in Busytown a shake and say, "Listen to what some one is trying to tell you!"

I mean, if you're looking for a monkey (firstly, if it's Chimp Junior that you're looking for, you're looking for an ape, not a monkey, but what ever) and the baby monkey (chimp) keeps saying movie, or something like it, she's not just being cute. Junior said that he was going to a movie, and unlike Grandpa, her memory works just fine.

Max has the same problem with Ruby. Sure, he can only say one word per episode, but if she'd just listen to him the first or second time around, the suffering wouldn't be so prolonged. (Maybe their parents should show up once in a while and, you know, parent. Ruby's only twelve, and Grandma only stops by now and then.)

I guess it can be hard to decipher toddler- and baby-speak.

But for crying out loud, at least try!

Thursday 26 September 2013

Stop Believing Your Bullshit (Step #1)

Step #1 of
How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps
is Stop Believing Your Bullshit.

Kate Bartolotta put it this way:

All that stuff you tell yourself about how you are a commitment-phobe or a coward or lazy or not creative or unlucky? Stop it. It’s bullshit, and deep down you know it. We are all insecure 14-year-olds at heart. We’re all scared. We all have dreams inside of us that we’ve tucked away because somewhere along the line we tacked on those ideas about who we are that buried that essential brilliant, child-like sense of wonder. The more we stick to these scripts about who we are, the longer we live a fraction of the life we could be living. Let it go. Be who you are beneath the bullshit.

Stop listening to that Scared Little Bitch inside of you and start listening to the Confident Believer. They're like the devil and angel riding on your shoulders, but instead of pressuring you to do good things or wicked things, one is bullying you to feel horrible about yourself, making you doubt yourself, and the other one is cheering you on, making you believe in yourself.

Or as these Fabulous Ladies say, you have your Bad Wolf and you have your Good Wolf (scroll down or search the categories; you'll find it).

So what is my Bullshit that I have to stop believing?

On the days that I really hate myself, the SLB changes the lyrics so that all I hear is Bif Naked's voice screaming "I hate myself today," and then she tells me that I'm fat, lazy, stupid, a horrible mother, ugly, socially inept, a terrible wife, a neglectful friend, incapable of dealing with life's little bumps, and that I don't deserve to be happy, I don't deserve to have time for myself, and that my life is just too hard and I'm too tired, so I should just cry all the time.

Fuck her.

First of all, my life isn't that hard, so get over it.

As Kate B says:

If you can read this, your life is pretty awesome.
Setting aside our first world problems and pettiness, if you are online reading this, you have both electricity and wifi or access to them. Odds are you are in a shelter of some sort, or on a smart phone (and then kudos to you for reading this on the go). Life might bump and bruise us, it may not always go the way we plan and I know I get frustrated with mine, but here’s the thing

You are alive.


I need to stop listening to my SLB and I need to stop believing everything she says. I have to let my CB be stronger, and let her speak in a louder voice; I need to stop muzzling her, no matter how insistent the SLB is about it.

I'm not fat. Okay, I'll be realistic and I'll admit that I need to get more exercise, but it's not because I want to look like a porn star; rather, I'd like to be fit and healthy--I'm in my late thirties and my kids are three and under; being around for them and being able to do things with them is pretty important. And since I'm physically able to exercise, I don't really have a good enough excuse not too. I mean, if Arthur Boorman can change his life, after being told by almost everybody that there wasn't any hope for him, WTF is my excuse, SLB? I have to start believing that no matter how tired I am, exercise will make me feel better (and it does--I know it does--so again, WTF?).

I'm not lazy. I'm not super-type-A-with-lots-of-energy, at least not every day, but I accept who I am in regards to how much I get done. This is where my Bad Wolf needs to shut up about how much housework I'm not getting done, and the Good Wolf needs to say, "Meh, that laundry will still be there tomorrow; go play with your kids."

I'm not stupid. Sometimes I have moments that speak otherwise, but I'm really smart. Sometimes I'm really tired, so I'll do stupid things, but at least I learn from my mistakes. Or try to get some sleep.

I'm not a horrible mother, a terrible wife, or a neglectful friend. My kids are happy and they love me, my husband is happy and he loves me, and my friends love me--and sometimes we aren't too busy to do more than just talk on the phone.

I'm not ugly. So shut the fuck up, Bitch. You are no longer allowed to be around when I'm looking in a mirror. Believer, start talking louder!

I'm not socially inept. I'm shy. And, sometimes, the Brain-to-Mouth Filter is missing, or completely clogged, or part of the thought gets side-tracked on the way down, and what comes out doesn't sound at all like what I wanted it to. I need to believe in myself more when I'm in a group situation.

I am capable of handling life's little bumps. Sure, it's easier to do when I'm rested and well fed, but I can do it. My phone got shattered this week. Shattered. By a dog and a chicken pot pie. Not my dog. The pie was for my friend. Yep, it was her dog. I did not once get upset. Until I learned that when they fix it, they're going to wipe everything. I'll lose all of my pictures and contacts. I hated myself for sending the phone out for repair instead of getting a new screen myself (I didn't know you could). "I'm going to lose all of those pictures of the kids, waa." Then I said, "I still have my kids," and I felt better. It's just one of those things, and so long as I learn what I need to (back up your smartphone regularly, don't carry your phone on top of a pie when a dog is really happy to see you), it's all good.

I do deserve to have time for myself. It refreshes me, and I'm a lot more patient with my kids. I do deserve, therefore, to take some time to write everyday; I shouldn't have to feel guilty about this pleasure. So if I feel like I'm getting snippy and overwhelmed, it's okay for me to do something for myself (even if it's just reading a nice fluffy book while my kids watch BabyTv or TreeHouse).

Most importantly, I do deserve to be happy. Not happy because my life is perfect, but happy because I just am (I think this is step #2, so more on it later).

I'm sure that some days I'll need to have a good little cry, but I find that that gets rid of a lot of negative shit, and it makes room for all the good stuff. It's like taking all of the boxes of Negative Reinforcements that the Scared Little Bitch has filed away over the years, and shredding them, and making room for the great artwork that my Confident Believer is creating in my life.

Now if you all will excuse me, I'm going to go dig up some Bif Naked and I'm going to rock it.

Because "I Love Myself Today."


Looking at "How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex, and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps"

I found another checklist of things to do. It's only eight things. Not 101. At first glance it looks like I can complete this list before the 101 Things list, but I suppose this depends on how damaged my psyche is...

Before I even get to the Eight, I have to say that I love the statement:

If you can read this, your life is pretty awesome. 

Yes, it is.

I have to run right now, but I'm going to look at #1 later tonight: Stop believing your bullshit.

It sounds simple.

I'm a little worried.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Yummy Yoga Mats


#18: Eliminating or Limiting TV

#18: Eliminate or strictly limit TV watching and replace with activity oriented things which involve the child rather than his/her being a passive observer. When the child does watch TV, watch it with him/her and discuss what is being seen.

In theory, I wholeheartedly agree with this one. In practice, I would like to extend a big THANK-YOU to Treehouse, Disney Junior, and BabyTV. Without you, my house would be the next stop for Kim and Aggie, I would stink so badly that fruit-flies would continuously circle, supper would never get made, and I’m not sure when I’d get to poop.

K1 and K2 sometimes hang out watching a bit of nicely distracting TV while I try to accomplish a bit of housework or personal hygiene. This helps to ensure that the house is still standing when I step out of the shower. (And, I’m pretty sure that a lot of people would never have more than one child without TV ;) , but that’s just between you and me.)

Now, I’m sure that it’s possible to hold to the theoretical ideal for #18, but I know myself, and I’m much more relaxed when I’m not trying to be the perfect mommy. I know people who strive for that. They’re crazy. Or they’re driving other people crazy. Seriously.

Besides, they don’t watch that much, even when it’s on. Most of the time the living room and dining room are made into a climbing gym and the TV is just background noise. More often than not, they’re asking, demanding, that I fetch down the puzzles and the marble games, or they disappear into a bedroom to play with something (which usually goes something like this: K1 builds a train track and K2 destroys it, which results in beaucoup de tears).

The only time that they watch more TV than I’d like is when they aren’t feeling well. This mostly applies to K1. If he hangs out on the couch with you all day, just watching movies etc., you know that he’s not feeling well, especially if he falls asleep while doing so (this is the kid that never naps during the day).

In general, the kids do play/engage in a ton of activities where they’re involved and not just spectators. We have games, crafty items, building blocks, a kitchen/dining/living-room/hallway that you can do laps around, parks, gymnastics, swimming lessons, a piano, and a fenced-in backyard. They’re very active kids.

As for the “when the child does watch TV, watch it with him/her and discuss what is being seen” part of #18, well, that defeats the whole purpose of using TV as a distraction so I can go poop, now doesn’t it?

Okay, seriously though, I always answer their questions/comments on what they watch, and there are some programs that they don’t get to watch (Angelina Ballerina is a whiny, spoiled little brat). Their favourite shows tend to teach them something, or make them laugh.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get the kids ready for an outing. BabyTV is on. Not that anyone is watching… 

Monday 23 September 2013

How Clean Is Your House?

Some days I think that the state of my house drives my mother nuts. Crazy. Not quite to the point of disgusted, but definitely to the point of highly annoyed.

There are just more days where I decide that being relaxed and that choosing to ignore the Cheerio-Dropping-Monsters' mess as they make trains out of the dining room chairs, and rearrange the rest of the furniture into "Their House" is more important than getting uptight and OCD about how clean my floors are.

I don't ignore it forever; the state of my house has NEVER reached the point to where those foxy ladies from "How Clean Is Your House?" have felt the need to swoop in and set me straight (there are lots of examples like this one on YouTube). Never. My bathroom and kitchen are always clean. As for the rest of the house, eventually, like at least once a week, I look around and think to myself, self, put the book down. Just put it down. The bottoms of your socks are getting a little dusty with Cheerio crumbs (in my defense this can take as little as an hour after vacuuming/washing the floors to accomplish), and maybe you should fold some laundry. You know, the basket that's been sitting there all invisible-like for the last three days; yeah, it's not folding itself. Nope. No laundry fairies around here.

I also make an extra effort to tidy when I know that company's coming over, but if I've had a busy day, getting the main furniture and the floors tidied (and double-checking the bathroom) might be as good as it gets. I'll save Spring Cleaning for the Spring. And the Fall. I guess that's Fall Cleaning. Whatever.

Anyway, my mom used to stress a bit when company was coming and the desks (which are in the living room) were cluttered, but I was happy with the clean floors and with the fact that yes, you could sit unhindered upon the couch. I always had to tell her that "I think that my friends and family are coming to visit us, not to see how clean my house is. If this isn't the case, they don't have to come over." I also think that if they care that much, they can help me clean. ;) But that never happens.

Recently, though, she went to my brother's for supper. He met her at the door and told her not to come in because it was a freak show upstairs; his wife was freaking out because she hadn't finished cleaning the house yet. I've been to her house. It's always immaculate to the point that she would put Kim and Aggie to shame, even if you drop by unexpectedly.

They had to go next door to her parents' place for dinner. When my sister-in-law's mom said that it's okay to take a weekend off once in awhile, she looked at her mom like she should be committed for uttering such nonsense. Or so I was told. I think my mom will appreciate my laid-back attitude a little more from now on. At least, I hope so.

Now, I do understand the need to start your work-week with a clean house; I'm going to be going back to work in November myself. I'm hoping by then to be organized enough that we're not searching for shoes when we should already be half-way to daycare, ut I highly doubt that I'd choose housework over going to the park with my husband and kids. I know I wouldn't. I might ask my husband and kids to help out first/later if it was that big a deal, but it probably wouldn't be.

Because I would rather my kids remember all the fun we had going to parks, and baking cookies, and making forts out of all the furniture, and playing games and doing puzzles, and not remember only hanging out with Dad while Mom went crazy with the mop.

Sunday 22 September 2013

#4: Your Child’s Wardrobe: The Re-Do.

I think that I might have a problem with wordiness. These posts all seem so much shorter in my head, and then I start typing, and it’s like I have a bad case of overflowitis.

Since one purpose of this blog is to work on my writing, I’m going to edit a previous post for conciseness. Or re-write it, whichever is easier:

Number four of 101 Things Parents Can Do to Help Children is: Analyze your child's wardrobe and build a wardrobe aimed at 1) freedom of movement, 2) independence, and 3) freedom from distraction.

My children’s wardrobes were mostly free, as in we’ve spent maybe $300 of our own money on our kids’ clothes in three years. I’m not going to analyze that too much because truthfully, the free part has been awesome.

Firstly, THANK YOU to the awesome woman who gives us all of her boys’ hand-me-downs!

Okay, so on with the wardrobe analysis.

1) I’m happy to say that all of the big-boy clothes allow for freedom of movement, no questions asked. They mostly consist of sweat-pants and comfy jeans, comfy t-shirts and cozy sweaters. The only time they hinder movement is if the pants are too big and they keep falling down, or if they’re too small; I now have bins marked “Too Big” and “Too Small” and as we find these items, they get set aside for later or for Kid #2, respectively. And, they were all free.

As for kid #2, he’s starting to crawl, and sometimes his legs get jammed up in the sleeper; when that happens we change him into pants and a shirt, and his freedom of movement is back. And, they were all free.

#1) Check.

2) I’m guessing that by independence they mean that the kids should be able to dress themselves. Socks on by himself: check. Pants on by himself: check. Shirts on by himself: check-ish. Jackets: not so much. Shoes: check 90% of the time!

Independence for K2: yeah, his view on that is struggle vigorously while you try to dress him because “MOM! I said I want to roll OVER! LET ME GO!!!” He’s starting to get the hang of pushing his own arm through a sleeve, but he still doesn’t tuck his thumb in, so it can be a bit tricky, especially when he’s vigorously struggling… We’ll wait a bit before we require him to dress himself.

Hmm. Maybe by independence they mean individuality. K1 can pick an orange shirt and green pants and blue socks and if that’s what he wants to wear, that’s what he gets to wear. Double check. If he loves what he’s wearing, and it’s free, awesome.

#2) Check.

3). Do my kids find their clothes distracting? Only when the sizing fit is an issue, and that’s just a matter of dresser management. Easy fix. Otherwise, nothing at the playground ever stops them. And, at this age, they don’t care that they’re free. Every new bag is awesome.

#3) Check.

The wardrobe has passed.

Saturday 21 September 2013

What Are You Thinking About?

Quite often when Hubby and I are driving along, he'll ask me, "What are you thinking about?"

Tonight, while driving back from the lake, I replied, "Not much at all. Just really micro random thoughts."

"Like what?" he said.

"Well," I replied, "I was thinking that I've been wearing yoga pants a lot lately, and that maybe I should start wearing other pants, like jeans, but jeans are cold in the rain at the lake, and I only have one pair anyway. Well, I have two pairs, but the other ones are a bit tight; I can do them up and everything but I feel like I'd look a little stuffed in them, and I can't really wear slacks for camping/hiking, but I do have slacks, so I need other types of pants, like cargo pants, but I'm not really a cargo pants kind of person, and what kind of pants were our friends wearing tonight? It was hard to tell because it was dark, but they weren't jeans or yoga pants and they looked more like cargo pants but more stylish but they weren't slacks; they looked like the kind of pants that I look at at the store and think, meh, not my style, but probably if I put them on they'd look really good, or if Hubby bought them I'd think, good call because when he buys me shirts, they're shirts that I've looked at and thought, meh, not my style, but I put them on and I really like them. Then I was thinking about the pants a character in one of my stories that I'm plotting out would wear. She's a pacifist, maybe a hippie, but she's hiding out in some army guy's cabin (he doesn't know) (yet), and she's (maybe) eight months pregnant, and she's doing something outside in order to get ready for winter, like smoking a moose or something, and she's about to get shot at, but if she's hiding out because she's supposed to be dead, wtf is she wearing?

And that's about where Hubby asked, "What are you thinking about?"

Wednesday 18 September 2013

How I Became a Jennifer Crusie Dealer

It was Jennifer Crusie's birthday yesterday (the 17th), so in honour of that, I'd like to write a post that I've been meaning to for a while, and tell you about how I became a Jennifer Crusie dealer. (I'll do an actual review her books some other time.)

It all started a few years ago when I worked in the Oil Patch as a First Aid Attendant. Oh, wait, no, I started dealing when I went to school in 2003ish, but I have to go back to the first time that I worked in the OP as an FAA. Because before I became a JC dealer, I became an addict.

When you work on drilling rigs as an FAA, you have a lot of downtime. A lot. Unless you're working on a rig from hell, staffed by idiots who, against the lovely OP adage, "put their fingers where they wouldn't put their penises" on a regular basis, all you had to do was keep a clean FA Room, keep a clean and maintained ETV (emergency transport vehicle), make sure all of your pertinent information was up to date, and play nice with the rig pigs. I mean the men who worked on the rig. (This was usually the hardest job.) Otherwise, you could watch TV (if you had it; see this post), exercise, do correspondence courses, or read. Or sleep.

I read, a lot. When I first started up there, my stints were a three-week max, so I got good use out of my library card. On one pre-work library trip, I was looking for just one more book. As usual, I was vehemently avoiding the "Romance" racks (I like my books well-written, thank-you very much (I had been scarred by a very badly written Harlequin), and at that point I didn't think romance could be).

I spied the shelving cart, and there, in all of it's glorious yellow (JC has some of the best book covers, I swear), was Faking It by Jennifer Crusie. The book was stamped "GF" for General Fiction (thank goodness!), and the blurb on the back sounded funny, so I checked it out. Oh my god I freaking loved it! It is by far one of the funniest books that I've ever read. It is well-written. And when Davy was pleasantly surprised to bounce off a round and soft Tilda, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself reading about a "real" woman; not some uber-fit Twiggy who always had perfect hair and make-up. Tilda is also not a simpering idiot (this could be a whole post on its own, so I'll leave simpering idiots for later), especially when it came to men. I had a new heroine. I also had a new favourite author.

So I go to work, and in between jobs I manage to hit up the local library up north. I find some more JC books (Tell Me Lies and another one, but I cannot remember which one it was). I was excited! They were stamped "ROM" for Romance. Fuck. I actually stood there with abject disappointment and tears brewing in my eyes. No. No. No. I hummed and hawed for at least five minutes before deciding, okay, and I checked the books out. I read them. I laughed. I loved them. I still had a new favourite author! Phew.

(I did have another moment of panic later on when Jennifer Crusie teamed up with Bob Mayer; I love the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, so when I saw one of her co-writes, I bought it. Oh man, was I disappointed. Seriously, it was some of the worst drivel I've ever read. So when I saw Don't Look Down I stood in the store for a few minutes trying so hard not to have an anxiety attack. Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. I bought the book, and thank-you, but Bob Mayer can actually write! Funny, funny, well-written book, and worth the leap of faith in JC. Every other co-write of hers is excellent as well.)

On the way home from the job I hit up a Chapters and bought every single JC book that they had in stock, even the ones I'd read from a library. I spent the next few years collecting every new and re-release I could get my hands on. I explored other "Romance" authors, like Sophie Kinsella and Diana Gabaldon. In more recent years I've collected even more romance (I was either pregnant, or, now, have two kids, so a girl's gotta get sex somehow when we're too tired/schedules don't mesh in real life), and I'm probably a bit of an addict, and Jennifer Crusie will always have a fond place in my heart as my gateway drug. I mean author. But this is another story.

Anyway, it's still a few years ago, and I now have a decent collection of books of all genres. I was taking a course at a college, and one of my classmates was deaf. She had an interpreter. Because the coursework was 90% practical practice, the interpreter had a lot of downtime. I noticed that she read a lot when she wasn't interpreting, so I approached her one day and said, "Have I got some books for you!" She was hooked (she aptly described the books as dangerous (in a good way)), and my JC dealing career started.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm back in the OP. I'm carrying with me a Rubbermaid bin full of books. Including my entire JC collection. A fellow FAA loved to read as well, and since we were sharing a house at the time, I happily lent her some books, Faking It and Bet Me included. I hooked another reader.

I've since lent (upon pain of Guido breaking your legs if you don't return the book) or recommended Jennifer Crusie to anyone who needs a good read. Oh sure, I recommend other authors, too, but none are as enjoyable. Or as addictive. But that could just be my opinion.

So, to Jennifer Crusie: Happy Birthday! And, thank-you for being such a great author. And thank-you for only co-writing with other wonderful authors! You rock. Even if your pajamas are being hijacked by old women.


Monday 16 September 2013

Verbal Diarrhea

I have a problem with this blog. I have a sneaking suspicion that it might be a little boring. At the very least, it's not interesting enough that anyone wants to comment on it. But then, I'm a little bored with it, and I probably wouldn't comment on it either.

Whenever I feel like that, I remind myself that having a kazillion people follow my my blog isn't my goal. Just writing, and getting better at writing, is.

One of the many goals I have with writing is to have it get easier to do. In other words, I'd like my first drafts to just flow from my brain to the keyboard. Usually I pause a lot as I think of how to perfectly word what I'm thinking so that other people think it's awesome (I'm doing it right now, dammit). It's become an annoyance. Sure, it makes rewrites easier (or non-existent), but I don't think it makes all the pieces better as a whole because sometimes the awesome creative bits get stuck behind the filter.

I've been reading "The Frog Principle" series on Jennifer Crusie's blog and it's pretty much telling me to be more creative and less OCD now; I can worry about perfection later (like when the "toddler-crab" isn't trying to pull Mommy off the chair with its distracting pincers).

Another purpose (I just changed that--purpose used to read "point"--I'm doing it again!) of my blog is to serve as a venting ground. It's a place where I can be happily snarky and bitchy, if I so choose to be. Sometime when I was setting up labels I thought to make one titled "Verbal Diarrhea." I thought, Do you really want to think of your writing as crap? Because, isn't that what diarrhea is? Violently ejected crap? So I changed it to "Verbal Streams." Because Streams are so much prettier than Projectile Poop.

What.The.Fuck? I know I wasn't stoned on anything because I was breastfeeding at the time. Was I sleep deprived? How did I go from Snarky and Witty to freaking Vanilla and Purty? Seriously. (Head shake.)

Okay, no, I don't want my writing to be associated with crap (except for when it obviously is shit), but if diarrhea is "flowing through" to the Greeks, then surely it can apply to words that flow through from my brain to the computer without any interruption at all.

This post has mostly been that. I've stopped a couple times: mostly to fix typos, a couple times deal with whatever disasters my kids were about to get into, and once to get ice cream--at my toddler's suggestion (he's awesome, and it was Hagan Daas' Mayan Chocolate, so it was awesome), but other than that--oh, hang on a sec--disaster four averted--I've just let it go.

Anyway, things are getting rambunctious and I have to see if this sick and coughing mommy can convince a sick but restless toddler to be quiet enough that I can get the sick and coughing baby to go to sleep for a bit. But, before I go, I'll be labeling this post as Verbal Diarrhea.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Beaver Anus, Anyone?

While I will be looking at "natural flavour" ingredients with a whole new skepticism, I will also be wondering,

Who was the first guy to eat Beaver Anus, and say, "Oh my god! That tastes like Strawberries, only better!"?

Inconsiderate, Much?

I was at the park today with my friend who is fighting cancer. Let's call her Sue. This week was a Chemo week, which means that she's super tired (she's also fighting a cold and her husband has been doing extra work, so she's been feeling like a single mom lately, so she's super tired), but she wanted to go to the water park before it's too cold to go again, so we went.

While we were there she received a text from another friend--let's call her Tina--asking if Sue would look after her kids tonight. Sue explained that Tina asks this a lot. She always says no, but Tina keeps asking. It's not like Tina doesn't know what's going on with Sue. There's a whole FB group dedicated to providing Sue with dinners for her family on Chemo Weeks. And, since I know that Tina is a FB friend of Sue's, I know that she knows about this.

Sue ignored the text for a while, and I suggested she just type in "No" and hit send, but Sue eventually responded with a long negative, complete with the entire explanation of why not (there are about five different reasons why not, but hello, she had Chemo this week?).

It was all I could do to not rip her phone out of her hand and type in:

    "WTF? Are you fucking stupid? Sue had Chemo this week. CHEMO. All of your friends are cooking dinner for her this week because she's too tired from her CHEMO to cook a nice dinner for her family, and you want her to expend more energy than she probably has by looking after your kids all night? Even if her husband was going to be home tonight, WTF are you thinking? He's probably tired from working all day, too, and he probably just wants to hang out with his beautiful wife and kids, not help chase after your kids all night. Seriously, you should be offering to look after her kids. Inconsiderate, much?"


Saturday 7 September 2013

Oh No! Your Two-Year-Old Isn't Talking!

 Have you ever known someone who has a lot of training and/or experience in one subject, and they therefore think that they know everything about that subject, especially in regards to, oh, say, your child? And they make you feel like your child is constantly under scrutiny, and that if you don’t analyse and correct every issue, your child will be horribly delayed for life?

My mom has some training in learning disabilities, and she has a ton of work experience with children who have learning disabilities. Ninety percent of this training and experience occurred after I was a kid, so I didn’t have to bear under a constant scrutiny for developmental issues (thank goodness).

No, I get the “Hindsight is 20/20” version. In other words, since I didn’t crawl in the traditional fashion—I was more of a bum scooter—we know that my brain didn’t develop properly. I’m not actually sure exactly how I was developmentally delayed as a child, (maybe I would have been a star athlete instead of a bookworm?) but for sure I should have crawled, apparently, and my mom still beats herself up for not knowing that she should have been making me crawl instead of scooting around on my bum. I don’t know—my bum probably had more padding than my knees did. . . .

My kids, however, are fair game for the constant analysis, and just the other day I was reminded of how true this is.

Kid #1 has always been a shy guy, and Hubby and I can always tell when he isn’t feeling very confident about something. He was especially unconfident about Talking. He started to talk right On Time developmentally, but at some point he decided that animal sounds were a way cooler way of identifying animals, and he also decided that consonants were for the birds, thank you very much. Vowel sounds were in, in a big way.

So, time went on and he’d pick up a few more words here and there, but more importantly (to us, anyway) he could understand everything we said. And I mean everything. He could even follow complex, multi-step directions. He laughed and played with other kids, so he definitely wasn’t anti-social. He’s known his colours, numbers and letters since he was two, etcetera, etcetera. You get the point.

At about two-and-a-half, K1 was still not talking like other kids his age, but he was definitely communicating. Hubby and I could see that he wanted to talk, and we knew (and were told by a friend) that once he started talking, he’d be doing so in complete sentences. But, we could also tell that he just needed a bit more confidence in himself to make it happen, and while we supported and encouraged him to talk, we weren’t about to force him to do it (which would probably have shut him down completely).

At this point my mom started subtly suggesting to us on a regular basis that we should get him a referral to a speech therapist. The daycare lady began doing the same thing. Subtle was daily “discussions,” flyers on normal speech development sent home in the backpack, and notes left on the counter with the contact info for the Local Government Agency in Charge of Speech Therapy.

The pressure put on us became rather annoying, so a couple of weeks before Christmas I called for a referral, and we got an appointment set up for the end of January. By the time December and January rolled by, K2 started Talking a bit more. His confidence went up. He started Talking even more. Every day his word count climbed.

I still went to the appointment, and I will admit that I don’t regret going. I learned three important things.

1. Ultimately, my husband and I didn’t have too much to worry about. Go figure.

2. I did learn a great tip: during play, the car doesn’t go down the racetrack until the kid says “go!” for example. After they figure out that they have to say the play-trigger word, they’ll do it. This really got him Talking. In fact, by the time the therapist called for the one-month check-up, she was amazed by his progress. It was like he’d never needed to go.

3. I also learned where Hubby and I made our biggest mistake: we don’t baby talk. IE, instead of saying, “Baby crying” in a sing-song voice, we would say, “The baby is crying” in a normal voice. Apparently baby is easier for babies to copy.

You know how we talk to K2? The same way we talked to K1 when he was a baby.

You know why? Now, you can’t get K1 to shut the hell up! And, he asks some pretty good questions, and your answers will invariably lead to more questions, and he can even solve your puzzle for you:

            (Driving behind a dump truck)
            K1: Where is that dump truck going?
            Me: I don’t know.
            K1: But where is he going?
            Me: I don’t know.
            K1: Why not?
            Me: I just don’t know where he’s going.
            K1: But where is he going?
            Me: I don’t know. I can’t ask him.
            K1: Why can’t you ask him?
            Me: Because I can’t talk to the driver.
            K1: Why can’t you talk to the driver?
            Me: Because he can’t hear me.
            K1: Why can’t he not hear you?
            Me: (Enter some long, convoluted babbling on my part while my sleep-deprived/fogged up brain tried to explain this in a way that a three-year old could understand.)
            K1: But you have a phone in here. (Solution!)
            Me: (Reaching over to turn up the volume on the stereo) but I don’t know his number. (This led to a conversation about how I didn’t know who the driver was, and therefore didn’t know his number (“Maybe it’s eight!”) to call him. . . .)

I mean seriously, he doesn’t shut up unless he’s sleeping.

Sure, there are still a few words that you have to get him to repeat a couple of times before the context of the sentence helps you decipher what he’s said—some sounds are still a bit difficult for him, but generally he can talk so well that even strangers can understand everything he says.

This brings us back to the other day.

Mom was in the kitchen and K1 was talking to her. After a bit she says (and still within his hearing), “He’s still a bit delayed with his talking, hey? There are still some sounds he can’t say well.”

I took three good breaths before replying, “Mom, that’s normal. The speech therapist said that there are some sounds that kids don’t master until they’re in school even, like ‘F’.” (Our doctor said the same thing, but I didn’t think that his non-specialist viewpoint would have been appreciated, so I didn’t mention it.)

“Oh, yeah, ‘F’, and ‘R’ and ‘L’, too, are really hard. They’re the last ones, I guess,” she replied back. “I guess he comes by it honestly, if his dad and his grandpa didn’t start talking until they were three,” she said. (This statement would be true of his Talking in general, but not so much for the sounds themselves—see below.)

“Yeah, and really, he can put together sentences that I don’t ever hear coming from four-year-olds, so I’m really not worried about it at all,” I said. I could see some wheels turning in her head, still, and I wanted to tell her to back the fuck off, but I didn’t want to start our day off by making her cry, so I kept my mouth shut. Thankfully, so did she.

Later on I went online and I found a chart that lays out all of the average milestones for Speech Sound Development. Some sounds aren’t mastered until kids are eight. That’s grade three. That’s five years from now. K2 is having no problems with his Speech Sound Development, thank you very much.

I printed off a copy of the chart, and I’m going to give it to her, and I think that I’m going to have a conversation with her because she’s been analysing K2 on his development, too, but that’s another story for another day.

Talk on, folks. Talk on.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Formula vs the Real Deal

Formula poop IS different than breast-milk poop.

It's stinkier. It's stickier.

But the alternative is bloody nipples, so . . . yeah.

Sunday 1 September 2013

#4: Your Child’s Wardrobe

Number four of 101 Things Parents Can Do to Help Children is: Analyze your child's wardrobe and build a wardrobe aimed at freedom of movement, independence, and freedom from distraction.

My children’s wardrobes were free. I’m not going to analyze that too much because truthfully, the free part has been awesome.

Okay, free is an exaggeration, but we’ve probably only spent $300 on clothes in the last three years. How, you ask? Gifts, of course, are part of it. The other part of it is that a friend of ours has two boys who are older than our two boys, and we get all of her hand-me-downs. And she’s a shopaholic so we get garbage bags full of clothes on a regular basis. I haven’t even opened the last bag, and according to our friend most of this bunch still has tags on it…

Firstly, THANK YOU!!! We appreciate her gifts so much!

You’d think that by the time two to three boys have gone through a wardrobe it would be totally worn out, and I’m sure some of it is (feet poking through holes in the sleepers? Why, just cut the feet right off! (Of the sleepers!!) They’re now just open-toed sleepers, which are very cute), but most of it is still in good shape. Or, at least, it’s in good enough shape. It helps, I think, that there are so many items. I especially appreciate the volume when he goes outside a couple of times a day to play in his dirt-box; I can actually wait for an entire week before having to do laundry.

I’m also really not that picky at this point (my mom would have something to say about that, but she’s my mom, so it’s not surprising). The really ratty clothes are worn to play outside, and the nicer ones are reserved for public appearances.

As happy as I am with my kids’ wardrobes, can it provide more freedom of movement, independence, and freedom from distraction?

I’m happy to say that all of the big-boy clothes allow for freedom of movement, no questions asked. They mostly consist of sweat-pants and comfy jeans, comfy t-shirts and cozy sweaters. The only time they hinder movement is if the pants are too big and they keep falling down, or if they’re too small; I now have bins marked “Too Big” and “Too Small” and as we find these items, they get set aside for later or for Kid #2, respectively.

As for kid #2, he’s starting to crawl, and sometimes his legs get jammed up in the sleeper; when that happens we change him into pants and a shirt, and his freedom of movement is back.

I’m guessing that by independence they mean that the kids should be able to dress themselves. Socks on by himself: check. Pants on by himself: check (he’ll swear he needs your help, but with the right motivation, like my saying “you can’t go outside until your pants are on”, he can do it. Oh sure, he tries to tell you the next day that no, he can’t, but you just look at him and say, “Buddy, you whipped those pants up so fast yesterday, so I know you can”). Shirts on by himself: check-ish. We still have to hold the shirt in position, but once his arms are in he can pull it down over his head. Jackets: he still doesn’t believe you when you tell him which arm goes in which sleeve—it’s opposite of what he thinks it should be when he’s facing the jacket. Shoes: check 90% of the time!

Independence for baby #2: yeah, his view on that is struggle vigorously while you try to dress him because “MOM! I said I want to roll OVER! LET ME GO!!!” He’s only just starting to get the hang of pushing his own arm through a sleeve, but he still doesn’t tuck his thumb in, so it can be a bit tricky, especially when he’s vigorously struggling… We’ll wait a bit before we require him to dress himself.

Do my kids find their clothes distracting? Only when they hinder their movements in their quests to covertly get into trouble do they raise a fuss. (I guess that little girls in pretty little dresses might find it distracting to try and keep their dresses pretty while playing in the park. Mind you, I saw a teenaged girl in a pretty dress playing tag with her friends at a big playground—the jungle-gym posed no problem for her; her dad may’ve flipped a bird if he’d seen her acrobatics, though.)

Or, in this case, could they mean that the appearance of the clothes is distracting. IE, are the kids being overly concerned with labels and style (something I was never a slave to in high school, but I do understand the need to fit in)? At this point my kids are three and younger, so no. Kid #1 has even picked out his own outfits, and if he thinks he looks good in green and red in the middle of summer, who am I to shoot down his happy-balloon? My hope is less towards teaching him how to perfectly coordinate (like I’d know how to do that anyway), and more towards teaching him to have his own style (but to have a style and not just look like a bum), and to be strong enough to stand up for it by the time that it matters to other kids. I guess at that point, if the freebies aren’t their own style, I’ll have to start buying them their own choices (within monetary reason; they can spend their allowance on ridiculously priced items!).

But until then, I think that if the clothes are comfortable, allow my kids to move around however they want to and aren’t bugging them, and are easy to put on, what they have is just perfect.