Friday, 31 August 2012

3 Day Novel Writing Contest

2 years ago I had the most memorable Labour Day weekend of my life: my friend, The Granken and I entered the world's most notorious literary marathon, the 3 Day Novel Contest.  We were exhausted and giddy from all of the coffee and Popsicles consumed in the 72 hour feat and like any first marathon we were proud that we finished without permanent injury.

We skipped last year's contest, since the minions were two weeks old and it didn't seem like an appropriate time to ignore them to write a novel for 3 days.  This year, with the help of my husband Chris, who's taking the bulk of parental duties over the weekend and my parents who are having Molly and Jack for their very first sleepover on Saturday night we're in for round 2.

The 3 Day Novel Contest has run every Labour Day weekend since 1977.  It has hundreds of contestants competing from all over the world who have 72 hours to complete a novel.  The grand coveted prize, publication of your novel.  We have from 12AM Friday to 12AM Monday to write this novel.  GULP!

I don't know if we're crazy for doing this again, but at this point we're excited, revved up and can't wait to start writing.  If you want to follow the insanity, see pictures of us tearing our hair out or witness the impact that twin babies crawling around your feet banging wooden spoons against metal bowls has on the creative process please follow us on twitter at all weekend long.

Any well wishes, good vibes, donations of coffee, Redbull or Popsicles are appreciated!

Let the insanity begin!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Baby Got Back

Yesterday Chris got stuck in a subway delay on his way home (something about a passenger assistance alarm at Queens Park Station) giving us minimal time to drink our tea and for me to give him updates on the comings and goings of the babies before I headed off to my spinning class.*  I may not have been as careful as I should of when setting down my own tea in the midst of our conversation.  In fact I may of had it way too close to the front of the arm of the couch where I was sitting.  Before I even got to take the first sip Jack playfully tossed the full to the rim cup of flaming hot tea in my lap and burned my nether regions.  I jumped up and down screaming, "MY CROTCH, AAAAAAAAAAAA, MY CROTCH!" at the top of my lungs and Jack began to cry.**

Chris ran Jack upstairs to inspect him to make sure that he was actually okay while I got a cold cloth for him in case there had been any splash back.  Jack is fine, without a mark, despite the shell shock from the horrible screaming.  We gave him cuddles and then I cleaned myself up, got changed and headed off to spin class.  Disclaimer: I do not recommend pouring a large volume of a molten tea down your pants followed with an hour exercise class on a bicycle seat.

After class I discovered that i'd left a small packet of baby wipes in my gym bag that had been pressed up against my water bottle.  They felt cool to the touch and down right refreshing, like something that might soothe a fact they worked beautifully.

I've always favored the Our Compliments Wipes, for their great price and because the baby very vaguely resembles one of my nieces.

This morning I began to work on removing the giant tea stains from our living room couch with a giant tea towel and some cool water, but it wasn't all coming out.***  I found my solution to remove the wipes.  These things are genius and have become my very own household MacGyver and not just because I frequently forget to pick up other household cleaning supplies on a regular basis.   So I started thinking of all of the neat things that I do with baby wipe other then, well the obvious,  then I fired up the Googles to get some other ideas....

Baby Wipes - the New Miracle Worker

  • Don't have time to shower, baby wipes the quick refresher (patent pending)
  • Dried baby wipes as cheap, sweetly scented dryer sheets
  • Substitute Swiffer 
  • Good for gentle cleaning of wood surfaces, monitors, touch phones etc.
  • Removing stains from fabric
  • Removing deodorant stains from your clothes
  • Make-up Remover
  • Polishing shoes
  • To clean the interior of your car
  • To tame static flyaway hair
  • Removing hard water stains from dishes
  • Cleaning light stains off of a wedding dress
  • Removing pet hair from furniture
  • To wash crayons off of walls and tables
  • Cleaning dry erase boards
  • Removing hair dye stains from skin
  • To dust the leaves of houseplants
  • Washing dolls faces and other appendages 
  • The first step in first aid
  • A good to know - "mildly" used wipes (as in not ones that are used on babies) can be laundered and reused.
We also realized that we have an insane glut of baby wipe containers, so here are a few solutions on how to reuse them beyond the normal trip to the recycling bin:
  • First aid kit box (for the car and the house)
  • Crayon/Pencil Case
  • Coupon box
  • Recipe box
  • Sewing kit
  • Storage for hair accessories
  • Manicure kit
  • Lego storage
  • Camping or beach kit complete with sunscreen

Do you have any other uses for baby wipes or baby wipe boxes?

*Update is the polite way of me saying that I gave him a grocery list and asked him to go get groceries with the babies while I was gone.
**Not because he was hurt, but because he was scared by his mother screaming incessantly about her blazing crotch.
***It was about as helpful as Chris's dress shirt that he had whipped off and set on top of the vast puddle of tea to soak it up last night.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Fumbling in the Dark

It's been an interesting few days as my time at home full-time comes to a close and I re-enter the working world in just a couple of weeks.  I picked up my office keys last week and suddenly returning to work seems real (gulp).  Earlier this week I thought to myself, How are we going to get everything done once I'm at work full-time?  It's going to be too much.  

Then Friday night we went out for a couple of drinks with our friends, so they can figuratively check in at four square one last time around their downtown condo before they move West.  At about 9PM I received a text from our sitter L. "What's in the blue pitcher in the fridge?"   Apparently I had forgotten to dispose of the leftover sangria from the minions first birthday party - from almost two weeks ago.  I desperately tried to send off a quick text that read, "DON'T DRINK THE SANGRIA!!!" but fought with my auto-correct which kept on adjusting to, "DON'T DRINK THE SANDRA!"  Thankfully, finally she received the correct message along with my suggestions for better things to drink.*

Sunday, after the minions went down for their afternoon nap, Chris and I shut off the power and installed a new front porch light.  Our light has been an ill working sensor model since we moved in nearly 4 years ago that turns on randomly when you're in the driveway, walking by on the street, but never when you are standing directly under it and fumbling in the dark to get your key in the front door.  It is near impossible to get the sensor to turn off and the light to function as a normal porch light.  You can get it to work as a normal non-sensor light 25% of the time if you maniacally flick the switch on and off really fast like a substitute teacher trying to gain control of a rowdy classroom. The light also has one smashed bulb because of a friend who mistakenly knocked it with a case of beer or his head** almost 3 years ago.  It's fixed, finally...and it only took us 45 months and $29.99 to do an hour and ten minute job.  We even have a spare fixture for the next time someone hits it with a case of beer and/or their head.  The only problem with home repairs is that they're a lot like tattoos: they are kind of addictive. I already have plans in place for a new house number sign and have scheduled replacing our downstairs bathroom sink with my father this October.

 Isn't it a thing of beauty?

I think that getting something done comes down to priorities, scheduling and as Chris puts it, "What's going to frustrate us enough to actually get us to finally take action?"  Last night after the kids went to bed we sat down in front of Bar Rescue while I worked on filling out a T773 taxation form because the government needs more information in order to determine whether or not we qualify for an income tax reduction because of child care costs.  For those who read my post last week about us being poor because of daycare costs,, I finally received a response on my application for an income tax reduction which was a request for further information.  The government wants more paperwork?  I can't say I didn't suspect that this was coming.  It will likely be another 2-8 weeks before we find out whether or not we qualify.  The possibility of freeing up to $800 a month of income rather than receiving one lump sum refund in April is highly motivating for immediate action. That request will receive a response (by fax and CC: in the mail) in less than 1 business day.

If only someone could motivate me to throw out the leftover southwestern black bean and chicken salad that's been sitting on the bottom shelf of our fridge for nearly a week.

You would think that if I had the motivation to take a picture of it, I'd actually throw it out.

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*I'd like to tell you that when we got home we immediately threw out the Sangria.  Instead we sat on the couch, drank lemonade Crystal Light and then I fell asleep in front of an episode of South Park.  The pitcher was cleaned out Sunday - two days later.
**I honestly can't remember which, but can assure you not to worry and that he's okay.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Money Changes Everything

I'd heard all of these rumors about children being expensive, but I didn't really believe them.  We'd been parents for nearly a year and managed just fine with a limited amount of penny squeezing thanks to the extra money I'd saved while we were pregnant to allow for $400-$600 of extra cash during my maternity leave.  Then the sucker punch came.  We realized just how much daycare is going to cost us for infant category twins and that it equals A LOT.  That extra money should have been saved for this year, not last, but it's too late now and I'll be honest we had a great year, so I'm beyond regrets.

We toyed with the idea of a nanny, which would have been more cost effective for the first 6 months, but then more expensive then daycare after the minions reached 18 months.*  After having managed to get 2 spots in our number one choice daycare, with only a ten minute walk from our house because 2 families decided to move at the last minute, we knew it was meant to be.  We forked out the admissions deposit and registered the minions.  Waiting lists in Toronto are insane, and a lot of them require a $50 deposit just for the honour of waiting.

When we started crunching the numbers, over 35% of our net income will be going to daycare expenses.  Thankfully our housing costs are only 25%, but things are going to be a little lot tighter than they used to be.  We toyed around with the idea of me remaining home, but that just isn't in the cards right now financially and I really need some more adult interaction in my life then I've been getting.**  I also thought that I really need to give the whole working mom thing a good solid try while we work on rebuilding our pre-baby savings account.

At first I went into full blown panic mode, unable to sleep having nightmares about cheques bouncing everywhere and everything that could go wrong, then I started to take action and we came up with a plan.***  Here's what we've come up with so far:

One of my favorite things to do when the minions go down for a nap is watching the television show Til Debt Do Us Part while I eat my lunch.  One of the first things that host Gail does when she's helping a couple get out of debt and/or save money is put them on the jars system.  To work the jars you allocate a certain amount of money to various areas of your non-fixed living expenses: Food, Transportation, Entertainment, Clothing and gifts, Other etc. and record how you spend it.  You refill the jars weekly.  We have been on the jars for about a month now, and although we don't record how we spend the money (we probably should though) the jars have created good conversation about spending priorities, limited us to one weekly grocery trip and has curbed our late night convenience store binge substantially.  The fact that when the money is gone, it's gone has been a good motivator.  We've also created a weekly babysitter jar to make sure that we get out for more than work and can't use it as an excuse in addition to taking some family members up on their offers to look after the minions.

A photo we took at Seattle's EMP Museum this Spring BD (Before Daycare)

Research and Negotiate with your Service Providers
When I was looking at our monthly bills for cable, internet and phone in addition to the fact that we were paying a significantly higher mortgage rate than that what is prime right now, I started to make some phone calls.  By looking at the competitors, researching bundles vs. non-bundles and knowing what we were paying, I was able to negotiate a $60 a month total savings on our internet and cable package and a lower interest rate on our mortgage that saves us $76 of interest every month.  A couple of hours of time has saved us over $1600 a year. I will be researching our house/car insurance this November when our contract expires.

Take Inventory
We are really lucky that so many friends and family have been generous enough to pass on car seats and clothing to our children, so much so that we've barely had to purchase anything for the minions.  This has saved us endless amounts of money.  It makes sense to take an inventory of what you have clothing and supply wise for the kids regularly (at least seasonally) so you can budget for what you need or add the items to birthday and Christmas lists if the timing works out.  Most parents are happy to get rid of old clothing and toys - so ask your friends who have kids a little bit older than your kids.  The most helpful clothing is from children about a year older than your own because the sized clothing will work for the correct season.  We've also had some really good luck at used clothing stores like Once Upon A Child where you can get really gently used (often name brand) clothes for about a quarter of the price retail.

For items like formula, diapers and wipes, talk to a friend or family with a bulk items department store membership, most people would be happy to take you shopping for discount items you need.  We've also started to plan meals and take inventory of our fridge and cupboards before we hit the grocery store.  Forcing us to use more leftovers, get more creative and eat a lot more healthy, which is never a bad thing.

Apply for an Income Tax Reduction
Do your research on whether or not childcare counts as a tax deduction where you live.  We decided that we'd much rather apply to have less tax deducted from my pay each and every pay cheque then to be cash poor all year and get a large tax return come Spring.  In Canada the form is called a T1 and you can ask your employer for a copy.  Fill it out and send it in as soon as you can, processing takes 2-8 weeks and they may ask for additional documentation delaying the process even further.   If you're approved your payroll will get instructions on how to adjust the tax your income giving you the taxation benefit year round as opposed to one annual lump sum refund.  I'm currently on week 4 of waiting and check the mail with bated breath daily to see if/what our new, more cash lax budget will be or whether I have to provide more paperwork and start waiting all over again.

Prepare for Emergencies
Our car is over 10 years old, our porch needs to be repaired, our washer moans as we process endless loads of clothing and our garage door has seen better days.  Even though we can't afford a huge emergency fund these days, we're setting aside $100 a month for emergencies**** because we just know that all of these items will die within months of each other.

Turn off the Lights
We've hit that magical time of year where most of the time, save for a few days, you can leave the heat and the air conditioning off and control the temperature of the house by opening and closing windows.  This in addition to turning off unnecessary lights and doing your laundry and dishes at off peak hours you can save about $30-$40 a month on your utility bills.

Walk the Line
Parking at the subway station by our house/day care is $4 a day, that adds up to $80 a month.  Our daycare is exactly half way between our house and our local subway station, and has stroller parking*****.  We are hoping to walk the minions to and from daycare every day until Christmas break and a couple of times weekly once the winter hits to save some money and wear and tear on our above mentioned "antique" car.

This is what we've come up with so far and it's working, for the most part - I'm not going to lie and say that things haven't been really tight.  From time to time we need a few tweaks, but the system is helping us stay on track.  I'm going to start an advent calendar for when Molly and Jack enter full day kindergarten and when the ugly word "daycare" can be ejected from our vocabulary.  In the mean-time any additional money saving tricks and tips would be appreciated!

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*If you are pregnant and reading this: 1) get on as many daycare waiting lists as possible now 2) start saving for daycare....I'm not joking.
**Even though Molly's vocabulary is up to 5 words, 6 if you believe she's secretly learning German behind our backs because she yells "NINE!" sometimes when she's in a bad mood, it still isn't cutting it adult conversation wise.
***I was that guy on the phone with my mortgage agent in the middle of the night trying to work things out.
****If our tax reduction comes through with enough savings we'll be raising this to $200.
*****I never in a million years thought that stroller parking would be a word in my vocabulary.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Dead Mom Walking

About a year ago I was experiencing a life crisis.  I was in full panic mode about my identity as a person, my career and becoming a mom.  I was also chock-full of hormones and every single commercial aired on TLN was making me cry.

My cousin recently told me about her last visit with our grandmother A in the hospital before she passed away.  My grandmother was in a panic and kept asking my cousin, "What's next?" Her response of, "I don't know grandma, you need to tell me" was poignantly true and a truly beautiful and fitting answer from the baby of our family.  

In the middle of July last year, I was very pregnant and forced to slow down and try to relax before I became a mom.  This "relaxation" time took me away from my work and things that I enjoyed and was good at. It forced me to think about becoming a mom and had me obsessively researching everything that could possibly go wrong during my C-Section.*  It felt like there was no longer anything that I had control over.  I feared not having the "mom instinct" required to take care of our babies.  I just wanted the babies to be born so I could see what was next and figure out how I would become a mom while staying the person that I was.

This is me. Just over 6 months pregnant with the twins before going to my friend C's wedding.

I didn't stay the person that I was. I'm a mom now and once I arrived at that realization I found that I'm happy about it and wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Here we are, a year later and I'm about to hit a new change in my life come mid-September.  I'm going from full-time mom to working mom and I feel guilty and terrified already.**  I recognize that each and every mom goes through this.  Chris had to deal with this transition just two weeks after the kids were born, but lets be honest, they were pretty boring then, all they did was sleep and eat and cry.

When I was first off with the minions, time seemed to go on forever and days dragged, especially in the first 6 months and when Molly had colic.  Now that the kids are a year old, and I only have 4 weeks left of leave, time is speeding up at a pace that has me feeling a different type of panic.  I am Dead Mom Walking. 

Suddenly I am motivated to connect with all of my mom friends at least one more time while we're still off together.  I'm looking up recipes to stock the freezer so come September my evenings can be spent with my kids rather than cooking.  I am researching and heading out to mom friendly coffee shops and activities, all things that I was lukewarm about just a couple of months ago.  I have filled a giant bucket list of things to do before our lives all change again.  I even booked all of my remaining vacation time before I return to work to ensure that I have at least 1 or 2 extra days a month at home with the kids (including almost 2 weeks in December) to stay connected, where I will plan super-mom activities.  Guilt induced, super-mom activities.

I can't say that there aren't going to be tears about this next transition, from Molly and me (I honestly doubt that Jack will cry).  I'm going to try to turn this "What's next?" into a curious and happy question about the next step of our lives as a family.***

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*The drama provided in all of those afternoon real life/birth stories shows I was watching each and every afternoon weren't exactly helping my pre-birth anxiety.  
**Especially since Molly's separation anxiety clicked in.  Twist that knife a little deeper fate, there is no sound worse than those Don't leave me mom sobs.
***That is until I become a best selling author and am able to work from home every day.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Wonder Woman

There are certain mishaps that you can expect when you throw a party.  A broken glass here, a clogged toilet there, finding a beer bottle 3 days later somewhere completely random, maybe someone drinking too much and throwing up or that visitor who won't take a hint and go home long after all other party guests have.*

In our much younger days Chris and I threw and attended some raging parties.  I can't say that I'm not guilty of drawing on someone in marker after they passed out, negotiating elaborate bargains surrounding the consumption of Sea Monkeys so a male friend would let us put make up on him so he looked like Robert Smith from The Cure or even helping construct a castle out of toilet paper.**

Now that we're no longer in school/our early twenties we don't generally expect the fraternity boy routine to happen at our parties.  We're parents and have one year old children.  We aren't renting, we own this place.  Everyone needs to be semi-responsible.  This means that we don't expect our guests to throw up in our stereo system or give us throwing knives as a house warming gift.  We won't feel bad about calling your drunk butt a cab and sending it home because we're tired and want to go to bed.  What we didn't expect at the minions first birthday party was what I can only assume was drunken debauchery or a very bold move from one of the children guests.

Anyone who has known me since childhood is well aware that I have a slight obsession with Wonder Woman - mainly because she's awesome.  When I was in my early twenties and dirt poor I purchased an overpriced plush Wonder Woman doll.***  This doll now lives in Molly and Jack's nursery and was placed on a toy shelf there for their first birthday party.  Yesterday I discovered that Wonder Woman had been defiled, likely at the party.  I found her laying on the floor beside the diaper genie, her star studded underwear ripped off and the rubber paint that creates her bustier peeled off around her boob area.

Poor Wonder Woman!

This is especially puzzling since 90% of the guests were members of my immediate family (including nieces and nephews) sprinkled with a few select friends who bare the honorary titles of aunt and uncles to Molly and Jack.  Perhaps Wonder Woman drank too much sangria and thought that it was time to rip off her clothes, or maybe she resented that she'd been moved from my office to the nursery and was acting out.  I may never know.

Last night when I showed Chris my defaced Wonder Woman doll he laughed and said he never liked that doll anyway.  I think I have my first suspect and that it's time to bust out the lasso of truth.  Also, I can't find her invisible plane anywhere.

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*Like when Alicia Silverstone's fancy shoes get ruined at that party in Clueless because Brekkin Meyer spills bong water on them. Cher: "Uh. This is so not fixable." Travis: "It's a small price to pay to the party gods!"
**The toilet paper castle happened a little more recently than I'd probably like to admit.
***I think I paid $28 for it, but at the time that was my weekly grocery budget.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Send In The Clowns

It's official!  I am done bragging about what good sleepers our little babies are.  Without fail, whenever I do, especially to other (over-tired) moms, that night at least one of them pops up like Binky the Clown screaming, "HEEEY GROWN-UPS, I'M CRANKY AND I'M GOING TO RUIN YOUR NIGHT!"*.

Yesterday afternoon I made the mistake of bragging to someone how both my babies sleep through the night ALL THE TIME.  Today I am a tired liar.  When we got home from a friends' house last night, Jack was still up at 10:30PM, not upset, but still awake calmly hanging out with my brother and his girlfriend, so we put him to bed a few minutes later.  At 2:20AM he popped up and was inconsolable for well over an hour while he pulled at his teeth, refused to take a teething ring, spit his baby Advil in my face and would only doze if I would rock him constantly in our living room rocking chair while rubbing his back in a counter clockwise motion.  It was not a good night, especially after a hectic weekend.

Chris and I had spent the past 5 days preparing for and then recovering  from the minions first birthday party.  The family party on Saturday was a huge success despite the rain.  I didn't realise how much of an effort it was trying to clean and prepare food for an event while looking after 2 dangerously mobile babies.  I felt like Japan in a Godzilla movie (but tasked with making a lot of finger sandwiches).  Every time we tried to clean and rebuild a room or prepare food, Mothra (AKA Mollythra) and Megaguirus (AKA MegaJackirus) would Battle Royale and mess our sh$t up.  Jack managed to answer the question, "How much watermelon is too much watermelon to give to a baby?" in the middle of operation get house ready.** He also showed off his new found ability to climb stairs and scare the crap out of mom and dad as well as punch the glass doors on our legal book case.  Molly pulled her, "I'm going to cry or fight my brother unless you carry me everywhere" routine which made one-handed house work a little slow.

 Fairy Tale Castle Cake - The second cake I ever decorated!
 Birthday sign made out of old, damaged, good-will and dollar store fairy tale book cover cut outs.

On Saturday night, after almost everyone had gone home and Molly and Jack had retired to bed (where they thankfully slept through the night), Chris and I cracked open a beer each and celebrated our first year as parents and a successful party.***  Sunday morning I cracked the Advil for my party related back pain and midnight leg cramps from all of the cleaning/standing.  Tonight we're going out for our 7 year wedding anniversary.  Perhaps we can substitute dinner with a good long nap while our sitter L looks after the kids.

Table runner made from inside of above-mentioned books.

Chris's Whale Carving Fruit Salad

Thank you to everyone who helped make this weekend such a success!  Only 362 more days until their 2nd birthdays....but getting things ready with 2 year old toddlers will be much easier, cause at that age kids are known for having an extremely agreeable nature, right?

Fighting over the best gifts, tissue paper?

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*If you were never a Garfield fan you probably won't get this reference. Binky was this incredibly loud and annoying clown on Garfield known for the catch phrase, "Heeeeeey Kids!".  In the television show you could call a 900 number and Binky would show up to your house and sing a birthday song to you to the tune of "Freres Jacques".
**You really don't want the gory details of how he showed us, but let's just say what Jack did to Chris's Blue Jays jersey was symbolic of their playing lately.
 ***And the fact that we don't have to do it again for an entire year.

Friday, 10 August 2012


A year ago today I was terrified waiting to go into surgery.  Chris's sole job before the minions were born was to try to keep me calm and to have some good conversation prepared for surgery while we awaited the arrival of Molly & Jack.

My 4PM surgery was delayed because of an overcautious anaesthesiologist who didn't like that my blood pressure rose in anticipation of receiving my epidural.  My blood test results came back normal within half an hour, the only problem was 3 other women came in, in labour, and bumped me out of my spot.  We waited in this room, I was attached to an IV with a gurney that I had to drag with me everywhere, starving, and listening to 3 other babies born while we watched old episodes of Jackass and Beavis and Butthead on the overhead television. When MTV's best wasn't entertaining us we tried and failed at getting my engagement ring removed from my swollen fingers.*

At 7pm we finally went into surgery and once I was properly frozen Chris joined me with his engaging conversation.  He'd spent the past two days researching interesting and amazing things that happened on August 10th.

Did you know that on August 10th in:

1990 - U.S's Magellan spacecraft landed on Venus.
1984 - Michael Jackson bought ATV Music (every Beatles song) and essentially ruined his friendship with Paul Mccartney.
1966 - Daylight meteor seen only from Canada to Utah.  Only known case of a meteor entering and leaving the earth's atmosphere.
1833 - Chicago incorporated as a "village" of 200 people.
1500 - Diego Diaz discovered Madagascar.

And then, August 10th, 2011 - 7:21 & 7:22PM - Molly & Jack were born and none of that mattered any more (to Chris and I anyway).

I can't believe that you are 1 today.  We are so happy and blessed to have two healthy, vibrant and character filled babies.

Miss Molly, you are clever, spunky, funny and have the lungs of an opera singer.**  Your great grandmother has aptly coined you "The Growing Concern".  You are a people watcher with a contagious smile.  We survived colic together, so we can tackle anything.

 Molly - August 10th, 2011

Mr. Jack, you are sweet, kind and curious.  Sometimes you'll stroke your sister's hair when she's upset, other times (when you think she's over-reacting we assume) you'll squeal in delight in her face.  You have a calming energy about you that makes everyone feel at ease.

Chris (Dad) and Jack - August 10th - 2011

I have no other words than, Wow!  I never would have believed that I'd enjoy being a parent until it actually happened.  Molly & Jack, Happy Birthday - we love you both so much!  Chris, Happy Anniversary to parenthood! It's been a trip!

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*And this never made my version of Hell.  Maybe it will make my version of limbo.
**Your dad has his fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

First Day of My Life

This weekend we had to work on a rearrangement of furniture in the nursery.  We had to move Jack's crib down to the absolute lowest to the floor setting and switch up furniture to ensure that he was no longer able to dump the entire contents of the book shelf to the floor when he was bored from bed. We also decided that it was time to eliminate Molly's ability to throw the contents of the coat rack, where we store hooded bath towels, on the floor from the confines of her crib.  If you ever stagger to their room in the middle of the night or the middle of their afternoon nap to feed them you'll find that Molly likes to throw her bottle onto the floor when she's finished like she's spiking a touchdown, just to make sure you know that she's done.*

The thing that we've found about working on the nursery, especially now that the minions are so mobile, is that we have to work on it when they're awake and a lot of the work requires two people.  So on Sunday,  we sweated, swept and ran around the bedroom picking up screws and other choking hazards that shot out of the crib while we lowered it, while the kids tried to eat them and Jack showed us his new found ability to remove the plastic safety covers from plug outlets.  On the bright side, the nursery looks great and hopefully won't have to be rearranged until it's time to convert the cribs into toddler beds.**

The hard work and inability to manage the kids and a task independently reminded me of early days with the twins, before we learned our mad octopus skills.  This along with the fact that the minions will turn one on Friday has me feeling a little nostalgic about my babies.  As I look at my brand new baby niece, born last week, I think about all of the tips and tricks we learned and things that we wish we knew in early days of parenthood.  So in the spirit of Molly and Jack's birthday, I warn you now, there may be a lot of flash backs in the next two weeks***, I've composed a list of things that we didn't know, what we learned and what helped us survive the first month or two of parenthood.

  Molly (Left) and Jack (Right) - 1 week old

Put Stain Remover on Your Pre-Baby Shopping List
Baby spit up stains.  No one ever told me.  Keep a bottle by their clothes hamper and your own.  Spray the clothes when you take them off.  Don't think that you'll spray it later.  If you're like us and run laundry constantly you'll be doing it in the wee hours of the night to avoid peak hydro prices and won't remember/see  the stains until they're set and you've washed them right in.

Newborn Babies Sleep A 20-60 Minute Increments
Newborns sleep most of the day, and night, just not for long stretches of time.  In the first weeks we were told by our nurse practitioner to keep them awake for no more than 20 minutes at a time.  This gives you lots of small bursts of free time, but not enough to get a good solid nap yourselves.  Rent or download some TV series or movies for your downtime, play cards or a short board game. (I recommend Yatzee cause it's a personal favorite and the games don't go on for too long when you're interrupted).

The Late Shift
Pod-casts, audio books and music are great relaxing distractions for parents while you're feeding or soothing a cranky baby in the middle of the night.  The Kindle Chris bought me for our wedding anniversary, just three days after the kids were born, has an audio book function and is easy to hold for one hand reading while you cuddle a baby.****

Casserole Me
I prepared a lot of casseroles while I was pregnant and bored, and our friends brought us and stocked our freezer with a lot of great, yummy food which meant we lived off of Swiss Chalet a little less in our first few months of parenthood.  This made life so much easier.  I am currently in the process of stockpiling casseroles for my return to work in mid-September.

Post-Natal Massage
Reward yourself with a much needed massage about a month after you have your kid(s).  Your body will thank you.  If you are pregnant and reading this be sure to treat yourself to a prenatal massage whenever you can.  I recommend once in each the first and second trimester and then monthly in the third.  It's one of the only things that kept me upright dealing with my sciatica.

Jack & Me - 6 weeks post-parenthood.

Relax, It Will Get Better!
People kept telling me that things got better and I secretly thought it was BS.  The first few months are really hard and a big adjustment.  But as the babies grow and develop their personalities, time starts going faster and faster, and before you know it you'll be celebrating their first birthday and almost wishing for a moment that they were tiny again.*****

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*Akin to the T-Rex throwing the goat leg on the car in Jurassic Park.
**These cribs are like the most functional and complicated Transformer I've seen to date, only they aren't as portable, kind of like Sound Wave in his spying boom box configuration.  Yeah, cause people just leave giant stereos laying around, that's how we get our important intel.
***Diddly-Doot, Diddly-Doot, Diddly-Doot...
****If you want some reading and podcast recommendations shoot me an email to
*****I said almost.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Papa's Got A Brand New Bag

Lady Gaga has been sued by the company that produces Bratz Dolls* because of her unreasonable demands surrounding the Lady Gaga Doll.  Apparently her representatives requested a few tweaks on the doll, having the doll appear "more super model-like" with "more of a cat-eye and sexier poutier lips" and the option of the doll having a removable head that would reveal a bloody stump.  These demands were not well received.  In other slightly related news, I now have a new doll on my Christmas Wish List, but only with the bloody stump option.**

A while back my friend C refused to purchase her God Daughter a Bratz Doll as a birthday present because its loose attitude and tramp clothes made her a little uncomfortable in the example it set out, especially in her role of spiritual adviser.*** This made me think about our children, their toys, gender roles and the types of play we encourage and will likely discourage as parents.

So far, because the minions aren't even one yet, most toys are pretty generic gender neutral: rings, blocks, balls, fabric or plastic books and stuffed animals.  Even still, we were really curious to see what each child would naturally gravitate towards.

Molly loves shoes, especially baby shoes and will crawl around the house with a shoe or slipper in her mouth or hand for hours.  At first, in our own gender biased kind of way, we thought: look our daughter loves shoes already and branded her a mini fashionista. Next Molly developed a strong bond with a miniature bottle of baby powder making it her newest travel companion.  She even took it with her to the dentist office.****  When Molly began carrying around a rubber possessed looking purple fish and miniature rubber lobster we came to the conclusion that Molly likes portable toys that she can bring with her on the go.  I imagine toy cars that would fit into pockets will be a big hit with her as soon as she's old enough to avoid choking on her Hot Wheels.  Our gender biases surrounding her thus far go unfounded.

Jack likes anything annoying and loud.  He loves the door stoppers and will lay on the floor forever making the stopper Sproing!!! loudly.  He used to have a thing for this talking and singing train and Rockin' Robin Truck, but he's over them.  His current toy of choice is the Fisher-Price Learning Purse (a hand-me-down from his cousins).  He plays with it it sings, non-stop...

Ready to go out,
I'll bring my purse along,
Get my keys and bracelet sing a little song.
Look into the mirror, put some lipstick on,
Wave and say bye-bye.
I won't be gone too long!

Tag & Purple fish are both sitting inside the Learning Purse, Notice her sloppy smile, It's as if she's been hanging out with the pink elephants from Dumbo. 

I don't know what it is specifically about the learning purse that makes it so infuriating.  Perhaps it's the bad Betty Boop meets Estelle Costanza voice, or the sexist content of the song itself.  But Jack Loves it, so it isn't going anywhere.  Perhaps this is Karma for buying my sister-in-law Tag the Spanish Frog who repeats, "Ola soy Tag!" and INSISTS that you count with him in Spanish and English.  Tag, now a hand-me-down from his cousins, is not surprisingly Jack's second favorite toy.  Give me a bloody head stump any day!  You're making a huge mistake Bratz!

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*If you are unfamiliar with Bratz Dolls they are essentially a skankier, lollypop headed version of a Barbie doll, should Barbie ever choose to turn to prostitution to support her crystal meth addiction.
***I don't actually know if the doll upset her as a spiritual adviser, likely she said something more along the lines of, "That doll is really slutty looking, there's no way I'm buying it for my God Daughter."
****I am aware that babies don't need to go to the dentist.  I took them both with me for my appointment because my dentist and hygenist wanted to see my kids. Okay that's still weird.  I'm not making things better here.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Teddy Bear Picnic

Puppet shows and sinus headaches don't mix.  Ukulele songs being played by puppeteers and sinus headaches REALLY don't mix.  I always feel like I'm being personally wronged when my day is impacted by sinus pain, I was designated driver the night before, don't I deserve some sort of reward for my good, responsible behaviour?*  Apparently not.

Even though I begrudgingly drove west to Benares Historic House in Mississauga for their annual Teddy Bear Picnic with the minions, I'm really glad I went.  It's a small enough crowd and young enough demographic that it doesn't get too overwhelming with people and the minions had a blast as did the cousins, aunt and grandma.

Soon after we arrived at the puppet show I mentioned my headache to my 9 months pregnant (due this week) sister-in-law, who rushed off immediately to get me an orange snow cone to make me feel better.  Being waited on by a very pregnant lady who should be relaxing tends to make you feel kinda like a a wussy a-hole who should probably be lining up to get her own snow cone.  That aside, it was delicious, reduced my headache substantially and delighted Jack to no end.**  Miss Molly was quite content to sit watching the puppet show with the quiet intensity of a much older child while she feasted on cheesy penguin crackers with her cousins.

Next we went and watched the cousins tackle the bouncy castle, where a Lord of the Flies mentality took over almost every child who entered the air filled palace of doom the second their feet hit the inflatable ground.  I finally understand why that teenager at the water park has to dictate who can go down the slide and when, because otherwise the kids will jump on each other's heads and drown.  We stood beside the inflatable slide yelling, "Run, Run, get out of the way" fingers crossed that the cousins wouldn't suffer a concussion from a poorly executed guillotine leg drop wrestling move each and every time they ventured down the slide.

Finally, we stopped for lunch while the cousins debated getting their faces painted***, before it was time for the three of us to go.  The minions needed a nap and I needed to get home so I could lay in a dark room and moan about my aching head.  Sadly at home there are no pregnant women to wait on me, just Chris who told me to take some Advil and get over it.

*I didn't volunteer to be DD, Chris and I played a game of cards to determine who was going to get to drink at a friend's BBQ, I just lost.
**Sweet stain inducing nectar.  I think I actually got more snow cone on my clothes than Jack did.
***And tried to avoid a small flock of hornets following a spilled juice incident.