Thursday, 27 September 2012

Magnetic Fields

I never realized how early likes and dislikes begin with children until recently.  Last weekend at a children's birthday party we discovered that Molly shares my childhood fear of men with moustaches.  As a child I couldn't handle being anywhere near men with moustaches and didn't get over this until I was around 3 years old.* 

Earlier this week Chris introduced the children to a new, potentially dangerous, but favourite game.  About two years ago The Rogers Centre began to offer their beer in new fangled fancy magnet cups that fill from the bottom and are sealed with a magnet.**  Chris loves baseball and beer and attended 20-25 games a year with his father pre-babygeddon and currently goes to about 15 games a year.***  So, we have a lot of beer magnets sitting on our fridge.  Beer magnets that have, until this week been stored on the highest possible section of the fridge to prevent baby choking.

A few nights ago, I came down to the kitchen to the sound of intense uproarious laughter, the low husky contagious laugh of Jack.  He and Chris were sitting on the floor throwing beer magnets at the fridge.  Like most Jack centric games, the adult tries to build something and he acts like King Kong and tears it down, while he laughs - a lot.   So essentially, the object of the game is to throw magnets at the fridge and then slide or pull them off the fridge, and repeat: ad nauseum.

And that's not even half of the beer magnets.

"These are big enough that they can't swallow them right?" Chris asked me.

As if on queue, Molly jammed a round magnet into her mouth in attempt to consume it.

So the magnets went back up to the upper regions of the freezer and we moved the kids onto another activity.

The following night I had forgotten a recent and important development in the minions, their memories span longer than the life of a fruit fly now.  Jack and I were playing in the living room when he crawled away, on a mission.  We waited a minute and then followed him because the typical silence coming from the kitchen signalled that he was up to something that he shouldn't be.  Jack had torn down some raw "artwork" that Molly had made at daycare from off of the fridge**** releasing 2 beer magnets and allowing him to play his new favourite game - the magnet game.  Apparently we can add problem solving to the list of Jack's accomplishments and my son now shares a hobby with Charlie Day of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.*****   

Molly's outsider "art"

So the score this week is Magnets 1, Moustaches 0, Toronto Blue Jays -42

*This was particularly difficult with it being the 1970s and moustaches were everywhere: going outside was like a stroll through Dante's Inferno to me.  I guess the same could be said today for Molly with the recent outbreak of hipsters.
**They are pretty neat, but a horrible option for a fiddler and label peeler such as myself and would likely result in a lap full of beer.  This is why my baseball drink of choice is slushies.
***We try to blame the minions for the reduction in number of games attended, but another, larger factor is the level of epic suckage from the Blue Jays this year.
****See outsider art: defined loosely as rough art produced by babies or insane-asylum inmates.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

You Give Me Fever

From what I hear, all children react differently to teething.  I've heard the legends of the wonder children whose teeth magically appear in their mouths with no drama or pain.*  Whether this legend is true or not, these wonder children are not my children.  Molly and Jack are both teething right now and it is not pretty.

We picked up Jack from daycare on Friday to find that his bum was so sore from teething induced diarrhea and that he couldn't stay seated.  I am aware that there is a huge debate about whether or not there is a correlation between teething and the runs.**  Once we got him home and soaked the several pairs of pants he had obliterated at daycare, I carefully took off his diaper, slathered him up in Penaten Cream and laid him across my lap, diaper less and pants less while he happily ate cheerios, drooled all over me like a running faucet and played with his new favourite toy: The Magic Cooking Pot.  This became our routine for a good portion of the weekend, while we waited for his baboon butt to heal and his new teeth to come in.  It's some sort of miracle that 1) Jack can spend so much time laying on my lap eating Cheerios without trying to crawl away and 2) That he didn't pee on me once this weekend.  By Monday he was in better spirits with a light pinkish butt, but still no new teeth, I'm expecting another flare up any day now.

Here's a picture of me circa 1979.  I'm proud to see that my mother also favoured taking pictures of pain and bought me topical t-shirts rather than soothing or rubbing orajel on my gums. The jerk genes run strong in my family.

Molly doesn't cope with teething in the same way as Jack.  She attacks her sore mouth, ears and gums with a vengeance, using any object she can find, generally the more dangerous and disgusting the better.***  On Sunday I caught her with my toothbrush, which she had shoved into her ear, her nose and the back of her gums before I realized what was going on.  I don't even know how she got it, but I guess it was time for a new brush anyway.  Her body copes in another way, fever.  Teething related fevers that say, have daycare calling you at 3:45PM in the afternoon, for the second Monday in two weeks and result in her having to stay home for another 24 hour rest period because her fever peaked at 103 - AGAIN and she isn't allowed back until it has been gone for at least a day - AGAIN!

Anyone have any suggestions for teething themed apparel for Molly or Jack?  It seems like it's almost time for their close up!

This is what Jack did to the Vaseline/Baby Moisturizer.  Not entirely helpful when you're trying to change a diaper quickly and prevent baboon butt.  He thinks that it's hilarious.

*Like any urban legend, I heard that my sisters', friends' cousins' child didn't experience any pain teething, but I think it was just something made up to give parents hope in dark times.   
**Those who believe there is a connection say that the bowel issues have to do with the swallowing of excess saliva, which causes extra acidity in the stomach, leading to loose stool.  Those who think there is no connection have obviously never cleaned up one of Jack's "blow-out" diapers while he's teething.
***Favourite/Forbidden objects she's gone for to aid her throbbing gums: batteries from the remote control, cat food, wooden spoons and most often the insoles from Chris's shoes.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

She Works Hard For the Money

It's been just over a month since our period of "fiscal restraint" began.  A little while ago I talked about ways to save money when you're on a budget ( and that's helped us a ton!  However, sometimes saving money doesn't feel like enough when household emergencies happen or there's a big ticket item* on your calendar and your regular income isn't going to cut it.

Since I've been back at work I've missed the minions a lot and the idea of being out of the house for a second job was too much for either of us to handle physically or emotionally plus it's not worth the return on investment.

When we were first discussing our new budget, a friend who was preparing to move suggested, "Why not sell some of your old stuff?".  She had recently made enough money to pay for her movers by selling old CDs, DVDs, textbooks and books that she didn't want any more and had significantly less stuff to move.**   I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of it myself.  I, of course being me, decided to take things to the next level.  Here are some things I've sold, considered selling and how it's worked out for us.

If you've been in school recently and aren't going to use your texts any more, August/September and December/January are great months to sell your books.  You can either sell on line (I used Amazon) or go to a local college or university bookstore.  Some book stores will give you a higher price if you can prove that you got an A on the course.  Textbooks expire quickly, so they may not be worth anything if a new edition came out.  You can check what others are selling the texts for on line by using ISBN numbers before you list yours.  To date we have made $140 on the sale of textbooks...this is after shipping costs and listing commission fees.

DVDs, CDS and Books
We kept the series, movies and books, that we continually trade and lend to friends, but the ones that we know we'll never watch or use again - we decided to sell.  The series has to be worth a significant amount of cash to be worth the shipping costs and effort, so you'll need to determine whether it's worth it to post on line or take to your local used book/media dealer.  So far we have made $50 on the sale of television series alone.***  We haven't made it out yet to the physical shops for media that isn't worth the shipping fees but I've been told that BMV and Vortex are two of the best options in Toronto to take in your used stuff.

Clothes & Shoes
I have three pairs of name brand shoes that I bought a few years ago, spent a ton of money on and wore one time because they killed my feet.  Last week I sold the first pair on eBay and made $40.  Much better on closet and wallet space.  Same goes for dresses or clothes that are bought for special events and weddings that you know you won't wear again.  Research eBay vs. consignment shops to figure out what will work best for you.
Clearly Molly & Jack have not mastered the art of wrapping and packaging items for shipping. 

Baby Supplies
We have a lot of baby stuff that Molly and Jack have already outgrown.  Anything clothes related, toy related or basically anything that has been handed down to us, we've passed on to our ever growing circle of friends and acquaintances who are expecting.  That being said, you have to do what you have to do and you can't always afford to pass on or donate to charity...We have some twin specific items that will be no use to the parents of singletons and some gifts that we received that were barely used that we've decided to sell.  Baby consignment shops, mom websites and groups (or twin specific groups) have some great options for mom to mom sales that can work for you.  You can also go out to friends first before you post on line on these sites or on other sites like Kijiji or Craigslist.  I offered some items to some friends at a reduced rate before I posted on line.  So far we've made $95 selling baby/twin stuff that we don't use any more.

You know that fun hobby you always talk about how you wish you had more time for****...make it a reality, start selling on Etsy or another crafty site - just make sure you sell the items for enough money to cover your supplies and time.  This isn't something I've done personally, but I have a lot of crafty friends who would benefit from selling their art on line thus forcing them into making time for something they love and making a few bucks at the same time.

The biggest challenge for me has been making it to the post office regularly and shipping the items promptly.  I am really terrible at returning movies to a video store and mailing anything...It's been a big road block I've had to face this past month.

If anyone has any other suggestions for selling...I'm listening..all while I work on my plan to sell Chris' origami frogs for cash or interesting trades.

*Say one of your closest and oldest friends is having a destination wedding later this Fall, with the final deposit due, literally, tomorrow.
**That's like finding a double rainbow.
***Seller beware: I am an idiot and unknowingly listed a season of a television series as a Blue Ray rather than a DVD and am currently in the process of sorting out my first return.
****Subversive cross stitch, knitting, jewelry design or moderately offensive garden gnomes anyone?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Roller Coaster...Of Love

For some time now our biannual trip to Canada`s Wonderland Amusement Park had been delayed: something to do with me being pregnant with babies and being a new mom to twin infants put roller coasters and amusement parks at the bottom of my to do list.  After a rain delay a few weeks ago we managed to get there with the help of my in-laws who babysat for us while we coastered, just 3 years later than our last trip and the day before my 34th birthday.

4 rides into our trip the group of us decided to stop for lunch.  I somewhat unwisely ordered chicken on a bun which was priced as if it was Kobe beef despite being deep fried in a tin roofed hut.  We ate and made our way to another few rides.  By the third ride post lunch break, one that spun like crazy, I felt nauseous, but I tried to power through.  We were standing in line for a ride called, Back Lot Stunt Coaster*, the sun was beating down on us and I felt like I was going to pass out and puke - in that specific order.  When I suggested that I skip the ride and go lay down on the grass somewhere while they waited in linew and then enjoyed the ride, Chris looked secretly relieved.**

I stumbled over to the grass and lay down on the lawn for over an hour, twitching like some kind of hobo junky, using my purse as a pillow, opening my eyes only twice when I heard passer-byes asking each other, "Is that lady okay?".  When my crew returned from their ride they assured me that I would have puked everywhere had I stayed and Chris went to get me some vitamin water to help me rehydrate.

For the rest of the day it was a fine balance between resting and riding, with my nausea escalating exponentially.  I finally tapped out when there were discussions of lining up and riding the Leviathan, it was just too much to handle.  I was able to coax others into hanging out instead with promises of funnel cake and candy apples after we played at the arcade - and because the lineup was humongous.

"Next time giant coaster, next time!" says Sarabeth shaking her fist adamantly.

I must admit my nausea made me feel old and sad - I've never had any trouble riding any coasters.***  I wondered if this was something I could blame on the minions, perhaps pregnancy had altered my ability to enjoy amusement parks.  I'm always on the look-out for more things to blame on Molly and Jack, especially since I had a very successful C-Section and can't complain about being in labour for 42 hours.

When I got home I began to research if pregnancy and birth was the cause for a change in my reaction to G force (gravitational force due to acceleration and free fall).  It turns out I can't blame my kids for this one, I need to blame myself: for a possible sinus related cause of nausea and for getting older.  It turns out that as we age our balance gets worse as does our ability to readjust after going on rides.  So unless I become a yoga enthusiast in the next two years, I guess I need to pack some Pepto next time.

And I'm happy to report that I wasn't the only one who left the theme park feeling a little bit pekid****, one of our cohorts took it upon himself to eat a giant smoked turkey leg to prove to the rest of us that they actually sold this confection at Canada's Wonderland.  Apparently eating like Fred Flinstone doesn't always end well.  I may be a year older now, and need to pep up before going on rides but at least I don't eat questionably prepared giant slabs of meat just to prove a point.

*I don't know who was in charge of renaming the rides when Paramount sold Canada's Wonderland, but really that was the best that you could come up with to replace, The Italian Job?  Try harder next time, please. Insert disappointed mom face here.
**I guess he assumed that a day without the babies would mean that no one would puke on him.
***With the exception of being really short and positioned in the head rests so I get my ears boxed in certain specific rides.  Some coasters are like taking a round from Mike Tyson, but with less biting.
****Misery loves company.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

About 10 years ago I took a play writing course at Ryerson University.  On the first day of class we had to give generic introductions where we had to say our names, our favourite play and list a few of our hobbies.  One of my classmates had a hobby that has stuck in my mind through-out the years.  She announced, "I collect notepads, but not just any notepads.  I collect notepads with phrases on them, specifically phrases that have been poorly translated into English and don't make sense."  The dollar store was her mecca and she had drawers and drawers full of paper that said things like: You make me hippy or I lik your smile.  It's taken me a while to find my own notepad hobby, but I think I may have finally found something comparable of my own.

The early days of fall present a challenge - It's fairly cool a lot of mornings and then scorching hot by late afternoon.  This crazy temperature swing has me struggling with how to dress the minions in the morning before Chris walks them over to daycare because by the time I go to get them at the end of the day it's really hot outside.  I have them in layers, but calculating the correct clothing to temperature ratios and the shorts vs. trousers debate goes on daily.  If either child is anything like my father they'll be content to wear shorts instead of pants 9 months of the year. Apparently, for my dad November to February is the only time of year it's inappropriate to wear shorts, but this is also the man who has been scolded by my mother regularly for attempting to pair dress shirts (tucked in) with jogging pants for leisure wear.

As I continue to dress the minions in weather appropriate layers I've realised that both children have shot up in height, so perhaps my weather solution could involve clothing they've outgrown so we can split the difference between shorts and pants by just putting both kids in floods all day.

In light of the recent growth spurt I went into the garage the other night and pulled out two boxes of 12-18 months hand-me-down clothes that will be more appropriate once it's a little bit colder outside and will cover up baby ankles.  As I sorted the clothing I came across one of my favourite and the most random items of baby clothes I have seen to date and something that I can't wait for Jack to wear.

 These appear to be normal toddler trousers...

But this is what the pocket says.

I don't know what nut racing is, but I am in love with these pants and my new hobby.  There is no indication of a squirrel or racing theme anywhere else on the item of clothes.  I wonder if I can find a shirt to match.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Back to Life, Back to Reality

When I imagined my return to work I thought about coffee, adult conversation and the projects I would tackle.  I did not suspect that my first day back would end in tears* and me having to leave work early because Molly had a fever that was spiking.  The transition was working wonderfully, especially for the minions who barely seem to notice that we're leaving them anywhere in the morning and greeted us happily at the end of the day.

Our 3 day transition last week had them thrilled and me out of sorts.  After a particular tough drop off** Chris and I took advantage of his vacation week and the kids being at daycare by going out to brunch, bowling, playing tennis and taking long luxurious naps.  By Friday we were ready for this, or so I thought.  Friday night Jack got his first daycare cold, was up a few times over night, but was entirely himself again by the next afternoon and almost 100% by Sunday.  Then Chris got sick Sunday night, slept on the couch, but Advilled up and stumbled his way into work.

Yesterday Chris managed a successful drop off and I made it into work on time, in clean clothes, without baby drool anywhere or any deodorant stains on me.***  The day was going great, until my cell phone rang.  It was daycare, Molly was ill, lethargic and had a fever that was nearing 102.  Not only was I completely helpless across the city to get to my sick baby, but I had to drop everything****, leave work early and make arrangements for Molly to be taken care of tomorrow, all while ensuring that Jack got to daycare.

Instantly I was in tears.  I explained to a couple of coworkers what was going on and ran out the door to my sick Molly's aid.  Unfortunately I got caught in a subway delay en route to daycare.  I stood, helplessly at St. George Station for what felt like an eternity, cursing the TTC under my breath.  I finally arrived at the daycare, only 15 minutes earlier than my usual anticipated arrival because of the delay, and took my sick little girl home.

Last night, instead of high fives and a beer each on the back porch in celebration of my first day back we snuck into Molly's room to take her temperature rectally and played the riddle game of the wolf, the sheep, the bale of hay and the boat***** Only our version is the daycare, the sick child, the two working adults and the well child.  We talked about the options we had: Babysitters: Really expensive, especially considering that we are paying for Molly's day in daycare today, even though she's sick, The Grandparents: One set is up North today and the other set is about to leave for England on their 45th Anniversary vacation, essentially vacation of a life time trumps baby germs.

We finally worked out that I would take Jack to and from daycare on my travels to and from work and Chris would work from home, as best he can, while taking care of Molly.  This means that he's up working at the crack of dawn until she gets up, while she naps and then again in the evening when I return home.  If the fever continues, we'll discuss other options tomorrow.

So we'll see how Jack fares without his sister for the first time in his life, and how I fare on my second day as I attempt to be a stoic mom.  Stoic means crying about feeling helpless about the health of your children while you sit in your office and try to work, right?

*My own: of frustration, helplessness and general sadness.
**Again for me, not the minions, they're fine.  It turns out that I'm the one having trouble adjusting.
***The absence of deodorant stains is a big feat for me, even pre-children.
****On the first day back none the less.  Fate, are you F@%#ing kidding me?
*****If you are unfamiliar with this riddle, here's a link to it:

Thursday, 6 September 2012


It amazed me how differently yet the same people treated me when I was pregnant.  Some felt that it was an open invitation to grope my pregnant body and give me the bad touch*, others thought it was a fitting time to point out how gigantic my belly had grown, yet the instant I was on the subway requiring a seat it seems I turned invisible.

Just over a month ago Chris and I were heading back from drinks out with some friends.  While we were at Dundas West subway station waiting for the Junction bus an old friend of mine exited our bus.  We both immediately recognized each other**, gave each other a hug, chatted for a few minutes and headed our separate ways.  It turns out that he lives about 4 blocks away from us and we indeed live in a small world, even though our lives are inherently very different from one another now.  He is a single guy who was heading out at 11:30PM on a Friday night whereas we are married, with babies heading home to a sitter at the exact same time his evening was beginning.  This in itself made me feel really old and lame.***

Last week Chris and I were walking back from the grocery store.  I was pushing the stroller and he was lugging a giant backpack full of food.  We walked past someone and Chris commented that he really liked the guy's shirt.  I turned around to instantly recognize the same person who we'd run into a month earlier.  When we were just out of ear shot and I explained to Chris who it was.

"We saw each other last month, how come he didn't recognize me?" I asked.
Chris replied simply, "It's the stroller.Guys, specifically single guys, don't look at women with strollers."
"What about married guys, with children?" I asked.
"I look inside the stroller at the kids.  Then I'll maybe make eye contact with the mom and smile."

This led into a debate about how the stroller makes me Momvisible**** to young men, but super visible to grandmother types, other women who look your post-pregnancy body up and down, or people who want to criticise your parenting. What about the Yummy Mummy?  The impression that I get is this has to do more with comparing other mom's to each other within a social group, or mom's among teenage boys who think just about anything with boobs is hot.

Does this stroller make me look invisible? 

So the next time you go to the store in your mom jeans, with baby vomit on your sweater and no make-up on and you run into that guy from high school, don't worry - he likely won't see you, but his girlfriend or wife probably will.

*About pregnancy and the bad touch -
**It's amazing how Facebook can make it really easy to spot someone you haven't seen in over 15 years.  That and the fact that I've looked the same since I was 4.
*** Honestly midnight on a Friday has typically been a game ender for us long before the arrival of the minions.  After working all week who doesn't want to crash out for a while and save up their energy for Saturday?
****When I typed momvisible into "the Googles" it directed me to so much porn!  I wonder if I can patent the non-dirty version of a word?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

My Own Prison

In celebration of the official first day of school I am going to post something that I wrote a couple of months ago about my experiences as a kid and how my time as a mom has altered them.  I have hesitated from posting this entry for a while, because it's really personal.  In unrelated news, I am exhausted from completing the 3 Day  Novel Contest this weekend, and I am proud to say that we finished our novella, What's in it for Ned? just under the wire.  If I never see another plate of lasagna again I might be okay with that.

My first year in school there were very few other girls in my class.  My mom became fast friends with another mom and I ended up having play dates with "Friend" (FR) by association.  At first the friendship wasn't so bad, and I didn't have any other female friends for comparison, all of the kids that I played with on my street were boys and I wasn't wise to the world of "girl" friendship yet.

The first chip at our friendship was when she told me that another girl in our class routinely said the F word.  Only knowing that the F word was forbidden I dumbly asked said girl if she said the F word, FR then announced that this just wasn't true and called me a liar in front of all of our class mates.  I let it slide, cause I was 5 or 6 years old and didn't know how to deal with it.

FR's mom and mine car-pooled us to various outings, had us exchange play dates and took us out for girl's days (shopping and lunch)  on PA days.  Her mom always commented about how quiet, obedient and polite I was*, that I always finished my vegetables and said please and thank you.  The result of this was her open, utter and total dislike for me that grew exponentially with each year that passed along with my own silent passiveness.  

As time went by FR became quite popular and I floundered in my own prepubescent dorky awkwardness.  I'd be invited to her parties with the popular girls, but only because her mom made her.  I continued to be chauffeured to various after school activities with her where she'd ignore me once we arrived and made fun of everything about me from the way I tucked my leggings into my slouchy socks and how she knew that I still played with Barbies because I was such a loser.**  I'd sit there anxiously while the popular girls chatted about french kissing, periods, boys and make-up with nothing to contribute to the conversation.

At a peak of my own awkwardness with giant earrings, a floral dress, awful bangs and Ugly Betty Braces. 

For some weird reason at the time I never objected to doing anything with FR or ratted out to my mom that I thought she was a bitch.  I think it was an odd respect for her popularity.  I still don't get why I didn't just let my mom know that I didn't want to be friends with FR any more.  After grade 8 FR and I never spoke again.  It was as if we'd finally finished our 8-10 year prison sentence and were finally placed on parole.  By the end, our hatred towards each other, even though mine was silent, was completely mutual.

As I grew up, and came into my own in high school and university (in what I like to think of as a dorky Enid from Ghost World kind of way) I began to chastise my mom for making me hang out with FR.  My mom is still in contact with FR's mom and whenever she gives me updates I respond with something to the effect of , "I don't care".

Now that I'm a mom and I've blindly entered the world of parenthood and parent friends I'm beginning to understand what my mom was going through.  She found another mom who genuinely liked to hang out with.  They still talk on the phone regularly and meet up a couple of times a year for nearly 30 years now.  As I try to navigate the world of mom friendship I've begun to realize that adult friendship is about having more in common than, "We're both parents so let's hang out." My mom is a real person with adult needs for friendship.  I think that in my own anger about how I didn't react to a personal situation I forgot this somewhere along the way.

The next time my mom gives me an update about FR I am going to channel my polite 6 year old self: listen, bite my lip, maybe eat some vegetables and keep my snarky comments to myself.***  All my mom is going is updating me on what's new with her friend and I'm nowhere near the prison school yard any more.  Besides me and my dorky AWESOME friends always had a better time together anyway.

*I am pretty sure that anyone who knows adult Sarabeth is probably wiping coffee off of their monitors because they're laughing so hard.  I used to be quiet and polite.  It was a phase, I'm not too proud of it, but I'm over it.
**At which point Barbie playing became a coded game with my other awkward prepubescent friend KM, "Do you want to hang out in my basement" really meant, "Hey, do you want to make all of our Barbies sex up the only two Ken dolls we own?"  The coded system was abandoned in grade 9 when we both finally reached puberty.  I should probably give FR some credit for her fashionable eye because my slouchy socks did look ridiculous. 
***Although I might share them with KM over a glass of wine and some Barbies.