Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Margaritaville

This week is the first time in over 15 months that we have been without the minions.  We are out of town at a destination wedding.  At first it was relaxing, we slept a lot* and we drank a lot.**  The freedom has been nice but strange and whenever we see other couples on the resort struggling with their toddler we smile and are happy for this gift of a week alone, but at the same time miss our little ones. 

I have become a little obsessive about getting updates from Nana and Grampa on how daycare is going and how the kids are doing. I was once told that the best part of being on vacation is relaxing, exploring and then looking forward to going home.  If you aren't looking forward to going home it's probably time to move.

 
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*The first afternoon we took a 5 hour nap - literally.
**The 5 hour nap may have had something to do with a rum based drink called the Wu Wu, which also makes Chris think he's a swimming pool ninja.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Toy Soldiers

A few weeks ago, after an incident at daycare, Jack said his first legitimate (non-mama, dada, nana) word: Bite. For a week or so after he lost an epic toddler battle over a coveted toy if you asked him about the bite he would start to cry.  This is similar to him crying when he's too terrified to crawl past the carbon monoxide detector in the upstairs hall because of the shocking noise it makes when you pull it out of the wall - repeatedly.* 

Tomorrow is, "bring your favourite toy to daycare day".  I don't see how we're going to get through this day without having to fill out an incident report because we break up slapping matches between the minions over plastic bowls and cooking pots daily.  Bringing eight other kids into the picture, with a toy that they really like is just stirring the magic cooking pot, literally.

Enjoying the console of doom

Here are my questions about this:

1) If my children get into a fight with, or bite each other do we still have to sign an incident report?  Because we'd be signing it twice, victim (Jack) and perpetrator (Molly) report.
2) If klepto Molly steals another child's toy, do we have to return it? Or is it finders keepers, losers weepers?
3) Would it be unfair to give each of my children toys that go together so that they can begin fighting with each other right away?**
4) Is it unfair to arm our children with toys that they could turn into weapons?***
5) Will they be filming this edition of Baby Fight Club, The Cage Match Edition?  If yes, where can I purchase copies for holiday gifts?

Playing with dad's shoes...a game that never grows old.
 
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*Apparently Pavlovian training is the way to go with the boy child.  Whenever he tries to play with Chris's record player if you make a high pitched Beep noise, akin to Police Academy's Larvell Jones (Michael Winslows') impression of a carbon monoxide detector causing Jack to pause and then cry.
**For example Jack loves boxes and placing other smaller objects into boxes.  If I give Jack a box to take in and Molly a small toy that would fit into said box it's only a matter of time before Slapvember begins.
***Honestly, any toy can be turned into a weapon. Molly loves to smack herself in the face with a book and giggle while I yell "Book Face!"  Maybe this isn't a well thought out game.










Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

This month, after my second diagnosis with strep throat in under 3 weeks and Jack back in fever town,  it's hard not to recognize that our life lately slightly resembles a never ending Family Circus cartoon, but worse and EVEN I didn't think that was possible.

 
Comic strip courtesy of Family Circus *


We are trying to move forward, be positive and plan ahead.  This means that Christmas shopping, particularly online, which has been a nice distraction. In the spirit of planning ahead I started to think about New Year's and New Year's resolutions, thought of our lives lately and recognized that in terms of resolutions Chris and I are already in mid-January and ahead of the curve - so take that 2013!  Here's how we've been tackling our resolutions 6 weeks early:

Resolution 1 - Meet New People 
  • Last week we met a weird junky with no prescription who was trying to scam some methadone from our pharmacist, Matthew, while Chris waited for Molly's prescription antibiotics.
  • We now know our pharmacist, Matthew, by name.
Resolution 2 - Read More Often
  • This Sunday story time happened at Shoppers Drug Mart while we awaited my prescription.
  • Borrowed books aren't just at the library anymore, they're by the magazines and the perfume gift sets, and without late fees, but now stacked with tons of germs from me and my family.**
Resolution 3 - Eat Better/ Be Healthy
  • My antibiotics can't be absorbed properly if I eat dairy. There is this weird math equation on the notes that talks about no dairy 4 hours before or 8 hours after I take my medication and something else about antacids and multivitamins. Why eat cheese if you can't have wine anyway?***
  • This medication is making me really thirsty.  Get 8 glasses of water each day, no problem - how about 12, 13?
  • This medication causes diarrhea. I'm living the poor man's juice cleanse, but with significantly more throat pain.
Resolution 4 - Learn New Things
  • This medication may cause vaginitis? Okay, so maybe I'm not ready for resolution #4 yet. I don't know what that is and I refuse to look it up.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss.



*Yeah a mother with 4 children under 6 is wearing a bikini at the beach.  I know, I'm begrudging the body of  a cartoon character, she didn't really get stretch marks.  However, if you're really trying to appeal to moms why not put her in a modest one piece?  Just saying.
**Don't buy your children books from Shoppers - they're likely covered with the plague.
***Someone hired a psychic to come to my sister's wedding shower.  The main thing the psychic told her was that she ate too much cheese.  It's really accurate, but has always struck me as a bizarre thing for a psychic to say.

Friday, 16 November 2012

She Bangs

When I was a child my mother's solution to dealing with my hair was to give me a thick matt of bangs.  She claims it was an easy way to divide my tangle prone hair and framed my face when I wore it in a ponytail.  As a little one, it was pretty adorable.  By the time I hit 11 it was downright ugly.  Think hockey hair mullet hideous meets hipster TRYING to look bad repugnant. 

One summer, the year before grade 8, I decided to Sun-In my hair. I cannot believe that this product actually still exists, you might as well just take some bleach or hydrogen peroxide, put it in a hair spray bottle, cut it with a bit of tap water and apply liberally.*  The bang issue became down right ridiculous when I was too stupid to realize that my bangs kept getting trimmed and ended up with these dark bangs with partially bleached long hair.** Finally the summer before grade 9 I decided to grow my bangs out and despite some questionable hair band choices it was the right decision. 

Fast forward to the Spring of grade 10:  My highly persuasive friend DG and I were bored at her mother's house, she told me that she was really good at cutting hair and suggested that I try a set of really fun Betty Page/Janine Garafalo from Reality Bites inspired bangs.***  I agreed.  What I ended up with was Girl Interrupted disgustor bangs.  I dare you to Google any character in that movie, Winona, Angelina or Brittany: What do they all have in common?   Insanity caused by terrible hair-cuts.  It took me over a year, and a lot of gel and hair clips to deal with The Great Hair Disaster of 1994.  To this day DG admits that this haircut is the reason she stopped cutting hair.  She also gave another mutual friend KJ a haircut comparable to the male lead singer of Canadian TV show sensation CatWalk ****

What I wanted (Image courtesy of Google Images)

What I got, Sigh... (Image courtesy of Google Images)
 
Daycare picture day is less than two weeks away and Molly's hair is in her face constantly.  It's time to make a decision, which may impact her for years.  This morning I sent the following email to my sister:

Hey E,
Just a quick question...was mom's strict enforcement of terrible bangs the reason why both of your kids don't have bangs?

It's time for us to decide whether or not we give Molly bangs or start tying her hair up.
Thoughts?

 Apparently my mom had no influence here.  My niece, A had bangs and decided to grow them out herself a couple of years ago, C has curly hair, so bangs never made sense.  My sister claims that bangs on children are easier to deal with than no bangs.
 
So, we still have a choice to make here. Do we cut it, or start giving her a top knot? Do I cut it myself, or leave it to a professional?

To this day I see Zoey Deschanel or Lily Allen and debate returning to the bangs yet again.  But then I think back to 1994, take a deep breath and change my mind. 





*Please don't really do that to your hair.  I'm in no way, shape or form anything of a chemist and am unaware the semi-permanent to permanent damage that bleach would do to your hair or eyes.
**Think Candice Cameron the Full House years.  I'm still shuddering.
***You may find yourself asking, "What 15 year old girl is going for a Janine Garafalo look?".  The answer, me, she is cool, sarcastic and fun.
****That was Neve Campbell you spotted.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Return to Innocence

Many years ago, Chris and I had the opportunity to attend an art gallery opening for an exhibit on Penguin Books from writer, artist, Canadian Icon and creator of the term Generation X: Douglas Coupland.  We were thrilled to see such a neat exhibit, and the gallery operator even offered to introduce us to Coupland.  We nodded, said hello, shook hands, Chris gushed that he was a big fan and then took off in the opposite direction mumbling something about needing to go check out the exhibit one more time.

When we left the event I asked Chris why he'd hit the eject button so early.  He explained to me that he generally has a very clear picture in his mind about artists (musicians, writers, celebrities), especially ones that he feels he has connected with their work and he doesn't want them to mess with what he has created in his head.  Specifically if they turn out  to be giant jerks or idiots.  I found this a little strange, especially since he is someone who will read the book and see the movie, but I fully understand the romanticised version of art that you've created for yourself and not wanting someone to impact that.*

This week Kevin Clash, the brain and voice behind Sesame Street's infamous Elmo, was accused of having an underage relationship with a young man.  These allegations have been investigated, and dropped.**  As someone who works in PR I can only imagine what the folks on Sesame Street are dealing with this week, shortly after the launch of their newest holiday season toy of choice LOL Elmo, in trying to separate the man from the puppet.  I understand the importance and impact that Elmo has on children, specifically ones with terminal illnesses who often request to meet Elmo because as the documentary Being Elmo aptly pointed out, Elmo is love.  I was born a few years too early to be a part of the Elmo generation, but I get the importance of this character. 

As a former child turned parent I get the need for a hero.  There aren't enough of them, especially when we get constant exposure to the character and celebrity.  I grew up with a love of Super Grover and Mr. Dress Up and only knew them as I was intended to, as an entertaining escape.  The only man behind the puppet I knew was Jim Hensen, the soul of Kermit the Frog, and that spirit lives on even after his death.  I feel lucky that I grew up in a time before instantaneous news and that I was able to ignore the man behind the green curtain for just a little while longer than my children will be able to. 

I am not going to comment on the Clash accusations, but no matter what, in the end Elmo will never be just about love again, and that makes me sad.

Photo of Mr. Dress Up courtesy of MrsJaen




*Think Sheldon Cooper vs. Will Wheaton on the Big Bang Theory, sometimes the less you know about someone the better.  I have a friend who still has a serious issues with Super Man because he saw Christopher Reeves treat a fan poorly.
**Here's a recent release on the Kevin Clash Story

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

No Milk Today

As we enter week three of the petulant plight that our lives have been lately, we have started to let some things slide around the house and personally.*  The smell of baby vomit could not be destinkified from our Ralph Lauren sheets, the high thread count ones we got for a steal at Winners last year, and it turns out that no amount of laundry detergent and oxyclean can get out the foul beast that is Molly expectorant.  We finally tapped out and threw them in the garbage. 

At the end of each night we scurry around like deranged elves attempting to wash laundry and copious amounts of dishes before collapsing onto the couch into a television coma for an hour before bed.  Molly is now sick, again,  and unable to attend daycare, again.  I love my job and we need the money, but I am beginning to understand why a lot of parents take some time off from the work force to be with their children.

There is nothing more saddening than having to explain to your sick child that you want to nurture them, but cannot do so during business hours, so they're going to have to wait for 10.5 hours for Mommy time.  It's absolutely heart breaking.  End rant here.

I mentioned earlier that things on the home front have slid a little.  Tonight while I'm doing tandem pick up from daycare (Jack) and my parents (Molly), Chris is going to the doctor's office for a precautionary throat swab because odds are strep bacteria are breeding in his throat as I type this sentence.**  Last night was the first time in a week that I was able to wash my hair with regular shampoo, because Chris picked me some up at lunch (Dove soap and baby shampoo had been used for over a week).

In the madness we've been particularly undiligant about bottles.  Normally when a minion drains most of a bottle, we remove it from munchkin reach and put it in the sink for the next round of dishes claiming it as a, Dead Soldier.***  In the past two weeks we've found ourselves prying old bottles that have been laying around for hours out of hungry little hands yelling, "No, don't eat that!" and running to the kitchen to fetch a fresh bottle while said child screams in hunger .  This lack of forethought has gotten me really thinking, how long is milk good for at room temperature anyway, so I researched it and thought I'd share:

Breast Milk - the Room Temperature Champion

Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for 6-7 hours before it needs to be thrown out...

It can also be stored:
  • For two weeks in your refrigerator’s freezer but not in the door of the freezer.
  • For two to three months in an upright freezer.
  • For up to six months in a chest style freezer (at a temperature below -20°C).
Cow's Whole Milk

I've heard ranges of only 30 minutes from once it reaches room temperature from some sources which in our house would lead to a lot of tossed out milk and is pretty unmanageable.  The most common stance is that after 4 hours above 4 degrees C (or 40 degrees Fahrenheit) you risk bacteria growth and should probably throw it out.  Which is good, because that bottle that you accidentally left out before their nap is probably still okay for them to snack on.  Note these guidelines are for pasteurised milk.
Jack enjoying a bottle of pumped milk - 1 month old

 
Formula

Most packages of formula are good for an hour or so post mixing, unrefrigerated - for up to 24 hours in the fridge.  When the minions were still on formula we ended up wasting a lot more than I would have liked, even though they often finished each other's bottles.  The only good thing is, that unlike milk it is really easy to tell when your old formula has gone bad.  It essentially turns into horrifying toxic waste, akin to our once beautiful sheets from Winners - sigh!
*I am aware that our lives  have started to sound a like kidnappees manifesto.
**Gross, right?
***Dead Soldier originally meant a dead marine, but evolved into meaning empty liquor or beer bottle.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Boy In The Box

Every now and again I'll refer back to What to Expect - The Toddler Years* the only problem is that once I'm in there I can't stop - specifically the section at the beginning of each month that marks their imminent developmental milestones - it's like judgement crack where you try to determine where your kid should be and whether or not you began saving for post graduate education a little too soon.  Since I hadn't been there for a while I ended up catching up on what they should be doing at months 13, 14 and 15.  One of the items that stuck out for me was placing items inside other items - something that children begin to "master" between 13-14 months.

Jack has had the objects into objects task down since he turned a year and our friends C&C purchased Potsy the learning pot.  For months now Jack has been obsessed with the sassy little pot and squeals with delight when he announces things like, "I like it lean, I like it green, I'm a broccoli machine."  He never gets bored of this thing and I must admit because it has two volume settings Potsy isn't constantly screaming about how, "it's spicy", it's usually more of a loud whisper and a lot more tolerable.**


LeapFrog Cook and Play Potsy
This is Potsy and he wants to stir up some magic in the kitchen!

So because of the help from Potsy, I thought that Jack had adequately schooled himself on the task of placing items into a vessel.  I was wrong.  This week his hobby consumed him, a normally patient child, ill with Strep Throat, was furious at boxes that wouldn't stack properly into other boxes and has damaged some of them by forcing them into each other.  He immersed himself into the art of packing, mastering a play cash register and then began stuffing copious amounts of Cheerios into my purse, tea cup, mouth and then finally down the front of my shirt.  This evening he fell over when he was unable to shove his head into a yogurt container.***  During his evening snack tonight he created my personal favourite storage creation.  Bread in shoes.



Guess who helped pack dad's lunch tonight!  Bon Appetite! 

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*Today it was to find out what do to about dehydration due to vomiting in a toddler - Sickaggedon - You'll Never Have Clean Sheets Again Part 2 (a love story)
**This really is a great toy for any toddler you know, especially one you don't have to live with: http://www.amazon.com/LeapFrog-Cook-and-Play-Potsy/dp/B0038APAZO
***I never said that he was a spacial genius.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

You Live, You Learn

Blight and plague has settled upon our household for November.  In dealing with illness, particularly my own and Jack's, and trying to maintain some semblance of normality for Molly and Chris I have learned the following things this past week:

  1. Strep throat feels and smells like two hobos are fighting each other, on a humid day, using broken glass shanks from malt liquor bottles that they have drank and then urinated in - IN THE BACK OF YOUR THROAT!
  2. The only thing worse than getting a throat swab when you have Strep Throat is having to fight your 15 month old into submission, while you have Strep Throat, so your nurse practitioner can get a throat swab from him.*
  3. When you get liquid strawberry penicillin for your infant and the pharmacist says, "I made up some extra so you may have to throw it out when you've finished the ten days." what he really means is, "Your child is going to spit this in your face with a venom that parallels puritanical treatment of those who were accused of witch craft and you'll probably need some extra."  
  4. Strep Throat if untreated can turn into Scarlet Fever and needs to be treated seriously, especially in infants...as one of our sitters L aptly put it when I was panicking, "Don't worry Sara, It's not like in Little Women, Jack is not Beth.  There are antibiotics he can take."
Beyond illness I have also learned the following:
  1. Our children have become dumber...When I was a child I had idiot mittens to prevent me from loosing them, essentially a string that connected my mittens through my jacket arms.  We are not permitted to provide these types of mittens - in case our children manage to hang themselves on the idiot mitten strings...we need to provide clips instead.  My daughter now has Supreme Idiot Mittens.**  I also need to get them both weird Dickie's (mock turtlenecks to use instead of scarves) or some alternative to avoid their imminent hangings***.  A few years ago my father-in-law hurt his neck and upon recovery decided that his brace was a warm alternative to a scarf and kept wearing it because it was "cosy" - maybe we could borrow the neck brace now that he's wintering in Florida.
  2. The highlight of my week was going grocery shopping last night while we waited for Jack's prescription.  The joy I experienced at the ability to have both children sitting in the same cart with two independent seat belts is infinite...Thank you Fresh Co.


The minions doing some grocery shopping!

*While we were pinning Jack down someone from the front of the medical building called, likely to ask, "Why are you trying to kill that baby?"
**Patent pending.
***If anyone has any suggestions where to get these for cheap please let me know.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Ballad of Peter Pumpkin Head

Once Upon A Time, In a land far away (2 days ago in The Junction, Toronto) there was a terrible storm (the outer edges of Hurricane Sandy).  The storm whistled through the night, but in the morning everything seemed okay.  So, the King and the Queen took the Prince and the Princess to the castle on the hill and went about their courtly business (We dropped the minions off at daycare and subwayed into work).  In the late morning all of the candles blew out at the castle on the hill and they could not get them re-lit so it got very cold.  So the Duke and the Duchess had to fetch the Prince and the Princess. (The power went out for several hours at daycare, hydro couldn't get it back on and it started to get really cold, we weren't sure whether or not we had power at our house so Nana and Grampa picked up the kids and took them home that afternoon).

Unfortunately when the Duke and the Duchess arrived at the castle on the hill they found that the prince had been bit by a terrible zombie (Jack and another child at daycare got into a fight over a toy.  The other child bit Jack on the wrist.  Jack cried while he uttered his first non-mama/dada/nana/baba word to my mom when she asked what was wrong, his response, "BITE" followed by a lot of crying).

That evening everything seemed well again while everyone prepared for the Pagan Festival (Pumpkin Carving at our house).

 Tiki Pumpkin
 Nirvana Smile Pumpkin
Ghoul Pumpkin

Later that night a plague hit the castle and the King and Queen fell ill (disgusting stomach virus).  The King was so weak the next morning that he was unable to lift his mighty crown.  So the Queen journeyed alone to drop off the Prince and the Princess at the castle on the hill so that they would stay well. (Chris couldn't even lift the children so I had to do the daycare drop off solo - despite my fever).

A few hours later a message came from the castle on the hill declaring that the zombie bite/plague (child version of the stomach virus - cold with mighty fever) had infected the young Prince.  The Queen rushed to the castle on the hill to pick up the Prince and Princess.

Unfortunately while the Queen tried to get both the Prince and the Princess home safely a terrible Sorcerer (police officer) was casting a spell on the royal carriage (giving a parking ticket to our car, The Sexfire).  The Queen had an epic battle with the sorcerer (yelled at the cop and cried tears of anger and utter frustration) until finally the Sorcerer removed her spell (I wouldn't stop going on and on about how ridiculous this was in an emergency situation, less than 10 minutes before I was allowed to park in front of the daycare, all while a poor daycare employee stood, trying to help me get both kids into the car as I screamed.  Fortunately the daycare employee had my back and insisted that there really was no where else to park and that this was an emergency).  Then finally the Sorcerer left (after saying calm down ma'am about 15 times she finally gave up on the idea of giving me a parking ticket) and the Queen journeyed home with her children (cried while she drove the kids home) which the Prince found hilarious.*

That evening with some help, the kingdom was able to celebrate a toned down version of the Pagan festival (with the help of Aunt Susan giving out candy while everyone but Molly felt terrible).

Zombified Jack on Halloween.  No make up required.

Today the King, Queen and Prince slowly recover while the young Princess plays at the castle on the hill.  Hopefully the Winter Solstice Festival (Christmas) casts better tidings on the castle.  

Molly as Pebbles Flintstone

*My son thinks that it's super funny when people cry.  I don't know why and hope that this isn't the beginning of troubling tendencies.