HAPPY 42ND ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD!!! That's a long time. Good work.
Dad had some surgery and is recovering nicely, not to mention 25 or 30 pounds lighter thanks to that pesky diet. It looks good on - or rather off - him.
E met Santa and Mrs. Claus, quite by accident as it were. Big hit. There are plans for another visit this weekend. Pictures to follow.
Very good friends of ours had their 8 day old daughter rushed to the hospital for very serious heart surgery. She is currently in recovery and a whole lot of people, the Cowfam included, are slowly, slowly exhaling just a little bit.
My husband is on vacation. Yippee!
We are currently debating whether it is better to continue breathing in decade-old dirt, mold and dust or to risk exposure to asbestos by getting rid of said dirt, mold and dust. Opinions?
Had my annual physical today. Wheeeeee!
I have one more Christmas present to buy. You might know who you are. You're very difficult.
Now if you'll excuse me, the chicken pot pie won't make itself, having someone work out for me doesn't get me the results I'm looking for, my husband will be expecting me to accompany him watch shopping shortly and the teachers don't like it when I leave E at school overnight.
I went and got a little cocky there for a bit. After my post a couple of weeks ago about the naptime saga, things started ticking along rather smoothly. It may have been the stickers that Ms. Natalie began to bestow upon "good nappers". E ran to me proudly each day last week, pulling up her sleeve to reveal another sticker, and I admit I thought the problem was licked. Will I never learn?
On Monday there was no sticker, but I assumed it was because Ms. Natalie was sick and the stand-in hadn't been apprised of the newly instated protocal vis a vis naptime rewards. No matter, Ms. Natalie was back on Tuesday. But there was still no sticker. Turns out E was "a bit silly" at naptime. Okay. No problem. We all slip up from time to time.
On Wednesday, a smiling E came running to me after school, pulling up her sleeve with pride and showing me...no sticker. "Mama! Mama! I didn't listen to Ms. Natalie!" *big smile*
"And Ms. Natalie brought me up to Ms. Veronique to have a conversation and Ms. Veronique wasn't happy to see me!" *big smile*
"Can I have a snack?"
As it happens, E decided not to nap at all on Wednesday. Now, some kids her age are starting to phase out their naps, and some miss naps once in a while with no detrimental effects. That doesn't happen at our house. I tried taking her out to run errands, you know, to keep her distracted from the debilitating fatigue she must be feeling. She didn't make it home...
...and for future reference to myself, as cute as it looks, it will NOT appreciate being woken up for dinner.
Ms. E holding a very important lesson before school this morning with her eager students. All, I was instructed to notice, are sitting properly...except for the kitty, who has trouble sitting properly.
So I saw this post on my friend Brian's blog a few days ago and have been jumping out of my skin for the last several days, waiting until I had all of the elements assembled to do it ourselves.
This morning after dance class we hit the dollar store and scored some magnets, on the way home we gathered some sticks and after a short but productive hunt for some string we were all set.
I've been meaning to buy magnetic alphabet letters for the fridge for ages. But this idea is way cooler. We did lower case letters after lunch, and I could only convince her to take a nap by promising upper case letters in the afternoon. I don't even think she realizes that we have numbers too.
We have sticks for mama, E, dada, Ralph, the dinosaur, and a couple of extras. She's a little miffed that Ralph doesn't seem to be taking the game very seriously, and doesn't seem to be buying my explanation of the value of opposable thumbs. And dada won't be home until tomorrow so his stick is waiting patiently on the sidelines. But E and I are getting pretty good. Thanks DeWagners!
It was delicious!!! A little salty (in my defense the recipe did tell me to - and I quote - "rain salt over the bird", but we health conscious folks tend not to eat too much of the skin anyway, and it sure made the meat nice and flavourful. Next time maybe I'll ease up on the salt a little. Also, will invest in a reliable meat thermometer, as the two in my drawer let me down a little and resulted in slightly overcooked birds. But, all in all, for a first attempt I am satisfied.
These guys were too.
To be honest, these puppies sort of stole the show. Lemon garlic potato wedges. Wowzers.
Ladies and gentleman, a culinary first for yours truly.
Today, for the first time ever, I am brining and roasting chickens. No stranger to all sorts of gastronomic feats of all ethnicities and degrees of difficulty, if there is something I am lacking in my repertoire it's is a firm grasp of the basics. I've neither brined nor roasted a chicken. I could not reliably prepare a roast of any kind without extensive research. Large slabs of meat intimidate me.
I made two fowl little friends at the grocery store the other day and enticed them into my cart. Today I set them free to swim in a pool laden with entirely too much salt and sugar, and in a few short minutes I will extract them from their murky waters, give them a good towelling off and lay them out to work up a nice golden brown in their very own tanning beds. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Think about that during your next day at the beach.
I have been assured by many sources that these will be the most flavourful, most succulent birds that ever roamed, and eventually roasted, on this earth. I feel that it is inevitable that I will experience some level of disappointment, so impossibly glorious has been the build-up. But I am nonetheless optimistic.
Why two chickens, you ask? Well, I have made a grim discovery this week. While I have for some time been aware that deli meat is laden with sodium and all kinds of preservatives that will in all likelihood shorten our life expectancies to some degree, I was under the comfortable illusion that "oven roasted", "low sodium" options left me relatively in the clear. I was wrong. It turns out that even the "healthiest", most "naturally processed" -- oxymoron alert! -- deli meats are preserved with known, or at least suspected, carcinogens including a most benign sounding one called "dried celery extract". So I have gotten it into my head to start a regular...ambitious, I know...routine of roasting meat for sandwiches. So one of our juicy little temptations will make its debut on our dinner table tonight, while the other will be sliced and will feature in E's lunch bag tomorrow.
Yesterday E was collecting rocks outside and kept forgetting to bring her watering can to the collection site, resulting in multiple trips to retrieve it each time. After the third or fourth trip I heard:
I'm just sayin'...and feel free to go the other way with this if you like...but here's what I think:
Every honorary degree that has ever been granted has devalued that degree for all of its past and future recipients.
Last week, or maybe the week before...who can tell anymore...there was a big kafuffle about Don Cherry being granted, and subsequently declining, an honorary degree from RMC for his support of the Canadian Armed Forces over the years. I can just imagine my dad's reaction to the whole business. My dad hates Don Cherry. My dad also served in the armed forces for 27 years. Poor dad, who is on a crash diet, might have been forced to relieve himself of the few calories he is still allowed to consume.
Honorary degrees. Why? Why give someone a degree that they have neither expressed any interest in earning nor made any effort to obtain as a means to show gratitude or recognize excellence? Awards, people. Awards were created for that exact purpose. To AWARD someone for their achievements. You think this fella has done a great service to the community? Why not give him an AWARD? This lady is a literary genius and you would like to acknowledge her in some formal capacity? How about an AWARD?
I happen to like Don Cherry. One day, perhaps my dad will come to appreciate what he and the other gruff, opinionated yet charming s.o.b. have in common. Or maybe not. And I think that it's great that Don has supported Canadian troops and even more great that RMC wants to celebrate that. So I say, let's give him an Award of Excellence or a Lifetime Achievement Award. I don't really think it's necessary, or even right on any level, to make him a Doctor of Liking Soldiers. In fact, I think it's stupid.
While I'm on the topic of people I like that the men in my life hate, how about Bill Cosby? Love him. Loved him as Fat Albert, loved him as Cliff Huxtable, love him on stage in any capacity and heck, even love him selling Jell-O pops. But when I discover that he has THIRTEEN honorary degrees (7 of which are doctorates and one is a Doctor of Law), none of which he has earned, I am annoyed. That's one for every Grammy and Emmy award he's actually earned. I mean, come on. At some point everyone involved must start to feel a little silly.
Okay one more, just to piss off my husband. You know, the guy who spent 15 consecutive years working his tail off to earn a measly 3 degrees, only two of which are doctorates. Woody Allen. College dropout. Until, that is, a University in Barcelona awarded him an honorary doctorate.
I just hope it lasts. But that may be overly optimistic.
E has impressed her dada and myself in a myriad of ways since starting preschool. She counts to 12 in French and sings a whole bunch of new songs in both French and English. She uses big words and has a surprisingly good grasp of the adverb. She has lots of friends and cleans up after herself and manages to come home most days not covered in food and boogers. We're proud. In fact, as one parent said to me the other day, we're mostly just hoping that having her at home isn't undoing all the work they're doing on her at school. But there is one hiccup in this story.
E has almost always been a good napper. And since she whittled it down to one nap she's been a pro. She goes down like clockwork, at about the same time every day, with no complaints, and sleeps for an hour and a half. Boom. Just like that. And when she started school, things were going fine for the first little while.
Then she got comfortable.
That's the trouble with kids like mine. 9 times out of 10, if you take her out in public and plop her into an unfamiliar setting, she's perfect. Well behaved, obedient, cooperative, all that good stuff. It's at home on her own turf where things get dicey. So when school started and it was a new place with new people, she was golden. But now that school has also become "her turf", she's starting to play fast and loose with the rules a little.
According to Ms. Natalie, who has the distinct pleasure of overseeing naptime each day, it started with the talking. I didn't even bother feigning surprise. Talking became telling jokes, which naturally led to laughing. Wriggling ensued. And when the other kids decided not to play along and maybe catch a little shut-eye, well that's when she would start tapping the other kids cots, poking them and singing loudly enough to wake them up. Oh man.
This has been going on for weeks now, and I feel powerless to stop it. Every morning before school I remind her how important it is to listen to her teachers, especially at naptime. And every day after school we review her naptime behaviour and discuss where it went wrong and what to do differently. And every day it seems to escalate. Of course I'm not there so I can't deal with it as it happens, and Ms. Natalie can only do so much with a roomful of other kids to worry about. Sometimes she takes away E's stuffed animal...which only leads to crying and yelling...which can't be an improvement.
Last week I started bribing. If you listen to Ms. Natalie at naptime then you can have candy when you get home. Didn't work. If you listen to Ms. Natalie at naptime then you can watch a movie when you get home. Didn't work. It did, however, result in an HOUR LONG screaming, flailing, crying tantrum when she didn't get her movie. What mystifies me still is how much she wanted the movie, and how she still told me the truth about naptime. I wonder how long it will take for her to wise up and fudge the results.
Yesterday was the start of a new week and I thought I'd put the ball back in her court. When she woke up she asked if she could watch a movie with breakfast. Nice try. But I asked her what movie she wanted to watch. Finding Nemo. She is LOVING that movie right now. I, once again and without much conviction, explained that if she behaved at naptime she could watch Finding Nemo after school. I reminded her about what happened last week when she really wanted to watch a movie but couldn't because she hadn't behaved well at naptime. She assured me that today would be different.
My first flicker of optimism came when we walked in the front door of her school and she saw Ms. Natalie. Right away she said: "Ms. Natalie! I'm going to listen to you today at naptime!" I could see Ms. Natalie doing her best not to roll her eyes. "I hope so, E." Then she told Ms. Veronique that she was going to watch Finding Nemo after school because she was going to behave at naptime. Accountability. A second flicker. When I picked her up from school, the first thing she said was "I listened to my teacher at naptime!" I was a little skeptical, so I pressed for details. "Did Ms. Natalie take anything away from you?", I asked. "No! Because I listened!" she replied. "Did Ms. Natalie have to say anything to you?", I inquired further. "She said: You're doing good so far!"
Success! E got her movie and mama got the sweet taste of victory, along with an uninterrupted hour to make dinner. Today, if all goes well, it looks like we'll be face painting.
It's not a fluke. She likes it! She really likes it!!! (And if that quote doesn't make you think of either a) Sally Field or b) Life cereal, then you need to watch more television.) It was a lofty idea I had, feeding a kale and quinoa salad to my preschooler, good eater though she is. I was banking on the cranberries to sell it, and they came through for me big time.
I first served this warm and hearty number a couple of weeks ago. It was on a night when dada wasn't around, so I was assured that no one would pester me about the absence of any meat products. We both gobbled it up happily. The next night she even chose it over whatever else was being offered. That's right. She chose leftover veggie-grain salad. I'm a superhero.
After such an enthusiastic reception, and after reviewing it's powerhouse status in terms of nutrients, I decided that it should be a regular feature in our rotation. So I made it again this past week and crossed my fingers that it would pass my husband's "where's the meat?" test. At the last minute I grilled some sausages to go with it. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not actually a glutton for punishment. The great news is that E loved it again, and loved the leftovers again too. This time she even ate it without complaint after the promise of pizza fell through. That's serious. J declared it to be "alright", complete with shoulder shrug, but he gets antsy whenever I start messing with the hippie grains.
Long story short, try it out at your house. It's really delicious.
I've been ripping my own heart out playing this little ditty fairly continuously for the past few days. Been feeling not so much down or blue, but in need of cultivating a little melancholy. Do you ever do that? Just want to wallow a little, for no real reason? Oh alright fine, it's my hormones. Are you happy now? Anyhoo, this song. The voice, the lyrics. The power and vulnerability behind it. MAN. This Adele is something special.
I'm terrified for Friday. A pattern has developed in my week, a dark, foreboding pattern that suggests that tomorrow will be either a) the day that I die or b) the first day of the rest of my life. What do you make of the following:
Monday: Hallowe'en. Ghosts and goblins and dragons...and a fantastic day all around. Okay...
Tuesday: (Guy who came to do an annual check on the furnace) I'm sorry ma'am, but there is a crack in your heat exchanger and the unit is leaking carbon monoxide. I am required to shut off the gas, leaving you without heat. You need a new furnace.
Wednesday: (Guy who came to replace the furnace) I'm sorry ma'am, but your ducts haven't been cleaned in a decade or so and you will be breathing all of this debris in until you can get them cleaned in three weeks. Also, we can only clean about half of them because the other half are wrapped in asbestos.
Thursday: (Guy who came in response to my emergency call regarding the smell of gas) I'm sorry ma'am but you have a gas leak.
The good news is that we're warm again and we're not dead yet. The new furnace is working and we're keeping an eye on the filter to make sure it isn't getting clogged with 10 year old dog hair and dust mites, and the gas leak has been fixed. The bad news is that it's not looking good for Friday. Unless we're doing one of those "bad things come in three's" deals, in which case it's smooth sailing from here!
I fell out of bed alot as a kid. It's a wonder I'm not still doing it, considering how much practice I got growing up. Often I would wake up after the tumble and decide that getting back into bed was just too much work, so I'd just stay there. I was also a big sleep-talker. Still am, I think, although these days my husband is WAY too tired to be woken up by my mumblings.
So I wasn't too surprised by the events that transpired last night. She is my kid, after all.
I was awoken by a plaintive cry heard through the crackling monitor:"My bunny is stuck! My bunny is STUUUUUCK!" Not knowing what bunny she was speaking of and where he could be stuck, I hurried into her room to survey the situation. Picture, if you will, a darkened room...an empty bed...and E, sitting on her giant stuffed dog that lays on the floor as a cushion, holding one of his floppy ears and tugging furiously on it, with that unfocused look of someone not quite conscious. I burst out laughing.
Then I scooped her up and placed her back into bed, explained that there was no bunny and gave her her stuffed strawberry instead. She was back to sleep before I left the room, and when I told her about it this morning, she burst out laughing too. I just hope I don't find her sleepwalking into my room looking for cigarettes in my purse in a few years. Not that I ever did that. Let's also hope she doesn't inherit that bedwetting habit I didn't have.
The PSA's I have delivered in the past have generally been about eating vegetables. And while I still maintain my dedication to emphasizing the importance of the consumption of all things green and leafy, I turn my attention today to another matter.
Pictures. You need to take more of them.
I recently read an article (are we calling blog posts articles now?) about a woman who had recently lost her mother and was going through old photos to put together a slideshow for the memorial. The woman is a photographer, and she was urging people to take more photos. Her message was that one day your children will have the photos you take, and they will be the memories that they cling to. They won't care if your hair looks good or if you remembered to change your shirt with the stain on it or if you have your mouth hanging open. They'll want to see you in the picture. SO often I take pictures of the girl by herself, because she's so stinking cute. But years from now I know I'll want to see shots of us together, and when we're gone I think E will want to see those too. Who needs 20 years of pictures of yourself to look at? To that end, I've been making a conscious decision lately to get myself and my husband and poor neglected Ralph into more shots. The other day we had a visit from Toronto GrammaPapa and I asked them - despite J's complaints about the shirt he was wearing and concerns about backdrop and sock colour and a daughter with smudged face paint - to take some pictures as they were heading out the door. This is one of the best ones:
And maybe my hair looks straggly and E wouldn't smile, but I love this picture. And I'm grateful that I have it.
Looking back today I found this piece of delightfulness:
I remember this day. It was the day before Hallowe'en last year, and we were about to head out somewhere and I was so overcome with her squishy-cute adorableness and her cooler-than-I-will-ever-be toddler-chic that I just had to stop and snap a couple of pictures. I miss those boots. $2 at a stoop sale, and she wore the heck out of them. The sweater - also stoop sale and still fits her these days. It makes her look like a soft and cozy ball of sunshine. And any girl who has experienced an entire childhood completely devoid of tutus is, in my opinion, most unfortunate indeed.
To her teacher, Ms. Veronique: I'm a dragon! Roar.
To mama, after each and every house visited: Are we going home now mama? Because I don't want to go home yet.
To the nice lady who gave her THREE chocolate bars: I got a sucker at another house.
To mama, regarding her limitations as a dragon: I'm a dragon. Actually, I'm a kid dressed as a dragon. So I don't have a fiery mouth. Actually, I have a drooly mouth. See? That's drool. There's no fire in there.
To the nice lady who asked her if she could fly: Actually, I can't fly. I have arms, see? And I can flap them (flaps arms), but I can't fly.
I suppose that candy is an excellent educator, because she learned her lines in no time flat once she understood the reward involved.
Door opens: "Trick or Treat!"
Candy dispensed: sticks head in bag to inspect "Thank you!"
Final greeting: turns around while walking away "Happy Hallowe'en!"
Of course, her performance began to suffer after the first hour, leading to embarrassing mix-ups like saying "Have fun!" instead of "Trick or Treat!", reaching directly into bowls of candy rather than graciously accepting what was being handed to her, and needing a little prompting for the "Thank you!". But that's what happens when dragons get tired. This was also added to the repertoire when fatigue set in:
After final greeting: "Mama, please carry this. (holds out bag) Dada, please carry me. (holds out arms)
Also, and this is how we finally decided how much trick-or-treating is enough for a 2 3/4 year old: "Mama, are we going home now? Because I want to go home. I have enough candy now."
We had a pretty fantastic time this Hallowe'en. And not only was there no squabbling over how much candy dragons are allowed to eat before bedtime, but she didn't even seem to notice that she hadn't eaten the caramel apple that mama had slaved over for dessert. In fact, it was that one blue sucker, the very first piece of candy she got, that she kept talking about and insisted on eating when she got home. That's it. But don't worry. That's where mama and dada come in.
There you have it. We might be the only parents on the planet who didn't have a sugar-induced monster of a time getting their kidlets to sleep last night. She did stay up for an hour picking boogers and asking for kleenex, but I don't think that Hallowe'en can be blamed for that.