Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gimme a J!

I haven't done a good ode to Dada in a while, and it just so happens that the last couple of days have produced quite a bit of material to his credit. He's a pretty awesome dude, as it happens.

It all started this morning, when instead of the usual creaking of the bedroom door to alert me that E was awake, I heard her little voice from her bed instead, just like the good old days. But, unlike the good old days, the voice was calling "Dada?" And then a sing-song "Daaaa-daaa!" Hm. Dada slept at the hospital last night, so he was not going to be answering her call. I went in, and she hid her disappointment fairly well. In any case, she wanted to see Dada, and the idea of waiting until after school seemed like FOREVER. It was sweet. She informed me that she REALLY wanted Dada to be there to pick her up from school so that she could show him the bugs in her classroom that I got to see yesterday. A couple of crickets and a really cool blue horn worm. I told her that we could arrange for Dada to pick her up, no problem. And that made her happy.

At dinner time, Dada showed us a card he had received from a patient today. It was an older gentleman who had been hospitalized last month for pneumonia. He is Vietnamese, and understands some English but doesn't speak much. Regardless, J did his best every day to spend time chatting with him so that he could understand what was happening, and to make sure that he was alright. His family would visit him often, and J would take the time to explain everything to them as well. When was the last time you wrote a thank-you note to a doctor? What if I told you that this is actually the second thank-you note he has received in his modest 14 month career? And that he's also received a note from an attending about how much the medical and nursing staff enjoyed having him rotate with them? I'm about as proud as he is special.

But the very best part of the day, maybe the week, and quite possibly the whole month, came when E began asking J about what he did to help the man who wrote the card. This developed into her asking what he did last night at work, and started probing for details about injection sites and bacterial infections and poorly-controlled diabetes. For every answer, she had another question, and for every question, Dr. Dada was only to happy to give a more detailed answer. It was, I think, the cutest thing I've ever seen

Parenting WIN!

Yesterday, walking to school, a car backed up from an intersection to give us room to cross the road. Before I had the chance to do it myself, E looks at the driver, throws her arm in the air in an exuberant wave and shouts "Thank you!"

I felt like Mom of the Year, and not in a sarcastic way.

Let it Grow

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.
It's not.
~ Dr. Seuss (The Lorax)

My backyard is about 70% weeds, the remaining being a mix of scattered dirt and grass, with the odd shrub and vine creeping over from the neighbour's yard in a valiant attempt to improve a rather dismal situation. As for the front yard, well, there are fewer weeds, and a lot less grass, giving it a distribution of about 70% dirt. A few chunks of groundcover, as well as a rather unfortunate (in that it had the misfortune of being transplanted into our yard) rose bush have succeeded in knocking the dirt percentage down about 10%.

It's quite the sight really, but not in a good way.

Every day, or almost every day, for the past several weeks, I've been trying to get this landscaping situation under control. I water the plants, I pull some weeds, I rake up debris. I water the plants, I pull some weeds, I rake up debris. Sometimes I chat with the plants, maybe sing a tune, doing my best to encourage them even though I possess no inherent gardening skills whatsoever. Or singing skills, for that matter. Chatting, though? If chatter were all they needed I'd have a rainforest on my hands. But, I digress.

Sometimes, while I'm filling bags with weeds or clearing fallen leaves away from my new groundcover, I feel really good about the progress I'm making. Every weed I pull is one less weed, every day I remember to water is one more day without killing something. I like that E sees me taking care of our home and gets interested in it herself. I like knowing that I've decided to do something productive with my time that will have lasting impact.

Other times, though, particularly when I take a look at the big picture, it starts to feel pretty futile. The front yard is still primarily dirt. The backyard is still primarily weeds. They both look pretty terrible, and it will be a long, long time, even with daily weeding and watering, before either of them will be something I'm not terribly embarrassed about.

And it occurs to me that my gardening is drawing great parallels with life.

And so I get back out there, and I weed. And I water. And one weekend, I bring my whole family and we work together and we put down grass seed. And we water. And we wait. And we feel good, not because it looks perfect or even good, but because it looks promising.

Why it's better to have a dumb kid

At dinner…

E: Can you imagine an elephant sitting on an egg?
M: Wouldn't that be crazy?
E: Anyways, it's just a book. It's not real.
M: I guess.
E: Like fairies. Fairies aren't real either. You told me that, right?
M: Um, yeah. I guess I did. *mental self-flagellation*
E: But wings are real, right?
M: Sure, it's just wings on people that aren't real. *STOP TALKING! STOP TALKING!! YOU'RE ROBBING HER OF THE MAGIC OF CHILDHOOD!!!*
E: Yeah. Why aren't fairies real mama?
M: Hey, want some ice cream???

Seriously though, the jig is up for Santa this year, isn't it? I just can't see her getting through the whole season with Santa and the elves and the flying reindeer and a bag big enough to carry every present for every kid in the world and the Grinch without popping the big question. You know the one. I can't even say it. And if I can't even say it, how the heck am I going to answer it? With a lie? Lying is bad. Even E knows that. That's why you're not supposed to have to have this conversation until their little brains are big enough to understand how sometimes it's cool for parents to lie to kids. Right? Oh man. I'm not ready.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FALLing behind

Note to self: The farther North you travel, the earlier autumn happens. I thought I had that sorted out after last year, but it went and caught me by surprise again last weekend. Friday was a gorgeous and sunny summer day. Saturday it rained for the entire 24 hours. And on Sunday morning when I woke up, it was Fall. Just like that. Which made for an outstanding day of apple picking at Mountain Orchards.

Once again we went picking with E's friends C & C and their new brother C. (Once you start a pattern, you can't very well break it for the third one without adding to the the list of how the third kid misses out.) This time there were more than 3 apples remaining, and we were able to fill our own bags instead of buying the pre-picked bags and feeling like we should have just gone to the grocery store. I gave E her own 10lb bag and took one for myself, which means that we walked out of there with 20lbs of apples for our little family of 3. Totally reasonable, right? You can't do that at the grocery store without looking ridiculous. What may be more ridiculous is plunking those apples down in the middle of the kitchen and simply walking around them for the first two days while trying to wrap my head around how I could process 20lbs of anything into something that we could consume in its entirety without running out of the house screaming frantically: NOOOO! MOOOOOORE! AAAAAAAAAPPLES!!!

When I did eventually address them, I started by cramming almost half of them into the produce drawer of the fridge, just to make the job more visually feasible. Then I tossed the other half into a giant colander for a little rinse,

and decided to tackle them a dozen at a time. Manageable chunks, that's what's important.

The first two dozen apples were peeled and chopped and piled in the slow cooker with some cinnamon and cloves. Let me tell you, as someone who has been making applesauce for a few years now by cooking a half dozen or so at a time for about 20 minutes on the stovetop, slow cooking them is where it's at. Depth of flavour people - it means something. Wow. 4 hours later my house smelled outrageously delicious and the applesauce was too.

Now normally, all the peels and cores go into the compost, but being that the peels are so good for you I always have trouble throwing them away. Usually I munch on them until my intestines start to cramp up, but this time I did a little googling and discovered that the peels are actually high in pectin, meaning that you can make jelly from the peels and cores without having to add pectin. What luck! I've never made jam or jellies before, but this seemed too good to be true…

…and it was. As convincing as that might look up there, we ended up with what I optimistically refer to as apple syrup. Wouldn't set. For all you jam and jelly novices looking to break into the practice, let me offer these words of advice: Make sure to use a thermometer you can trust. My thermometer was very expensive and worked very well for a while, until it didn't. And now that it doesn't, and I know it can't be trusted, I still cling to the hope that it will be good enough to prevent me from having to buy another one…which may be well and good for my yogurt making (not exactly an exact science), for candy and jam-making, it just won't cut the mustard. I'm going to give it one more go by adding some powdered pectin and reboiling, but I may just have to admit defeat on this one. Besides, I'm sure there are a myriad of uses for apple syrup, no?

So I was up to 2 dozen apples on that first day of processing, and once I had forced each of us to eat one (did you know they can be eaten raw?!) and threw a couple more into Nigella's apple bacon mashed potatoes, I decided that 29 apples in one day was enough for any girl.

To be continued...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Good talk

After a day that was mostly successful but littered a little too liberally with non-cooperation and not quite enough listening, and definitely too much whining, we had a little chat on the car ride home.

M: E, I'd like you to think a little bit about how today could have been more fun if you had just co-operated a bit more and listened a bit more.

E: --silence--

M: I think that you know how you're supposed to behave and how you're not supposed to behave, and today it seemed that most of the time you were doing those things on purpose, even though -

E: Shhh…I'm thinking.

M: Okay.

E: Hey mom, what did Dory say to Marlon about her term loss?

M: That she suffers from short term memory loss?

E: Yeah. Well, I suffer from short term memory loss too.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

This is my brain...any questions?

Sorry for being so quiet.

There are lots of things bouncing around in my head, things I'd love to tell you and hear your thoughts about, but every time I sit down to tell you about it my mind sort of wanders and I can't seem to keep it tied down long enough to extract anything meaningful from it. I'm so glad that ADD "didn't exist" when I was a kid.

So, instead of committing myself to one well constructed, well thought out post steeped in perspective and philosophy (not that any of my posts could be described as such), I'm going to give you a real live, real time look inside my brain by dumping its scattered, confused contents right here on the page for you to pick through. Here goes...enjoy.

Why do moms on mom blogs swear so much (myself definitely included) and why is it so funny?
Two things. I have a potty mouth. I've had it for a long time - roughly since that time in Grade 7 or so when two of my best friends and I decided to have a swearing contest in our yearbooks. I'm used to them, and now I can't use them. Except when my daughter's not around, and when it comes to surfing the internet, it's safe to say she's not around. Until one day, probably around Grade 7 when she figures out I've been talking about her behind her back and she uncovers more than a decade of dirt on her spread out for the world to see, at which point genetics will take over and she will inherit her very own potty mouth. Hooray! As to why it's so funny: they're moms. Saying ridiculous things like asshat. Picture your mom doing it. That's why it's funny.

Apparently my favourite colour is not yellow.
If you ask me, I'll tell you that my favourite colour is yellow, and it's been that way for at least a couple of decades. Favourite colour? Yellow. No question. Sure, I like lots of other colours too - green is awesome, blue is pretty freaking great, and though I denied it for years pink is the bomb too. There's a really perfect shade of purply-pink that sends me all a-flutter and could possibly be my favourite colour too, if not for the surprising discovery that my favourite colour is actually red.
So it would seem.
I keep trying to decorate my house. It keeps backfiring because I just can't find the time/money/taste to complete any of the tasks I start. The latest undertaking has been our guest room/office. I found a blog online written by a husband and wife team who are documenting all of their DIY projects as they decorate their homes (they did it with the first, and have recently moved and are doing it all again...insanity). In their first house, they had a room that was a guest room/office/playroom and was almost the exact dimensions and layout of the room I'm trying to overhaul. I got super excited and planned the whole thing out (sort of a half-assed plan, admittedly) and went straight to IKEA. I bought all kinds of decorative goodies and brought them home, giddy with excitement. Then I realized that I was still lacking the two pivotal pieces required to actually designate the room as a guest room OR office (that being a sofa bed and a two-person desk), which resulted me piling all of my purchases on top of the existing desk and completely ignoring the room for approximately two weeks. WHERE AM I GOING WITH THIS??? Oh yes. So I figured out a fun pink and blue colour scheme based on having a pink chair pad for my office chair and a blue chair pad for J's. Cute, right? Also, I bought pink bins to go in an existing shelving unit and a sofa cushion with the same pink and blue to tie it together. And then I realized, just like I've realized in every room I've tackled so far, that it's really just an exercise in futility to fight the red. Already in the exisitng shelving unit? Red drawers. The massage table that will also be in the room? Red. The picture frame and push-pin board on the wall? Red and red. My daughter's room? Red and green. The living room? Red kids table and chair, red play kitchen, red toy bin, red and green playhouse. The kitchen? Red Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, tea towels and crockery. Do people still use the word crockery? It's just all very red. Hm. Who knew?

My husband's "accent" has been passed on to our daughter.
People have always asked J where he is from and why he has an accent. He's from Toronto. I don't hear any accent, but he does talk funny. Not across the board, mind you,. just certain words. Iron. He says I-RON instead of I-URN. Pants/Exam. The "a" is like it sounds in "math", not in...well, "pants" or "exam". God forbid he needed to iron his pants before an exam...snicker. And not only that, he has somehow made it well into adulthood with some serious misconceptions about common phrasing. Example: All the sudden. "I was walking down the hall and ALL THE SUDDEN a bear jumped out at me!" Weird, right? All the sudden, our daughter's behaviour doesn't seem so strange after all (see what I did there?). For no reason I can fathom, J wasted no time "correcting" (read: killing) E's super-awesome butchering of "aren't I?" with "amn't I?" It still makes me sad to talk about it. At least the girl cheese is safe. For now.

But I don't think I can blame the funny talking for this...
In the last couple of weeks E has, on several occasions, described something as happening "when I was pregnant with you". Read: when my daughter, E, was pregnant with me, her mom. I'm just not sure what to do with that.