Friday, November 8, 2013

The most adorable (if less than totally effective) workout video series ever.

E saw me setting up for my workout the other day and got pretty pumped.


video

So, much to J's chagrin, we dropped a cool $15 on weights that matched mama's, and a star was born.

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For a long time, E was under the impression that Jillian was watching her, which would explain all the positive feedback. Eventually, however, she figured out that it was just a movie...and she got a little lazy.

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"Alright, I did THAT enough!"

After that, we let the girls on the TV take it on home while we watched from the couch. Because it's all about balance.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Nevermind. Here, have some candy.

 
There are some things you just know are never going to fly, no matter how you present them to your child. And it may not be for the obvious reasons, or even reasons you can think of, but no one knows a kid like her long-suffering parents, and sometimes you just know.

On the weekend, I got an email from a friend about the Switch Witch. I'm sure a similar email has been making the rounds among parents the world over, in an attempt to stave off the dentist and Type II diabetes for at least another year. In a nutshell, it involves introducing your child to said witch, and alerting them to the idea that she loves candy and is in the business of making some pretty sweet (sorry) trades. Is there a toy out there that you've been pining after? Simply write a letter to the Switch Witch with your request, leave your candy at the foot of your bed, and during the night she will come in and swap out the candy for your prized toy while you sleep. It's a win-win! According to the friend who sent the email, their daughter hopped on board PDQ. And while my first reaction was "Great! Now I can eat ALL of E's candy without worrying about leaving enough so that she doesn't really notice!", it didn't take long before I came to the realization that there was just no way that it would be that easy.

But I had to give it a shot.

So, over dinner last night, I brought it up. Casually, so as not to give the impression of trying to convince her of anything...

M: Hey, have you heard about the Switch Witch?
E: No. What's that?
M: Well, I didn't know about her either, because she wasn't around when I was a kid. But Tracy just told me about her. Apparently she's a witch who really loves candy and she trades kids' candy for toys at Halloween.
E: How?
M: I guess you write a letter to her asking for a toy that you want. Then you leave your candy out for her and she comes in while you're sleeping, takes the candy and brings you a toy.
E: All of your candy?
M: Yep. In exchange for the toy.
E: She STEALS candy from kids??!
M: No, she TRADES candy for toys.
E: But what if I want my candy?
M: Then you don't make a deal with the Swtich Witch. I just mentioned it because Tracy said that she told S about her, and S decided to make a trade. I think the Swtich Witch is going to their house tonight.
E: Really? But what about S's candy?
M: The Switch Witch will take it.
E: All of it?
M: Yep.
E: But what if S wants her candy?
M: Well, she decided that she'd rather have a toy.
E: Doesn't she like candy?
M: She loves candy. But I guess there was a toy that she wanted more.
E: Why doesn't she want her candy?
M: Like I said, I'm sure she wants her candy, but if she had to choose between candy and a toy, she decided she wanted a toy more.

...crickets..."Nice try" glance from husband...

M: I just thought I'd tell you about her in case you wanted to write her a letter. But if you want to keep your candy that's ok too.
E: ...crickets...deep thoughts...

After that we went on to other things, dinner was finished up, and E went up to the bathroom. A couple of minutes later, from upstairs...

E: Mom? What if S wants her candy back after she gets the toy?
M: It doesn't work that way.
E: Why not?
M: Because when you make a deal with someone, you can't change your mind.
E: Why not?
M: That's just the way it is.

...a couple of minutes go by...

E: Mom? But S could just go out and buy more candy, couldn't she?
M: I guess she could, if she gets an allowance.

...a couple more minutes...

E: Mom? Does that mean that S doesn't care about us?
M: What??? No, of course S cares about you! You're her friend!
E: But you said she doesn't care about her candy...
M: I said she cared more about a new toy than about keeping her candy.
E: Well, she came over to our house to get candy, and if she doesn't care about her candy then she must not have cared about the playdate or about us!
M: I don't think that's true at all. She came over to our house to celebrate Halloween with you. She was really excited to hang out, eat dinner and go trick-or-treating. And she loves her candy, she just decided not to keep it. But she definitely cares about you.
E: Anyway, I don't want to give away my candy. I want to eat it.
M: Fair enough.

I could say "I told you so", but I'd be talking to myself. And anyway, my husband saved me the trouble.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Lessons from Maria Montessori

Imagine a beautiful landscape.

Are you there?

Now imagine that you are holding a camera and a sketch pad. And that you are quite the artist.

Sketch what you see.

Now take a picture.

...

Finished? Beautiful. You really are a gifted artist.

Now take a look at your sketch and the picture. Put them side by side.

...

The sketch, no matter how talented you are (and you are, clearly), is - at best - a very accurate representation or impression of what you actually see before you. It is influenced by your vision, your perception, your experiences, your judgements, your feelings, your beliefs, your ignorance, your view of the world.

The picture is an exact reproduction. It has absolutely no frame of reference, just the frame of the lens.

...

Now consider this:

The sketch describes our experience as adults. We see the world through a series of filters. We have the ability to be selective about the information we absorb, and the information we ignore. We take information in differently depending on who we are, what we've experienced and how we're feeling. We frame everything into a context that makes sense for us.

The picture describes the way a child from the ages of 0-6 sees the world. No filters. No artistic license. Only one giant lens. They see, hear and feel it all. And I am not exaggerating. Almost on a daily basis, my daughter points things out to me that I would never have noticed on my own, describes things in terms that I would never have thought possible for her to understand. Because she's not trying to put each experience into a tidy little box of context that is familiar and comfortable. She is just experiencing. Everything. Taking it all in. ALL of it.

...

So here's a thought. If she's hearing every bit of music that she's exposed to, why not expose her to the best? If she's watching every social interaction around her, why not show her the very best way to communicate and relate to others? If she is really tasting every single spice and texture, why not allow her to taste the very best food you can create? Why fill that vast expanse with the mediocre, the inferior,  or worse - the detrimental?

We are, of course, only human. And the human experience is not perfect. But given the knowledge that after 6 short years your child will begin to develop their own filters, their own prejudices, their own opinions of the world based on their own experiences, don't you want to give them the very richest platform from which to leap?

I do.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

IKEA: Swedish for "What is this hold you have on our family?!"


Our history with IKEA has been well-documented. And if you've missed it, there are a couple of examples here and here.

My love affair with IKEA started in my third year of University, when one of my roommates had an entire bedroom delivered and set up right before our eyes. It was magical. What made it even more enchanting was the fact that we didn't have an IKEA in the city and had to drive to "Toronto" (read: Burlington) for the experience.

It continued well into my mid- to late-twenties, as J and I shacked up and began building our little nest together. It positively flourished in Brooklyn, where we found lots of second-hand treasures. And, what's more, it seems to have grown with us. What was once a warehouse full of cheap furniture for students who would throw it on the curb in eight months is now a haven for financially strapped graduates who spent far too many years in University and will be living like students for years to come, though they would like to project the illusion of being grown up.

IKEA is the ultimate refrigerator box in the basement. It's a giant box of fun that is limited only by your imagination. My brother and I had one of those, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you, H, for my lifelong aversion to enclosed spaces. When I wasn't screaming myself hysterical we had some serious fun with that box. So really it's exactly the same.

Why am I going on about IKEA again, you ask? Well, it's just that every time we go, a little bit of magic happens, and I want to remember these little bits of magic. Take yesterday, for example. After school we headed to IKEA, each with our own agenda. I was returning bins and looking for plant stands. E was gearing up to party in the ball pit, and J was hoping to find a quiet corner in which to study, before we all reconvened for some $2.99 fish and chips. And you know what? All of this is possible at IKEA! So once our goals were accomplished, we were on our way out when the giant ice cream cone perched tantalizingly at the exit caught E's eye. Why not? I don't even bother telling her it's fro-yo. So we buy three "ice cream" cones, and as I hand E hers (the prettiest one, of course), her eyes light up and she looks up in amazement at the picture. "I don't believe it! This is so beautiful, and it looks just like the picture! It even has the curl on top! How did they DO that?" The expression on her face was priceless. You would think she had just watched the ocean turn to chocolate.

IKEA, you complete us.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Homework

E's teacher pulled me aside as I was leaving school yesterday. That's always a special feeling. Then she looked at me conspiratorially and said that she will be sending homework home with E tomorrow.

Now, just in case you all have forgotten, E is a) in Montessori school, where they simply don't do homework, and b) four years old.

As my eyebrows tickled my hairline and I looked to E for confirmation, she danced in a circle saying "Yay! Yay! Homework! Homework!" So this is what the Twilight Zone feels like.

Ms. Veronique explained that some of the oldest students - particularly those who will be entering the public/separate school systems next year - are given some homework throughout the year to ease the transition. The upshot of that is that some of the younger ones, who look up to the older ones, want to try homework as well. And if they want homework, homework they will get!

Unfortunately, a spontaneous afternoon outing at the park precluded Ms. V from being able to prepare the assignment (excuses, excuses), but I am assured that I will be receiving a ziploc bag tomorrow containing all manner of mysterious learning materials. I am intrigued. I am also assured that this is most definitely an optional assignment, to be completed only in the event that the desperate need to do homework lasts longer than the walk home. I am relieved.

I know there are countless parents out there who visibly flinch at the mention of the H-word, but I feel it's safe to say that at this stage of the game we're not looking at anything so complex as to have me racking my brain for the meaning behind acronyms like ROYGBV and BEDMAS...right? (P.S. I am now SO OLD that both of those examples have been replaced with more "accurate" ones. Sigh.) Besides, I really have nothing to worry about, considering that my daughter is the clearly the next Good Will Hunting:


That's right. My kid can add 1643 to 3232. And she totally wrote the 7 backwards on purpose. That's how she rolls.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I swear, I will remember to forget if you will just Stop. Screaming.

It started off well. So well. So smiley, huggy, lovingly well. She was happy to see me. I was ever so happy to see her. She showed me the puzzle she got at Mad Science. I showed her the paper caterpillar I had made for her. She asked if I had anything sugary to surprise her with and I told her that, in fact, I did! She happily got busy making paper caterpillars for her dad and I when we got home while I started making dinner. Bliss. Until...

E: Mom, isn't your birthday coming up?
M: Why yes it is!
E: I'm going to make you a birthday card!
M: Wonderful!
E: Do you want it now or on your birthday?
M: Oh, I'll wait until my birthday for sure.
E: Okay!
...
E: Mom, how do you spell "Birth"?
E: Mom, how do you spell "th"?
E: Mom, how do you write "d" again?
...
E: How do you spell "ay"?
M: Like the letter "A" or "ay" like in "birthday"?

I wish you could picture the utter and complete emotional, physical and psychopathological breakdown that occurred inside the body of my little girl before exploding all over the kitchen after my benign, yet terribly ill-fated inquiry.

E: YOU FIGURED OUT THE SURPRISE!!! YOU FIGURED IT OUT!!! NOW IT'S RUINED!!! THE SURPRISE IS RUUUUUUIIIIIIINNNNNNNED!!!!!

Screaming, crying, pounding, kicking, flailing - the works. For a very long time. Through the hugs and the cuddles and the assurances and the pat downs and the suggestion that she leave the kitchen after kicking the dishwasher door open twice and swiping the cap of her marker under the hot stove, it continued. Through the apologies and the promises to forget this ever happened and putting a 4 minute timer on the pity party and suggestion after suggestion after suggestion of ways to start over and make a new surprise, there was just no consoling her.

E: YOU HAVE TO FORGET!!! BUT YOU WON'T FORGET!!! YOU REMEMBER STUFF THAT HAPPENED WHEN I WAS A BABY!!! YOU WON'T FORGEEEEEEEET!!!!!!!

Eventually though, it passed. It passed as quickly as her running back into the kitchen, stepping into her rainboots and zipping out to the backyard saying "I'll just be a minute, Mom!" When she returned, she had a pile of freshly picked tomatoes and, more importantly, an excited smile on her face.

M (making sure to look very, very surprised): Tomatoes! Just what I was hoping for! THANK YOU so much for this lovely surprise!
E (beaming maniacally): You're welcome! Did I surprise you???
M: You sure did! These will go so well with our dinner tonight!
...
E: Do you remember the other surprise?
M: What other surprise?
E: The one about your birthday?
M: Oh, I forgot! It's almost my birthday, isn't it?
E: Yes, and do you remember the surprise?
M: What surprise?
E: The card?
M: What card? Did Dad buy me a card?
E: Okay! Never mind! (skips out of the kitchen and hurries over to her table) Mom! You can't look at what I'm doing okay?
M: Okay!
...

E: Mom, how do you spell "Birth"?
E: Mom, how do you spell "th"?
E: Mom, how do you write "d" again?
...
E: How do you spell "ay"?
M: "A-Y"! (please don't freak out please don't freak out please don't freak out)
E: Okay, thanks!
M: Whew.
...
A few minutes later, as I was putting dinner on the table, she ran over saying "Here's your birthday card Mom!" Luckily, I've learned from being burned many, many times. I slapped my hands over my eyes and said "No wait! We have to wait until my birthday, remember?" "Oh, yeah! Don't look Mom!" That was a close one. So off she trots, back to the table, and proceeds to apply enough tape to seal every window in our house shut to that card to make sure that noone, but noone, is getting into that baby. I instantly start brainstorming ways to get into it in a few days time without destroying this precious labour of love and agony. I think I'm screwed.

And there it is, folks. Parenting, boiled down to one tumultuous anecdote. There are good times, and there are horrific times. And they are completely erratic and unpredictable. You never quite know what's around the next corner, except that in any given day you are likely to feel like Mom of the Year and Turd of the Earth, most likely in rapid succession. So please, the next time you find yourself questioning why a mom you know seems a bit fragile and might be sipping a little too freely from that bottle of wine, understand - she is probably either just emerging from, or moments away from diving headlong back into one of the most harrowing and/or gratifying moments of her life. So cut her some slack. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Spike

It was only our second visit to Pink Lake this summer, heading into this last week of August. Pretty disgraceful, to be sure, considering that bug hunting still stands as one of E's all time favourite pastimes. The first time we went she spent a great deal of time moaning about being forced to walk so much. And she started down that road again today...until the bug-stravaganza kicked into high gear!

Dad suggested that we have a contest to see who could catch the coolest bug. Mom got out to an early lead with a bright red dragonfly and a freakishly interesting specimen that appeared to be a green frog from the waist up and a brown toad from the waist down. Cross-breeding, cross-contamination or cross-dressing, it's hard to say for sure.

Dad found a tadpole and a whole family of fish.

But then E threw down the gauntlet with this fella:



One family we passed on our trek suggested that he looked strikingly similar to Heimlich from A Bug's Life. We concurred:


Perhaps against anyone's better judgement, we decided to take him home. And a quick google search produced all of the information we needed to adopt him as our new project pet.

His name is Spike. He is a Cercropia moth, a giant silk moth related to the gypsy moth. They are the largest moth in North America and have a life cycle as caterpillars of 60 days, going from black to orange to green. As he is already green and quite shamefully obese, I estimate another 2 weeks or so of caterpillar-dom, followed by a short and sweet 4-5 day life cycle as a rather striking moth:


Welcome to the family, Spike. For the next few weeks, at least.




Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sunny Days

This summer is brought to you by friends, popsicles, bugs and swimming.


Letting Go - Thoughts from the Sidelines

Playing hooky

E and I are at a pretty magical place in our relationship. I read about the "sweet spot" the other day. The place in parenting where you're out of the daily slog of doing every single thing for your little one, constantly putting out fires and juggling eighty tasks at once, and yet where your status as Persona Numero Uno is still guaranteed in your child's eyes. There's lots of "I love you's", lots of snuggles, but not quite so much bargaining, heavy lifting or timing out. I think we're there. At least, almost.

She still wants to be with me, but she doesn't want me to be by her side every minute of the day. She doesn't need me to do everything for her, but she still needs me.

When to get in there and when to step back? When to offer help and when to offer a challenge? These are the questions that will continue to drive me crazy, even I as I remind myself that I shouldn't overthink this. I should listen to my gut. The problem is that I've been listening to so much parenting propaganda for the last five years - often conflicting and more often confounding - that I'm not sure I can hear my gut anymore. Guilt I can hear. Guilt is loud. Regret is deafening. But my gut? Apart from the odd grumble when I'm too close to a chocolate cake, it's pretty quiet.

She keeps coming back to me. I'm surprised by this. She has made a friend and they go off together, running and climbing out of my sight, acting out elaborate play scenarios with mind-numbing repetition. But every few minutes I see her little pigtails and her favourite twirly shirt scurrying towards me, smiling and confident, happy to have made a new friend, happy that mom is where she left her, with snacks. It'll take a little practice, but I think the day is coming when I won't picture her lost and bleeding from the head every time she vanishes from my field of vision. I think I'll be able to get to a place where I don't worry that I haven't spent enough quality time with her as she runs off with her friends. We'll get there. I figure I have about four years before my #1 standing is in serious jeopardy. And if I do it right, I won't slip farther than 2nd or 3rd. At least until the babies come, but I may be getting ahead of myself.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rock Star

Last week the theme at summer camp was Rhythm and Beats. They finished off the week on Friday with a "Rock Star Dance Party", and the kids were encouraged to dress up as a rock star, a concept that was quickly broadened to include princesses, pirates, superheroes, and really anything other than boring old clothes. E had initially requested a "rock star princess" motif, but by the time I dropped her off she was insisting that she was "just a regular person dressed up like a rock star princess -- with wings".





I think she nailed it.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

This morning I woke up...

…an hour later than usual, with coffee and smoothie delivery. Just what I needed as my body tries to fight off whatever is causing this sore throat and horrible night cough. I scrambled into my yoga clothes and sat with J and E for a few minutes before hopping on my bike and heading to my free Sunday morning yoga class. It was a glorious morning, with a wonderfully energizing class that blew away my expectations, and on the ride home I soaked up the sun as the breeze dried the sweat I had worked up. I arrived home to smiles and "Hooray! Mama's home!", and thought how lovely it would be to reproduce this exact morning (minus the sore throat, perhaps) every Sunday for the rest of my life.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Use of Poisoning in Pretend Play

E (as Mom): Baby, it's time to go to sleep. Remember if you have to go pee you need to…
M (as Baby): Snore…
E (as Mom): WAKE UP BABY!!!!!
M: wakes up
E: So. It's bedtime baby. There's water by your…
M: Snore…
E: BABY!!!! WAKE UP!!!!
M: wakes up
E (as Mom): Baby, if you fall asleep one more time I'm going to poison you.

~

E (as herself): Mom, pretend you're a baby and you've been poisoned and you call me in the middle of the night.
M (as Baby): Waaaa! MAMA!!!!
E (as *annoyed* Mom): Baby. You keep calling and calling every night. WHAT. IS. IT??!!
M: I've been poisoned!
E: (under her breath) Oh, that's a good one. (aloud) Baby - always call me if you've been poisoned!

~

So we've learned the following lessons here today:

1. Don't EVER fall asleep while E is trying to put you to sleep. Ever.

2. Don't let her play the mom. She'll figure out a way to use it against you.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Camp!

Uber-excited post-camp sweaty mess.

Who knew summer camp would be so much FUN??!!

Well, we did. You know, good ol' mom and dad. But someone I know tends to remain skeptical until she figures these things out for herself. **eyeroll**


Striking a half excited/half skeptical pose
on her first day of camp.


I won't keep you in suspense any longer…she LOVES it. Obviously. Although let's be clear - it's not ALL play, as her well-meaning parents had led her to believe. She is in fact expected to put her food containers back in her lunch bag after lunch AND snack, to change back into her clothes after swimming, and to put all of her belongings back in her basket after using them. Every. Damn. Day. **exaggerated sigh**

But when she isn't toiling away under the guise of "gaining independence", she is swimming, singing camp songs, making construction paper fish, playing "Duck Duck Goose" and "What time is it Mr. Shark?", playing with lego and toy food, painting her counselors with body paint and careening down a slip-n-slide to "wash the paint off". It sounds terrible. How terrible? So terrible that when I showed up half an hour early on the first day to pick her up, in case - you know - it was a long day and she missed me, she asked if I could wait in the hall until story time was over. Uh, okay. Don't mind me. I'll just be right here. Standing in the hallway.

This morning, it being Friday! Movie Day! Last day before the weekend! I asked her if she wanted me to pick her up a bit early as I would be finished work before pick-up time. She responded with "No. Regular time please." Hmph.

video
We did a similar version of this during frosh week 
when I was in university. I was immeasurably 
relieved that there were no accompanying 
"dance moves" in this version. 


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This morning I woke up...

…thinking that the light beyond my eyelids seemed much brighter than 7am, but as I had not yet had my wake-up call, that I should probably lie very very still and most definitely NOT open my eyes in order to prolong this glorious utopia of sleep. So that's what I did. And when my wake-up call eventually came, in the form of a hand on my shoulder and a kiss on my cheek, I finally did open my eyes to see the most scrumptious little face smiling back at me. At 8:30am. Talk about a perfect start to the day.



Friday, June 7, 2013

Spring in Pictures

Spring has sprung, indeed. In fact, we hit fast forward into summer for a bit there before Mother Nature gave a little tug on the reins.

Let's catch you up with a photo essay of sorts, shall we?

After seeing the signs on the way home from school one day:


we decided to kick off the season with a trip to a maple sugar bush with Grandma and Grandpa in Kingston:


E started getting an allowance and made her very first purchase with her very own money:


Someone got some new wheels (with our very own money):


to add to her 1st set of wheels:


and earned a few badges of honour along the learning curve:


We've been getting creative with our sleeping positions:



…and with our make-up application:


We created a new hockey fan:


We celebrated Mother's Day at the Tulip Festival:


before husband extraordinaire whisked me away for a relaxing vacation:


E experienced her very first roller coaster:


followed by the requisite introduction to cotton candy:


There was a dance recital:


and some bug hunting:


and lots of al fresco dining surrounded by new attempts at gardening:


Whew. So far so good.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Usurped.

This morning E told me that talk time was her favourite part of the day yesterday.

I have been looking forward to it all day. Actually, since it ended last night. We had an early dinner, an early bath and lots of time to chat. We read our books, gave hugs and kisses, and then she said it. E turned to me and whispered: "Is it okay if I ask dad to do talk time with me tonight?"

Equal parts heart exploding with happy that she wants to share this new special thing with her dad and heart exploding with disappointment that I'm missing out. Rest assured that dad will be thoroughly grilled when he gets down here.

What's taking him so long anyway??

Hmph.


Elleafuint


On Saturday, E decided that she wanted to practice her letters. So we sat together at the dining room table as she practiced her letters and corrected me as I attempted to practice mine. After a while I decided that I had had enough practice and started taking pictures of her. I thought it was adorable how focused she was. I could tell that she was really thinking hard, but I couldn't really see what she was writing. When she was finished she showed me her card and said "Look what word I wrote!"

I took the card and read "E-l-l-e-a-f-u-i-n-t". Elephant! She has been working on her letters a lot at school, and she's doing really well with her reading at home, but the idea that she could put it all together to think out and then write out a big word phonetically just blew me away.


And then:



"T-r-q-a-i-s". Turquoise! Way to set the bar high, kiddo. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Talk Time

Tonight was the first of hopefully many, many bedtime chat sessions for E and I. Maybe in a week or two I'll offer J a chance at it…but maybe not. Judging by how tonight went, I'm hoping we can do this well into the University years. Which might be awkward for her roommate. And even more awkward for her boyfriend. Perfect.

Usually E gets an "extra thing" before bed. It started when she got into the habit of calling us 532 times after we put her to bed for all kinds of ridiculous reasons. If she managed not to call at all one night, then the next time she would get an "extra thing" after stories and before bed, like an extra story, an extra song, an extra cuddle, etc. She's long since done away with the calling, but the extra thing kind of stuck. So I decided to tweak it and make it a little more special by instituting "talk time". During talk time I get into bed with E and we turn out the lights and we talk. She can tell me or ask me anything she wants, and we just chat. 

Here's what we chatted about tonight:

How did the meteor kill ALL of the dinosaurs?

How are leaves made?

Let's practice some yoga breathing!

How are all of the things that are pretend actually real in Disneyworld?

How does magic work?

My hope is that one day she'll have something to share that might be so important to her that if she couldn't figure out a way to say it in the hustle and bustle of the day, in the glare of daylight, when she only had half of my attention, that she knows she'll have a chance during talk time. I want this to be a place for us to really connect every single day, a ritual that she can count on when she needs to get something off of her chest, or to hear a few words of encouragement. I want her to go to sleep every night feeling fully loved and supported, and I feel like this is one way I can make that happen. 

So many nights I feel like we rush through bedtime preparations, and I'm afraid that I leave her with the feeling that we just want to get back downstairs as fast as possible…because usually we just want to get downstairs as fast as possible. But by taking the time to chat with her tonight, I felt so much more relaxed and happy as I said goodnight. This is rapidly becoming my favourite part of the day. I can't wait to find out what questions she has for me tomorrow night…




More Shameless Truth Telling

Oh sure - it's cute when SHE does it.


I have a confession to make.

Now, this is one that many of you will probably relate to and won't come as too much as a surprise, but I swear I never thought it would happen to me.

I am addicted to my cell phone.

I check it constantly. I refresh facebook all the time. I get antsy if I can't get to it at any point. I take it into the bathroom. **shame**

I remember a time, wayyyyy back before I purchased my first cell phone, walking into a public bathroom one day and hearing someone talking on their phone…mid-stream. I was horrified. I couldn't wrap my head around the idea of a conversation so important that it needed to be had right then and there. Ew. Fast forward to present day and I could be bursting at the seams and will still race frantically around the house searching for my phone so that I don't have to worry about having nothing to do in there. It's bad.

Part of the problem is the new data package I added on a few months ago. With the internet literally at my fingers every second of the day, it becomes difficult to ignore. And as a planner, refreshing my schedules to keep track of changes is like…well, it's almost the same feeling I get when things get particularly stressful and I sneak into the kitchen and stick a chunk of something - anything - chocolate into my mouth and feel a wave of relief flood my body…okay, so I'm addicted to chocolate too. Please don't offer me any crack.

In any case, screens in general are taking up too much of my time and their time is up. No more mindless surfing, no more obsessive checking, no more stupid (albeit hysterical) you tube videos. I'm going to become a hands free mama. I've already started to make changes.

For instance:

This morning, when the alarm (which is the alarm on my phone, naturally) went off, I turned it off and walked away from it, rather than taking it into bed to check a couple of things to "help me wake up". Of course what I did instead was crawl back into bed and oversleep until E wandered in, but no one said that this would be seamless.

And get this, I didn't even look in the direction of my phone until I grabbed it to put it into my purse on my way out the door. Even then, I didn't check it! Not until I had driven E to school, then driven myself to work, settled in and was waiting for my first client did I bother to pull it out. And when I did, I checked the three emails that were unread (Oooh! 3 at a time is much more exciting than 1 at a time!), sent off a quick text to my husband and stashed it again - WITHOUT checking facebook!

Speaking of driving, I have become abominable with cell phone use while driving. Totally irresponsible, unsafe and definitely not a good role model. But that was before today. Today, and from now on with no exceptions, the phone does not even make an appearance while I'm driving. Not even J's requests to text him when I'm almost there to pick him up will sway me. He can stand outside and wait or I can sit in the car and wait. Imagine.

Today, in the time I have before picking E up from school, I have allowed myself to check facebook once. I didn't linger, just opened a couple of links about the situation in Turkey (and once again I am so grateful for the privileged life I have), snickered at a few statuses and moved on. Checked tomorrow's schedule once and moved on. On to Handsfreemama. She has some wisdom.

If you want to be less of a jerk vis a vis your screens and your loved ones, I'm starting by referencing this list as much as possible. Also, how much do you love this idea?

Once I'm finished this post, I'm going to get some snacks ready for after-school park time and head out to get my girl. And I will not so much as lay a finger on this laptop until she is in bed. I'm a little anxious at the idea, but I think I can do it.

Speaking of bedtime, we're starting a new thing tonight called talk time. More wisdom from handsfreemama. I'm super excited and I'll let you know how it goes.

In case you're wondering, yes, it does seem to me that I am incapable of creating a single brilliant idea on my very own. I do appear to need spoon-feeding from any number of mom blogs and parenting websites. Perhaps this impending crackdown on screen time will open up more time for, you know, independent thought. Maybe I'm a genius under all of these technological shackles…


The reception on this coaster is terrible.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Songwriter in training

I love you and you love me, I love you so you love me
A heart grows, a flower grows, a tree grows beautiful arms
A tree is a plant, it's true, a tree is a plant

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Birds and The Bees, Ep. 1

I know it's just the first of many, many conversations, but I'm basking in a little premature confidence after our first conversation about…you know. Kind of like the Leafs after scoring early in the first period. And we all know how that turns out.

But I digress.

Here's how it went down one morning this week as E chomped away on her breakfast and I worked away in the kitchen, grateful for a wall separating E from my diverse array of facial expressions:

E: Mom, I want a baby like the one Olivia has.
M: (I knew where she was going with this, but to buy some time I elected to play dumb) Oh, did Olivia get a new doll?
E: No, mom, a baby. I want a baby like Olivia's.
M: Ooooh, did they get a puppy?
E: MOM! A baaayyyyby. A human baby.
M: Oh, you mean her little sister Gracie?
E: YES! I want one! How did they make her?
M: Who? (a little dumb buys a lot of time for crafting answers, I find)
E: Olivia's parents. How did they make their baby?
M: (Obviously she's one step ahead of the stork scenario) Well…(Think, woman. THINK! It's wayyyyy too early…oooh, there's a plant. Go with it!) You know those peas you planted in school?
E: Yeah.
M: Well, making a baby is kind of like making a plant. You need seeds and fertilizer to make a plant, but babies start as eggs. So to make a baby you need an egg and some fertilizer.
E: Where do we get them?
M: Well, the mom has the eggs and the dad has the fertilizer.
E: Can I see them?
M: No, because they're inside out bodies.
E: Oh. So, you just put the egg and the fertilizer together to make a baby?
M: Yep! (please don't ask how you put them together please don't ask how you put them together please don't ask how you put them together…)
E: Can we do it TONIGHT??!
M: Uhhh, no.
E: Why not?
M: Well, babies are kind of a lot of work, so we're going to wait a little while until we're not quite as busy.
E: I can help!
M: Thanks.
E: Tomorrow night?
M: I'll let you know.

To stumble my way through this minefield, I relied on some very good advice I read a while back. Only answer the SPECIFIC QUESTIONS ASKED. Don't go providing all kinds of extraneous detail that they may not be able to understand. She wanted to know how a baby is actually made, not what happens when a man and a woman love each other very much and lie down really close together and…well…one conversation at a time, I say. And I think this one went pretty well. Except that now we have one more person on our case about baby #2.



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wheels

Another big girl step was made in the Cowfam yesterday. A bike! This bike:


I think she looks pretty good on it:


Even better riding it!

J and I had a rare moment of time together during daylight hours when neither one of us was exhausted from a long day, and we came to a couple of conclusions. Namely, that we need to live a healthier lifestyle as a family. More activity, less inactivity. More healthy food, less junk, less late night binging. And, over a greasy breakfast of eggs and hash browns, we came up with a game plan. Every night - yep - every night, between the hours of 6pm and 7pm, the Cowfam will engage in Family Exercise Time. Even Ralph. Ideally this will involve going to the park down the street where J & I can run. Ralph will have to get used to running on the leash, as opposed to his current habit of exploding into a jumping/growling/leash biting frenzy the minute I even consider a light jog. And E, while she quite enjoys running to school these days, will probably need the help of wheels to keep up. She already has a scooter, but we figured the more options the better. So now she has a bike. I wonder how long it will be before she asks for a car.
SaveSave

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April snow brings…Summer?

People are always talking about how spring and fall are so short. I disagree. This year, for example, spring didn't even exist. I guess maybe Mother Nature is banking this one because she has awesome plans for an extra-long one next year? I'm not sure. All I know is that it was cold and snowy, then there was a day or two with temperatures of 3 degrees or so and then BAM! 20 degrees. Welcome, summer. I wasn't expecting you. Now let me be clear - I'M NOT COMPLAINING. It meant that our weekend looked like this:
April 28, 2013 ~ Ottawa, Ontario
Birthday party in the park!

Of course yesterday, I found myself shvitzing a bit more than I might like in the blazing sun. But - I'M NOT COMPLAINING. Mind you we need to restock the sunscreen, and I guess that means it's time to pack away all of the winter stuff and break out the sunhats, and it's not looking good for the grass seed we just put down what with there being no rain in the forecast for two weeks…but I'M NOT  - oh, forget it. I'm complaining. I miss spring, ok? Sigh.

Want to hear something interesting? Of course you do. I was going to post pictures of the last few Aprils, to contrast the weather from year to year. What I found, however, is that for the last 6 years we have been in a different city and/or country during the month of April. Which makes me think about the rant you were made to endure a couple of months ago about the trials and tribulations of being imprisoned in winter during the month of February. Could it be that I'm not quite as hard done by as I had imagined?? There must be some mistake.

Apr 28, 2007  ~ Newcastle, England
Just us. Don't ask about the stache.

Apr 2008 ~ Grenada
We aren't in the shot because we were busy making a baby.

April 21, 2009 ~ Toronto, Ontario
Look - there's a baby! 

Apr 2010 ~ Boston, Mass
Feeding the swans

Apr 3, 2013 ~ Santa Fe, NM
(Incidentally, on April 28 we were in Vegas without the short one. 
Funny, we forgot to take pictures.)

Apr 2012 ~ Brooklyn, NY

April 2014? It's anyone's guess!










Saturday, April 20, 2013

I guess it ain't so bad.

E: I really like this house.

M: What do you like about it?

E: I like the colours. It's like a rainbow when I look around. There's not too much black…imagine if we had a black house. I don't know about that. That would be terrible. We wouldn't be able to see the walls…we would keep bumping into things...

I like the flowers.



I like that there are lots of comfy pillows.


I like the pictures, and the candles, and that we have outside stuff inside for decoration. (Editor's note: E has an obsession with "bringing the outside in", as evidenced below…)






I like the squiggles on the walls and on the furniture. (??)

I like that it's quiet and there's lots of space.

I like that we're safe. I like that it's made out of brick.
I like that we have pancakes and the ingredients to make pancakes. I like that we have extra stuff in the basement and we can buy a whole bunch of paper towels if we want.



I like that there's so much fresh air. Some houses don't have fresh air, so it's nice.

I like that there are so many toys.


--

I complain a lot about our house. E used to always ask me when we were moving back to Brooklyn, when we were leaving this house, when we were getting a bigger house, etc. From our dinner chat this evening, it seems that she has finally found a home here. Maybe I should too.

P.S. Here is a song that she began composing a short time later…unfinished, of course:

"If you love me and I love you and rainbows are in the sky, flowers bloom, and you know…just a minute I have to have a bite of pancake…"