Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sunshine Days By The Numbers

After the longest winter (see: snow in May) and the wettest Spring (see: flooding) we have had 9 of the most gloriously sunny days and I can't bear to waste a minute more than necessary inside. So here it is quickly:

2 - books finished: "Excuses Begone" by Dr. Wayne Dyer and then to combat all that inner soul contemplation, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" by Ann Brashares.
1 - book in the works, "The Second Summer of the Sisterhood."  Once I start a series I have to finish it.  Also, if someone has a bowl of assorted candies I either have to have one of every kind or none.  I realize this is mildly OCD.
18 - popsicles eaten (between three kids, not each!)
12 - garage sales.  Purchases included: gladiator sandals for $2 and a vintage steamer trunk for $5!  This brings my vintage trunk acquisitions to four in the last two months.
3 - gallons of homemade iced tea
1- litre of homemade lemonade
2 - cuttings of mint from my pots for the homemade lemonade.
6 - mornings I have done a 10-minute Trainer workout.  I haven't even looked at them since last summer but I'm back on the wagon.
2 - hours I spent sanding down one Adirondack chair before quitting.
1 - screen door installed.
6 - coats of paint it took to get our front door painted. 
3 - family bike rides.
2 - hours spent shooting hoops in the back lane.  I officially now how to throw (shoot?) a basketball.  Thank you Hugh.
1 - Summer Solstice spent staying up late to enjoy the longest day of the year.
1 - missed Summer Solstice since I thought it was Monday when it was really Tuesday.
9 - days the kiddie pool has been filled.
3 - sun-kissed children.
1 - hot husband.
1 - happy mama.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A design lover, not a design blogger

I love paint chips.  Not smelling them, looking at them - just to clarify.  Holding a rainbow fan deck in my hands takes me to my happy place.  In fact most aspects of interior design take me to this place where, strangely, there are always sheer curtains floating into the room on a light breeze.  Flooring samples? Glee! Lighting stores? Bliss! Faucets and sinks? Sigh.  Chippy-peely furniture? Jumpy claps!  I do love me some interior design and I have spent many happy hours in my head planning all kinds of rooms. It's even more fun when I get to do it in real life.

We spent this past weekend at my friend Heidi's.  She and her husband have recently purchased an amazing older home that has great bones and is old enough to have charm like original glass doorknobs and hardwood floors but was extremely well taken care of and has some modern updates like central vac.  Their house is reno central so on Saturday morning we left the kids with the husbands and slipped out to check out some local decor stores, lighting places and of course, Benjamin Moore.  On our way downtown we ran into a yard sale that had the most adorable cabinet out in front.  But this is not a design blog so I don't have pictures, I have a story.

The cabinet in question was being used to anchor a rope that had been tied from a nearby tree to create a clothesline of sorts off which hung a few random pieces of women's clothing.  There was no one in sight and there was an abandoned feeling about the place which was in eerie contrast to the yard sale items on the lawn/sidewalk.  Heidi's husband is a cop and as a guy came out the front door of the house towards us she said, "By the way this is a crack house."  The guy was shaking like a leaf and spent the entire time we were there grabbing/adjusting himself.  After offering us $4000 dollars worth of women's clothes from a dirty white boy (his words, I'm not arguing) and bending over several times so we could see his lovely assets, Heidi asked how much he wanted for the cabinet. 
"Make me an offer," he said.
"What's the absolute lowest price you'd let this go for?" She countered.
"10 bucks."
"Ok.  I have no cash on me right now so I'll have to go get some."
"Fine, 8 bucks if you have to think about it."
"That's great. I still have to go get some cash."

We drove away discussing the moral implications of buying a garage sale item from a crack house and then decided the cabinet was utterly perfect and really, how much crack can you get for 8 bucks anyway?  We did our design store rounds and on the way home stopped back at the crack house.  The cabinet was still out front but a new guy came out the front door.  He smelled...awesome.   But he said we could have the cabinet for $5 so we exchanged cash for cabinet and tried to load up as quickly as possible.  Just as we were getting back in Heidi's van original dude came out of the house.  He managed to lose his shirt in the two short hours since we'd last seem him and as he sauntered over to us with his pants hanging dangerously low on his hips even though he was wearing a belt I hissed to Heidi to start the car, START THE CAR!  She started it and having some sort of predilection that I can't explain I rolled up my window.  Sure enough he came over to my window and motioned me to roll it down.  I shook my head and he said through the glass, "So, I guess you're married then?"
It's nice to know I have options should I ever need them.

One other design story.  We had been at Pier 1 on our out-and-about tour Saturday morning and had seen a great light fixture on major discount that we thought might work to replace the ceiling fan in Heidi's kitchen that she hated.  We didn't buy it and then in the afternoon in a fit of inspiration after looking at paint chips and planning out all her colours ran quickly back to pick it up.  We set it on the counter and the girl at the cash looked at Heidi and then at me and said, "Um, who's this for?  I can't tell who's more excited."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Apple. Tree. Doesn't fall far.

"Mom, I can't do it!  I've tried and I've tried but I just can't do it!"

"Ava, honey this is something you've done lots of times before I know you can do it.  Don't get frustrated, just take a deep breath and try again."

"Buuuuut Iiiiiii caaaaan't doooooo iiiiiiiit."

"Ava, you don't need to cry.  Can you think of one thing you can do that might help you solve this problem?"

"No. No I can't.  Why can't you just do it for me?"

"Because I know you can do this and I know how good you'll feel when you get it.  Now try and think of one possible solution for this problem, one thing you can do.  Can you do that?"

"Please, please, please can't you just tell me."

"Come on honey, one thing.  If you think of one thing you could do I'll help you think up some other solutions.  What's one thing you can do?"

"Well....  I can sit on the floor and cry."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bare. Unashamed. Loved.

I don't know about you but I am very guilty of only wanting to post the best pictures of myself.  Whether it's facebook or here on this blog I want to make sure I don't have the double chin that often shows up in photos or the teeth that look buck from certain angles. And I don't mean Lil' C-style awesome! I never post pictures taken when I'm not wearing makeup.  On my no-makeup days my eyebrows look pretty sparse and sometimes one or two eyebrow hairs will stick out in a random direction even if my face has been washed.  Who am I kidding? If I'm not wearing make-up I haven't washed my face either.  Plus I always think my nose looks really wide in pictures when I don't have makeup on.  If I was being really honest I would also admit there have been many times I've said, "Oh don't take my picture I'm not wearing any make-up today." 

A few days ago I came across a blog.  I can't tell you where because it was one of those things where I followed a link, then followed another link, then put my right arm in, then took my right arm out, then followed another link, then did the hokey-pokey and turned myself around.  So I have no idea how to find it again or who to credit it to. The point is, on this blog the woman was talking about the importance of being in pictures with your kids, that your children need to have this physical evidence of their connection with you.  When you look at photos of your own mom do you ever think she looks fat?  Do you ever think her hair looks bad or her face looks ugly?  No. She is your mom.  She is beautiful and radiant and just, your mom.

That post challenged me on so many levels.  As a mom trying to raise a daughter of inner beauty who is comfortable in her own skin I realized when I say no to being photographed without makeup on I'm essentially telling my daughter that beauty is only about the outside.  It also made me ask how comfortable I am in my own skin and whether I value the people in the photo with me or how I look in the photo. I'm not saying I'm giving up makeup entirely or that I will never ask Hugh to take another picture so I can stick my neck out better and avoid the double chin.  What I am saying is that I will live in and embrace the moment whether I'm bare-faced or made-up.  A book I am reading now talks about how it's not whether or not we'll live in the moment - now, this moment, is actually all we ever get - but how we will live in this moment.  The past when it happened was your present moment.  The future will only come as a now moment.  How will you live in the now?  One thing I will do with my "now" is whatever I can to strengthen my connection to my children and theirs to me.  And if that means buck teeth, double chins, wide noses, sparse eyebrows and dirty hair?  So be it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I might be that desperate now

Making friends as an adult is a lot like dating.  You have initial contact like say at a playgroup. Chemistry is either there or it isn't.  If the chemistry isn't there you chat politely for the duration of your time together and then you move on.  If it is there you make plans to see them again, to meet up at the next playdate. After a few playdates of animated conversation you exchange contact info.  You go home and add them as a friend on Facebook and wonder when is too soon to call.  You call and make plans to get together outside of the playgroup and you end up talking on the phone for hours.  You finally get together, it goes well and you go home wondering again how soon is too soon to call.  Eventually, after a few pauses and awkward moments, you settle into a rhythm and time passes and suddenly you realize you know all each others stories; you know about their old boyfriends, you've met their family, you have a million shared memories of conversations and adventures, you have inside jokes.  You have moved from girlcrush to casual friends to committed soul sisters.

I have been fortunate enough in my life to have made these kinds of friends not only as a teenager but again as an adult.  When we moved here four years ago and I was feeling the loneliness of our new beginning my mom suggested I put an ad in the paper.  Thankfully I met Heidi sometime shortly after that and didn't have to resort to such desperate measures.  Heidi and I instantly "clicked".  Right from our very first conversation I felt like I had known her all my life.  In addition to being fun and spontaneous and a free spirit of the best kind she is deep and heartfelt in her approach to life and parenting.  She also happens to have twins who are exactly the same age as mine and for the past two years we have lived just around the corner from each other.  We have spent countless hours around her kitchen table or my kitchen island drinking cold tea or Italian sodas while our brood played merrily away.  Neither of us have family here and we became each others family.  We watched each others kids for dentist appointments and date nights, and our kids slept over at Heidi's the night before we moved across town.

I have another friend and our kids have gone to the same preschool for the past three years.  We have spent the past two years having coffee together every Tuesday morning.  She picked me up from the hospital after my appendix incident and made me meals and took my kids to preschool for me while I was recovering.  In addition to Tuesday coffees she has been my standing movie date.

In December Heidi moved away and in February Sandi moved away.  It all happened very quickly and I was devastated at losing my two "go-to" people in the friends-with-young-kids category.  I have been lonely since they left.  I do have other other friends, people I can call for playdates or if I want a girls night out, it's just that none of those friends has the same depth or ease that I had with Heidi and Sandi; both of which are the products of time.  Unfortunately time is one thing there is no shortcut for. 

Not too long ago Tristan was very sad.  He had felt left out during a playdate and kept sniffing while telling me about all his sadness.  I tried cheering him up by reminding him about other friends who always wanted to play with him.  "But they moved away and we never get to see them," was his response.  I reminded him how great it is to always have a built-in playmate in his twin sister. "But she didn't want to play with me today," was his response.  I reminded him that Ava wanted to ride bikes with him that afternoon.  They had just learned to ride on two wheels and I asked him if he was excited about riding his two-wheeler.  "No," he said with his arms crossed over his chest. "I'm just going to ride my tricycle."

It's a grey, rainy day (again) here today and since making a spontaneous trip to visit Heidi last Friday, I miss her even more.  I should be drinking tea with her and eating warm cookies or scones in an oven-warmed kitchen while we spend our afternoon chatting away.   But I'm not.  I'm at my kitchen island alone drinking tepid tea in a sweatshirt and jeans (in June!) and writing about how lonely I feel. I recently connected with a woman and there is great chemistry there and I really feel the potential for a heart friend but today all the time that is required to get from here to to there feels tiring and I just want her to already know all my stories and I just want us to already be past the getting-to-know-you phase and into the I-can-call-and-invite-myself-over place.  I should probably give myself a little pep-talk and remind myself of how great my life really is and how full my heart is with friendships, but I won't.  It's wet and cold out and I'm in a funk.  I don't want to be cheered up.  I just want to ride my tricycle.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Happy Birthday anyway

We have begun the process of switching over the kids bedrooms.  The boys are happily ensconced in Tristan and Ava's old room and Ava has moved into Sebastian's old room and is loving having some space to herself.  Both rooms have been painted, new bedding is on and pictures and other decor is slowly coming.  On the way home from a camping trip to Banff we stopped at the Ikea Calgary to pick up some shelving for the boys room.  I wanted two LACK shelves to stagger across one of the walls in their room.  Apparently they have, in a stroke of what I can only call genius, discontinued the perfect mid-sized shelf and only have mini's or monsters.  Very annoyed we bought one monster and three min's figuring we'd be able to use whatever we didn't put up in the boys room in our as-yet-unfinished basement.

On Saturday I asked Hugh to put up the shelving.  The phone rang.  I spent an hour and a half on it and by the time I got off the phone Hugh was fit to be tied at the delay.  He held up the monster shelf for height and we did the, up-down-lower-lower-a bit more up-slightly to the left, thing until we got it right.  Hugh marked it, did whatever measurements he needed and started drilling holes while I tried to convince myself that using the monster would be fine.  I definitely had misgivings but a) I knew Hugh was in no mood for experimentation and b) I rarely like change at first so I figured it would be fine in the end.  Eight wall anchors and eight screws later he slid the shelf onto it's base and ta-daa! I instantly hated it.  But since this is not unusual for me and since Hugh was still annoyed with me I didn't say anything and we lived with it for two days.

I hated it for two days.  The shelf was just so intrusive, like a close-talker.  I felt I couldn't go anywhere in the room to escape it's nearness.  Today I decided maybe it would be more appealing if I dressed the shelf with some of the things I had been collecting and keeping in the garage until I had a shelf to put them on.  It lasted for five minutes and then I heard a crash.  Hugh and I ran into the boys' room and saw the monster shelf hanging limply on a downward slope, the anchors pulling out of the drywall and the boys sitting among all the things that had fallen off.  For the record, even with the books and collectibles on the shelf I still hated how it looked. 

Hugh and I then had a conversation about patching and repainting all those holes in the wall and finding a new solution for our shelving issues and whether or not we'd have to repaint the entire wall to maintain texture or not.  Isn't it fun to have to redo something you just did?  I found Hugh a little later lying on our bed with his hands over his eyes.  On our current project list: to paint and install a screen door and paint our front door and sand and paint those Adirondack chairs we picked up a while ago and paint and install a new backboard for our basketball hoop since the Plexiglas was smashed when a storm knocked the whole thing over.  Oh and we're supposed to be working on finishing our basement.

Did I mention that today is Hugh's birthday?  I'm pretty sure he's feelin' the joy of his existence today.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

If I was a superhero I'd be Lady Gag

I am easily grossed out.
I mean ridiculously easily grossed out.  And when I get grossed out one of two things happens; my arms feel like they lose all strength from the elbows down and become limp noodles, or I gag.  I'm not talking about the feeling where you might gag, the feeling where your stomach turns a little bit and maybe even shifts in the suggestion of a heave.  I have a really strong gag reflex.  When I say I gag I mean I full out retch.  And as per the aforementioned statement, I gross out easily.  Ergo, I gag a lot.

What grosses me out you ask?  It might be easier to ask what doesn't gross me out.  There's the obvious things like strong, putrid smells, the sound of someone retching/vomiting and general gore and disgustingness.  The day Hugh came home from work with a bandage on his finger is sort of a stand-out.  When he took the bandage off his middle finger to show me his wound all I could see was bloody, meaty flesh where his nail was supposed to be.  I couldn't look at his hands until the nail was fully grown back several months later.  But that's normal stuff to be disgusted by.  There's a whole host of other neurotic things that gross me out.  Like the sound of people eating really ripe banana's.  Even thinking about that squishing sound makes my arms feel weak and I'm having trouble typing.  A shudder literally just ran up my spine.  What else?  Birds.  Birds swarming on the ground looking for food.  Birds that people allow sit on their hands or shoulders or any part of their body.  Belly buttons.  The thought of how Thai Fish Sauce is made. (I actually can't talk about it or I'll never make Pad Thai again.) The word nipple.  The foam fluoride at the dentist.  The list goes on.  A few weeks ago I was at a garage sale that was through the garage and into the peoples' backyard where there was a fish pond.  In the fish pond were several huge, disgusting, slithery orange fish.  Seeing them slither in the water suddenly, and might I add unexpectedly, made my arms feel weak and my eyes water in the attempt to control the gag.  I have no explanation for this. Do Koi fish gross anyone else out?  Probably not.

This is just the tip of the neurotic iceberg.  Once, PK, (that would be the days Pre Kids) I was at a friend's house for dinner.  We were sitting around after dinner and she had just finished nursing her not even two-month-old baby and was sitting her up to burp her.  Let's just say that after seeing the baby spit up I ran for the bathroom and only made it as far as the kitchen sink before re-experiencing my steak and potatoes.  Really not as good the second time around.

I was one of the last of my close friends to have kids and I know they were all secretly dying to see how I'd handle all the disgusting things you have to do as a parent.  And let me tell you there are many, starting with a partially attached, rotting-looking umbilical cord.   There is also poo.  I have wiped every kind of poo imagineable; sticky, runny, firm.  Did you know that kiwis and blueberries are the worst? Blueberries give you blue hay in your diapers and kiwi's look exactly the same on the other side just runnier.  I have wiped "just starting solid food" stinky, "I'm sick" stinky, and "I'm on antibiotics" stinky.  I have wiped poo off my hands, off my leg and off my clothes.  So. much. poo.  But let's not forget the vomit.  I have wiped chunks of partially-digested, sour-smelling food bits from every surface imaginable.  Clothes, carseats, carpets; you name it, it's been puked on.   I have even, when necessity required, caught puke in my bare hands.  Isn't motherhood glorious?

And how did I handle these disgusting things?  Not by gagging.  I know!  I'm surprised as you are.  As hard as it is for even me to believe, almost none of that has brought up the same reflex I get listening to a banana being masticated.  I really don't understand how I have not been phased by these aspects of motherhood that truly are disgusting.  (Koi fish? What?) There have been one or two exceptions but for the most part I have handled these things with aplomb, if I do say so myself.  Motherhood really is transformative.  My kids are even allowed to eat bananas while I'm in the room.  AND IT DOESN'T BOTHER ME! 

What does bother me is a new little phase we've hit with the big kids.  Losing teeth.  Good lord I can hardly write that without breaking into a cold sweat.  Not too long ago Ava came to me and said, "Guess what Mom? my tooth is loose."  Sure enough it was a teeny bit wiggly.  A few weeks after that Ava came to me and said, "Hey Mom, check this out!" and pushed her tooth out of it's socket - do teeth have sockets? - with her tongue.  I am so thankful I was standing in my kitchen because I literally had to grab onto my island to keep from hitting the floor.  I could still hear Ava talking but her voice sounded like it was coming through a tin can from very far away.  I stood gripping the counter, breathing deep, swallowing convulsively and squeezing my eyes shut until those weird little sparklers behind my eyelids stopped going off. 

Whoa.  Just had to take a minute to shake out my arms.

This past Saturday morning we were all cuddled onto the couch to watch Justice League (which I actually PVR on Friday nights for me but watch on Saturday mornings with my kids so I can pretend it's for them) when Ava suddenly shouts, "Mom my tooth!" and holds out her hand which is holding her tiny tooth while her mouth bleeds from the sudden gaping hole.  I am so thankful I was already sitting down.  I'm also thankful Hugh was there to hold Ava while she cried off the shock and excitement of losing her tooth.  I was very helpfully putting my head between my knees and trying not to moan out loud.

You know what I see when I look at this smile?

All those teeth she has left to lose.