Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jane Austen would have been horrified

This morning while Tristan and Ava were at school and Sebastian was at preschool I was attending the school of life.  Today's lesson took place in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  It actually began inside at the vitamin aisle where I had gone to pick up some more Vitamin C.  We are all struggling with colds and had eaten the last one yesterday.  This had to be remedied immediately.  As Ava told me last night after she had eaten her daily dose, "Mom I think my sore throat feels better.  The Vitamin C must have kicked in."  If she thinks Vitamin C kicks in, if this causes her not to whine incessantly about her so-oh-ore thro-oh-oat, who am I to argue? 

Anyway standing in the Vitamin C aisle I noticed I could get 500 Equate tablets for the same price as 120 Jamieson tablets.  No brainer right?  I learned that lesson ages ago. Walking to my car,  I happily swung my bag. The next stop on my agenda for my glorious morning alone was Starbucks where I had a date with a 2-pump white mocha americano misto and my book.  Since I'm trying to get on top of this cold I thought I would take two Vitamin C's now and then two before bed.  I opened them up popped them in my mouth and started chewing and that is when I learned today's life lesson: tablets aren't chewable unless they actually say the word "chewable" on the bottle.  I had already swallowed a bit when I started to gag.  There I was standing beside my van, doubled over, heaving and gagging and praying so hard that I wasn't going to throw up in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  That's classy right?  Equally classy was finding the dregs of some stale water in an old water bottle and swishing it in my mouth before spitting it and the powdered tablets out on the ground.  In my defense I crouched down really low to try to spit under my van. 

A spectacle you say?  Me? 

Thankfully all's well that ends well and I ended up in a squashy oversized chair sipping a perfectly made coffee reading a perfectly delicious book.  Next stop, Costco.  For an extremely oversized bottle of chewable Vitamin C.  By the way does anyone know anyone who wants 498 Vitamin C tablets?  I should warn you, they're not chewable.

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Friday. Who can think of a witty title on a Friday?

This week it finally happened.  The things I've been dreading about sending my kids to school.  Ava came home Wednesday crying because nobody wanted to play with her at recess.  My heart absolutely sank to my toes.  I may have even been stepping on it, it hurt so much when Ava first told me while crying her heart out.  Of course the tired didn't help the crying (She is SO my daughter!) and boy are my kids T-I-double ERRED these days.  After a lot of hugs and a bit of gentle digging it turned out to be not exactly the case.  It was more a mix-up that became a misunderstanding that turned itself into hurt feelings and a case of amnesia about the kids she did play with (Oh, yeaaaahhh I forgot I played with them!).

Once we got to the bottom of it all she felt better, I felt better, Tristan suggested we make Ava her favourite lunch and told her she could play with him anytime she wants and then we talked about being proactive.  What?  That's a big word for a Kindergartener you say?  I thought so too until they came home using it! Their school teaches the students Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the first principle the kids learn is to be proactive.  I am a very firm believer in being proactive and we teach our kids about making good choices with our attitudes and not falling apart when things don't go our way because it doesn't solve anything etc, etc. Are you remembering how I completely fell apart over my washing machine right now?  I told you, the tired doesn't help the crying!  Obviously I'm not perfect at being proactive but it is something I strive for and something I've been teaching my kids about.  I hadn't actually used the word proactive before because Hugh always accuses me of using words that are too big when I talk to the kids but how else do you describe "fundamentally opposed to your course of action and if you persist you will reap the consequences"?  Kidding!

Anyway, during Ava's favourite lunch (KD that particular day) we did some "what could you do next time?" scenario conversations.  I asked her what kinds of proactive things she could do and together we brainstormed a few different action plans.  "Because," I said, "it's better to be proactive right?  Sitting on the playground crying doesn't fix anything does it?"
"No, Mom," Tristan said with the tone I use when I'm trying to patiently explain something I think they should already know.  "That's being very REactive."
Well thanks for clearing that up for me Stephen Covey Jr.

Today we had another thing I've dreaded about school.  Crazy Hair Day.  Okay it's not crazy hair day I've dreaded exactly, more what it brought up and what it brought up was a boy who only wanted to have normal hair.  The unspoken part being, he didn't want to look different, didn't want kids to laugh at him.  Honestly as a parent I had to struggle with it too.  What if no one else does their kids hair crazy?  What if I'm setting them up to get teased?  I came to the conclusion that now was as good a time as any to encourage my kids not to care what people think, not to just blindly follow the pack and be suffocated, repressed by fear.  God hasn't given us a spirit of fear!  Ava, of course, was totally into it but at the last minute Tristan changed his mind and my kids went to school looking likes 80's punk rockers.  I told the kids if anyone says, "Whoa. That is crazy hair." they were to respond, "THAT'S CUZ IT'S CRAZY HAIR DAY!"  We got to the kids class and almost all the girls had crazy hair but only one other little boy.  One kid looked at Tristan and said, "Oh my god! Look at your hair! My mom wanted to put mine in ponytails but I said NO WAY!  I didn't want to be laughed at."  At which point Tristan looked at me and said, "Mom, don't leave me.  Please don't leave me."  This from the boy who has yet to say good-bye to me in the mornings because he's so excited to get to the welcome circle.  My heart sank but I smiled big and said, "Crazy hair day is going to be awesome!  Why don't you go sit by the boy with bright green hair?  You guys can be crazy hair buds today."  Thankfully Tristan thought that was a great idea and perked up but honestly?  I wish it were already 3:00.  I just want to know he's okay.  I guess if he's not I can remind him not to be so reactive.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It is possible to change a first impression. Just not always for the better!

Guess what I did yesterday?  I sat on the floor of my laundry room and watched the very first load of my brand-new, front-loading washing machine wash my clothes.  CAN YOU STAND THE EXCITEMENT?  I kept watching one particular pair of jeans.  The denim is a light wash and about 10 minutes into the wash cycle still wasn't completely wet.  I was very dubious.  I kept watching.  I didn't believe they would get clean.  It took yet another 10 minutes for them to get fully wet.  Do you realize that I sat for 20 minutes on the floor looking through the glass of a washing machine?  And they say stay-at-home moms have no life!

I'm not sure if you remember from a couple of weeks ago when I had the day from hell, well maybe not hell, maybe more like middle school, which could have also been named hell for all the hell I went through and some of the hell I caused.  But I digress. My point is I had a bad day.  Which probably, in hindsight, wouldn't have been quite such a bad day except I was tired.  So. Very. Tired. I was anxious about the kids starting school, had a major checklist of things to do, hadn't slept in about four days and hadn't washed my hair since I last slept.  And I was PMS'ing.  I felt gross, I looked gross and I had pretty much wiped out my emotional reserves.  And then my washing machine broke.  In the middle of washing a duvet cover and sheets while the tub was full of dirty soapy water.  I completely broke down.  Like fell to the floor crying hysterically broke down.  I called Hugh at work and cried/yelled, "Just tell me what to do!  JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DOOOO!"  That day was the day I had set aside to do my 5 loads of clothes laundry and then had the added surprise of an extra three loads of bedding thanks to an accident in the night that was attempting to be covered up.  I hadn't even got to the clothes yet and school was starting the next day.  We needed clean underwear!

I got off the phone with Hugh, calmed down, and before starting to bail the water out of the machine went to check on the kids, who were playing outside. They were standing on the trampoline eating cookies I hadn't given them talking to the neighbour girl over the fence.  Wearily and with a very irritated tone in my voice I asked them what they were eating.  The neighbour girls mom answered from her back deck, "uh...cookies?"  I then realized her daughter was probably eating cookies and the kids either asked or she offered to share and the mom was just trying to be nice.  "Should I not have given them cookies?" she asked.   I broke down again.  Standing on my deck still wearing pajamas at almost noon with my greasy hair scraped roughly into a ponytail I broke down.  Like couldn't talk, ragged-gasping-for-breath-between-sobs, kind of broke down. It took me several minutes to get myself together enough to explain all the while my neighbour was asking if I was okay, if I needed help.  I was finally able to tell her about my washing machine and she so kindly offered to let me rinse the duvet cover and sheets in her washing machine.  "In fact," she said. "I'm going out this afternoon, I'll just leave the door unlocked and you can come and go as you need and do all your laundry here." Thank you God. Talk about a saving grace! 

She has only been my neighbour for about six weeks and that's twice she has rescued me now.  Between the hysterical crying over the laundry on Thursday and locking my keys in my house and having to take her car to get the kids to their first day of school on Friday I'm sure she thinks I'm completely stable! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is it just so I'll have something to write about?

Guess what I did yesterday?  I bought myself two brand-spanking-new hide-a-keys.  Contrary to what you might be thinking right now I did not go and get them as a result of last Friday's key debacle.  I should have.  I meant to.  I thought about it several times.  But I didn't.  Which meant that yesterday when I was sitting with Sebastian on the front steps of my porch waiting for Hugh to come home from work to unlock the door for me for the second time in under a week I was seriously kicking myself.

Since last Friday I have been very aware of where my keys are, paranoid about getting locked out again.  Yesterday after dropping the kids off at school I came home to get Sebastian (for the record he was home with Hugh not alone making martini's) and headed out to do some errands.  Before leaving the house I made sure I had my keys.  I took them out of my purse and held them in my hands so I could know with absolute certainty that I had them before locking the door.  Just as we were about to cross the threshold I noticed Sebastian wasn't wearing any shoes, that I had forgot to put some on him.  I put my stuff down, put his shoes on, grabbed my purse and walked out the front door locking it behind me. 

In one of those slow-motion moments you are powerless to stop, the front door slammed shut as I realized the keys I had been holding in my hands, the keys I was determined to be aware of at all times, weren't actually in my hands.  Of course not.  I had put them down with my purse to get Sebastian's shoes on and only picked the purse back up because, as mentioned yesterday, my keys are always in my purse.

Except for when they're not.

The first thing I did after Hugh came home and unlocked the door was drive to a key-cutting place and get myself two keys.  One is hidden outside the house and the other is in the change purse of my wallet.  My keys may not always be in my purse but at least my wallet will be!  On the plus side, as of today we are the proud-ish owners of a new front loading washer and dryer (which is a whole other story I will tell you about) and my firstborns turned six and each got a free birthday drink today at Starbucks.  Things are looking up!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It Started Off So Well

I always keep my keys in my purse.  I mean always.  When I come in my front door I hang my purse on my entryway chair and slip my keys into the inside pocket.  I've tried a few other systems for keeping track of my keys but I could never remember what new system I was working on (vintage mailbox in the back entryway or dish on the console?) and was always looking for my keys.  This is the system I developed that works.  And it does work.  I never have to look for my keys.  I mean never.  They are always in the inside pocket of my purse. 

Always.  Always.  Always.  Always.  Always.

Except for last Friday.  When they weren't. 

Do you remember last Friday?  Tristan and Ava's first day of school?  It was such a great morning.  It was calm, it was smooth.  We were dressed and ready in plenty of time for me to torture my kids by taking tons of pictures.  And when we were done that we still had time to kill!  So I wrote a blog about how the day had finally arrived and I was finally ready for it.  Then we calmly got our coats and shoes on, I calmly locked the door behind us and I sauntered to the van, kids skipping beside me chattering away.  Approaching our van I reached into the inside pocket of my purse for my keys and discovered my morning really had been going too smoothly.    

I didn't panic.  Not then.  I knew my keys had to be in my purse somewhere.  My keys are always in my purse.  They probably just fell into the main compartment.  Do you ever feel like your life is like a sitcom?  After a few minutes of calmly searching I looked at the time on my phone and panicked.  I dumped the entire contents of my purse on the sidewalk and frantically started rifling through it.  No van keys.  No van keys.  NO VAN KEYS!  I shoved everything back in my purse and ran to the front door just in case I hadn't locked it properly.  I had.  I raced around to the back door because that door is almost never locked.  It was.  Have I mentioned that Hugh and I have been meaning to get a hide-a-key for the house?

I called Hugh's work and while I was on hold for him I kept thinking, are you kidding me?  Is this seriously happening?  This is not happening.  It's the first day of school.  This is not happening!
"Yes I am still holding for Hugh.  Hold again?  Sure."  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  As I was holding for the second time my next door neighbour drove up.  She had just finished dropping her son off at the same school I was trying to get my kids to and she knew it was Tristan and Ava's first day.  "What are you still doing here?" she asked.  By this point I was hot and agitated and sweating waterfalls.  My purse was laying on the ground and I was pacing our sidewalk with only one arm in my coat holding a phone to my ear in one hand and holding my hair up off my neck with the other.  I explained and she offered me her car and said she'd watch Sebastian so I could run Tristan and Ava to school.  Which is when Hugh finally came to the phone and I had to explain everything all over again.

While I was taking the kids to school in my neighbour's car Hugh came home from work and unlocked the house door.  We ended up being fifteen minutes late and the kids had to get late slips their very first day of school ever.  That's one way to start the year!  The plus side is by the time I dropped them off I was so relieved to finally be there that I didn't have any room left to feel sad.  Four days later and I'm still not sure what is more shocking to me; that my keys weren't in my purse (I found them randomly in our junk drawer.  WHAAAT?) or that I didn't cry when I dropped the kids off.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's All Over But The Crying. And I'm not talking about the kids.

This is it.  Today is the day.  After a week of no sleep the first day of school has finally, thankfully, arrived.  I woke up at 5am today.  I had an alarm set for 6:45am and then at 6:00 thought who am I kidding? I'm not falling back to sleep.  I got up, got ready and came downstairs for a cup of tea and asked Hugh how I looked for my first day of school. 

There has been much anxiety, many tears cried, and many prayers said over my kids as this new chapter of our lives has approached.  Now that we are here, and their backpacks are loaded up and the kids are dressed and ready, I'm ready too.  And though I may cry - will probably cry - after I drop them off today, they will be happy tears for the grand adventure ahead.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Second Verse Same As The First

I'm still not sleeping well.  I couldn't fall asleep last night and then woke up at 5am this morning.  I am tired.  So, so tired.  Can't keep my emotions together, feel tears welling all the time kind of tired.

I spent literally all day yesterday going through the kids clothes - what to put away for next year, what to give away, what to pass down to my nephew - and I finally managed to get the kids fall clothes out.  Just in time for it to be 26 degrees tomorrow.  This makes me want to cry.

Also, I finally got the kids their new socks.  We took them all out of their packages yesterday and put them away.  This morning I was barely out of bed when Ava came to me fully dressed and said very seriously, "Mom we have a problem. My new socks are too big in the ankle."  Not only are they too big in the ankle they are too big in the foot.  The heel hits halfway up the back of her leg.  So now, she needs another set of new socks.  This also made me cry.

Also, Tristan was fully dressed this morning which at first I didn't think anything of.  Then I noticed his pajamas on the floor of Ava's room and the bottoms were different than what he had gone to bed wearing last night.  From past experience I know this means he peed his bed.  Instead of telling me though, he tried to hide it by making his bed all nice.  Which meant that when I noticed the pj bottoms and asked him about it and went to look at his bed what could have been just a quick sheet wash ended up an also soaked duvet and cover and basically added two more loads of laundry to a day already chock full of it.  This made me cry too.

I'm drinking a cup of really hot tea right now while I type and just writing this out is making me feel better, giving me some perspective.  Things don't feel quite as hopeless as they did half an hour ago.  Even though Sebastian just spilled his bowl of cereal.  For the second time this morning.

Edited to add: Also, my washing machine broke this morning.  During a load of bedding right before the rinse cycle.  It was my third of 7 loads I have to do today.  Do you ever wish you could have a do-over?  I would like to have a do-over of today.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

At least when this is all over I'll get to sleep again

This morning it was 3:37am when I startled awake.  This time it was about indoor and outdoor shoes.  See I bought the kids indoor shoes that aren't runners because I wasn't really thinking about things like gym class.  I was thinking about style.  I got Ava a pair of black ballet flats and Tristan a pair of grey flannel plaid loafers that just need an elbow-patch blazer and pipe to complete the look.

Yesterday when we went to school for the meet and greet the kids had to wear something other than flip flops for the first time since last spring since it all of a sudden got COLD here, and wouldn't you know it Tristan has outgrown both pairs of his outdoor shoes.  I thought I would pick up something at the "super" grocery store yesterday but the only pair that I really liked were black hightops that were kind of hard for Tristan to get on and which I thought would be frustrating for him to deal with when he just wanted to get to the playground at recess.  As a final fling before school we are spending a night this weekend in a hotel in Calgary that has a couple of huge waterslides and comes with zoo passes for us all.  It's going to be a very fun weekend and I thought yesterday at the "super" grocery store that I'd just pick Tristan up some shoes in Calgary.

This is a great idea in theory.  What woke me up in the middle of the night was the fact that he needs something to wear for his half-day Friday and his options are flip-flops - but then does he wear his inside shoes without socks? - or shoes that hurt his big toe - could he be fine enough for one morning? And then to really make me lose all hope of going back to sleep I started to think through the pros and cons of having his indoor shoes be outdoor shoes and buying him something more runner-like for inside.  Which also made me do an inventory of Ava's shoes and made me wonder if she also needs something more runner-like for inside. 

Mom's I need your help.  What do you do?  What works for your kids?  Also, Mom's with daughters tell me this, what do you do about all those cute little shoe options like boots and ballet flats?  Do you let them wear that kind of thing on the playground?  Don't they just get trashed?  Should I care if they get trashed?  Also what do you do when your daughters wear dresses to school?  Do they just wear them with the indoor running shoes? 

I feel stupid even asking these questions and like I'm really worrying too much about something that is not really that important.  It's just... you know what it is?  It's the grown-up version of wanting to fit in at school.