Saturday, December 23, 2006

Miracle on 6th Ave.

I am officially on holidays now. Let the season of late sleeping, reading, and general slothing begin.

Yesterday, the last day of school, was party day in my classroom. We had just finished our novel study on "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" and were planning on watching the movie on Friday. The students brought copious amounts of junkfood, I ordered pizza, and we all settled in for a long winter's movie day. We brought our pillows and blankets and wore our pyjamas to be comfy for the marathon movie (it's, like, 17 hours long). One of my students had a copy of the movie so she brought it in. All was right in the world.

Until I tried to get the video to play. Remember back in school when teachers *never* could get the TVs to work? And all the kids knew *exactly* what to do to get the movie working? And so all the student shouted their suggestions at the teacher to "help"? Yeah. That was me yesterday. For whatever reason, the stupid movie wouldn't play, so another teacher offered to take my class for a few minutes so I could run to the video store.

In my pyjamas.

So I drive like a mad woman to the Movie Gallery, obeying all traffic laws of course. They have the movie, and I wait forEVER for the slowest video clerk on earth to check out the customer ahead of me. When it's finally my turn and say "Idon'thaveanaccountherebutI'minahugerushI'mtryingtogetbacktomyclasswiththismovie." To which Ms. Slow replies "Yeeeeeeaaaaaahhhh. . . It's not that simple. We have to get things set up properly, you know." I take a deep breath and say "I understand. No problem. I had a video lined up for my class, but it's not working. I left my class so I can grab this movie." She needs my driver's licence and a credit card and a blood sample and a copy of my employment history and lock of fairy hair.

I explain that I ran out of class really quickly and only grabbed my bank card and some cash, but told her where I work. No dice. I offered for her to keep my cell phone and house keys until I return the movie. No. Fine, I asked if I could buy the movie. They don't have it for sale. Ms. Slow is getting ruder by the second, and I am desperate. "Can I please pay for the movie replacement in full now and you can refund it or even keep it when I return the movie?" Ms. Slow says "NO. It's store policy. I can't do anything for you." That's when I noticed her name tag says STORE MANAGER. "Please," I pleaded, "it's Christmas. I've got a class of ten year olds who have worked so hard on this novel study. We just want to watch the movie. You can call my school and confirm that I work there. Please."

"NO. There's nothing I can do. It's store policy. I'm sorry."

Then I was mad. She's SORRY?! "No, you're not sorry. If you were sorry, you would have helped these kids out. You're the store manager. And it's Christmas. And you're a bitch." Ok, I didn't say the last sentence out loud, but I sure wanted to.

So I ran across the parking lot (in my pyjamas) to Cooper's grocery store. There I met the two kindest women and employees ever - Theresa and Marjorie. I have never met these ladies before, and they were so kind. I asked if they sold DVDs, and they said they did. "Great! Do you have the Narnia movie?" No, they didn't. I hung my head so hard I pretty much bent in half. I explained what had happened, and they were horrified that the store manager had been such a hard ass. Theresa offered to run home and her copy of the movie for me, but she lived to far away. She looked up the phone number for evil Movie Gallery and called over there to rent the movie for me on her own account, but their phone number was incorrect in the phone book. So Marjorie walked over there with me (still in my jammies) and let me use her rental account. I was so close to tears over Theresa and Marjorie's kindness. The video store clerk wouldn't even look me in the eye.

Needless to say, my class was so excited when I returned with the movie. We agreed that when we return to school in January, we are going to write thank you letters to Theresa and Marjorie and Cooper's, and that we would never rent from Movie Gallery again. It was a Christmakkah miracle!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Maya's First Letters

Remember the old claymation Rudolph movie? Such a wholesome story from 1964 about a poor baby reindeer relentlessly bullied by his peers until he runs away with a gay elf named Hermie and Yukon Cornelius, the nutcase gold miner. Maya loves that little misfit. We have a stuffed Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius that sing Burl Ives songs when you squeeze their tummies, and Maya goes NOWHERE without her Rudolph. And the red hood, of course. Rudolph is her new best friend. He was even in this year's Santa photo.

Today Maya told me that she wanted to send Rudolph an email. Grandpa would be so proud! I'm not sure what Rudolph's email address is, and really, writing paper letters is lost art these days. (And yes, I'm fully aware of the irony of that statement as I type this latest memoire into my blog.) So we sat down and wrote the letter together. Maya ran circles around the kitchen table dictating while I wrote her prose furiously:

Dear Rudolph,

I like you. You make me laugh. I like your shiny
nose. I would like you to come to my house. We could have a slumber party. If you come to my house, the deer won't laugh at you. We can go rollerskating together. We can play with my cat Sparkle, and Sparkle will say "thank you for playing with me." You are my favourite deer. I love you.

love, Maya

Then she remembered that she needed to ask Santa for her Christmas presents:

Dear Santa,

I like watching you on the movie with Rudolph. Please can I have some flashing rollerskates? I like you. I will leave you fruit snacks and Cheerios when you come to my house. Do you like fruit snacks? Rudolph is cute. Do you like crayons to draw with? I would like some new crayons please. I would draw a picture of little red riding hood with them. Thank you.

Love, Maya
The child seems to have a way with words. Perhaps she needs her own blog.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Maya meets Mr. Claus

Today was the big day: the yearly visit with Santa. When I told Maya what we were doing today, she actually gasped. "THANTA?! I going to meet THANTA?!!"

I tried to convince Maya that we should dress nicely to see the Big Guy, but when I suggested she get all dressed up, she thought I meant in costume and wanted to wear her Little Red Riding Hood. Too bad she left it at Mrs. Connie's house yesterday, because that would have made for a great Santa photo.

In any case, Maya would have nothing to do with the fancy holiday dress and Audrey Hepburn-esque wool coat that her sweet Uncle Joel gave her as a birthday gift. I managed to wrestle her into some cords and a t-shirt, and only managed to get her to stay still long enough to brush her hair if I promised to put in purple hair spray. Her 3 year old fashion sense is very advanced.

We arrive at the mall at about 11:45, and there is a relatively short line up to see Mr. Claus. We are told that it is time for Santa's lunch break and that Maya will be the second last to visit before his break. The photographer was a little harried and barely friendly. Apparently his elf didn't show up. To that I say: suck it up, buddy.

When I lifted Maya up to see Santa, her face lit up. Pure Christmas magic. She waited very patiently for her turn, but when it was finally time to meet him she was suddenly shy. Old St. Nick was very kind and made small talk with her while waiting for the picture to be taken, but we could barely get a smile out of her. It was a sweet, no-teeth-showing, shy smile, and in my opinion, pretty cute.

The photographer turns to me and says snidely and completely humourlessly, "Ha. Ha. Is that her smile?"

This is one of those situations where I am left speechless. Hard to imagine me without words, but my mind is reeling from the rudeness that I can't even form a witty comeback, other than "let's try one more." We tried again, but she still wouldn't give a bigger smile. That's just fine; it's a cute photo. It's not like the picture belongs here or anything.

I remind Maya to tell Santa what she wants for Christmas. "Thanta, I want rowwerthateth with fwashing wheewwth." ("Santa, I want rollerskates with flashing wheels." Don't worry, speech therapy starts Tuesday.) Flashing roller skates. Good idea, Maya! It's at this moment that I remember that I'm a freaking derby girl, and what I should have done is turned to the guy and said "Ha. Ha. Is that your camera up your ass?" But a five-minute late comeback is worse than no comeback at all (or so I tell myself now), so we thanked Thanta and went on our way.

I tried telling myself that the photographer was just looking for a bigger smile. But you know, the way he said it leads me to believe otherwise. I decided that a five-hour comeback is acceptable, so I did a little online shopping and arranged to have the elves send him a little myrrh to enjoy in a stone-cold tomb.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

A shout out to all my Christmas peeps in the stone-cold tombs!

The tree is trimmed, the wreath is hung, the walnut baby Jesuses are laid carefully side by side - the joyous season is upon us. Keeping up with the holiday spirit, I googled carol lyrics today. At first, it was fun to read and try to hum along with the tunes I found, but then I found a few of the carols were less "Joy to the World" than I remembered.

"We Three Kings" is the song of the three wise men (who weren't kings at all) who travelled a long way without their portable DVD player to bring baby Jesus precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Each wise man describes his gift, which is all fine and good until the wise guy with the myrrh pipes up:

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Seal'd in the stone-cold tomb.

"The Coventry Carol" isn't much warmer:

Herod the king in his ragin,
Charged he hath this day,
His men of night, in his own sight,
All children young to slay.
Then woe is me, poor child, for thee,
And ever mourn and say,
For thy parting not say, nor sing,
By, by, lullay, lullay.

Some carols are downright confusing. Seriously, what's a wassail?

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a
Happy New Year
And God send you a Happy New Year.

And why should I sing "fum, fum, fum"? What does that even mean?
On this joyful Christmas Day
Sing fum, fum, fum
On this joyful Christmas Day
Sing fum, fum, fum
For a blessed Babe was born
Upon this day at the break of morn
In a manger poor and lowly
Lay the Son of God most holy
Fum, Fum, Fum!
It sounds like I should be smelling the blood of an englishman, perhaps in a stone-cold tomb.

The fun just keeps building, even in the more secular Christmas songs. Remember torturing your parents with endless concerts of "Jingle Bells" on your recorder? What a fun story to sing and play about a guy falling on his back and the good Samaritan driving by in his one-horse open sleigh and laughing at him and driving away without helping. Way to spread the Christmas cheer!
A day or two ago,
the story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there
I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.

I had never heard of the sweet story of "The Chimney Song" before today. And I wish I never had.
There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all year long.
I'll been waiting up for Santa like I did last year
But my brother says, "He's already here."
And he's stuck up in the chimney
And he doesn't say a word
And he'll be there every Christmas.
And we'll have him every Christmas.
For crying out loud! Put poor Santa in a stone cold-tomb already!

Finally, nothing says Christmas season like the infidelity of marriage.
I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night
She didn't see me creep down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked up in my bedroom fast asleep
Then I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white;
Oh what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night
Ah, yes, what a laugh it would have been for Daddy to see his sweetheart snogging a fat guy in his living room. Or, maybe Daddy *did* see, and that's why Santa is stuck in the chimney.

What love, joy, and peace we sing about in this jolly season. Merry Christmas to all from the stone-cold tomb!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

They Say Luck Comes in Threes

My sweet little baby is now a full-blown kid who had her third birthday. And, true to form, her uber-organized-never-procrastinating mommy is just updating the blog now, two and a half weeks after the big day.

This year, Maya had her first real birthday party. No boring adult bash for her, she wanted kids, balloons, streamers, the whole shebang. Cool, my honoured queening will surely come in handy here. "What theme do you want for your birthday party?" I ask. "Ummm.....Tharkle," Miss Maya replies. In layman terms, Maya wants a birthday party with the theme of her beloved cat, Sparkle.

Yes, her name is Sparkle. No amount of suggestions from Ma and Pa could convince this child to name the new-found feline friend something a little less embarassing to yell out the back door. Fine, Sparkle it is. Let me pause here to tell you that although Sparkle is Maya's new best friend, Maya is viewed by Sparkle as the Blue Eyed Terror and Destroyer of All That Is Holy. And by Holy, I mean comfortable naps.

Anyways, I tried once again to convince Maya otherwise; maybe she'd like a rock n roll party (she loves to yell "let's rock and roll!" as she plays her keyboard) or something else a little less girly and fuzzy. No, she wants a cat-themed party with purple balloons and streamers. So we head to the dollar store to stock up on purple and lavender party supplies and copious amounts of creepily real looking cat stickers.

So the big day arrives. Maya comes down the stairs and sees her presents and gasps. "Was Santa here?!" Not a bad guess, considering it was snowing like crazy outside. So crazy, in fact, that we had to cancel the cat party. Maya was crushed, to say the least. And then the power went out, and she was terrified. Thank goodness Santa brought her a wind-up flashlight for her birthday.

So this past Sunday we tried for Maya's party again. We decked the living room in streamers and balloons, put cat stickers on the party hats, cut the strawberries and the cheese. The hats and blowers were creepy, because no matter where you walked, those cats were always watching. Thankfully, it had warmed up enough for the snow to melt and the kids to come over. They put on cat party hats, blew cat party blowers, threw cat toys into a cat bed, ate chocolate cat decorated like a cat, and had a generally purrr-fect time. (You knew that was coming, didn't you?) Maya apparently channelled Leslie Gore and decided "it's my party and I'll cry if I want to!" She was a wee bit overwhelmed by so many kids over and touching her toys (the horror!), but eventually came around when it was time for cake and presents.

We've been really fortunate with our dear little Maya. She hasn't had any major illnesses or accidents, she's generally a well-behaved little girl, she finally sleeps and eats well. We've had a wonderful 3 years as a family. But I find myself feeling an omnious cloud looming, telling me the 3 years were pure luck, and had nothing to do with Maya's sweet temperament or our stellar parenting.

Or maybe it's just the creepy cat stickers I keep finding around the house.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Potty Training Bootcamp

Remember back in the '90s when talk shows ruled? When topics such as "Are you my baby's daddy?" and "When plastic surgery goes wrong" were on every show? When we thought that Jerry Springer's guests were for real? When Geraldo got fat taken out of his butt and injected into his forehead? Good times, good times.

Talk shows weren't all bad. I learned some important life lessons, such as how to spot a transexual, how big is too big for breast implants, how to determine paternity using DNA testing, and how to reform children's behaviour using bootcamp.

Eric actually had four days off in a row, so we stuck close to home and implemented Potty Training Bootcamp. It's a little different from the juvenile delinquent bootcamps I watched on Maury Povich. Instead of screaming at and freaking out Maya, we sing, dance, and cheer when she goes on the pot. Rather than blowing an obnoxious (but oh so fun!) whistle, we have the oven timer set to go off every 30 minutes. Like Pavlov's dogs, everytime it beeps, Maya shouts "Do you know what time it is? It's potty time!" Come to think of it, she sounds a bit like the Tool Time intro.

So the timer goes off and she goes and sits on the potty.

And she sits.

We read Captain Underpants (we're currently on book 4: Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants). Maya makes silly faces while we read:

When Maya is successful, she gets to choose a sticker:

Every day Maya gets a new paper heart to put her stickers on.

Then Maya gets a popsicle for her good work.

Yes, we are going crazy with the rewards and praise, but the little monkey is playing games with us - doing very well with the toilet at daycare but hardly at all at home. Today we had to make another batch of popsicles:

See? TV isn't the devil. I've learned and applied life lessons from Montel Williams and his cronies.

So while Maya is sitting on the potty next to me, I have time to look up fat injections to reshape my post-breastfeeding body. Thank you, daytime TV!

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Ah, potty training. How you reveal my secret parenting downfalls. How you dirty my once clean floors. How you expose me for contradicting my pre-motherhood "I'll never..." statements.

Eric and I made more than our share of "we'll never..." statements before Maya arrived. Some we've held true to ("we'll never spank."), others we haven't been so good about ("we'll never bribe."). I learned all the ins and outs of basic behaviour management, B.F. Skinner style, in university. I know how Pavlov got his dog to drool. But hey, this is a child, not an animal. There's no need to give treats and stickers to get a child to do what you want. If you raise them right, they'll do what you want because you said so.

I guess we're not raising our daughter right, because dammit if I can get that child to pee in the potty without some sort of reward. And worse yet, she gets food rewards (current currency is green popsicles). Nothing like planting the seeds of future eating disorders in the toddler years. She's pretty much potty trained at daycare. Mrs. Connie says that she'll even tell her when she needs to use the potty, and she's even pooping in the potty fairly regularly. But at home, no dice.

Today, Maya decided she wanted her green popsicle. Being the smart child that she is, Maya dragged her potty into the computer room where I was checking my email (and NOT checking and wanted a story. I looked around the room at my reading options: a slew of education textbooks, the yellow pages, May's Martha Stewart Living, and a bunch of novels. What kind of two year old wants to hear a story from any of those? Ah, but then I spotted it: my complete collection of Captain Underpants books. What better way to introduce my daughter to the love of great fiction in chapter form than Dav Pilkey's underwear superhero?

True, last week when Eric told me that he wanted to start reading Harry Potter to Maya, I told him that she was too young for it. But who's too young for a little potty humour? Potty humour MUST be part of potty learning, right?

Now she's hooked. She insisted that we read the whole book. I agreed, and we got a little pee in the potty, and a whole lot of snuggling on the couch. We're now half way through the second book, Attack of the Talking Toilets.

Mark down August 2, 2006 as a milestone: Maya's first chapter book. Thank you, Mr. Pilkey.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Get your house Hantavirus clean!

I woke up Friday morning feeling yucky. Maya and I went to the beach that day, but came home in the early afternoon because I was feeling rotten. By 4 o'clock, I was stuck in the bathroom being sick. I had to miss sweet Cheyenne's first birthday because I was so sick (that and we had been exposed to chickenpox).

Seeing how we've been having rodent visitors lately, my mind starts spinning. OMG, I've got the Hantavirus - the virus that is spread by deer mice. A quick internet search revealed more than I wanted to know about those filthy buggers. A trip to Health Canada's website to read up on the Hantavirus and I was in full panic mode. Trouble breathing? Well, yes, I've had a cough that I can't shake. Bathroom troubles? Unfortunately, yes. Fever? Yes, and the 36C (99F for those of you still in the dark ages) has nothing to do with why I'm so warm, it HAS to be the Hantavirus fever. Fatigue? Hell yes, I need a nap everyday. Holy sh*t, I've got the Hantavirus. We'd better disinfect the house before Maya gets it, too.

We've probably spent about $90 on Lysol in the past few days. Most people know that I clean everything in my home with vinegar, baking soda, castille soap, and essential oils. Nothing toxic, nothing harsh. So for me to relent and bring Lysol into the house, you know I was on the verge of a breakdown.

Turns out I just had a bit of a stomach bug, a 24 hour flu of sorts. We haven't caught a mouse with the killing bar in about a week. I now have a clean, disinfected home. Our garage is tidy, we're caught up on laundry, and it's spotless behind the stove and fridge and under the sink, too. Our house is no longer in C.H.A.O.S. (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Maybe Mouse Infestation 2006 wasn't such a bad thing after all.

Not that I'd ever want those filthy buggers in my house again.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

See how they run

Our townhouse complex is still being completed. Brand new homes on the snobby hillside. Love the home, hate the location. It's far away from everything, within walking distance of pretty much nothing. Oh, and it's got mice.

Ah, the joys of "cottage living", the phrase coined by the builders themselves. Freaking mice. We noticed them a few months ago when our dishwasher suddenly started pouring water all over the kitchen floor. Appliance guy said a filthy mouse had chewed through the drainage hose. Eric bought one of those things that emits a high pitched noise that only rodents can hear to irritate them enough to bugger off. That worked, until this week.

Friday night, Eric and I were playing Monopoly in the living room, when I hear something rustling under the sink. I peeked in there, only to see a stinkin' mouse in the garbage can, desperately trying to jump its way to freedom. I trapped it with the bottom side of a baking pan and Eric took it outside and "disposed" of it. Ok, he shook the little guy to death, but he wanted to make sure it wasn't coming back.

15 minutes later, I heard rustling again, this time from Maya's Fisher Price kitchen. I checked the little oven and fridge, no mouse. Eric lifted the kitchen off the floor, and a foul little creature went darting towards the couch. Man, that mouse ran fast. I started to shriek, and then laughed at myself for shrieking, and then shrieked again as Eric lifted the couch up and the disgusting thing ran under the loveseat. The couch lift, mouse dart, shriek, laugh pattern continued for about five minutes as we tried to get it to run out of the sliding door.

Then Eric suggested that I turn on the vacuum. Unfortunately, we don't have built-in vac, so I was worried that our little vacuum wasn't big enough to kill a mouse like Mom did in Pokey the gerbil. But the noise sure helped scare the horrid little mouse into running. Lift, vacuum, dart, shriek, laugh, repeat. It took another 10 minutes to finally get it to run out the door to freedom. At last, we're mouse free.

Saturday night, after Maya was in bed, Eric and I headed downstairs to watch a little TV. We weren't down there five minutes before I saw a mouse run across the floor. WTF?! This is getting out of hand. Sunday afternoon we went to Canadian Tire and purchased a couple of mouse traps. We weren't sure which one to buy, until Eric read the back of one of the packages and saw that this particular model had a "killing bar". A killing bar. That would be a lot more useful than what we were doing before.

So I filled the trap with peanut butter and show Maya how they worked. After two demonstrations she started to cry because it scared her. Awful, I know, but I had to make sure she wouldn't touch it. It took two days, but the killing bar finally worked. Hopefully we're mouse free now. I reset the trap and put it back in place, just in case.

I did get a bit of a chuckle this morning when I saw an Orkin truck at the neighbour's house, two doors up. Looks like we're not the only ones with this problem. Filthy little f***ers.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Death of the Hot Rod


Scene One - 3 weeks ago

(Aimee is driving in the car, noticing that the temperature gauge is rising steadily. She calls Eric.)

Aimee: Honey, there's something wrong with the car. The temperature gauge is really high. I've got the heat on full to help.
Eric: Good. Don't worry about it. You'll be fine. I'll take a look at it when you get home.

(Eric never really looks at the car, but says it's just a busted sensor.)

Scene Two - 2 days later

Aimee: Did you order a new sensor? The indicator says it's way too hot.
Eric: Yes. It should be here tomorrow. And the engine not's really overheating, the sensor just needs to be replaced.

Scene Three - 3 days later

Aimee: When's the car going to get fixed? I'm dying of heat exhaustion from having to drive with the heat full blast all the time to keep the engine from overheating.
Eric: It's not really overheating, the sensor is broken. I'm ordering the parts today. Should be here tomorrow.

Scene Four - 2 days later

Aimee: When's the car going to get fixed? The temperature keeps saying that it's overheating.
Eric: It's not actually overheating, the sensor is just broken. I'm ordering the parts today. Should be here tomorrow.

(This repeats over the next 2.5 weeks)


Scene 1 - Driving home from work yesterday

(Aimee hears a strange pop and feels the car jerk like it's stalling. She calls Eric.)

Aimee: Eri, something weird just happened. I just heard the car pop, and now I'm losing power.
Eric: You'll be fine. Don't worry.
Aimee: The temperature needle is now above High. It's way too hot!
Eric: It's not really overheating, the sensor is just broken.
Aimee: Hey, have those parts come in yet?
Eric: Should be here tomorrow.

(Another pop is heard, followed by a large black cloud out of the back of the car.)

Aimee: Crap, it just happened again! Am I going to die?!
Eric: Nah, you'll be fine. You probably just blew the headgasket.

(Aimee drives the rest of the highway route, and gets off at the exit for home. The car pops again, more smoke billows out of the rear of the car, and smoke begins to plume from the hood.)

Aimee: Eric, the car is done. It won't work at all. Come down the hill and get me.
Eric: What do you mean, the car is done? Just restart it, you'll be fine.
Aimee: No, there is smoke coming out of both ends. Come and get me!

(Aimee hangs up the phone and tries to back the car to the side of the road, using only the emergency brake. She grabs her cell phone and her jacket from the car and gets the hell outta there, just in case it blows up. Eric soon shows up with Maya in Clifford Truck.)

Eric: Did you take a look at it and see what's wrong?
Aimee: NO! I was afraid it was going to blow up with all that smoke, so I grabbed my coat and phone and booked it.

(Eric raises the hood and discovers the engine is covered in coolant and oil. Three of the four plug wires were blown apart and clear out of the plug bores of the cylinder head cover.)

Eric: Huh. That looks like a catastrophic engine failure due to overheating.


This theatrical presentation was brought to you by the letters ohshit and procrastination.

Monday, June 5, 2006

O Captain, my captain

Last Thursday I took the day off and Maya and I went into Vancouver. We forgot our camera at Gerrit's house the weekend before, so all I had was my phone. The pictures aren't great, but they do the trick.

We got a very early start to the day, up at the crack of 9am, leaving the house at about 11:30. Maya wanted to bring about 7 thousand of her "friends" with her, including the gigantic, winged, purple unicorn, which is sometimes named Pony, sometimes named Uncle Gerrit.

We drove in Clifford truck (which, incidentally, needs about $500 worth of work thanks to the tow-job we gave over Spring Break) into Burnaby and took the skytrain downtown. It's clear I'm no longer a city girl, as I was confused about the train lines and rode the Millennium Line in the wrong direction. We got off at Clark and ran down the stairs to catch the train going in the opposite direction. And that's when I had my graceful-like-a-hippo moment. I was running up the escalator with Maya in my arms, trying to catch the train before it left the station (because really, the 3 minutes it would take for another train to come would have been unbearable) when my flip flops caught on the step and I bailed. Hard. Luckily, the mother instincts kicked in quickly, and Maya didn't fall or bump into anything at all. My knees, shins, and elbow have beautiful scrapes and bruises, just the colour of Uncle Gerrit/Pony. The station was deserted, so I didn't think anyone would have seen my escalator incident, but there was a security guard at the top of the stairs who assured me that the train was going to be waiting there for another five minutes or so, and that I shouldn't hurry or the baby might fall. His nametag read "Captain Impeccable Timing".

We arrived at Canada Place about 40 minutes before the IMAX movie was going to start, so we wandered around, looking at the boats and the Port of Vancouver displays. They had an old boat wheel that Maya drove for a long time, only bumping her head on the handles about 16 times. Then we went to see the IMAX movie, a 3D ocean flick. It was really cool, but the 3D sharks and octopi freaked Maya out.

We took the seabus across to Londsdale Quay after the movie. Maya kept telling everyone on the seabus that the sharks were trying to eat her. Maya discovered some puddles at the Quay and gleefully jumped and splashed her feet. It was a nice warm day, so I paused to take some pictures of my happy girl, when I was interrupted by possibly the grumpiest old man ever. "HEY! SHE'S GETTING WET!" Thank you, Captain Obvious. He was very perplexed by my daughter jumping in the puddle. Perhaps he is taking this whole acid rain thing a little too seriously.

We rode the skytrain back to Brentwood and stopped at Starbucks for a frapaccino. At this point, Maya is exhausted, and is snuggled quietly in my arms with Curious George, who had, of course, just put out his pipe. A woman in line decided that she would break the universal "don't talk to strangers rule" and reach out and try to touch George and talk to Maya. Maya, being tired and two, pulled George behind her back and said "MY George!" to which Captain Smart-and-Mature grunts "well, SOMEONE is in a bad mood today!" I politely let her know that it's been a long day and she's tired, which Captain Smart-and-Mature understood as "try again, you'll get better results if you push a conversation with a tired toddler". So she made some awful baby talk noises at Maya. Can't blame Maya for grunting at her for that one. The Captain replied "well, I don't like YOU!" and walked away. We just laughed at the Captain. Because really, what else can you do?

Needless to say, we had a fantastic day. In 26 more sleeps, I'll be able to have days like that without having to prep for a TOC.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Mommy Milk

Stop reading here if you aren't comfortable with breastfeeding. In fact, if you are uncomfortable with breastfeeding, stop reading here and give your head a shake. That's what breasts are for.

In any case, we're done. All done the Mommy milk. Maya is weaned. I think.

The process has been slow and difficult, but I think we've got it. I've been so worried about how Maya was going to be so upset and hard she was going to cry and how I would explain weaning to her that I forgot to think about how this would be for me. Surprisingly, it's been really hard on me. We decided yesterday that she was done, so I nursed her one last time. And cried. Oh, how I cried. I can't really even put my finger on why I was crying. I'm looking forward to being able to claim my body back as my own, share the night-time parenting, and being able to wear shirts without Maya putting her hand down them.

But to all of you who have asked me "when are you going to wean her?" or "how long are you going to do THAT for?" The answer is yesterday, and 2.5 years. And no, I won't do it any differently with the next one (if there is a next one). I'll still give my baby what s/he will need for as long as needed.

And now that I'm done and don't have to worry about how what I injest will affect my daughter, I can finally get serious about developing that crack habit. Or maybe I'll just have a beer.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sparkly Shoes and Silly Faces

Yesterday, Maya and I joined my friends Jenny, Heather, Jennifer, and her daughter Abigail for some scrapbook shopping. We went to the scrapbooking garage sale here in Chilliwack, but found it grossly lacking, so we piled into Clifford the Big Red Truck and alleviated our misery with some Michael's shopping and lunch at Tim Horton's. Hooray for Michael's 50% off coupons!

Maya and I returned to find the house pretty darn tidy. I should blog Eric's promises to clean more often. :)

Andrea and Tyler came for a visit as well. That boy gets cuter and cuter every time I see him. Maya got dressed up for the occasion, wearing her Fairyland shirt, Dora big girl undies, white socks, and purple sparkly shoes. No pants for her, thank you very much. And with that, thankfully, came no accidents. Maya was very sweet with Tyler, rubbing his head and kissing him while Andrea changed his diapers. She also entertained him with her silly faces.

Maya refused to wear pj pants to bed. She also refused to take the sparkly shoes off while she slept. As of 3:30 Sunday, she's still wearing the sparkly shoes without any pants.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Blog for Eri

Eric says that yesterday's blog about my dad was like a eulogy. I guess in a way it was, but thank goodness he's still alive. The sad thing about eulogies (besides the obvious fact that the person is dead) is that most of us only say those wonderful things about people AFTER they're gone, when it is too late for them to hear how much they're loved and appreciated. Mitch Album wrote a fantastic book called "Tuesdays with Morrie." Read it. It's a true story about this man (Mitch) whose old professor (Morrie) was diagnosed with ALS. Mitch visited Morrie every single Tuesday and learned a lot about living and dying. Before Morrie died, he held his own funeral so that he'd be able to hear how loved he was. Thankfully, my dad's not dying. I just wanted him to know how great I think he is.

Really, I think Eric told me that because there hasn't been a blog about him yet. He's been trying desperately do to things that are blog worthy. And seeing how I wouldn't think it was cute or funny if HE pulled the entire roll of TP off to wipe himself, he's saying all sorts of crazy things.

Today, he promised he'd clean the house while I was out with the girls at the scrapbooking garage sale.

And now that it's been published for the world, immortalized in my wondrous blog, he's gotta do it. Stay tuned tomorrow to see if he really does it. (place your bets in the comments link)

OH, the suspense! OH, The tension! OH, the humanity!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wayne's World

Today in history... (ok, yesterday actually, because I'm talking about May 24)

1686 - Gabriel Fahrenheit, German physicist and engineer was born
1819 - Queen Victoria was born
1883 - Brooklyn Bridge opens in New York after 14 years of construction
1893 - The Niagara Fall Park and River Railway opens in Ontario
1938 - Tommy Chong was born
1941 - Bob Dylan was born
1944 - Patti LaBelle was born
1946 - Wayne Henry Ball was born

Yes, my dad, my hero, turned 60. Sixty. Six tens. Sixty ones. 600 tenths. 6 plus 2 times my age. Thirty times Maya's age.

Wow, that's a big number.

My dad is a pretty cool guy, ahead of his time, really. He was hip to the computer scene way before PCs were a big thing. Dad had the foresight to impart his computer knowledge to us kids, even bringing the Commodore 64 on camping trips, not letting us out to play until we'd done our computer lessons. He was into the Internet when it was still just bulletin boards. He's hiked the West Coast Trail 3 times, once a decade since the '70s. And now that they've got the wheelchair ramps installed, I'm sure my dad is ready to hike it again.

Dad's a pretty funny guy, too. He laughed eventually after Andrea and I (as kids) taped ourselves fighting and then played it on her ghetto blaster full volume. He came down the hallway, stomping his feet, doing the Wayne Nostril Breathe of Anger. He entertained us all in Parksville, showing us just how fragile wooden badminton rackets are by breaking each one over his knee. He even coined the Ball family phrase "p 'n s" (pound and swear), which is what often happens after a particularly enigmatic computer afternoon.

He taught us to work hard at everything we do. He taught us to commit to what we do, and to follow through on every one of our commitments. He taught us the value of family time spent together. He took us on the COOLEST family vacations in the beloved White Whale ('77 F250 long box), everywhere from Edmonton to Tofino to Disneyland and even the ever-popular family vacation spot, Las Vegas. Even though I'm sure he was sick of Ramona and Anastasia Krupnik and Amelia Bedelia, he would sit and read to me every night. Dad would sit patiently for hours while I set his hair in curlers, plastic barrettes, and the like. These days, I've watched him become the greatest Grandpa in the world.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I hope you've had a great 60 years.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Too many squares!

Maya and I stayed home today. She's been feeling a little off over the past few days, and last night she started complaining that her ear was hurting. I took her to the walk-in clinic, where we "only" had to wait an hour and a half (!) to be diagnosed with an ear infection. Maya was in good spirits, though, and kept the entire waiting room entertained by teaching them her exercises. Or, as Maya says, her etherthiztheth. She taught everyone how to do cat pose, snake pose, dragon pose, and downward-facing dog pose. My little yogi.

So today was a jammie day. We watched Maya's favourite movies - Polar Express (twice), Hoodwinked, and Blues Clues. She was feeling much better in the afternoon, and decided she needed to use the potty. We went upstairs and she went right away, and thus earned a pink star on her chart and the coveted chocolate egg. 15 minutes later, she asks "Mommy, pweeth I have a chocwit egg?" I told her that she just had one for going on the potty, to which she replied that she had to go again. I was in the middle of making dinner, and didn't think she actually needed to go, so I told her to go upstairs and use the potty. I figured she'd go upstairs and forget about using the potty, perhaps being distracting by her books, puzzles, or something shiny. Up the stairs she climbed, and I didn't hear from her for a little while. About 10 minutes later, Eric went up the stairs to check on her. All I heard was "MAYA! What have you got?!.... Aim, you have to come see this."

I go upstairs to find Maya with the ENTIRE roll of toilet paper (which I had changed only an hour prior) between her legs, trying to wipe herself. She was grinning from ear to ear, so proud of herself for being such a big girl. Apparently she actually did need to use the potty, so she took off her pull-up, used the potty, and then used the toilet paper. The whole roll. "Now I have my chocwit egg pweeth?"

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Happy Mothra's Day

The second Sunday in May is set aside each year to honour mothers for all the hard work they do to shape the young minds of the future. It's a day that starts with fathers rushing to the store for a bouquet of wilted flowers and a heart-felt card. It continues with the proud presentation of unrecognizable hand-made crafts from school, complete with lace or glitter, or better yet, lace AND glitter. But the best is yet to come - it's a day of freedom from diaper changes.

This year was no exception.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely felt appreciated and loved this Mother's Day. I really enjoyed the white chocolate caramel machiato and chocolate fudge cake breakfast. I can't wait to bake cookies with Maya with my new heart shaped cookie cutter that was attached to the hand written card by my sweet girl. And after the weekend fresh fruit extravaganza, I was delighted to give up diaper changes for the day.

We spent the afternoon at Cultus Lake with my whole damn fam. This year was particularly exciting because a) Tyler and Cheyenne have joined the family now, and b) it was warm enough that we could all be in t-shirts, instead of the usual Mothra's Day/Cultus Lake get-up of fleece jackets and wool socks.

The best part of the day is looking around the family and realizing that I'm part of a family of great moms. Andrea has been a mom for less than 3 months, and she already is doing such a fantastic job with Tyler. Chantal has a teenager and a baby, and makes it seem effortless to raise two of the coolest girls I know. My mom is incredible. She has always worked so hard to keep everything running just so. She babysat kids during the week and worked graveyard shift at a gas station on the weekend so that she could stay home with us. She went without so that we could have things. She volunteered her time to help with pretty much everything we were involved in. She is a very strong woman and adores her kids. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

The cool thing is that Mom still likes us kids after all the horrible stuff we did to her as kids. Like when Mom had Bell's Palsy one summer, and we kept shining the flashlight in her eyes at night around the campfire because she didn't have quick enough reflexes to close them in time. It takes a patient woman to be able to laugh when your kids do that to you for the 47th time that night. It takes an even more patient woman to wait ten years to seek your revenge by sucking your daughter's gerbil up the vaccum cleaner and then claim he committed suicide. (R.I.P. Pokey)

So really, what I've learned from my Mom is that the secret to motherhood is patience and vengence. Love and compassion be damned. Bide your time patiently, and all will be made well again.

Seriously, Mom, I'm just kidding. I love you. Happy Mothra's Day!

(But I wasn't kidding about the gerbil part. She really did that.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

And by "Curious", I mean pipe smoking

Yet another super fun Maya and Mama day for the books. Or the blog. Or whatever.

We went to see Curious George today. This was Maya's first movie in a theatre, and I was worried that my sweet little angel would be an awful little devil, but she was so enraptured with the movie and how big the screen was that she didn't make a peep, except to ask for more popcorn. She did cry at the end of the movie, but not because it was sad, only because she wanted "more George! I want more George!"

The movie was an interesting modern spin on the old H.A. Rey classics. The original Curious George story has the Man in the Yellow Hat actually stealing George out of the African jungle by trapping him in a bag. When they arrive in the Big City, George has a good meal (picture includes a wine bottle), a good pipe (I swear there is even a picture of him lounging in an armchair puffing on a pipe), and then he's ready for bed. Come to think of it, there is an awful lot of pipe smoking going on this book. Animal stealing, drinking, smoking. . . sounds like a prize winning kids' story. Why the hell do we read this to kids? Because that silly little monkey is always getting into some crazy shenanigans, Three's Company style.

Next we hit Michael's to find some super soft yarn and circular knitting needles to make sweet Baby Tyler a hat. Maya helped choose the yarn, and that took slightly less time than Creation itself, as we had to feel every single yarn in her reach, to make sure we got the softest stuff for Baby Tyler's head.

Today was also Maya's first trip to the dentist. We talked a lot about it beforehand, so she was fired up to go. No, really, the poor child was honestly excited about going to the dentist. I had my teeth cleaned first, and the hygenist explained to her exactly what she was doing. Then it was Maya's turn in the chair. Normally for a first visit they just count the child's teeth, give them a ride on the chair, and let them pick a prize from the prize box. But that wasn't enough for Maya. She wanted to have a full teeth cleaning, including polishing, floshing, and a fluoride treatment.

The hygenists and dentists were amazed that she sat through it all, and thus earned THREE prizes. I'll rubbing the grease marks off the wall from her pink sticky hand for a while, but that's ok. My little girl likes the dentist.

Now if only we could get Daddy to be that brave. He'd need a separate prize box, though. A prize box filled with things you'd find in an original Curious George story.

Close lid, THEN flush!

Today was a blissful, relaxing family day at home. Mostly.

It started and ended innocently enough. It was declared Family PJ Day, so none of us got dressed until late in the day. Maya didn't even get dressed until 7pm when we went to the neighbour's for coffee (lazy girl!). This morning was spent by the fire, me knitting a kitchy kerchief, Eric playing the guitar, and Maya alternating between wildly shaking her booty to Daddy's music and experimenting with her slide to see how many different ways she can get down it (for those keeping score at home, she stopped when she got to 8).

Eric decided he had enough of me gently suggesting that we go out for some family fun and decided I should go shopping by myself for some new clothes, maybe even get a manicure. Really, I know that he wanted some uninterupted XBox time, but you know, part of being a good spouse is being agreeable occasionally. And today, that meant going shopping. So I oh, so begrudgingly got myself ready. And that's when it all went down the toilet. Literally.

Let's pause for a moment and flash back three years to when I was with child and accidentally dropped my glasses into the toilet as it was flushing. I couldn't get the glasses out, the toilet started to back up, and then an unnamed family member visited and made good use of said toilet. Dad came over, took the toilet apart, and with some huffing, puffing, and a few choice words, he was able to retrieve them for me. Keep in mind I was pregnant at the time and had an extreme case of pregmentia. I didn't want to wear poopy glasses on my face, so I had to disinfect them and what better way to disinfect plastic glasses than to boil them. Yeah, they melted. Let's just say that Dad did a lot more huffing and puffing and left soon after.

So what does that trip down memory lane have to do with today? Well, I was trying to multi-task and flushed the toilet while I changed the toilet paper roll (SOMEBODY in this house has to!) and the roll holder fell into the toilet as it was flushing. Maybe it's time we rethink our plan to NOT childproof the toilet. It sure seems that one of the girls in the house needs to be kept away from the flusher. And Dad, if you're reading this, don't worry, we're not asking for your help on this one.

This evening I shared a deeply intellectual conversation with Maya over fruit snacks. We decided after many taste tests that strawberry is a superior flavour to blueberry. It was during this confectionary colloquy that we discovered Maya's new talent: storytelling. Luckily for me, I had the camera handy to preserve the moment to share with everyone on her wedding day. I wish there was some way to attach the file to the blog, but until I figure that out, I'll give you the Cole's Notes version: Once upon a time, there was a boy named Robin. He got stuck in the mud. His friends helped him out. The End. True, it's not Pullitzer Prize winning yet, but the story has characters, a problem, and resolution, which is more than I can say for most of my students' writing.

What have I learned today? 1. Blogging is tasty when done with Lucky Charms. 2. Close the lid before you flush. 3. Teach my poor students how to write better stories.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Clifford Saves the Day

Maya loves her mama. It's all in the little things she does. Like yesterday, for instance. She slept in until 8:30am, which gave me a little extra time to linger over a latte with Eric. Such a sweet little girl. It's a good thing I did have that extra caffeine, though...

Maya and I tried our hand at geocaching in the morning. We went to the park at the local library, which laughably is referred to as "a beautiful lakeside setting" by the hotel that is also on the park. It's gross duck pond on swampy grass where local kids gather to smoke pot and drop scads of f-bombs . Beautiful. Lakeside. In any case, we tried to find the cache, but to no avail. We searched through bushes and trees and finally left before one of the locals called the police for our suspicious behaviour. We'll have to return in the evening with Eric so that we'll blend in with everyone else and look suspicious just with our mere presence.

Dejected and hungy, we hit Save On for a quick grocery shop that may or may not have included a warehouse-sized box of Lucky Charms. Then we went swimming at the Leisure Centre where Maya shrieked with glee and I terrified young children with my cellulite. A good time had by all. After swimming, we had a quick lunch and I took my second nap of Spring Break, this time with my daughter. Unbenownst to me, my cell phone was ringing off the hook (how I missed the Beastie Boys' Sabotage three times is beyond me) and my doorbell was ding-donging away. Seems that Ted (next door neighbour) had sunk his truck in an enormous puddle on the Fraser River dyke and needed some help. When Eric came home, we loaded up in the truck with tow straps and our camera to go and help. Poor Ted was soaked up to his knees and freezing his arse off.

Clifford the Big Red Truck was able to tow out the truck with no problems.

Ted's truck, however, was so waterlogged that it had to be towed back home. It's now half way in the road, as Patricia and I pushed it out of the garage this morning, only to have it go a wee bit too far before she could get the brake to work. It's still sitting there now at 5:05pm, waiting for a tow-truck from ICBC to come and get it. Who knew that bone-headed husband stunts were covered by ICBC as a single car accident? I wonder if they'll cover an accident from someone hitting a truck that is partly in the road? Time will only tell.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ft. Lauderdale, here I come!

Ah, Spring Break. A venerable cornocopia of boozing, dancing, beaches, and general debauchary. Good, clean fun without any regrets...

Oh, wait, I forgot. I'm pushing 30, a wife, a mother, and a teacher. These days, Spring Break is a venerable cornocopia of sleeping in until 7am, catching up on laundry, playdough, fingerpaint, and the local rec centre. Maybe I'll get to sneak in a beer after Maya is in bed, but chances are, I'll be snoring on the couch next to Eric by 8:30pm.

Sounds awful? Not in the least. I wouldn't have it any other way.