Monday, August 24, 2009

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Parenting experts say that kids thrive on routine. Apparently those short little people are happier when they know what's coming up next. And who am I to argue with the experts? They *must* know more about raising kids than I do. This doesn't say much, however. I'm sure our family cat knows more about raising kids than I do. But he doesn't speak English and I don't speak Catonese. So I (sometimes) listen to the English speaking parenting experts.

In an attempt to build routine into our crazy, hectic week, I instituted Saturday Morning Pancakes. We sit together, talk about our week, and share a meal. And really, what better way to establish a routine than a sticky sugar high? In 10 easy steps, here is our Saturday morning routine according to Ben:

1. Wake up Mom far before a respectable hour by sweetly singing "Maaaaaaammmmmaaaa!"

2. Scream "MAMA! MOM! MOM! MOM! MAMA!" when she doesn't respond within 3.2 seconds.

3. Help Mom make coffee by pressing the button on the coffee grinder, spilling the fresh ground coffee all over the counter, and pressing the ON button seventeen times on the coffee maker. Throw up your hands and shout "TADAAA!"
4. Cling onto Mom's legs while she makes pancakes. Oscillate between asking for and refusing cups of milk.
5. Get naked. Put on a bib. Pancakes are finger food, man, and they are messy.

6. Eat 2 pancakes. Feed your hair some syrup.
7. Shout "aaaaaaahhhhh!" (me) and raise you hand when Mom asks "who wants more pancakes?"

8. Refuse to eat any more pancakes unless fed from Mom's plate. Smear syrup all over yourself, your tray, and your Mom as she tries to feed you. Throw syrup covered bowls at the cat.

9. Have a bath. Soak everything within a five foot radius.
10. Smile sweetly at Mom and wonder why she's exhausted so early in the day.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Good mothers preserve their children's babyhood in carefully maintained baby books, saving birth congratulatory cards, locks of hair, and roughly a zillion pictures of baby. Good mothers meticulously record all the glorious firsts: baby's first food, baby's first step, baby's first word. Good mothers keep these nostalgic albums up to date, rushing to the book to record the memories as soon as they happen.

The rest of us have a shoebox full of mementos and good intentions.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about making Ben's baby scrapbook - how I'd organize it, what colour scheme I'd use, which photographs I'd include. Unfortunately, Ben suffers from Second Child Syndrome. Being the second child, we did not record all those firsts on the calendar as diligently as we did with his older sister.

That's not to say that it wasn't as exciting when he rolled over, sat up, and crawled. It's more that he's a totally different baby. While Maya was a sweet, mild-mannered baby girl who loved to babble, look at books, and swing gently in the swings at the park, Ben is a sweet, rough and tumble baby boy who loves to throw toys at his sister's head, climb high slides, and generally scare the crap out of his mom. As such, Ben's baby album is more likely to have milestones like these:
  • baby's first love bite from a girl (June 2008, 5 months)
  • baby's first trip to the ER (August 2008, 7 months old, croup)
  • baby's first time picking his own nose (October 2008, 9 months)

  • baby's first poop in the tub (November 2008, 10 months, unfortunately this was during a shared bath time with Maya. Much screaming ensued.)

  • baby's first black eye (March 2009, 14 months)

  • baby's first "artwork" on the walls/floor/himself (April 2009, 15 months)

  • baby's first mohawk (June 2009, 17 months, thanks Eri)

  • baby's first Happy Meal (August 2009, 19 months)

  • baby's first split lip (August 2009, 19 months, stepped in front of the swing)

  • baby's first curse word (still to come - something to look forward to!)

First foods (oatmeal), steps (13 months), and words (kitty cat) are important, too, but the above list shows more about Ben's baby personality. I bet those of us with shoeboxes of memorabilia would be far more inclined to keep up to date with albums if they included milestones such as these.

So keep those milestones coming, Ben. As much as you terrify me with your daredevil confident nature, it makes for an interesting memory book and blog.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Own McHell

In university, I spent a few summers working near Vancouver in illustrious summer occupations, such as Box Packer, Internet Teacher to People Who Don't Know How To Use A Mouse, and the ever-popular Key to Deadbolt Matcher. This was in my public transit phase; I had to ride the bus and skytrain every day.

It usually took at least two transfers to get where I was working, yet no matter what time of day it was or what bus route it was, if I was lucky enough to get a window seat I was also lucky enough to sit at the window with the greasy head smear. For reasons unbeknowst to me, people seem to have a need to rest their oily heads against the window and sleep. It looked like someone had thrown a bowl of well-oiled angel hair pasta at the bus window. Napping bus riders = non-hair-washing bus riders = me barfing in my mouth.

I'd drown out the possibility of inane stranger small talk by retreating within via the help of a little Led Zeppelin II or the soundtrack to Annie on my yellow Sony Walkman. One day even my Walkman couldn't protect me from the bus riding grease stains or crazies when, thinking I could avoid the pomaded public transit porthole by sitting in the aisle seat, a man holding the bar behind my head became entangled in my hair. After some tugging, apologizing (on his part), and retching (on my part), he was free to leave the bus and I was free to relive the nightmare for years to come. Even though my bus rides these days are part of school field trips, I still tie my hair up whenever I board.

Living in a small town (that thankfully lacks public transit with greasy windows) affords few options for grocery shopping. I shop twice a month, making the 45 minute trek to The Big City (just kidding, we only go to Chilliwack) a full day event. I save all my errands for Shopping Day, but with so many stops to make I find it helps to bribe my kids let my kids know that we'll have a special lunch and stop at a playground. Most days we get take out and have a picnic at a park. Some days the weather fights my plans and we find indoor places to play and eat.

The most recent Shopping Day was too hot to play outside, so we went to McDonald's, to the extreme joy of Maya and Ben. Really, Maya was extremely joyous, and Ben. . .well, Ben will smile and put his hand up to agree to anything.

"Who wants to go to McDonald's?" Ben smiles and puts his hand up.

"Who wants to play on the slide?" Ben smiles and puts his hand up.

"Who wants a bath?" Ben smiles and puts his hand up.

"Who wants a kick in the pants?" Ben smiles and puts his hand up. Bless his heart. He's sweet, that boy of mine.

The play area is a separate room, sealed off so as to not frighten the non-parents who may be dining in the fine establishment. It's roughly 5 degrees warmer in the play area and smells of kid sweat. To add to the whole enjoyable experience, McDonald's lovingly pipes in non-stop kids' music. Not the stomachable kids' music, like the Jonas Brothers. The kind with banjos and annoying character voices, following three basic themes: pets, sandwiches, and weather. Maya wanted to sit at the special table with the hamburger head stools. Turns out those hamburger heads are really meant to hold children's bottoms, because I was sodomized by hamburger eyeballs all through lunch. Good times.

It was within this McHell that I was forced to relive my bus riding days. I watched Maya carefully help Ben manoeuvre the playground, lifting him up when he couldn't quite reach, coaxing him through the tunnels, teaching him to scream and pound on the playground plastic windows. And it was at that exact moment of screaming, pounding, and pressing of faces against the plastic that I suddenly noticed how absolutely filthy it was in there. Greasy, grimy hand and nose prints, like the greasy, grimy head prints on the bus. My feet stuck to the floor, like the random guy stuck in my hair. I panicked.

And so we left. Right then. And I vowed never to return. Next Shopping Day we're eating in the Jeep with the A/C and Dave Matthews blasting.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I have a love for the numbers

Mr. Magorium: I've hired an accountant.

Mahoney: A what?

Mr. Magorium: An accountant. According to the word, it must be a cross between a counter and a mutant and that may be precisely what we need.

Even though it's dummer summer vacation, I still find myself doing complicated mathematics: feed the family, keep the lights on, have family fun all on the pittance that is called a paycheque; estimate the number of tea parties, crafting, and household chores I can finish within one of Ben's naps; calculate the number of kilometres I can drive once the gas light in the Jeep comes on. Barbie thought Math class was hard. Try being a teacher-mom on summer vacation. I need a counting mutant.

My math for the past day:
83 sweet, sloppy, wet toddler kisses and lovely (but thankfully dry) big kid kisses
8 diaper changes
4 changes that involved poop (thanks, Ben)
2 chapters of Ella Enchanted read with Maya
17 readings of 10 Little Ladybugs to Ben
2, 483 "Mama!" shouts from Ben
4 "No I won't do it! shrieks from Maya (down from at least 37 the day before)
37 hugs (beat that Charlotte Diamond!)
6 sharp toys stepped on in bare feet
1 Fisher Price rabbit found in the refrigerator
3 cups of coffee
11 interruptions while writing this post

And that adds up to . . . well, hang on, I'm not a mutant. . . carry the one. . .

All that adds up to a pretty fantastic day. I'm no mutant, but I have a love for the numbers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All the -tion words my inner thesaurus can muster

restoration - rejuvenation - resurrection

I have the sudden urge to create, to record, to write. I often get this way in August, the Sunday of my year. I realize that the sands of my summer time have slipped too quickly through my hands and I want to have something to show for the two months of blissful laziness I've spent with my kids.

revitalization - regeneration - resuscitation

My obsessive blogstalking casual reading of talented writers has inspired me to get my own little blog going again. I may or may not have fantasies of my children, years from now, reading my humble ramblings and exclaiming "Mom, you are so witty, so insightful, so fantastic! Here's a spa day/new car/cabin on the lake to show our thanks for digitally preserving our childhood for all the world to see."

Or not.

The reality is it'll be more like "huh, uh. . . that was. . . interesting, Mom." And then behind my back they'll choose the shoddier of the the nursing homes they were considering. Payback for the pictures I post and stories I share.

reanimation - revivification - reblogification

Long has the blog sat fallow. But no more. No more I say!

P.S. - Grown-up Maya and Ben - please choose the place with air conditioning. Mama doesn't do well in the heat.