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Archive for May, 2007

I hate Mother’s Day.

When I was a kid, my parents encouraged us to ignore Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as the Hallmark holidays they are and we happily went along. I was all ready to continue that tradition in my own home, but school messed me up.

I wasn’t surprised when Maya arrived home from junior kindergarten with a palm print on a face cloth and a card with a heart and “I lov yuo” scrawled on it. After all, they have to keep finding ways to amuse the little kids and this seems to be a pretty obvious one. But she is in grade 5 now, and they are still at it. She still doesn’t have her times tables memorized. Would it be harsh of me to suggest to her teacher that a great mother’s day gift would be to work a little harder on that?

Worse, because they are in a trilingual school, we get gifts in three languages, as all the teachers have used it as an excuse to goof off. And as they get older, the gifts get more elaborate, so they arrive home and announce things like they need a 5×7 photo of the whole family for tomorrow, but can’t tell me why. Then have a fit when I tell them I don’t have one and can’t get one.

But that isn’t what I really hate about Mother’s Day. What I really hate is that it winds my children into a frenzy, particularly Maya. She takes this stuff really, really seriously. School gifts aren’t enough for her. The worst was a couple of years ago when J was away for work. She wanted to go get me a gift, but it had to be a secret. A family friend kindly promised to take her. Then the kind family friend got pneumonia.

You’d have thought it was a personal betrayal. Every day after school, Maya would demand to know if S. was better. Upon being informed that she was still bedridden, Maya would throw a fit and be nasty to everyone, including me. It was nuts. My kid was so utterly desperate to provide me with the most wonderful Mother’s Day ever that she made it the most miserable Mother’s Day ever.

What I’d really like for Mother’s Day, if I had my choice, would be a few hours of utter peace and quiet. I’d like everyone to go away, including the dog, and leave me to some guilt-free gardening. I love my children and I love spending time with them. But J has been gone for weeks now (even when he was here between trips, he was in meetings every night to make up for being gone) and both Asher and I have been sick all week.

Asher is sicker. He had a raging fever for days, and threw up now and then. I’m afraid I have to take back his best-sick-child-ever award, because instead of lying there quietly and undemanding as he usually does, he whined constantly. When I told him he couldn’t eat anything for the rest of the day after vomiting twice, to give his stomach a chance to recover, he started in with, “Ooooh, I’m sooo hungry! I’m starving. I’m so so so hungry! I can’t stand it! I don’t even remember what food tastes like.” And he moaned, really dramatic and annoying moaning. He sounded exactly like Jasper did after we got him snipped.

On my worst day, I tucked him into bed beside me and figured we could both snooze. But not five minutes went by that he didn’t poke me to report that now his nose hurt on the left side, or the birds singing were bothering him, or he couldn’t sleep, or he needed more water, or medicine, or to tell me the medicine wasn’t working yet, still not working, still not working, still not working …

So I could really do with some time away from all other human beings. I doubt I’ll get it, but the truth is that even thought I’d like it, I don’t expect it. Mother’s Day isn’t really about pampering mom. It’s about being mom, in that we do what makes our kids happy – proclaim burnt toast and rubbery eggs delicious and not complain about crumbs on the duvet or mention the disaster of a kitchen, pronounce pansies to be our favourite flowers ever and plant them right away even though we hate them, hang the ugliest picture frame ever with the fuzzy photo the teacher took of them in a place of honour.

It’s about making our kids happy, so of course I’ll do it. I just hope they don’t spot me glancing longingly at my garden now and then.

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Thirteen Things about just making it up
I’ve been inspired by Shauna over at Pass the Chocolate to make my own Thursday Thirteen list. I was going to list thirteen things I like about my husband, on the occasion of his return from Israel, but he up and left again for another trip, so I bumped him. He’s been gone and the children have been sick, which means I’ve been around them a lot, so I’m going with 13 things I never thought I’d say to the kids before I had them:

1. “Please stop licking the pavement.”
2. “Not letting you sit on my lap to steer the car does not make me a bad mommy” (said to the 4-year-old)
3. “Take your finger out of your brother’s nose right now.”
4. “Where did your diaper go?”
5. “I’ll only come out of the bathroom if you promise to stop crying right now.”
6. “No, we can’t trade him for that other baby, even if you think that one is cuter.”
7. “Because I’m your mother and I said so.”
8. “Wait, did you forget to put on underwear again?” (Upon arriving at a classmate’s birthday party with Boo in a lovely skirt.)
9. “No, bugs don’t taste good. And no, it isn’t okay that it was already dead.”
10. “It just looks like I’m eating chocolate. It is actually a really spicy candy and you know how much you hate spice.”
11. “I’ll give you a piece if you promise not to tell your brother and sister.”
12. “I know Daddy said you could but he was wrong, because we don’t eat marshmallows right before dinner.”
13. “I’ll give you the rest of my coke if you leave me alone until I finish writing this.” (Guess how many minutes ago that one came out of my mouth.)
Links to other Thursday Thirteens:

1. Pass the Chocolate

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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I was inspired by Michelle’s (at Big Blueberry Eyes) wee belly to answer this question from Mommy Talk:

How much weight did you gain (w/picture if you are you brave enough!)
What did you like MOST about pregnancy?
What did you like the LEAST?

I gained 50 lbs with Maya. I was miserable and swore I would never make such a huge mistake again. So I only gained 60 lbs with Asher. It dropped easily off after Maya, so I wasn’t as panicked the next time and, of course, it didn’t go away quite so easily the next time. That is why, when I gained a mere 55 lbs with Boo, I also got to my all-time heaviest. And have had the hardest time losing that weight. I don’t think I can call it pregnancy weight any more. Now I’m just fat. Interestingly, Asher was the heaviest, Boo was in the middle and Maya was the lightest.

What did I like about pregnancy? Having a baby. Loved the baby. I didn’t even mind labour, since it got me out of the state of pregnancy and into the state of mommyhood. Other than that, I liked the movement. I liked knowing the baby before everyone else did. Having been pregnant, I for ever after found it weird to hear people say things like, “When the baby gets here,” because for me, the baby already was here. Right in there – I knew what got her moving and got her sleeping, where her feet were, etc.

What I didn’t like – the long wait to meet the baby, stressing over whether the baby was okay whenever it stopped moving, the outrageous tailbone pain and back pain, not being able to curve my spine forward at all, my belly resting on my thighs, wildly restless legs, being unable to take a deep breath, being unable to sleep for longer than 2 hours at a time, cervical head-butts, peeing every two hours, wicked ‘morning sickness’ that got worse at the day went on, skin tags popping up all over, people who told me they knew the baby was going to be a boy because it was so active when I already had decided I was having a girl (and I was right), crying over absolutely nothing, pre-term contractions …

Okay, so I didn’t much like pregnancy. A couple of friends of mine told me once that in the same way some people are ‘mean drunks’ I was a mean pregnant. And they were right.

Nevertheless, I managed to find a photo of a very pregnant me (8 months with Boo – still another month of growing!) managing to smile. This is half a photo. The other half is my equally pregnant SIL. We wer due within a week of each other, but I decided not to just toss up a photo of her huge self without warning.

me-8-months-pregnant.jpg

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Today I read in the Globe and Mail a profile of the Itzbeen Baby Care Timer by Rebecca Eckler. I think she liked it, although it was a little hard to tell, perhaps because I was so horrified that I couldn’t believe she was suggesting it is a good idea.

Check this thing out – it is a monitor you carry around with you everywhere with you and input the last time your baby nursed (and what side), had a diaper change and how long ago she woke up.

When Maya was born, the nurses at the hospital made us write that stuff down. We had to record every diaper change and what was produced, as well as when she last ate, for how long and which boob. When we went home after two days, we continued that routine for about half a day. I abandoned it in the middle of the night when, moments after I finished nursing her, I had already forgotten which breast I had used last and I had no idea how long she had eaten, given the off-the-breast-on-the-breast fight it was with her at first.

Next feeding, I put her on the heaviest boob. And we realized pretty quickly that the easiest way to know whether she needed a diaper change was to check her diaper. Wet? Poopy? Change it. Dry? Leave it.

The marketing for this horrible device claims that it is a lifesaver for the sleep-deprived parents. No long do you have to remember these important details. The machine will do it for you. The machine will tell you when to nurse your baby and you will no longer have to rely on your puny little brain.

The machine is stupid. Toss it out and develop a little parental instinct, people.

It reminds me of a conversation we had with doctor at Maya’s first appointment. We asked her if we should get an old-fashioned thermometer, digital, or one of those fancy ear ones. “It doesn’t matter,” the doctor (and mom of 3) said. “The only thing the thermometer is good for is that while you look for it, it gives you a few minutes to decide what you are going to do about the kid’s illness. You’ll know whether she is sick or not.” And she was right. We do have a thermometer, but I have found there are times when one of my babies had a fairly high temp, but was bopping around quite happily and I wasn’t worried. A lower temp plus a fussy or lethargic baby had me much more concerned. Mother’s intuition turned out to work far better than the machine that went ping.

The fancy-ass baby monitors now available are also pissing me off. Scroll down and you’ll see that there’s one that promises to not only let you see and hear your baby as the kid is sleeping in her crib, but it’ll tell you the temperature of the room, play lullabies and even has a two-way radio so you can freak the kid out by talking to her over the monitor. If only it had little robot arms to spoon out cereal, you’d never have to be in the same room again!

At the bottom of this page is a ‘respiratory’ baby monitor. It is a pad you stick under the baby’s sheet that is supposed to monitor his breathing. Unless your child is at risk for SIDS, this is the ultimate in paranoia.

I admit that like many other parents, I was worried the baby would stop breathing every time I had an infant. The first evening Maya was home, I placed her soundly-sleeping tiny body in the hand-made cradle my father had lovingly built for his first grandchild and lay down on the bed to sleep. She was right at the end of the bed, which I realized very quickly was far, far too far away. I soon gave up and got her. I placed a receiving blanket between our pillows, put Maya on it, lay my hand on her side and, with my own personal ‘respiratory monitor’ – my hand – in place, fell asleep instantly.

I’m not saying every parent should sleep with their babies. I wasn’t always sleeping with mine, either. But when I wasn’t, I did was parents throughout history have done. I checked up now and then and told myself not to be insane the rest of the time.

Here’s a wee picture of the final stupid thing I am going to complain about tonight. I stumbled across this while in search of a link to the other stupid stuff.

aastupid.jpg

The creators of this ‘baby no bumps’ actually expect you to put this silly-looking thing on your kid all day long – and funnier yet, they expect the kid to let it stay there – to avoid little precious getting a single boo boo.

The web page says it is created by a parent (grandparent, actually), but given how hard it was too keep any hat on my kids’ little heads, no matter how tightly I tied, I suspect a marketing scheme.

My kids have a scar or two I wish they didn’t – Boo in particular had not a single bruise-free moment for about 6 months after she began walking (although many of those were fat lips; perhaps they should add a face cage?). But at least she has friends, which is more than I expect the child in the picture can say.

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I bought Maya new shoes about four months ago and a couple of days ago she came home and announced that she could not bear her shoes one moment longer because they were so tight and hurt so much and I must get her new shoes right away! Drama queen, I thought, and sighed as I went over to push at the toe of her shoe and tell her she was exaggerating. She wasn’t.

She then told me she had gym the next day and simply COULD NOT go with those shoes. I told her we’d go get new ones that evening. Then I started feeling pukey (for no reason at all) and had to bail. She behaved as though the world was ending and, seeing no other good time to go and her paper route deliver day looming, I decided we’d skip the first half an hour of school and took her out to Walmart for cheap shoes.

“Won’t they fall apart if they are too cheap?” she asked, clearly having absorbed my lessons about shoddy workmanship. “You don’t wear them long enough for them to fall apart,” I told her.

It took a long time, and we ended up with the most expensive shoe in the place, which was still only $30. I thought that was a lot until our further adventures this afternoon, where I saw children’s shoes for $120.

The reason I saw those is that when I picked her up from school, she pointed to a spot where they’d rubbed her ankle raw, so we brought those back and went on a new search. Turned out we had yesterday afternoon free, and I had envisioned the kids playing in the sunshine while Jasper and I gardened.

The shoes put an end to all that. I dragged that kid to store after store, failing to find any shoes that fit my limited price range and her limited style requirements (she also, I should admit, has long skinny feet which are hard to fit).

In Winners, I found a great pair of canvas running shoes that Maya didn’t like, but I did. Having nothing between heavy hiking shoes and sandals, I was delighted to find these, and bought them. Maya was horrified. She begged me not to buy them. The problem? These shoes, according to her, are hip. They are fashionable. And since I am clearly old and not fashionable, I will look ridiculous in these shoes. I was more delighted. Now, not only do I have nice, comfortable shoes, but I have the bonus of embarrassing my daughter every time I wear them! It doesn’t get better than that, and was a good pick-me-up in a long afternoon.

shoes.jpg

We finally ended up in a huge box shoe store in a strip mall, our 6th store, where I swore we would not leave without shoes. As we were dragging out shoes for Maya to try on, Asher said, “I think I need new shoes too.” I said, “Don’t be ridiculous. I bought you shoes two months ago. Just because your sister gets something new doesn’t mean you have to.” He said, “Feel my toe.” And, sure enough, there it was, scrunched right up against the front of his shoe. I yelled, “And you couldn’t have mentioned this FIVE shoe stores ago!!?” The saleslady laughed. He said, “I didn’t think of it then.”

So we walked out with Maya in a nice pair of hot pink running shoes, size 8. (I was size 7 before I had kids and am now an 8.5 or a 9, depending on the shoe – clearly we will not be sharing shoes when she grows up. In fact, she may have trouble even finding shoes at this rate – the kid hasn’t yet turned 11.)

Asher went from a 3 to a 5. I made sure he has lots of wiggle room this time, because I’d like those shoes to last a whole summer. Is that so much to ask?

Wiped, we crawled down the mall to Ikea for some nice, easy Swedish meatballs for dinner, only to find the place closed for some corporate function. I said loudly as we walked away, “Who goes to the Ikea cafeteria for a corporate dinner?” McDonalds it was. Yuck. When we got home, the kids yelled, “Hey, look at that cat way up in that tree!” Then they yelled, “Hey, that’s OUR cat!”

They were convinced she was stuck forever, but as soon as she saw us, she climbed to the lowest branch, about 15 feet up, and just leapt to the ground. So much for the myth that cats can go up but not back down a tree.

roxy-tree.jpg

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I love my garden. From the moment I first moved into this house I wanted to turn the front yard into a perennial garden. I figured it would have to wait, what with three kids and no money and all. But mother nature intervened for me, in the form of grubs. They ate the lawn that the last owner had lovingly poured tons of chemicals onto. We showed up in June of the hottest summer ever and at 7 months pregnant, I took the lawn of drugs but did nothing to support it through its withdrawal. It died, so the choice was to reseed or resod, or I could start on my gardening dream a little early. Garden it was!

I’ve been working on it for four years, very slowly. I plant tiny, cheap plants and make lots of mistakes. Gardening, I have found, is good therapy for a control-freak. You can’t control mother nature. I’ve had plants die, be eaten by rabbits (in fact, I have a whole bed of would-be-lovely crocuses (croci?) out there that have been chewed to the ground), squashed by children. I’ve had to move plants that I put in the wrong spot. I’ve learned that no matter how lovely they are, I better not get too attached to them.

It is a good thing I already learned this lesson before Jasper came to live with us, because if I hadn’t figured it out before, this weekend he made sure I get it now.

I could keep him inside, I know, but I can’t bear to see his sad little face looking out the front door at us as the kids play and I garden. So I let him out in the front with us. He’s very good about staying around, to the point that whatever I was doing, he had to stick his nose between me and my hands and watch very, very closely. And he wants to help. Help, in dog terms, means that he’d like to dig a hole for me.

When my back was turned, it took him about 12 seconds to dig this hole. He only wiped out one columbine plant.

holes2.jpg

I got inventive and brought him to a spot that actually needs digging up. I dug a small hole to give him the idea and he went to town. I went back to my work, only to look up a few moments later and see him taking out a miniature rose bush in a different spot.

His ability to create a really big hole really quickly could be very useful if harnessed for good instead of evil, but I’m not quite sure how to get Jasper to dig where I want and not dig where I don’t want.

I know the answer is to just train him to not dig any holes, but I wish I didn’t have to do that, because digging makes him so happy. He has this huge grin on his face as he goes to it, and once he’s got a nice hole going, he leaps about in the loose earth he’s spread around. He also throws himself into the hole and quickly drops his head down onto his paws and stops moving, as though he thinks we won’t see him, then bursts out again. How can I deny him such joy?

At the same time, how can I let him destroy my garden? Here’s a before:

frontyard-before.jpg

I did put the stones in (with help from J, of course), and start on a bed in the front . The bed around the lamp post was already there, but sad and old.

Here’s an after:

frontyard-after.jpg

As you can see, there are still spaces that need work, but it is getting there.  Or at least was, before Jasper showed up.

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