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Archive for June, 2007

Happy Canada Day

I had an interesting post to write, but instead I cleaned and froze a zillion hand-picked strawberries. Everyone have a good weekend!

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Thirteen Things about just making it upThe kiddies are out of school! Yesterday was the last day. At 6:50 am, Asher showed up beside our bed and whined, “I’m so bored!” Not a good sign. Nevertheless, inspired by summer vacation, I’m going to come up with 13 good things about the kids getting out of school for the summer.1. NO MORE MAKING LUNCHES. Sorry about yelling, but I loathe making lunches for school. We have milk days and meat days and children who will eat practically anything we hand them at home but pretty much none of it at school and it drives me nuts.

2. I don’t have to drive back and forth to the school twice a day.

3. NO MORE HOMEWORK. Okay, I know I’m yelling a lot, but I loathe homework too.

4. We don’t have to be so rigid about bedtimes.

5. No schedule in general.

6. I get to sleep in more.

7. Family vacation.

8. The kids and I get to hang out more.

9. No homework (it’s worth two).

10. Lessening peer pressure.

11. I get to feel like less of a failure for incessantly forgetting to return permission slips, send in magazines to be cut up, signing spelling tests, etc. There’s less to forget in summertime.
12. Asher is a happier, less-frustrated kid out of school (although this year was better).

13. After two months of this, I’ll be delighted to see school start again.


Links to other Thursday Thirteens:
1. Pass the Chocolate

2. Bring Your Own Cheese

3. Burnt Offerings

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 am back from three days in New York. This was the first time J and I went and actually stayed in a hotel (his parents gave us a hotel room for J’s 40th birthday gift). Until now, it has always been a friend’s futon. I feel so grown-up.

Speaking of grown-ups, I noticed on the subway that they had a sign that read: “Children should always hold a grown-up’s hand on the escalator.” I found it completely weird that they wrote ‘grown-up’s hand’ instead of ‘adult’s hand.’ Isn’t ‘grown-up’ kind of a little kid word?

We had fun – ate good food, saw good friends, bought some cheap books. J wouldn’t even let me in the yarn stores I saw, though. Such lack of faith that man has.

The biggest annoyance was that I developed hives the first night that plagued me the entire trip, but faded last night, once we returned home. I can only assume that I am, in fact, allergic to New York. The biggest one was about 2 cm in circumference on the top of my right foot, where it couldn’t help but be constantly irritated. I still have a huge red mark there, although the itching has subsided. Other bad ones were a line of them along the base of my skull. Scratching those looked like I had lice. And then there were the huge ones on my butt. Oh, it just was not pretty.

We went to the top of the Empire State Building. I took many pictures to show the kids, because that is where Mount Olympus is now located, according to Rick Riordon. (His Lightening Thief series is the best thing the kids and I have ever read and I plan to post more on that at another point.)

I realized once again, as we went through the Empire State Building, that I view the world through my kids’ eyes. I discovered this when I went to Israel a year ago. I found myself say or thinking constantly, “Maya would love this,” or “I wish Asher could see this.” Most of my photos are just because I want to show the kids stuff. Like the way they grow entire trees on the rooftops of buildings,

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or the pigeon 86 stories up.

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We also caught parts of the Gay Pride Parade as it went past only two blocks from our hotel. That was cool – iconic. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to return the batteries to my camera after charging them and couldn’t take any pictures of it. I missed photographing men in leather jock straps with their hair pimply bums getting all sunburned, and a guy in leather with huge black feather wings, and cute men cheerleading, and huge men with heels so high they looked 7 feet tall, and many bemused cops clearly having a lot of fun. My favourite sight was a portly man walking down the street in full make-up – which did nothing to hide his 3 o’clock shadow – his hair wrapped up in a towel, wearing a bathrobe and slippers. He flip-flopped down the street complaining into his cellphone that “that bitch” doesn’t know where she left his dress.

From the gay pride parade, we popped into the American Girl doll store. Oh. My. God. The guy in the make-up and towel had nothing on the American Girl store for sheer weirdness. I had entered another dimension.

I admit it, my girls have American Girl dolls. Maya begged and begged. It was all she wanted and she was saving her money successfully to get one. When we went to Vancouver, my brother and sister-in-law, who have no children, bought them the dolls. They don’t see the kids often, and have a successful system of making sure the kids remember and adore them – they buy impressive gifts every time we visit. Since all Maya wanted was the damn doll, she got it, and so did Boo.

But, of course, the dolls have accessories and Maya has a catalogue a friend kindly gave her, and so all she wanted for her birthday was AG clothing, etc.

I was torn. I am horrified by the prices of this stuff. The doll stroller costs as much as my real one did. But there could be a lot worse things my 11-year-old girl could be demanding. So I went along, and told her that when were were in NY, we would get her her birthday gift. And other stuff she would give us money for. And Boo’s birthday gift, and the your-parents-abandoned-you-for-a-weekend gifts. At least, I reasoned, the stuff is very well made. And we limited choices to clothing.

The store is 3 stories filled with dolls, clothes, hair accessories, toy ponies, etc. It also has a doll hospital, hair salon and restaurant where your doll gets its own little seat. We watched little girls line up to have their doll’s hair done. The dolls sat in wee salon chairs while real women spritzed and braided.

But that wasn’t the scary stuff. Well, it was scary, but it got scarier. The scary stuff was watching 7-year-old girls telling their doting mothers, “I want one of those, and one of those and one of those,” and if mom squeaked an objection, the kid would wail, “But you promised! You promised I could have the horse too!” I did not see a single girl there in jeans. They all wore fancy, expensive dresses, with their hair done expertly. I swear, not one pair of jeans. I saw 3-year-olds with professionally-done ringlets having their photos taken with their dolls (oh yeah, I forgot to mention the photo studio).

They all seemed so sheltered and out of touch and over-privileged. I felt awful standing in line with these people, thinking that I’m just one of them. I’m buying my spoiled kids these over-priced toys while the world goes to hell in a handbasket. I had the same feeling in that store as I had in Vegas, watching the gamblers. It felt dirty, somehow.

I consoled myself with the thought that I left with one bag, not seven, and Maya paid for most of her own stuff, and I’m set for Boo’s birthday for a while now. But I still felt kind of queasy and I’ve decided that when we bring our kids to New York (which I can’t wait to do, because they’ll just love it – for the food alone), the American Girl doll store will be unfortunately closed for renovations, because I cannot bear to throw my kids into the atmosphere of greed I felt in that store.

But other than that, it was great.

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A New Look

Boo has a friend over to play for the afternoon. She is adorable and having just moved from England, she has the cutest little English accent, making her sound naturally polite. How convenient for her. Especially as the two of them have been pestering me with demands all afternoon, making getting anything done difficult. So in between demands, I fiddled with my blog and ta-da! A new look. That’s Boo up there, when she was not quite three years old, on a PEI beach at sunset.

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A meme

Okay, I’m being a good girl and doing that meme I was tagged for.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Looking after ultra-adorable Maya at age one and trying to figure out why I just kept losing weight. I was 50 lbs lighter then, which is really hard to believe because even though I am overweight, I am not obese. Man, was I skinny then.

I had a different house (renting), different car, different hair and different job. Same husband, though.

What were you doing 1 year ago?

Staring my 40th birthday in the face and vowing I’d get to 41 thinner, healthier and with my career more on track. A year later, I am as fat, have more health problems and the career thing is still stalled out. I’ve decided to give myself the whole decade.

On the other hand, I had also just allowed a surgeon to cut open my left hand for carpal tunnel surgery without yet being completely convinced it was the right thing to do with the other hand and now, a year later, my hands are perfectly healed and much, much better. That surgery was the best move.

Five Snacks You Enjoy

1.) Milk chocolate

2.) Chocolate ice cream

3.) Dark chocolate

4.) Chocolate chip cookies

5.) Any other chocolate.

Five Songs That You Know All The Lyrics To

(I know tons, but most of them are kid songs – does that count? Here’s an eclectic mix from various eras of my life)

1.) The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel)

2.) A You’re Adorable (Sharon, Lois and Bram)

3.) Buffalo Soldier (Bob Marley)

4.) Nothing Compares to You (Sinead O’Connor)

5.) Walk Like an Egyptian (Bangles)
Five Things You Would Do If You Were a Millionaire

1.) Pay off my mortgage

2.) Set up a charitable foundation

3.) Pay off my siblings and siblings-in-law’s mortgages too.

4.) Get a better computer and wireless service.
5.) Hire a chef so I never have to cook again, but we still get good, homemade meals.

Five Bad Habits

1.) Surfing too much.

2.) Putting things down randomly and not remembering where I put them.

3.) Over-eating

4.) Letting the crap pile too high.

5.) Procrastinating about work.
Five Things You Like To Do

1.) Read

2.) Walk the dog

3.) Write

4.) Read with the kids
5.) Family outings.

Five Things You Would Never Wear Again

1.) Mini-skirts

2.) Skin-tight anything

3.) Short shorts

4.) Tank tops

5.) Bikinis

Five Favorite Toys

1.) My computer

2.) My camera

3.) My gardening gear (? – I’m running out of ideas)
4.) Oh, I know – any toy that keeps my kids amused for any length of time.

5.) The TV.

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Thirteen Things about just making it upJ and I are headed off this weekend to New York. It is his parent’s 40th birthday present to him. I’m just along for the ride, because how much fun would it be for him if I weren’t there? (Don’t answer that!) So here are Thirteen Things I Like About My Husband.1. He’s very funny and keeps me laughing, but of course I cannot think of a single example of his marvelous humour right now.

2. He does the dishes every night and doesn’t complain. Much.

3. He lets me sleep in.

4. Before we had kids, he agreed that there was no logical reason they should automatically have his last name (I kept mine) and now the girls have my last name and the boy has his.

5. When we have people over for dinner, he does most (or all) of the clean-up, knowing that the preparation has me wiped out. I sit, he jumps about and the female guests sigh with envy.

6. Even though he swore he’d never have a cat again after mine peed in all his shoes one night (we found her a new, kidless home) when Maya was a toddler, he agreed to getting them again a few years ago, because pets are good for kids.

7. He then went on to acquire a dog as well, because he thought his son would benefit, so now he’s a guy who grew up in a no-pet house living in a house full of pets and coping pretty well.

8. He stands up to his mother for me when she is acting crazy.

9. He has never complained once about my weight gain and is always fully supportive of my attempts to lose.

10. He always encourages me to push myself beyond where I believe (and many others believe) I can go, like hiking down the Grand Canyon.

11. He supports my little environmental ‘whims’ like composting and installing my clothesline each year, even though he thinks it is all hooey.

12. He knows how to buy gifts a girl truly loves. He bought me a web cam in those early computer years after Maya was born so I could show her off to distant relatives. He bought me a Palm Pilot, and managed to get it on open-box sale so it was even cheaper. (I love saving money) and he took me to Israel for my 40th (okay, so some of those are gifts only ones this girl would love, but isn’t that what counts?)

13. He loves me.


Links to other Thursday Thirteens:
1. Pass the Chocolate

2. Bring Your Own Cheese

3. Burnt Offerings

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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The Informal Matriarch just tagged me for a meme. I’m touched, I really am, but I’m going to have to wait until I return to do it, or I won’t even manage to get read to leave. I haven’t even tackled that BlogRhet Mary G. tagged me for, after WordPress broke my heart and ate it last time.

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Yesterday we attended a good-bye picnic for Boo’s preschool. No more little kids here!

It was actually a lot of fun, as older siblings showed up and Asher had the smarts to bring his soccer ball. He ate one piece of sushi and then played soccer for 3 hours with other brothers of (not a single girl played, sigh). This soccer obsession is new this spring – he plays every recess – but I am delighted because he’s doing a typical-and-yet-healthy boy thing, and because he told me, “I suck at soccer. I’m one of the worst of my team, but I love it anyway, so I don’t care.” He also pointed out that team captains pick the players they want and then the crappy players get to just choose their team, so he always gets to be on the team he wants. That’s a new twist on being the last kid standing against the wall.

Maya’s best friend was also there, so we didn’t see her either, and of course all of Boo’s friends were there, so it was happiness all around.

While I was talking to an old friend, he asked his older son (Maya’s age) to get his little sister a piece of pizza. Older son then walked up a few moments later and thrust the plate at Dad before slumping off, rather than walk the three steps more to actually hand it to his sister. Dad sighed and made reference to my blog, and how he is always reading about how helpful Maya is with her siblings. Which got me thinking.

I don’t paint a realistic portrait of my kids, Maya in particular. While I do write about some of the funny awful things they’ve done, I mostly stick to their early years. This is intentional, although I’d love to kvetch here when my kids are being awful. But they know about my blog. At 11, Maya is quite capable of finding it herself. She is also an incredibly sensitive child and it doesn’t take much for her to decide I hate her. So the last thing I need, as she heads into adolescence, is more fodder for her to believe that, especially since lately all it takes is not allowing her to stay up an extra half an hour. Obviously I adore her, even when she’s being annoying, but I don’t think talking about her bad habits here is going to do either of us any good. So I mostly don’t.

It is an interesting dilemma, being a writer and mom, and writing about parenting. I encountered this when I started writing my column, which drew heavily on my experiences as a mom (write about what you know, right?). Later, J framed my first column for me, which pointed out in the second paragraph that while Maya was a precocious child, the other two weren’t (which was sort of a lie because Boo was too, but that didn’t fit into my argument – take note, those who believe everything they read) and now they are all perfectly normal. Seems innocuous enough, but Maya and Asher didn’t think so. “You don’t think I’m special any more?!” she interpreted. “I’m not as smart as she is?!” he interpreted.

I had a lot of explaining to do.

It is a tough problem, and I’m not the first to discuss it, I’m sure. (In fact, I remember when Anne Lamott, a writer who I adore, announced she would not longer be writing about her son Sam, whose infancy was the subject of probably her most popular book, Operating Instructions. He didn’t like it and she had to respect his feelings on the matter, which hadn’t been an issue when he was a little guy.)

On the one hand, this is my life and how I’m experiencing it. Mothering is a major part of my life and I’d like to fairly reflect my experiences. On the other hand, it is also their lives, and what right to I have to blab about their lives all over the internet?

So I’m trying to find a balance, which includes not telling about how Maya scares me with her ability to psychologically torture her brother when he does not do exactly what she wants (play her game, watch what she wants, stop singing) and how she pretty much grins evilly when she’s called on it, or says innocently, “But I was just playing the piano,” without mentioning that she was singing an accompanying song that starts, “Why is Asher always such a jerk … ”

Okay, so I told about that one. But trust me, there’s lots I don’t tell, and not necessarily because it is bad, but just because it is hers now, and not mine.

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