Thursday, June 26, 2008

PROOF I can still be me..

So, I'm over at Playdate today and I have some Big Exciting News!!

(Please keep in mind that my life revolves around TV and chocolate, so my idea of Big and Exciting may not be exactly the same as yours...)

But still -- Go! Read!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bend it Like the Boy

With the Boy only in daycare part time, I decided to sign him up for an activity. Normally, in the summer months, I say let the park be our playground, but I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of hours we had to fill, and frankly, I thought it was a good idea to have some motivation to get out of the house. The Boy is quite a homebody, and perfectly happy to spend the day playing cars and Lego in our dungeon, um, I mean, basement family room. Me, I like to get out of the house. And it's hard to get out of the house with two small children who nap at different times, and won't nap in the stroller. Really hard. Enter Soccer 101.

Now, I have no illusions that the Boy is going to be a soccer star, or even learn how to play the game properly. As far as I was concerned, if he spent the 45 minutes running around and picking flowers, at least we were out of the house. The first level is for kids 3.5-4.5, and the Boy is just shy of the age group. I decided to chance it because I didn't want to wait till next year, when he would be almost too old for the group. Plus, on Monday mornings, there were only four other kids signed up anyways. Generally, the class has about 25-30 kids. Best choice I made, it seems. He got more personal attention, and I just know that he would have been lost in a large class. Groups tend to overwhelm him, and make my spotlight-hungry child rather shy.

In seven weeks, they had three different teachers on a rotation. Dave, the serious one who plays by the rules. Andrew, the coraller and good motivator. And Rich, the funny guy who got the kids playing soccer by laughing and making jokes. Dave, although absolutely polite and nice, was not a huge fan of the Boy, you could tell. The Boy is young and highly distractible, and requires more work that some of the other kids who follow instruction better. I was not a big fan of Dave, if you can't tell. I would have been over the moon if it was Rich teaching the class each week. He kept the Boy engaged and motivated and laughing. It was the best I've ever seen him. Who did the Boy like? Dave. (Sigh. He gets that from me. I'm always desperate to impress the people who don't like me..)

Despite an initial refusal to get his clothes dirty, and countless "water breaks", the classes went pretty well, and I was surprised at how much the Boy could do. He ran while kicking the ball, put his foot on the ball, learnt jumping jacks (Star! Pencil! Star! Pencil!), and had a pretty good time for a sedentary bloke.

What was most endearing to me was what he couldn't do, though. They played a game where they had to stand with their foot on the ball, and only move when the coach's back was turned. The Boy just ran straight for the finish line. And consequently got sent back to the starting line. At least he's focused. When he was in goal, he made a point of standing with his legs wide open in a bridge so that the ball could pass through easily. He's very generous, my kid is. He constantly took the balls back to the ball bag, even in the middle of the class. They were dirty. He was being helpful.

It's things like this that made the class worth it for me. My kid plays by his own rules, and I love him all the more for it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

This is Your Brain on Motherhood

Can you spot the similarities? How about the differences?

**For those wondering who the weirdo is on the cover of the TV Guide, they're doing an American Idol type thing to find the next Maria for Toronto's upcoming Sound of Music called How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Hey, I'm over at Playdate today talking about...what else...myself? (I'm so vain, I probably think this blog is about me).

Well, actually I'm talking about my irrational phobia of people dressed up as mascots or other large costumed characters. I have issues people! Help a girl out. Have a read here.

I also have a particular song stuck in my head and I CAN'T GET RID OF IT. Can you guess what it is??

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Strange Case of Dr Chuckle and Mr Cried

Dear Colleagues,

I feel compelled to write you concerning a most wondrous strange phenomenon. I have, these past 40 months, made the intimate acquaintance of a patient of mine, Dr Chuckle. Dr Chuckle, to all opinion, is a jolly good sort of fellow. What he lacks in stature, he more than makes up for in mirth and compassion. It would not be unheard of for the two of us to while an afternoon playing games and singing songs. I have of late, however, noticed a remarkable change in his demeanor. Come dusk, and the time lay his head upon his pillow and fall into a peaceful and rejuvenating sleep, he morphs into a most undesirable character: Mr Cried. He wails and screams and curses the heavens till I know not what to do. "I HAVE TO PEE!" he cries. And then sits in the water closet but will not relieve himself. "I WANT TO WEAR SOCKS!" he belts. But he will not don a pair, nor will he deign to have someone cover his feet. "I WANT MUMMY!" he bellows. Or, if his mater is present, he calls for his pater. Nothing can be done to assuage him. No answer is correct. I had noted that this dubious change took place at the same time as my estimed colleague, Mr Earth, was called away on dramatic business. I thought the absence of Dr Chuckle's preferred playmate was at fault. However, Mr Earth has since returned from said business, and the antics of Mr Cried have multiplied, not diminished. Come morning, all is as before, and if I confront Dr Chuckle concerning his behaviour, he denies any knowledge of the events. Occasionally, he will issue an insincere apology, with no light of comprehension in his eyes. It is a most distressing transformation in an otherwise utterly congenial patient. I am loathe to allow this behaviour to continue, for fear of joining him on the dark side, reduced to tears and woe myself. Estimed colleagues, be warned. While Dr Chuckle is a most admirable sort, approach him with care should evening fall.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Lovin'

I couldn't wait for Wordless Wednesday, so I'm instituting Mute Mondays For the Impatient. (Oops, I think I just messed up the mute part..)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

French Braids

My earliest memories of my grandmother involve a lot of pain. Physical pain. Sitting at our discarded teak dining table in the basement while she french braided my hair. She showed no mercy. My face felt like it was being stretched to it's limit. Tears flowed freely. But the end result was more than worth it. Two perfect french braids on each side of my head. Flawless. And unlikely to come loose. Once done, I would keep them in for at least a couple of days because I loved them so much. And because I needed time to forget the pain to see the beauty.

Somehow along the way, as is the way with little girls, I figured out how to do these braids myself. It took a lot of practice. My arms felt like they might fall off, but I did it. I could never figure out how to do it other people, but I didn't have anyone on which to practice. Doll hair is not the same. My brother's hair wasn't long enough. Not that he would have allowed it. So I just kept braiding my own hair.

It's a delicate art. Separating the hair so that each side has the proper amount. Making sure that the hair is just wet enough, but not too much. The secret to good sturdy braids is either wet hair, or unclean hair. Myself, I go with wet. You have to comb or finger through each piece so that it lies smoothly in the braid. That's the annoying part. It's not hard, it just takes time and patience. I find that much in life can be approach the same way. Slow and steady wins the race. If you speed up, you may end up having to do it all again.

I wore my hair in braids for my very first role in a play, The Wizard of Oz. Sigh. No, I wasn't Dorothy. I read for the part, but I didn't have enough experience and lost out. I was a Farm Girl, Girl from Oz, and Rock Sitter Extraordinaire. Much of my preparation for the show was putting my hair in braids.

My hair was in braids the first time that the eventually-would-be-Mr-Earth gave me a compliment. We were sitting at dance rehearsal for Godspell, and I had worn my hair in braids to keep it off my face. He told me how he loved it when girls wore their hair in braids, but that his current girlfriend couldn't do it because her hair was too short. I wore my hair in braids for many, many rehearsals and somehow convinced the director that my hair NEEDED to be in braids because it was crucial to the character. I also wore them a lot during our courtship for reasons that will remain unspoken...

Now, as a mother, I still wear my hair in braids. Usually on hot, humid days when I know that no other hairstyle will hold up. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who comment on my hair when I do. Random strangers. "Wow, did you do that yourself?" "Is that hard to do?" To me, they're not something amazing and unusual, but just a natural part of my person. They're never as perfect as I would like them to be. I always see the mistakes that I made. The stray hairs that didn't quite make it into the whole. The fact that I only did them because my hair would not cooperate otherwise.

What IS amazing about them, people don't see. The history. My first play. My love for my husband. And a tiny, fiery woman who was the only person I know who could make them perfect. Painfully perfect. Someday, I'll get there too.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Childcare Diaries, Pt 1

I realized the other day that somehow, amidst snowstorms and sleepless nights, the Little Guy has grown to a whopping 7 months old. I am over halfway through my mat leave. And I started to get a little panicky. You see, we have no childcare lined up for him when I go back to work in November. The Boy's daycare does prioritize siblings, and we can almost certainly get him in there. However, the daycare starts at 18 months. They can legally accept two 16 month old children, but that's it. If those two spaces are already taken, too bad. So, we have absolutely nothing for at least four - possibly six - months. If I take an unpaid leave from work (which I doubt they would allow anyways), then I can't afford the daycare, which means we lose the Boy's spot. Ack!

You'd think I wouldn't be this stupid...again. We didn't get the Boy on any daycare list till he was three months. I wouldn't do it while he was in utero because I was too superstitious. The first three months of his life were so filled with doctor visits that it simply slipped my mind. By the time we got around to it in March, it was way too late. In this part of town, if you get on a list when you're three months pregnant, you're probably too late. I swore I wouldn't make this mistake with the second baby.

Well, here I am. Me. The planner. The person who generally has eight alternate plans, just in case the first seven plans go awry. And yet, for some reason unbeknownst even to myself, I am choosing to fly by the seat of my pants, hoping that the childcare situation will somehow magically "work out". Smart, right?
So what are my options?

Homecare? A good one can be just as hard to find as daycare, and it means that I have to drop off two kids in two separate locations. I never got to work on time doing only one drop off. With two, I'm pretty much screwed.

Nanny? I have some concerns that I have not yet been able to allay. Case in point - I was sitting in the park the other day watching the Boy's soccer class and playing with the Little Guy in my lap. We were sitting on one side of a picnic bench and three Nannies and their charges were sitting on the other side. They were talking animatedly to each other (not the kids) in a foreign language. They were sharing tupperwares of freshly made food with each other (not the kids). One kid sat in a stroller chomping on a piece of Wonderbread. Finally, the kids decided to devise their own amusement and played some kind of chase game in a small spot in front of my side of the table. They were happily playing and not running off. The nannies took notice and told them that they had to play on the other side of the table where they could see them. Why they simply couldn't turn their heads to watch them, I don't know.

Now I'm not saying that all nannies are like that. I certainly hope not. But I must say that in my neck of the woods I have seen a lot of that kind of thing going on. I'm not saying that the kids are in any kind of danger, or are not loved. I'm just saying that the kind of care being provided is not what I expect for my money. I can ignore my kids at home for free, thankyouverymuch.

So, if we were to go the nanny route - which would definitely make the workaday mornings much easier - we'd have to find someone pretty special. But how do you know what goes on when you're not there? (And no, I'm not the nanny-cam type of person. If I don't trust my nanny, I'd rather find someone else instead of spying. I'm not condeming those who choose this approach, it's just not me.)

A very wise friend had an excellent idea. When searching for a nanny, she put out a very honest and specific add detailing exactly what she was looking for, figuring that if she put off some people, well they weren't the One anyways. And she found the perfect person. I could do that. But what would the ad say? Let's give it a go:

If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in rain,
If you're not into yoga, if you have half a brain,

Wait a minute, that can't be right. Nannies shouldn't drink, and they should definitely be prepared for a rain storm. I also hope that they would promote fitness-oriented activities. I sincerely hope that they have a whole brain. To put it frankly, I'm the only one in this scenario who's allowed to have less than a whole brain. No, this is not going to work.

How about this:

Wanted: a nanny for two adorable children.
If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sort
You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take them on outings, give them treats
Sing songs, bring sweets
Never be cross or cruel
Never give them castor oil or gruel

Well this is entirely in the wrong direction. Perhaps I should make up my own ad, instead of plagirizing songs. Although Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp are good examples of the kind of nanny I'm looking for. Well, they could be a bit less cheerful perhaps. I'm old and bitter. But I want that kind of involvement. How could you not with these two faces to look after?

Back to the drawing board, I guess.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Don Music (Or Why I Should Never Be a Contestant on "Don't Forget the Lyrics")

OK, so I haven't posted in a while. Somebody should do a study to determine the extent of the link between how busy you are versus how much you post. In theory, since I AM busy, I would have more to post about, not less. I actually do have lots to say, but am finding it difficult to find the time to say it. It goes in fits and starts. I'm also not getting out to many of your blogs either. My reader says I have 273 new posts in the pot. Yikes-orama! On top of that, when I do read (usually while feeding the Little Guy), I can't comment because the baby gives me the Evil Eye every time I start typing and promptly stops eating in a most nip-crushing way. Have I mentioned he just got two teeth? Ouch.

I did manage to squeeze in my regular Thursday Playdate post. I'm sharing many embarassing moments when I have misheard the lyrics to popular songs. I'm such a knob. In fact, I even made a NEW and STOOPID mistake in the post itself because I'm not embarrassed enough by my geekiness. Don Music ain't got nothing on me. Stop by and have a read. Throw some tomatoes if you like. I won't mind. Red is definitely my colour..