Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The cure for annoying children

I got a lot of great presents this past Christmas. New sheets for my bed, a beautiful pottery platter and bowl, some good books and two magazine subscriptions.

But nothing can compare to the small little gift Ryan put in my stocking.

We didn't do presents for each other this year, just stockings -- and we set a budget of $50 each -- so it was really just token gifts to each other. Well, tied in a pretty Christmas bow at the bottom of my stocking were two bottles of Baileys (my favourite drink). Not regular sized bottles -- the teeny tiny ones you find by the cash.

Attached to the bottles was a note that read:

The cure for Annoying Children.
Step 1: Open bottle
Step 2: Drink
Step: 3 Wait 15 minutes. If annoying children persist repeat step 1 and 2.
If problem remains find a bigger bottle.

(Now, does my husband know me or does he know me?)

This evening, I cracked open bottle number 1.

I have a rule I stick to as a stay-at-home mom, no drinking -- no matter how bad a day I'm having -- until Ryan gets home. Unless he is working late or isn't coming home that evening -- then I get to have a drink at or after dinner, if necessary.

By 7 p.m. today, the kids were annoying me in a way only an almost 4 year old and almost 2 year old can do. They weren't fighting with each other, they weren't pissing each other off, they weren't yelling, screaming or throwing tantrums (yet). They were just plain pissing me off. And it had been going on all day.

So, after dinner (of which, Austin refused to eat because he declared he would only eat if I served pancakes or meatballs -- to which I answered 'fine then, don't eat') while the kids were being obnoxiously, ear-piercingly loud in the other room, I cleaned up the kitchen and put Ryan's dinner in the fridge (because he was working late). Then I poured cure number 1 into a glass, put my feet up on a chair with banana muffin ground into the cushion and drank while staring at the spaghetti on the wall.

Damn it was good. It was four whole minutes of bliss. And when I was done, this kids were almost a little less annoying.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Making it from scratch

Being a stay-at-home mom has had some unexpected, yet good, side effects.

Because you see, aside from the fact that I find myself with no spare time on my hands because caring for two kids is a full time job, I find myself with more time to do things that I a) never had a chance to do when I was working full time or b) never even thought of doing when I was working full time because it would take too much time and energy to do.

Does that make sense?

Being a full time mom means hanging out with my two monsters for 11 to 12 hours a day. Just me and the kids and all those hours to fill. We go out. A lot. On playdates, to programming, to the zoo or science centre or just to run errands. Doing all those things helps engage them, entertain them and keeps them from spending the day killing each other and driving me absolutely crazy.

But any one of those activities takes no more than three or so hours out of our day. So what's a crazy mom to do with the rest of the hours in the day?

Apparently...cook. And many times, it's with the 'assistance' of my monsters.

That's not to say that I didn't cook before. I cooked. And, except for the time I tried to poison Ryan with raw chicken o-so-many-years-ago, I think I'm a pretty decent cook. But there have always been certain things in my life that are about convenience.

Meatballs come frozen in a box, don't they? As do chicken fingers, lasagnas and perogies. And pizza -- unless it comes from me calling someone to bring it hot to my front door. And pasta sauce comes from a jar; as do relish, salsa and salad dressing. And don't forget cakes and muffins -- they come pre-mixed in a box from the baking aisle.

But suddenly, being home all day with kids leaves me more time to try new things with them and, when I'm really feeling brave -- hunkering down in the kitchen to ' whip up' some food for the freezer after they go to bed.

In the last six months, I've made all of the above listed frozen/jarred/boxed items from scratch -- and for the most part -- they've turned out pretty good. I've even made pizza, on more than one occassion, starting around 2 p.m. by tossing dough ingredients in the breadmaker. The kids love the entire pizza-making process (even watching the breadmaker do its thing for an hour and a half -- although they don't stick around for the whole time). And because it's such a process, it turns into an until-daddy-gets-home-at-6:30-activity.

Because I'm making so much from scratch, I loathe the idea of going back to pre-made for some items. A box of meatballs or chicken fingers are handy to have in the freezer (and the kids love them) but I'm down to my last container of spaghetti sauce from my garden tomatoes and I don't know if I want to eat canned sauce again until the next tomato season.

And because I have a freezer full of food -- I also have my own pre-made food hanging around waiting to be eaten. When I had leftover mashed potatoes from Christmas dinner, it occurred to me to make Shepherd's pies. There are now two sitting in the freezer. And with the leftover turkey, I made a whole bunch of turkey pot pies (sans pastry topping). A year ago, believe it or not, it never would've dawned on me to use up the leftovers in such a way. Instead, everything would've sat in the fridge until they went bad and then I would've tossed it all in the green bin.

I guess not spending 8 to 10 hours at work a day, really does give me more time in a day -- even if I don't feel like I have a spare second to myself.

And on that note, I should figure out what the heck to make for dinner tonight.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dumbass move of the week

On Saturday afternoon, I pulled a classic me move.

I was out, by myself, picking up our car from the shop where the brakes were being fixed. To do so, I had to drive our 0ther car there -- and I had to do it by myself because the other car doesn't have car seats. The car seats car was the one being repaired.

So the plan was that I would drive down, drop the car off, pick up the fixed car, drive home and then the four of us would drive back to pick up the first car. Complicated I know, but it was only 10 minutes away and it saved everyone involved from having to stand at a bus stop in the freezing cold. (Which is how I got home from dropping off the car in the first place.)

I get to the car shop and parked my other car across the street in the Kelsey's parking lot. I figured this would be ideal, because who would notice an extra car sitting in a restaurant parking lot for a little while? Then I went to cross the street and get my car.

And slipped on some ice. And fell off the side of the sidewalk. And landed on my ass. And heard my ankle -- my bad ankle -- go pop as I fell over it.

(Have I mentioned I have a bad ankle from when I tore a ligament in it 7 or 8 years ago?)

Oh yeah, and I have said already that I was by myself and now had both cars, which meant Ryan was home alone with no cars and two kids.

So I did what any bruised-ego 34-year-old would do while lying on the side of a busy road in pain. I got back up and hobbled my way across the street on nothing but adrenaline. Paid for my car repairs, got my keys, got in my car, called Ryan and cried.

The only good news in all this is that it was my left foot in searing pain, not my right. And since I drive an automatic, I could drive myself home.

Ryan met me at the door and practically carried me in and onto the couch where I stayed for about two hours before we decided I needed to go to the hospital.

We called my parents to come watch the kids and went to spend our Saturday night in the E.R. A far cry from how we spent our Friday night -- out having a nice romantic birthday dinner for two.

The good news? We only spend a little over two hours at the hospital and the x-rays showed that my foot wasn't broken. The bad news? It's just a bad sprain (just, I love how doctors use that word 'just a sprain' like it's no big deal because dammit it hurts) and I have to stay off it for at least 2 to 3 days before I can start putting a little bit of weight on it.

Yup, I'm hobbling around on crutches. And since being a stay-at-home mom on crutches with two young kids in the middle of winter sounds like torture, the three of us have moved into my parents house until I can walk again. My parents are doing most of the looking-after-the-kids work and I'm doing a whole lot of sitting-sitting-around-looking-lazy-while-people-have-to-wait-on-me work.

Hopefully we won't be here long. Not that I don't like being at my parents house, but I would rather prefer being able to walk.

As for falling and spraining my ankle being a dumbass move of the week -- I'd call it a dumbass move of the year, but I did it on January 9, which means there are still 356 days left this year for me to do something else stupid. And this me, so it's bound to happen.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

You know your kids are smarter than you when...

I have two phones in the house -- well three but the portables are linked to each other -- and somehow, a little girl I know has managed to outsmart us all by making minor adjustments to them.

Both portable phones now have a fixed date and time on them, thanks to Alex. No matter how many times you go to the menu and change the date and time to the correct one -- every single person who ever calls this house (according to our phones) calls at 9:20 p.m. on March 16. Every. Single. One.

Although amusing at first, it is rather frustrating when you're too lazy to check your voicemail and just want to take a quick peak through the call display log to see if anyone called while you were out.

Our other phone is a fancy-shmancy video phone. And it used to sound like an old fashioned rotary phone (I think) when it rang. Under the menu, this was listed as bell1. Then suddenly one day, the phone sounded funny while ringing -- and later, after a little research, it was discovered that bell2 is now the ringtone. Fine, no problem.

Oh yeah, wait. Bell1 no longer exists on the menu.

And the final reason my kids are smarter than me is actually all Austin. At almost 4, he has learned how to work the system.

On Christmas Day, he wasn't overly interested in eating his dinner (which is not unusual for him). He picked at it, and since it was Christmas, I didn't feel like fighting with it. So he left the table having barely eaten a single bite.

Then dessert came around and he rushed back to his seat. Now, the rule in our house is no dessert unless you eat your dinner (or at least eat a reasonable amount of it -- and the definition of reasonable is determined by mommy and/or daddy only). So, when he started asking for desserts, I said "I don't know Austin, you didn't eat your dinner tonight".

And he said...

"But mommy, if I ate all my dinner, then I wouldn't have any room left in my tummy for treats."

I was left without a good comeback and needless to say, he got a plate full of treats.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Paying it forward

Many months ago, my friend over here posted a pay-it-forward type of post on her blog. The premise of her post was that the first five people who commented would get something made by her, with the understanding that you would now make something for five people.

I signed up because I love everything she makes. Did I mention that she's super-crafty and I am, well, not? But I signed up anyway, figuring I could figure out later how to do a pay-it-forward myself. And then months went by and I forgot about it. An honest mistake really.

Until last week, when she gave me a handmade bag. One that can be used to tote around kids diapers etc., as well as my personal items, without looking like I'm carrying a diaper bag. She had made herself one awhile back and I had said how much I loved it. I even offered to pay her to make me one. Instead, it was my pay-it-forward gift.So, now it's my turn. I don't have nearly as many followers as she does, but I'm pretty certain there are many of you out there who just haven't signed up as followers.

So here it is (the text in italics is my own commentary):

The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations, so please read carefully:

1) I make no guarantees that you like what you get. Whatcha get is whatcha get.
2) What I create will be just for you, with love.
3) It'll be done this year.
4) I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber (although I may use my computer to help make it). It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. Heck, I might bake something and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure.
5) I reserve the right to do something strange.
6) In return, all you need to do is post this text to your blog (or if you don't have a blog, as a note on Facebook) and make five things for the first five people who respond.
7) Send your mailing address -- after I contact you. (Be sure to leave a working e-mail.)

IMPORTANT: This offer is null and void if I don't see you post your own blog to pay this forward. This text was used from (Well, I got my pay-it-forward gift without ever posting on my blog until now, so if you want me to make you something, I'll trust that you're going to pay it forward and at some point, you'll post this somewhere to pay-it-forward.)

That's it. I promise not to poison anyone with my baking, attempt to sew anything at all or try to pawn off a craft I helped my kids make as something made by me.