Monday, January 31, 2011

'I can do it myself'

Alex is way more independent than Austin has ever been. Don't get me wrong, Austin is very much a do-it-himself kind of kid. But Alex, just takes that attitude and takes it to the next level.

To date, everything she has learned to do by herself, she has learned to do earlier than Austin -- for the sole reason that Austin can already do it. I mean, she learned to walk at 10 months mainly because Austin could get up and run out of a room and she wanted to be able to do the same thing.

So last fall, she learned how to dress herself. As early as September (so before she was even 2 and a half), I have been able to tell her to go get dressed. And she does. And she does with such gutso that she doesn't want anyone to help her.

This results in two things. The first is that her clothes don't always match. At first, I had an issue with this. I'd drag her back to her room to change a shirt or a pair of pants because the thought of her going out with pink pants and a red shirt was embarassing. And then it suddenly dawned on me -- why? Why bother? Why fight her about it.

So I pick the fights that matter. Like the time in early October she insisted on wearing a summer dress and sandals. So as a compromise, I made her wear a t-shirt and leggings undernearth. And socks. Hence, we had this look as we took Austin to school:
 It's not bad really. And honestly, who is she hurting. So I let it go. Some days it's dresses, some days it's rainboots when it's sunny outside. Whatever.

Lately, it's backward shirts. You see, she puts her own shirts on, but sometimes it goes on with the print on her front, and other times it goes on with the print on her back. The fun part of this is that she knows she's doing it. She almost does it on pupose. She comes running out of her room now, a big grin on her face and says to me "mommy, it's backwards day!" And for the rest of the day, regardless of where we go, she looks like this:

I've had some funny looks from people. And some people have actually come up to me when we're out and say "you know her shirt is on backwards". Yup, I always answer....and she's so damn proud of it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A squish on your basement carpet is never a good thing

Tuesday was a balmy 4C outside. And when I was leaving my house at 8:30 a.m. with the kids, I heard a strange sound. But being in a rush, I didn't think much of it.

At 12:30, when the kids and I returned home for lunch, I again heard this sound. And again, I didn't think much of it. After all, I had two hungry mouths to feed.

So we went inside, I quickly slapped together some peanut butter and jam sandwiches for the kids and then ran downstairs to get more milk out of the basement fridge. And when I stepped off the bottom step onto the carpeted basement floor, my foot went squish.

And so I took another step. And it too went squish.

And it suddenly dawned on me what that strange sound was. A tap. A tap turned on all the way. I ran outside and discovered that the tap that was turned on all the way was my neighbour's. And in between his tap and my house was a huge lake.

I turned his tap off, swore a couple a dozen times and went back down to my basement. Squish, squish, squish with each step I took. The water wasn't coming from the wall next to the stairs as I first thought because the deeper into the basement I walked, the more my feet squished.And so I opened the door to the closet under the stairs and found where the water was coming from. There was about an inch of water in there. What didn't fit, had spilled out across the basement.

By this point, the kids had wandered downstairs to see what all the swearing was for. Here's Alex standing in our closet under the stairs (taken in case we need photos for insurance).
Now that's a lot of water! In a place that shoudn't have any water.The first thing I did was shoo the kids back upstairs. The next thing I did was call Ryan at work. I followed his "Hello" with "We have water. A lot of water."

He was able to come home about an hour and a half later and by that time I had managed to get everything out of the closet and use our little wet vac to suck out the pool of water. It's a big closet -- we joke that it's our Harry Potter closet because it really is big enough to put a bed in (at least big enough for a toddler bed). There was a lot of stuff in there (unfortunately) but (fortunately) most of it is in Rubbermaid bins. Ryan's comic book collection was in there -- but fortunately for him (or maybe that's unfortunately for me) the carboard boxes they were in were wet on the outside but still dry on the inside.

Once Ryan got home, he decided that our little wet vac couldn't cut this mess and he went to Home Depot to rent an industrial one.

Six hours and about 80 litres of water later, the carpet was still wet, very wet, but at least it didn't squish when we walked on it.

Now we've ripped up two ends of the carpet and have two carpet blowers trying to dry it out. Only then will we be able to figure out if anything been damaged.

As for my neighbours, we knocked on their door and they came over to chat with us about it. They felt horrible and have offered to pay for any damages. They don't know how the tap ended up on -- it was probably left on by accident and was frozen until yesterday morning.

And what's left is this: the entire contents of my storage closet is spread out across my basement, my carpet is ripped up in two places, it sounds like a wind tunnel in here with the fans and oh yeah, there's a tiny crack somewhere in my foundation that lets water in. Fun times.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The first rule of book club...

...don't talk about book club.

I have just a few followers who will 'get' this statement but I had to use it anyway.

Years ago, when we were young and didn't yet have kids (and therefore had much more time on our hands than we do now), a group of us girls formed a book club. It was a book club in the loosest of terms. We'd pick a book that we'd all read, and most of us would read most of it.

Then we'd get together for a potluck at someone's house, talk about the book -- for sometimes no more than 5 minutes, but longer if it was a good book -- and then we'd sit around, gossip, eat, drink (sometimes too much) and just have a good time.

Then we'd repeat. So really, it was an excuse for a girls night.

I don't remember how many books we read -- or even how many years we met for -- but we read some good books in our book club days. Time Travellers' Wife, In her Shoes, Oryx and Crake, Skinny Legs and All that. And some not so good books. (What were we thinking when we chose Anna Karinina!)

The don't talk about book club line actually came from one of our spouses. He didn't want to hear us talking about books when we weren't at book club (which a few of us would often do).

But over time, our time for book club became less and less, in that we all had less and less time to get together, and they eventually just petered out.

But I've always loved reading. Before we first got together, during the time we did book club, and since then, reading is something I've always loved to do. I don't get as much time to do it as I used to (gee, I wonder why?) and reading is usually restricted to the 20 minutes or so before I go to sleep every night.

I have bookcases full of books -- many of them read that I can't bear to part with and others that I haven't yet got to.

So here's my 2011 reading challenge -- to read as many of the ones I haven't got to as I can without buying anymore new books. You see, that's why I have so many I haven't yet read -- because I'm a sucker for bookstores, especially used bookstores. Some girls can't walk by a shoe store without going in; well I can't walk by a used book store without going in and buying four or five books. The hardest part of this reading challenge will be the fact that on my new ipad, I downloaded the Kobo reader app -- and I'm just dying to buy an ebook and try it out (and I might just have to bend my rule for that, afterall, it's not technically buying a book that will sit on my shelf.)

I started a new feature on the side of this blog a few weeks ago -- links to books I've read and to the book (or books) I'm reading now. The books I've read section is not complete, in the sense that I can't be bothered to go through my actual bookshelf and post it all on my virtual one. But it has much of what I read in 2010 and it'll have all that I read in 2011.

When I finish a book, I'll post a brief review -- nothing fancy, just a few lines. I'll keep it short and sweet, just like we did in our book club days. It's my way of having my own little book club with anyone who feels like checking it out. And if no one checks it out, well, it's still my own little book club.

And if any of my old book club friends reading this ever want to start book club again, you know where to find me. And then I'll promise not to break the first rule of book club anymore.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: sleigh ride to school

(Well almost wordless -- it's hard for the writer in me to be wordless!) What was supposed to be just a couple of centimetres of snow overnight turned into at least 10 cm up by my house. So this was Alex's chariot so that we could take Austin to school this morning. (I actually took this photo near the school, where a little shovelling had been done. The rest of the walk was through unploughed sidewalks and across unploughed streets.)

The sled made getting through the snow almost easy -- except when Austin got tired of trudging through the snow and wanted to ride. Then, I was pulling 75 pounds through the snow. Let's just say I won't need to go to the gym if this keeps up.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So that's what a quiet house sounds like

Here was this morning's routine: Alex and I dropped Austin off at school as usual and then I dropped Alex off for her first day of preschool and then I came home. And spent almost two hours here all by myself.

It was weird, it was wonderful, it went by way too fast.

This is the first time I've been in a kid-free house on a weekday in almost three years. (With the exception of the days someone would come visit and then take the kids to the park, or something like that, while I got some work done for 45 minutes.)

Three years. Well almost. I was pregnant with Alex the last time I had the house to myself on a weekday. Austin was still going to daycare and I was already on maternity leave. But my pre-baby time off only lasted a few days -- she was born five days after I finished work (and those five days include a weekend.)

Oddly enough, there are a million things I could've done to relax during this time to myself, but instead, I sat at my computer and got some work done. Boring, I know, but actually very productive and liberating. You have no idea how much you can accomplish when you're not listening to kids bang around upstairs while pretending to sleep.

I got everything I needed to do for the day done in that hour and 45 minutes, meaning this afternoon, instead of stressing about getting work done, I have a little time to do things like blog.

The best part is this isn't a one-time deal -- preschool is twice a week, for two hours a day for the next nine weeks (and then I hope to get her into the next session.) (By the way, she seemed to really enjoy it and I was told she only cried once -- when it was clean up time. Although I must admit, as I watched her through the window just prior to pickup I realized I can't believe my little girl is old enough to go to preschool -- but that's a post for another day.) Sometimes I'll work; sometimes I'll go for a short run; sometimes I'll shop (although most stores don't open until 10 so there isn't much time for that); sometimes I'll do the groceries. Even that thought is oddly liberating right now -- the idea of doing groceries without kids tagging along is something I barely remember how to do.

And maybe, just maybe, once in awhile I'll remember to use the two hours to come home, make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A perfect day

I turned the big 35 this past weekend. I've been dreading it for awhile -- not so much the day, but the age. Big number and all that.

But this post isn't about the issues I'm having with now being 35. It's about the perfect day.

Having your birthday fall on a Saturday is always a nice treat. And I was lucky enough for that this year. For a few days before, Ryan kept asking me what I wanted to do during the day and I just hummed and mumbled that I didn't know each time. Because although it's nice having your birthday on a Saturday, in my mind, I kept thinking of all the things I wanted to (needed to) get done on the weekend.

But the weather created a plan for us. Instead of the 1-2 cm of snow that was supposed to fall overnight (which is nothing really), we woke up to 10+ cm of snow outside our front window.

So after enjoying a couple of cups of coffee and sitting around in my pajamas while Ryan and the kids shovelled the driveway, we all put on snowpants and went tobagganing.

Now, it should be noted that almost a year ago, Ryan promised Austin that he'd taken him sledding. It was right around the time I sprained my ankle and Austin missed his sledding outing with preschool (because I couldn't take him to school for a week while I was on crutches). It never snowed again that winter and the boys never got to go tobagganing -- to the disappointment of both of them.

So on Saturday morning, just as the snow was letting up, we piled in the car and drove to a nearby hill. It wasn't a very big one -- but big enough when your adventurers are only 2 and 4 years old.

We tobagganed for over an hour, and let me tell you, I can't think anything else that makes you feel more like a kid again (on your 35th birthday nonetheless) than sledding down a hill. And yes, I was sledding down the hill too -- the kids needed a partner every now and then afterall.

After lunch, it was naptime for all -- and yes, even I took a nap. And then I managed to find the time to sit with a cup of tea and read my book in (relative) peace and quiet.

At 6 p.m., the babysitter came and Ryan and I went out with some friends for dinner at the Keg Mansion downtown. We've been friends with this couple for years (and years) but it's an extremely rare occassion these days that the four of us get together as a foursome and not as an eightsome (with the other four all being under the age of 6).

It was a lovely evening filled with good food, good drinks and good adult conversation. Something this stay-at-home, doesn't-get-out-of-the-suburbs-much, 35-year-old mom thinks was the perfect way to end the perfect day.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Mommy hour

As a stay-at-home mom, the kids, understandably, spend a lot of time with me. With the exception of the three hours a day Austin is in school, most days the kids are with me, and only me, from the time they wake up (around 7:30 a.m.) until the time Ryan gets home (around 6 p.m.).

That's 10 to 11 hours a day of mommy time.

Our days and weeks are filled. We go to fun places (like the Science Centre or the Zoo), we go to easy-to-get-to places (like the library down the street), we have play dates, we play outside, we do crafts, we play with toys and they watch a little TV in the late afternoon -- after Alex wakes up from her nap -- while I get dinner ready (or just need time to vege out or need to finish some work for a client).

Needless to say, they are rarely bored. And when daddy gets home, they're always super excited to see him and tell him about their day.

And then we all sit down to dinner together. This is often followed by Ryan going off to play with the kids after dinner, leaving me to clean up. It may sound like I get the short end of the stick, having to clean up after having made dinner too, but actually, I like it. Ryan taking the kids away to play means I get a little peace and quiet after 10 hours of non-stop kids. And even though that peace and quiet comes with doing the dishes, it's still quiet (more or less).

That's how a typical weekday goes in our house. Ten to 11 hours of mommy followed by family time followed by 45 minutes to an hour of daddy time.

So, you would think after spending 10 to 11 hours with mommy that both kids would have had enough of me by 7:30 p.m., goodness knows, some days I've had enough of them by that time. But no.

Come 7:30 (or so) when we announce that it's time to start getting ready for bed, they both instantly turn into mommy sucks and the jockeying for position starts.

"Mommy put my jammies on." "No, mommy put my jammies on." "Mommy brush my teeth." "No, mommy brush MY teeth." "Mommy read books" "Mommy put me to bed." "No, mommy put ME to bed."

It's the same thing every single night. Regardless of whether I was away all day or home all day.

Now don't get me wrong, it's great to be wanted by your children -- because goodness knows in about 10 years they may not want anything to do with me. But honestly, every single night. Don't they know that daddy is perfectly capable and willing to do some of those things too?

For the record, we often put our foot down and Ryan will step in and say "No, daddy is reading the book tonight" or "No, daddy will put you to bed and then mommy will come in and give you a kiss".

But that often just starts them bantering for what mommy gets to do tomorrow night.