Oil and Water

The Captain, the Little Miss, and I are sitting on the floor of her room. She’s accidentally dumped her suitcase of Rainbow Loom rubber bands and we’re sorting them.

Me: Oh, here’s some more of those lime green ones. I didn’t think there were so many of those.

The Captain: There ARE, because there is a huge pile right HERE.

The Little Miss: I already KNEW that, because they are MY rainbow bands, and I KNOW them.

Captain: Did not.

Little Miss: Did too.

Captain: Did not.

Little Miss: Did too.

Me: Cut it out! God, you two are just like oil and water.

Little Miss: What does that mean?

Me: It means you don’t mix.

Captain: Dibs on oil.

Little Miss: That’s just because you HATE WATER.

Captain: EVERYONE hates water.

Little Miss: I LIKE WATER.

Captain: You are the only one!

Little Miss: No, Mom likes water too!

Captain: She does not!

Little Miss: Does too!

Captain: Does not!

Little Miss: Does too!

Kids: MOM!!!

Me: SIGH.

Fin.

Meme Monday on a Tuesday

Nicole provided the questions for Meme Monday yesterday, but it didn’t show up in my reader until this morning, so now I’m a day behind.

But that is fitting, because I find lately I am falling behind the times on just about everything. I recently discovered this amazing new show called Game of Thrones, have you heard of it? After years of resisting, I saw a really cute graphical map of Westeros in Entertainment Weekly, and then I was suddenly overwhelmed with the need to see all the cute little people, and then BAM, I was hooked. Sir Monkeypants has read all the books and seen all the shows already, but he is valiantly watching Season 1 along with me and occasionally providing some back-story, all the while walking the tightrope line of not telling me any spoilers about things that everyone else on the planet saw two years ago. He’s also watching Season 4 right now and after each episode can’t talk about it with me which I’m sure is very frustrating. At least I should be all caught up in a couple of months or so, honey!

Sidebar for mini Game of Thrones review: it is really very, very good. So many fantastic characters – even the evil ones are deliciously well-formed. So many great storylines, with the plotting and backstabbing and twists of loyalty. Such great dialog, fantastic insults, and wise words. I recommend, although I will warn you that there’s a freak-ton of nudity. In fact, after yesterday’s viewing (we are watching one episode a night) I had a little feminist breakdown where I swore that if I saw ONE MORE nubile young woman all hot-and-ready and insta-naked at the command of a man, I was going to quit watching. I mean, I KNOW it is the times, and it’s a man’s world, and there are plenty of strong female characters too, but REALLY, I think we can tell what the author was thinking about during MUCH of the writing of this book, can we not?

Anyway, I haven’t been able to quit Game of Thrones, so I guess that says something.

So, memes! Nicole puts together a bunch of questions, and then people answer them. My good friend Allison answered them already, and added her own question, which was this: what’s your favourite poem? I warned Allison over on her blog that I was INTO poetry in university, in a finger-snapping dark-eyeliner snooty kind of way, so this was a loaded question, and I think you all definitely do NOT want my deep, in-depth, Poetry 101 type answer.

Instead, I am going to include here the poem “The Special Person” by Dennis Lee, one of my favourites for obvious reasons, typed out here because I could not find it on the internet anywhere, and that’s just wrong.

 

The Special Person

I’ve got a Special Person
     At my day-care, where I’m in.
Her name is Mrs. Something
     But we mostly call her Lynn.

Cause Lynn’s the one that shows you
     How to Squish a paper cup.
And Lynn’s the one that smells good
     When you make her pick you up.
     She smells good when she picks you up.

She knows a lot of stories
     And she reads them off by heart.
There’s one about a Bear, but I
     Forget the other part.

She bit me on my knee once, cause I
     Said she couldn’t scream,
And then I sent her in the hall,
     And then we had Ice Cream.

I guess I’m going to marry Lynn
     When I get three or four,
And Lynn can have my Crib, or else
     She’ll maybe sleep next door.

Cause Jamie wants to marry Lynn
     And live here too, he said.
(I guess he’ll have to come, but he’s
     Too Little for a bed.)

Oh yes – watch out for that knee biting habit of mine, people. You have been warned.

Onward with the meme!

Is it spring where you are?

It was yesterday. Today – not so much. I heard it’s going to snow later. I’m trying to roll with it but really I would prefer to crawl under the covers and hibernate for another month or so. (Do you think that will be long enough?)

What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?

I, sadly, have gone from being an avid reader who devoured multiple books a week, to a sometimes reader with small kids, to an almost-never-reader who spends all her time on blogs and magazines. I did read Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell a few weeks ago, and it was…interesting, but also very weird, and also, it’s short stories, and I think maybe short stories are not really my thing. I know many who have loved it though, so don’t listen to me. Right now I am “reading” Chris Hadfield’s book (An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth) at a super glacial pace – I got it for Christmas and I think I am in chapter three – and I also have a tween-age novel out from the library on Allison’s recommendation, called Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee, that I have just renewed for the second time and yet have only made it to page 15. But it really is lovely and charming and I can tell I am GOING to love it, if I ever get around to reading it.

Reality TV – yes or no?

Well…I will give a tentative yes here. I LOVE reality-based game shows. I’m still a regular watcher of The Amazing Race and Masterchef. I used to love Survivor but haven’t watched in years, but would still consider it an interesting and worthwhile show. Other reality stuff where they just follow people around, like the Kardashian show, doesn’t appeal to me as much.

Who is your favourite cartoon character of all time?

So if I am absolutely honest with myself here, I have to go with Sailor Moon, in that in my early 20s I was Sailor Moon OBSESSED, and can still sing every word of the theme song, and have plenty to say about the various sailors and their powers, and it’s just SO EMBARRASSING. But there you have it.

Sailor Moon

Free Sailor Moon wallpaper courtesy of CartoonPapers.com

Do you have a song stuck in your head right now? If so, what?

Well, now I have “Right Here, Right Now” by Jesus Jones in my head, due to the phrasing of the question, and also because I heard it this weekend while we were spending EIGHT HOURS painting the basement and listening to the Vinyl Recycler retro show on Live 88.5. It was SO GOOD, by the way, all kinds of fantastic songs from my keystone years. Crowded House! The Grapes of Wrath! Usher! Red Hot Chili Peppers! The Clash! Good times, good times.

Happy Monday…er, Tuesday!

Scenes from an Evening of Selling Girl Guide Cookies

A doorbell is rung. Did it ring? Try again. I didn’t hear a bing-bong, did you? I think we have to push it harder. Third attempt. The door suddenly opens. A harried mom says, not unkindly, “I have a baby in the bathtub! Can you come back later?” I apologize from my spot at the end of the driveway. It takes the girls several moments of standing in front of the closed door to actually move away, giggling over and over, there’s a baby in the bathtub baby in the bathtub baby in the bathtub.


A very nice lady comes to the door. “I only have this,” she says, holding out a twenty. “You will need to give me some change. Do you know how?” Little Miss Sunshine nods her head, and hands her a five dollar bill. “Now another one,” the lady says. The Little Miss frowns, but hands over a second fiver. “One more,” says the lady sweetly. The Little Miss scowls. I have given you LOTS OF FIVES ALREADY she points out. She earns a chuckle from the lady but has to hand over more change, anyway.


An older gentleman comes to the door. Would you like to buy some cookies? “Who are they for?” he asks. The Little Miss is confused. For you! she explains.


After ringing, then knocking, then ringing, an elderly Asian woman comes to the door. She hands the girls a can of pop, then makes shoo-shoo arms until they go away. We add the pop to the cookie box and I spend the rest of the evening trying to explain. “She wanted to do something nice for you. She wasn’t sure what you wanted so she just tried to help,” I say. Maybe she thought we were trick-or-treating says the Little Miss. Maybe, maybe.

Basement Update!

They’re done! The last of the workmen finished up in the basement yesterday. That means…there’s still a bunch of work left to be done. Sir Monkeypants and I will be taking it from here – what’s left is painting the walls, installing the laminate flooring, and installing the baseboards and trim. Oh, and painting that stuff too. SIGH. Looks like we will continue to live the hoarder life for the short term.

In the meantime, some pictures! The biggest change is that the stairs are all done. Here’s what they look like now:

04_NewBasementStairs

05_Stairs

Pretty! We are happy with they way these turned out. I especially love the white risers. They look really sharp and modern and help lighten up a really dark space (there’s no specific stairs light, just ambient light from above and below). The new railing looks pretty good, too, and the wood is really nice quality.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. The major drawback is that adding the new stair covers raises the height of each step about a half inch. You don’t notice on the middle steps as they’re all relative, but the top step now is a little shorter than the rest. It’s not enough to trip you up but enough so you notice something is kind of weird when you’re coming up the steps.

At the other end, the bottom step would have been a little deeper than the rest, but the concrete pour we had to do raised the entire basement floor up several inches. So now the bottom step is actually the SHORTEST step, but that’s not the fault of the stair work. Still, it has taken some getting used to.

Also, another minor quibble: the stain on the stairs doesn’t quite match the laminate flooring colour. It’s in the right area but redder toned, while the floor is a greyer tone. But we’re still much, much happier than having to go carpet, and we’ll see how it all looks once the floor installed – perhaps it will be no big deal.

So would I do this again? I think so. It was seriously about 1/4 the price of having the entire staircase replaced and although half of me says, “You’re spending thousands of dollars, why not spend a couple more and get what you really want?”, the sane half says, “You’re spending thousands of dollars, for heaven’s sake, CUT IT OUT.” It’s a really nice solution and we like the look and it’s super fabulous on your feet, so I call it a win.

The only other big change (other than the installation of subfloor, I’m sure you are WOWED) is the completion of the lighting – adorable little pot lights, look!

07_Basement

06_NewLighting

Very happy with these.

Hopefully it doesn’t take us forever to get our part of the work done, now – keep me honest and if you don’t see any new pictures in a month, ask me what the HECK WE ARE THINKING. It’s got to happen!

On the Radio

There’s a new radio station in Ottawa – Jump 106.9. They’ve converted from some sort of rock station (they were called The Bear, I believe) to a top-40 format.

This has caused a problem for me because my kids love them some Top 40. In the car, when they’re with me, we’re mostly listening to Hot 89.9 – the biggest station in town other than CBC, and clearly they are doing quite well as they have been giving away $10 000 prizes on a weekly basis for the past little while, and when you have that kind of money to just throw around, you’re golden. No wonder Jump has tried to jump on board (ha!).

So sometimes on 89.9, they talk, or have commercials, or play one of the blacklisted songs that I cannot stand, including this one – have you heard it?

I WEEP FOR THE FUTURE OF ALL MANKIND.

So anyway, my kids would love to be able to flip over to ANOTHER Top 40 station during these intervals, and LO, their prayers have been answered with the new choice!

The problem is this: my radio buttons are maxed out.

There’s only six buttons in the car. They’re all spoken for. So to add Jump, I have to give something else up, and that has caused endless dilemma, when really I should be thinking about something more important, like world events, or illnesses in the family, or what’s for dinner, or DEAR GOD, taking a selfie.

Slot 1 is CBC Radio One. Definitely not going anywhere – I’m a total CBC fangirl.

Slot 5 is an unusual choice – Jack FM in Smiths Falls. They’re an oldies station – like, really old oldies. They play hits from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and I cannot count the number of times I have tuned them in and they are playing a treasured song from my youth – perhaps something from the days when we used to drag out all my mother’s 45 records and have a DJ night. Songs that I still know all the words to and can sing along with and bring back so many memories. I highly recommend their “60s at 6″ hour.

DEAR GOD, I am so very, very old.

Slot 6 is Hot 89.9, which I cannot remove because there would be mutiny in the car, and plus, I kind of like Katy Perry, don’t judge me.

That leaves the other three, which are contenders for removal. Slot 2 is BOB FM – a “whatever” kind of mix station that is sometimes crappy but sometimes brilliant. They literally will play whatever and if you want to hear disco, or reggae, or 80s pop, sometimes all in one mix, you can! I like them. Slot 3 is Live 88.5 – although their alt-rock format was 100% my wheelhouse in my 20s, I find I don’t listen to them much as alternative music is just so TIRING sometimes, but I keep them around because this is Sir Monkeypants’ go-to station.

Slot 4 – oh, slot 4. That’s BOOM 99.7, the 80s and 90s retro station. I really, really want to like them. I am absolutely their target market. But I find that when I turn there, they are either playing a) something that makes me cringe in horror, bringing back memories of every terrible 80s trend like neon sweatshirts and lace fingerless gloves, like say, “Part Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder, or b) something I like, but actually own, because I was still somewhat music-aware in those years, so I’ve heard it a million times and can play it any time I like, like say, “Baby Ran” by 54-40. Unlike Jack FM, where I routinely hear songs I haven’t heard in YEARS and are SO TRIPPY, BOOM is usually playing something I have definitely heard within the last year, or never wanted to hear again.

So I guess that’s settled – slot 4 goes to the new station. They’ll have to prove themselves slot-worthy, though – so far, the jury’s still out, as their promised “90 minute segments of continuous music!” seem to be more like 90 SECONDS of music between commercials (trademark Gal Smiley). There’s serious slot competition in this town, Jump – get on with it.

Oversharing

I’ve been swamped this week with work (not that that’s a bad thing!), managing the basement reno (updates soon!), and dealing with a revolving door of sick children. I feel like we’re all just hanging on by a thread, waiting for spring. It’s a little warmer out there but the wind and the muck and the sniffly noses aren’t exactly making me feel like doing a Footloose-style dance routine through the streets. Just a little longer. You can do it.

Also overwhelming: due to some (overshare!!) digestive issues, my doctor has me trying out a new diet on a temporary basis. I have had to say goodbye to many foods I was eating on a daily basis, including pears, avocados, coconut, and – EEP – wheat. I’m pretty sure wheat is not a problem, and I will be running back to gluten at the end of my six week trial period (they will take my pie from my COLD DEAD HANDS). But until then, I’m doing the gluten-free thing.

Thank heavens I have already been through this once with the Captain, so I have some recipes and favourite store-boughts and a few tricks in my back pocket already, but it has been hard having to make two dinners every night. On the plus side, though, I think it has really helped me be more mindful of what I’m eating in general. When you work from home and the kitchen is six feet away from you all day long, it is far too easy to wander in there and pop any manner of cookies, banana bread, cereal, or brownies in your mouth while mulling over some-work-thingy. Now I find I am forced to reach for fruits and vegetables a lot more often, which is a good thing, and I do feel better.

Still TOTALLY running back to pie the second I can, though.

And while we are oversharing, I feel the need to mention this amazing video that has changed my life. I saw it over on Amy’s blog several weeks back and OMG, REVOLUTION. It turns out I have, my entire life, been wearing the wrong bra size. I watched the video and then went out and tried on a (SERIOUSLY, TOTALLY) different and new bra size and it was like the angels sang. You must watch this.

THANK YOU AMY.

Hoarders

Our basement finishing project lingers on – we had to wait a long time for the new concrete floor to cure, and then our guys were busy on other projects, so bringing The Old Team back together again for One Last Job took a little longer than expected. Things are back in progress now but it’ll still be several weeks, I think, until it’s all done.

In the meantime, we continue to live with bins, boxes, and baskets of basement stuff all over the house. The office is the worst of it – it’s where I work all day, and where the kids keep all their craft stuff, and now it’s also the home to a huge central pile of food that would otherwise be shelved in our downstairs storage area. It’s driving me crazy having to pick my way through the jumble every time I check my email, GROWL.

One thing this whole exercise has shown me, though, is that I have become quite the little hoarder, especially in terms of food. When the kids were little, it was always an emergency if we ran out of one of their staples, and as the food allergy situation got worse, it became all the more important to have specific items in specific brand names on hand. Plus, there were so many things I always seemed to have plenty of, until I didn’t – like, I’d have half a giant bottle of canola oil one day, and the next day, suddenly empty. Or, I’d feel like there was plenty of flour for the week and then I’d make one loaf of bread and suddenly we were out.

So I started stocking up on these kind of things and keeping them in the basement. Not everything, but pretty close to everything. And if something went on sale, that was only a sign that I should do some extra stocking – pick up as many as I thought would fit on the home shelves and bring them home.

It’s saved me on more than one occasion (I’ve safely bridged the kids through more than one change-of-labeling-causing-temporary-grocery-store-shortages). I can’t count the number of times I have been mid-pie-making, and run out of a critical ingredient, only to find more of it buried in the back of the basement shelves, thus SAVING A PIE, which I think we can all agree is CRITICAL TO MAN’S SURVIVAL.

But with everything up on this level now, I’ve been trying to be more of a just-in-time type shopper, using up my backup stores with abandon (please God, do not send us any floods or famines right now) and not buying more of something until we are actually out of it. I mean, in theory, I could go to the grocery store every day – not that I WANT to, but it COULD happen, for an emergency. So why all the hoarding?

It’s been an adjustment for sure, but I think I’m getting used to it, and will hopefully continue in this mindset now that we have given up some of our storage space for finished space in the basement. On the other hand, next time we have a power outage you’ll probably find me at the Superstore buying 50 cans of soup.

Old habits die hard – but I’m working on it.

Great Expectations

One thing I always try to do, as a parent, is not put too many expectations on my kids, in terms of their interests and what they might want to be in life. I mean, I do expect them to be kind people, and helpful around the house, and to work their hardest at school. But I also try not to assume that they will be doctors or lawyers or Prime Minister, or to dream that they will dedicate their lives to building schools in Africa before winning the Nobel Peace Prize, or to fantasize about them winning an Olympic gold medal (total fail on that last one, BTW). They have their own hopes and dreams and I want to encourage that, and support them, and watch them earn their own happiness.

Well – that’s the idea, anyway. Over March Break we went down to visit our extended family and there I saw my teenaged nephews, who are just at the age where they’re trying to figure out what to do with their lives. One of them is in Grade 11, and I asked him if he had started to give some thought to what he wanted to do, and he said he definitely wants to go into business. Which totally makes sense, because both his parents are in business-type fields, and he has a knack for it, and a real flair for entrepreneurship.

But my immediate reaction was: HMMMM.

Both Sir Monkeypants and I are engineers by training and it was in that very moment that I realized, with crystal clarity, that I have actually been assuming that my kids will do something technical. The Captain is good at math and really, really loves it, and his analytical mind makes him a natural for something like computer programming. Gal Smiley is all about the science – a few days ago at bedtime she spent a half hour excitedly telling me all the things they had learned that day in school about The Human Eye – and I picture her going into research, or maybe something medical. Little Miss Sunshine doesn’t have a clear cut preference yet but she enjoys school and works hard at it and I’m sure she will be able to pick and choose her future.

As long as it involves math, of course.

I’ve often pictured myself as being the gentle, benevolent parent, softly encouraging my kids as they pursue acting (and then thank me profusely at the Oscars) or supporting them through art school (where they respond by doing an acclaimed series of works entitled “Mother”) or cheering from the sidelines as they take gold in Olympic Freestyle Skiing. But it turns out, in the end, what I really want is for them to be just like me and Sir Monkeypants, to do what we do, to think like us and value the things we value.

Is it for validation, so we know they love and respect us? Is it because I really can’t put value on interests that don’t match my own?

I’m not super stressed about it – it’s just something to think about. And now that I’m aware of my own expectations – maybe I’ll be able to manage them a bit better.

Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?

The Little Miss is in a very, very annoying phase right now where she just will not decide anything. You ask if she wants a snack, if she’s ready to leave for school, if she’d like to watch a TV show now or do a puzzle instead – it’s always “I DON’T KNOW,” shrieked in a voice of extreme distress, like I’m offering her Sophie’s Choice. GAH.

I mean, I have lived through two older kids who were not always the most self-aware people in the world. Kids who could not for the life of themselves figure out why working on this homework sheet was SO IMPOSSIBLE, and yet, five minutes after having a glass of milk and a cookie, it magically becomes quite doable. Kids who I saw clearly doing the Dance of Imminent Pee, and who yet continued to deny needing to use the bathroom, and although we are all committed to “logical consequences” I made them go to the potty anyway, “just to try.”

But this is different. It’s like any single time there’s any kind of option, she’s paralyzed. And angry about it. And boy, am I ever getting tired of either a) deciding every single thing on her behalf, or b) allowing nothing to happen, then living with the “logical consequences” of having a kid who is too dumb to pick a snack, or weeping due to the stress of having to select a movie to watch on a sick day, to too whiny to actually say “yes” when asked if she wants to sign up for soccer and then freaks out when she finds out all her friends are going and the team is full.

It’s exhausting.

I remember the first time ever that the Captain came over to me – he’d be just over a year old or so – and actually asked me for juice, using the word “JUS!”, and I got him some juice, and he was happy, and I was happy, and OH MY GOD the heavens sang. And I thought to myself, once they can ask for what they want, everything will be so easy! Everything will be awesome! Parenting will be a snap!

But now the youngest one has all the words she needs, but none of the wanting. Do you want to go to the store, or stay home? Do you want to use the bathroom here, or at your aunt’s house? Do you want to wear blue socks, or yellow?

I DON’T KNOW.

I’d probably be a lot more sympathetic if I wasn’t already deciding a million different things for myself every day. In addition to my own personal needs I have to decide what everyone is eating for lunch and dinner, what everyone needs for appropriate outerwear, what the family errand schedule for the week looks like. I have to decide where we’re going to store everything, whether the garbage needs taking out immediately or if it can wait until tomorrow, what gift we’re getting for our nephew’s birthday next month.

I’m already at the max. It’s time for someone else to start picking some things around here.