Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Thing #74 & 75: In which we go visiting on Tuesday & write a very special letter on Wednesday

GAH! As you can tell by the title, we're back to playing catch-up again and I'm cramming two posts into one. I would love to be one of those well-organized people who does everything perfectly and on time, but as you have probably figured out, so much of my life is a last-minute dash. I don't know how to remedy that. I did, however, finally take that overdue DVD back to the library the other day. Did you know it is $1 a day for every day you bring it back late? See, even fiscal punishment is apparently not enough of a deterrent to keep me on time. Also, did I tell you that it looks like in the '90s they did a sequel to the original "Frosty the Snowman" from the 1960s? We started to watch it after we watched the original Frosty on Monday. Two thumbs down. Horrible. I would definitely give it a miss. Didn't even get through it. The only redeeming feature is that it featured (I think, I'm horrible for always getting this wrong) the voice of the guy who is in two of my Top 20 Movies I Can Endlessly Quote Because I Will Always Love Them, Even More Than Whitney Houston Loved Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard" List as the bad guy. He plays Mr. Frank Shirley in one movie and Noah Vanderhoff in the other and no, I'm not telling you what movies those are because I just feel like being a jerk today. One is a seasonal film that became a tradition to watch each year in our family and the other is a movie that will always and forever remind me of my dear friend N because we both quoted it to one another and watched it many, many times when we were living in Japan.

But that is enough about that. Let us get down to it.

Tuesday was another 3/4 day at daycare for the LP. Auntie K and I went out for breakfast and then ran some errands together. The LP gave her a very warm welcome when she came with me to fetch them from daycare. The four of us picked up a few things at the grocery store before dropping Auntie K back off at home. LP1 decided that she wanted to come in to say hello to the cat and somehow ended up getting all of us invited in for a visit. As we came in the door, Uncle L was preparing a late lunch for himself. LP1 decided that she also needed a bit of something to eat and suddenly all of us were having sandwiches. Aside from the fact that Auntie K and Uncle L are very hospitable anyway, I suppose the nice thing about being family is that you CAN impose on your family to make you food whenever you drop in unannounced. Delicious food that makes you realize you really WERE hungry, even if you said you were fine.

We used to live approximately 7 minutes away from Auntie K and Uncle L. The dodgy neighbourhood, weekly hooker fights, unusual cast of characters in the alley behind our house, and 109 year old house with nary a straight line to be found were just another added bonus to living so close to them. I miss that old neighbourhood because it was so easy for Auntie K and I to meet up, to drop in on each other and to do things together. It got a little more difficult once LP1 was born because packing up a small child takes more work than just throwing on a pair of shoes and going out the door but it became that much more work once we moved a little further away. I have been absolutely terrible about coming over to see Auntie K and Uncle L. Fortunately, Auntie K is always willing to come over for a visit. If it weren't for her willingness to come to me, I'd never see her! So we were long overdue to go visit her. In fact...I can't remember the last time LP2 was there...or even if he had been to their house before. That is simply terrible (insert embarrassed-face emoticon here).

I think it is fitting, then, that our Tuesday New Thing was a visit at Auntie K and Uncle L's house. The LP are always thrilled to see their auntie and uncle. They were also very happy that Chelsea, their cat, was sitting out and accepting visitors. They were able to say hello and pet her before Uncle L decided that perhaps it was time for Chelsea to have some alone time. I don't think it is nice to say bad things about other people's pets, so I won't say that Chelsea has been known to hiss and/or scratch if you get in her space when she doesn't want to be bothered. She is a very regal cat. I admire the fact that she is unafraid to dish it out when she thinks you deserve it. I should take lessons from that cat. We had the aforementioned superfantastic sandwiches, made with extra love by Auntie K and Uncle L. LP1 lost no time in finding a ball and getting Uncle L to play with her. It is a good thing that Uncle L is always willing to play, because LP1 could play with him all day. LP2 walked around and checked things out. This included knocking over candlesticks, poking vents and attempting to eat cat food. You know, a typical afternoon for him.

Eventually it was time for us to make our exit. With big waves goodbye, we went home to clean up before Daddy got home and saw what a mess we can make when he's not around.

The LP had another 3/4 day at daycare today. As usual, I did have a lengthy list of things I wanted to accomplish while they were gone. However...sleep has been at a bit of a premium since last Friday. Between staying up late to do some prep for LP2's party last Friday and LP2 suddenly deciding that he no longer is interested in sleeping between the hours of 11:00 pm and anywhere from 3:00 to 5:00 am from Sunday onward, I don't feel like I've had much sleep. Uh, possibly because I HAVEN'T. But then again, I don't feel like I've had a great sleep ever since the night before LP1 was born. It goes with the turf, I know. Suck it up, buttercup, we're all tired, right? Anyway, after everyone left this morning, I crawled back into bed with the intention of watching half an hour of the morning news and getting up at 8:00. I guess my eyes had the intention of closing and remaining shut until 10:30 instead. I was shocked when I woke up! And still very tired. I argued with myself until 10:45 about the merits of remaining exactly where I was until it was time to get the LP versus getting up right that very second. Although I felt faintly ashamed for such a decadent lie-in, I also felt that since I never nap during the day, it was justified. I ended up convincing my sorry self to get up. Two cups of coffee later, I still managed to do two loads of laundry, tidy up the house, have a shower and assemble dinner in the crockpot before leaving to get the LP. My to-do list remains very long but I'm happy I at least got some sleep.

Once the LP were home and had had their after-daycare snack, we sat down to write a very important letter. In what I hope will become a Christmas tradition, we sent our very first letter to Santa! While you can send a letter to Santa through Canada Post and get a reply, we are lucky enough to know a very special elf who will give our letter directly to Santa and make sure we get our reply faster than anyone else! Admittedly, this isn't an activity LP2 can fully participate in, as he doesn't really say many things we can understand right now, but I felt he should be involved, too.

LP1 dictated the letter for me to write as she drew a picture for Santa. We asked LP2 questions, but he didn't really have much to add. He was interested in checking out my pen, eating the crayons and, when he tired of that, getting down on the floor and trying to eat the dog's food (we do feed him actual people food, I promise).

Our very stream-of-consciousness letter to Santa and a picture. In case you can't see it, this is a picture of Santa, his reindeer and a beautiful mermaid. Because, you know, mermaids can hang out wherever they want, particularly when LP1 is drawing the picture.

Once the letter was written, we decorated an envelope and hopped in the car to go mail it. We need Santa to get that letter! And also, I felt like it was important to show the entire process of writing and mailing a letter to help the LP understand how mailing a letter works. I think this is probably becoming an old-fashioned idea, like churning your own butter or ironing your clothes (two things I don't do. That's why the dryer has an iron setting).

And now...we wait. Write back soon, Santa!

This was the first time LP1 has ever mailed a letter. She needed a bit of a boost but was excited to see it disappear into the box.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Thing #73: Happy, Jolly Souls

Monday...Monday...Monday.  When you're on maternity leave, Mondays don't really mean much, aside from the fact that Daddy goes back to work and your weekend of family time is done. I think when you go back to work or when your children are in school, Mondays mean more. In two weeks, I will be back in the Monday to Friday work gig. I guess my Mondays will start to mean more. I have mixed feelings about this. I went off on maternity leave knowing I would be returning to work. Part of me is looking forward to it. Part of me never wants this time off to end. I'll talk about this more at a later date, maybe. I'm not really feeling like musing about work and What It Means right now.

How was your weekend? Ours was jam-packed but oh so much fun. Truly. LP2's first birthday (gah! how did that happen already?!) is this week but we had his birthday party this weekend because as I said before, Daddy and I have a work dinner next weekend. The funny thing about first birthday parties is that they are more for the guests than the guest of honour. LP2 has no idea what a birthday is or what he wants in a party. However, a first birthday is a milestone to be celebrated. If I do say so myself, it was a wonderful celebration for our wonderful little boy. There is, in my opinion, nothing better for the LP than to be surrounded by their grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins. Actually...there's nothing better for all of us. I really love having all the family around. We ate, we visited, and we sang "Happy Birthday". LP2 was positively spoiled. Everyone brought such thoughtful and well-chosen gifts. It wouldn't matter to us if nobody brought gifts, just as long as we were all together. However, everyone else had different ideas and LP2 was certainly blessed. There are lots of new toys, books, and clothes all over the house!

Although we were all exhausted on Sunday morning after a busy but fun Saturday, we had our bi-weekly date at a local cafe. Daddy plays a few sets on the guitar and the rest of us eat and visit with whomever turns up. It was another enjoyable brunch and once again, Daddy played with heart.  By the time we got home, all of us were absolutely wiped out. The LP went down for long naps and I'm pretty sure Daddy fell asleep on the couch, too. I relaxed and read magazines. When the LP eventually awoke, all four of us ended up snuggling together in our bed, playing and talking and watching a movie together. It was a great end to a busy weekend.

Today started with the usual bustle to get Daddy ready for work and the LP off to another 3/4 day at daycare. After everyone had left, I took my coffee, went back to bed and just watched the morning news for awhile before getting on with the business of the day. It felt positively decadent to laze around. I picked up the LP in the early afternoon and we were happily reunited. Sometimes when they have had a busy day at daycare, they like to stay close and keep things quiet. I figured that after our weekend, today would be such a day.

Usually when the LP get home from daycare, they like a snack and a drink. I had a special snack on hand today. Auntie K had created some gorgeous and delicious cookies for LP2's birthday party. We had set two aside for the LP to enjoy later. Later was today.

An elephant for LP2 and a monkey for LP1, much to the happiness of the LP. It wasn't long before they were covered in chocolate and great big smiles. Auntie K makes the best cookies!

Since the "Frosty the Snowman" DVD we got from the library was now overdue, I thought there was no better time than today to watch it. We went down to the basement and I set up pillows, blankets and tried to make a space conducive to snuggling and just enjoying a short movie. I try not to watch too much tv with the LP, so this was a special treat for them.

The LP are familiar with the story of Frosty. Last Christmas, Grammy and Grandpa each recorded a story for the LP. LP2's book was "Frosty the Snowman" and several times a week, they pull it off the shelf to listen to Grandpa reading them the story. It took a few minutes, but once Frosty came to life, they were hooked.

Sometimes these old-school movies we grew up with really are still the best.

In order to keep them interested and focused, I sang along with the main song and kept asking LP1 questions about the plot. I think they liked it, but I can't be sure. Sometimes you don't know with the LP until a few days later when LP1 brings it up again. I know that I liked being able to sit together, stop doing things and just enjoy being with them.

DVDs are free to borrow from the library. See the yellow "Express" tag on the top left corner? That means it is due back in 3 days or the fine is $1 per day. It was due on Friday. I better get it back first thing on Tuesday. Sigh. One day I'll master the whole "bring things back on time" concept.

New Thing #68-72: A week's worth of posts in one!

Oh my goodness, I owe big, big apologies for my tardiness in updating and posting! Last week was a really busy week and to be perfectly honest, by the time it came time to sit down and blog, I just didn't have it in me. As a result, I am terribly behind on what we did. To remedy that, here is a superlong post about our adventures last week. Go get a cup of coffee and then get comfy. I'll wait.

When I last was here, the LP were gearing up for a weekend at Grammy & Grandpa's. As usual, they had a fantastic time, although we missed them! Daddy and I visited with friends, celebrated Uncle V's 30th birthday and bought new furniture for our bedroom. I know, I know, what a terribly exciting life we lead. We are looking forward to our new bed because apparently one of us is a relentless bed hogger, leaving the other just a small sliver of room each night. I won't say who because I don't like to present myself in a bad light.

Let's get into our week of adventures, shall we?

On Monday, I decided we needed to do some kind of messy, fun craft. After a weekend away, it felt like time to do something together and to not worry about getting things all over the house. I hauled out my craft box from the crawlspace in our basement and after a quick rummage through that led to LP1 wearing a pink feather boa and LP2 dragging ribbon all over the house, I pulled out some paints and these cardboard Christmas ornaments I had bought years ago with the intention of painting and giving to people. I never did because after I had painted one side green I ran out of both inspiration and time, but I knew the LP would have fun.

Paints, newspaper and circles to paint on. Time to get MESSY!

I let LP1 choose the colours. Unsurprisingly, she went with a pink and purple palette. She lost no time in getting right into it and covering her circle with a variety of colours. LP2 obviously needed some help but once he realized he couldn't eat the paintbrush, he had fun dragging it around.

Artist at work!

When I noticed that more paint seemed to be going on their hands than on their canvas, an idea presented itself. I think there is nothing more sweet than seeing their little hands. Daddy keeps the footprints we made him for his birthday at his desk at work. Why not put handprints on a wall somewhere? I knew Daddy would love it. But where to do this? We have plans to do painting all over the house eventually...hmmm...And then I knew. The coat closet! Who cares what's on the inside of a coat closet? 

If you ever have the opportunity to come into our house, open the hall closet and you will see LP2's hand on top and LP1's hand on the bottom. I later wrote their names and the date below them. And yes, Daddy thought it was pretty cool, too.

There was purple paint everywhere...all over the LP, the floors, the table and on me. I'm STILL finding it in odd spots in the house. But kids are washable and if purple paint stains one of our dishcloths...oh well. It was fun and messy and I know those are two criteria for the LP!

On Tuesday, the LP started doing a 3/4 day at daycare. This involved staying for a nap after lunch and is part of our gradually-acclimatize-them-to-daycare plan. While they were gone, I did a big grocery shop where I picked up make-your-own-pizza kits. After I picked them up, we got to work making pizza together.

I can't get this photo to go the right way, so just crane your head to the side.

I wasn't sure how pizza making would go but again, here was a slightly messy project but it involved eating. I sat the LP down, spread the sauce on the pizza and got them to help me put the toppings on...well, in theory, anyway. In reality, they were more interested in dragging their fingers through the sauce to sample it and eating as many toppings as they put on the crust.

Daddy's pizza. As per his request, it was loaded with ham, olives, peppers, bacon bits and cheese. The LP particularly enjoyed both creating and eating this pizza.

Auntie K dropped in while we were pizza making and the LP decided that playing with their auntie was much more fun than cooking, so they abandoned me. I can't blame them...I'd rather play with Auntie K, too. I made the vegetarian pizza on my own. At dinnertime, LP1 made sure to tell Daddy that she and her brother had made dinner all by themselves. I let them have the credit. I think Daddy was fooled.

What was left of the vegetarian pizza. Daddy would later take it and the leftover meat one in his lunch to work. The LP were less inclined to eat this one!

On Wednesday, I FINALLY made good on a promise and took the LP to the library after I picked them up from daycare...and we actually got books this time. They had fun playing with the trains and the toys and saying hello to the different giant stuffed animals scattered throughout our local branch. We came home with a haul of books that we are still making our way through. Yes, we've gone to the library eighty four billion times before, but if you've been reading this blog, you know that they love going there and that we've had several failed attempts lately. We got a Christmas DVD to watch but it is already overdue and we haven't even watched it yet!. One day I will get things back on time. I think we had better stick with books before I bankrupt this family with fines.

After a quick dinner, all of us went to see our friends B and K and their new baby K. I realized one of the local radio stations is now playing all Christmas music, all the time. LP1 delighted in hearing this and was soon singing "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas" in her little voice. It was absolutely adorable. We had a good visit with our friends. The LP were mildly interested in baby K but were more intrigued by her toys. I was wondering if LP2 would be jealous at all if he saw me holding another baby but he was entirely unphased.

We had plans with Grandpa on Thursday. My Auntie J (Grandpa's sister, the LP's great-aunt, not to be confused with Auntie J who is my sister and the LP's aunt) lives in a long-term care facility and they were having their annual Christmas bazaar. Grandpa met us at our house and we headed out for a very long country drive to get there. We had fun pointing out the horses, cows, sheep, geese and even buffalo we saw along the way! There was some lovely scenery and it was really nice to talk to Grandpa as we drove. When we got there, the LP were a little overwhelmed at first but soon delighted in seeing the different toys and gifts on display. There were Christmas decorations up for the LP to marvel at, too. We had lunch with Great-Auntie J and the LP ate with gusto. We stopped by her room to pick up a gift she had for LP2's upcoming birthday and the LP were delighted to find that she had a stuffed dog that sang different songs. The LP love singing toys and have already started badgering Grandpa to start getting all of his out for Christmas. Because Grandpa seems to have a hard time saying no to them, he has already dug out the moose that sings different Christmas carols as it ummm...passes wind. The LP call this "The Stinky Moose" and I'm sure it is only a matter of time before they convince him to get the rest of them out and poor Grammy is besieged by things that sing, dance, snore, play instruments and generally make noise.

The LP were exhausted and fell asleep on the long drive home. I know they enjoyed our outing and I was happy we got to see Great-Auntie J, too. Truth be told...I was supertired, too!

Friday saw another day at daycare. While they were gone, Auntie K came over to help me decorate LP2's birthday cake. We were having his family birthday party on Saturday because Daddy and I have a work dinner for him the following weekend. We made much progress on the cake and were nearly done by the time it was time to fetch them. Auntie K came with me to pick them up, much to the LP's happiness. The LP thought the cake was fun but were more interested in the bowls of icing all over the kitchen. I had given the LP some digestive cookies for their snack and Auntie K piped icing onto them. The LP licked the icing off and then eventually consented to eat the cookies, too. Once the cakes were finished, Auntie K played with the LP for awhile before she had to go home to see what trouble Uncle L was causing at home. I started dinner prep. We had tacos for dinner and the LP thought that crushing up the taco shells and making a taco salad to eat was something different. Their taco salads disappeared!

We had a busy week and the weekend was just a busy...but I'll write about that in today's post, later on tonight. Maternity leave is rapidly winding down and I'm trying to get as much time with them as possible! They are truly such wonderful, enjoyable little people...I'm enjoying every moment, milestone and snuggle with them!

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Thing #67: Individual time & a note for the weekend

So I didn't post yesterday. It just didn't work into my day. Suck it up, buttercup (this is what I tell myself). I'll just get to it now.

Yesterday I needed to take LP1 to the doctor. We spent the first part of the morning doing all our usual morning things, like eating breakfast and playing and putting on Appropriate Clothes to Leave the House. In addition to being excellent at her job, our family doctor is a very elegant, well-put together lady. I always feel like I need to make a bit of an extra effort with my appearance when we go to see her. I'm sure that sounds ridiculous to you, that's how it goes. So I did make the attempt to look less like a refugee from the laundry bin. I don't know how successful I was, but I think I should get full marks for trying.

Taking two little kids to the doctor can be a bit of an ordeal. If I put them both in the stroller, it is big and bulky to get around and takes up most of the children's exam room at our doctor's office. They will play with the toys for a little while but then usually one decides they're not happy while the other one decides they want to get off the table, explore everything in the exam room and make a lot of noise while we're waiting for the doctor. Daddy suggested I drop LP2 off at his office to make it easier. I happily obliged.

LP2 spent about two hours at Daddy's office and from all accounts, they had a great time together. I thought it was nice that they got some father-son bonding time in the middle of the workday. They had a snack together and it sounds like they chased each other around the office. It is nice that Daddy works in the kind of place where a little person can drop in for a few hours. He has that kind of flexibility at work.

It was also nice to have some individual time with LP1. Having just one kid to load in and out of the car and take places felt different. I could give her my undivided attention. We played with some toys and read a few books while waiting for the doctor. We talked about whatever she wanted and spent some quality mother-daughter time. I absolutely love having two little people but yesterday I realized that I also like having one-on-one time with them. I hope I can do this with LP2 sometime soon. It's fun. I know people with three or four children under the age of 5. I don't know how they do it!

We collected LP2 and headed home for a late lunch and then some much-needed naps. There wasn't much time between when they awoke from their naps and when it was time for dinner to do anything together. Daddy had wanted to take LP1 with him after dinner to Home Depot (aka The Happiest Place on Earth) to pick up a few things for some work we're going to start around the house but she wasn't into it. So, in keeping with the day, LP2 went with Daddy and LP1 stayed home with me. She had a bath by herself (a rarity these days, since usually both kids are bathed together) and I read her a few extra bedtime stories. Just as we were finishing up, the boys came home and LP1 decided she wanted Daddy to do the final tuck-in. I took LP2 and started his nighttime routine. He went to bed a little later than usual, but we had a nice snuggle together.

I don't rightly know if this is a true "New Thing" but why argue over semantics? It was new for all of us and it was a chance for the LP to enjoy one-on-one time with us. I think that every now and then, it is great for all of us and it is something I hope we can continue.

The LP are at another half-day at daycare this morning. My plan is to pick them up, cajole them into naps and then once they're up, head over to Grammy & Grandpa's house. We originally had plans for both tonight and tomorrow so Grammy & Grandpa offered to take them for the weekend. Our Friday night plan fell through but now we're planning to engage in an activity we haven't done since the days of our old, 100 year old plus house: a little home renovation. Our old house was a fixer-upper and it felt like we were constantly spending time painting, repairing, laying new floors and doing other little jobs. We both loved and hated that house. When we moved to our new house, we promised ourselves we would live in it for at least a year before making any changes. It has been a year and a half and all we've really done so far is some painting. We're only planning on doing some more painting this weekend but I'm looking forward to it. I'm also FINALLY going to the salon on Saturday morning. I can't tell you enough how horrible my hair looks. Worst. Hair. Ever. It looks like a badger and a weasel got in a fight on my head. Or like a scraggly bush left to die. I haven't had anything done to it since May. I'm fairly embarrassed to go in on Saturday but I'm hoping the stylist likes a challenge. I don't know yet what I want to do with it but fingers crossed that I'll come out looking sleek and polished!

Letting the LP go for a sleepover or in this case, for the weekend, is hard because we miss them so much. The house is too quiet without them! It is so strange to not hear giggles and little songs being sung, to play games and read stories. We know, however, that it is good for them to spend time with their grandparents and for us to have some time together to reconnect.  And I'm sure that come Sunday, Grammy and Grandpa will sleep very, very well!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Thing #66: Impromptu dancing

So here we are at New Thing #66! I don't know how accurate that is because sometimes we didn't really do a New Thing and other times I crammed like three into one post and there was that time when Grandpa was sick that I didn't do much blogging because there was so much else going on. I've been thinking about New Things in other parts of my life lately. I'm not sure if it's a spillover from this blog or not, but I decided that for the month of November I was going to do something I've never done, and think about getting healthy from the inside out. I've been posting a different healthy habit each day on my Facebook page. I'm trying to walk the talk but sometimes I forget to drink enough water or my motivation to work out becomes non-existent. I think I mentioned awhile back how I am challenging myself to avoid all junk food (aside from birthday cake for the three big birthdays this month) for the entire month of November. I have come to realize how much I love garbage food and how I'm not one of those people who can just have a wee bite. It was really getting out of control. Last night when Daddy and I were watching one of my favourite shows, "The Biggest Loser" (or as we like to call it, "Fat People Crying" because seriously, someone cries on every episode but so do I, especially when they get letters from home), there was this doctor on there who noted that it can take weeks to months to rewire your brain so you prefer to eat healthy food and just ONE WEEK to undo it all. Why am I telling you this? I have no idea now. I know I had a point when I started. Was it that I was going to tell you about this awesome fruit smoothie I had today? Maybe. Anyway, eating better is hard. All I want right now is nachos dipped in chocolate and topped with swedish berries. Maybe I better stop rambling and get to the business at hand instead.

I had intended to take the LP to this really cool park overlooking the lake I recently discovered when I took a wrong turn one day. There were huge piles of brightly coloured leaves, slides, lots of swings and other playground equipment. I thought they would really dig it. They had a half-day at daycare and I thought it would be a great place to go once I picked them up. Unfortunately, when I went to fetch them, LP2 only had one shoe and had done something to the warm clothes he was wearing when he left the house. Our daycare provider put him in the backup outfit in the diaper bag but I guess he has had a growth spurt (AGAIN) since the last time he wore it, because the pants and long-sleeved onesie were now capri pants and a three-quarter length onesie. Not warm enough for playing outside in. Are you concerned about the one shoe? I'm pretty sure he kicked it off en route to daycare this morning and it is in the back of Daddy's car. Please don't worry about it anymore. He will not go through life missing a shoe.

LP1 asked if we could go "to the small library". With all our library debacles this week, I think she just wanted to go to one she was familiar with and finally bring home some books. I'm always up for a library visit, so I figured we could go home, change LP2 and go for a walk to the small branch that isn't too far from us. Once we got home, however, it became clear that both of them were winding down and wouldn't last a car ride to the library, much less a walk. The sky was also clouding over and I knew rain was going to fall at any given moment. What on earth were we going to do?

Inspiration sometimes comes from stupid things. LP1 sat down at our digital piano and was doing her usual thing where she presses all the buttons to produce a variety of squeaks, chirps, bells, whistles, chimes and even the odd piano-sounding noise. I had just scooped up LP2 to prevent him from playing in the dog's dish yet again and was bouncing him around. He let loose with some giggles. We started to dance to the "music" LP1 was playing. And then I got my idea for today. LP1 enjoys being...ummm...."directive" (to put it nicely). She's at that two-year old stage where she likes being in charge. So I told her to keep changing how she played so that LP2 and I could change how we were moving. She was immediately on board with this game. She would play softly and LP2 and I would tiptoe. LP1 would mash the keyboard and we'd run around in a circle. The tempo would change and we would either go fast or slow or I'd swing LP2 into the air. Eventually LP1 began telling us what to do. Much of it involved me running in a circle around the playpen with LP2 in my arms. Both of them found this hilarious.

When she eventually tired of this game, LP1 declared we needed to dance. I turned the radio up and the three of us shimmied and boogied and bounced all over the living room. I was holding LP2 under his arms and swinging him around when LP1 decided it was her turn. For the next five minutes, I had to alternate between each kid. When I was absolutely breathless, we played a game where I would tell LP1 how to dance. I made up a silly song that had parts like "and now we shake our arms, our arms, our arms! Okay, it's time to kick those feet!" as I went through all the body parts. Naturally she wanted a turn  being the person who says what to move. I obliged. And once again, I was out of breath. Fortunately at this point they were both pretty tired and it was easy to start getting them ready for their naps.

Maybe I've said it before but I've come to realize that our New Thing doesn't have to be something truly spectacular. Sometimes just exercising some creativity and doing something together that makes us happy really is enough. That half-hour of dancing and playing in the living room was the absolute best half-hour of my day. We were just having fun, being silly and laughing. And really, isn't that what childhood should be all about?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Thing #65: Meh and boo and grr to today...

Before I get into today's (mis)adventures, I am just going to warn you that I'm in a bit of a mood as I type this. If I were a fairy tale character, I'd be Grumplestiltsken. Or the Wicked Witch of the West. Or whoever had a bit of a bad day. Consider yourself forewarned.

As I had absolutely promised the LP that today would be a library day, I knew I had to make good on this promise. I thought that we would go check out the Central library branch since we hadn't been there before and it has recently gone through a kazillion-dollar renovation. Truth be told, I was itching to check it out. I love libraries and I was looking forward to seeing all the changes to the Central branch, particularly since I've read such great things about it. Parking downtown was an absolute nightmare. Every lot was full. I finally found metered parking on a side street. For some unknown reason, I took LP1 out of the car before I got the stroller set up. This isn't something I normally do. As I was attempting to open the stroller, a passing lady stopped to see if I needed help. While I appreciated the offer, the fact that she was smoking a joint and she blew her smoke ALL OVER LP1 and I was not something I appreciated. I managed a civil "thank you", despite the fact that it felt like we were in a cloud of marijuana. What is wrong with people?! Seriously.

I got the kids loaded into the stroller without further event and we made our way towards the library. LP1 started complaining that she was cold so we cut through the mall...where we were treated to very fine specimens of humanity shuffling about. After a quick stop at the ATM so I could pay our ridiculous fine (ridiculous because I let 38 children's books go overdue for 3 days each...I think the library is in league with the gas companies) we resumed our walk through the mall.

Until something caught the LP's attention.

It's funny, the things that children notice and are captivated by when most adults wouldn't even give it a second glance. In this case, they were setting up for Santa's impending arrival (a nightmare for me, right up there with clowns but something I endure for the children. I would just once like to find a Santa that DOESN'T give me the willies) and had part of the display complete. An enormous floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree had been fully decorated. It was bright and shiny and full of interesting things to look at. They HAD to go see it. They were bouncing up and down with anticipation. And because I'm not a complete and total jerk, I obliged.

I think once we put up our Christmas tree, it will be a bit of a letdown compared to this one. Particularly since we can only decorate 3/4s of ours, as little hands like to pull everything off it at their level.

We stood and admired the stars, the ribbon, the candy canes and the sparkles for some time. There's no way LP2 can remember last Christmas but he was entranced by the tree. LP1 immediately knew what it was and I'm sure that she will start asking when we will put ours up any day now.

Once we grew tired of looking and started wanting to pull things off the tree, I decided it was time to go to the library. I was almost bouncing up and down with excitement. We went through the automatic doors into the newly renovated, bright and open space. At first I was impressed with how bright everything was, the funky artwork and the huge computer pool available for free to anyone in the community. The children's area was on the the ground level. A huge glass wall overlooked the farmer's market. It was a colourful and fun view. That's about all the good things I have to say about what I observed today. Sure, the old library was kinda shabby and had drab green carpet and grey walls. But it was comfortable and cozy. This new felt so industrial. Cold. Like it was trying too hard.

In the old library, there was this giant treehouse in the children's section. It had seating and soft cushions and lots of cozy spaces to curl up and read. I always thought this was a place I would one day take my children. Unfortunately, the treehouse was gone. In its place were areas divided up into sections. Lots of blocky shelving at hip height with funky stools and chairs that looked good but really aren't conducive to sitting with your little people to read comfortably. And while I hate to compare different branches, in the three branches closest to our house, the children's area has lots of big, colourful rugs, toys out in the open and space to read and play. I didn't see many rugs on the hard concrete floor and all the toys were locked up! If you wanted to play with the trains at the train table, you had to ask the librarian for them. This meant that the kids who did have them were unwilling to share. I don't know if it was because I couldn't immediately figure out how they shelved their books or if the shelves were too haphazard and crowded, but we had a hard time finding any books we liked.  And then when we did find some, the LP didn't really want to sit down and read. We were in too distracting an environment.

Don't get me's not a totally awful space. There was a wall with fish tanks built into it and the LP LOVED this. There were big cardboard cutouts of different characters and they digged that, too. But even though I paid off our monstrous fine, we didn't leave with any books today. I don't think any of us liked the Central branch. One day I'll go back and check out the other floors.

Apparently this is Nemo. I'm so happy we found him.

We left the library empty-handed. I thought it would be nice to take the LP for a quick lunch before we  went home. I took them to La Luna Express, a food-court version of the very popular local restaurant. When I was pregnant with LP2 I developed an extreme fondness for La Luna and I probably ate their fattoush salad, falafels and tabouli salads at least twice a week. I'm not surprised that LP2 in particular loves falafels now. We got the falafel and fattoush salad combo with a small order of fries for the LP. The food wasn't as good as I remembered. It was okay but just...meh. Maybe pregnancy craving hormones added some kind of taste enhancer in the past. I don't know. Another disappointment. LP1 got something in her eye and I spent much of our lunch trying to figure out what was in her eye. It was obvious they were tired.

While we were on the way to the car, two homeless (?) men asked us for change. For reasons I no longer remember, I have an entire side pocket of the diaper bag filled with nickels. They are weighing the bag down. I reached in and gave them an enormous handful of them. It lightened both our loads. I think. Once I got to the car, I noticed the yellow receipt on the windshield. A PARKING TICKET! I had missed the parking person by a mere 6 minutes. Because I don't get downtown much right now, I immediately loaded up the meter again and made the trek to go dispute my fine. I'll make a long story short and tell you it was like a forty-five minute trip into hell. Rude people. Patronizing clerks who felt compelled to explain to me how a parking meter works (really? Never grasped the concept before. Thanks). An unsympathetic adjudicator. I ended up paying the ticket and leaving but feeling very angry and almost teary about my whole experience.

On the way back to the car we were nearly run into by a large group of students who were not paying attention, we had smoke and ashes blown on us by a crazy person and some obviously mentally ill people frightened LP1. When we reached the car, we passed by our homeless friends again and were greeted with loud, booming cries of "NICKELS!" and happy waves, as if we were long-lost friends. That little bit of cheer was cancelled out by a man in a van trying to get me to hurry up and load the LP into the car so he could have my spot, another person leaning on the horn and honking at me and more rude drivers. I arrived home fed up. I'm not sure if this story adequately reflects my frustration.

So it didn't go as well as I liked. I know the LP had fun and I guess that's all the counts. Maybe I should take a page from their book and not have these huge expectations and just enjoy what I see along the way.

My nemesis. Next time someone tells me to go to hell, I'll tell them I went there today, thanks.

Monday, November 7, 2011

New Thing #64: Uhh...I don't think we got to that today

Happy Monday! What kind of weekend did you have? What did you get up to and into? Auntie J came home from school this weekend (she's away, doing her Masters), so we got a visit from her and Uncle M on Saturday, much to the LP's intense joy. We went to Grammy & Grandpa's house for dinner and the LP's joy was multiplied again. LP2 got to show off his mad walking skills for the grandparents and I got a much-needed night off from making dinner. Win-win!

On Sunday, Daddy played at a local cafe while we had brunch with Grammy, Auntie K, Uncle L, Auntie J and Uncle M. As usual, Daddy did an excellent job. He introduced some new songs into his sets and we had the extreme pleasure of overhearing people commenting on how good he was. Yay for Daddy!

The LP are slowly increasing their daycare visits in preparation for my upcoming return to work next month. I dislike that as my time with them grows shorter they will be away more but we feel like this gradual transition is probably the best thing for them. They had another half-day at daycare today. While they were gone, I made the executive decision that I was going to have a slow morning. I watched the news, caught up on some things online, worked out, and had a long, interruption-free shower before Auntie K came over for a visit. She came with me to pick up the LP and as usual, they were quite happy to see their auntie.

Auntie K played with the LP and hung with us until naptime. I had promised LP1 we would go to the library today but then they surprised me and had very long naps this afternoon. By the time they woke up, we were getting tight for time. Fortunately LP1 agreed that we could go tomorrow, instead. We went to the store to pick up some essentials. While I was making dinner and the LP were having a little something to eat and drink, we had an impromptu dance party. LP2 has started to dance. It's pretty adorable, actually. If he's standing up, he sticks his little bottom out and shakes. As he was sitting in the highchair, he sort of swayed around and moved his arms enthusiastically.  LP1 gave it all she could from her chair, too. They took great delight in my rendition of "Don't Stop Believing". I'm glad SOMEONE out there appreciates my vocal talents. On second thought...I'll leave the music to Daddy.

We played a bit before dinner but I really can't think of anything "new" for today. It was just one of those busy days where the LP made me laugh, tried out new things, wreaked a little havoc on the house and were their usual sunshiney selves. Lots of snuggles and hugs and slobbery baby kisses. You know, all the little things that show how much better our lives have become since the LP entered them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

New Thing #63: A return to the Early Years Centre

Dear Reader: I feel fair to warn you that I am writing this post with a very large glass of wine in my hand. So any mistakes I make are entirely the fault of these fermented grapes from Chile. It has just been that kind of day. And don't lecture me about how I grew up in the middle of wine country and yet I'm drinking something from far away. Daddy bought the wine. Go blame him.

The LP were in what I like to call "Rah Rah Wreck The Place" mode today ("rah rah wreck the place" is a song we used to sing back in university. I've never heard anyone else sing it but it was used either when someone was being a drunken buffoon and stumbling around or when someone was being a drunken buffoon and destroying your stuff. Great tune). They just got into absolutely everything. I felt like it was their mission today to completely destroy every room of our house. It wasn't just toys being dragged everywhere; they pulled things out of drawers, they pulled things out of closets and off of shelves. Baking soda was strewn across the floor. The piano bench got flipped over, cutting LP2's chin in the process. Books were off the shelves. It was ongoing, continual chaos. And for some reason, I hear Grandad's voice in my head saying it is wonderful to see children that are curious and interested in the world and active (probably because he has said this before) and I think about giving the LP all the Hallowe'en candy in the house and sending them to him for awhile. Oh Grandad, I wouldn't do that to you. Your son, on the other hand, would.

So what I'm trying to say is that the LP were bursting with energy today. LP1 asked if we could go back to the Early Years Centre so she could paint another picture. I thought a change of scene, with different toys and lots of other kids would be just what they needed. But seeing as we had already done that as a New Thing, I thought we could go to a different one and try to pass that off as our New Thing for today. Long story short, the one that is allegedly near our house is a total fiction and we ended up going back to the main on. HOWEVER, the LP did completely different things while we were there this time SO IT COUNTS AS THE NEW THING, OKAY?

We arrived and went to the infants area first. The LP immediately busied themselves with blocks, noisemakers and other jumping on the soft gymnastic-style mats. LP2 was intrigued by the different things hanging from the ceiling and kept stopping what he was doing to point them out to me.

This photo doesn't do it justice, but this "sky" motif was very well done. Sun and clouds dangled from the ceiling and held LP's attention throughout our time there.

LP1 really wanted to paint so we went into the room for older kids. Quite frankly, being in this room today made me feel very rage-y. And it wasn't because of the kids in was more to do with their parents. They were so unbelievably rude! I shouldn't generalize...not all of the parents in there were...but the majority were. They would push small kids out of the way to make sure their precious darling got whatever toy they wanted. One mother was sitting in the middle of the kitchen centre. Just sitting. So that when other kids wanted to sit at the table she was at, they couldn't. Lady, you're a grown woman sitting at a child-sized table. That children want to play at. MOVE IT. At one point, some grandmother took a toy away from LP2 to give it to her grandchild. I did not notice this until much later but it still makes me angry. No regard for little people at all. A lady stepped on LP1's painting (more on the painting in a moment). And I know she saw it. She just didn't care. It was a madhouse in there.

Don't get me wrong. We had fun. I made sure LP1 was able to do her painting because she remembered doing it last time we were there and it was obviously important to her.

Another masterpiece! I like her bold use of colour. Well, that and the fact that it made her happy, too.

The LP were drawn to the music centre and it wasn't long before they had busted out the shakers, the cowbell and the drum and were making beautiful sounds. They definitely have Daddy's love for music. This area probably held their attention the longest. I think LP2's favourite part was playing with the vacuum cleaner in the creative play area that is set up to look like a kitchen. I don't know if I've mentioned it before but he absolutely LOVES ours. Sometimes if I need to keep him occupied so I can do something, I will pull out the vacuum. He is so captivated by it that I can run down to the basement, put a load of clothes in the wash, fold whatever it is in the dryer, put it away and come back to find him still playing with the vacuum.

I witnessed LP1 doing some reasoning today. The LP were playing at the seasonal area. It is a table full of whatever is going on. So today it had pine cones, leaves, gourds, pumpkins, dirt to dig in and some spiders.

BEHOLD! The Seasonal Area! A must-do for the tactile kid.

The table is rather high and LP1 was having a hard time reaching the top to dig in the dirt. She looked around and suddenly walked away. I wasn't sure where she was going but she walked over to a where a small stool was resting against the wall, picked it up and brought it over to the table so she could stand on it to see over the top. I was impressed by this. Another mother (one of the good ones, not a pushy one) said to me "that was really good use of logic", so I think I'm justified in bragging about it.

We made the rounds through the various areas and then it was "Gathering Time". We went into a room with all the other parents and children and sat in a circle. I assume it was time for songs and stories but we didn't get past the first song. LP2 was into it and clapping his hands but LP1 wanted nothing to do with this gathering. She didn't want to sing and she didn't want to clap her hands and she wanted no part of being in the circle. We left. It was just as well because the grandfather sitting beside me was speaking either Cantonese or Mandarin to his grandson very loudly, practically in my ear.

Which reminds me...if you read the post about our last visit, I think you will remember Chinese Grandparents Who Got Into A Screaming Match and Grandma Took Off. It was epic and it was wonderful. I was delighted to see them there again today! Unfortunately, they appeared to be getting on quite well together so there would be no repeat fireworks. Double unfortunately, they had brought a stuffed dog on a leash for their grandson and kept stretching it across from one another. At one point, they nearly clotheslined LP1. Am I the only one who thinks that a crowded room full of children is no place for you to hold one end of a stuffed dog on a leash and your spouse to hold the other, halfway across the room? No? Maybe I'm just the one who thinks people do stupid things sometimes.

We left the too-busy room and returned to the infants area for awhile before leaving. The LP had the room to themselves and seemed to relish the quiet. They played for awhile before LP1 announced that she was hungry and I caught LP2 rubbing his eyes. I thought about getting them a quick snack from the snack room but when I peered in, there were 2 screaming children in there, a mother giving her baby a bottle and another mother feeding her three kids in highchairs a feast from McDonalds. I decided it was time to get outta there.

LP2 fell asleep on the way home. As we were pulling into the driveway, LP1 said "that was a great time, Mommy". 

Sometimes that is all I need to hear.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Thing #63: Baby steps!

Today started off with the usual mad rush to get everyone up, fed, dressed and out the door for another half-day at daycare. As I waved goodbye from the porch, I walked into the house and was greeted by...the silence of an empty house. I was recently asked by someone what I do when the LP aren't home. This was followed by "I bet you go back to bed and catch up on your sleep, right?" I do pour myself a large cup of coffee, take my laptop into bed with me and luxuriate in being able to watch the morning news without persistent requests to change it to Treehouse or Kid's CBC. I give myself an hour to do nothing besides surf the net and drink coffee. I try to talk myself into staying in bed but this little voice in my head starts nagging me to get up and BE PRODUCTIVE. "MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR TIME!" it screams at me. "But I want to look at stupid websites and generally waste four hours," I whine back. "GET UP RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND OR I WILL MAKE SURE THAT 'COPACOBANA' IS STUCK IN YOUR HEAD FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK!" I guess it is not such a little voice after all, because invariably I get up. And for the rest of the morning, I whirl into action until it is time to go fetch the LP, doing all the things that are difficult to do when they are at home. The bathrooms get scrubbed, their clothes and bedding are laundered and the vacuum makes a wild run through the house. Sometimes I even wash the kitchen floor. I always run out of time and have just enough time to run through the shower like it is a sprinkler before throwing on whatever clothes look good enough to leave the house in so our daycare provider doesn't think I'm a total degenerate when I come to get the kids.

That is what happened today, anyway. One day I will do something luxurious, like go get my wild bird's nest of hair tamed into something civilized or start re-building my back-to-work maybe next week. I picked the LP up and when we came home, it was kind of a mishmash of stuff that happened. One napped and one stayed up and then they switched it up. In a very uncharacteristic move, Daddy came home from work early, not feeling well and became one with the couch. We didn't really do a New Thing today...but something ABSOLUTELY AMAZING happened!


It was so incredibly wonderful and fantastic! LP1 was napping and LP2 and I were hanging out together in the living room, checking out the flyers. He suddenly stood up and took six steps across the room before grabbing onto the couch. My heart started racing with excitement and I started cheering and clapping. His face split into a giant grin as he turned around and walked back to me! I gave him a smushing hug before setting him down on the floor...and off he went again! OH HOLY COW! It is hard to say who was more or him. He came back over to me, sat on my lap and started bouncing up and down, laughing and babbling. 

I don't care what anyone else may say - I am convinced that babies understand so much more than we ever give them credit for. They are proud of themselves when they achieve something they have been trying to do for so long. I see it all the time lately with LP2 and I think it is so cool. He gets a certain look on his face when we can understand something he is communicating. And today? It was so obvious that he was so very happy. We called Daddy right away to share the news. As soon as I heard his car pull into the driveway, I put LP2 down on the floor. When Daddy opened the door, LP2 chirped "DADA!" and started walking towards him. I met Daddy's eyes across the room. It was one of those parenting moments when we were both marveling not just at what our son had done but at the fact that we had made him. I know that Daddy's heart was just as full as mine was.

When LP1 got up from her nap, we showed her what her little brother was up to. She did a little jig of joy for him. We spent the remainder of the afternoon playing together and watching LP2 continue to work on walking. He stumbled every now and then and when he really wanted to get somewhere, stuck with crawling. We cheered him on throughout the rest of the day.

Life never fails to astound and surprise me. Two cells come together to create life and in 40 weeks (or 40 weeks and 3 days in the case of LP2, or 41 weeks and 2 days in the case of LP1), a human being is formed. In the first year that tiny little human is here, they learn to smile and roll over, to sit on their own, to eat and say words and crawl and walk. They grow hair and get teeth. A personality emerges. And when that tiny little human is YOUR tiny little human? Well...I don't have the words. Your heart gets bigger. You feel intense pride at all the achievements, big and small. You can't wait to see what happens next.

Today belonged to LP2. He was our New Thing. I think it was our best one yet.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Thing #62: The final sacrifice of the brave and noble pumpkins

I would like to formally state, for the record, that I have had enough of whatever bug is currently making the rounds. I feel like everyone I know is sick right now. Just when it seems like it is making an exit, a new symptom manifests itself. Poor LP1 has developed a persistent cough. She mostly soldiers on with her usual good humour, but she has her moments throughout the day where it is obvious she is tired and just wants to rest. Or throw an enormous fit because I won't do something like give her raisins at the exact moment she wants them. It is hard sometimes, when you're two and not feeling well. I know that when I'm not feeling well, I often want to do the same thing.

Today was therefore another day where I wasn't sure how it would play out. I let LP1 do her thing this morning. If she wanted to lay in our bed and watch Treehouse, I let her. If she wanted to play in her room, I let her. I dressed her in comfy clothes and let her set the tone for the day. LP2 and I chilled together, reading stories and playing before he went down for a long nap that went from late morning to early afternoon. LP1 decided after lunch that she was ready her nap and she slept for a good two hours. Once both kids were awake, it seemed that they were not only in good spirits but wanting something to do. I buckled them into the ninky nonk and we set off for a walk. LP1 asked if we could get some licorice at the store. It seems that they have forgotten about the massive amount of Hallowe'en candy in the house. This is a good thing, as it means I can either pawn it off on Daddy or continue to leave treat bags for our mailman (I have sworn off all junk food until December 1 as I went on a major bender on Hallowe'en that has left me deeply ashamed of myself). It was unseasonably warm, the sun was shining and I know how much the LP love a trip to the store. We went and got some...gummy bears and some other sugar-laden thing. LP1 changed her mind once we got to the store and since I was in an accommodating mood, I let them have their treat. They had no candy yesterday and have been most excellent at eating all the vegetables, whole grains and fruits I push onto them.

I was pulling two very happy LP home and thinking about turning them loose in the back yard for a little while, looking at the pumpkins outside of other people's houses when I thought of the two pumpkins still on our front porch. Auntie K was due to join us at any moment. I knew exactly what our New Thing for today would be.

Aww yeah...that's right...we engaged in some PUMPKIN SMASHING!

We have a platform in the backyard beneath the clothesline. The idea is that you climb the stairs and stand on it to put the laundry out. As I mostly forget we even have a clothesline, we just call it "the stage" and it is usually a place for small children to put on a show. Next summer we intend to do big things to the backyard but for now, it is a sort of wild place, overrun with foliage, children's toys and a patio. Excuse the mess in the photos. I knew the stage would be a perfect launching pad for the pumpkins.

While we were waiting for Auntie K, we played a game of pumpkin soccer. The LP thought that kicking a small pumpkin around the patio was enormously entertaining. The pumpkin began to crack from the abuse we were inflicting upon it. Once Auntie K arrived, we explained what we were doing and she was immediately on board with this idea. In fact, she went up on the stage with LP1 and did the inaugural launch of the bigger pumpkin. It landed on the patio with a very satisfying THUNK. The LP looked at us for a moment and when they realized that yes, destroying a pumpkin was okay, began to laugh. LP1 was ready to continue. We let both kids take turns throwing pumpkin pieces and saved some of the bigger ones for ourselves. Let me tell you, it was fantastic. If you ever have a bad day, I highly recommend throwing pumpkins.

LP1 attempted to lift this. Obviously it was too heavy for her. She turned to us and said "can somebody please give me a hand?" It was the most adorable thing I'd seen all day.

The LP enjoy being given permission to destroy things and I knew that they were certainly enjoying our latest adventure. They would later tell Daddy all about how they smashed up his pumpkin with great pleasure. Baby giggles and peals of laughter filled the backyard. I'm not sure if LP2 entirely understood what we were doing but I know he liked helping me throw things into the air. LP1 kept asking Auntie K to help her throw more. Once we had reduced the two pumpkins to many bits all over the patio, the LP lost interest and wanted to move on to other things. Auntie K and I tried to engage them in pumpkin basketball but they were not interested in throwing broken bits of pumpkin into the green bin. We had been outside for quite some time and it was starting to cool off. I decided it was time to go in.

We had just come in for a snack when the phone rang. Although our call display indicated it was a local number, it sounded as if the call were coming from the bottom of the sea. And while it is possible that it was just a bad connection and the very heavily accented man on the other end was a newly arrived Canadian, I'm pretty sure this call was originating from the other side of the world. He launched into a spiel about a very special duct cleaning offer. Grandpa has probably told me about 850 times what type of heating to say we have whenever we get a call like this but I can never remember. I looked up in panic. "Auntie K!" I hissed. "What kind of..." And that is as far as I got before Auntie K began to laugh.

When you have a sister, there is a kind of shared connection that goes beyond words. Some sisters can tell when the other one is in pain. Others intuitively know things before they are told. And yes, there are times when Auntie K, Auntie J and I will call or send a message to one another and the reply will say "I was JUST ABOUT to send you a message!", our special connection is that we can make each other explode with laughter at the most inappropriate times, often just with a look. But not just any laughter. Highly contagious laughter that leaves you unable to speak. It can happen while in the middle of moving something extraordinarily heavy together, in places where laughter is frowned upon, like church, or while reading a message one of us has sent the other when we're in the middle of a meeting. Or, like today, when you're panicking because you can't remember what type of heat will make the duct salesman go away. I managed to choke out "Heat! What kind of heat doesn't have ducts?" as I covered the receiver. It felt like forever before she was able to gasp "ELECTRIC!" The man was saying "Hello? HELLO? MADAM?" from the bottom of the sea. It took all my might to recover enough to explain but by then Auntie K had started up again and I could barely speak. The man realized I was laughing and maybe he thought that electric heat was funny, too because he started to laugh before ending the call. Mr. Duct Salesman, whether you were just across town or hanging out with Sponge Bob, I apologize. I hope YOU had a nice day.

O brought us such joy. First we carved you up, then we stuck candles inside of you and finally we threw you onto hard cement. May your compost be a happy one. Thank you for your noble sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Thing #61: Trees, the great mystery of football, and leaves

There is a fine line between planning and letting things just happen. I'm sure you've heard the old adage "fail to plan, plan to fail". That particular old saw often runs through my head and drives me to be more organized and better at thinking things through. But then there's that saying about how the best things happen when you least expect them. Sometimes I find that when I am too committed to seeing something through, it all goes wrong. When I just roll with the proverbial punches and let things happen, sometimes it all goes even better than I imagine. I suppose it all comes down to being flexible and like the great philosopher Kenny Rogers advised, knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, knowing when to walk away and knowing when to run (is that song stuck in your head now, too?).

I changed my mind several times about what we were going to do today. Between another jam-packed weekend and our Hallowe'en adventures yesterday, the LP had had 3 late nights and were up to high doh (thank you, Maeve Binchy, for introducing me to that expression back when I had time to read your books) today. They had a half-day at daycare today and LP1 was so tired she fell asleep on the short drive back. LP2 was beyond tired and elected to skip his nap this afternoon. LP1 is still getting over her cold and alternates between wanting to be snuggled and ripping around the house. LP2 just wants to get into absolutely everything, from pulling everything out of the kitchen cupboards to climbing up the stairs as fast as he can. My initial instinct was to have a quiet afternoon indoors to allow them to rest and regroup. But as the sun beamed out from behind a cloud and it warmed up, I started rethinking that plan. Grandpa always says that being outside "knocks the starch out of you" and is the best way to tire children out. Of course, when we were kids he did always say that "best thing for you is some fresh air" when we were sick and I do remember Auntie K dutifully going outside once when she was sick and throwing up beside a tree. I just sprayed water everywhere, roaring with laughter at that memory. But Auntie K did recover, so possibly he was onto something there.

But throwing up on trees is not the point of this post. The point I am taking forever to get to is that I decided to change the plan from being quiet and inside to getting everyone outside. But beyond that, there was no plan. And that is what was stressing me out. What were we going to do? Fortunately, trying to get coats and shoes on the LP and get everyone out the door prevented me from developing an ulcer over my lack of direction. I put the LP in the ninky nonk and we set off. Where? I had no idea. I just knew that we needed to keep moving forward before someone started to cry.

As we were heading down the street, LP1 started pointing out things she thought were interesting. I had a sudden attack of inspiration. I told her that I would take pictures of things she liked on our walk. I would later come to regret this, but LP1 was immediately on board with this plan and lost no time in directing me to take pictures.

 This is a tree with beautiful leaves.

This leaf is on the ground. But not with that orange tree.

This tree has very nice branches.

These are beautiful clouds. But only these ones. Not the ones to the right of them.

This, apparently, is a tree she climbed with Uncle L (I have my doubts about this one).

All of these photographs were taken before we even got to the stop sign at the end of our street. I am not a photographer for National Geographic. It may surprise you to know that I'm not a photographer at all. And, if you really must know, I suspect little hands got into our camera and it is now on its very last legs. Taking a picture has become both a rigorous and embarrassing process that involves removing the battery and fiddling with several buttons after every shot just to get it to work again. I'm pretty sure it is going to go to camera heaven at any given moment. I'm telling you all this because I was tired of taking a picture every three steps. I picked up some random leaves on the ground and gave two to each of the children. This captured their attention. Here was something brightly coloured with an interesting texture that could be pulled apart. Operation 'Stop Taking Photos' was a success.

We rounded the corner and came upon the local highschool. A football team was practicing on the field. I thought this would be of interest to the LP so we went in for a closer look. The team seemed to be standing around, discussing who-knows-what for quite a while. Not interesting. When they lined up and started to practice type things, the LP became more interested. Unfortunately, this meant LP1 started to ask questions about what they were doing and why. I had no idea. Although I have watched many football games in my day, I've come to the conclusion that me "watching" a game is the same as an illiterate person "reading" the newspaper. We both know there's something going on there, but can't figure it out, so we stare and nod as if we can follow what is going on. I have had many people attempt to explain football to me and I still do not understand. Here's a secret: when I watch a football game, I'm usually looking at other funny last names or what kind of shoes they are wearing or advertising on the field or what the people on the bench are doing or scanning the crowd for the inevitable fat guy with his face painted. I am, therefore, the worst person to ask what is going on in a football practice. I decided two things: it was time to get out of there and that this is another area that falls  squarely into the category of "Things Daddy Will Address".

 Why are they all wearing different jerseys? I don't know. Why are they broken off into small groups? What's with the kid in the red jersey? More things I don't know. Or, really, care to know. I wonder if their calves were chilly. Why are they wearing what looks to be manpris for their uniform? I bet none of these guys would be caught in capri pants normally.

We were on our way back home when we came across a giant pile of leaves under a tree. Hmmm. I looked at the leaves and I looked at the LP. And then I knew just what to do. I filled their wagon up with leaves until they were covered up to their laps. They looked at me in surprise...and then started throwing the leaves in the air, at each other and onto the ground, letting out loud and contagious laughs as they did so. The three of us were standing in the middle of the sidewalk, laughing away. I got as many pictures as I could. Whenever they had thrown all the leaves out, they would ask for me. I filled that wagon with bright yellow leaves several times. Both kids were loving playing with the leaves. LP2 would throw some up in the air and then would bury his hands in the pile. LP1 was like the Tasmanian Devil, whirling and throwing and generally getting the leaves out as fast as she could take them in.

When I noticed that their cheeks were turning pink (and let's be honest, when I got tired of filling the wagon), we said goodbye to the leaves and continued home, still laughing and talking about leaves. There really is something to be said for not always knowing what you're going to do next.