Saturday, September 29, 2007

A new dining experience - the buffet.

Got a call from a friend yesterday. Her husband is away for a boy's football get away to NY and she was tired of cooking for herself and her two kids. First off, I'm not the one to commiserate with about a husband being away for a couple of nights. I'm probably going on night 180. Secondly, just how exhausting is it to whip up KD for 3 people? All that stirring and standing over the hot stove and all.

OK, in her defense, her husband does most of the cooking and since Dan has been away I have enjoyed quite a few of his home cooked meals so I didn't give her too hard of a time. I would like to get invited back again! Instead I supported her by agreeing to go out to dinner with her...and our combined total of 4 kids. Mind you, I did have some conditions - absolutely no McDonald's, Burger King, or any other place that serves a happy meal or has an indoor play park. Have you ever been in one of those restaurant play parks? They.are.very.very.GROSS! Signs in the play park area state that kids must have socks on to go in and some restaurants actually sell socks at the cash in case you are toting a sandal clad, and thus sockless, kid. I think they should provide some sort of disposable full body jump suit for the kids. Not that I've been climbing and sliding through the whole thing but I have had to make it up a level or two to rescue a kid in their younger days and have had to battle the slimy sludge that covers the entire play structure. And you just know that some kid has peed in there recently too! Thinking they may want to change their sock policy to a diaper policy.

Now, my kids have eaten out at restaurants a fair bit and generally order from the kid's menu but tonight was a brand new experience for them...Chinese buffet. It was great, if not really nutritious. For the low cost of $7 Erin managed to eat (and I am totally NOT exaggerating) 5 lemon squares, 3 helpings of Jello, a bowl of ice cream and one chicken ball. There were nibbles from all of the other desserts offered but I guess nothing compared to the lemon square. I think she has a thing for lemons - she also went back to the buffet at least three times to get lemon slices which she likes to suck on. Allie did try a few more of the buffet items but also really got her money's worth out of the dessert table. I gained about 5 pounds. Thankfully the restaurant was quite busy so no one was actually keeping track of the number of times I went back up to the trough - I mean - buffet. Oddly enough I did not have dessert at all. Strange - dessert and I usually have a love/hate relationship. I love to eat it and I hate what it does to my butt! I guess I took my cue from Erin and all her slightly nibbled cast-offs. If those cream puffs, wafer squares and almond cookies weren't good enough for her then my discerning palate would just avoid them too. That and the fact that my jeans (with stretch) were stretched to capacity.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

6 Degrees of Facebook

I have 35 friends.

I know this because I'm on Facebook.

And everyone knows that a Facebook friend is a real, true friend.

Currently I have two people requesting to be my friend - one is someone that I don't really want to be friends with (and hopefully she doesn't have the link to this blog!) and the other is...someone...and that's all I know. I checked her profile picture and she doesn't look familiar. Although those 1" x 1" profile pics don't show a lot of detail. I am pretty sure she is indeed a she. Come to think of it, the name is kind of gender neutral. I checked her on-line photo albums where the photos are much bigger and she has lovely pictures of a recent trip to Rome to see the Pope - not really something most of my friends are doing these days. Aha...a clue! She has signed onto my high school class of ?? (don't want to date myself too badly!) so surely I must know her as we were a class of about 200 and I seriously think that back in the day (you know the day I mean - before having kids fried my memory cells) I could put a name to every face. So putting on my super sleuthing Sherlock Holmes double billed hat, I do what every good modern day detective does - I ask my other Facebook Friends from the Class of ?? if they know who this Pope-visiting friend is. Neither of them have a clue, although one, in the quest to grow her friends list, has accepted her friendship.

That - the ever growing friends list - is a major competition. I think Facebook may be one of these "He who has the most friends wins" type of deals. Seriously, do you have 742 friends? I think the powers that be at Facebook should give serious consideration to renaming the "Friends" portion of the site. Perhaps "Casual Acquaintances" or "People I stalk from afar" or maybe even "People my cousin in Toronto knows" would be better names for this list.

Facebook, AKA Crackbook for its addictive nature, is a ton of fun though. I've connected with friends from elementary, junior and high school, university, previous jobs, shared hobbies, etc. What is really strange is the whole "6 degrees of separation" thing. I've found friends on other friends' friends' friends lists (confusing you yet? Could be my total lack of understanding of how to use an apostrophe in the plural possessive!) OK, with or without the apostrophe issue it is still confusing. I'll try to clear that up with a Wikipedia explanation - six degrees of separation refers to the idea that, if a person is one "step" away from each person he or she knows and two "steps" away from each person who is known by one of the people he or she knows, then everyone is no more than six "steps" away from each person on Earth. Clear as mud, right? Do you suppose Kevin Bacon is the creator of Facebook?

While I really enjoy searching out and being found by old friends (and mystery people) I pretty much curb my Facebooking ( a new word??) to a couple of special interest groups (like the Class of ??) but some of my other friends are tossing drinks, throwing books, growing gardens and poking each other - virtually, of course. I really draw the line at your pet wanting to be friends with my pet. First off, Cocoa's paws are too big for the keyboard and she gets really ticked when her messages come out all scrambled and secondly, I'm already sharing the computer with 2 Webkins-loving kids so I'm not letting a dog cut into my computer time too!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Blog this! Scrap WHAT???????

OK, the name of my blog is "Blog this! Scrap that!" Essentially, I am trying to preserve memories by telling stories (that would be the Blog This part of the title) and scrapping (the Scrap This part) For the uninitiated, scrapping (or scrapbooking) is a gazillion dollar craft industry (which I, contrary to Dan's belief, DO NOT single handedly support) that requires picture takers to spend lots of money on fancy papers, ribbons, glues, embellishments, etc. to design pages with photos and journaling to preserve memories. So, part of my blog is supposed to be about this. Six posts in and I have yet to share any scrapping. That's because I seem to have, umm, not done any scrapping in a long time. when Dan left at the beginning of April I had visions of me scrapping every night after the kids went to bed - Didn't happen!

I am happy to report that that dark period in my life is over -my scrapping mojo is back!

Us scrappers like to get together and preserve our memories at events called crops. We generally say things like, "I'm going to a crop. Do you want to come and scrap with me?" Dan, in his unending wit and sarcasm, always asks when I get home from one of these crops if anyone got hurt - get it???? Scrap with me??? Yeah, I don't find it funny either but after 2761 crops he still asks me that every time.

Anyway, since hiring a babysitter for a day long crop would seriously dip into scrapbook supplies funds, I mean the grocery budget, I haven't been to a crop since March (Another post topic could be the exorbitant hourly fee my babysitter charges - you know, the one that is never available anyway)

Dan doesn't understand why I like to physically GO to crops. it takes me a week to decide what to pack up and 2 weeks to unpack it all when I come home again. And heaving those 50 pound tool boxes into the trunk is hard on the back. However, when one weighs the options - a day out of the house, with no kids calling "MOM!!!", no cooking (meals are provided - who cares if I do any scrapping at all!), etc. i am quite happy to pack, unpack, heave and lift.

I also hang out on-line at various scrapbooking sites where literally thousands of other scrapbooking addicted women (and 2 men) seek solace with their peers. Who else can sympathize about that lost photo opportunity? Or congratualte you on learning how to download a cowboy style font to your computer to make the perfect title for your western themed photos. This past weekend one of the sites held an on-line crop and women (no men - I guess they were busy this weekend) from coast to coast participated in scrapbooking challenges and games from the comfort of their own homes. If you can't get out to a crop this is the next best thing.

Anyway, now that I have actually scrapped I can share some Scrap This stuff with you - enjoy! I'll only share a few today just in case my mojo disapears again I'll have some back ups for those days when my sarcasm mojo is missing too!
Icons of Summer Challenge - use photos without people to convey something about your summer
AD challenge - based on a magazine ad

Supersize Challenge - use extra large elements

Monday, September 10, 2007

For Sale!

No I'm not trying to get rid of the kids, the dog or even Dan's collection of size small T-shirts that he's had since junior high and that he thinks still fit. In fact, I'm not actually selling anything at all...but I am negotiable if you would like to rent the kids for a weekend.

However, it does seem that our neighbours are looking to sell. We live on a cul-de-sac with 8 other homes - 2 of which went up for private sale this past week. We like our home for many reasons - one being the quiet cul-de-sac. Quiet meaning absolutely no traffic. This does not mean quiet as in no screaming and yelling kids playing in the quiet (no traffic) cul-de-sac. Do you think it's a coincidence that the 2 houses up for sale are owned by, to say it PC, baby boomers?

So, it looks like we will be getting new neighbours. Would it be too much to ask for...

- kids (preferably girls) ages 6 and 8 and perhaps a 14 year old with no social life that would like to babysit on the odd chance Dan and I might go out on the same night, or even odder that we might go out on the same night - together.

- dog lovers that will be tolerant of a run away chocolate lab and what the run away chocolate lab leaves behind as she continues being a run away.

- a mom that likes to scrapbook instead of playing soccer. Most of the other neighbourhood moms like to sweat and run and chase balls around the field. I, on the other hand prefer the slower paced and less sweaty sport of scrapbooking.

- new homeowners who are as interested in gardening as I am. This means that they do their best to maintain the status quo but generally let the weeds creep in and the grass grow a little high.

- A SAHM who likes to visit back and forth, drink coffee and share household cleaning tips, recipes and neighbourhood secrets. Oh sorry, I forgot that my life isn't at all Leave-it-to-beaver-ish and I really don't like coffee (but a pina colada is always appreciated!) On second thought, I would just like a SAHM who wouldn't mind looking after my kids after school on the days I get called in to supply teach because I'm hoping I won't be much of a SAHM this year (I'm gonna be a SAHPTM - stay at home part time mom.)

What would be really great is if these houses were actually bought at their asking prices...and quickly. Being military and having the possibility of a posting every APS (that's annual posting season for all you civilians) we are always concerned with the real estate market. These houses are listed at 50K more than what we paid 2 years ago so it looks like the market is still moving up...and that is what we like - except the darn taxes seem to go up too! Of course these houses, owned by petless baby boomers, are probably pristine inside. I'm hoping all the paint chipped corners, dog gouged gyprock and nail-polished counter-tops won't cost us 50K! Maybe I should sell the kids, the dog and perhaps throw in the T-shirt collection as an added bonus to ensure that my home is in pristine condition when we need to sell.

Of course then I couldn't be SAHM or a SAHPTM and I'd be forced to get a full time job. I guess I'll keep the kids and the dog.

Anyone wanna buy a vintage T-shirt? I need to make up that 50K somewhere!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Socks - you thought they were just for feet!

I knew there'd be trouble if I started a blog. I've had a lot of nice comments about my entries being funny, humorous, a delight to read, etc. How can I let you all down gently (yes...all 3 of you!) and let you know that after 4 entries I seem to have exhausted my sarcastic sense of humour. Sure, funny things happen here and there but I guess I've raised the bar a bit and a little blurb about one of the kids going to bed with socks on their hands just isn't going to cut it anymore.

So I could talk about the the time when...

Well...I guess the sock story will have to suffice.

A little history... I've always hated soothers, pacifiers, sissies, and the politically incorrect but very popular in Newfoundland, dumb tit! I swore I would never have a 4 year old wearing a soother tied on a string around her neck. Instead, I had a week old, screaming baby. Desperate for a reprieve, I threw all the neatly boxed baby gifts out of the closet in search of a soother that I remembered had been given to us as part of a shower gift. I stuck it in Allie's mouth and there it pretty much stayed for 2 and a 1/2 years (except for every morning at about 2 am when it would need to be popped back in, or when we were at the mall and it would fall onto the floor a dozen times requiring me to lick off all the crud before popping it back in her mouth - we soon got smart and bought one of those clip on straps and I no longer had to lick mall crud!) By 2 and a 1/2 I was ready to separate Allie from her most prized possession. One by one all of her soosies got lost - all 5 of them (new parents take note - any item that your child treasures, get at least 2 of them - shelling out the extra dough will save you hours of grief and lost sleep when you child loses Binky or Poppy or whatever the treasured possession's name is.) Even at 4, if we went to the Co-Op she would comment that this is where "Pink soosie" got lost, or how "Baby soosie" met its demise at the mall. Do you suppose she'll need some psychological counselling later on?

So, isn't Allie who has gone to bed with socks on her hands

Erin, 6, sucks her thumb. When she was weeks old and the thumb first found it's way into her mouth it was just sooooooo cute. Unlike her big sister, Erin would go to bed at night and sleep 12 hours. We loved that thumb! Can I just say that again? We LOVED that thumb! Now that we are looking at major orthodontic work the cute factor has worn off and we are long past the night time wakings of babies and toddlers. The Children's Aid people kind of frown on thumb amputation as a solution to thumb sucking so we've resorted to bribery. If she is successful in keeping her thumb out of her mouth there will be a new Webkin's animal taking up residence in our house. I know, I know - bribery is not a really good solution. But the Webkin only costs $14 while orthodontics is...well, just slightly more! And besides when I bribed her with a Littlest Pet Shop toy if she would get in the pool for swimming lessons it worked. The first lesson she wouldn't even put her toe in the water and after the bribe you would swear her mother was a mermaid (and no, I don't have a seashell bra!)

During the day she has been kept pretty busy so I'm not sure if she even thinks about putting her thumb in. Besides, her older sister (pretending to be helpful but really just tattling) lets it be known as soon as that thumb starts heading north. Nighttime of course is a different story. It's kind of a conditioned response - eyes close and thumb goes in. Hence the socks. First we just put the sock on her left hand where her thumb of choice has been known to blister from so much sucking. She has become less discriminatory and now will suck her right thumb too so she now has socks on both hands. I know there is bitter tasting nail polish that can help keep fingers out of mouths but being a nail biter and reformed finger sucker myself, I can say with certainty that you can get used to the taste after a while. I know, some of you are going to run right out to buy it and see just how long it takes to develop a taste for this stuff, but trust me on this one!

So, the socks are working out. At least she isn't sucking at night. However, I do find the sock method somewhat lacking in its ability to aid in the reversal of orthodontic issues. Looks like those teeth will likely need some big-bucks braces after all.

Anyone interested in investing in my new product? I'm thinking a cute name like "Thumb-B-Gone", thumb covers (aka socks) in a variety of colours and prints to match any pyjamas or bedroom decor. We currently use packing tape to hold the sock on but the new design will use velcro. Of course I'd sell them in pairs for those kids that couldn't care less what thumb or finger was in their mouths. And all for the very reasonable price of $9.99. After all you wouldn't want to put just a regular sock on your child's hand, would you? At that price I should be able to cover orthodontics and university tuition. Of course Dan once thought he was going to make a mint on something he invented...until he went to Zellers and bought the item in question for $4. And don't tell me that people won't pay $10 for a pair of socks. Sure they will - you can sell anything on a TV infomercial. People buy things like the clapper, Ginsu knives that can cut through tin cans (cuz I know I quite often have the need to cut through tin cans), and the ever popular pocket fisherman - the fishing rod that folds up to fit in your pocket - just in case you feel the need to go fishing on your lunch hour (I've always wondered though, just where do they keep the bait?)

Sorry for the delay in posting this blog entry. But I thought I would report in after our dentist appointment yesterday. Seems everyone is brushing well and our non-existent flossing routine has not caused any damage - yet. Erin told the hygienist that she brushes 3 times a day - that would occur only under great duress or after the consumption of massive quantities of gummie worms. The dentist seemed pleased with our sock on the hand method but I could see that glint in his eye and just know that he was rushing home to patent my idea - like he needs more money after what I shelled out yesterday! So, Erin is doing well and we hope that her new front teeth (she has one lost and the other dangling) will come in at a better angle.

Allie on the other hand has an issue - she has an improper tongue thrust. Ever hear of that? I'm not so sure it isn't a conspiracy between the dentist and the orthodontist. Essentially, when she swallows, her tongue pushes out against her teeth instead of pushing up against the roof of her mouth, resulting in her front teeth being pushed out. If she corrects the thrust it will definitely help, although I'm pretty sure 98% of kids are wearing braces now anyway (see the afore mentioned conspiracy.) Furthermore, if this thrust is not corrected, and she does wear braces, once the braces are removed her tongue thrust will just displace the teeth again. So, option one is tongue amputation but again, this method lost its appeal back in the 60s - you know, that whole human rights issue, free speech, etc. I thought about redesigning the thumb covers into a tongue cover, but really, how would you like to have a sock wadded into your mouth all night? The dentist suggests chewing gum (sugarless, of course) and flattening it out on the roof of your mouth to train your tongue to stay up there. The other option is to let her use a soother to retrain her tongue - No, not really, I'm just joking but wouldn't that be too ironic?

So now, not only do I have to re-invent socks into thumb-sucker eliminators but I also have to re-invent gum into tongue thrust repositioners - a mother's work is never done!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Mothers of the world unite!

It's here! It's here! School starts today!

Every mother is heaving a sigh of relief. Well, OK, maybe not all mothers. Those mothers that are sending their firstborns on that big, scary school bus with the big, scary 6th graders are sobbing uncontrollably as they attempt to follow the school bus on its winding path of starts and stops on the way to school. And you know what...even those big, scary Dads might be wiping away a tear or two. One of our neighbours admits to hiding in the bushes to see his son get off the bus at school undetected.

I admit it - I also followed the school bus on Allie's first day of school - what seems like years and years ago. She excitedly hopped on the bus not caring about the strange, bearded man driving the bus. I'm sure he had a clean police check, an excellent driving record, and probably knew how to get to the school after driving the route for years but I was taking no chances. After all I'd just shelled out big bucks on the Barbie back-pack with matching lunch bag and spent many long hours (OK, really just a few minutes) labelling all those pencils, crayons and blunt-tipped scissors that can't cut a thing. I wanted to make sure my investments were safe. Luckily Allie, her back pack and all the accessories made it to school safely and I only needed one box of kleenex to wipe up my tears.

I also followed the school bus on the 2nd day of school.

After day one was such a success I trusted the bus driver (still the strange, bearded man) to get my daughter to school. Plus, with all the other mom's following the bus, the school parking lot was just a mad house! No, the reason I followed the bus was in case Allie threw up. Did I send my kid to school with a stomach virus? No! Was she nervous about school? No! My daughter simply was expressing her opinion that getting up early in the morning every once in a while was OK but expecting her to get up and catch a bus for 7:25 EVERY weekday morning was ridiculous - and I, not being a morning person, was in agreement - but the school board was expecting us to either A) send her to school or B) home school her. Although I am a SAHM and a teacher in my other life this wasn't an option. The kid would be so confused - am I in detention or is this a time-out? Why is Mommy watching Oprah during school time? My policy is to keep your job and home-life well separated. The two don't mix. Ideally, I would win the lottery and my home life would be forever separated from the job market.

So, since she did indeed have to attend school, Dan and I struggled to get her dressed. I think she may have a direct bloodline to Houdini. As fast as we put a piece of clothing on she was out of it. Finally, she had clothes on and I literally dragged her down our 2.5 mile long driveway. OK, it's really not quite that long but you just try dragging a kicking, screaming 5 year old anywhere and you'll know what I mean.

Allie is still screaming and crying when the bus pulls up...

Strange, bearded driver: Put her on.

Me: Are you sure?

SBD: Yup.

Me: Will she be all right?

SBD: Lady, if you give in to her today and drive her to school later you'll end up doing that all year.

So, I put her on the bus sobbing and retching. I race to get in the car to follow the bus. Yesterday's tears were nothing compared to the sobbing of today. How could I cause such anguish to a small child? How could I go through this ordeal again tomorrow? How could afford all the kleenex, not to mention the gas? Maybe I should home school her? Then again, maybe not! Every time the bus flashed those red lights I was sure my vomit-covered child (and possibly the kids sitting within projectile-vomiting distance) would be coming off the bus. At last we reach the school and lo and behold, off the bus she comes - happy and smiling and ready for school.

Who knew bus drivers were so full of wisdom?

So, that was waaaaay back in 2004 - times they are a changin' - I won't be following anyone to school. Admittedly, since we moved I can see the school from my bedroom window so I could get the binoculars out but the neighbours across the street might report me. This year I'll drop the kids off at the bus stop and the dog and I will enjoy a leisurely stroll unhindered by children whining that we are walking too far, too fast, in the wrong direction, or, God forbid, it's too hot, cold, wet (make your choice according to the season.)

You know what I'm going to do then?

I'm going to go shopping. Now that all the rugrats are back in school us moms can take back our malls, our grocery stores, and, for those of us that pretend we can do anything, our hardware stores. No longer will we have to deal with run away carts driven by 6 year olds. We can try on bras to our hearts' content without small children in the dressing room (hopefully they are our own small children!) commenting on size (or lack there of - so NOT my problem!) We can even make it home without random items, like Depends, the expensive cereals with the "just gotta have them" prizes, or liverwurst ending up in our grocery bags.

Mothers of the world unite! Credit card companies get ready!

Disclaimer - Dan, if you are reading this please note that the above blog entry is a figment of your imagination. There will be NO shopping, I repeat...NO SHOPPING!

I am happy to report that the pictures below show my happy smiling children just minutes before boarding the bus this morning (one of them is under orders to act happy and smiley!) I am also happy to report that there were no parental tears at the bus stop. Of course, we are all seasoned parents, happy to see our children progress along the academic timeline, learning new skills and making new friends. So happy in fact that we are celebrating our children's' progress -shopping, golfing, enjoying bon bons and watching talk shows - I'm sure we each have our own way of showing how happy we are that the kids are back in school...

Erin, 6, grade 1

Allie, 8, grade 3

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sleep overs? Is anyone actually sleeping?

Quite possibly the biggest misnomer in the english language.

How can a giggling bunch of girls possibly sleep at a sleep over? OK, really, I know they do actually sleep...a bit...a really little bit...maybe 2 or 3 hours. I don't think it was always like this. I can remember as a kid sleeping over at friends' homes and sure we did giggle and act silly and stuff but I'm also sure we were asleep before 11 and I can't imagine that we were up at the crack of dawn. I never, if I could possibly help it, have seen the need to be waking up at the crack of dawn.

Listen! Can you hear it? At my house this is called the calm before the storm. Both girls spent the night at Olivia's house. They aren't home yet. This is the quiet part. Their arrival home will precipitate the STORM. Tired, cranky, mean to their sister (OK, meaner than normal to their sister.)

I don't like sleep overs much. I especially don't like sleep overs much when they take place in my home. Not only do I have to deal with the tired, cranky, mean children the day after BUT I also have to stay up until the giggly, silly, won't shut their eyes kids go to sleep and I have to wake up when the tired but not quite yet cranky and mean (this state manifests as soon as the sleep over is over) children wake up. This lack of sleep also makes the Mom tired, cranky and meaner to her daughters - and if the husband was not away making peace in a foreign land he would surely feel the wrath as well because while the giggly, silly kids were awake he was at the neighbours enjoying a beer and when the tired and soon to be cranky, mean kids got up he would surely manage to be oblivious to this fact and continue snoring.

For the last number of years I have gone on at least one weekend sleep over a year with a group of giggling, silly, scrapbooking women. While I don't care much for kids sleepovers, frustrated mom sleepovers are great! Do we sleep? Not much. Do we have fun? You bet! Are we tired, cranky and mean? Not to each other but spouses and children should tread softly around us once we get home. Laughing into the wee hours (it is all right to GO TO BED at the crack of dawn!) , stuffing ourselves on chocolate treats, sharing memories with good friends - THIS is why I let my kids go on sleep overs!