Monday, March 30, 2009
About 2 weeks ago, we were awaken but an enormous sound. We both jumped out of bed, adrenaline pumping. It sounded like a noise from the kids' bathroom, maybe something falling into the bathtub which of course registers on the Richter scale even if it's only a rubber ducky.
I assumed that J Boy made a nocturnal pee pee visit and knocked something into the tub in his stupor. Husband went to investigate. He was gone several minutes so I assumed that the clamour has also scared the crap out of J and Husband was getting him settled back into bed.
Husband came back with a puzzled look on his face. Both kids were fast asleep. There was something in the tub, but it somehow didn't make sense that it could make the noise. We both agreed it was either two noises or a longer noise. We both pondered this as we attempted to get back to sleep. I stared at the green light on our alarm system, knowing that if an intruder was in the house it would go out and I could wake Husband up to investigate (thought I did this one other night and it turned out to be J wandering around the family room thinking it was time to get up at 3 a.m).
The next day I went to put away some recycling in the laundry room and found the source of the noise. A shelf affixed to the wall had given way. I really don't know why those flimsy brackets could not hold a basket of batteries, a pail full of cleaning products, 4 litres of wiper fluid (one gallon) and a heavy flashlight. Mystery solved (but the shelf is still not repaired - Husband has been busy filing paper).
Fast forward a week. Husband and I are watching a show in our room, S is asleep and J Boy is in bed nursing a loose tooth that should have come out months earlier. The smoke detector goes off. Now this is a frequent occurrence in our house as the smoke detector often goes off when we open the hot oven door, light a candle or sigh heavily. We have a whole procedure that involves flapping a tea towel, opening of certain doors, closing of others. The whole family knows the drill.
But on this evening, we are done with cooking (or reheating as it usually is in this house) and no one was breathing heavily. We bolt out of our bedroom and we smell smoke and it's fresh. We run downstairs thinking we left the toaster oven on (again) but the smoke smell is not down there and seems to be isolated upstairs. There are only 2 lights on upstairs and nothing else is plugged in. Husband and I run around like wild chickens looking for the source of the smoke. Husband retrieves the mini fire extinguisher and we are feeling walls for potential sizzling wires within them.
The smell does seem isolated in the hallway. It's not getting stronger otherwise I would have taken the kids outside and called 911. But we want to know the source as we obviously will not go to sleep with something smouldering in the house.
I think Husband got the idea that a bug in the light might be the culprit. Sure enough, a little beetle has the misfortune of landing on the bulb in our sconce, which is conveniently located just under our smoke detector. Another mystery solved.
We do wonder what the house has in store for us next? Chandelier falling from the ceiling? TVs mysteriously turning themselves on in the middle of the night? I am personally hoping for the house to spontaneously clean itself.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Naturally, you put on your bathing suit and run in the sprinker.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Each year I redouble my efforts to conquer the paper accumulation. I get new folders, labels or baskets to make it easier to deal with the flow. Any improvements are temporary.
When Husband and I were engaged (10 years ago), I would complain about the paper accumulation. Even single and theoretically with plenty of time on my hands, I was already drowning in paper. Soon-to-be Husband, much like his sock matching prowess, had no trouble filing papers as they arrived in the mail. Right there, I made almost-Husband take an oath to always be the one who filed the papers in the family.
And so it evolved in our family. I paid the bills, as in made sure they were pre-authorized and more vexingly made sure that we had enough money in our bank account every month to pay the VISA bill. Husband would mind the paper. Pre-kids he did a fantastic job. Even with just the J Boy he would find a Saturday afternoon when J was napping and I was surfing the internet trying to find the perfect set of swimming lessons for J, and he would catch up on the filing.
Luckily all our bills but one are set to automatically be paid from our bank account. But the statements, letters and other miscellanea accumulated in piles that spontaneously appeared. If the pile on the kitchen counter became too troublesome by, say, obscuring the view of takeout menus, we'd start another pile on the dining room table. Every once in a great while (like when we were having people over) we would gather up the piles and make one huge pile in a corner of the den. For a while we'd feel virtuous because we could see the dining room table, but soon a few weeks of mail would accumulate in the same spots.
When S turned one we had a full court press to catch up and we recycled much and managed to finally file the rest. By "we" of course I me Husband as he did all the work and caught us up to date. For the most part, he's really kept it up. It wasn't done monthly but every few months, he'll clear a space and start sorting.
Over 2008, somehow the wheels fell off the wagon. It may be that Husband and I both had increasing commitments at church. I think the overstuffed file cabinets made filing even less appealing and sometimes impossible. The kids have more activities so we spend more time in swimming pools, gyms and tae kwan do studios. And of course kids bring on their own deluge of paper from school and activities. Don't even get me started on home art projects, unfinished books, and scraps of paper that I think should be heading straight for the recycle bin, only to be told "But Mommy, those are tickets for our show!!"
Last week when I prepared our 2008 tax returns, I needed to find our 2007 returns. They were not in the tax folders, as I expected. I found them in the 'to be filed' basket. That means we're a year behind in our filing!
So this weekend Husband got to the sorting. I worked on digging through some other piles of paper that accumulated due only to my own sloven behaviours. In a few short hours we made fantastic progress. It's all made easier by the bigger file cabinet Husband acquired a while ago, so he can see the files and actually get into them without shredding his cuticles.
The downside of all this going-through-papers is we came across five (and counting) 2008 tax receipts so I will have to file amended tax returns. It is certainly bad enough to be filing tax returns ONCE, I certainly do not want to prepare twice, which is ample incentive to keep up with the paper chase.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Twins day, also called give-the-kids-license-to-shun-other-kids-day, is where kids may dress up like a friend.
S (puppy dog eyes): But I want to be twins with J.
S: Will you be twins wiff me?
Me: J, do you have twins day on Friday too?
Me (to S): We'll find you someone in your class for you to be twins with.
Me: Why is that?
J: Because N, B, E and I are all dressing up the same.
S: A jeans skirt and a blue butterfly top.
Monday, March 23, 2009
By the time S was ready to ride, the bike was functional but well used. She didn't seem to mind and also traveled many blocks on 'her bike'.
J of course graduated to a 'real' trike and the two could often be found on our driveway racing around the van, which may explain some previously unexplained scratches.
We did try to appease the princessy one by pinking up her bike: streamers and a basket for bringing her puppies along on
J needed a new bike last year and we bought him a used blue one. I confess we steered him away from any that were too overtly boyish (camo) in the hopes that S could use this bike one day too.
So this year, J needs a new bike again. We were planning to splash for a new one as he is up to a 20 inch wheel, which we are told the kids actually use for more than one or two years. We found this extremely cool one and J Boy was pretty good from the first. Well, initially he couldn't figure out the hand brakes, but he was practicing on the track at the high school so we just told him to ride around the runners instead of stopping. I know, we're so responsible.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I told Husband the good news, that we could finally afford the kitchen reno of our dreams and maybe even hire someone to clean around here once in a while. But the euphoria wore off once I realized we could not be receiving back many times more than we paid and discovered that I missed a decimal point.
Meanwhile the friction twins were arguing about who got to play with the only ball they could find in the backyard (I believe squirrels must have taken the other 30 that I know were there last fall). The only suitable ball that could break the impasse was seen to be a beach ball estranged from our family for a couple of years. Husband, in a well-meaning effort to get the Bickersons out of our hair for 20 seconds, suggested that they check the linen closet upstairs where we keep the beach towels and pool things that float. They did and came down the 20 seconds later empty-handed as unhappy as they went up.
I should have wondered just how they could have determined so quickly that aforementioned beach ball was not there. As I reached the top of the stairs, I was greeted by a massive pile of entangled sheets, blankets and table clothes and realized that they pulled everything off of every shelf they could reach in both linen closets.
Ironically, just today I had been telling Husband that when we moved into our house in June 2006, I went for speed over accuracy in unpacking intending to organize later. I never did get back to our linen closets.
So instead of surfing the Internet for available military elementary schools to send the offspring, I seized the twilight of our spring break to organize the closets.
Everything is folded. Well the fitted sheets are more squashed together as I have never been able to get those to fold nicely. I was always convinced that no one that has not worked in the linen department at Sears can either (or to reverse that double negative, only those that have worked in Sears linen departments can fold fitted sheets). But the mother of one of my "Sisters" excels in the ability to fold fitted sheets so you could fit it in an envelope and mail it with no need for extra postage. (Mrs. F, are you busy??)
None the less, I'm pretty proud of my effort and want it recorded on the blogosphere as I doubt it will last into the next calender month. And yes, I even made labels for every shelf. Take THAT Martha Stewart.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The kids watched a double feature in the back seat and apart from regular "how much longer?" from J Boy, who needs a tangible measure of our progress, we were pretty pleased. To be fair, they (and we) were pretty excited and it's not easy to sit in your chair when your excited and genetically programmed to wiggle all the time.
Then I committed The Unpardonable Sin of car travel.
"How much longer?", J requested an update.
"One hour and fifteen minutes".
The words were barely out of my mouth when Husband tensely correctly my mistake "Mommy means two hours and fifteen minutes!"
Apparently such mistakes are not to be tolerated in the confines of a minivan. There are no parental do-overs for trip time estimates. J extracted his pound of flesh by telling us he was refusing to eat or pee for the rest of the day.
If he had just meted out his punishment, we might have been willing to take it like good parental soldiers. But he had to remind us in not-the-pleasantest-of-voices every 7 seconds of his refusal to eat or pee. Add to that he was hungry and "J boy" and "hungry" are words best not uttered in the same breath unless separated by the word "not".
Fortunately, he did eventually recover and ate half of our lunch bag.
I wish I had a Mommy-cam to record the look of pure joy in the eyes of my first born. And that was just in the lineup. "Remember, you have to hang on tight, Mommy!" "Did you know there is a SIX foot drop??" "Are you scared Mommy?"
They are all playing Magiquest. The wands are quite high tech and part of an interactive game that takes place on 5 floors of the hotel. There are monitors where one waves the wand and you pick one of 12 Quests to start. Once you've advanced you can play the 3 adventures. The Magi will direct you to your mission. The parents are not left out, they are all carrying around tiny little manuals trying to figure out where the Man in the Stump lives, or on what floor they saw the Book of Secrets.
Playing is not cheap. The game is $10. The wand is $15. If you want a light up topper, to really make the wand look cool it's another $15. Ribbons are $3 each and I didn't even check how much the wand holsters were. Or the costumes, shields or swords.
The adventures are hard and requires interaction with a gigantic screen and you have to know what to do when and in what order. There was always a lineup so you had one chance and then to the back of the line. Husband or I took the final turns. I don't think even our tech savvy J Boy could have done what was required in the right order and the the perfect timing required .
The room has a microwave and mini fridge and we ate all our meals in the room with food we brought. We did require purloined plastic utensils from restaurants and drank our wine from Styrofoam coffee cups. We're nothing if not resourceful.
We didn't pay for any of the crafts at the Cub Club, we opted not to get a stuff animal (think Build a Bear) and we didn't acquire or decorate Crocs. So I think we made out alright.
Although the place was swarming with BC spring breaking families, the lineups at the pool were not bad. Only the Tornado had consistent lineups. We avoided when it was long so usually only waited about 10 minutes. Other lines were shorter and sometimes none. We were told the hotel was at 75% of capacity. It was a little crowded doing MagiQuest at times. But never enough to stop us.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Ever since J entered our family 7.5 years ago, packing for a trip has never been the same. I now have to pack clothes for 3 people (Husband is well-trained to pack his own stuff). While they no longer need to accompanied by equipment (high chair, bouncy seats, playyards) they still require entertainment items. They will need a few toys, a few books and comforts for sleeping. This includes a CD player so they will go to sleep with minimal egress from their respective beds. They will also need a good supply of paper, pens, pencils, markers, plus glue and tape as you never know when they will want to make signs. Of course we also need food and snacks and the usual supply of Mommy things (wet wipes for cleanups, emergency candy, and a couple new items to keep them busy and from the brink of boredom).
Well, the progeny are taking the joy out of it all: they want to pack for themselves.
Oh, they want ME to go get their stuff and bring it to them, but they want to stuff it into their own bags with their toys. They want to bring too many toys and books so there is little room left for an occasional change of underwear and socks. While I guess I should embrace their owning up to some of the responsibility, folding the stuff up and putting it in bags, organizing by outfit, is the part I actually enjoy. Why can't the love unpacking. I would happily part with that task.
J actually tortures me by stuffing his clothes into his backpack without folding it. It's not like anything needs ironing, but he's not enjoying himself! S asked me to fold a couple things because "I don't know how to fold tops, Mommy". Bless her heart, she's trying to follow MY rules.
Addendum: Another thing that makes getting ready to go challenging, I just found J Boy riding his scooter on our indoor mini-tramp. Seriously, can't he just sit and watch sports on TV or something? That's what I want to be doing. S has not been unbusy herself. She's busy pulling things out of her packed suitcase. I will have to check everything later.
Friday, March 13, 2009
S reminded me that holidays don't necessarily bring perfectly compliant children even if we are doing super-fun-kid stuff. And I do assume when we spend money to do fun stuff, they will behave.
She threw it. She just barely missed her Daddy's head. There was an enormous bang in addition to miscellaneous rattles as toys scattered in our entry way. Husband and I both looked to see what had made the noise. None of their toys are that loud (cheap plastic toys crack and break, they don't bang). Husband's cranium just narrowed missed an assault of my bible. Both testaments.
Friday, March 6, 2009
I wish by "creative" I meant crafty. Because the craft stuff can be contained to more or less one area and cleaned up fairly easily (especially now that I have the craft cart on wheels to be wheeled to and from kitchen table).
But they completely take over the house. Remember Cooking stuffies? The get-out-of-the-house procedures? And accumulated stuff that generally takes over the house?
S was careful but decisive and put her tickets in boxes as she saw something that appealed to her. She put 1 ticket for "Webkinz" basket, one for "Glamour Girl", one for "Fun & Games" and 2 for "Girls Toys".
I put 1 in "Toys and Games", 1 in "Girls' Things" and 2 in "Books". S got considerably more tickets and had about 5 in every basket.
J did complain that more people weren't putting tickets in baskets. I suggested I could put some tickets in for Daddy who is away at conference. But J was steadfast that Daddy would be required to be here to put tickets in the baskets.
Just before bedtime, J gave me the good news that I have won the "Toys and Games" basket. He kindly brought it up to our room and spread the loot over Husband's side of the bed. S won all the remaining baskets and J helped her bring her windfall up to her room, but not before a long search for bags, which included both of them searching in the darkened van for our reusable grocery bags, all well after their bedtimes.
While I know I shouldn't complain because because the raffle game kept them both busy all evening, I now have to repatriate a Battleship game, Bakugan cards, Dora figures and other miscellaneous toys from Husbands side of the bed. I haven't even looked at the bonanza in S's room.
And we were doing so well have only recently disassembled the hotel.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
The good news is the dusty elliptical trainer, which Husband and I easily justified 3 years ago as a replacement for gym memberships, has finally been pressed into service. S and I elbow each other while doing Pilates and J Boy has mastered skipping rope with only minimal damage to the walls.