Friday, April 30, 2010

The Cool Mom

I always wanted to be the cool Mom. Not necessarily the kind every kid in the neighbourhood wants to hang out with, but at least not the entirely dismissed, goofy mom that kids roll their eyes at. (please, nobody burst my bubble).

I don't talk or dress hip enough to gain this status. I did think that perhaps a well place witty remark might earn some grudging respect from the kid set.

But I recently attained this status, quite without my effort or even knowledge.

A friend was driving Jackson home from a play date and he said to her "We are soooooo lucky in our family."

"Why?" my friend asked.

"We have our own lawyer."

I didn't know how popular lawyers have become in the grade 3 set. Another mom told me her son routinely "lawyers up". Apparently, the kids act as each other's counsel. One kid has an entire entourage of lawyers at his disposal. Don't ask me what kind of representation you need in grade 3.

Perhaps: "Mrs. B, my homework isn't done. My lawyer will be speaking to that."

Or maybe "Hello Mrs. B, I'm Jordan's lawyer and I'd like to talk to you about the non judicious desk placement in the classroom this week".

So you can imagine how my currency increases compared to the 8 and 9 year old lawyers others have. Until now I have used my legal skills at home for manipulation and coercion. As in "I can't leave you home alone while I pick up your sister. It's illegal. I should know. I'm a lawyer." and "You HAVE to go to school. It's the law. Do you know I'm trained to know all about the laws? Do I need to call the police?"

My utility has exceeded the chauffeur-laundrywoman status and I am now capable of doing the things lawyers do.

Which are, in case you didn't know:

1) to sue people and makes lots of money.
2) to intimidate people so they will give you lots of money.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Homecoming

Husband and I were driving to my brother and sister in law's to pick up the kids after our anniversary trip away.  As we drove up, we saw Jackson waiting in the window.  This is a bit usual.

The J Boy is not really a waiter. He's a do-er. As in "has-to-be-doing-something-all-the-freakin'-time-or-he'll-combust". He does not like waiting for food, for red lights or for an answer to a question.

When he spotted our van, he jumped up and down and we saw that he was wearing his jacket. As we entered the house, we realized he was also wearing his backpack and had his sleeping back stuffed between his back and his pack so it was trailing around behind him.  He obviously was prepared for a fast get-away.

He said those words that every parent wants to hear after a 4 day absense:

"Where are my shoes?"

As Jackson started circling the house looking for shoes, with his sleeping bag trailing behind him like a bridal train, Sydney arrived at the door and realized she was behind in the lets-go-home-with-Mommy-and-Daddy sweepstakes and she frantically started looking for her stuff. 

My brother invited us to stay to watch the hockey game (PLAYOFFS!!) but in the time he took to utter those words, the kids were already strapped into their booster seats.  They wanted to go home.

They had a great time with their cousins though and Jackson reported "I don't know why, but whenever we sleep over at our cousins, we like to get up at 5:45 and talk."   They apparently also had lots of outdoor time, played Wii, had Chinese food twice and both ate some carrots -- the latter to mixed reviews.

Jackson started regaling a story of how he felt picked on by his cousin and sister and we did what good parents all over do: we brought out the candy.  Instead of buying junky toys which are destined hover around the family room floor for Husband or I to suffer a puncture wound, we bought candy for the ride home.

The kids didn't argue and Jackson forgot about his grievances.  They even shared treats without a whiff of complaint.  The candy also increased the minutes that Husband and I could listen to the hockey game on the radio.

Then Sydney said "I'm suspicious."

"Of what?"  we asked.

"How come you guys are giving us candy?" Sydney questioned.

"Yeah, I was having the exact same thought" Jackson added.

Did they think we were buttering them up because we had news to break to them? To actually make good on my threat to send them to homework camp?  We told them it was the treat we brought them back.  They seemed satisfied.

Soon Jackson was jabbering away and told us why he was waiting so anxiously for our return: he hadn't had many screens while at his cousins. While we had brought beloved MarioKart Wii game along, we hadn't really processed and therefore forewarned Jackson, that his progress would not be saved on a different Wii console.  He was worried all his progress was lost forever and wanted to check that out at home. He had also not touched a computer or his DS in 3 days.  That is a lot of screens to do without.

He was like a a junkie waiting for a fix.

"What did you miss more while we were gone, your screens or your parents?" I bravely asked.

Jackson said without hesitation "It's a tie."

I don't think we can do any better than that with an 8 year old boy.

Sydney told his she missed us 'way more' than screens and was perterbed that her brother didn't feel likewise.

Good to be home.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Away

A room with a view. 

We had talked for years of going to San Fransisco for our tenth anniversary --  a place neither one of us had been.   But when the time came to work out the details we agreed that a place to relax was much more suitable for our stage of life. The stage where we have little time for conversation that is not centered around swimming lessons, spelling practice and school field trips. 

When we decided on something closer to home -- Galiano Island -- and we splashed out on a spa suite at the Galiano Inn, justifying it with the savings on airfare (not to mention the winery tours).





We picked this place with a fantastic view of the ocean. Ferry boats went by all day long. But it also had a luxurious suite, high def TV, an outdoor fireplace and an outdoor bathtub. Which did seem a bit weird at first, but we enjoyed with bathing suits, choosing not to expose ourself to the passing wildlife. Or the gardener.

We enjoyed some spectacular meals in the hotel's restaurant.

Apart from that we did two of the things we did before we had kids: we golfed and  we hiked.

While my golf game has a long way to go, it was fun to be out there, even if the course was entirely too soggy.

We hiked to the top of Mt. Galiano and were treated to this spectacular view.
But most of all, we had time for conversation.

We talked about hockey.  Since we had time to watch so much hockey, we dissected every game which was especially fun to do on Friday night when Vancouver scored seven goals. 

We talked of where we were 10 years ago -- on our honeymoon on Vancouver Island.   And where we'll be in 10 years -- on the verge of retirement.

We talked about how we never imagined how life with kids would be -- not all bad, just how difficult it is to imagine what being responsible for other human beings is like.

Oh and we remembered our get away for our 5th anniversary and agreed we must do this more often than every 5 years.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ten Years!

This was us, April 22, 2000.
A bride.
A Groom
Who knew I was ever so flexible?
A favourite picture with my Mom
And here's to many many more to come!
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY HUSBAND!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pout-rageous!

Sydney is polite, respectful, sweet, thoughtful and empathetic. If this wasn't enough for me, she will POSE ENDLESSLY FOR PHOTOS!! 

She is your perfect Stepford child.  Most of the time.

Unless she has something to pout about.  And then she will cross her arms, purse her lips and pout. She will speak no intellible words only make utterances like "hhhmmmphh" and "arggummphph" She will stamp her feet and otherwise make it know she has a problem with someone or something but is loathe to reveal with whom she has the grievance or what it might be.

She inherited the pout gene from me. I held my emotions for ransom and would nurse the hurt for an excessive amount of time.

The thing is I seemed to revel in my victim-hood. The more I pouted, the more justified I felt in whatever emotion I was harboring. Even if it was unjustified or entirely trivial. When I cogitated on any percieved transgression long enough, I can make anything seem momentous. And any real legitimate beef was not dealt with in any constructive or productive way.  I just stewed about it.

So I am trying to give the Girlie Goo a leg up on my experience.  While I am tempted to entirely ignore her pouts, I don't think that is helping her.  I try to give her some empathy and get her to name her problem. 

Honestly, a lot of the time it is something RIDICULOUS ("why do you make me brush my teeth EVERY DAY!!"). Or unfixable ("Why couldn't I be older than Jackson!!"). Something she perceives as unfair which isn't ("why can't I have TWO turns after Jackson has ONE?").

But I know she is feeling those things and getting her to name it and own it is the short term goal.  The long term goal is her accepting that she will never be older than her brother and that she does need to brush her teeth EVERY freakin' day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Football, Meet Family.

Play clean and play fair!!
This is so easy.
Jackson thought spiking the ball was how you scored!
Sydney not to be outdone by big brother.
TACKLE!!!!
Daddy vs. Kids
DOGPILE!!!!
Ninja football move.
Arm wrestle for the ball?
Who cares where the ball is!
Wasn't this to tire the kids out?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Button Pushing

It's one of my oft-used phrases. I say it two ways:

"She (or he) is pushing my buttons"
or
"they are pushing each other's buttons".

I saw an episode of Supernanny the other day. I rarely watch it but it was the only 60 minutes this week when there was no NHL playoffs on and instead of doing anything productive, like cleaning a toilet, I watched it.

I used to watch it a lot because I could always say no matter how bad our days were, we were never as badly off as any of the families we saw. Then one day, I watched and a boy was very, very, very similar to Jackson and it scared the crap out of me that we could be on Supernanny and I have barely watched it since.

Anyway, on the show, there was an aunt who was the caregiver for her 4 nieces. The four year old was particularly spirited and resistant to guidance.

The aunt said "Samantha is pushing my buttons today."

The Supernanny tried to suggest that Samantha was just being a four year old who was never disciplined and without ever having any real consequence she saw nothing wrong with bouncing from one bed to the next all afternoon long.

The Auntie said "no, she just likes to push my buttons."

Nanny Jo said "so you think Samantha is saying to herself 'well, I know it would drive Auntie Donna crazy if I jump from bed to bed and when she asks me to stop, I won't listen because it will drive her crazy.'?"

Auntie Donna defiantly said "that is EXACTLY what she is doing."

And then I realized how crazy that notion is most of the time. The kids aren't doing stuff just to make me crazy. They are just reacting to their own moods, circumstances and how much they feel they can get away with and the making Mommy crazy is just a by-product. (Though, Jackson will actually do things to get a reaction out of me and will tell me so, but that makes me very competitive and always makes me CALMER and RESISTANT to losing my cool.)

This is a timely lesson for me as this week as I have not felt very composed. The kids have had an okay week. Jackson has had the occasional freak-out over a minor frustration, but overall his mood has been pretty tolerable. Sydney has been a little pouty at times, but she always makes up for it in adorable behaviour.

I, however, have felt on the edge all week. And I know it's about me. And I have accused them of pushing my buttons. But really, I just not feeling on the top of my game** and I need to take responsibility for that.

**except for Thursday morning which I also credit Supernanny with.

Patience, Grasshopper.

Yesterday, I woke up with new parenting resolve. Still high from an episode of Supernanny the night before, I was determined to be patient.

I got up and found, to my surprise, that both children were up. Jackson is often up before me, but Sydney is rarely. I usually have to carry a sleepy princess downstairs.

A few minutes later I went downstairs and was surprised that Sydney wasn't there. Jackson disavowed any knowledge of her whereabouts. I assumed that Sydney was still in her bed. She is tiny and can be mistaken for a wrinkle in the blankets. This was curious to me since her light was on and it didn't make sense that she would get up and turn on her light and then go back to bed, disguising herself as a blanket-wrinkle.

Every couple minutes I called upstairs for the princess to come down. When breakfast was on the table, I headed upstairs to retrieve the sleepyhead.

She wasn't in her bed.

I checked Jackson's room and the playroom. I started having flashbacks to made-for-TV movies where children vanish from their bed in the middle of the night.

I called out LOUDLY "SYDNEY!!!"

I heard from her room a quiet "yes?"

Turns out she was in her closet dressing her Lizzie, her Build-a-Bear bear from her sixth birthday. Anyone that has tried to put shoes on a Build-a-Bear will understand how she could have spent 15 minutes silently in her closet shoehorning the bear.

I breathed deeply as my heart rate returned to normal.

Sydney assured me that her bear was almost ready to go downstairs. It's worthwhile to point out that Sydney was still in her pyjamas. And she did come downstairs. After she found a friend for Lizzie. And a bag to carry the two of them. And an orange plastic lei for Lizzie to wear.

Before Sydney could eat breakfast, she had to get Lizzie and friend situated appropriately. After breakfast, she moved the trio (her and her bears) to the couch, taking great care to prop them up just right. Meanwhile, we should have been heading downstairs to leave.

I started help Sydney to get dressed and realized her face is full of breakfast so I sent her to wash and brush her teeth. Lizzie & Co. made the trip to the bathroom too.

Meanwhile, the J Boy has discovered that the movie he made last night on the computer was not saved. Because he didn't save it. And while Husband or I usually make up for Jackson's omission, the computer froze last night and his work was lost. So Jackson tersely informed me that he was not going to school until he "made" his movie again. This actually means putting in a title, subtitles and credits, which he is actually pretty good at.

I ignored his tone and my building frustration with Sydney and told him he had a little time as Sydney still wasn't dressed.

Sydney finally finished the bathroom duties and returned to the family room with her entourage. I got her dressed and decided the hair combing could wait another day.

I tried to get her moving in the direction of the car but she had to get Lizzie and friend properly placed in their travel bag and she had to untangle the orange lei. Jackson fortunately had finished his movie and readily moved in direction of the car.

With all my prodding of Sydney I had forgotten to make my lunch so I went to the pantry for easily grabbable foodstuffs and told the kids to get shoes and jackets and get to the van.

A few minutes later I was pleased to discover that they were actually in the van. Usually when left to their own devices they will only have made it halfway down the stairs and then would have been distracted by a penny or a piece of an old Happy Meal toy.

Jackson was actually buckled in his booster seat. Sydney was in the back row buckling Lizzie and friend into their car seats. S L O W L Y. But just a little prodding and we were on our way to school. We were a little behind, but with a little hustle in the parking lot, I thought they might be on time.

I congratulated myself excessively for being patient with Sydney (and Lizzie).

I said in the most respectful, calm and even voice, "Sydney, if you need to get Lizzie ready in the morning, I'll just get you up a little earlier so you'll have time to take care of her."

"WAAAAAAAH!!!!" She sobbed, whimpered and cried at the prospect of getting up a few minutes earlier.

Shouldn't this fine parenting be rewarded with a "thanks for being patient with me this morning, Mommy. I know I was driving your crazy with Lizzie and her bear and the orange lei and everything, but I will always remember how patient you were with me in the morning."

Once at school, I let the kids out of the van in a handicap parking spot (I know, I judge people all the time, but no one ever parks there and I didn't ACTUALLY park there, I just let them out of the van). I waited for a parking spot to open up. Sydney's class had "family math" where parents are invited to play a math game for the first few minutes of the class so I needed to park and get to class so she and I could go on a shape walk (identify shapes in and around the classroom).

As expected a parking spot soon opened up and I parked and hustled down to grade 1.

I reached Sydney's class of one of the other parents said with a smile "Yes, Sydney told everyone you were late today."

That is rich.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sometimes They Surprise Me

Sometimes the things my kids say surprise me. And not in a bad way.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Me: Jackson, you don't have to express every thought you have.

Jackson: But it's the truth

Me: Some thoughts you can keep to yourself.

Sydney: I think you have the same DNA as my teacher.  She says that all the time!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[in shoe store trying to decide which pair of "high heels" to buy for Sydney]

Me: Sydney which one do you like?

Sydney: Well ....

Me: I think the white ones actually fit you better. But if you REALLY REALLY REALLY love the pink ones with the flowers, we could get those.

Jackson [who I thought was too engrossed in Super Mario Brothers to be absorbing anything else] Mommy, do you just want her to get the white ones because they are cheaper?

Me: No, actually the white ones cost more.

Jackson: That is VERY unlike you.  You alway want to save money.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I present: high heeled shoes which look lovely with the pedicure I gave Sydney over the weekend:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

48 Reasons to Celebrate!

Last year I counted blessings on my birthday. I have all the same blessings this year and I still feel fortunate for so much. But I won't repeat myself.

I could talk about the wisdom and patience{snort} that comes with increased mileage. About how I'm happier, more confident and fulfilled than when I was 25 (which is all true).

But I am going to talk about that every increasing number.  As time marches forward and the age increases, my discomfort increases. 

It's not enough that I'm sounding like someone from another generation  -- "stop nattering!" "wait until your father gets home!" --  or that my hands look like mottled, dry and old.  I happen to be at an age some people  (but not me) consider middle aged.

It can be a lot to handle.  The middle age spread has started (prematurely in my case) and I think I may have missed the years that my complexion is supposed to be blemish free.

But today I choose to celebrate that I reached the age of {deep breath} 48.  I have friends who never made it to 48.  Two in particular whose lives ended prematurely by cancer who would have dearly loved to see the number 48 on their birthday cakes.

So today I consider it a privilege to reach 48 and will start now planning a big party for 50!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Snapshots of Easter

Look what opened up for Easter?
We had a little basket hunting.
Some Easter breakfast (Pillsbury cinnamon buns, of course)
Sydney enjoying a new book.
Jackson trying to figure out his new gyroscope.
And the Easter outfits.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

TOO MUCH FREE TIME!!

Clearly, we have too much free time on our hands.  The kids are pushing each other's buttons. The non kids are exasperated.

This afternoon, we asked them to pick their activity of choice for exercise. One picked basketball. One picked bike riding. Neither was willing to compromise, to do the other's activity or even do them at a location where both could be done together. 

So Husband took one at a time to the chosen activity while I cracked open some board games:
And as further evidence that we have all lost our marbles:
Yes, that is the yellow Puffle playing Monopoly. And winning.  The pink Puffle won the previous game.

And when Husband and I were watching a hockey game,
the kids edited the only copy of  some of MY photos:
I'll let you guess who edited which one.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Progress

Progress is measured in fractions of inches (or millimeters for Canadians) around here.  We don't expect or see quantum leaps.  We hope for glacial movement in the direction of civility.

Since I spend a good deal of time talking about the uncivil nonprogression, I thought I'd share a glimmer of progression.

As you know, we're in spring break around here.  We have tried to schedule activities so each day has a some distractions that do not involve Club Penguin and MarioKart Wii.  Husband generously took more than half the day off yesterday and took them to the Vancouver Aquarium. We've seen a movie, decorated Easter eggs. I've insisted on 30 minutes of REAL exercize a day, which they have been good sports about.  They had two days of camps in the mix. To keep them occupied.

But still this leaves TOO MUCH of the 2 screen distractions the J Boy covets so much.  And too much of a good thing leads to incivil behaviour.

Hey, wasn't this blog about progress??

So THREE times in the past 2 days, I have told Jackson he cannot have some such screen or game because of his manner of speaking.  You know what he did??

After the obligatory registration of complaint, he went and found something to do. 

Yesterday, he went on the hunt for cardboard and built a Puffle Kingdom.
What is  Puffle Kingdom? A place for Puffles to live.
What is a Puffle?
And the best part is he invited his sister to play with him. Progress!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Important Announcement

I gathered the kids this morning to let them know about big changes about to happen in our family.

"We are taking you out of school. I am going to home school you."

They were stunned into uncharateristic silence.

"Daddy and I think this is best for your education.  But, I'll be honest. It is going to mean A  LOT MORE HOMEWORK."

Jackson was looking for an air sickness bag.

"I will be quitting my job. That means, we'll have to move to a much smaller house."

"YAH!!! We're moving!!!" Sydney shouted.

Jackson was thinking.  I think I could actually hear the wheels turn.

"And, we'll sell the van. So we'll walk a lot."

"Huh??" Sydney asked.

"And we'll take the bus sometimes."

Jackson examined my face VERY carefully, looking for signs. Of untruthfulness.

"APRIL FOOL'S!!" I shouted.

"Is it April 1st??" Jackson asked. "There is all kinds of stuff to do on Club Penguin today."

"Does this mean we're not moving?" Sydney asked. "Wait a sec, what did Jackson say about Club Penguin?"

I always thought  a sense of humour was a powerful thing in parenting.  I thought I might get an appreciative nod at least.  Maybe even a "good one, Mommy!"

Oh well, not like anyone thanks me for the unlimited supply of clean underwear either.