Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Making the World a Better Place

Jackson came to me one morning this week and said "Mommy, I have an idea."

I know by now that my 9 year old has two kinds of ideas:

1. Ideas to get his 7 year old sister to part with her accumulated allowance to buy him video games or gaming systems,

or

2.  A great idea for a new video game that will win him kudos from the grade 4 set and earn him millions of dollars. So he can buy video games or gaming systems.

I sighed.

Because if it is the former, I have to convey the idea that his sister's allowance is not his personal slush fund even if  "she thinks it's a great idea.  You're not listening Mommy.  She AGREED!!!"

If it's the latter I have the next 20 to 1000 minutes to listen in excruciating and endless detail of his brilliant idea for video game.  When I think he will finally be done, I'll say something supportive like  "That is very creative!"

And he'll say "Mommy, that's just the first level!" and will continue on talking about secret caves, and gargoyles that come to life.  He will interrupt himself only to ask  "Mommy, are you listening??" when I fail to absorb the creative genius in "having to repeat the level three times and every time it gets harder and the wizard doesn't want you to win".

Jackson knew by my sigh that I was expecting nothing fun from his unstated idea.

"Mommy, it's a way to make the world a better place."

It's all about the marketing plan. I asked him to go on.

"I think the government should print a lot more money."

"Really, and give the money to you?"  I said. I know my boy.

He was indignant.

"No. They should give the money to the poor countries that owe a lot of money and they could pay it off."

Oh.

"Don't you see, Mommy. All they have to do is print money and it would make the world a better place."

Umm.

"I want to email the government. To give them my idea."

And then he went on to repeat his idea 27 times, obviously proud of the difference he can make in the world. You know, through monetary policy.

Just then I thought he might actaully grow up to run his own social policy think tank, instead of being a professional video game tester.  I thought I'd help with his critical thinking and tried to recall the basics of all those economics courses I took in the eighties in university:

"If they print a lot more money, it devalues the currency.  So if you have $1000 in your bank account, it won't be able to buy as much as it used to."

"I know Mommy.  But since the money is being printed everyone will have lots. And I can go to Best Buy and get a Playstation 3 for like almost no money."

So much for running a think tank.

Jackson was adamant about sharing his idea.  I told him the Governor of the Bank of Canada is responsible for monetary policy.  His idea morphed over the course of a day, so by the time he had pestered Husband into using his email account, this was his pitch:

Dear Canadian Bank Handler,

You could make every one rich very easily just type in tons of nine’s and zero’s on peoples bank accounts and then everyone’s rich!

From Jackson

P.S

I’m only nine years old and I got a bit of the idea from my Dad. Please use my idea!

P.S.S. I know that prices will go up but it won’t matter because everyone will have the same amount of money.
 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Inside the Mind of Finnegan


Finnegan's To Do  List:

1. Chase tail.
2. Bark at reflection in window.
3. Spend as much time as possible under furniture.
4. Hunt for socks to chew on (note to Finny: this one is so easy it really shouldn't be on this list).
5. Sniff at least 2 crotches.
6. Watchfully wait for no one to be looking and have an "accident".
7. Dig to China in garden.
8. Dig a tunnel under the kids' playhouse.
9. After 7 or 8, AT ALL COSTS AVOID A BATH!

Finnegan's Long Term Goals

1. Pursue dream of completely organic diet - grass, twigs, pine cones, plans, rocks.
2. Solve mystery of raccoon smell under deck.
3. Achieve complete puppy domination of household.
4. Try to find something I don't like to chew:
  • socks
  • shoes
  • shoe laces
  • velcro sandals
  • leather watch straps
  • wires
  • sleeves
  • stainless steel food bowls
  • wood deck
  • iPod
  • TV remotes
5. Convince the rest of the world that I am not adorable ball of fluff, but fierce canine to be reckoned with.

Surprise

I was not surprised that the puppy was so sad to leave her litter mates and her parents.  Oh how she cried as we drove away.
I was surprised at how sad I was for her.   It broke my heart to think of her leaving her family behind.

I was not surprised that the puppy had a lot of energy.
I was surprised at how much energy we had to have to harness it.  Things like making dinner, doing homework and doing laundry have taken a backseat to puppy training and surveillance.

I was not surprised that having a puppy is like having a newborn baby - needing constant attention.
I was surprised that it is also like having a toddler at the same time - you can't takes your eyes off of her.

I was not surprised that the puppy came 'pee pad' trained -- she peed on a pee pad at the breeder (the modern newspaper).
I was surprised that she treated our family room carpet at her pee pad.

I was not surprised that Sydney stalked the puppy and that Finnegan was seeking a restraining order by bedtime the first day.
I was surprised that Jackson considered Sydney as some kind of puppy whisperer because she so gamely picked up and carried the puppy around.

I was not surprised that I enjoyed so much playing with and getting to know the puppy.
I was surprised that Sydney was so jealous.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Last Year in Single Digits


Jackson is turning 9 in a few weeks, the last year he'll be in single digits.  In a remarkable feat of organization, for the first time, I managed to arrange his birthday party BEFORE his birthday and not after where it abuts the Christmas season and I am simultaneously managing the RSVP list, sorting out favour bags AND arguing with Jackson about the apppropriate time to be decorating the Christmas tree.

I was ever so proud of myself that I scheduled a lazer tag party for November 12th during a 4 day school break.  I knew other parents would laud me for forward thinking and for taking their kids off their hands for a couple hours on a no school day.  It was a perfect plan.

Until we got the puppy.

What were we to do with Finnegan?  We had three options:

1. Leave her home alone.
2. Husband stay home with her.
3. Drop puppy off at a friend whose kids would lavish love and attention on her.

We thought long and hard about option 3.  But she had endured a Remembrance Day parade already and we thought while she would not enjoy being home alone, it might be better than introducing her to a new environment so soon.

We briefly considered option 2, but I did not really want to supervise a full set of hyper 9 year olds on my own.  It it noteworthy that neither Husband or I are working on a full quota of sleep this week and the previous night had been particularly abbreviated. And interrupted.

Jackson and I walked the puppy shortly before we were to go and knew she would probably sleep a good portion of the time we were gone.  We were just assembling all her in the laundry room.  I asked Jackson to grab Finnegan's water bowl and he ran. And trip over Finny and we heard loud yelping as our puppy limped to under the couch.  A few minutes of assessment found that she was not bearing weight on her paw.

Quick change or plans. We diverted to Husband staying home with the puppy to monitor her injury and figure out if trip to vet was necessary and if so, if our pet insurance had kicked in yet. 

So off I headed with my 2 cat burglars. The kids played lazer tag one time before and they knew about the black light and insisted on being dressed entirely in black:
This created a full on wardrobe crisis which was only resolved by wearing pyjamas inside out.
A good time was had by all, if you don't count Sydney's lazer gun not working. She was a remarkably good sport about it. And being the only girl:
 
We had some cake. 
Jackson is laughing over the boys teasing  him over having 6 girlfriends after an 'epic fail' at blowing out the candles:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Finding Finnegan

How did we come to welcome this cuddly ball of fur to the family?

The kids wanting a dog, which is a universal childhood condition, was a subject of some early blogs.  First, at age 6, Jackson orchestrated a family vote on getting a dog.  By orchestrate I mean in a third-world-country-voting-irregularity kind of way.

Then, in his first (and only) chance to be a guest blogger, Jackson used the platform to talk about getting a dog.

More recently, I blogged about how Husband and I were getting closer to getting a dog, but we needed the kids to be more responsible. Jackson outlined his plans and Master Plan to behave more responsibly.

Husband and I agreed that we were working toward getting a dog. The ideal time being around spring break in March, which will be 2 weeks and a perfect time to break in a puppy. Or, as it turns out, to have her break us in.

So Husband and I agreed that a good first step was to research breeds, appropriate sizes, places to get puppies. So with almost as much zeal as when Husband was looking for a flat panel TV last Christmas, we began our investigations.  I was pretty set on a poodle-something cross. A smart, good medium sized dog that won't shed. The non-poodle part part will up the cuteness factor as I find poodles crossed take the cuteness of both breeds.

Husband and I also researched the care of a puppy and the various schools of thought on puppy training.  Somewhere along the line I picked up a copy of Puppies for Dummies which is a good overall source of info on all things puppy.  This gave us the false sense of security that we might actually know what we are doing.

We looked at websites where rescued dogs are placed as this seemed like a right and good thing to do. We found there were few puppies and almost no non shedding, small breed puppies that could be placed with children.

Sydney and I stumbled onto a show, Pick a Puppy on CMT where families meet three breeds of puppies and then choose one. It's like Househunters for the canine inclined.  About the second show we watched, highlighted Maltese puppies.  The kids fell hard for the white balls of fluff.  Husband and I were not far behind.

We started scouring the Internet looking for more information on the Maltese and everything we read seemed to jive with the kind of puppy and pet we wanted: non shedding, smart, loyal, good companions.  We even started looking at availability. Somewhere along the way, Husband and I independently realized that neither of us were going to wait until March to get this puppy once we were this invested.  We amended the plan to getting a puppy in December so the Christmas break would be part of our puppy bonding and training time.

The strange thing about Husband and my research was that we were our own islands of puppy information.  Because virtually every day in September and October was jammed full with activities, things to do, we barely had time to talk. When we did it was more like "have you seen Sydney's Brownie uniform?" or "did you remember to pay the MasterCard?" 

Our conversations about puppies were short and we never came to any conclusions.

Last Friday night, as I mentioned, Husband and I had time to process our thoughts on puppies.  We concluded that we did not want a pure bred Maltese.  The normal weight range is 4 to 7 pounds, with many breeders preferred to breed those closer to 4 pounds than to 7.

We were looking at a Maltese bred with another small dog. Shiu Tzu and poodle were amoungst the common types and this usually produced a little bigger dog.  Because we were so in love with the Maltese, ideally we were looking for a mostly Maltese dog with a little of something else.  We looked for what was available on the Internet, mindful to avoid, to the extent you know, puppy mills and unscrupulous breeders.

We found a few possibilities and we fired off some emails.  We heard nothing back from anyone.  A day later, Husband and I asked ourselves what we were doing. We had another week and a half of a fair number of extracurricular events, and after that, we had a pretty clear calender. Waiting a couple weeks was indicated.

But.  There is always a but.  There was one litter of puppies, that seemed perfect. Mom was a 15 pound Maltese-ShiuTzu. Dad was a 9 pound Maltese.  Cute-as-a-button.  Husband and I agreed we would pursue this one lead, and if it did not pan out, we would not pursue anything further for a couple weeks.

We heard back from the breeder and they had 5 puppies still available.  We liked the idea of seeing a litter and choosing the puppy that most suited us.  Monday after school we made an appointment to meet the puppies.

You have no idea what kind of energy FIVE puppies have. They were in kennels when we arrived. There were 2 girls in one crate and 3 boys in the other.  I have an irrational preference for girl dogs.  I did not really want to live in a world that involved a dog wiener.  The girls were released and they ran circles around us. One of them was slightly interested in meeting us, the other wanted only to run as hard and fast as she could.  The first one, I thought was a possibility, the puppy-with-too-much-energy fell to the bottom of the list. 
The boy puppies.

After a few minutes, the boys had their turn to meet us. One boy was obviously more assertive, but also very, playful. He had dark grey ears and I was sorely tempted.  The other two boys were completely white and both more the shy and cuddly type of puppy. 

How do you choose? I could have gone home with any of them at that point.  I said to myself "I could totally have a boy puppy, you don't even notice their boy parts".

As if reading my mind, one of the shy boys peed in front of me on the carpet.  While puppies will be puppies, when I picked him up, pee dripped down a lot of fur around his boy thing. 

Girl it was to be.

The boys were put back in their kennel and we examined the girls carefully. I tended toward the smaller of the girls. She seemed a little calmer.  But then, as soon as I stated my preference, little miss-too-much-energy climbed into Jackson's lap.

This was notable.  What had been happening in our visit is the puppies were running madly in circles around us. Husband, Sydney and I were grabbing them as they ran by and would interact with them until they squirmed out of our arms. Jackson was petting what ever puppy someone else was holding.  But that little girl, the one who had fallen to the bottom of my list, sat calmly with Jackson. Then Sydney.  Then Husband. 

 So really, she chose us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Introducing ....

 FINNEGAN!

FAQ:
What breed is she? 

Mostly Maltese. A little Shiu Tzu

Boy or girl:

Girl

Do you know that Finnegan is kind of a boy's name?

Yes. I don't care.

Where did you get the name?

Mr. Dressup. You know, Casey & Finnegan.
Cute puppy is Finnegan!

Do you know this is dating yourself?

Yes. Especially since I watched when it first aired in 1967.

I saw on Facebook / in an email that you spelled it Finnigan. What gives?

I previously Googled to find the correct Mr. Dressup spelling and saw a reference on CBC to "Finnigan" and took that as the correct spelling. Subsequant Googling suggests more credible sources spell it with an E and so we are going with that. Unless I change my mind.

How old is she?

11 weeks.

Are you getting any sleep?

Not as much as I would like, but it could be worse.

How much does she weigh?

I have no earthly idea.

How much will she weigh full grown?

Probably 10 to 12 pounds.

Are the kids happy?

Yes.
Are they doing all the work?

If by "work" you mean "throw toys"  and say "come here Finnegan!!" a lot, then yes. Otherwise, no. Husband and I are trying to establish a schedule so we're doing the bathroom, sleeping routines.

Routines??? Are you treating this puppy like a baby?

Pretty much.  If our track record holds, we'll have her sleeping through the night at 2 months and potty trained at 4 years.

Welcome to the family, Finnegan!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lull

November is a lull. At least in comparison to the breakneck speed of September and October. Halloween was the explosion of fireworks that ended the festival of busy.

This past week has been eerily quiet while I am metaphorically mopping of the mess. Reviewing to-do lists from the past months. Figuring out what I have forgotten to do for the past two months (work out). But most of my time was spent ignoring the Halloween decorations, costumes and makeup that needed to be put away.

I found myself a little at "sixes and sevens" as my Husband calls it. That must be a British-ism as I have never heard it except from him or his parents.  I have felt a little lost.  It's like the past 2 months have made me some kind of adrenalin junkie. I can't function unless I am looking for a compass for a Cubs camp out, navy slacks for a Brownie uniform and madly searching for field trip notice that I'm pretty sure I left underneath the toaster 2 weeks previous.

With only a normal amount of things to do, I don't know what to do with myself. While I could have cleaned the long neglected house or at least put away a few tombstones, I spent the last week in relative calm.

We topped off the week with a sleepover for the kids at Oma and Opa's. Husband and I stayed at the Holiday Inn and basically just nursed Husband's tweaked back in the hot tub and managed to finish had some conversations we have been unable to owing to his three trips away from home, and 10,000 things to do every day.

Am I worried that I can't tolerate the humdrum of a normal schedule anymore? No.

One of the things we discussed was getting a puppy. Which we plan to do very soon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Recap

I think I am not alone in saying WELCOME NOVEMBER!  Halloween is not a one night orgy of sugar and fright anymore. It's a week long festival of dress up. 

 It all started last Monday when Sydney had her Brownie party. I present Sydney, as Glamour Witch:
I know some will say the purple hair is a little over the top for someone who professes to detest the whole costume thing.
Tuesday brought Cubs and a chance for Jackson to debut as Mario:
 I realize he may have to grow into that mustache.
After Cubs, we had 48 hours without any official Halloween events.  We of course had the unofficial one where the kids tried to direct me on the right pumpkin to buy one wants "the biggest one you can carry, Mommy", the other one wants "one that is perfectly round and no bumps on it." 
Jackson continued his fixation with Halloween decorations and finally realized his dream of having his own graveyard. 
His objectives, in this case, dovetailed with my own. I was really trying to get him keen on studying for his upcoming socials test.  Memorizing just where the Beaufort Sea is and how exactly you spell and pronounce the capital of Nunavut (Iqaluit, for those that are wondering) is not his forte.  Those that have been around here for a while know of Jackson distaste for memorizing things.   So a few Styrofoam gravestones held in reserve did the trick and he now knows exactly where the Labrador Sea is and at least 50% of the time remembers it's the Davis Strait and not the David Strait up there near Greenland somewhere.

Friday brought the official school events: costume parade and party.  Jackson was one of 7 Marios in the school (he counted) which included 3 in Sydney's class.  This is owing to Costco offering up the coolest costume on earth.  There were quite a few witches in the parade but none so cute. Or so purple.
Saturday night, a full 24 hours before the actual Trick-or-Treating, was a party with kids from church (and friends).  Since I was helping organize I had to get over my pathological fear of costumes, or paying for them.  I found a cheap witch costume, which I planned to dress up but never got around to.  I did do my (and Sydney's) nails and lips in black, with the same black lipstick also making a more user friendly mustache for Mario:
Finally Sunday arrived, the actual day to solicit candy from strangers.  By then even the kids were a little bored with Halloween. They did pose for yet more photos, pillowcases in hand.
While Husband trekked about the neighbourhood with Glam Witch and Mario and his mustache, I sat home with 3 bowls of candy and my tally sheet waiting to give the stuff away.  Though torrential rain was expected at 6, it didn't come. I thought the warm and dry weather would bring out the revellers in droves. I added spooky sound effects to the effort this year.  Perhaps the graveyard to was a little too scary. We were over 10% below our lowest year in the 5 years we have lived in this house. Finally tally was 46 kids and 1 adult who had no good excuse to be collecting candy.
The haul:

And so I start November, a fresh month, my only goal to get the purple out of Sydney's hair.