Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Six Months

Six Months. Half a year. Two quarters. One hundred and eighty some days.

I have been trying to think of something deep and profound and meaningul to mark the 6 month anniversary of my mother's death.  But nothing is coming to me. I don't want to ignore it, so I will write about a few things she was good at:
  • She could wrap gifts like no one I know.  She taught me and I have passable skills, but she could wrap it tight, with crisp edges, straight lines and beautiful curled ribbons. And love. Presents were always wrapped with love.
  • Straightening papers.  My Mom worked at a book bindery at some point. This meant she would take an unruly heap of papers and get them stacked in perfect order. It was magical.
  • My Mom would keep her lip stick pointed. I thought of that the other day when I started a new one. She would use one side for one lip and the other and it would stay sharp like a pencil, which is no doubt what it is supposed to be.
  • My Mom had lovely, legible and uniform handwriting, like many women of her generation.  Sydney may be trying to resurrect this art as she writes in handwriting all the time and she has not yet learned it in school.
This is one of my favourite pictures of my Mom.
(Sorry Dad, I cropped you out)
It was Christmas 2006, 2 years before she was diagnosed with cancer,
and she looks so healthy. And beautiful.
Miss you Mom.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

X Marks the J Boy

Ten. Double digits. X in roman numerals. It's a biggie. 

Official photo (which I really shoud have had him comb his hair for):
 Presents and dinner at Red Robins:
 Being serenaded:
 Ice cream!
Best birthday gift?
Amesty from the times tables!
Happy birthday J Boy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Best. Mother. Ever.

I know many will be surprised to know I am actually referring to myself. I feel today I have earned a few self-administered pats on the back.

It all started this morning, when I was groggy due to severe heartburn induced by mini-donuts at the hockey game last night. Both Husband and I were up half the night and I self-administered medications three times which only barely dealt with the problem.  I don't know what was in them, but I am forever cured of mini-donuts.

Due to fatigue I dozed well past the time I should have roused myself. This happens all the time occasionally, but the kids' alarms wake them up and they are my fail safe.  Their alarms were not set.

And so at 8:10, I thought we could still make it to school.  It was a given at this point that I would be going in my pyjamas.  Sydney got  up and wandering around looking for clothes, I knocked on Jackson's door which was slammed on my foot. I assumed he wanted privacy to get dressed. I was wrong, he wanted privacy to crawl back into bed.  Owing to the weekend's festivities, Jackson was so bloody exhausted he couldn't be civil tired.

So I did what I never do. I suggested we be late for school. I normally use all my parental capital and most of my few remaining marbles convincing little people to get dressed/ eat breakfast / brush teeth / bring backpack down stairs / put on shoes / put on coats. 

We all climbed into my bed for a bit of a breather.  We enjoyed about 5 minutes when Jackson said, apparently not fully appreciating my sacrifice of punctuality, "Mommy, did you know it's 8:32? I don't know how we'll get to school by 8:40."

He was right.  A little breakfast and negotiations over which winter/fall outerwear was appropriate when it's slushy raining right now but will warm up and just be raining later, and we were out the door. Owing to slushy rain, I opted to take the van with its snow tires. The van was parked on street. I hope none of the neighbours noticed my pyjamas, or thought that I was wearing very colourful and baggy yoga pants.

I dropped them both off a minute before 9 which was 19 minutes past the bell. Note to self: nothing bad happened.

I was still riding the high of the morning triumph at pick-up when Jackson uncharacteristically approached me to request a play date. Actually the potential play datee was more keen on it. I tried to say no but honestly on a poor night's sleep did not have my usual internal fortitude. I thought I had my opening when Jackson mentioned science homework.  But nothing came of it.  So after further lame attempts to defer play date to another day, my usually successful strategy, I agreed we could head to the drop-off loop and meet up with Dad of play datee to set this up.

He was not there. And didn't arrive in the next 10 minutes. My hands were frozen as I had walked the dog before pickup so I told play datee to tell his Dad to drop him off at our place.

About 20 minutes later, play datee arrived with 3 Wii games. And 2 kinds of candy-making kits. Really?? Candy making?

I enthusiastically looked at the selection of Wii games and ignored the candy kits.  What game do you want to play?

"Why don't we play Super Smash Brothers. But first, let's make candy!" said play datee.

I was about to kibosh the whole candy idea, when I stopped myself. 

"Do you need me to help?"

"No. We just need a bowl and the microwave."  Excellent.  It was one of those kid-friendly candy making kits. 

"As long as you don't need me, I guess it's fine."

Not 5 minutes later Jackson came upstairs where I was trying to convince the dog she really wanted to be, and asked if we had a 1/8 cup measure.


I could not find that measuring cup so I looked it up and ascertained it was 2 tablespoons.

"Just one more thing, do you have a small saucepan, double boiler or candy thermometer?" play datee asked.

Apparently, play datee was right. This  one did not require supervision. It required complete parental control.  And so I made red sour suckers. I followed the directions. I averted disaster when play datee tried to convince Jackson that a 1/3 cup measure was actually 3/4 quarters of a teaspoon.  We got the candy all laid out to harden. I futilely asked the boys to clean up and went back upstairs to the dog.

I came down about 20 minutes later when I thought the candy would be ready. The kids had tried it and declared it 'disgusting'.   I guess I won't have to buy that candy-making kit.

I asked them to clean up and went back upstairs. I knew I would be cleaning up later.

Five minutes before play date pick up, I gave one more hail Mary request for a clean up. I was rewarded with a "we need to clean up" from my son to his friend. I was never prouder.

Five minutes later I hear a car door and announced that Dad is here for pick up.  I arrived in the kitchen to find play datee is lost in candy making. He was making another batch and he had just started. He told me he is not ready to go home.  Jackson was uninvolved in candy 2.0.

He has his own project: fruit salad.  He has cut up an apple, de-stemmed some grapes, found some fresh pineapple in the fridges and has dumped 2 fruit cups into a bowl.

"Is this your supper?" I asked.

"No, I'm not hungry."

"Then why did you make it?"

"I thought someone would have it."

"Why don't you have it?"


It kind of fell apart from there.  The play datee tried to get everyone but the dog to try the candy while Dad of play datee tried in vain to usher son to the door.

In all honestly, it didn't end well. I tried to understand the whole fruit salad situation.  I tried to get Jackson to understand that trying to figure out whether the candy mixture was 300 degrees by using the cold water technique was not on my list of things to do today.  There was a lot of lecturing and ear plugging. No one won, and I am back in the comfortable position of being a normally fallible mother.

Party Like You're 10

Partying like you're 10 means trimming down the invite list to 2...
 Plus your sister ...  
And going somewhere very cool
Where you can ride go karts  ...
Shoot stuff ...
 Go on bumper cars ...
Play mini golf ...
 Enter batting cages ...
Eat junk food ...
And (not shown) play endless games in video arcade.
A  10-worthy celebration! 
(Enjoyed by ALL)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Little Things

My Mom would have been 79 today.  While I thought I would still have years to know her, today I am focusing on the little things I want to remember about my Mom.

When I was 4 and not yet in school, and in need of an audience, I used to sit with Mom on the couch and the Eaton's catalogue open our laps.  With a crochet hook as a pointer, I would survey the drapery pages where they had little squares showing the fabrics and patterns that could be ordered.  With my hook and my Mom as a captive audience, I would give a running talk:
This one would be good for a winter coat. Because it's warm. Now this one would be good for a dress because it has flowers on it and it is colourful. This was would be good for boys pants ...
My Mom did not remember this, she remembered those years for the busy-ness of  rearing 3 kids while her husband worked and was earning his M.B.A. She remembered having no time for me. But I remember.

I remember how she would clean out the wax from her ear.  She would be horrified that I would be publicizing this on the inter web, but she used (at least when I was little) a bobby pin and cleaned out her ear like a jack hammer. It's a marvel that she did not perforate her ear drum.

I remember during elementary school when my Dad travelled a lot during the week, our joint enterprise of going through all my Dad's suit pockets, scavenging for enough change so the 4 of us could go to McDonald's. This was the early days of McDonald's where it was an extreme novelty and treat. And $4 or 5 fed all of 4 us.  We would find lots of dimes and nickels but it was a cause for celebration to find quarters!

I remember in grade 7, I was cleaning up after dinner.  Mom had a class to go to and I PROMISED that I would let the pans soak and clean them before she came home.  She thought I would forget and she would end up doing it late at night after her class. I vowed that I would pay her my allowance if I forgot to do it.  I was just nodding off to sleep and I heard her key in the door.  I sprang out of my bed and ran to my Mom and tearfully admitted I had forgotten to do the pans and I was sorry. Mom granted me mercy. And cleaned the pans herself.

I remember when I first started talking on the phone all night with my girlfriends, in grade 9.  At one point my Mom entered the room and apparently I did not want to divulge the content of our private conversations (like where were would meet at lunch). I said to my friend "You know what you just said a minute ago, that is true for me".

My Mom said "oh, are you trying to tell her your mother just entered the room?"  At the time, I could not believe she figured that one out!

In high school,  I remember her teaching me how to clean a bathroom. She agreed that she would pay me to do some of the extra housework (cleaning bathrooms).  But it had to pass muster for inspection. She only had to tell me once, as being corrected by one's mother at 16 is not something you volunteer for. I remember her showing me how to use a cloth to clean being the faucet.  This is a skill I use too infrequently now.

I remember her fixation with truth-telling.  And the belief that a good set of pots is an essential. The year I graduated from law school I was still living at home, saving up for my first place.  We were having a discussion over whether telling little white lies was appropriate to spare some one's feelings. No, she steadfastly maintained, it was never right.

So I tested her. "Are you giving me pots and pans for Christmas?"  I suspected as much.

She didn't miss a beat.  "No."

At Christmas I opened a large box of pots and pans.  Before I said thank you, I smiled at my Mom and said "but you lied".  She smiled back.  Those pots lasted for 25 years. A couple Christmases ago we bought new ones with Christmas money from my parents.  I know my mother was pleased that we acquired Lagostina pots to take us the next 25 years.  The old ones are now being used by a family in Mexico.

Come to think of it, none of these things are little.  Listening to your kids, granting mercy,  treating your kids to an unexpected treat, and instilling the importance of truthfulness, good pots and a clean bathroom.  All of it important stuff.

Okay, except the earwax thing, haven't worked out a life lesson from that one yet.

Monday, November 14, 2011


One of the opportunities available to the kids, being in Cubs and Brownies,
is participating in the local Remembrance Day parade.  
  This is really an opportunity for us as sadly, many years Remembrance Day
 is less about remembering the brave men and women
who have fought and died for our country and more
about a day to sleep in.  We were reminded.
Some brave veterans:  
Does she know she is not the prom queen?
Jackson taking over flag duties
(honest, his shirt was tucked into his pants when I last saw him):
Fly over:
And like so many things since May 28th, I am reminded that Mom is not with us.
She attended the parade last year, despite being on chemo:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dear Finnegan,

One year ago, we started a journey we could not imagine.  We were driving out to the country to have a look at a litter of puppies.  You stole all our hearts that night, and we chose you over your 4 litter mates.  We knew then you were a high energy ball of fur.   You haven't disappointed in that regard.

In fact you have been all surprises all year.  We put you in a baby's playpen thinking that would keep you safe and ensconced while we figured out how to puppy proof the house.  Your first order of business was to climb higher then the sides and climb.  

You started at about 5 pounds and we thought you might double your weight. You almost tripled it and in now way can be considered a delicate flower of a Maltese. More of a hearty hybrid, happy to keep up with the big dogs.

You have made yourself quite at home. You know, sitting on our kitchen chairs, eating off the kitchen table, lying on our pillows. You certainly don't stand on ceremony!

Life has never been fluffier, cuter, happier or more energetic.

Happy anniversary, Puppy McScruffy!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Spookytime 2011

 This year's costumes: 
good (Supergirl) versus evil (Fire Ninja)
And yes, I am one of those people who dresses up her dog:
The Halloween parade at school:
Someone learned the hard way that, yes, babies can pull fire alarms:
Decorations 2011
Ready to trick or treat (you can tell who is the dramatic one in the family):
The thing we talked about most pre-Halloween was
whether Finny would be better off at home with her
jump-to-excess manner of greeting visitors, or
on the streets with fire crackers and goblins and Mario Brothers.
We opted for the former. 
Pictured below Finny on the lookout for more trick or treaters. 
She made us proud and was only moderately excited to see
all the invaders.
My candy and statistics station: