Category Archives: Kids

Time Marches On

"Totes" - not just an expression of agreement, but a sophisticated filing system for borderline hoarders

This has been a long span between blog posts, but I have a good reason.  We’re moving … for the first time in 20 years.  No more farm life for us.  When we signed the deal way back in September it seemed like a great idea.  “On to the next chapter”, we agreed, and high-fived to seal the deal.  But as our closing date of March 15th looms, a few troublesome realities have cropped up.  Like for example, before cutting us a cheque, the people who bought our place expect us to leave … and to take all of our crap.  Did I mention we lived here 20 years?  We have accumulated a lot of crap. 

We’ve always lived by the tried and true “let’s keep it and decide later” school of organization, and we have a giant barn, which served as great storage for innumerable Rubbermaid containers full of papers.  Each year we socked a few more away.  Out of sight, out of mind. Plus, being classic helicopter parents, we thought everything our kids ever created was brilliant and we kept every single piece of paper they produced from nursery school until roughly, yesterday. Believe me, they were quite prolific.

We’re now trying to get it down to one tub per offspring.  We can be found each night, rummaging through the dusty totes. We had a lot to get rid of , so did get progressively more discriminating and established new ground rules.  All school worksheets – gone.  All the math notebooks and tests – gone (It didn’t stick anyway).  All “that doesn’t even look like a horse” drawings – gone.  Can’t tell which kid did it – gone.  Anything in French – gone.  All “participant” ribbons – gone.  Assignments with any teacher comments that contain feedback that resembles criticism – gone.  I prefer to remember the happy times of enthusiastic and unbridled achievement…. so pretty much anything the boy did between grade 10 and grade 12 (both years) – gone.  

In the “keep” pile, are multiple, multiple “Lifetouch” sheets with 24 school pictures in the same pose with each kid, for each year.  Not sure why we always went with the “25 prints” package, when we only had one set of grandparents.  Also, not sure WHO dressed those kids and did their hair on picture day, but it was someone with a cruel sense of humour for the most part.  Also “Keep”:  any piece of paper/macaroni craft/tissue, that says “You’re the best Mom/Dad/Parents …  we do need that  validation and we’re not above digging through a dusty tote to get it. Plus, I want that evidence handy, and strategically on display when they are making our elder-care decisions.

Our ticket to the "Good" old age home

Something else I kept were multiple copies of the local newspaper if our kids made it in.  Cleverly though, I kept the whole paper, so have spent a good portion of my time this week thumbing through 10 – 20-year-old newspapers looking for likenesses of my kids or their names in small print, so I could reduce bulk and just rip the page out, which apparently I was just too busy to do in the 90s, because then it would have been too dangerously close to scrapbooking.   This has proven very time-consuming though, as I am easily distracted and inevitably end up poring through the classifieds, and beating myself up that I didn’t buy EVERYTHING at those prices.

There were other Rubbermaid containers too, filled with fun facts, by way of receipts. My wedding dress cost $279. Our honeymoon for two weeks to Bahamas all-inclusive cost $1080, for both of us.  Fuel to fill up our oil tank was 39 cents a litre when we moved into this place.  We got our septic system pumped for $70 in 1989.  Additionally, we had the good sense and foresight to keep a little brown envelope with somebody’s extracted teeth in it.  Also, I worked with someone somewhere whose name was Pat(?) who was sooo “sorry to see me go” that she/he bought me a card.  I have no memory of this co-worker, but ironically, I was able to name  every kid in a yellowed and ancient looking photo of my grade 1 class.

Yes, life has become a fun-filled, time consuming, teary eyed meandering trip down memory lane. Because we’re easily distracted  procrastinators by nature and we have to examine each piece of paper thoroughly and play the arguing remembering  game about the timeline of events of our lives thus far, we haven’t had time to exactly hammer out some details, like exactly where is going to be our forwarding address.  But we’re not too worried about it.  We don’t have to be out until March.  And luckily, it’s a leap year, so we’ve got that extra day in February. 

This year March may come in like a lion, and go out like a middle-aged couple and a dog  and 3 cats living in a van, down by the river.

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Filed under Family, Humor, Kids, Memories

Causing a Scene Up on Aisle 3

Ah, the grocery store.  There once was a time it was my happy place.  I remember starting out as a newlywed, getting all decked out in my makeup and pearls for a trip into town to buy all the chips & dip, pop and cookies we would require for the next week.  Then seven years later, I was the one with no mascara, and the carseat in the cart, stacking groceries all around the kid, making more responsible purchases like Similac and Arrowroots.  Then I became the one with the unbrushed hair and big dark circles under my eyes, pushing two kids in one cart and dragging another cart behind me loaded with stuff like organic apples, diapers, Cheerios and Clamato Juice (hey, a mom’s gotta live).  Then before long, we were up to three kids, and I was the yummy mummy scraggy frump pushing just one cart again, with one kid sitting in the top part (that was always fun – trying to hold a squirming kid up high enough to get the legs in the cart holes –akin to putting a worm back down the hole), and two kids hanging off the side. Or sometimes one of them would be scrunched up where the cases of pop should go, and the other one would be racing around a few aisles over, annoying other shoppers.

We have lots of fond memories from shopping with the kids.  Like the time our youngest was sitting up in the cart, when she was about two years old.  Another lady pushed her cart up close to us, and she had a little baby about three months old.  The cute little baby was staring at our little Laura, and the mother and I exchanged smiles and nods, sharing the glow of motherhood.  As we both examined the bacon, I saw my daughter lean closer to speak to the baby.  I thought to myself, “Aww,  precious”….  then she said, in a growly, Clint Eastwoodish voice:

What are YOU gawking at?”  I scurried away

Kids or no kids, grocery shopping is a lot harder than it looks.  You are expected to make a lot of decisions, plus perform some fairly complicated math calculations.  At the front door is the first major decision – push cart or hand basket?  Let’s be serious – they should completely get rid of those hand baskets.  On the rare occasions that I have convinced myself to use one, I can be found moments later, one aisle over, staggering under its weight.  It’s like they conspire to put all the heavy things on sale the day I use a hand basket.  I’m the queen of the heavy impulse buy. Potatoes , juice, beans.  I then have to alternate carrying it with two hands between my legs like a toddler learning to bowl, or casually dangle it off my forearm like a purse – ignoring the excruciating pain and increasingly deep dent in my flesh.   I ran into a friend shopping recently and she had a hand basket that she had stacked so high that she couldn’t even lift it, and had resorted to leaving it sitting in the aisle and bringing purchases back to it, stacking it higher and higher.  Thank heavens I arrived with my push cart – I did my good deed for the day by giving her 200lb hand basket a ride to the checkout, while she walked alongside with her hand atop the highest items so it wouldn’t topple.

And speaking of running into friends – is there anything worse when you’re just trying to get your groceries and get out, than getting to a section where you need something and two other shoppers — apparently long-lost old friends– are blocking the aisle and have pushed their carts together and are playing catch up with all the news in each other’s lives, and all you want is to find the spice that you need and be gone?  They make half-hearted attempts to move their carts closer to the shelves, but inevitably you need something that they are blocking entirely.  Those inconsiderate people piss me off.

Yes – come to think of it there is something worse.  Occasionally when I see somebody at the grocery store that I haven’t seen for a while, and we’re trying to have a conversation – maybe she’s showing me some  pictures on her cell phone or something – and other shoppers look all aggravated and make “tsk” sounds and try to ram their carts by, or reach past us to get stuff.  Those ignorant people piss me off.

One sure-fire way I know to make sure I see everyone I know in town is to go to the store without any makeup on, dressed like a slob.  Guaranteed all my friends, enemies, and the ageless cheerleader from high school will be all up in my business.  Those are the days that I’m forced to shop without my glasses on, and operate like Mr. Magoo and can’t see anyone, least of all that slim, well dressed do-gooder lady with the cute haircut whose kid used to hang out with my kid.  Sometimes might have to skip a few aisles to avoid an encounter, and go home without a few items I really need, but hey – priorities.

However, should I have just come from the hairdresser and be wearing one of my business suits that is from this decade, in full makeup complete with lip gloss, I guarantee that I will not see a single soul I know.  If I should see someone familiar – I won’t be able to catch their eye, despite whistling, waving and full on jumping jacks.

Plus, regardless of how much time I spend shopping.  Once I’m officially trapped in the checkout line, I always see something in someone else’s cart that I meant to get.  And I want it.  Bad. I weigh my options … create a distraction and just grab it?  Offer to buy it at a premium?  None seem feasible, so I say “back in a minute” and then walk-run through the store trying desperately to get back before the checkout person has finished running all my stuff through.  Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t.   Sometimes I get distracted, and keep shopping and have to be paged.  So what, who cares.

A recent grocery shopping trip was a little hair-raising.  I completed my purchases, paid and then was on my way out with my cart loaded with bags, when I was stopped dead in my tracks by a huge candy display that I had missed on the way in.  How is that possible?  Candy is just about my favorite thing! There were a couple of other people browsing, which added to the sense of urgency.  Could this be the candy sale to beat all candy sales??? However, good sense prevailed (I am after all, in the words of my daughter, a grown-ass woman) so I decided not to buy any candy and instead I pushed the cart in a most dignified manner, out to my truck in the parking lot.  Once I got out there and opened the back of the truck to begin loading my bags of groceries in, I made the unfortunate discovery that I had actually pushed someone else’s cart out to the parking lot, full of unpaid for groceries.  I raced back inside,  and mine was still stalled beside the enticing Fuzzy Peaches and Licorice display.  Nearby there was a bewildered looking man with his arms full of fruit and vegetables who appeared to have lost something.  His wife looked irritated.  I dropped their cart off close to them, then grabbed mine and headed back out the door as they stared.  I quietly muttered the only thing I could think of …

What are YOU gawking at?”

Yes, I realized I have come full circle. Once again I shop alone. And I may be a grown ass woman, but I can annoy other shoppers even better than my kids ever did.  And there’s still so much to look forward to in my shopping career.  Next milestone at the grocery store – the driving carts, and bad parallel parking in the Polident aisle.

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Filed under Family, Humor, Kids, Memories

My Son the Chick Magnet

First week of school, and it made me think about the impact that peer pressure has had on our family life.  We produced these adorable, angelic little cherubs, raised them up all wholesome like out here on the farm, and then at the ripe old age of 4ish had to turn them over to “the system”, where they were immediately led astray by what we liked to call “those town kids”.

 On one occasion though, it was a fellow farm child who led my dear little boy down the wayward path of buying contraband and smuggling. You always live in fear of the day a schoolmate comes to school “selling”, and on this day my innocent 12ish year old young man was lured into “buying”. He paid his classmate $2.00, and came home on the bus with the contraband well hidden, stuffed under his denim jacket.  He sauntered down the driveway, high on the adrenalin rush from the transaction and covert smuggling operation. 

 His sisters raced ahead, anxious to be the one to squeal on him:  “Richard bought some baby chicks at school”.   Of course he did.  An enterprising (some might say shifty)  kid brought in some baby chicks to show the class, and Richard’s change purse was bulging with that $2.00 Pizza Day money, and I’m sure there was a heck of a sales pitch, and suddenly he’s the proud owner of 3 chicks.  Why you ask?  Believe me, I asked too.  “Because they were cute, and I like them.”

 Chicken farming was never in our short or long-term plan.  But you hate to stifle when they have an interest, so we set about building a coop of sorts, and going to the Co-op to buy chicken feed.  However, there was one small issue with our approach.  These chicks were somewhat urbanized (perhaps from their brief stint as celebrities at the school, or their whirlwind school bus ride), and they never really acted like normal chickens.  For example, they were Houdini like, and could not be contained by any “coop”.  They would consistently stage breakouts, then liked to wander the driveway, behaving like 3 clucking little Walmart greeters to anyone who stopped in.

 As they grew, it became apparent that one was indeed a rooster, which posed no problem at first.  He was just a bit more interesting than the others to look at, with his nice red fascinator thing on his head.  But then two bad habits developed in quick succession. 

  1. The group of three decided that the place they wanted to sleep at night was not in the barn, but instead on the step, right underneath our bedroom window.
  2. The rooster discovered his ability to crow.

 The idea of a rooster crowing to some is so appealing, so folksy, having a built-in alarm clock that lets you know when the sun is rising.  But this guy was messed up. He was definitely an overachiever.  He thought we should be alerted to things like “the wind is picking up” or “it looks like rain” or “the moon went behind a cloud” or “the sun is going to come up in about 4 hours”.  And for the record,  all you city dwellers who know your animal noises from a Fisher Price “See-n-Say”, it doesn’t sound like “cock-a-doodle-doo” either.  That sounds cute.  This sounded like a deafening :

ER-ER-ER-ER -EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

–  which shakes you out of a sound sleep. Approximately every hour or so.  All night.  On work nights.  Plus, fun fact – chickens don’t care if you yell at them, or throw stuff at them from a second story window. Parents of colicky newborn triplets were getting more sleep than we were. Needless to say, they had to go. 

The booming metropolis where we live has a semi-annual “Fur and Feather” show, so in the fall we packed these three up in a cage and dropped Richard off to see if it was true that there was indeed one born every minute, and he could make a sale and recover his costs … which by now were considerable with all the chicken feed and the spectacular, yet unused chicken coop.

 We arrived to pick him up at the end of the day, and he was smiling a victorious smile, and there were no chickens in sight.  He had made a deal.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that there was another one of his fast talking “peers” at the fur and feather show, who browbeat (I’m speculating) him into trading the chickens rather than selling – and he was now the proud owner of 3 rabbits. 

 The only thing the rabbits had in common with the chickens was that they too could not be contained, so we now had these little creatures hopping about the lawn and gardens.  I won’t go on … but let’s just say that this episode ended rather badly, and eventually over the next year, due to the conscientious efforts of our three cats, we did not have to attend another Fur and Feather show to dispose of this purchase … and at our house the phrase “the rabbit died” took on a whole new, less devastating meaning than it had previously. 

Eventually he got better at resisting peer pressure and sales pitches – although I think he may still be a sucker for cute chicks, especially if he likes them.

Hope I'm not inundated with calls from MTVs "Cribs" show now.

 

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Memories of Mischief and Mayhem

Took a little trip in a time machine this week. I found a journal that I used to keep when the kids were little. Below are a few of excerpts, from the early nineties. This is very timely, because sometimes I get melancholy about missing my little ones. A quick trip down memory lane takes a bit of the sting out of empty nest syndrome.

May 1993 (kid’s ages 2, 4, 6)

When we were going to town this afternoon, I put on nice clean white pants and a nice top, and felt not too hideous. I get out of the car at the school and the whole pocket of my pants at the front is covered in chocolate. Nobody even had chocolate. When I asked where the chocolate came from, Laura  does this very exaggerated shrug and says, “I don’t know. Katie bad.” So that explains that. Also just for a treat, somebody left about 12 crayons in the back seat and they melted all over the upholstery of the new Mazda.  I had to clean it up as best I could, using a blow dryer to melt it and a spoon to scrape it up.  Tonight I was making muffins and I turned my back for a minute. The next thing I knew Laura was carefully spooning dishwater into my batter. 

And then another one from about a year later …

The girls are going through a stage now where they love to listen to Alanis Morisette. I had a nephew tape songs for Richard, and he was supposed to edit out the suggestive songs, but guess he forgot. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen 3 year old Laura lustily belting out, “I don’t want to be your mother, I didn’t carry you in my room for 9 months”. (18 years later SHE makes fun of ME for getting song lyrics wrong)

There will be blood …

Took girls into town to Foodland and Best Buy, thought about picking up Richard but didn’t know when school got out. (What kind of mother doesn’t know what time school gets out???) Took girls to park and came home. Richard got off bus, tried to ride his bike to house, fell and put a big hole in his face. Was bleeding all over, and screaming that he didn’t want to go to the hospital. Away we went to Emerg, with Kate and a very cranky Laura in tow. For an encore Laura wiped out on the floor of the waiting room and put her bottom teeth through her lip. More blood. I’m thinking I’m in hell. Richard was very brave getting his face stitched up – even though the whole time he was getting stitched up Laura was kicking the gurney he was laying on, so basically the Dr. had to stitch up a moving target.

And more blood

We had a classic drive home from Milton tonight, where the kids fought the entire trip in the back of Mazda, and then it rained from Rockwood on. About Arthur it turned to hail, and shortly after Richard got an incredible nosebleed and the next thing Laura was bawling her head off because Richard got blood on her blanket.

Oct 2, 1995 – And even more blood …

For Richard’s birthday we gave him a Sega game and dad gave him some homemade arrows that he could use with his homemade bow. He was pretty good with it for days, but the other night when I was preparing for a small dinner party we were hosting, he made one shot straight up in the air that was quite spectacular I guess, because Kate watched it all the way up and then all the way down, until it hit her right between the eyes. We heard the most horrific screams coming from both of them outside and Kate came running in with blood streaming down her face and all over her sweater.  Took her to the hospital and they taped it so it wouldn’t scar. By the time I got home our guests were here, and I had to say “Let me get out of this bloody shirt and then we’ll get dinner on the table.”  Nice. On the upside though,  I think they’re considering giving me my own parking space at Emerg at the hospital, and the doctors call me by my first name. (And in our defense,  how could we have possibly known that arming a seven-year old walking sibling rivalry complex with a bow and arrow might end badly?)

And the barfing

Yesterday morning I was awakened at 6:00am to the sound of someone puking. It was Kate, hanging over the top bunk. Laura was oblivious, asleep in the bottom bunk. When she woke up she told me that she was dreaming that it was raining lasagna.

Oh, good times. I guess I do have revisionist recall, because in my memories everyone is very cute and adorable and well-behaved.  I guess I just have a fairly high tolerance for all the  people  I carried in my room.

P.S. – I wasn’t the only one having fun in the nineties.  In my journal I also reported on my sister’s life…  My nephew (6 at the time) “… was playing with his mom’s new speed dial phone the other day and phoned her work and left a message saying things like “Arsehole” and “I hate you”.  It was on the machine when her partners came into work. She was so proud.”

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To-do or not To-do

I ran across one of my old calendars from about 12 years ago when the kids were between 8 and 12 years old, and it was quite shocking.  Ignoring for a moment the possible hoarding issue, I used to be incredibly busy and super efficient.  Every single week was filled in mice-type, with work commitments, sporting events and practices, birthday parties and orthodontist appointments. I worked at least 50 hours a week and I was also taking university classes, so there were assignment due dates and exams.  Plus in those days I periodically fancied myself some sort of “hostess” so would voluntarily invite people to my house for dinner and even parties.

Things have certainly changed.  I’m now working considerably less hours a week, and the kids worry about their own appointments.  The birthday parties my two girls at home for the summer attend no longer involve getting picked up by mommy afterwards.  Even on their own birthdays, my involvement is minimal and by special request, I have ceased and desisted from preparing goodie bags from the dollar store. The birthday parties hubby and I attend now usually commemorate someone attaining some milestone age that previously we only connected with elderly people who we had to talk loudly to and  respect, but definitely not hang out with.   (You know when you’re at one of these parties because when they pass the birthday cards around, everybody either reads it by holding it out at arm’s length like it’s poisonous, or by looking down and peering scarily over glasses perched way out on their nose. Also these parties end really early, and nobody throws up, or passes out or dances.)

Once again I digress – but my conclusion is that it’s true what they say about if you want something done give it to a busy person – because now even though I have the time, I find every excuse in the world to not do the stuff on my list from day to day. I’ve been carrying over some to-do items for several months now.  In fact, I’m thinking of having my list laminated.  Tasks include:

  1. Do paperwork
  2. Put away Christmas ornaments
  3. Paint kitchen
  4. Paint every other room in the house
  5. Organize photos and videos (this one should come pre-printed on all to-do lists)

Carrying over these items from day to day and week to week is really kind of hurting my self esteem.  I’m starting to feel like an underachiever.  So I’m starting a new to do list, one that makes me feel good  because I am checking things off.  (And who among us hasn’t added something to their “to-do” list after the fact, simply for the satisfaction of checking it off?)  Yesterday my list looked like this:

  1. Get up
  2. Make Coffee
  3. Phone bank and see if they can undo the horrible mistake I made while online banking last night
  4. Pet cats
  5. Feed cats
  6. Put cats outside
  7. Check email
  8. Go upstairs to get something
  9. Come back downstairs
  10. Check Facebook
  11. Change clock alarm time back to a.m. from p.m., so next time I work we don’t wake up at the time I should have left for the meeting like yesterday
  12. Think about if there is enough beer for weekend
  13. Go get beer
  14. Walk around outside and look at yard
  15. Get dressed
  16. Have a beer when it’s 4:00 because it’s the long weekend
  17. Throw away the now rotten strawberries I bought 5 days ago to make jam

Wow – that’s a lot of checkmarks!  I got 17 things done! Notice there are no meal preparations written down.  I don’t want to set any precedents.  If I make a meal for the family, then good for me – but I don’t need the pressure of them seeing it written on the list, because then expectations are just too high.

The other alternative that might be equally satisfying would be to have a “To-Don’t” list.  On it I would list all the things that I’m not going to do that day, and then I could also still have the pleasure of checking them off.  It would have things like:

  1. Clean Windows
  2. Water Plants
  3. Get on the scales
  4. Clean out the fridge
  5. Lay mirror flat on the table and then look down into it*

(*If babies “make strange” and get hysterical when you peer into their carriage or crib, you might want to try this – the mystery may be solved)

I think the “To-Don’t” list might be equally fulfilling, because it amounts to checking stuff off, and then basking in the warm glow of accomplishment.  And what’s not to like about that?  So my calendar isn’t as filled as it once was.  Times change. To steal a quote from Jerry Seinfeld:

“I am so busy doing nothing… that the idea of doing anything – which as you know, always leads to something – cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.”

I get that.

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Post Traumatic Farm Syndrome

It’s spring, and usually when you were raised on the farm, this time of year would conjure up all kinds of happy memories.  However, some of my kids’ family memories from their “farm life” are probably going to result in some psychotherapists making a fair bit of coin somewhere down the road.

For example, when the kids were about 7, 5 and 3, we had a few cows that we would breed every year. One of our mother cows evidently skipped Lamaze classes and didn’t know the part about you have to stop pushing once the baby comes out, so when I went out to check on her during the day when my husband was at work, she had delivered the calf just fine but she also had her entire uterus spread out behind her like a giant gross parachute.  I was home with just my little 3 year old daughter… and I had to call the vet.  He arrived alone, and announced that it was a classic case of  “prolapsed uterus” and that I was going to have to help him put it back where it belonged.  He also warned, “It’s going to be messy”.  Luckily, when you live on a farm you have cool functional fashion choices like coveralls, so I put those and my rubber boots on and we headed out.   Little Laura had to accompany us to the barn – we had learned the hard way that she liked to dial 911 when left unattended for any length of time.

First the vet washed the giant parachute very carefully using a highly sanitary boot brush and sterile bucket of water with some iodine squirted in it.  Then he announced that I would need to “lift it up and hold it up high” so he could stuff it back in.  There were 3 problems with me “lifting it up and holding it up high”:

1.  It weighed approximately a thousand pounds.

2. The “right height” turned out to be at exactly my head height, and the right position turned out to be about 1/2 inch away from my own face.

3.  Holding “it” up and keeping it there required both of our combined strength and we had it pinned between our bodies so it didn’t touch the ground, meaning that I was plastered right up against this guy, far closer than I had ever been with a stranger before — at least without the benefit of drinks and dinner.

Throughout all of this little Laura sat on a bale with her “green baby” (her favourite doll)  and looked on, with eyes the size of saucers.

We finally had everything put back in its rightful place and the vet stitched things closed  — he had me put my finger on each knot as he tied it, like we were wrapping presents at the mall (I think at this point he was just taking advantage of my good nature).  When we stepped out into the daylight I looked down at myself to see that I was completely soaked in blood, right through to my bra.  I should have opted for the garbage bag poncho instead of my super absorbent coveralls.  The vet handed  me the bill and drove off, and then I remember walking toward the house looking like Carrie after the pig’s blood scene at the high school prom – except for I was walking hand in hand with a toddler.   Little Laura  seemed unphased at the time, and just wanted to get into the house to have cookies and watch Lion King, as was our bargain.

She seemed unphased, but who knows when these memories might make their way back into her consciousness.  I’m on a first name basis with enough esteemed doctors of the human psyche (Both Dr.  Phil AND Dr. Drew) , to  know that the human mind is a mysterious thing, and nothing ever really goes away, but is merely suppressed. I  fear that I will ultimately be featured in some investigative episode of 20/20 or something when my famous daughter (it’s inevitable, eventually – she’s awesome) starts having flashback memories and goes public with them.   The thing with flashback memories from when you were 3 years old is that they are known to leave out critical details.  I’m afraid that Laura’s revisionist recall might just leave out the key elements of the cow  predicament– and only retain the terrifying image of me, and my blood splattered sweaty face,  looking like a homicidal maniac, bribing her with promises of snacks and a Disney movie.

PS – The cow and the calf went on to live long happy lives – at least long as long as can be expected when your lot in life  is “beef cow”.

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Filed under Animal Stories, Family, Farm Life, Humor, Kids, Memories

Food for Thought

I was reflecting on how our eating habits have evolved over the past 30+ years of marriage. When we were first married, I didn’t know how to cook.  Somebody took pity on me (or actually probably on my malnourished hubby) and bought me a Betty Crocker cookbook at some point, after having attended a “special occasion” dinner party at my house, which consisted of Shake & Bake pork chops, boil-in- a- bag broccoli WITH cheese sauce if you please, frozen French fries, topped off with a nice Mrs. Smiths frozen apple pie.  You put that with a nice bottle of Baby Duck and BAM you had yourself a 1980 gourmet meal.

Next I learned how to be a by-the- book -cook , and my repertoire expanded so that I was making us delicious little numbers like authentic Caesar salad, which the two of us would romantically eat together by candlelight, from the same large wooden bowl, while gazing into each other’s eyes.

Then the kids came along … and I morphed into some sort of Organic Power Ranger type.  I spent hours painstakingly making nutritious meals and snacks.  I made all my own baby food, and became a bit of a freelance in-your-face nutritionist, recoiling in horror when people tried to contaminate my offspring with the likes of hotdogs.    At one young and overly zealous point I joined forces with my close friend Meryl Streep in a letter writing campaign to government officials, demanding they immediately put a stop to pesticiding the hell out of veggies and fruit. I think we know how that turned out.  I blame Meryl.

Once the kids were in school, I mellowed somewhat, but still carefully prepared home cooked breakfasts, and sent ecoli- proof cooler packed lunches. Snacks were strictly home baked treats.  Of course I found out later, that these home baked treats got very old very fast, and were widely traded on the school market at a ratio of one of my chocolate chip cookies to two for Oreos and Chips Ahoy.  And as for the poisonous threat of hotdogs, I was fighting a losing battle.  The school itself declared an actual day in honor of them, and peer pressure and the fear of being shunned as “different” was stronger than the drive to avoid death by nitrates, so on a weekly basis I sent hotdog day money, constantly torn between my own maternal instinct to protect my children from avoidable toxins, and the more immediate and pressing need for me to have a day off from packing lunches.

As the kids got older, they became even pickier with the school lunches.  I was no longer allowed to send egg sandwiches because they stunk up their locker and the hall and the schoolbus, and, they were constantly being accused of having just farted, which was wreaking havoc with their social lives.  They were increasingly jealous of the cool lunches other kids had – loaded with various plastic delicacies posing as food, such as “cheese”  strings and fruit” roll ups.   Side note –  It didn’t help that my sister also had a teenager at the same time, and  enjoyed some fleeting fame as the coolest mom in the world when she, by accident, sent beer on her Grade 10 son’s lunch not once but twice.  The can looked the same and was located in the same area of the pantry as the pop, was the official explanation.   He was thrilled, both times, and his own cool factor at school reached Fonzie-esque heights. But I digress. ..

Nowadays, our offspring are out in the world and preparing their own meals, they seem to have a healthy appreciation for all the food groups, which I take total credit for. They read the nutritional information on the labels, and make wise food choices.

Meanwhile back at home though, mom and dad have taken a giant leap backward.  A lingering pre-dinner cocktail (but only on the days that end in “y”)  now means that dinner is either: A) non-existent or B) a bag of chips or C) cereal. Where I used to feel a need to cover all the food groups and make meat, veg and potatoes every single day, now I’m in the kitchen dumping snack bags into bowls, preparing a basic wine and cheezie tray, or  muttering about how potatoe chips are technically veggies, and too much meat isn’t good for you,  plus I’ve revised the threat level of pesticides up to red, so vegetables are obviously out.

Hubby and I do still on occasion huddle together sharing a Ceasar salad out of the same big old wooden bowl, but we have abandoned the candlelight in favour of Clapper controlled lighting, and we’re usually sitting side by side on the couch, each with a cat in our lap, yelling out incorrect Jeopardy answers to an ever- pompous Alex Trebec.

Vive la romance!

P.S.

As a partial homage to Betty Crocker,  here is my somewhat bastardized version of her  Ceasar Salad recipe, and a pic of my 32 year old  salad bowl.

1/3 cup oil (I use ½ canola, ½ Olive)

1 tsp worchestershire sauce

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/8 tsp salt

Fresh Ground pepper

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

Crush  1/2 large clove garlic and smash it all around inside bowl.    Add dressing to bowl (start with about ¼ cup) toss with washed and spun romaine lettuce pieces, adding more dressing as needed, just enough so leaves glisten but not so much that they get wet and gross.

Lastly,  toss with ¼ cup shredded parmesan or even better, those fancy parmesan “petals” and add croutons and crumbled crisp bacon (but not those gross fake bacon “bits”),  if desired.

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Filed under Family, Food, Kids, Marriage, Memories

The Roaring Twenties

Mommy blogs make me laugh, but not in the way they intend to.    They discuss their child rearing problems like feeding issues, and kids who say hilarious things unexpectedly and embarrass them (Oh My!), and complain about their kids who play too many video games.   Then there are actual message boards where other mothers contribute and try to offer solutions and sympathy.  Why??? These aren’t problems!  These are child’s play – pun intended.

And then people talk about the teenage years, like once you get through those, you’re safe.  As if.  Talk to me when your kids are in their twenties.   Case in point, this past weekend when the youngest (20) came home from university for a good old fashioned rural “Kegger”.  Sounds harmless enough.  But seriously, it did – she’s the good one.  I’ve never had to even once issue an Amber alert for her, and go hunting around town on a Sunday morning to find/collect her, dehydrated and disheveled and sporting one shoe like I routinely did with her siblings during their later teen years.  (Those recovery operations were always made worse by witnessing the local perfect little Christian family of my kid’s classmates, smiling wholesomely and holding hands as they skipped off to church.)

She really was the good one, and has often in the past stood shoulder to shoulder with me with arms folded, shaking her head in disapproval while we would prepare our Sunday brunch accompanied by moans and retching sounds coming from a sibling upstairs.  “I’m never going to drink” she would announce with conviction.  I couldn’t have been prouder.

So … got a text from her on Friday night at 10:30pm from the Kegger, saying that she was going to be sleeping at her girlfriend’s.  At 7:21 Saturday morning I got a text that said “ I am anzosurdle. Loste.”  At 7:22am I got one that said “I am do unreaiabe no soo0oo0oooooo. Points. On meye.”

Well, you can imagine my hysteria.   These were clearly the gibberish rantings of someone who not only had pulled an all-nighter, but had alcohol poisoning AND/OR had been roofied, and it was now up to me to save her.   Since the first text mentioned “Loste” – I knew that we were dealing with disorientation.  It brought to mind that Dateline show I saw, where the two teenagers used Meth and then abandoned their car and took off their coats and froze to death.  THERE WAS NO TIME TO WASTE! The second text included that word that kind of looked like “unreliable”, and then that other word that had the “s” with so many “o”s …. so naturally I understood that she was trying to say that she was sorry she was unreliable.  Broke my heart – so like her to be concerned about me.

I leapt into action.  Tried phoning her cell phone, went to voicemail every time.  Obviously she was busy trying to phone 911 – or worse, there were captors involved and they had stolen her phone and were using it to make long distance, possibly even international calls!!  Got her dad up – and instructed him to go start scouring the back roads looking for her.  I picked up the phone to call the police and the milk carton people. TIME WAS OF THE ESSENCE.  Meanwhile Dad, sporting severe bedhead was sprinting out to the car, but stopped in his tracks and said “Maybe you should call her friend’s house.”   I knew it was a waste of time – he,  as usual,  wasn’t comprehending the gravity of the situation, but if I’ve learned anything over the past 30 years it’s that sometimes you just have to humour them.  So I dialed her friend’s house and when Cindy  pleasantly answered and I asked knowingly whether my little baby was there,  the answer was ….  “Yes”, then “ Do you want me to wake her?”

My next text, at  8:07am said “Hi mom, my phone fell between the couch cushions, and it sent random letter texts. I’m fine.”

Never mind.   Enjoy the innocent years, Mommy Bloggers, because parenting twenty- somethings is no kids’ game.

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Filed under Family, Kids, Thats Life