Thursday, January 27, 2011

Something About the Hired Help

It is no secret that my kids LOVE having a landscaper for a dad (for those of you who don't know, Jason runs a charitable landscaping organization).

Benjamin started playing grass-cutting while he was still in a diaper (there IS a diaper under that shirt!),


and one of his first words was "ass," meaning--of course--"grass."

One of his second or third words was "Eese," meaning--of course--Reece, one of Jason's first employees. But I'll get to that in a minute.


Janae also learned gardening at an early age, holding a plastic shovel before she even knew how to put on chapstick.

Understandably she preferred to tend the flowers, rather than cut the grass or ride around in a truck,

but she was also very aware of Jason's employees, most of whom have been teenage boys from our church (and their friends).

For example, one day--through our window--she saw a teenager (let's call him Nolan), who worked with Jason only a few days. Immediately Janae vowed that this was the man she would someday marry.

She was convinced that another one of Jason's employees was actually Prince Phillip.

Now it seems to be Alaina's turn. Like her siblings she enjoys digging in the dirt, raking up leaves, and pretending to cut the grass.


And like her siblings, she is OBSESSED with Jason's employees.

One employee in particular has caught her eye. We will call him Matt . . . or as Alaina likes to call him MATTTTTTTTT (she really emphasises the "T"!).

You might be saying "obsessed" is too strong a word to use when describing behavior demonstrated by a one year old, but let's see what you think after I've explained.

Most mornings Matt comes to our home to meet Jason for work. As soon as the two of them leave, Alaina stands at the front door saying, "Matttt!" Not Daddy, or even Bumpa (her new word for Grandpa)--who she has also been known to look for at the door--but Matt.

This would be bad enough, but throughout the rest of the day whenever Alaina passes the door she stops, looks at it, and says, "Matttt?"

Even this would be easy to overlook if Alaina didn't also say Matt whenever she got into the van, finished her lunch, or woke up from a nap.

She really has Matt on her little mind!

It started me thinking . . . if Jason continues this trend of hiring teenage boys, it is going to supply my daughters with a constantly renewable source of potential, possibly inappropriate, crushes, not only throughout toddlerhood, but throughout all their childhood and even teenage years.

At that point what will be stopping them from dating or even marrying the help?

Seeing my girls growing up with such a rugged outdoorsman for a father (picture taken at a U-Catch trout farm), I'm sure this is only to be expected.


But, it's convinced me: we've got to start thinking about who we hire :)

By the way, I just finished reading a novel called The Help, set in Jackson, Mississippi, during the civil rights movement. Because of this, I need to assure you that I use the term "hired help," in only the most light-hearted and amicable way :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Stomach Flu: There is Nothing Like It!

We are just getting over the stomach flu (I hope!), and I have to say there is nothing like it!

There is nothing like the flu to

make me realize how neglectful I have been of our bathroom baseboards

remind me how much I enjoyed the first six months of each of my pregnancies

cause me to wonder why I haven't weaned Alaina


help me feel better about putting off making an appointment to have our carpets and couches professionally cleaned

show me how much I need my husband's help

give me hope of getting through the really thick library book I only have for two weeks

make me think bunk beds were not such a good idea after all

get me to feel sorry for my kids and even bend the TV rules--I think they watched FIVE DVDs yesterday . . . all quality educational programming, of course ;)


convince me that kids in Grade One do a lot of work at school every day (Ben has some catching up to do!)


ensure that I will never get caught up on the housework

test that theory about being only "a stomach flu away" from my goal weight.

Almost makes you wish YOU had the stomach flu, doesn't it?

But seriously, there is nothing like the stomach flu to make me appreciate how good it feels to NOT have the flu once it is all over.

We are all looking forward to that :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No More Babies?!

Recently I have realized that I sometimes suffer from denial when it comes to my kids.

A good example would be the way I view Alaina. Even though she is almost 17 months old, I still have clothes in her drawer that are 3-6 months (they're not that much too small), I still try to cover her eyes so she won't watch TV with her siblings (need to think about that brain development), and sometimes I still even call her my "little newborn."

But the evidence is growing that Alaina is . . . not really a baby anymore.

Janae has taught her how to put on make-up


and to cook


so well that she's even trying it on her own.

Ben has taught both of the girls to build with Lego (his own little clone factory?)

and Alaina, specifically, how to read . . . so well that she now reads to her babies on a regular basis.


When a baby can put on make up, cook, build with Lego and READ, it's probably time to acknowledge that she is growing up.

We decided to celebrate this growth by setting up Alaina's toddler bed (Ben and Janae were both out of their cribs by 16 months, and they both started sleeping better after that).

The first thing our toddler did was try to dimantle the crib with Daddy's drill;

the second was climb into her new bed and read a book to Elmo.


What a big girl!

So I guess it's official: we no longer have a baby in our house, and probably will not again.

Although there is that small matter of a Christmas gift we received from one of our neighbors. . . .



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No Match for the Tooth Fairy

We always hear about how good Santa is at navigating through storms, finding children's houses, and showing up with just the right gift.

But what about the Tooth Fairy?

Benjamin has been putting her to the test, and so far she has really come through!

Benjamin lost his first tooth in the usual way: sitting at home, wiggling it out.


Since then, though, he has mixed it up a bit.

His second tooth came out at the hospital, moments after he'd met his baby sister Alaina. Even with his mother recovering in the maternity ward, Ben managed to keep track of the tooth, take it home, and put it under his pillow.


The Tooth Fairy brought him a $5 bill. Pretty good.

For the third tooth, Ben set up an unprecedented challenge: he lost it around the fire at a Father/Son campout--in the middle of the forest with no moms around.

Not really a place you'd expect to find a Tooth Fairy, right?

Well, it turns out that not just one but several tooth fairies were fluttering around, offering Ben's daddy loonies and toonies. By morning, Ben had a pile of change under his dirty, campfire-scented pillow. All it needed was a trip through the washing machine, and it was fit for any boy's piggy bank :)

I guess Benjamin thought if the Tooth Fairy could find him there, she could find him anywhere.

Tooth #4 came out one Sunday just before church. (This doesn't sound like much of a challenge, but when you consider that Ben's parents don't shop on Sundays, you have to wonder where the perfect amount of change was going to come from!)


Ben woke up the next morning with a loonie and a C-3PO action figure under his pillow. Not too shabby.

Then last night, the snow storm we've been waiting for all winter arrived. And Ben lost the tooth he'd been wiggling for weeks . . . AT SCHOOL! So exciting!

But, would the Tooth Fairy be able to find her way through the storm? She doesn't have Rudolf, you know.

She did! And this time, Ben got a loonie and a Han Solo action figure.


The next day school was cancelled because of all the snow.

So even weather that stops the buses is no match for the Tooth Fairy.

She must be quite the lady :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Crossing the Line

Janae has been known to cross a line or two in her time.

She is not afraid to cross the line when it comes to fashion,




or even appropriate play with Star Wars action figures (evident in this sighting of Qui-Gon Jinn hanging out in Janae's vanity).


Lately, though, my spunky almost four-year-old has been crossing the line when it comes to acceptable behavior in public, resulting in some pretty tense moments for her mother.

For example, the other day I had to interrupt one of Janae's activities to run an errand that had to be done right away (no, not returning library books . . .). Janae, who--as we all know--likes to dress up, was sporting shorts, tights and sandles.

I thought about asking her to change, but then thought I'd avoid a fight by just having her switch her sandles for boots. When Janae refused, I once again thought, "Not worth a fight," and opened the door to get her and Alaina into the van.

As soon as Alaina was strapped in, Janae started to say, "I WANT TO PUT ON MY BOOTS!!!"

Not wanting to take Alaina back into the house, I said, "Janae, we're only going out for a few minutes; don't worry about boots."

The entire 10 minutes we spent in the car, Janae full-out screamed "BOOTS!! BOOTS!!"

It moved from annoying to alarming to infuriating.

Finally, we got to our destination. Since Janae had flung her sandles somewhere in the van, I got out the stroller, opened the door, and tried to encourage her to get in (okay . . . maybe "encourage" isn't quite the right word here).

It kind of just went downhill from there.

Janae screamed and thrashed around in the stroller while everybody stared. Looking on the bright side, though, I didn't have a hard time tuning out the hysterical wailing for boots on the way home because by that time I was competely numb to it.

The next day ("always fresh with no mistakes in it," right?), I worked really hard to keep Janae calm, happy, and busy. She helped me cook, folded laundry, and played with Alaina. Everything seemed okay.


Then when we went to pick up Benjamin, Janae asked if she could say hello to one of the teachers. I said that would be fine and occupied myself with trying to keep Alaina from throwing off both of her boots into a mud puddle.

The next thing I knew, the teacher Janae had wanted to speak to was speaking to her in a very stern way. What had my daughter--the one who'd been on her best behavior all day--said? Something not very nice.

It has occurred to me, now, that Janae really is trying to discover where the line is . . . not necessarily in an attempt NOT to cross it, although hopefully that will be her objective eventually.

Since the events I've described, she and I have had several "talks," and I think we have made a little progress. Sometimes it is pretty discouraging, though.

This week I will be registering my little line-crosser for preschool. It will be the same school that Benjamin attended, so they will have some idea what is coming (from interacting with Janae in the waiting area, not from teaching Ben).

I guess we could just say that she's got a lot of character.

Still, I think I have a bit of work to do before September. . . .

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Stuff . . . It Just Isn't Me

If you have seen me outside in the winter, you have seen my brown coat.

Almost a decade ago, I needed a brown coat to go with all my brown stuff, and I finally broke down and bought one. At first it was pretty nice--and several years later I even wore it for our family picture.


It's been to Whistler,


the Olympic sites,


the mall, the school, every park in our town, and many, many other places.

Lately, though, my brown coat has started to look a little worn and shabby. The outside (which isn't waterproof) looks too flat, the fake-sheep wool lining has lost its fluff, and the shape shows that I wore the coat during all three of my pregnancies.

The past few years I have vowed that after Christmas--when everything is on sale--I would buy a new coat. But I wasn't quite sure what style to buy and never found anything I really liked at a low enough price.

This year, however, I had an idea. I'd seen other moms wearing a longer style of coat that looked pretty warm and cozy.

After Christmas I tried going to the mall, but with Alaina trying to climb out of the stroller and Janae and Ben complaining, I left empty handed.

Then yesterday I got an email from one of the stores I sometimes frequent (just to check out the sale rack, of course), advertising 60 percent off of dresses and COATS.

Opening the email, I found lots of nice coats, including one that looked exactly like the one I had in mind--even down to the fur-trimmed hood--except it was black instead of brown.


Still, I thought maybe I'd go to the store and try a few coats on.

To make a really long story a little shorter, I ended up buying the coat--the last one in my size--at a pretty low price.

But all the way home I was tormented by this decision. I thought I could wear the coat to pick up Ben in the afternoon, but then thought, "What if he doesn't spot me right away . . . because I'm not wearing my brown coat?" I thought about what the other moms would think, seeing me in the very different coat. (I just like to blend in with my surroundings, I guess--hence, the brown coat.)

At home I tried the new coat on again and worried that it was too long, the sleeves fit a bit short, the shape didn't look right when I turned.

I thought I'd take the coat back.

Jason--who sometimes has to beg me to buy new clothes--thought I should keep it.

Janae--who loves anything new or flashy--told me I "need to wear" the new coat.

I think it's a bit ironic that while most people might feel embarrassed to wear the old brown coat (including myself at times, I might add), I feel embarrassed at the thought of wearing a new one.

I'm still not sure what to do about the black coat, but if you see me outside this winter, chances are I will be wearing my brown coat.

It's just more me :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Holiday's Over

Well, Christmas has passed, and we've just celebrated the start of a new year. Interestingly enough, while I love Christmas, I actually despise New Year's.

I've been thinking about why this is so, and I've realized that it's not just damage done by all those New Year's Eves spent at YSA dances. It's not fear of Polar Bear swims or sadness at having to take down the Christmas decorations.

New Year's marks a change in thinking, feeling, and schedule that I just don't like.

For example, when we are getting ready for Christmas, we are making and sharing treats, shopping for special gifts, seeing children on their best behavior, and getting everyone off to bed early in new pajamas.


After Christmas everything we've just bought is being cleared out at 70 percent off sales, people who give us treats are viewed with contempt, and nobody has any incentive to listen to their parents.

By New Year's we are vowing to never eat again or to spend any more money . . . and then we are forced to stay up until at least midnight to welcome this coming year of self-deprivation and buckling down.


Once the tree is actually down and all the decorations boxed up in the closet, I do enjoy the feeling of a clean house and more space, but it's the same kind of enjoyment I get from having the laundry put away or the dishes done. It's nice . . . just not that exciting.

And now that we've got a big kid in grade one, a new year also means the end of Benjamin at home, the end of sleeping in, and the end of not having to drive across town twice a day (that kind of sounds like a double negative, but I think you know what I mean!).

Just thinking about it all is enough to bring on a serious case of after-Christmas blues, and with no chocolate left in the house, either!

So, is there anything good about a new year? I thought I'd better list a couple of things we are looking forward to. . . .

Janae has been off of ballet for three weeks--which is three weeks too long. We're excited for dance classes to start next week :)

Benjamin has big plans that involve . . . let's see . . . Star Wars and Lego!

And I'm pretty sure Alaina will keep us laughing, singing, and re-reading our toddler library. She may even reinvent the terrible twos before the year is over.

As for Jason, I think he's going to take the Christmas lights down tomorrow (hint, hint), and I am going to read more novels, give the kids more hugs . . . and yes, lose those 3 extra pounds I gained over Christmas.

I guess it won't be that bad. Happy New Year! :)