Thursday, December 20, 2007

This is it.

Today is my last day of work before having 17 days off in a row. The best part? Only 2 of those are vacation days… the rest are just gifts for working in higher education and earning much less than I could out there in the “real world”. Ahem.

Everyone around here keeps asking if I am ready for Christmas. Emotionally – yes, I am. Christmas itself isn’t much of an ordeal for me. Homer is Jewish, so that fact that we celebrate anything to do with Christmas with my family has always been a no-brainer. That makes it pretty stress-free on the family front. The other good thing is that none of the extended family festivities happen at my house. I just have to show up with my kids and my potluck dish and that’s all that is expected of me.

Of course, when people are asking whether or not I’m ready, they are really asking if I have my shopping done. Nope. Not even close. Am I stressed about it? Nope. I know exactly what I am buying people and where to get it (I have a chart drawn up). I have the day off tomorrow and will shop all day while the kids are still in school/daycare. I have my route mapped out and will not hit one single mall. I’ll wrap everything up after the kids have gone to bed on Friday night and I’ll be done. I do it this way every year and the system hasn’t failed me yet.

For the rest of the holidays, I’ll just tinker around the house (read: clean out closets, cupboards and the basement), spend lots of time with the kids and Homer and meet up with some friends for coffee or lunch. Seventeen days seems like a long time right now, but I’m pretty sure it will seem too short on the other side of it.

I’m not sure if I’ll post in the next couple of weeks or just take a little break.

Wishing all my bloggy friends a wonderful Christmas full of cookies, friends, family and wishes granted. I’ll see you when I see you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dear Santa Jr.

The kids are excited about Christmas, but they're not in the over-the-top, frenzied mode yet, which is GOOD.
We finally got down to writing our letters to Santa last night (I know, bad mom). Here are the requests:

Lisa:

A Pound Puppy (with one butterscotch ear and one white ear with butterscotch spots):





Littlest Pet Shop Collector Tin (if you look this up, you will often see it called "rare" - a word that makes slacker Santa shudder):




Bart:

A marker. When pressed, he will specify black.




And a Wonka Bar.




Maggie:
A candy cane




And mittens







I think Santa`s getting off pretty easy at the Simpson house.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dear Santa....

I need this.


I have been very, very good.
Really. Good.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Damn you, weather man.

I like a winter storm as much as the next guy. In fact I LOVE winter storms for the most part. If it happens on a work day, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll have the day off. My neighbours on both sides LOVE their snow blowers, leaving us to just shovel the walkway from our front door to the driveway. I love hunkering down with the family, baking cookies, eating soup, watching movies and playing games.

As much as I love a good snowstorm, I did not love what happened yesterday. Lisa’s birthday party has been planned for a month. We were going to a gymnastics place with 15 of her closest friends. They would jump, bounce, tumble and balance for an hour, eat pizza, cupcakes and fruit for another hour, then I would send all the kiddies home with loot bags. Birthday festivities would be done.

They were calling for a storm. It was to start Friday night and continue throughout Saturday into the wee hours of Sunday. That would have been fine – plenty of time to get the roads cleared for a Sunday afternoon party. Except, that the storm was late. By a day. I spent Sunday morning frantically trying to figure out phone numbers for kids in Lisa’s class that she only knew by their first names. I booked an alternate date with the gymnastics place. I threw the cupcakes and the perishable items from the loot bags into the freezer. I broke the birthday girl’s heart.

Lisa was actually quite understanding about the whole thing. Of course she was disappointed, but she didn’t cry or even pout. After a long, long hug, she suggested that, during the time that the party would have been, we play games and all have fun together. So we did.

The new party is in two weeks. I will go ballistic if there’s another storm. Do you hear me weather man? BALLISTIC!

Friday, December 14, 2007

How? When?

How is it that when I think of her, I see this:


But when I actually look at her, I see this?

When did she get so big?

This weekend, she turns 7. I will be the mother of a seven-year-old!

Where did the time go?

More importantly, how do I slow it down?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Seven negative things (only 7?!)

JMC challenged her readers to do a Seven Negative Things meme. Negative, I can do!

1. I will go out of my way just to avoid rejection. Like the time in grade nine when I quit the basketball team rather than tell the coach that I would have to leave early from the Wednesday practice to make it to my piano lesson. My 13-year-old logic concluded that it was better to miss the whole season of basketball, rather than: a) talk to the coach and ask for an accommodation; or b) talk to my piano teacher and ask to change my lesson time. All these years later, I still hate myself for being so stupid.

2. I am very secretive. Tell me a secret and I won’t tell a soul… you can take that to the bank. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can become bad when it hurts someone to know that I didn’t trust him or her enough to share what I know.

3. I have zero tolerance for people who make excuses instead of taking responsibility for something they have done. I get sarcastic, quiet and bitchy and instantly think less of them.

4. I also have zero tolerance for people who complain all the time. Everyone complains now and then, but there are some people just have such a rough life that they must complain about it constantly. That’s me being sarcastic, because my experience is that people who actually have a hard life are much better at coping with it than the complainers. I can’t even fake that I feel sympathy for the person. I just think they’re weak.

5. I have serious self-image issues. Okay, not serious in the sense that it would lead me to any kind eating disorder or other self-destructive behaviour, just serious in that it’s out of whack. I hate my skin (pale - but not porcelain pale, rashy), my hair (not curly or straight, mousey colour, never had a hairstyle I was crazy about), my body (boobs too small, bum too big, arms not toned enough). I don’t complain about any of these things (see number 4), but I always wish I were just a little bit better.

6. I am terrible at keeping up with friendships. I think maybe if something like Facebook was around when I was in high school/university, I may have been better. I can barely get Christmas cards out, let alone remember anyone’s birthday (or send a card or even email if I do remember). My best friends are my circle of friends from high school. They are good at keeping up, so I haven’t lost them yet.

7. I don’t have a sentimental bone in my body. I’ve been married for 10 years, and I have never once bothered to watch the wedding video. Our wedding album is the book of proofs provided by the photographer (we ordered 1-5x7 and 1-8x10 for ourselves, plus a few for our families.) I don’t keep notes, cards, report cards or anything else from my past. I have some photos from different times in my life, but they’re all in the basement, just thrown into a box. I keep them, because I know I should. I will do baby books for my kids, but I have yet to get past the ultrasound pictures for Lisa’s. Bart and Maggie don’t even have a book yet.

So, that was cheery!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We are the Simpsons.

A few weeks ago, Swistle surprised a lot of people by revealing that the kids' names that she uses on her blog are not really her kids' names. In the comments to that post Marie Green shocked even Swistle when she said that her kids also used pseudonyms.
Awhile after that SaLy started a new blog with code names for her kids and herself.
Just yesterday, Misty announced that she had removed any mention of her kids' or husband's names from her past entries, to thwart the "child molesters, stalkers, or serial killers".
Oh my, have I really been that naive?
So it is that I stayed up late last night editing each blog entry to give my kids new names. I thought of using their middle names, a la Swistle, but those would be more revealing than their first names. So now, I would like to introduce you to:



Homer & Marge (aka LoriD).
He loves meat and beer.
She loves her family.

Lisa, who is smart and principled, but not above being silly.


Bart, who can turn anything into a fun time.
And, little Maggie, who is smarter than all of us.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's the thought that counts.

About 5 years ago, I unwrapped a Christmas present that made me laugh like no other. I present for you, the VAC 550:


My dear husband thought this was the perfect gift for me. Something that will make our cheese last for weeks (even though we go through a giant brick of cheese in 1 week). Something we can use for all of our freezer goods (we only have the little freezer on top of the fridge and that only hosts ice cubes, ice cream, Popsicles and a few frozen vegetables). Something to keep our cookies fresh (because he also sprung for these accessories):

Never mind that you have to suck the air out EACH TIME you go in for a cookie.

Needless to say, it sat on the counter for about a year and was more of a novelty than anything. It was a great thing to bring up in front of other people when discussing lame gifts. Despite the fun of the VAC 550, it was sent to the garage long ago in favour of more counter space.

Fast forward to the weekend when I had a brilliant idea. For Lisa’s birthday party this weekend, I’m making the kids Christmas cookie decorating kits in lieu of loot bags. I bought 16 Christmas tins at the dollar store. I’m going to make the gingerbread men (and trees and snowmen) and include in the tin some icing and candies for the decorations). I needed something to package the icing so they could snip off the corner and direct the flow of icing.

What could I use? You guessed it, the VAC 550! Now, do you think I could find the thing in the garage? Right again, no I could not. I’m going to have to rummage through the pit that is our garage and find this appliance that I suddenly neeeeeed, but cannot find. I love you Vac 550. Come out, come out wherever you are!

How about you? What is the lamest gift you ever received?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Day 4 - Dare I say...

All is well.

Maggie was less pissed. Today was "dress like an elf day", so even screaming she looked pretty darn cute.

No one is sick.

After work, I have to head back to my parents' house, but this time it's to drop the big guys off for a sleepover, as tomorrow is a PA day (no school).

Despite my busy day at work, I am feeling quite calm and competent today. Almost like this could all work out. Almost...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Day 3 - Are you freaking kidding me?

The babysitter is feeling much better.

Maggie is still pissed, but she screamed for only a couple of minutes before settling in today.

So, why did I have to drive an extra hour this morning? That would be because Bart spent the night puking, so I had to drive him to my parents' this morning so they could take care of him for the day.

Anyone want to place a wager on who will be sick tomorrow? My money's on me, since I spent the whole night dealing with Bart the Puke. AND, I have 5 meetings tomorrow that will be oh so fun to reschedule.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Day 2 - sorry about your windows

So, the babysitter is sick today. That's right. Babysitter. Day 2. Sick.

Bart will go to our friend's house after school. Homer will have to pick him up and drive him across town at noon. He'll then go to get Lisa at 3:30. He'll kill a little time with her, then go pick up Bart, then Maggie, then me.

Maggie was so happy when I picked her up yesterday. She was singing "if you're happy and you know it" and wiggling her little bum. She greeted me with a big hug and lots of giggles (nervous laugh?) She chatted all the way home about her day.

This morning, she willingly got into the car. Willingly got out of the car. Walked to the front door, then started crying, "No mommy! No!" I finally released her arms from the grasp they had on my neck and hair and passed her off to her teacher. If your windows shattered this morning, I'm afraid that was probably my baby screaming her head off at my unforgivable betrayal. Sorry about that.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Day 1 of the new arrangements.

I mentioned awhile back that our nanny was leaving to go and have a baby. Well, Friday was her last day. After a few tears, a little party and some cupcakes, the kids said good-bye to someone who has been a part of their little lives for more than a year. We’ll go to visit her one weekend after the baby is born (she’s a 4-hour drive away), and we’ll keep up with her over email, but for the most part, she’s gone.

So, today was the first day of the new arrangements. As expected, Maggie was royally pissed off that we were not planning to stay with her while she went about her day at the new daycare (I ended up getting a spot at the one I wanted, where I know everyone and they know me, thus reinforcing my positive attitude, no back-up plan approach). Never mind that she completely ignored us on the two mornings we took her for orientation – us leaving was not part of the deal. As a last ditch effort, she wailed, “ [Nanny] come and sit?” No sweetie… you’ll have to make new friends today. I called over at 10:30 and she had been complaining on and off throughout the morning, but was generally doing okay. I feel an ulcer forming, but that’s me.

I went to pick up Bart to walk over to his new afternoon babysitter’s house. He was slightly miffed that I was there… he just wanted the babysitter to get him. Do you ever get the feeling that you just can’t win? We’ll see how he feels at the end of the day, but he was quite excited that his little friend from school was coming too and was happy to shove me out the door.

I’ll pick up Lisa at the end of the school day and walk over with her too. I don’t worry about her at all. She has Bart there and, even though she comes across as very shy, she’s actually quite adventurous and eager to try new things. She’s also very likable and well behaved, so I don’t anticipate any problems. Hopefully this prediction doesn’t come back to bite me in the ass.

So, there’s where we sit in the middle of Day 1. I’m hoping that, magically, Days 2 to 100 will fall into place, everyone will be happy and I can actually get some work done. Let me say it for you: HA!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Curly cues.

If your kid has beautiful, curly locks, I can understand not wanting to get it cut.

I can understand just letting it grow and grow, until you drink in all of the deliciousness that is fine baby hair that twists into golden, shiny, spirals.

However, if the child is not, in fact, a girl, I might refrain from dressing him in androgynous clothing and putting a red clip in his hair to keep it off his face.

Failing this last point, however, I might be a little more forgiving when a well-intentioned stranger compliments him by saying, “she has gorgeous hair.”

Seriously, this couldn’t be the first time the mistake has been made.


=======================================================

I held off on cutting Bart’s hair for the longest time because his curls were so gorgeous. I would have him dressed as a boy, head to toe, and people would still tell him he was a pretty girl. I didn’t care much, because he was pretty and I just loved his hair. It still pains me that those curls got swept up and thrown out. Of course, I kept one for the (non-existent) baby book, but one just isn’t the same as a whole head of them.





*Sigh* without the curls, my baby turned into a boy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In case you thought I was kidding...

Yesterday morning at the bus stop, I realized that I had forgotten to put Bart's show-and-tell in his backpack. He looked very disappointed, so I reached into my pocket to see if there was anything in there. I pulled out my work keys and $0.39. I needed my keys, so I sent my four-year-old off to school with some coins.

He told me that he showed his money at show-and-tell and said it was to buy a Wonka Bar. He said the teacher laughed.

Not the mother of the year, indeed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Um, yeah. Not today.

I’m normally a bit of a push-over. Actually, I’ll qualify that. I’m not at all a push-over at work. In fact, I’m pretty tough and bold, but kind of nice about it. I’ve been told that I’m one of those people who can tell you to “go to hell” in such a way that you look forward to the trip.

Where I AM a push-over is any time I need to represent myself. Restaurant meal sucks? That’s okay, I won’t make a fuss. Old lady cuts in front of me at the ATM? She probably didn’t realize, no biggie. Cable/phone/repair guy is 4 hours later than he said he would be? I greet him with a smile and thank him for coming at all. Seriously, I’m a wuss.

Apparently, though, I have a breaking point.

On Friday, I slipped out to Old Navy to pick up some sale items, as I had 4 birthday gifts to buy. I dodged all the rude shoppers who took up the whole aisle with their carts while they shopped in a different aisle. I waited patiently for my turn to rifle through the fleece sweaters to find the right size. I helped a grandma pick out a matching camouflage shirt and pants for her grandson.

I picked out my deals and chose one of the eight lines that was open. The line wasn’t too long, I was maybe fourth in line. The woman in front of me had clearly been doing a lot of shopping, as she had 3 giant bags of clothes that she was shuffling along the line. In her hand was one sweater. The woman gets to the front of the line, hauls up one of the giant bags and says, “I would like to return all of these.” Just my luck.

The cashier asks for the receipt and the woman pulls out, I kid you not, a wallet that is 3 inches thick with receipts. We’ve been standing in line for at least 10 minutes, and it didn’t occur to her to pull out the receipt. I share an eye-roll moment with the guy behind me and I patiently waited another 10 minutes for the cashier and the woman to get the whole return thing figured out. Fine, I was just happy that it was now my turn. Not so fast, Lori… not so fast, my friend.

The cashier says to me, “I’m sorry, this line is closing, you’ll have to join another line.”

That, was my breaking point.

“Oh no I will not”, I said. “You will NOT be closing until you ring my purchases and this gentleman’s purchases through.”

“I’m off now”, she protested.

“You’re off after you ring us both through.” Who was this speaking?

“Okay,” she cowered. “Thank you for your patience.”

The guy behind me gave me an approving nod and a thumbs up.

And I felt really good. And powerful. And I just wanted someone else to cross me, because I was on.a.roll.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

If I were a Kate.

There’s been a bit of buzz this week about Internet anonymity, baby names, namer’s remorse and pseudonyms. It all reminds me of my favourite story about my grandmother. It’s a story that I asked to hear about several times when I was young, and one that even her closest friends (and even some younger family members) had not heard until I retold it at her funeral.

My grandmother was born in England in 1915 and given the name Minnie. At the age of 6, she moved to Canada with her family including her older sister. She started school mid-term and immediately felt overwhelmed by all the changes. She was a small, shy child with a very strong British accent. The other kids teased her for her accent and taunted her relentlessly about her name. She was known as Mini Minnie.

Her sister, who was six years older, was pretty and feisty and seemed to adapt to the situation effortlessly. She joined clubs and teams and was extremely popular. My grandmother usually just tagged along with her and her friends.

My grandmother grew to despise her name. She would avoid introducing herself and fantasized about names she wished she had.

When she was 18 years old, she followed her newly-married sister to a small mining town in northern Ontario that was experiencing a gold rush. She had no plans, no work lined up, but felt the need for a fresh start in a new place with her best friend, her sister.

She decided on the train-ride to her new home that Minnie was no more. From that moment on, she would confidently introduce herself as “Jill”. She found herself in this mining town and became actively involved in the community and the church. At 21 she was married and, while she was in the process of changing to her married name, legally changed her first name to “Jillian” .

I think of this story so often and I wonder about how difficult it must have been to tell her parents and her old friends. How bold it was to make that choice in the 1930’s.

I too fantasize about changing my name. Lori, to me, screams 1970’s and I wish I had a more timeless, classic name like Kate or Jill. I’m not about to change it, mostly because my parents still love the name and I would never do anything to hurt or insult them. But still, a girl can dream.

Do you like your own name? Do you think it suits you? What would be a better name for you?

Monday, November 19, 2007

The big fight.

We don’t fight that often, but when we do, it always turns into so much more than it needed to. I blame him (of course) and he blames me. I think what’s really going on is that we have incompatible fighting styles.

He just can’t let it go. I only want to let it go.

He wants to talk it out to death. I want to remain silent and never revisit it again.

He prefers to yell and talk over me. I prefer to talk low, make sarcastic remarks and pretend like I’m on the “no yelling” high road.

He can stay mad for days. I can stay mad for about 30 seconds.

He likes to tell me what I’m thinking. I like to tell him he’s wrong.

He’ll fight anywhere (Santa Claus parade, hello?) I’ll fight at home only.

He’ll use words like “always” and “never”. I’ll say things like “what’s wrong with you?” and “you need help”.

He’ll resort to name-calling. I’ll pretend to be wounded.

He apologizes, but always expects an apology in return. I stand by the “love means never having to say I’m sorry” rule.

He can be bought out of anger with SwissChalet. I silently declare victory.

How about you? How do you fight?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

When the mighty fall.

Okay, so I’m not exactly mighty, but I don’t get sick. I really don’t. I get sick so infrequently (and by sick I mean chills, nausea, extreme fatigue, aches – believe me, I’ve had my fair share of the sniffles, and more than my fair share of migraines, but those don’t usually bring me to my knees)… anyway, I get sick so infrequently that I can remember almost every time:

There was the time when I was one of a 5-person committee making a multi-million dollar, 10-year contract decision for the university between the two major soft drink companies. One was presenting all morning, the other all afternoon. The presenters included the Canadian Presidents and VP’s and the set-up was elaborate and expensive. During the morning presentation, I started to feel a little shaky. At the break, I went to the washroom to splash my face and then immediately threw up. I excused myself two more times during the first presentation. One of the VP’s commented that I had the smallest bladder he had ever come across. Instead of doing lunch with the committee, I went to my car in the hotel parking lot and slept for an hour, thinking I just needed a little rest and I would be fine. During the afternoon presentation, I had to leave the room no less than 8 times. Yes, I kept going back in! I honestly thought that each time was the last time. After that, I was sick at home for the next three days.

Then there was the time that I was sick for 8 days straight, but never missed a full day of work. I dragged my butt in there everyday thinking I could just shake it off. Several times I fell asleep at my desk (luckily I was in an office with a door). Then, I would go back home at about 10:30 and sleep the rest of the day, only to repeat the madness the next day. I am not a heart surgeon. It really doesn’t matter that much if I skip a couple of days here and there to be sick.

In my first year of university, I missed my economics exam due to “acute influenza” (that’s what they wrote on my doctor’s note when I dragged myself in to infect the school health clinic’s entire waiting room). Do you know what you don’t want to do? Write an economics exam at the end of January when you learned all the material Sept-Nov.

I didn’t miss any school in elementary or high school for real illness. In elementary school, they would give out arm bars (little patches that my mom dutifully sewed onto a pillow for me) for things like winning sports teams you were on, citizenship, and yes, attendance. I got a lot of different badges every year (I was a total joiner), but always got the attendance badge. In high school I took some “sick days”, but they were really more mental health days.

As the human race goes, I’m fairly inexperienced with being sick. When I am sick, I’m fairly certain that’s it for me… that some super-bug has broken through my immunity barrier and will spell my demise.

So it was with my most recent bout of flu(?? – I’m assuming that’s what it was) I was certain I would die, Homer was making my final arrangements (not really, but he was more attentive than usual), the kids were learning to be self-sufficient. But, alas, I’m back. The bug has been banished, the sheets have been changed and I am catching up on everything I missed. Hopefully it will be several years before I have to deal with all that unpleasantness again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When mom gets sick…

  • Tables do not get cleared.
  • Dishes do not get done.
  • Children do not get dressed.
  • Children’s hair does not get brushed.
  • Dinners consist of Happy Meals and pizza.
  • Baby gets 3 diaper changes a day.
  • Toys do not get put away.
  • Cushion forts do not get torn down.
  • Children’s teeth do not get brushed.
  • Children are stimulated by Elmo, Dora and Diego.
  • Garbage gets taken to the curb, but not the recycling.
  • Dad is exhausted from taking care of everything.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Kids are amazing.

Last night Lisa's friend's mom picked her up from our house after a playdate. This is the deaf mom.

I watched in amazement as my little girl had a full conversation with her. In sign language. Sign language that she learned while playing at her house.

Awhile ago Swistle talked about the Signing Time series and how good it was. I mentioned it to my mom, who was looking for Christmas suggestions for the kids. If it doesn't turn up under the tree, I will definitely be buying it myself. Because what happened yesterday was just about the coolest thing I've ever seen.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Things that don't suck.

  • Remember my issues with the deaf parents? Well, the kid called Lisa last night herself and between the two of them a playdate for after school today was arranged. No cryptic notes, no attempts at translated phone conversations, just two kids making plans. Awesome.
  • Homer won $200 from Omaha Steaks in an on-line contest, so we now have 2 boxes of steak and one box of assorted fish steaks in our freezer (plus a cookbook called "Meat" and some steak spice). This is good news for my budget shopping.
  • I couldn't find my round brush this morning, so instead of drying my hair straight, I scrunched it up so it's kind of wavy. So far, 3 people have complimented me on my hair today.
  • Dexter was awesome last night (it actually aired Monday night, but we just watched it last night).
  • The pool is closed and the giant maple tree has yet to shed its leaves. Opening the pool in the spring will be much nicer when we don't have to retrieve 300 lbs of wet leaves from the bottom of a 10 ft pool.
  • I got a 30% off card for Tommy Hilfiger in the mail yesterday AND it's for the lowest ticketed price. This is good news for my wardrobe.
  • This morning Maggie said "I la u mom". And that, certainly, does. not. suck.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fall... finally!

Lisa needed some items from nature for a school project, so while Homer worked on closing the pool, the rest of us took in some beautiful fall weather. There were still lots of trees with lots of green leaves left, but we managed to find some authentic fall colours.







Me, change and a birth story.

Well, you guys are awesome. I felt so much better yesterday reading your supportive and helpful comments. So, thanks.

A very wise woman suggested that it might just be the prospect of change that had me feeling uneasy and that is the same conclusion I had reached by the end of the day myself. I don’t personally have a problem embracing change for myself, but I hate imposing change on my kids. I remember when Lisa was in Jr. Kindergarten and I got a phone call that they were starting a new JK class and that Lisa would be moved to that class. Her best friend would not be moving. I was devastated, feeling sick and swoony and wondering how I could possibly break the news to my child, who was still only 3 years old! Well she, of course, was fine and the whole thing was fine, as will be this new daycare situation.

BUT, an aversion to change isn’t the only thing at work here. Part of it is that, it’s Bart. If you haven’t figured it our from this, or this, or this, or this… Bart is my special little guy. He’s sweet and funny and lives in his own magical little world. I’m overprotective of him, not because I think he’s weak or over-sensitive, but because I think that sometimes the rest of the world doesn’t really understand him. He’s not odd, by any means, but he is unconventional, carefree and a little theatrical, which is different than most of the boys around. It’s not his fault… he was born that way. I thought it might be fun to share his birth story. Don’t worry, it’s short and maybe even a little exciting:

May 28, 2003 (three weeks before expected due date)

5:45 PM – Lisa and I pick up Homer from the train. We decide to stop at the shopping plaza on the way home for a couple of things.

6:00 PM – Drop Homer off at the Wal-Mart door. I’ll find a parking spot and take Lisa with me to the drug store.

6:05 PM – Lift Lisa out of the car seat. My water breaks. Try to call Homer on his cell, which is obviously off.

6:10 PM – Tie my jacket around my waist (because my pants are soaked) and haul Lisa into Wal-Mart, where I ask them to page Homer.

6:15 PM – We’re back in the car heading home.

6:25 PM – We’re back home and I call the hospital. Because my contractions haven’t started yet, they advise me to have a shower, have some dinner and then come in for an assessment.

6:30 PM – After a very brief discussion, Homer and I agree that I should just change my clothes and head to the hospital. He calls the babysitter to let her know we’re on our way.

6:40 PM – We’re back in the car. I’m driving (another story for another day).

6:50 PM – I feel my first contraction. Homer times it. 27 seconds apart. That can’t be right. This time it’s 23 seconds apart.

6:55 PM – We arrive at the babysitters and pretty much throw Lisa out of the car. I can’t drive anymore, so Homer takes over.

7:05 PM – Arrive at Labour & Delivery Ward. They’re surprised to see me, but understand when they see how close my contractions are. I quickly change into a gown and they put me in an assessment room with a medical student.

7:10 PM – The medical student is screaming DON’T PUSH and there’s a lot of frantic activity in the area. A grown-up nurse arrives.

7:12 PM – Bart is born. 9 lbs, 10 oz. 22 inches long.


We were a bit of a novelty on the maternity ward… “oh you’re the one that almost didn’t make it!”

Monday, November 5, 2007

On the ledge.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that my nanny is pregnant. Because she will be a single mom, she’s also moving back to her hometown (far away) and does not plan to return. Two weeks ago, she announced that she would like to finish up with us at the end of November (instead of at Christmas, which was the original plan), which meant I needed to get off my ass and make new arrangements sooner rather than later (and I’m such a later kind of gal). I hate childcare issues. Hate them. Hate them. HATE THEM.

I still don’t have anything for Maggie, but two options in the works are to put her in the daycare centre that I used to oversee in my old job. I know and like everyone there and it’s only a 10 minute walk from work. The other option is to take her to our old home-based daycare provider (when it was just Lisa and Bart), who is awesome. She lives about 20 minutes out of my way, but Homer and I agree that it’s worth the drive because of her awesomeness. The problem with both of these options is that they have no available spots, but I’m at the top of the waiting list for both. If neither of those comes through in the next couple of weeks, I’m screwed. But for some reason, this does not worry me in the least.

I am so conflicted about the arrangements I’ve made for Lisa and Bart. I found a home daycare that will pick Bart up at lunch and keep him for the afternoons, then pick Lisa up at the end of the day. Two of Bart’s classmates will also be there so he’ll have kids to play with and Lisa and the lady’s son know each other, so she’ll be fine too. Sounds good, right? It will be much easier on Homer, as he now has to leave work, pick up Bart and run him home, then go back to work everyday. So why am I conflicted? I feel horrendous guilt that Bart won’t have a mom or dad picking him up at the kindergarten door. I think of all the little gaffers running out to the waiting arms of their parents and poor little Luke going to Gregory’s mom.

Seriously, this one thing has me on the ledge, telling Homer I want to quit my job, stay at home and pick up my own kid. Crazy? Before you vote, let me lay it out for you:

Pros:
*Absolutely nothing will change for me; I’ll see him no more and no less than I do now.

*Bart is excited about the arrangements, as he’ll have a couple of buddies to play with in the afternoon.

*I will be saving money (about $145 a week over the nanny)

*Much easier on Homer

Cons:
*Bart will be picked up by someone else’s mom.

So, why am I out here on the ledge? Is this what working mom’s guilt feels like? If it is, it sucks. Big time.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Good dip.

Hey, do you like hummus? I love it and so do my kids. It's a good source of protein and fibre, too!

I used to buy the commercially-prepared stuff, but now I just make my own - it's really easy. Here is the recipe I use:

1 14 oz. can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tahini (this is just toasted sesame seeds that have been pureed - I find it in the ethnic aisle of the store in a large, pickle-jar-size container)
2 cloves garlic, quartered
1/4 cup water (add more if the mixture seems too thick)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Whoosh it up in the food processor or blender until smooth, creamy and spreadable.

If you like it spicy, add some red pepper flakes.
You can also add some roasted red pepper or sun-dried tomato.

Serve with raw veggies, crackers or toasted bread. I usually make my own "crackers" thusly:

Cut small, whole-wheat tortillas into wedges, arrange on baking sheet.
Spray wedges lightly with cooking spray.
Sprinkle with garlic salt or your favourite spice blend (I use McCormick's Roasted Garlic & Peppers).
Bake until crispy.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Monsters had a ball!

Halloween rundown:

Maggie as Wise Baby Owl. Here she is attempting to fly.

She was a star with all the "hoooo-hoooo"-ing she was doing.

Bart as The Friendly Dragon. This was during his

school parade. He walked "like a dragon" the whole route.

Lisa as Little Miss Muffett. Can you make out the spider,

just over there on the left? It really makes the whole costume work.

The three monsters heading out. Like their treat bags? Oops.

One little detail I forgot.

You would be scared if these creatures knocked on your

door, wouldn't you?

Maggie walked the whole way. The other two, near the end,

fought over who got to sit in the stroller we brought for the baby!



The haul. Suffice it to say, momma's got a rash this morning!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween een.

Costumes - check.
We have a Little Miss Muffet, a dragon and an owl.

School treats - check.
I made chocolate ghost suckers. I still have to tie orange ribbons around the sticks, if only I could find the orange ribbons.

Day off work - check.
I have Bart's parade in the morning and Lisa's in the afternoon. I'll have to pick Lisa up at noon to help her with her costume and then send her back. I'm also interviewing a new daycare provider in there somewhere.

Porch light changed - half-check
I bought the bulb, but have yet to install it. Will have to schedule that into my day off as well. This is an annual event... fix porch light so trick-or-treaters know that we are not lame and will be handing out candy. The rest of the year... meh, who cares if our porch is dark?

Pumpkins carved - check
They are sad, but done. Bart was pissed that the one I did wasn't scary.

Decorations up - ha!
Lisa would like to decorate our house like Grandma's (pumpkin lights, scarecrows, little witch figurines). I have a Dracula wooden thing somewhere, but can't even be bothered to dig it out. The aforementioned pumpkins are the only decor I can commit to.

Candy for the trick-or-treaters - CRAP!
We only get about 12 kids, but still I feel the need to buy enough candy for 100! I always think that one year our neighbourhood will catch on. We only have three small streets in our "neighbourhood", but the folks on the other two street are loaded and tend to give out full-size chocolate bars, cans of pop and handfuls of candy. My kids make out like bandits! The hold-back (I think) is that the driveways are quite long, so you can't hit as many houses in your outing, and then it's a bit of a distance to the next neighbourhood.

Have a happy Halloween! Looking forward to all the pictures on Thursday!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Baby!

To my baby girl on this, your second birthday...
You came out a little squishy, but you were an
instant hit.


You have always been such a happy little girl.

And a really good sport... just one of the gang.

You're not crazy about snow, but you love watching the kids.

You're feisty and fun and very sweet.

Happy birthday, baby!

Friday, October 26, 2007

My 50th post... what to do? what to do?

Well would you look at that? It’s my 50th post! I feel like I should do something celebratory like:

*List my 50 favourite things (ha! Like a crusty bitch like me could find 50 things I like)

*Share 50 things about me (seems long, boring and slightly narcissistic)

*Reflect on other things I’ve done 50 times (short list, has potential)

What have I decided to do? List 50 names I ever considered for my children (even if it was just briefly):

Abby
Alec
Alex
Alexis
Allie
Andrew
Anna
Annie
Ava
Bree
Brooke
Cabot
Chad
Charlie
Chloe
Dane
Ethan
Gracie
Jack
James
Jill
Kael
Kate
Keah
Knox
Kyra
Laine
Liam
Lily
Lindsay
Logan
Lucy
Luke
Macy
Maddie
Maggie
Max
Meg
Piper
Quinn
Reese
Rhys
Sage
Scarlet
Shae
Tess
Thomas
Will
Zane
Zoƫ

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Health Kick? The final chapter.

Last post on this. Pinky swear! I feel so boring and a little preachy writing these, but the series is somewhat incomplete without this last entry, so bear with me!

So, I’ve covered nature and nurture. If you’re inclined to divide into breakout groups, may I suggest the topic “Is the nature a result of the nurture?” Discuss and share after the nutrition break [if you haven’t been to 5 billion conferences that made no sense to you. Sorry].

Disclaimer: I don’t profess to be any kind of expert on health and nutrition. I like the topic very, very much, so I pay attention when there’s any news about it. Most of my knowledge comes from:

1. My mom – we talk about nutrition all the time;
2. Magazine articles about health and nutrition; and
3. TV segments.

Beyond what my mom did, I have a few general rules:

Don’t drink your calories: I heard this from some star dieter one time and it made sense to me. My beverage of choice is water. I’ll drink one diet pop a day and also two glasses of non-fat milk. I drink coffee with just milk and tea black. Hot chocolate and other super-sweet drinks result in my lovely face rash, so why bother?

Zero trans fat: This is old news now, and most food processors are eliminating trans fats from their foods. But, we still read the labels and make sure that none of this artery-clogging fat makes its way to our house.

Everything in moderation: I may have implied that I don’t eat fatty foods or drink alcohol or eat sugar because of my body’s reaction to it. While it’s true that I don’t indulge in a lot of this stuff, I don’t cut it out entirely. Even with the meat thing, I don’t eat hunks of meat, but I don’t hesitate to use chicken or beef stock in a soup or stew. Homer loves meat and the kids eat it too. I think eliminating whole categories of food (like the no-carb diets, or going completely sugar-free) is a recipe for failure.

A little flavour goes a long way: I love strong flavours: spicy, sour, sharp are all things I like in a food product. You can make a delicious mac & cheese with a white sauce made with fat free milk and a little sharp cheddar or blue cheese (instead of 2 cups of cheese) with some diced tomatoes thrown in. I love spices and seasonings. I really like these things. The point is, you can create a texture and flavour that is tasty and still cut some of the fat and calories. I keep an eye on sodium levels too, because often salt=yummy.

Fibre is your friend: One of the things I check labels for is the fibre content – the higher the better. The basic concept is that you want your food to move through you (ew.) Refined sugar, white flour, rice and pasta all have very little fibre, so they stick with you longer. We only buy cereal that has at least 3 g of fibre, for example.


A couple of questions answered:

Artemisia asked: “How do you handle meals for you and your family? Do they ever stage a coup because they just want fries and a burger? Or have they just never known that stuff?”

We do eat burgers and fries. We’ll have veggie burgers, or I’ll make my own turkey ground or extra lean ground beef burgers. They’re served on a whole wheat bun. My “fries” are fresh potatoes cut in strips (skins on) and tossed in a little olive oil and sprinkled with some seasonings. They know all about McDonald’s and other fast food places, but visits are few and far between and, therefore, a special treat.


JMC asked: “How do you get your kids to eat well?”

The short answer is that I don’t really know. But they do, so I’ve been trying to figure out why. Here’s what I came up with:

*As babies, I kept to the schedule of introducing cereals first, then vegetables, then fruits, then meats. I did about 1 month on each stage.

*I always made my own vegetable and fruit purees, just mashing up whatever we were eating, so the consistency was lumpier than what you would get in the jar.

*They’ve only ever had whole wheat bread and mostly whole wheat pasta.

*They have had my homemade pizza more than take-out, so they’re not accustomed to big gobs of cheesy pizza (true story: Lisa asked if she could not participate in Pizza Day at school (every Wednesday), because the pizza wasn’t as good as mine).

*They really like all fruits and vegetables. In fact, they like almost everything. Lisa strongly disapproves of eggs, but I can’t think of anything else.

*The rule is that you have to take [your age] bites of even things you don’t care for.


*We talk about health and nutrition a lot. Lisa has asked many times in the cereal aisle “is this one full of sugar, mom?” Another time she broke down in a puddle of tears because she asked “what’s for lunch” and I reminded her dad had just taken her to McDonald’s. “BUT THAT’S NOT HEALTHY”, she bawled. At that moment, I knew I had to turn it down a notch.

*As Kath commented, I don’t have a “clear your plate” rule. I also don’t load up their plates. I can usually tell the difference between too bored to finish and too full to finish.

*I try to make things I think they will like. Last night, we had French toast (made with whole wheat bread), veggie sausage patties and fresh fruit salad. It was a hit (and really, why wouldn’t it be??)


The end. Except that I want some of Heidi’s Norway chocolate and I want Tessie to teach me how to bake bread successfully. Because, YUM!!


Maggie loves broccoli. She really, truly does!


And also? CHOCOLATE!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Health Kick? Part 2: Nurture

After the last post I probably seem like a bit of a freak of nature. This post will probably confirm that I’m also a freak of nurture.

My mom is a fantastic role model in so many ways. She’s a great mother, grandmother, wife, daughter and sister. She is thoughtful, generous and kind. These are all things I aspire to be. She also did a great job of modelling a healthy lifestyle. She had a natural interest in nutrition, both as a method of weight control, but also as a method of health control. Some of the things I grew up with:

Whole foods – I was the only kid I knew that brought sandwiches on brown bread. Our cereal options were cooked oatmeal and cream of wheat, Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, Shreddies and Wheatabix. My mom went to a health food store to buy whole-wheat flour, as it was not widely available at the grocery store. We always had a variety of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, and they were a prominent feature of every meal. We had milk (non-fat after the age of 2) at the three main meals, juice only with breakfast and water the rest of the day. My mom followed Canada’s Food Guide for the whole family, making sure everyone got what they needed every day. It sounds simple, but speaking to my peers, that wasn’t the case in many households.

Cook & bake from scratch - My mom is not a gourmet chef, not by a long-shot. We always had basic, kid-friendly comfort foods like mac & cheese casserole, meatloaf, pasta, pizza, tacos, meat and potatoes, etc. The difference was that she made almost everything from scratch. She always wanted to know what was in the food she was serving and most packaged foods had enough unfamiliar ingredients that she preferred to steer clear. She also loved to bake (like me), so there were rarely packaged cookies or snacks around (although I really wanted her to buy Pop Tarts). A “convenience food” in our house was the extra lasagne my mom made and popped into the freezer a month before. McDonald’s was a treat when we were on a road trip.

Portion control – My parents still eat every meal off a lunch plate. When I asked my mom about it several years ago, she told me that if you use a big plate, you’ll fill up the big plate and end up eating more than you need. Made sense, I guess. We always had treats around – candy, cookies, muffins or breads - and, we always had dessert. Dessert usually consisted of ice cream, pudding or yogurt with fresh fruit as a topping and a plate of cookies/brownies/ other treat. My brother would ask every time “how many are we limited” [for the treats] and the answer was always “two”. We had special nights with pop and chips where we all got a glass of pop and a soup bowl of chips and they were awesome and something we all looked forward to. We were never clamouring for sweets and treats, because they were always there. We just knew that there were limits on what we were allowed to have.




Cookie on the left is the size the recipe suggests, cookie on the right
is what my kids get.

Label Reading – Before nutrition labels were required on packaged foods, my mom would read the ingredient list and understood the ingredients that were acceptable and those that were not. Before I went away to university, she made a point of taking me shopping to learn the tricks. She had heard of “The Frosh 15” and she didn’t want me falling into that trap.

Fresh Air & Exercise - I know times were different way back then, but we spent way more time outside than even my kids do. I walked, rode my bike or roller skated (yes, skated, not bladed) almost everywhere. TV was something you watched Saturday mornings or for an hour or so in the evening. Never would we watch during the day.

It all sounds idealistic and restrictive. The truth is, I didn’t really realize what a nutrition/health superstar my mom was until I lived with roommates who introduced me to things like deep-frying at home, hamburgers from a box and TV dinners. Sure, I had my share of nutella and fluff sandwiches on Wonderbread when I visited friends’ houses, and I certainly ate more fast food as a teenager when I could make my own choices, but even then, I knew I was making less than healthy choices.

I really appreciate the foundation my mom laid for us. I incorporate a lot of this into the way I manage (wrong word but can’t come up with the right word) my family. I introduced Homer to the concepts from the time we met. Despite some resistance, even now (he grew up with meals that were zapped, prepared from a package or ordered in), he gets it and he can label read with the best of them!



So, that’s what I’ll write about next time. How the (freaky) nature and the nurture combine to create a pretty healthy model for my own kids. I don't think I have it down to a science like my mom, but I do have a few of my own tricks.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Health Kick? Part 1: Nature

I’m a pretty healthy gal, by nature and by nurture. Tessie made a specific request that I write about my “health kick”. I suppose it’s a health kick, if that term still qualifies when I don’t go in and out of healthy phases; I’m just always kind of always even stevens.

This is just Part 1, because it would be too long to write it all out. I thought I’d start out with the Nature part of my health regimen. My body likes healthy things and I physically react to things that are not good for me. Some examples:

1. Anything with too much sodium or sulphites gives me a wicked migraine. I can eat a few potato chips, but eating the whole bag is not an option unless I want to spend the night throwing up and avoiding light and noise. Back when I ate meat, bacon and ham would go straight to my head, literally.

2. I don’t digest meat at all well. This is the reason I am a meat avoider. It just sits there in my stomach, making me feel bloated and uncomfortable. There may or may not also be frequent trips to the loo.

3. Alcohol and sugar give me a very attractive rash on my face. It starts in the creases around my nose, then heads north to my eyebrow region, settling nicely on my giant forehead. The wine is gone in 2 minutes. The rash stays at least 2 days, if I treat it with cortisone cream. I have cortisone cream in my car, my drawer at work, my purse and my bathroom cabinet.

4. Fatty and fried foods make the veins in my hands bulge out and pulse (see attractive photo below). I also get some kind of tension headache.



My hand after eating too much Roasted Garlic Brie in Bread



5. I’m naturally pretty active. I don’t sit still for very long. I always feel the urge to be Doing! Something! I watch TV while doing a number of other activities. I challenge myself to do more crunches at the next commercial than I did in the last. Even now as I write this, my legs are crossed under my desk and the top leg is swinging randomly and, while I stop to think about my words, my hand is over my mouth with my finger tapping my nose.

Paints a pretty picture, doesn’t it? Bulgy, fidgety, rashy Lori. As ugly as all of this seems, it does lead me to avoid over-indulging in things that are unhealthy.


Next in the series: Part 2: Nurture. Can’t wait, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Total, complete randomness.

Pushing Daisies is both a good show and a good workout. I’m so nervous that Ned and Chuck are going to touch accidentally that I spend the whole show with my abs flexed. You’re TOO CLOSE. STEP BACK!

We went the Pumpkin Patch on Sunday. We had a great time going through the corn maze, climbing in the “hay”ground and digging in the corn box. What we did not do is come home with a pumpkin. Oops.

I have 637 “urgent” items on my desk, 3 meetings to prepare for and 812 phone calls to return. To tackle this mess, I have chosen to read blogs and write down my random thoughts.

Bart reveals nothing about his life in school. When asked who is in his class, he tells me about James, Henry, Percy and Thomas (all Thomas the Tank Engine characters). I think James might be real.

I was just asked about a project I worked on more than 10 years ago in another job. I remembered financial details that I should have purged from my memory long ago. I also remember my high school lock combination. And all my childhood friends’ parents’ phone numbers. I had a student work for me all summer. His name is Devin, but I kept calling him Dylan.

The school just called asking if they could feature Lisa’s picture on their website home page. This will be her third home page feature. The first was for the fire department when she was two, the second for an apple orchard when she was four and now this one. I’m thinking that maybe she’s photogenic. She does not get that from me.

I’m doing some cross-border shopping on Saturday. It’s been a very long time and I am sooo excited to get reacquainted with my good friends at Target. We have Zellers here in Canada and for awhile there they had a bulls-eye target kind of logo on their in-store signs, which I thought was a sure sign that THE Target was going to takeover Zellers and make my life complete. This did not come to pass. Obviously.

Maggie is the boss of me. She eats what/when she wants. She has a bottle when she wants. She goes to bed when she wants. She veto’s clothes she doesn’t care for. She holds out her hand and says “money” whenever she sees my purse (and I give it to her). I thought I was just a really good mom with the other two because they were so good and obedient. Turns out I was just lucky.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rating the new shows. Part 3. And final.

I know you've all been waiting for my third and final installment of the riveting series: Rating the New Shows. Without further ado, here are three shows I didn't like and one that I loved. For anyone keeping score, I have reviewed a total of 9 new shows (plus Dexter, which doesn't count as a new show) and have given an unqualified thumbs up to a total of 2. That, my friends, is a failing grade for the new fall line-up.


Cavemen

Starring: Bill English, Nick Kroll, Dash Mihok
Premise: Three cavemen living in modern-day San Diego, just trying to fit in.
Mini-Review: Thpp.
PVR: Will not record.
Final Words: This is based on characters from the Geico commercial. Not a book, or a play, or a really funny idea. A TV commercial. Good concept for a commercial. Dumb, dumb show. For me, it’s just not clear WHY they are still cavemen. Perhaps I’m over-thinking it, but it just didn’t seem well-developed enough to be really funny.

Reaper

Starring: Bret Harrison, Ray Wise
Premise: On his 21st birthday, Sam learns that his parents sold his soul to the devil before birth. Now he must be a bounty hunter for the devil until he dies.
Mini-Review: Okay.
PVR: Will not record.
Final Words: I really wanted to like it. So many people said I would LOVE it. But, I didn’t. It was just okay. Kind of silly. Kind of shallow. My guess is that I’m not in the target market for this show, age-wise.

Carpoolers

Starring: Jerry O’Connell, Faith Ford, Tim Peper
Premise: Four guys who carpool to work together.
Mini-Review: Not funny.
PVR: Will not record.
Final Words: I know I’m hard on comedies. They have to make me laugh out loud to make the cut. This just didn’t. I’m sure I AM in this target market and it just didn’t resonate with me. The guys are pathetic. Their wives are pathetic. Not a likable one in the bunch.


Pushing Daisies

Starring: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride
Premise: Ned is a pie-maker with the power to bring people back to life with just one touch, but they only stay alive until his next touch. He revives his childhood sweetheart, but can never touch her again.
Mini-Review: LOVED IT!!
PVR: Set to record the series.
Final Words: This is so different and quirky. It’s very “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in the way the story is told and the way it is shot. The characters are brilliant, and likeable and flawed. So, so good.

================================================

Making the cut

My husband likes fill up the PVR with looooong documentaries about the war and science and other boring things, so I need to rationalize my series recordings. Here’s what has made the cut:

Journeyman
Pushing Daisies
Dexter
Prison Break
Rachael Ray (only one episode gets saved, and it’s just because I’m trying to be a better cook. Enough already.)
Dirty Sexy Money
Heroes
America’s Next Top Model (I don’t know why, it makes no sense to me either)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Homer Stamos!

What do you get when you cross this guy:










with this guy?








You get my gorgeous, wonderful husband, who today, turns 36!





Happy Birthday... if you ever find this blog, you'll laugh at this one!



(P.S. Will edit tomorrow pending search for picture that adequately portray's husband's hotness).





Edited to add:




Cute, no?? Here, he was playing "monster" with the kids, where he chases them around the house ROOOAAARRRIIINNNGGG! For me, that really ups the HQ (hot quotient)!