Thursday, August 30, 2007

Updates and miscellany


Thanks to Kristen, who suggested adding OxiClean to boiling water. It worked! I soaked a turquoise t-shirt with a chocolate stain, a red and white dress with a mildew stain (it was forgotten under a pile of wet towels), a white t-shirt with an unknown food stain just below the collar and a yellow tank top with a blue marker stain. I had attempted to clean each of these items with several different methods and had almost given up. I’ll be boiling up a new batch tonight for another super-soak.


Ding dong, soccer’s done! We’ve made it 13 weeks of going to the soccer field every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night. Lisa’s coach approached us last night about putting her into indoor soccer in the fall and winter (said she had natural talent – ahem). She also does Highland Dancing and swimming lessons, so I’ll have to check out what’s involved before I commit. We’re also trying to decide what activities Bart should do. There’s indoor soccer, hockey, karate, gymnastics… He doesn’t really have an opinion, so we’ll probably just pick whatever works best for our schedules (bad parents). Swimming lessons are a must.


I’ve mentioned that I am really nervous about water and pools. Well… Saturday, we went to a pool party for Lisa and Bart’s friends, sister and brother who were turning 6 and 4, respectively. Bart didn’t want to swim, which was fine by me, and Lisa did well without a life jacket, but I never took my eyes off the pool. After awhile all the kids were out of the pool and I relaxed a bit. I was talking to some of the other moms and I just instinctively looked in the pool and there was Bart, bobbing just below the surface of the water. I jumped right in, fully dressed, and lifted him out to another parent’s arms. He was very, very upset, but fine. He obviously wasn’t in there long and hadn’t swallowed any water. I, however, am suffering some kind of post-traumatic stress. That night I woke up at least 5 times in a panic and had a quick flash of my little boy in his Spiderman shirt in the water. I feel like I’m going to cry just writing this. Okay, now I am crying. I may have to burn that Spiderman shirt, because every time I see it, I flash back. I hate pools.


I read too many blogs. The ones that make me the saddest are those that talk about great on-line deals at The Children’s Place and Old Navy and shopping at Target. Now I want to add Steve & Barry’s to my list, because I really want some Starbury shoes. These are not options up here in Canada. We have Children’s Place and Old Navy, but you can’t shop on-line. I just feel like my life would be more complete if I had the full array of shopping options. Perhaps I’ll try to enlist a friend or two to do some cross-border shopping.

Back to School

School starts again on Tuesday. Lisa will be entering grade 2 and Bart will start Junior Kindergarten. They will take the bus together in the morning and Lisa can take it home, but Bart will have to be picked up at 11:30 every day. We live too far away from the school to expect the nanny to walk to pick him up (she doesn’t drive and is pregnant), so it will have to be me or Homer, every day for the next 4 years (Bart is still on ½ days next year, then Maggie starts the year after that). Because the nanny will be on maternity leave after Christmas, we’ll need to make new childcare arrangements (the WORST part of parenting, bar none). I’m hoping to find someone close to the school who can take them all… wish me luck! Also on the BTS topic, I’ll be baking up a storm this weekend making healthy, freezable school snacks (muffins, breads, squares, etc.) I’ll be trolling the blogs looking for good recipes, so post ‘em if you’ve got ‘em!

Man, I was chatty today!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back to Business

Well, I’m back from a couple of weeks off with the kids. We had a great time doing little day trips, making crafts, visiting friends and just hanging out. I was a stay-at-home mom for a couple of weeks and I loved it. I truly admire SAHM’s, because if I did this all the time, I think I might snap. It has nothing to do with the kids. And I would NEVER say that it would be boring because those kids keep me entertained and hopping. The problem is, I don’t think I’m disciplined or organized enough to stay home with the kids. Here are my challenges:

Computer time. How do you find the time to sit at the computer and read blogs, let alone write them? I swear, I would sit down for 2 minutes while the kids were otherwise occupied and I suddenly became a magnet. They neeeeeeeded me. Same goes for the phone. My only computer time seemed to be at the end of the day, and then I would just catch up on a few blogs and email and call it a night.

Housework. I had a really hard time just letting go of the housework. I feel like a bit of a failure because I was off for two weeks and I didn’t get to steam cleaning the living room carpet (which I would rather just rip out, but that’s a tale for another day). I did clean out all the kids’ drawers, rearrange, clean and purge stuff from the playroom, clean out the garage, tidy up the backyard, arrange to have a dead tree cut down and rip out the carpet and install a new one in the family room. But still, that living room carpet haunts me.

Coffee. I haven’t had a full cup of hot coffee in two weeks. Seriously.

The Fridge. When I’m home I canNOT keep my fat ass out of the fridge. It beckons me day and night. I snack all day. I need to bake. I need to cook. I need to be back at work for the discipline and the diet.

If I won the lottery tomorrow (which I may very well do, because I have a ticket), I would quit my job, hire a housekeeper and enjoy my kids to the max. I would also have a nanny on call, just so I could have some me time. Just like I have at work.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I would wave a white flag, if only...

I give up. I surrender. I would wave a white flag, but I'm pretty sure the flag would have some kind of un-cleanable, permanent stain. Please please please tell me what I am doing wrong.

Everytime I fold laundry, I have several piles. One for each family member, one for bath towels, one for kitchen towels and one for the clothes that ARE NOT CLEAN! I mean, they are clean, technically, because they have been washed, but they have stains. This pile gets larger and larger and I'm in search of a magic solution. I want to fill up my laundry tub with hot water, add the magic solution and all the stained clothes. I'll let the potion do its thing and then pull out my delightfully clean clothes.

Here is a list of what has not worked (it's possible that these things do work, but I am using them wrong):

  • Shout, Spray 'n' wash, Zout - rubbed into stains then thrown in the wash
  • Shout Ultra for set-in stains - rubbed into stains, let sit for several days then thrown in the wash
  • Oxy Clean Powder used as a pre-soak and as a laundry booster
  • Bleach added to the wash (for whites and lights)
  • Clorox Bleach for unbleachables added to the wash
  • Liquid detergent with non-chlorine bleach
  • Pretreat with liquid detergent
  • Line dry in the sun

These are not day-glo stains, either. Just regular kids stuff - tomato sauce, chocolate, *washable*-ha! (hello? blue? NOT washable) markers and paint, popsicles, juice.

At soccer the other night I took off Maggie's sundress and let her run around in her (full) diaper when she was offered a popsicle. The other soccer moms did not approve, I could tell, but what was I supposed to do? I knew the dress would never be clean again if I didn't take immediate action.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bart's room... finally done

This is a project that took eight months to complete. It actually only took four days, but the first three were in January and the last one was yesterday.

I had spent a few evenings and a whole weekend back in January painting, hanging the border, sanding and arranging the room. All that was left was to do a few painting touch ups (like getting the dots of "Basketball Orange" off the ceiling), hanging the shelves, mirrors and pictures and removing all the paraphenalia that had been used to do the work (tools, paint trays, etc.) Homer had offered to do these last tasks, as he thought it had taken me too long to finish the bulk of work and was tired of me "disappearing into the room". So, after eight months of it not being done, I did it myself yesterday on a day off from work (but the nanny was still here... bonus!)

Here is the end result, with some cheesy decorating show commentary:

The bed was a gift from my parents, the bedding from my brother and sister-in-law, the mirrors and rug from my sister and brother-in-law, the nightstands were free (more below) and I bought the border on Ebay for $8.00.

I got these nightstands free from somebody giving them away on Freecycle. I painted blue and white 'referee' stripes and used a whistle for the pull knob.

The curtains are some sheets my aunt had given me a while ago. The curtain rods are two hockey sticks donated by my friend at work. We had the shelf in another room and just moved it here.

My favourite feature is this "lockers" closet. It is just two plain bi-fold doors painted blue. The door pulls are just grey light switch covers with an eye screw in the centre and some dollar store locks hanging on them.

Bart loves it... he's a real sports guy. I love it too, even more so now that it's done!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Research, shmesearch

There were a couple of research studies released this week that I found quite interesting.

The first was this one about those Baby Einstein videos for babies. It turns out that for each hour a day that 8-to-16-month-old babies watched baby videos, their language development lagged by 16 percent. What’s more astonishing is that babies who watched other TV shows (other kid shows, adult shows) did NOT have the same lag in language. It was just the videos that claimed to develop the brain!

I never got into the Baby Einstein craze, but I have friends who did. They were convinced that their babies were actually learning from these videos. Convinced. HA!

When Lisa was little, she didn’t watch any kid TV until she was almost two years old. We weren’t snobs about TV or anything, we just couldn’t see subjecting ourselves to the obnoxious puppets, talking animals and high-pitched voices that dominate kid shows any sooner than necessary. Bart saw more, because by the time he came along, Lisa had so many Blues Clues and Dora videos, we really should have bought shares in Nick Jr. And poor Maggie… I’m pretty sure she said "Dora" before she said "Mommy".

The message in the study is to read, talk and sing to your kids if you want them to be smarter. Put on Dora if you just want them to be quiet for a bit.

The second study was this one about marketing. It turns out that kids like chicken nuggets, milk, hamburgers and even carrots (which McDonalds does not sell) in McDonald’s packaging better than the EXACT SAME PRODUCT in generic packaging.

We once gave Lisa and Bart peanut butter sandwiches, apple slices and a juice box, packaged in a used McDonald’s bag with one of the crappy toys they already got on a previous visit to the golden arches to see their reaction. They didn’t recognize that the toy was one of their own, they happily ate their lunch and said not a word. We just thought they were a little slow, but it turns out, they’re just normal! Must be all that Dora they watch.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Yesterday (or maybe Monday, I’m not sure) Swistle posted a recipe for Chocolate Mint Cookies. It was her post-workout treat. Last night the weather was a little gross, so Luke’s soccer game was cancelled. He was devastated and I wanted to do something that would make him feel better. It was his idea to make cookies, so I instantly thought of Swistle’s recipe and proceeded to pull out the ingredients.

The problem was that I didn’t have all of the ingredients. My mom told me that “baking is science”, which means you can’t mess with the basic formula of liquid:dry or baking soda:salt. So, I modified the recipe, while still respecting the science of it.

First, Swistle's recipe:

Chocolate Mint Cookies

2/3 cup butter (1 stick plus a scant 3 tablespoons), softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour
approx. 1 and 1/4 cups mint chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar; add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add baking soda and salt and mix well. Add cocoa powder and flour very carefully or you will have cocoa powder on more surfaces than you thought possible; cocoa powder is not bound by the laws of physics and I have found it coating the underside of the base of the mixer. Add mint chocolate chips. You can put in a full bag (which is about 1 and 2/3 cups), but I thought it was better with fewer (I know--I'm as surprised as anyone). Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8-9 minutes; err on the side of underbaking, because they'll set up more after they come out of the oven.

Yummmm, right?

Here's mine, using ingredients I had on hand:

2/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder ( a mistake that didn't seem to make a difference, or maybe it did, but not a bad difference)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream wet ingredients. Combine dry ingredients, then add to wet and mix well. Add chocolate chips. The cookie dough is thick and looks and smells like fudge. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8-9 minutes. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

These cookies were A.MAZING! Seriously. If I had a cookie contest to enter, I would enter these. Did I ever mention that I won a cupcake contest a few months ago? Well, depending on the audience, I either won a cupcake contest or a photography contest, but either way, I won!

Of course, I ate way too many cookies. But, I walked my route to work this morning in 45:54, which is almost 3 full minutes ahead of my last best time. So there.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The one where she has nothing to say...

I present for you, a photo entry of sorts. Which is to say, I'm throwing in some random pictures of the past week, connected by no coherent theme or story.

Lisa was invited to a theme birthday party this weekend. Can you guess the theme?

A cool bit of photography by Homer

And Maggie got some new boots. Refuses to take them off. Refuses.

The end.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Walking with the Oldies

I stayed in a hotel a few weeks ago when we went on a little family vacation. One thing I always notice about hotel rooms is that their bathroom mirrors are set much lower than those in my own bathroom. I therefore get the advantage of stepping out of the shower and seeing not just my upper body, ravaged by time and three years of breast feeding (not consecutive – one year per kid), but also a full view of my behind. It’s not pretty.

I was actually appalled by the jiggliness, the droopiness and the general disturbing appearance of this particular body part. Sure, I have a full-length mirror at home, but I don’t use it until I’m dressed. Ever. But now, after my hotel stay, I’m forced to admit that I need to do something. Quickly.

After weighing my options, I decided I would walk to work twice a week and home from work once a week. This decision has been the source of constant ridicule in my house.

You’re going to walk?

Yes. Walk to work.


Yes. What’s the problem?

What are you, eighty-five?

What does that even mean?

Anyone can walk. It’s only exercise if you’re old and it’s a major feat just to get out of bed.

That’s not true. Walking is excellent exercise.

Okay, Lori, whatever you say. You have your little walk. Let me know how it works out for you.

In my defense, it’s about 6.5 km from home to work (that’s about 4 miles for my American friends). I do the walk in 48 minutes, 27 seconds (approximately – I’m a bit of a geek with my watch). Oh, and this is on my route (click the image to get the full impact):

In Homer’s defense, the only other people I run into along the way are at least eight-five. Probably pushing ninety. But they have smokin’ hot asses. I swear.