Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Things I Love About Being a Mom

What’s not to love about being a mom?  Ok, so those diapers can be pretty nasty and I don’t get to spend as much time in my bed as I would like, but what is that compared to unlimited cuddling, sticky baby kisses and mommy parking spaces?  I rest my case.  Plus, as mom’s we even have our own holiday!  How cool is that? 

In honor of this upcoming celebration of our fertility I thought I would share with you some of the less obvious benefits of motherhood.  While the awesomeness of new baby smell and advanced boarding on airplanes are fairly highly celebrated mom-bonuses, there are other advantages of being a mom that are often overlooked. So as you plan out your menu for breakfast in bed and try to find space in your scrapbooks for the kiddie art work you are sure to be receiving shortly, take a moment to reflect on these, and all the other, awesome things about being a mom:

Once in a while it is really nice to take a break from being an adult and just act like a kid.  You know, forget about your credit card bill and play on the swings at the park.  Screw the grass stains and just roll down the hill.  Leave the dirty dishes on the table and go play hide and seek.  Yet if you don’t have kids and do these things on your own, people think you are crazy.  So how awesome is it that, as a mom you have carte blanche to act like a kid whenever the mood strikes you?   Suddenly amusement parks become much more fun, at Halloween you have an excuse to dress up and trick or treat again, and at parades you get to pick up the candy thrown your way (for your kid of course).  It’s the best of both worlds – all the fun of being a kid without the early bed time.  Being a mom rocks!

Being a mom is like taking a crash course in, well, everything.  From learning new languages (baby talk counts as a language right?) to learning how to get a ketchup stain out of white carpet, everyday is an adventure.  Our kids constantly challenge us to be the best we can be, whether they are trying our patience by taking 40 minutes to eat their dinner, or teaching us generosity by asking us to share the last brownie.  But above all they teach us what love really is – getting up at 3am to sooth a crying baby when you only went to sleep at 1:30, spending 3 hours searching for a missing blankie without complaint, and holding someone’s hand while they have a poop.  This is my favourite part of being a mom – no, not the holding hand while they poop part – the part where our kids teach us what love really is.  It is through being a mom that I have learned to be more compassionate, more patient, and more kind then I ever knew I could be.  That, and I learned that I am a halfway decent blog writer.  Who knew?
From the moment your belly starts announcing to the world that you are preggers you automatically become a part of this amazing network of moms.  No matter where you are or what you are doing, other moms will have your back.  Have a cranky baby on an airplane?  The mom behind you plays peek-a-boo with your little one to try and help out.  Waiting longer than expected at the doctor’s office?  A fellow mom shares her snack of goldfish crackers and apple slices to keep your little one happy.  Bored with watching your kid go up and down the same slide five million times at the park?  Strike up a conversation with a fellow mom about the best time to start potty training and you have a new best friend.  My point is, as a mom you are never alone.  Not because you have a two year old permanently attached to your hip, but because there are millions of other moms out there going through exactly the same thing as you.  Ok, maybe not exactly, but pretty close.  We are all in this together ladies, so when you see me give you the smile-with-a-head-nod in the parking lot of the grocery store when you are wheeling out your load of groceries in ridiculous car-shaped shopping cart, know that I am saying “I know what you are going through – stay strong, and be proud because you are a mom, and moms rule!”


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Keep Your Nuts to Yourself

I love nuts.  I mean I love to eat nuts.  They’re yummy and salty.   Ok, that doesn’t sound right either.  Let me start over.  There is nothing wrong with a good peanut.  Nothing that is, except for the fact that their mere presence can send many a kid into anaphylactic shock – my son included, apparently.

At a recent birthday party, Prince was given his first Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  How is it possible that my kid was able to reach the age of 3 without having one of these?  Well, the kid is smart.  Anytime he was offered peanut butter in the past he always told me that he didn’t like it.  I certainly never forced the issue and hence, we arrive at a birthday party where all the other kids are eating these yummy-looking treats and Prince decided to try one.  Before he even finished biting into it he was gagging and coughing and tuning red.  I quickly took it away from him and get him some water but the coughing went on long enough to force an early exit from the party.

In a nutshell, while he did recover that day without intervention (thankfully he hadn’t ingested any of the candy – only bit into it) we decided to get him tested and, low and behold, he is severely allergic to peanuts and fairly allergic to tree nuts.  Awww, nuts is right.
At first I thought this was no big deal.  I had been eating peanut butter in the same house as him for years and he had been fine.  But after a long talk with the doctor and a large investment in EpiPens I began to get a little stressed out. 
Fact #1 – If we suspect Prince is having a reaction and administer the EpiPen we HAVE to call 911 immediately.  Not just proceed to your nearest hospital in an orderly fashion.  Call 911 and get a professional on the scene ASAP.   I thought that as long as you had an EpiPen handy you could just shove it in and get on with your day.  Apparently not.  Something about how the drug in the pen can affect heart rate or something.  Long story short, one un-read label can really screw up a Saturday.
Fact #2 – Nuts are everywhere!  They are in things you would never think of, like dried cranberries, ice cream, anything at a bakery or Tim Horton’s (so long Timbits!), rice crackers and almost everything made by Mr. Christie.  Nothing is safe anymore.  And forget about eating out.  What with the use of peanut oils in cooking and the fact that many chain restaurants just reheat food that was processed elsewhere it is impossible to know if the food is safe. 
Fact #3 – Apparently the more times Prince is exposed to nuts the stronger his reaction will be.  So although we managed to get through the birthday party incident relatively unscathed, the next time we will probably not be so lucky. 
All of these facts have combined to give me a new clump of gray hair.  While at the outset of this whole ordeal I thought that, since we had never had a problem before, we could just keep going on as per usual.  I was wrong.  Ignorance really was bliss.  Now that I know that there is even the slightest chance that eating an Oreo could harm my child (in ways other than childhood obesity that is) I can’t take that risk. 
Now I am the freaky lady at the park who has to rush her kids out of the playground because somebody else has let their two year old run around with a sticky PB & J sandwich smooched up in her tiny fist.   Previously I would have thought the same thing as you right now – what is the big deal?  It’s not like she’s going to try to force feed it to Prince.  But when Prince goes to climb the slide and gets peanut butter on his hands, which he proceeds to rub in his eye, which causes it to swell shut and requires a trip to the hospital, it is a big deal.  (This is a true story by the way, although it didn’t happen to Prince, thank goodness). 
So please people, keep your nuts to yourself.  There are plenty of other options out there for a quick snack that will not potentially incapacitate other children.  And please be patient with us parents of kids with allergies, no matter what kind of allergy they may have.  Knowing that there is some substance out there that is trying to hurt our kids makes us a little nutty, as I am sure you can imagine. 
So please, don’t make me go nuts.  Go nut-free.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Mommyland Makeover

I know it may be hard to tell, what with the distinct lack of pink-ness, but you have indeed reached Escape From Mommyland!  In celebration of a whole year of mommy-related mayhem and memories I have had some work done.  To the blog.  And my nose, but that is another story.  Anyway, I hope you like it.  It took me a while to decide between this background and the background picture of cheese and grapes, but that may  just have been because I was hungry.   

If you are reading this, than you have probably been one of the many loyal readers that have been here since the beginning.  Either that or you were looking for pictures of cheese and grapes and were enticed into reading this post due to the elaborate blog design and use of big words like 'enticed.' But however you came to be reading this, I want to thank you for doing so.  Although my purpose in writing this blog was to provide an escape for other mom's, it ended up becoming my escape. Now when I am trying to make dinner while one child attempts to climb my legs and the other explores the mysteries of flour (i.e. bathes in it) I am not seething inside but rather am thinking about how I can turn this dinner disaster into an amusing post for you all. 

So thank you, from the bottom of my flour-covered feet to the top of my frizzy perma-ponytailed head.  I promise that, although things may look a little different around here, the witty, moving, inspirational, awesome-sauce... juicy, tangy, delicious... - oh sorry, I was thinking about grapes and chesse again - posts that you have come to love and expect will not only still be here, but will be better than ever. 

On that note, please raise the glass of wine, sippy cup, vanilla soy beverage, or whatever else you happen to have nearby and join me in a toast to new beginnings, old friends and cheese and grapes! 

But seriously, thank you:) 


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Keep Your Crusts On

What is it with kids and crusts?  I have to practically beg my kids not to eat things that have fallen on the floor, been regurgitated, or were found in the litter box, but will they eat the perfectly good outside of a piece of bread?  Hell no.
Sure, crusts can be kind of dry.  And sometimes the jam doesn’t go all the way to the edge.  But somewhere there are hungry children who would be happy to eat those crusts, right?  Heck, I didn’t pay almost $4 for a loaf of bread just so my kids could eat the middle.  And damn it, I don’t want to have to eat all those dried out, jam-less crusts!  I need a little middle too!

When you think about it, learning to eat the crust with your bread is a very important life lesson.   In life you have to take the good with the bad; the bread with the crust if you will.  To get dessert you must eat dinner.  With playtime comes clean-up time.  With great power comes great responsibility – ok, I am lapsing into cheesy movie quotes now, but you get the idea.  As a parent it is my responsibility to teach this lesson.  But how?
When I was a kid and refused to eat my crusts, my grandmother sang me The Crust Song.  It tells the story of a kid who didn’t eat their crust and was later visited by said crust in the middle of the night (lyrics are found below).   Was this scary?  A little.  Was it lying?  Not really.  Did it work?  Totally.  Should I use it on my kids?  Undecided.
My main concern is that it is a little scary and I don’t want scare my kids.  But personally I had more nightmares after watching The Lion King than I ever did from this song (seriously – those hyenas were freaky man).  And how scary can a crust of bread be really?  Yeah, it has eyes and legs in the song, but not pointy teeth or sharp claws. 

Then there is the fact that this is not strictly a true story.  But it isn’t a lie either; it’s just a story, or a myth like that of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, designed to teach children to be good and do what they are supposed to do, thereby making growing up a bit easier.  If nothing else, this song provides an interesting answer as to why we need to eat up our crusts that doesn’t involve me having to explain our household budget in relation to the global economy and the increasing price of bread. 
I wonder if my grandma had this same internal debate before using this song on her children and grandchildren.  Somehow, I think the answer is no.  Not because my grandma isn’t an amazing, thoughtful, caring, wonderful person, because she is.  No, I think my grandma, upon reading my concerns regarding the parenting merits of a song about crunchy bread would laugh and tell me to stop taking everything so seriously.  In the grand scheme of things (which, at her 80+ years, she insists that she has a better view of) hearing one inappropriate story about bread at the age of 3 isn’t going to ruin my kids lives.  Then she would insist that I sit down and eat some cookies.  See, I told you she was awesome.
So for now I think that the all important Crust Lesson will be put on the back-burner in the hopes that my kids will outgrow this annoying waste of dough all on their own.  And if that doesn’t work I will just send my kids to their Great-Gran’s for a week, and if she just so happens to sing them the song, well hey, that’s not my fault right?
Now, I must go eat some cookies.

Check out my Grandma sing for you!
The Crust Song:
Last night I didn’t eat up my crust.
I tucked it in under my plate.
I thought no one would find it there
But when it got dark and late
And I was in bed all covered up tight,
All covered up but just my head,
I saw that same old crust I did
Come walking up over my bed.
It had two long legs
And great big eyes
And he grinned and he said to me:
“I’m the crust you tucked in under your plate;
You couldn’t hide me, you see.
You must never, never, never do that again.”
“Alright, I won’t” I said.
“I will eat you up to the very last crumb,
If you’ll please get down off of my bed.”
So he jumped off the bed and he disappeared,
I’ve searched for him early and late.
But he comes no more, cause I never poke
My crust in under my plate.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Real Life Recipes

If I ever get rich, the first thing I am going to do is hire a cook, because I can’t.  Cook that is.  Well, technically I can cook, and while the results are (usually) edible, the mess generated, the time wasted and the kids trying to climb up my legs while I sauté kind of ruin it for me.   

It is just too much pressure.  Back in the day when all a good dinner had to do was to taste good it probably wasn’t so stressful for moms to throw something together.  But nowadays what with the fact that my dinners have to be healthy, peanut-free, easy to make, quick to prepare, inexpensive and yet filled with variety while still being yummy – well, I am starting to twitch just thinking about it. 

Every week I go through the same routine.  In the few spare minutes I manage to squeeze out of my weekend I end up sitting in front of my computer anxiously scanning site after site full of recipes trying to find 5 recipes that fit my criteria.  Most are too damn fancy for everyday meals.  Many require ingredients I cannot pronounce let alone identify, and many are so long and detailed that I don’t even have the time to finish reading the recipe let alone make it. 

Then, of course, come the inevitable failures.  Sure, they looked good on screen.  But whether it was through some mistake of mine or whether it was just a crappy recipe, when it hits the table and we bravely shovel in a few forkfuls even my husband (a.k.a. the human garbage disposal) can’t stomach it and we order out for pizza.
So after 4 long years of this routine and approximately 416 hours spent on meal planning, I have compiled an entire week’s worth of Real Life Recipes (i.e. healthy, peanut-free, easy to make, quick to prepare, inexpensive yet filled with variety, yummy dinners).  I guarantee that I have actually prepared and eaten all of these meals numerous times and, more astonishingly, my kids have as well.  So spend your free minutes this weekend soaking in a nice bubble bath and reading something besides cookbooks – you’re meal planning for this week is done. 

Bon appetit and you’re welcome.

1 Tbsp.oil1 lb. (450 g) pork tenderloin, cut into bite-size pieces 2 cups quartered fresh mushrooms
1 cup fresh snow peas
1 small yellow pepper, cut into strips 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup Calorie-Wise Catalina Dressing1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce2 green onions, chopped 2-2/3 cups hot cooked long-grain brown rice
HEAT oil in wok or large skillet on high heat. Add meat; stir-fry 1 min.
ADD next 4 ingredients; stir-fry on medium-high heat 3 to 5 min or until meat is lightly browned. Stir in dressing and soy sauce; stir-fry 2 min. or until vegetables are crisp-tender and meat is done.
TOP with green onions. Serve with rice
1-1/4 lb. (565 g) red potatoes (about 4), cut into chunks
3 large cloves garlic
3/4 cupfat-free sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Cracker Barrel Light Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 lb. (450 g) extra-lean ground beef
2 Tbsp.flour
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (beans, carrots, corn), thawed
3/4 cup25%-less-sodium beef broth
2 Tbsp.ketchup
COOK potatoes and garlic in boiling water in large saucepan 20 min. or until potatoes are very tender. Drain; return to saucepan. Add sour cream. Mash potatoes to desired consistency. Stir in 1/4 cup Cheddar.
HEAT oven to 375°F. Brown meat in large nonstick skillet. Stir in flour; cook and stir 1 min. Add vegetables, broth and ketchup; cook 5 min., stirring occasionally. Spoon into 8-inch square baking dish; cover with potatoes.
BAKE 18 min. or until heated through. Top with remaining Cheddar; bake 2 min. or until melted.

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil, divided
2 cups (500 ml) sliced mushrooms
2 leeks (white part only), split lengthwise, thinly sliced (or one large onion, thinly sliced)

2 Carrots, diced

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

3/4 tsp (4 ml) salt

2 tbsp (30 ml) all-purpose flour

1 cup (250 ml) green beans, cut into 1/2-in. (1 cm) pieces

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) Low Sodium Chicken Broth

2 sprigs fresh Thyme, leaves only, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme (2 ml)

3  Phyllo Pastry Sheets, thawed

Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). In a medium ovensafe saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until water evaporates and mushrooms start to brown, about 7 min. Add leeks or onions and cook until softened, 5 to 7 min. Stir in carrots and cook, 2 min. Season chicken with salt and add to pan, stirring until chicken is lightly cooked on all sides, about 7 to 10 min.
Add flour and stir until flour turns beige. Stir in green beans, broth and thyme and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken, 5 to 10 min. Remove from heat.
Place 1 phyllo sheet on countertop and brush with a bit of remaining olive oil. Fit sheet loosely over chicken mixture inside pot, covering right to edges. Tuck excess phyllo under itself. Repeat with remaining 2 sheets. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 20 min. or until phyllo is brown and juices are bubbling. OPTION:  Make individual sized pot pies in smaller dishes. 

1 lb (500 g) extra lean ground turkey
1 cup (250 mL) dry breadcrumbs
1 cup (250 mL) grated, peeled apple (about 1 apple)
2 eggs
1 tsp (5 mL) onion powder
½ tsp (2 mL) black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400º F (200º C) cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix very well. Using an ice cream scoop, form the mixture into balls, smaller than a golf ball. Make 15 meatballs.
Place the meatballs on the cookie sheet and cook for 15 minutes. Flip them over and cook for an additional 10 minutes and until they are no longer pink inside.

Cheating Broccoli and Mushroom Alfredo*
1 jar prepared Alfredo sauce
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 tbsp olive oil
1 package Fettuccini noodles
Pepper to taste
Prepare noodles as per package directions.  Heat alfredo sauce in saucepan over low heat until warm.  Sautee mushrooms and broccoli in oil until cooked, then stir into alfredo sauce.  Poor over noodles, mix and serve with salad of your choosing.
*I call this cheating because I don’t make my own sauce for this – sauces and icings are the bane of my cooking existence.  Feel free to throw in some chicken to make this a cheating chicken alfredo if you so choose. 
 Italian Chicken Quesadilla Recipe
1  (10-inch/25 cm) wheat flour tortilla 
1/2 cup cooked chicken 125 mL
1/3 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese 75 mL
1/4 cup finely chopped green (or regular) onions 60 mL
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 30 mL
1 tbsp finely chopped green pepper 15 mL
Cooking spray 
Marinara or pasta sauce (optional) 
Preheat oven to broil. Arrange the cooked chicken, mozzarella cheese, onion, Parmesan cheese and green pepper on one side of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over into a half-moon shape; transfer to a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray.
Broil quesadilla about 3 inches (8 cm) from the element for 2 minutes per side or until tortilla is golden and cheese melts. Serve with marinara sauce (if using) on the side. (Recipes doubles  or quadruples easily.)

1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil
1 lb (500 g) diced beef (inside or outside round)
2 cups (500 mL) sliced onion
1 clove garlic
½ tsp (2 mL) dried thyme
½ tsp (2 mL) black pepper
1 cup (250 mL) whole button mushrooms
1 cup (250 mL) 25% sodium-reduced soup broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
2 cups (500 mL) turnip, peeled and diced small
1 cup (250 mL) carrot, peeled and diced small
1 cup (250 mL) sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 cups (500 mL Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup (250 mL) cold water
½ tbsp (22 mL) cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
In a large oven proof stove top pot, heat oil over medium heat.
Add meat and brown for about 10 minutes. Add onion, garlic, thyme, black pepper and mushrooms and cook until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add soup stock, turnip and carrots and bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl mix cold water and cornstarch. Remove stew from the oven and stir in cornstarch mixture, sweet potatoes and potatoes. Cover and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

There is Nothing Wrong with Having a Boy

There is a reason why baby girl dolls out sell baby boy dolls at a rate of about a million to one.  Every little girl wants to be a mommy to a little girl.  And like so many other childhood fantasies (i.e. finding a Prince Charming to sweep you off you feet or visiting Disney World) this fantasy seems to carry over with us into adulthood.

When I was pregnant with my second baby I can’t tell you how many times people (ok, women) came up to me and said “Oh – are you hoping for a girl this time?” Or, if I mentioned I was having a boy, they would give me that look, with a light pat on the arm, as if to say “Aww, I’m sorry” and then go on to ask me if I will continue to try for a girl – as if that was the sole reason I became pregnant in the first place.  This is not ok people.  First of all, I am extremely grateful to have healthy babies of any gender, and secondly, there is nothing wrong with having a boy.
Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with wanting to have a girl.  As women it is natural for us to want someone to teach how to wear makeup, dress up in frilly pink dresses and basically pass on the secrets of womanhood to.   But as a mom of two amazing boys, I think we (women) need to learn to appreciate how awesome having boys can be as well. 
For example, while you don’t get to dress boys up in frilly pink tutu’s (well, you could if you wanted, but I digress), you can totally dress them up in other ways – my favourite is ‘little preppy’ or ‘baby Bieber’ as I like to call it.  I even gave Simba the original Bieber haircut and you wouldn’t believe how adorable he is.  People constantly stop us and tell us how cute his hair is.  So there you go – who needs ribbons and pigtails when you can have a Bieber baby? 
So you won’t be getting the new Barbie Dream House for Christmas if you have boys.  But honestly I prefer playing with Woody, Jessie, Buzz and Slinky Dog instead of those big-boobed, impossibly skinny dolls that just make me feel bad about myself.  And although I will most likely be stepping on dinky cars for the next 7-10 years, those damn Polly Pocket things are just as bad and twice as expensive. 
Ok, so it will probably cost me twice as much to feed a teenage boy as it would a teenage girl, but I will be saving so much on makeup, purses and shoes that it will probably all equal out in the end.  And finally, and most importantly (in my opinion) they don’t call them Mama’s Boys for nothing.  There is a special bond between a boy and his Mom that I personally am not a good enough writer to describe.  Sufficed to say I wouldn’t trade either of my boys for all the girls in the world.  But that is only as it should be between a mom and any child, no matter the gender. 
So whether you are a mom of girls, boys, both or neither, I hope that we can all see that a baby of any gender is a gift – no one gender is better than the other and both should be celebrated and loved just the same. 
But if you are a mom of a little girl, go out and buy her a baby boy doll would ya, and I’ll make sure to buy my boys a toy vacuum.   Deal?


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Things I Thought Would Suck But Didn’t

Life can suck.  You know what I’m talking about – you’ve been up since three a.m. with a colicky kid, you haven’t washed your hair in three days, and when you desperately  need to have a crap you find a banana in your toilet bowl (ok, maybe that last one is specific to just me, but you never know).  My point is that there is enough sucky-stuff that gets thrown at you out of nowhere so naturally we all try to avoid putting ourselves in situations that we know in advance are going to suck.  But every so often, especially in Mommyland, you end up in a situation that you were sure was going to suck, but doesn’t.  These situations happen in the real world too – I have encountered one or two Ashton Kutcher movies that have been surprisingly un-sucky, food from a place called ‘Funky Thai’ was surprisingly tasty and I have had some pleasant surprises when shopping for bathing suits (though not all that often).  However, it is the Mommy-related surprisingly un-sucky moments that I want to talk to you about today.
In case you haven’t noticed, I am what you would call an extreme Type A personality.  I don’t like surprises and believe that planning is its own art form.  Think Kate Gosselin, but not quite so anal.  Anyway, while I really appreciate these surprisingly un-sucky moments, I would appreciate them even more if I didn’t spend days, weeks or sometimes months dreading them before hand only to find out that they don’t suck after all.  After all that brooding it’s almost a letdown you know?  Like geez, if I spend that many hours crying, whining and expending precious brain-cells trying to avoid something it BETTER freaking suck – you know?
So with this in mind, today I bring you a list of things (specifically mommy-related things) that I thought would suck but didn’t, in the hopes that you don’t spend pointless hours worrying about something needlessly.  Hell, if you are going to worry, you might as well spend your time worrying about something that does actually sucks (like childbirth – sorry ya’ll, I ain’t gonna lie – it really does suck).   Therefore, here is my list of things that I thought would suck but didn’t:
1.  Getting Rid of Soothers – I think the problem here was in my thinking that it was my kid who was addicted to this device.  Turns out that giving him a pacifier when he was fussy or needed to sleep was my safety blanket that I didn’t want to give up.   After much fretting, planning and over-sleeping in an attempt to catch up on sleep that I would inevitably loose once I took the damn thing away, there was practically no fuss over it whatsoever on the part of my son when it disappeared.  Go figure.  I however, did cry some crazy-lady tears while mumbling something incoherent about kids growing up to fast.  But other than that, giving the pacifiers the old heave-ho was surprisingly un-sucky.
2.  Moving my Kids from a Crib to a Bed – I don’t know why kids seem to want to give up their naps just around the time they outgrow their cribs, but it really is a cruel joke on us sleep-deprived mommies.  It all starts when you go in to get your kid from their nap and find them happily making a mountain of baby wipes on the carpet.  You stupidly look around like ‘ok, who the hell took you out of your crib’ only to realize the ugly truth – your adorable baby has turned into a tiny Houdini.  But there are upsides to having your baby in a big-kid bed, the best one being that now you can crawl in their bed and cuddle with them, which is especially great when they are sick and you no longer have to sleep on the floor and wake up with carpet imprint on your face.   But if you are still really worried, spring for the fancy Princess or Cars bed and your biggest problem will be trying to get them out of the damn thing.  
3.  Letting my Boys Share a Room – Hey, I have watched Full House.  I know what happens when you make siblings share a room.  You end up with a skipping rope tied down the middle of the room and a child hanging from the curtains.  So was this something I wanted to avoid?  Hells to the yeah!  Yet since I didn’t want one kid sleeping in the basement by themselves quite yet, there really was no other viable option.   But surprisingly putting the boys in the same room has been a blessing in disguise.  They now let us sleep in later because when they get up they can play together in their room and they go to bed better because there is someone else in the room with them Plus, it is so freaking cute when you go in and find them sleeping with their arms around each other!  Apparently, sometimes T.V doesn’t represent reality very accurately.   Huh.  Who knew?
4. Potty training – Yes Alice, I have read your post.  And I have shared your pain.  I did not want to potty train Prince either and was terrified of the inevitable extra laundry, stress, and tears (mine mostly) that would come with the territory.  And I had no idea what the hell you were supposed to do at night – all of a sudden put them back in diapers?  ‘Yes honey, you are a big boy during the day but a baby at bedtime!’ – I could practically see the therapy bills piling up.  Yet somehow it wasn’t that bad.  What I thought would be weeks of staying in the house while my son ran around naked from the waist down turned out to be just one day of nudity.  Also, it is surprisingly easy to dump a turd out of a pair of underwear.  And my kids turned out to be a whole lot smarter than I gave them credit for.  Prince knew when he was able to sleep through the night without pull-ups (which I used exclusively before real underwear, thereby avoiding the therapy bills).  Of course, you have to wait until your child is ready – otherwise it really will suck – and you will know when they are ready because you are a mom and Mom’s Just Know.  So until then just tell all the Nosy-Nancy’s to back off and stop worrying about it, cause it really doesn’t suck that much.  Besides Alice, you’re pregnant so you really have better things to worry about – like childbirth.  Have fun with that!
You’re Welcome.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

She’s Picky

Things have to be so perfect, or else she cannot work it
She’s hard to please, can’t take her ease
She’s Picky, Picky, Picky – Here we go!
Chorus: (x2)
She’s Picky ‘bout everything, ‘bout everything
She’ll drive you nuts, she’s picky
Picky, picky, picky, picky
She has to eat organic, she wants to save the planet
Don’t smoke or drink, she won’t wear mink
Her skin she will not tan it.
Her house must be the cleanest, her kids must be the keenest
They must be smart, better not fart
Or else she’ll be the meanest
Chorus (x2)

We all know her.  The crazy lady at the playground who practically bathes her kids in hand sanitizer if they so much as look at the monkey bars.  The only women not wearing sweatpants at Mommy Group who looks like she is about to have a heart attack when you mention stopping at McDonald’s on the way home.  The mother of the kids wearing matching Hugo Boss outfits at the mall.  Whatever form she takes, she is often recognizable by the vein bulging in her forehead, the beads of sweat gathering at her temples and the fake grin plastered on her face.  I should know – I am her.
Yes, I Wendy, Mommy-blogger extraordinaire, am a self-proclaimed Picker.   I must do everything perfectly, to the best of my abilities, be better than everyone else and do so in full makeup.  You think it is annoying to be in the presence of Miss. Picky for all of an hour at your library’s story hour?  Try being her – it is no piece of low-fat organic sugar reduced gluten-free cake, I’ll tell you that!
While spending my days trying to keep my two year old clean is a struggle, and spending my nights planning nutritious meals that my kids will actually eat has taken its toll on my sex life, my biggest challenge so far has been preschool.  As a teacher myself, I have very high standards for my children’s education yet I am loath to part with my appendages to pay for it. 
After our recent move back to the Real World, I discovered that the Real World has a distinct lack of pre-schooling options.  Back in Neverland, there was an over-abundance of preschools.  There were so many preschools, and so many kids went to preschool from the age of 2 onward that I felt that my kids would be missing something if they weren’t in preschool too.  However, back in the Real World, I have found only two preschools within a 20km radius and let’s just say I would have to invest in a wheelchair to move my legless-ass around if I were to send my kids there. 
So after gaining a new clump of gray hair I decided that if you can’t send ‘em, teach ‘em.  Hell, I am a certified teacher after all – if I can’t teach my own kids a thing or two what was the point of those not-yet-paid-off student loans? 
At first I wasn’t sure I would have the discipline necessary to go through with it.  An hour a day of structured learning time, planned, prepared and executed by me?  Most days it is a struggle to get my kids to get dressed and eat breakfast.  But by using a great curriculum I found online (http://www.letteroftheweek.com/Preparatory.html), stealing elements from Prince’s Neverland preschool, and cutting out two hours of sleep a night I have managed to get a great system established and have kept it going for a whole month now!  Ok, so I have to start dying my hair now, but that is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.
Here is a quick overview of my mommy-preschool set up:
Learning circle time:  Sing welcome song.  Talk about topic to be learned that day.  Play game related to topic (scavenger game, matching game, puzzles). 
Craft time:  Do a craft related to topic.  I try to alternate types of crafts to work on different skills like coloring, gluing, cutting, etc..
Final circle time:  Come back from craft table, do a dance to a children’s song related to the topic of the day to work on gross motor skills.  Have story time.  Sing goodbye song.
From this foray into schooling I have learned several things:  1) My kids really enjoy structure.  They look forward to school every day and it is during that time that we have the least disciplinary issues because they know what to expect.  I also enjoy playing school but only because I am an insufferable know-it-all and relish the opportunity to share my knowledge with others.   2) Preparing kids crafts is time consuming and dangerous.  Warning:  if you are going to make a matching game of capital and lowercase letters don’t use permanent markers, as inhaling the fumes for the 3 hours it will take to draw out the necessary 52 letters will destroy so many brain cells that you will have to get out a calculator to determine how many capital and lowercase letters there are altogether.  3)  There are good reasons preschools are so damn expensive – kids really do eat the damn glue and go through the rest of the art supplies like Charlie Sheen goes through hookers. 
Unfortunately, this experience has not helped me to be less picky – if anything, now I feel more pressure to be perfect as my performance will directly shape my kids perception of education, not to mention their intellect for years to come.  But who knows?  I could get fed up with the sleep deprivation and nursery rhymes and throw in the towel tomorrow, thereby making this at best a hazy memory laced with bad artwork that my kids will look back on in the future - if the marker fumes have not permanently damaged their long-term memory.  Or maybe Ellen will catch drift of my latest Mommy-mix and I will become famous, write Mommy-mixes for SNL and finally be able to afford a real preschool. 
Hey – even picky girls can dream!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Officially Banned

I probably should have seen it coming.  What with getting banned from Boston Pizza, Tim Horton’s, and the Park, it should have been no surprise when I got banned from Neverland*.  Ok, so it’s not like I will be arrested at the border if I try to sneak back to visit, but due to circumstances beyond my control Edward, myself and the boys have been forced to leave Neverland, most likely for good.  
For once, however, my children’s copious amounts of poop and/or my own big mouth had nothing to do with us getting banned.  But being banned has been the reason for my prolonged absence from the blogosphere, for which I apologize.   But now that the boxes have been unpacked and the kids are firmly ensconced at grandma’s I have time to take a breath, nurse my moving- related bruises (that ironically resemble a map of Neverland), and reflect on some of the differences between Neverland and the Real World where I now find myself:
1.  There is a much higher percentage of crazy people in Neverland.
Fortune-obsessed pirates, jealous beauty-crazed mermaids and all the other party-loving natives make for an interesting social scene in Neverland.   And while this certainly made for some interesting blog posts, it also created a very competitive, cut-throat, hold-on-to-your-family-jewels type of atmosphere.  Which probably explains why I kept getting banned from places.  And which also probably explains why everyone there drives like they are in the Indy 500.  So my first week back in the Real World was quite a shock what with the Friendly-to-the-Point-of-Almost-Creepy strangers and the motorists who will literally stop traffic if a pedestrian so much as glances at the street – regardless of the fact that there’s no crosswalk anywhere in the vicinity.  However, I have recently discovered that the Real World has its own special brand of crazy people who, while not as rampant as those found in Neverland, are just as annoying.  Particularly, the Sunday Driver, which is found in abundance in the Real World, mainly due to the increased number of elderly people present, who insist of driving at least 20km/hour under the speed limit while gawking about and braking for no apparent reason at random intervals.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.  At least I don’t have to wear an eye patch anymore. 
2.  The weather in the Real World sucks.
Since I have returned from Neverland I think I have seen the sun for a total of ten minutes.  And for some reason during the few moments the sun does deign to shine I am always driving uphill directly into said blazing inferno and am temporarily forced to squint, swear, randomly brake for no reason and peek through my fingers while driving 20km/hour under the speed limit in order to ensure I don’t hit one of the crazy pedestrians who jump out in front of you and expect you to lay on your brakes yet avoid being rear-ended at the same time.  During the other 1430 minutes in the day it is so damn foggy that you don’t have to worry about hitting anything with your car – the fog makes a nice soft barrier between you and whatever you run into.  What with this, and all the friendly people it’s kind of like driving around in Care-a-lot. 
3.  There is a distinct lack of Mommies. Maybe the fog creates a barrier that is stronger than any condom, or maybe it just makes everyone here too damn depressed to have sex, but as of yet I have not met any mommy-friends in the Real World.  Yes, I have amazing friends here who I missed dearly while I was away, but none have yet experienced the pleasure that is procreation.  All of which is leaving a big Alice-sized hole in my life.  Now I have no one to commiserate with after spending 3 hours sleep training my child.  My friends don’t understand why I get so excited when my child eats turnip (or rutabagas as those of you in Neverland call it).  So Alice, before Mommybrain renders me forgetful I require your advice on the following subjects:
 a)  When I find Simba asleep in the hallway at 4am do I move him and risk waking him up or do I let sleeping boys lie?
 b)  When asked ‘Can you say (Insert word of your choice here)?’, instead of repeating said word, my child will simply say “Yes.”  Is this a purposeful attempt to drive me crazy or is my child just too damn smart?
c)  Is it normal for a two-year-old to shit 15 times a day or should I be worried?
These are just a few of the topics I miss discussing with you – others include discussing what Thumper won’t eat this week, whose husband is more helpless and why breasts are annoying.  My point is, while I may have left Neverland I am now, and always will be, your neighbour in Mommyland.  So don’t think just because I am now residing in a different time zone that you have heard your last poop story from Wendy.  You are however off the hook from babysitting, which given our track record is probably a good thing.
Don’t worry - unlike my namesake, leaving Neverland and heading home will not be the end of our story.  It’s just one of the unexpected twists that will make it all the more interesting.
*In case you are new to our blog or have not yet visited our Dictionary or About us page, Neverland is our pseudonym for the major Canadian metropolis that I moved to not quite 2 years ago, met Alice in and have been living in until last month when I got officially banned.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Random Thoughts From a Distracted Mother

Whatever happened to the days when boredom was our biggest complaint in life?  Maybe it’s just me (being an only child) but as a kid it seemed like I was always looking for something to do; now as an adult, it seems like I am always looking for an excuse not to do something.
As you can probably tell, I’ve been far from bored lately.  A few weeks ago Life threw me a big ol’ suckerpunch and ever since then me and Life have been scrappin’.  At the moment though, I have Life securely in a headlock so I thought I would take this time to share with you some of the slightly incoherent ramblings that I have managed to jot down on spare napkins during the few calm moments I have been allotted.  Hope you enjoy.
Random Thought #1:  I don’t understand why the mascot for a battery is a bunny.  Personally, I associate bunnies with sex (thank you Hugh Hefner) so unless I had a vibrator with energy issues a bunny-related battery wouldn’t be my go-to solution.  Personally, I think that if battery companies want a mascot that people will associate with outlasting regular batteries, they should hire a toddler.  Talk about something that just keeps going and going ... and going!  Out of four battery-operated toys that my kids got for Christmas, I have had to replace the batteries in three of them already.  Not cool.  So while bunnies are cute and sex is great, toddler-energy is superior.  So if anyone wants to take me up on my suggestion, I have two incredibly cute kids available for commercials and ad campaigns.  And yes, we will accept payment in batteries.
Random Thought #2:  What speed exactly are internet companies comparing their service to when they say they offer ‘high-speed internet’?  At this point in the game, I really don’t think it is fair to compare to old-fashioned dial-up service – didn’t that go extinct with the dinosaurs or something?  Plus it kind of shocked me the other day when I was on the phone with our internet provider and was asked to be patient because their computers were ‘a little slow today.’  Seriously?  If you can’t even provide high-speed service to yourselves, how the heck am I supposed to be able to finish downloading J. Edgar before it comes out on DVD?
Random Thought #3:  What is the point of fine print?  If it is really there to make sure you are aware of important details shouldn’t it be BIG BLACK BOLD print?  Really people, how many of us have the time to read all that crap and how many of us just need glasses?  I don’t think it is fair to penalize the visually impaired with cancellation fees, high interest rates, life-long servitude, or whatever else they include in all that fine print.  Personally, I do NOT think fine print is fine at all.  I think it is wrong and deceitful print whose only intention is to trick you and make you feel stupid, and I already have kids who do that quite well, thank-you-very-much. 
At least now I know what to do the next time I want some more boring in my life – pop some new batteries into my computer, hop on the not-so-high-speed internet and read some not-so-fine print.  Unless I can think of an excuse not to that is.  
Oh and life?  How about a truce?