Jammies! For Bedtime!

Well. It’s 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and I’m still in my PJs, smelly and unshowered. Sir Monkeypants says that they couldn’t pay him enough to stay up until midnight. Us party people really do know how to ring in the new year around here!

After a nice, quiet Christmas, we’ve had a rough couple of days, because the Captain and the Wee One are both sick with croup. They’ve got the barking coughs and the raspy breathing, and worst of all, high fevers that just don’t seem to want to go away. They’re both super cranky and having trouble sleeping, and we’ve had to fight with both of them all day to take some medicine for the fevers, because they both despise it and will spit or barf it out at any opportunity.

I totally don’t get that, because the kids’ pain meds are such syrupy goodness that I’m thinking of using them to decorate my next birthday cake. Gal Smiley is our only normal child and of course, she adores the medicines. So she’s pretty pissed off that the other two “get to” be sick and “get to” have lots of medicine, while we totally withhold it from her because we are the WORST. PARENTS. EVER. Poor kid.

To make things even more exciting, we’re expecting around 20 for dinner tomorrow night. Our friends LuckySevens and her hubby, Mr. LuckySevens, host a big dinner party every year on New Year’s Day, but this year, they’ll be out in Saskatchewan visiting their families, so we offered to host it here. It’s the first time we’ve ever had a big party here, and I’ve been frantically making lists and schedules and lists of lists all week long. For the past four days I’ve been locked in an endlessly repeating cycle of Superstore shopping, cooking, cleaning, repeat. I have a schedule for tomorrow that starts around 8 a.m. and has me doing another activity in the kitchen every 15 minutes or so until dinner at 3 (a LuckySevens tradition).

I’m sure I’m going to wake up sick. But it’ll be fun anyway, because I have made Peppermint Bark, and that is more than enough sugar to keep a woman going.

Despite the crappy day, Sir Monkeypants and I are forging ahead with our annual tradition of cheese fondue on New Year’s Eve, something we look forward to all year long. We only make it once a year because the massive cheese content is no good for the kids, so it’s an adult-only meal by candlelight — romantic and yummy! I’m salivating already.

So have a happy new year…see you in 2008!

Year-End Meme

I’ve actually done this meme for the past two years out of curiousity, but I haven’t posted the results, because the list usually includes twelve identical sentences along the lines of, “I saw this cool thing on TV last night.” Sigh. Since I did not wish to highlight to the world how dull and brainless I have become, I kept the meme to myself.

But this year, I did better! And I will not admit, no, not even if you threaten to take away the Peppermint Bark that is my own personal crack, that I thought about this meme all year and made a conscious effort to make the first post of each month meaningful and interesting. No, I did not! Look over there! Brangelina!

Anyway, here you go, first lines of the first post of each month of 2007.

January: Introducing…George Foreman Jatania III, due on or about July 10, 2007.

February: We just got word yesterday that registration at our local school for junior kindergarten is the week after next.

March: This week we will be a TV Ratings Family for Canada.

April: I have a really bad habit of getting obsessed with one particular breakfast cereal, and eating it every day for weeks, and then dumping it like a boyfriend who still lives with his mother.

May: Yesterday morning I woke up with major stomach cramps and nausea.

June: Sir Monkeypants just left for an unexpected trip to Toronto for the weekend.

July: Now that we’re in the home stretch, so to speak, I thought I’d just share the news that there’s no baby yet.

August: The Wee One just finished her three week growth spurt and I’m amazed at how much she has grown.

September: One of the most interesting things about babies, I think, is that their line between awake and asleep is really blurry.

October: I’m going to have a t-shirt made for the Wee One that says, “I’d rather be nursing.”

November: Today, Sir Monkeypants goes back to work.

December: One thing I didn’t get around to posting about in November was that a few other NaBloPoMo posters, including its founder Mrs. Kennedy, were blogging on a theme of shoes.

Huh. Actually, not as gripping reading as I expected. Goddamn writers’ strike.

Everybody’s Doing A Brand New Dance Now

Yesterday the Wee One finally took the concept of Rolling From Back To Front and the concept of Rolling From Front To Back and put them together, to form the Theory Of Advanced Locomotion.

My little baby sister can do it with me! It’s easy as learning your ABCs!

Suddenly, I find that when I put the baby down on her playmat as usual…she is missing when I get back. Even if I’ve just stepped away for a moment to pee or flip the pancakes or frantically search for the friggin’ cordless phone in a vain attept to find it before the machine picks up. In just a few seconds she’s long gone, wedged under the ottoman or underneath the couch or shoved into the gap between the wall unit and the window.

She’s also thisclose to sitting up on her own now, so whenever we put her into one of her many, many chairs, she uses her power abs to pull herself away from a purely slouching position and tries to actively get out of the chair. Years from now she’s really going to regret all those hours of couch potato action she gave up, all in the name of showing off her muscular development. Lounge now while ye still can, my dear!

All of this movement and reaching of new places and things has led to a new, unexpected level of childproofing around here. We never had to worry about the other two very much, but now with the Wee One, there’s a host of stuff on the floor that should not be there. Hot Wheels cars with tiny break-offable parts, a bunch of paper clips that have come out of the Blue’s Clues board game box (“magically,” of course), ground-up crumbs from someone’s bowl of Captain Crunch. Fish food that’s been spilled by eager preschoolers, a bead or two that fell during today’s bracelet making session, Gal Smiley’s special sleep friend Shearly that is like catnip to the Wee One but clearly has TOUCH IT AND YOU DIE written across its back.

Oh, and there’s also the Wee One’s Holy Grail — the TV remote — floating around down there too. It’s quite the festival of Baby Don’t Touch.

We’ve been through two babies already so I kind of feel like I know everything there is to know about parenting by now, like, Dr. Spock wishes he had my kind of experience and wisdom. But this child proofing thing is kind of new. We hardly ever used a playpen with our other two kids, because there wasn’t any need to keep them contained. Suddenly I do see the reasoning behind it — a nice safe place for the baby to play, and I’ll actually be able to find her when I need her.

Until Captain Jelly Belly figures out that it would make a really awesome parking garage. And Gal Smiley decides to use it as a bed for Shearly.

I guess this old dog needs a couple of new tricks!

After The Feast

We gave the Wee One her first taste of cereal this morning. She’s been dying for food since she turned 4 months old, and lately she’s been getting pretty pissed off about it. At mealtimes she’ll sit and watch us with her mouth gaping open, imitating us chew, and whining when she finds there’s nothing in her own mouth. One time at the Swiss Chalet I gave her a carrot to chew on, and she hunched over that thing like Gollum over his ring…my precious! She dropped it a couple of times and screamed like the house was on fire. When she was finally so covered in saliva that I had to take it away from her, we had to beat a hasty retreat from the restaurant, because everyone was staring at us and our hysterical baby whose food we had just taken away, like the terrible neglectful parents that we are. Bad parents!

Since she turned five months old she’s really stepped up the nursing, and now I’m feeding her at least four times a night (I know, I know, very bad according to the sleep book and I really should knock it off), and almost every hour while she’s awake during the day. I’m exhausted and she’s frustrated so even though we’re supposed to be waiting until she’s six months old, we said, close enough, and broke down.

I had a box of rice cereal on hand because it was going to be Santa’s Christmas Gift To The Wee One (now he is going to bring her a nice jar of sweet potatoes instead). I mixed up about a teaspoon and sat her in her chair.

Let’s compare reactions over the years, shall we?

Captain Jelly Belly: What is this crap? You want me to eat this? As if!

Gal Smiley: Meh. Whatever.

Wee One: MORE. AND KEEP IT COMING.

Needless to say she was pretty happy. She grabbed the spoon every time it came at her and held on for dear life, licking it until everything was gone, as if she would never be granted food again. I had to get a second spoon out, because the only way she’d let go of the first one was if she saw another full spoon coming at her. It was a pretty smashing success.

After the feast I cleaned her up and got her ready for her nap. She lay in bed for almost half an hour cooing and squealing in obvious joy and delight before falling into a peaceful sleep. We’re so happy she’s happy!

Catholic School

The author of one of my regular-read blogs made a post yesterday about how she is kind of conflicted about the Jesus dogma her young boys are learning at Catholic school, because she herself is a lapsed Catholic and no longer blindly buys into the Jesus lore. She was wondering how to balance her desire to have them learn the religion and know its stories, with the desire to let them know that they are free to make up their own minds. I get that completely.

But then, a few people flamed her for choosing Catholic school when she isn’t a believer. And she felt the need, when talking about her choice for her sons, to say that she thinks Catholic schools provide a higher caliber education than public schools.

This is one attitude that I find really prevalent among suburbia, at least in our city, and man, does it ever rub me the wrong way. Obviously I have a personal slant here, as my kids go to public school and I don’t want to believe that they are getting an inferior education in any way. But I honestly do not believe that the Catholic school board is providing better educations simply because its teachers, staff, and all the other students happen to be of the same religion. Does this mean they teach math or science or music any better? No, it does not.

I’ve definitely run into this opinion before — that Catholic school is a step up from public school, that it’s kind of a halfway point between public and private. I hate to think that people will look at our kids and think that that A that they earned in school just isn’t as good as an A from a Catholic school, that they didn’t need to work as hard, that they were taught some sort of easier version of the subject. Grrrrr!!

I have a few friends who are in a similar boat — they don’t go to church any more and don’t really consider themselves Catholic, but they chose Catholic school for their kids because it’s “better” in some nebulous way that is really, really insulting to those of us who choose public school. If you want your kids to go to Catholic school to learn about Catholicism and be in an environment where it’s okay to talk about and learn about God, then I can get that, I understand that. But don’t go telling me that your kids’ school is better than my kids’ school, simply because it is a Catholic school.

I have to say I have pretty big problems with the whole idea of a publicly funded school system that caters to only one religion in the first place, but I’ve ranted enough about the subject to get it out of my system so I’ll shut up now.

Just to close: I like my kids’ school, it’s a good school, and everyone who says otherwise can suck it.

I See London, I See France

The Wee One is our last child (barring any accidents, KNOCK WOOD), and as such, we’ve already started to give away all our baby stuff. The maternity clothes and 0-3M stuff has already left the building; I’m packing away the 3-6M stuff now, as the baby grows out of it, for shipment to various friends and my younger sister.

As the Captain outgrows his clothes, most of them get boxed up for future use by the girls, but sometimes there are things that are too “boyish,” I think. These items get sent to LittleSis for use on her 2-year-old son, and she’s usually happy to get them.

But now we have a small problem, and that’s underwear.

We have about 35 pairs of size 2 boys underpants. That seems like a lot, I know, but when you’re toilet training, if you don’t want to be doing laundry every day, you need a wide selection. Plus, as encouragement, we kept adding character undies to the pile, some Spiderman, some Bob The Builder, a little Curious George.

We also have about 25 pairs of size 3 that we’re now done with. They were all new for the Captain, so although they are used, they’re all in good condition.

But what to do with them all?

LittleSis and other friends I know with little boys are squeamish about their sons wearing someone else’s underwear. And I can understand that, although they are clean and everything, and I certainly plan to pass Gal Smiley’s adorable little ones down to the Wee One when the time comes. That’s not gross or anything, right?

I thought of donating them to charity, but I’m sure they could not accept such a thing, could they?

I thought of offering them on Freecycle, but as I was typing up the ad, entitled “free boys underwear,” I had envisions of freaky pedophiles coming by to pick up my son’s undies, and I totally chickened out.

So do I just throw them all away? It seems so wrong. And I’m trying so hard to reduce our garbage. They’re still in great shape and really usable.

Maybe I’ll just cut them up and make a quilt. “Happy birthday, Captain! I made you this blanket out of your underwear!”

Hm. No.

Any other ideas?

We’re Number One!

Captain Jelly Belly is in this annoying phase right now where he always has to be first, be the best, have the most. After every meal, it’s “Who did the best eating?” Every morning, it’s “Who did the best sleeping?” When we watch football on TV, he wants to know who is currently winning, and then declares, “Oh good, I want that team to win.” Then, if the score changes, he changes his allegiance to match.

There is an up side; we can get him to do almost anything by threating him with last place:

Captain: I don’t waaaaaaant to goooooo to the maaaaaall!
Me: Okay, but I’m going to have my shoes on first.
Captain: No no no! Me!!
Me: Sure, but I’m going to have my coat on first.
Captain: NOOOO! MEEEE!
Me: And I bet I can get in the car faster than you.
Captain: NOOOO!

And next thing you know, we’re at the mall.

The down side, though, is that he’s often fighting with Gal Smiley over who gets to be first and best. On the stairs, he’ll race to get ahead of her, which is dangerous and strictly not allowed, but it’s one rule he can’t bring himself to obey because being first is all that matters. If Gal gets her food first, or gets dressed first, or brushes her teeth first before bed, we’re risking a serious meltdown. If we dare to suggest that Gal did better sleeping than him (the Wee One is never in the running), we’re destined for a morning’s worth of pouting.

Almost every day, we head down to the basement to get a little exercise by riding bikes. Our basement stairs are smack in the middle of the house, so they provide a convenient centre column to help form a cycling oval. We have two bikes — a large trike and a two-wheeler with training wheels. We had to work all summer to get the Captain comfortable on the two-wheeler, and while we were encouraging him and teaching him and cheering him on, Gal Smiley very quietly in the background learned to ride it too. So now, when we head down to the basement, they fight over who gets to ride the “big bike.”

At least, they used to. The fighting over the big bike was driving me crazy, so I made a new rule: whoever rides the trike gets to be “first.” Now, CJB will only ride the trike. Sometimes, when Gal Smiley goes off to play with something else, he’ll tentatively leave the trike and tiptoe over to reach for the big bike…but as soon as GS makes a move towards the trike, he zips right back there. “No! Mine! I AM FIRST.”

The other night Sir Monkeypants and I were both really, really tired, and so we used Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who would have to put CJB to bed. I won, as usual — it’s a gift. The Captain was really interested in what we were doing so we took a few minutes to teach him the game.

He had a lot of trouble understanding that every one of the three items could be beat by something else. He kept asking us, “Which one is the best? Which one is going to win?” and we had to explain to him that every item had something it could beat, but also something that would beat it, and it all depended on what the other person chose. It took a really, really long time, but I think he kind of got it in the end. It was just like that scene in War Games when they teach the supercomputer the concept of futility by having it play Tic Tac Toe over and over and over again. He has been taught! The world has been saved!

Then the Captain and Sir Monkeypants got into this cycle where they both kept picking rock over and over again, and CJB thought that the whole “tie” concept was Hiiiiiilarious, so we played that scenario about a million times. He’d laugh and laugh and laugh, and we’d laugh too, mostly due to the frantic ten-times-per-second hand shaking he does before selecting rock.

Good old rock, nothin’ beats rock.

Cards On The Staircase

I love getting Christmas cards…pretty paper is my kryptonite.

Here’s what we are doing with our cards this year:

Christmas Cards on the Banister

I got this idea from MyFriendJen, who hung her Christmas cards on her banister like this last year. When I was in senior public, giving out Christmas cards was a big fad among the girls in my class, and my older sister and I would receive upwards of 30 or 40 cards a year. My mom would hang a few ribbons in semi-circles on the wall of our room like this, for us to hang up our cards. So when I saw the same effect at Jen’s, it instantly appealed to both my sense of nostalgia and my sense of organization. We call that a win-win situation.

And to think all this time I wasn’t able to come up with any better idea than stacking the cards five thick on the mantle.

Needless to say, a new tradition has been born.

What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?

A couple of months ago, I did a menu exchange with MyFriendJen. I was looking for ideas of stuff to have for dinner around here, so I asked her to write down everything her family ate at mealtimes for two weeks. I didn’t want recipes of stuff that you only make when you’re going to a potluck or on Thanksgiving. I wanted to know what kind of stuff she was making when she came home at the end of a long workday, and needed to feed three hungry kids fast, with whatever was in the fridge at the time. I didn’t care if she was making sandwiches or cereal or getting take-out — anything might trigger a new idea for our house, too. I kept the same record for her, and then we swapped.

It was a success, in that we both got some great new ideas and our menu has expanded. But now I find I’m looking for more ideas.

That’s where you come in! Comment on this post and let me know what you had for dinner last night, no matter how exotic or commonplace. If a recipe is involved, put it in there.

If this works out, I’ll do it again next week, too. I need ideas, people!

Oh, and I’ll go first to get the ball rolling: last night we had soup (canned chicken noodle for the kids, thawed potato leek soup from the freezer that I had made a couple of weeks ago, recipe available upon request). With our soups we had cheese slices and homemade tea biscuits (recipe upon request). Yummy.

Snow Day

It’s snowing again here today, another 30-40 cm expected by the end of the day. We’re running out of places to put it along the sides of the driveways. It was charming for the first week or so, but now I’m already tired of winter, and we still have what, eight more months to go? At least this new snowfall means that the snowbanks along our street are pretty sweet for sledding. If it ever gets above -18 degrees outside, we’ll be able to put the kids outside for a good time.

Our neighbour from across the street was just here. They were supposed to have a big family party this afternoon, but most of their extended family lives an hour or two away, so everyone has called and cancelled. That leaves them with food enough for 60 and a booked visit with St. Nick at 4 p.m. that will only be attended by their own two kids. He was out making the rounds to everyone on our street, inviting us to come on over and help them eat the food and celebrate the snowstorm. He had to wade through a foot and a half of snow to get to our front door so you can tell they really, really have no room at all in the freezer.

I think we’ll head over. The Wee One already has her festive red snowflakes sleeper on, and the shortbread I was planning on making this afternoon can wait until tomorrow.

I guess snowstorms aren’t so bad, after all.